Acquiring Audio for Web Design in HTML

Like with other media types, there are various ways to acquire audio for use in Web design, each of which is suitable for various types of projects. The most common acquisition methods are discussed here, which include stock audio, ripping tracks from discs, digitizing tracks from vinyl records, and creating them from scratch.

1. Stock Audio

As with stock images, there are both free and commercial stock audios of various categories and qualities available on the Web that can be used for non-unique audio requirements in a project. Categories range from different types of music to various nonmusical types of sounds, including natural and artificial ones. Some are free for both private use and commercial use, as long as they are not reproduced for sale, whereas license needs to be purchased to use some for commercial or other specific purposes. A license may be for unlimited use (as in the case of royalty-free stock audios), which means that they may be used for any purpose and modified as required, without permission. A license may also be for just one-time use (as in the case of rights-managed stock audios), or there might be other terms involved. Some of the websites that provide commercial stock images also provide audio.

2. Ripping Tracks from Discs

Audios can be obtained by ripping (extracting) them from audio CDs or DVDs and then converting them to the desired format, either to directly use in an application or to import into a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which is the software used for audio recording, editing, and processing, for further processing or for combining with other audio and/or MIDI tracks. The main media players provide the feature for ripping tracks from CDs, including Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and iTunes. Examples of ripping software for Linux include K3b for KDE desktop and Sound Juicer for GNOME. Although major platforms have not yet, as of time of writing, provided functions for ripping audio from DVDs, there are cheap and free programs available for doing this, and to use them requires little more than opening a DVD from the program, selecting the titles or chapters to be ripped, and specifying the required quality parameters (such as sampling rate and bit rate), output format, and volume. However, there are typically issues of intellectual property involved when using this method. This matter is discussed later in this chapter.

3. Digitizing Tracks from Vinyl Records

Sometimes, the most suitable audio is only available on some old vinyl records. Sound tracks from vinyl records are analog signals and therefore need to be converted to digital audio. There are various ways in which this is done. For example, the analog output from a turntable player (or from the amplifier used to amplify its signal) is fed to the line input of a computer’s sound card or an audio interface connected to the computer, and a DAW is used to record the resulting digital audio to mono or stereo tracks. Modem turntables designed specifically to help convert vinyl record tracks to digital tracks provide USB interface for connecting directly to the computer. In some cases, these turntables also provide special software for managing and automating the process. As with ripping, copyright issues are typically involved when using this method. Again, this matter is discussed later in this chapter.

4. Creating Audio from Scratch

Creating audio for a project from scratch is the most difficult and, perhaps, the most expensive, because it requires bringing together various components and resources, not least time. It also requires more skills than other methods to get the desired sound, depending on various factors, such as what is being produced. If what is being produced is just a basic sound, such as the sound of a knock, then this is less difficult than producing a musical piece that contains multiple instruments and vocals.

While a high-quality multi-track production would typically require going to a professional recording studio, good-quality music can also be produced in a modest home studio with minimum cost, given that there are free and inexpensive DAWs that are capable of producing good-quality sound and come with decent-sounding virtual instruments plug-in, such as piano, synthesizer, and dmms, and even audio effects plug-ins, various types of which are also available for free on the Web. The standard types of audio effects used in audio production are discussed later in the chapter. Other recording tools, such as microphone, speakers, headphones, and MIDI keyboard or any other type of MIDI controller, can also be acquired at relatively cheap prices. Figure 7.11 shows an example of an audio and MIDI recording setup.

FIGURE 7.11 A basic computer-mediated sound-recording setup

Most modern DAWs are relatively easy and intuitive to use. Where the aim is to produce music, then some composing talent is necessary; how this is done depends on technique. For example, if all that the production is going to involve is the use of audio and/or MIDI loops, then only the talent to recognize the desire loops and combine them creatively is needed, whereas if tracks are going to be created from scratch, then the talent to compose tunes is certainly more crucial. Loops are short ready-made audio samples or MIDI patterns that can be used in tracks, instead of recording or creating them from scratch. The samples could be of anything from guitar riffs to drum parts, and the MIDI patterns are MIDI data designed to be used to play specific virtual instruments.

Whatever approach is used, producing a musical piece with multiple tracks typically involves creating the individual audio or MIDI tracks by recording them or by using loops, or both. Where live instruments are not available, such as in a small studio, the practice is to first create the instrument tracks as MIDI tracks and then convert them to audio later, when satisfied with them. Typically, the drums are done first, then the bass guitar, and then everything else one at a time, including vocals. The resulting audio tracks are then edited and processed, as desired, using audio effects and various types of processing, after which they are finally mixed down into a stereo (two-track) piece that is ready to be used in an application.

Source: Sklar David (2016), HTML: A Gentle Introduction to the Web’s Most Popular Language, O’Reilly Media; 1st edition.

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