.: We believe that we are just at the beginning of a fundamental change in the way we live music and movies

Imagine a world where you can reduce to ZERO the distance between music, movies and yourself. You would have almost instant access to all the music you own, and would not waste time looking for that special track on one of your numerous CDs or LPs or tapes (to finally realize that you lent it to somebody who never returned it to you...). It means you can have all the music you like, always with you, organized the way you like. This can awaken so many memories thanks to the wonderful capability of music to generate mental associations... And also, it is an opportunity to discover new music that you never heard of and that you are very likely to like because either you can find it more easily or because it comes to you...

  • Far more than Napster ! Napster generated a big wave in the digital music scene of the years 1999 and 2000, and certainly brought the concept of reducing distance between music and people a great step forward by enabling people to share music files. But before Napster, which became very famous at lightspeed, the mp3 phenomenon provided the basis for music storage and sharing on computers. Mp3 is a file format and a compression codec which became famous in 1995 by its capability to greatly reduce the space of music files, enabling music storage on computers and distribution through the Internet. Complementary to the mp3 wave (and before the Napster wave), we have seen the emergence of music players and jukeboxes, entirely downloadable through the Internet. Without these, nobody would want to use computers to listen to music. Virtuosa� was born in 1997 and is one of these innovating pioneers. In parallel, but more slowly, equivalent waves have impacted video files. We can see that the amplitude of these waves is major, and that they come from the consumer side. This means that many of us understand and are willing to reap the benefits of having their music and movie collection on their computer.

  • The advantages of digital music & movies. Literature is abundant in describing how easy and great tomorrow's world will be, but, in fact, it is actually already today's reality. Computers are now powerful enough to be used as a receptacle of all your preferred media elements : accumulate all your favorite songs since your childhood, your family videos, some movies, pictures,... You can have your entire collection of memories always at hand. How fascinating, and this is just the beginning. This creates another challenge, the one of organizing all of this.

  • What type of technical equipment do I need ? To enjoy all of these great benefits you need a computer, speakers (it can be your HiFi), a good soundcard (for better sound quality) and an audio wire between these two (usually the type : two RCA jacks to stereo 1/4" plug, or two (RCA) phono plugs at each end). Listening to your MP3 collection on your computer is great--as long as you're wearing headphones or don't mind the tinny sound that comes out of most computer speakers. For the real deal, you need to connect that boundless entertainment device you call your PC to that peripheral you call your home stereo. That way, you'll get the best of both worlds : Internet music and home-stereo sound. It's a simple concept but a connection that is rarely made. To do this, follow the simple steps described below (source CNet) :

    If your computer is near your stereo :

    If your computer is not near your stereo :

    Step One:
    Make sure your computer has a sound card. To find out, right-click the My Computer icon, choose Properties, select the Device Manager tab, and scroll down until you see the sound, video, and game controllers section. You should see a sound card listed there.

    If you don't have a sound card, you'll need to buy one. Be sure to choose a sound card with a stereo output and a better than 85 dB signal-to-noise ratio. Sound Blaster cards are a good choice for audio.

    Step Two:
    Go to an electronics store and ask for a cable that has a mini headphone jack on one end and two dual RCA plugs on the other end, this is the most usual. Sometimes you need the following type, according to the outputs of your soundcard : two (RCA) phono plugs at each end. They're cheap.

    Step Three:
    Insert the headphone jack end into your sound card's line output. You can also use the speaker output, but the line output will have a cleaner signal. You can toggle between these using your sound card's software.

    Step Four:
    Insert the RCA jacks into the back of your stereo amplifier/receiver. The auxiliary input is ideal, but any input except the phono input will work.

    Step Five:
    Play a music file on your computer, and select auxiliary (or whichever input you used) on your amplifier/receiver. Voil�!

    Step One:
    Make sure your computer has a sound card. To find out, right-click the My Computer icon, choose Properties, select the Device Manager tab, and scroll down until you see the sound, video, and game controllers section. You should see a sound card listed there.

    If you don't have a sound card, you'll need to buy one. Be sure to choose a sound card with a stereo output and a better than 85 dB signal-to-noise ratio. Sound Blaster cards are a good choice for audio.

    Step Two:
    Buy a device that is designed to send sound wirelessly within your house. MP3 Anywhere, SonicBox, and the NetPlay Radio can all send audio to your stereo without wires.

    Step Three:
    Follow the installation instructions, and soon you'll have music on your PC playing from your stereo, sans wires.

    Problems ?
    • No sound at all : double-click the speaker icon in the Windows tray, and make sure your Wave and Volume levels are high enough. Then try a different output on your sound card, or use its software to toggle the output to a different jack.
    • Poor sound quality: even with a cheap sound card, there are still things you can do to produce a cleaner sound. Try turning down the volume on your computer (you can access the volume controls by double-clicking the speaker icon in your system tray) and turning up the volume on your stereo. Then, turn down the levels for CD Audio, Microphone, and Line-In all the way to cut down on interference.

  • What kind of technical know-how do I need ? Frankly the digital media space on the Internet is quite sophisticated. There are many standards, issues, and barriers to increase the distance between music, movies and you. We believe that Virtuosa� addresses most of these by integrating many functionalities within one application, and by providing users with a full range of learning and creating possibilities (help file, faq, forum, skins, plugins,...). The interface has also especially been studied to provide maximum flexibility and comfort of use. It is a complete package that is both easy for beginners and powerful for advanced users.

  • What about quality ? Well, this is one of the difficult topics to talk about, because it is very subjective. Uncompressed audio takes about 10.6 Megabytes of storage per minute, making it unusable for large collections. Video is even worse, as a full-length full-screen DVD movie takes about 3 to 4 Gigabytes. So, you need to compress this data unless you have huge hard disk capacity. Therefore compression codecs (COmpression-DECompression) are used to reduce the audio or video file size while trying to keep a similar level of quality. Sure, there are studies demonstrating that compression diminishes the overall audio quality, but it essentially is a subjective question and a necessary trade-off. Today's CODECs are nonetheless really impressive and maintain very acceptable quality overall. 

  • What about file formats ? As said above, these are numerous on the Internet and very handy to reduce audio and video file size. To allow you to choose the one that best suits your needs, Virtuosa� features the whole range of standard CODECs and file formats available today on the Internet. This also means that Virtuosa� will play all standard audio and video files seamlessly, regardless of formats, making your life easier.

  • What about copyrights ? This is a central and very important question. To go straight to the point : no you are not infringing copyrights if you use Virtuosa�.
    • Distribution : in most countries, you are allowed to make private copies of the Audio CDs you own. This means that you may copy tracks from these CDs and use them on your computer, as well as make compilation CDs if it is for your OWN personal use (in some countries it is also ok if it circulates within your family), or put them on your portable player. What you can also do is download tracks from the Internet, if they have been authorized for distribution by the copyright owners. Sites displayed in our music partners section do have authorized tracks. There are more to be found easily on the Internet. In addition, you may also send playlists (the order of the tracks, without the tracks themselves) to your friends, since you created it yourself. What you MAY NOT do is download or redistribute tracks which have not been authorized for distribution by the copyright owners, either digitally or physically.
    • Performance : depending on the country in which you are, you will be allowed to perform tracks to a small audience, but according to its size and your reach, you will usually have to contact a copyright collection agency and pay public performance royalties. If you actually broadcast it you will also need a broadcasting license. 

  • Check the Virtuosa guided tour now to learn more about Virtuosa.


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