Our music products provide you with thousands of high quality music tracks for browsing and listening.
The player is a small pop-up window that loads when you click the Play icons or links on our service. It enables you to manage your listening experience, and contains the following controls:
By clicking on the information button ('i') next to the playlist detail, a pop-up will appear allowing you to see all the other tracks in the playlist. You can choose to play them from here, or add them to My Playlists. Also, if you click the information button corresponding to the track currently playing, a pop-up will appear providing you with detailed information about the track, composer, artists and more.
In order to hear music on this service, your computer must be compatible with our minimum specifications. Please read our compatibility help files for more information.
Listening to playlists, individual tracks and whole works
Clicking on a play icon or link will launch the player in a separate window, and your chosen track will automatically begin loading and playing. It can take several seconds for a track to load before it starts playing, depending on your connection speed, so do not be concerned by a short delay.
Audio format, encoding and quality
Listening online requires your computer to 'stream' music. This is where a file is sent from our servers to your computer bit-by-bit. The music you hear is sent to your computer only a few seconds before you actually hear it. This is done in order to avoid long delays before a track may be heard. The file is temporary, meaning that you are not downloading a copy to keep.
In order to achieve this, we encode versions of our music (from the master recordings) at lower bit-rates. The 'bit-rate' is the amount of data we send to your computer each second. The higher the bit-rate, the higher the quality, and the greater bandwidth is required. For example a typical modem can cope with 56kbps (56 thousand bits of information per second).
After much testing, we chose Windows Media format for our streaming files, because we believe it gives better quality. We are currently re-encoding all our music in the new Windows Media 9 format, which will give further improvements.
Netscape and Mactintosh users
Currently, Windows Media format is only available for PC users, browsing the service with Internet Explorer version 5.5 or more recent. Because of the difficulties in streaming audio to users with Netscape browsers and Macintosh computers, we have chosen to stream music to these users in MP3 format. This is done using the Macromedia Flash player.
MP3 offers slightly less high quality streaming music than Windows Media 9. We are always looking at new ways to improve the quality of our streams and will alter our formats and streaming technologies wherever and whenever we can to make the experience equally good for users of all platforms.