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Versions: 00 01 rfc2586                                    Informational
draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99

                     The Audio/L16 MIME content type

                               Feb 5 1999

                              James Salsman

                         Harald Tveit Alvestrand

                          Status of this Memo

    This draft document is being circulated for comment.

    Please send comments to the authors.

    The following text is required by the Internet-draft rules:

    This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance
    with all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

    Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
    Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
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    Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
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    The file name of this version is draft-alvestrand-audio-l16-01.txt

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draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99

    1.  Introduction

    This document defines the audio/L16 MIME type, a reasonable
    quality audio format for use in Internet applications.

    Possible application areas include E-mail, Web served content,
    file upload in Web forms, and more.

    2.  The need for the Audio/L16 MIME type

    The set of IETF standard MIME types for audio is small; it
    consists of only the audio/basic and audio/32kadpcm types, which
    have a sampling rate of 8000 Kbits/second.

    Rates below 11025 may obscure consonant information, even for
    single-voice speech.  Common compressions, such as LPC, are known
    to be microphone-dependant and lossy.  Thus far all IETF MIME
    Audio types either default to 8000 samples per second or use LPC.

    In order for advanced speech recognition and related educational
    applications to make use of internet transports (such as RFC 1867
    file uploading) which use MIME typing, higher standards are

    This type repairs that lack by registering a very simple MIME type
    that allows higher rate, linear-encoded audio with multiple

    This is an IESG approved MIME type, and its definition is
    therefore published as an RFC.

    Please note that there are many other Audio types described in RFC
    1890 [1] which IANA may wish to formally register; this one, of
    all of them, seems to be most immediately needed.  This document
    may also serve as a template for further registrations of these
    audio types.

    3.  The definition of Audio/L16

    Audio/L16 is based on the well know audio format "L16" described
    in RFC 1890 section 4.4.8 for use with RTP transport.

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draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99

    L16 denotes uncompressed audio data, using 16-bit signed
    representation in twos-complement notation and network byte order.
    (From section 4.4.8 of RFC 1890)

    It may be parametrized by varying the sample rate and the number
    of channels; the parameters are given on the MIME type header.

    In order to promote interoperability, only a few rate values are
    standardized here. Other values may NOT be used except by
    bilateral agreement.

    If multiple audio channels are used, channels are numbered left-
    to- right, starting at one. Samples are put into the data stream
    from each channel in succession; information from lower-numbered
    channels precedes that from higher-numbered channels.

    For more than two channels, the convention followed by the AIFF-C
    audio interchange format should be followed [1], using the
    following notation:

       l    left
       r    right
       c    center
       S    surround
       F    front
       R    rear

       channels    description                 channel
                                   1     2     3     4     5     6
       2           stereo          l     r
       3                           l     r     c
       4           quadrophonic    Fl    Fr    Rl    Rr
       4                           l     c     r     S
       5                           Fl    Fr    Fc    Sl    Sr
       6                           l     lc    c     r     rc    S

    (From RFC 1890 section 4.1)

    4.  IANA registration form for Audio/L16

    MIME media type name : Audio

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draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99

    MIME subtype name : L16

    Required parameters
         rate: number of samples per second -- Permissible values for
         rate are 8000, 11025, 16000, 22050, 24000, 32000, 44100, and
         48000 samples per second.

    Optional parameters
         channels: how many audio streams are interleaved -- defaults
         to 1; stereo would be 2, etc.  Interleaving takes place
         between individual two-byte samples.

    Encoding considerations
         Audio data is binary data, and must be encoded for non-binary
         transport; the Base64 encoding is suitable for Email.  Note
         that audio data does not compress easily using lossless

    Security considerations
         Audio data is believed to offer no security risks.

    Interoperability considerations

         This type is compatible with the encoding used in the WAV
         (Microsoft Windows RIFF) and Apple AIFF union types, and with
         the public domain "sox" and "rateconv" programs.

    Published specification
         <<< Replace with RFC number at publication >>>

    Applications which use this media
         The public domain "sox" and "rateconv" programs accept this

         1. Magic number(s) : None
         2. File extension(s) : WAV L16
         3. Macintosh file type code : AIFF

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draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99

    Person to contact for further information

         1. Name : James Salsman
         2. E-mail : jps-L16@bovik.org

    Intended usage

         It is expected that many audio and speech applications will
         use this type.  Already the most popular platforms provide
         this type with the rate=11025 parameter referred to as "radio
         quality speech."

    Author/Change controller
         James Salsman

    5.  Security considerations

    The audio data is believed to offer no security risks.

    Note that RFC 1890 permits an application to choose to play a
    single channel from a multichannel tranmission; an attacker who
    knows that two different users will pick different channels could
    concievably construct some confusing messages; this, however, is

    This type is perfect for hiding data using steganography.

    6.  References

    [1]  Audio-Video Transport Working Group, H. Schulzrinne: RTP
         Profile for Audio and Video Conferences with Minimal Control,
         RFC 1890, January 1996

    7.  Author's address
    James Salsman
    575 S. Rengstorff Avenue
    Mountain View, CA  94040-1982 US

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draft                          Audio/L16                   February 99


    Harald Tveit Alvestrand
    N-7034 TRONDHEIM

    +47 73 59 70 94

    8. Copyright statement

    The full ISOC copyright statement should be inserted here by the
    RFC editor on publication.

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