About Audio Recordings from Living Bible Studies

Living Bible Studies distributes audio recordings of Bible studies recorded in WMA and AAC format. When available, these files can be downloaded from the website and played on a computer or other device.

What is AAC?

AAC is a standard format for compressing digital audio recordings. As a standard, many computers and portable audio players are able to play files recorded in this format. In particular, this is the format used by Apple Computer in their iTunes application. Recordings in AAC format can be played on Apple products such as the Apple iPod.

What is WMA?

WMA is a format for compressing digital audio recordings and was developed by Microsoft. WMA is often supported by devices other than those made by Apple. Many CD players and MP3 players can be used to play WMA files in addition to computers running Microsoft Windows.

Playing WMA and AAC Files

When a WMA or AAC file is available, a link will be provided, often labeled either WMA or AAC. Clicking one of these links will either play the file or allow you to download it to your computer. The exact behaviour will depend on your computer's configuration.

If you have suitable software installed you will be able to play the WMA or AAC file on your computer by selecting the link on the website or the file on your computer. A Microsoft Windows computer will likely have the necessary software installed for WMA. An Apple computer will have the necessary software to play AAC files. AAC files can be played on a Microsoft Windows system by installing iTunes from Apple.

Most portable media players (A.K.A. MP3 players) are able to play WMA and AAC files. Download files from our website and copy them to your media player the same way you would with other audio recordings.

Many CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray players currently in production (including many car stereos) are able to play WMA and AAC files from CDR, CDRW, DVDR, and DVDRW media. You can do this by downloading the file(s) from the website and burn them to a CDR or other recordable disk using software on your computer. Note that you will be creating a data disk that contains audio files. Your software will probably also support audio disks as well, which are different and described below. An advantage of the data disk is that a single disk can store many bible studies.

Virtually all CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray players will play audio recorded on a CDR disk. These are audio disks, instead of the data disks described above. You can use your computer to burn an audio disk from a WMA or AAC file using the same software that burns data disks. The advantage of the audio disk is greater compatibility among CD players, particularly car stereos. The disadvantage is that you will not be able to fit more than one or two bible studies on a single disk because CDR disks are limited to 80 minutes of audio.

When audio recordings are available on our website, they are also available on a CDR from Living Bible Studies. These disks will contain WMA or AAC recordings and be provied in sets for complete study series. They are useful if you have difficulty downloading from our website or recording CDR disks yourself. To obtain one of these disks, contact us using the address provided on our home page. Be sure to tell us the name of the author, the name of the series, and the file format you want to receive (AAC or WMA).

Which Format?

We have selected WMA and AAC formats for a variety of reasons. The RealAudio format that we used in the past is generally limited to playback on a computer. Portable players and CD players rarely provide support. Although MP3 is a very popular format, licensing requirements related to this format are unclear at best and cost prohibitive at worst. AAC is a promising format with support from Apple Computer, although it is less commonly encountered than MP3 and WMA.

So what should you use? Our current plans call for us to offer WMA and AAC. You should select the format that works for you on your equipment. Many people will be able to use either. In this case, choose AAC. Our experience so far indicates that we can utilize much higher compression ratios than we use with WMA without compatiblity issues. Higher compression means smaller files, faster file downloads, and more files on a CDR.

Problems

Unfortunately, Living Bible Studies does not have the resources to diagnose problems with your computer.

WMA and AAC files are widely supported, but there are a few potential problems. At this time they are not as popular as MP3, and some devices will not support all formats.

Probably the single biggest problem encountered when distributing WMA files is selecting an encoding rate. WMA, like MP3 and AAC is a compressed audio format. The original WAV recording of about 200 megabytes is compressed to about 20 megabytes in a WMA file or 7 megabytes in AAC. This compression is imporant since we have archives of thousands of bible studies that we want to publish and storage space can be problem. Downloading the file is another issue affecting file size, and compression allows faster downloads and more studies to be placed on your media player or data disk.

Compressed audio formats allow us to choose the compression ratio. High compression comes at the expense of reduced fidelity. For voice recordings such as we distribute, fidelity is not much of a problem and the 10:1 ratio we are using with WMA yields good sound. Music is often recorded at much lower ratios to preserve the quality of the music. Most MP3 and WMA players are designed for music and so they are designed for the low compression ratios often used for music. They may not be tested with high ratio files. This can cause problems for users when they buy a device that is advertised to play WMA files, but in fact does not work well with the compression ratio we use. Actually, we use a lower compression ratio than we would like in order to increase compatibility. There is really no way to know if a particular device is going to work with our files without testing it.

The WMA and AAC files we distribute on this site are not DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected. So, you do not need a DRM capable playback device to use these recordings.


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