|Many of the pages in the Northwest Music Guide include free music samples in RealAudio format. To hear the music you will need the RealPlayer G2 software, which you can download for free from the RealAudio website.|
Generally, these samples are in mono, not stereo, and they are not CD quality, but they sound pretty good on decent speakers or headphones. Hey, if you want CD quality, buy the CD! By the way, if you're using your computer's internal speaker, nothing is going to sound very good, anyway. We use samples with a 32 Kbps bit rate. Most of the samples are about 175K in size and contain about 45 seconds of music.
We provide two ways for you to hear the samples: streaming audio or downloading. Each method has its own advantages, disadvantages and potential problems, described below.
This option lets you start hearing the music much faster (potentially) because the RealPlayer software starts playing the file while it is still being downloaded. It does need to wait until it has enough data to start with (buffering). You need to have at least a 56K modem for these samples to stream effectively.
The biggest problem with streaming is that whenever there's too much congestion on the internet for the stream to keep up with the player, the music simply stops (more buffering). The player starts up again in the same spot as soon as it receives enough data. Also, the streaming file is not saved on your computer, so, if you want to hear the sample again -- more buffering again. Generally, the faster your connection to the internet, the better streaming will work.
This option takes a little longer because the entire file must download before you can play it. Once you have downloaded the file, just open it with your RealPlayer and listen. The advantage is that you now have the sample on your hard drive and it will play instantly, as many times as you like. Please note that all of the music samples on this website are licensed for your personal entertainment use only and may not be reproduced or distributed in any manner.
The problem that some people have in downloading these samples is that their web browser interprets the file as text. In that case, you end up with a browser window full of binary code instead of the music you were looking for. Fortunately, the solution is simple: instead of just clicking on the words "download it," click and hold (or right click with a two button mouse) until you see a little pop-up menu. Choose "Save this link as" and you will then be able to save the sample in an appropriate place (and rename it if you like). After the sample is downloaded, just open it with RealPlayer. You may notice that the downloaded sample file does not appear to be a realaudio file on your desktop. That's because your web browser didn't know what it was. No matter, RealPlayer still knows what to do with it.
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