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Macromedia Inc has a new audio technology that it says avoids the long download time needed to get audio from the Internet before it can be heard hears our sister publication, Multimedia Futures. The San Francisco, California-based company released the technology in the latest version of its Shockwave software that allows interactive animation on Internet sites. The audio is scalable for FM to CD quality sound playing of the Web with a compression rate of 176:1. Macromedia developed the technology itself in house. Users need to download the Shockwave plug-in in order to view and hear any kind of animation or sound from a ‘shocked’ page. Once that has been installed in the Netscape folder, the user can form then on see animation and hear streaming sound with a click of a button, Macromedia said. The difference between the old Shockwave and the next is like the difference between an old record and a CD. It is going to really change the nature of audio on the Web, Norman Meyrowitz, senior vice president of engineering, who oversaw the product’s development told Reuters. The new version uses audio streaming, along with compression of the audio digital information, he said. In streaming, digits of audio data are received in packets a little at a time – or just enough to keep the sound coming in a normal-sounding way. That differs from downloading, in which the whole audio track isreceived, stored in a computer’s memory disk and then played back- a process that can take up to an hour depending on the audiotrack, the company said. It also differs from regular packet transmission, which produces static bursts of sound that does not replicate a real voice. The new Shockwave will be sold in Macromedia’ Director 5 and Sound Edit 16 products, which are part of Director MultimediaStudio 2, which will sell for $999. Macromedia said the user portion of the new Shockwave will also be available as part of Netscape Communications Corp’s PowerPack software, Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer and Windows95 and Apple Computer Inc’s Internet-ready Macintosh computers, as well as the next version of America On-line from America Online Corp.

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