How To Make A Streaming Audio File

(These instructions are for PC users. Colleagues have assured me that the Mac versions work the same way).

What You'll Find Here:

System and Program Requirements
Digitizing the Lecture
Putting Your Streaming Audio File On the Web
Creating A Link to Your Streaming Audio RM File
Finding Streaming Audio Sites on the Web
On-line Tutorials

System and Program Requirements

1. Download the free RealProducer and free RealPlayer from RealAudio.

Note that both of these products have free and commercial versions. The free versions are completely adequate. You may have to hunt around on the RealAudio pages for links to the free versions. But hunt around; they are there.

2. In addition to these, you will need the following:

* Pentium-based PC with 10 Mb of hard drive space;

* a sound card that is installed – that is, that can take sound in as well as sound out. All sound cards come with installation disks or CD, but usually it isn’t necessary to install them simply to listen to sound through the speakers.

* a good quality cassette tape recorder – the best quality you can get – both for making a high-quality audio cassette of your lecture and for "inputting" the audio into your sound card. Therefore, it should have a "sound out" jack (often called AUX ) or an earphone jack.

* a cable – usually with 1/8 or "mini" jacks on either end – for transferring the audio from your cassette recorder (analog) to the computer through its sound card (digital).

3. When recording the sound on the cassette, be sure to get the highest quality sound you possibly can get. There is some loss of sound quality in converting from the cassette tape (analog) to the .RM format (digital). A lecture that is audible in cassette format may not be audible when digitized unless it is a high-quality recording to begin with.

Digitizing the Lecture

1. Connect the "sound out" of the cassette recorder to the "sound in" (often labelled MIC for "microphone) jack in your sound card, with your cable.

2. After installing RealProducer, open it. Press "cancel" when the New Session screen comes up, and go to the main screen.

3. Choose File – Recording Wizards – Record from Media Device (your tape recorder is the "media device").

4. Check the "Capture Audio" box only. Press "Next".

5. Fill in Title, Author, Copyright, Description, and Key Words appropriately for your lecture. Press "Next."

6. For "File Type" press "Single Rate for Web Servers". This is the smallest size file you can create. This is important, as the smaller the file, the less information must be passed over the Internet connection, and so the more fluently the file streams.

With decent audio, this and the rest of the settings create a file that is fine for lectures. Press "Next".

7. For "Target Audience" check the box marked 28.8 Kb modem. Again, this creates the smallest size file, and it is adequate with decent audio input. Many students access the Internet only through a 28.8 Kb modem from home. Press "Next".

8. For "Audio Format", check the box for "Voice Only." Again, this is adequate for lectures, and creates the smallest possible file. Press "Next".

9. For "Output File" and "File Name", browse to the directory on your hard drive where you want the .RM file to be created. The Default is to your desktop; it’s best to create it to a directory. Press "Next".

10. "Prepare To Record" summarizes all your settings and gives you a chance to back up and change any which are incorrect. If all is OK, press "Finish".

11. When you are ready, set your tape recorder to "Play" and press "Start" on RealProducer. After about a second, you will begin to digitize the file.

If you do not see any movement (yellow and red bars) in the "Audio Level" meter, your audio is not being received by the computer. I have found this occurs when the jack is loose, the tape recorder defective, or – usually – when the computer’s sound card has not bee properly installed to receive Sound In.

12. If all goes well, press "Stop" on RealProducer when your lecture has finished. RealProducer will take a few seconds to produce your .rm file.

Putting Your Streaming Audio File on the Web

1. Upload your RealMedia (.rm) file to a web server using FTP.

2. If more than one student at a time will have to listen to the file, ask your server administrator to install the RealMedia extensions on your server. This will make your server a "RealServer". Now it will be able to stream your file to many listeners at once, and each of them can be at a different point in the file.

Creating A Link To Your Streaming Audio .RM File

The older versions of RealMedia files had the RA extension.. It was possible to create a link to these files simply by putting the name of the file as filename.ra at the end of a normal HTTP link. .RA files could also be easily copied, just like HTML, GIF or JPG files.

Current RealMedia files are .RM files. To link to them, you must create a "pointer" file. This makes it impossible to copy the file without special software, and so is more secure.

Here is how to link to an .RM file, the kind you will be making:

1. Create a pnm link to a file with a RAM extension (.ram).

For example, I have a short .rm file called "Achebeanalysis.rm". It is a recording of me analyzing a paragraph from Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. I have uploaded this RealMedia file to a RealMedia server named, and put it in my subdirectory, /furrg The full path to the file, therefore, is:

The "pointer" file looks like this:


Save this and call it Achebeanalysis.ram

2. Upload this to any web server. I have put it on my regular web space, at

So the full path to this .ram file is

3. Create a link on any regular web page – say, on the Homework page for my "World Literature" course – just as you would a regular HTML file, like this

Now, when a student clicks on the link to the .ram file, that student’s browser will:

a. access the .ram file;

b. read it;

c. be directed to the .rm file, on another server;

d. automatically call up RealPlayer, which the student must have previously installed; and

e. download the "buffer", or first few seconds of the file, and automatically begin to play the file over RealPlayer.

Audio Level may be adjusted three ways:

1. RealPlayer itself has a slide audio control.

2. If played through the computer’s speakers, the speakers themselves will have a volume control;

3. Windows 95/98 have a volume control, in the form of a small yellow "speaker" icon on the working tray (right side of the Windows taskbar).

(If this icon is not visible, go to Start-Settings-Control Panel-Multimedia-Settings-Multimedia Properties-Audio-Playback, and check the box marked "Show volume control on the taskbar").

Finding Streaming Audio Sites on the Web

There are many Streaming Audio lectures and other recordings already freely available for linking to or even for downloading, on the web, and more all the time. The best way to locate them is to use one of a number of specialized Search Engines. Here are some of them:

1. "". You can use this right from RealPlayer. Go to the "View" pulldown menu and make sure "Search" is checked. A text form window is displayed into which you can type keywords for the kinds of files you want. This will connect your web browser to the search facility at You can also just go directly to in the first place.

2. RealAudio has a guide to Streaming Audio and Video files at

3. The Altavista search engine has an Audio and Video Search facility. Click on the "Images, Audio/Video" tab on the home page,

Other search engines also have facilities for searching for Streaming Audio. These are the ones I have found most helpful

On-Line Tutorials

1. There is a good one at "hotwired", the web page for Wired magazine, at:

2. Jonathan Angel, Realmedia Complete : Streaming Audio and Video over the Web, has been announced but not published by McGraw-Hill. The author has made chapters of the work available on-line, in PDF format (Adobe Acrobat Reader needed) at It’s for further reading – more than you need to know.