Q&A: How to play AAC audio files on website?

Email question received:

no problem getting my site to play mp3 files, but what do you do if you’ve got an AAC file that you want people to hear.

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Response:

Hey there, great question! What I found is that Adobe Flash supports AAC, so you could use a flashplayer to stream your AAC music files. From what I read it appears there are some other players also but they only support internet explorer. I’m assuming that you want your solution to be cross platform. It also looks like Orbis may have some players but you have to purchase them.

This is not a definitive answer; just what I could find for you searching online. If another reader has info on this please let us know!

For readers that don’t know about the AAC format, it’s the format for Itunes audio downloads as of May 2007. In general it has a better sound than MP3 due to a lot of reasons that I understand, and many that are just frankly over my head (For example, I didn’t know what was a “Kaiser-Bessel derived window to eliminate spectral leakage”).

You can read about the AAC audio format here:
http://ipod.about.com/od/glossary/g/what_is_aac.htm

And you can read about the AAC vs Mp3 encoding differences here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding

Here is a highlight of the differences between AAC audio and Mp3 audio:

  • More sample frequencies (from 8 to 96 kHz) than MP3 (16 to 48 kHz)
  • Up to 48 channels (MP3 supports up to two channels in MPEG-1 mode and up to 5.1 channels in MPEG-2 mode)
  • Arbitrary bit-rates and variable frame length. Standardized constant bit rate with bit reservoir.
  • Higher efficiency and simpler filterbank (rather than MP3’s hybrid coding, AAC uses a pure MDCT)
  • Higher coding efficiency for stationary signals (AAC uses a blocksize of 1024 or 960 samples, allowing more efficient coding than MP3’s 576 sample blocks)
  • Higher coding accuracy for transient signals (AAC uses a blocksize of 128 or 120 samples, allowing more accurate coding than MP3’s 192 sample blocks)
  • Can use Kaiser-Bessel derived window function to eliminate spectral leakage at the expense of widening the main lobe
  • Much better handling of audio frequencies above 16 kHz
  • More flexible joint stereo (different methods can be used in different frequency ranges)
  • Adds additional modules (tools) to increase compression efficiency: TNS, Backwards Prediction, PNS etc… These modules can be combined to constitute different encoding profiles.

 

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