A one-way audio transmission over a data network. It is widely used on the Web as well as company networks to play audio clips and Internet radio. Computers in home networks stream audio (mostly music) to digital media hubs connected to home theaters. Unlike sound files that are played after the entire file has been downloaded and stored, streaming audio begins playing after only a small amount is received, and the audio data are not stored permanently in the destination computer. See digital media hub.|
If the streaming audio is broadcast live, then it may be called "real-time audio." However, technically, real time means no delays, and there is a built-in delay in streaming audio (see real-time audio).
It's Already in the Buffer
Listening to momentary blips in music or a conversation is annoying, and the only way to compensate for that over an erratic network such as the Internet is to get some of the audio data into the computer before you start listening to it. In streaming audio, both the client and server cooperate for uninterrupted sound. The client side stores a few seconds of sound in a buffer before it starts sending it to the speakers. Throughout the session, it continues to receive audio data ahead of time.
VoIP Is More Demanding
Voice over IP (VoIP) is more taxing on the network than streaming audio. It requires real-time, two-way transmission with sufficient bandwidth for audio coming in and going out at the same time without being able to buffer any of it. See streaming video, home theater streaming, VoIP and Windows Media.