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Just this week, Spotify began testing “lossless” audio files. But what is “lossless” audio, exactly, and how does digital audio compression work?

How Does Audio Compression Work?

The goal in audio compression is to reduce the number of bits required to accurately reproduce an analog sound. The first process we’ll look at is called “lossy.” Lossy compression is a one-way technique that throws away non-critical data to save space. These techniques are the most common methods used to compress audio files, showing up in MP3, AAC and WMA files alike. There are two places that lossy codecs look to save bits: bit rate and psychoacoustics.

Bit Rate

Bit rate measures the amount of bits used to encode a single second of audio. For example, if we use low-quality, 8 kilobit-per-second (kbps) encoding, our algorithm is limited to using only 8 kilobits of data to describe each second of audio. That’s like trying to describe a full-color photograph with only a few hundred pixels. You might get the broad strokes right, but overall you’ll be looking at a severely degraded image. If we use a higher-quality bit rate like 192 kbps, we have plenty of room to cover nuanced details. To return to our photographic example, we now have enough pixels to describe the various lights, darks and colors in an image. A high bit rate doesn’t determine the quality of a recording on its own, but a low bit rate can severely limit output quality.


Psychoacoustics is the science of how the brain understands sounds. By manipulating known quirks in the way humans perceive sound, compression algorithms can cleverly remove details that most human ears won’t miss. The goal is to “round off” information that won’t change the perceived audio quality of a track, judiciously removing only unimportant information.

Frequency can also impact how well we perceive sounds. For example, a persistent, low-frequency drum beat tends to drown out the more delicate, higher-frequency harmonics of melodic instruments. And sound masking is especially effective above 15kHz, where human hearing is typically less sensitive to begin with.

What Is “Lossless” Audio?

Lossless audio compression’s goal is to reduce file size while leaving the original audio untouched. These codecs don’t use any of the permanent compression techniques above, focusing instead on fully-reversible data compression methods. They use lossless compression techniques borrowed from file-compression algorithms like ZIP to remove redundant data while preserving the integrity of the underlying information. Two popular lossless audio codecs – FLAC and Apple Lossless (ALAC) – both use schemes based on ZIP compression.

Focusing on data compression only means preserving many of the details that MP3 and other lossy standards would obliterate. If you have sharp ears and a high-quality listening setup, the difference can be palpable.

Lossless compression isn’t only good for listening, though: it’s also a great storage tool. Just like you wouldn’t want a 72dpi JPG to be the sole digital copy of Ansel Adam’s photographs, we don’t want only 128kbps MP3s of “Kind of Blue.” Lossless standards like FLAC allow us to store audio efficiently without throwing away potentially valuable data. They also make remastering and redistributing that audio easier, since starting with uncompromised masters means a higher quality finished product.

Conclusion: Can You Tell the Difference?

Lossless audio formats allow for better sounding recordings. But sometimes the differences between a high-quality MP3 and a lossless file are nearly imperceptible, especially to the untrained ear. If you want to see if your headphones (and ears) are keen enough to tell the difference, NPR has a fun test; just keep in mind that cheap headphones and laptop speakers won’t be able to reproduce the subtle differences between lossless audio and MP3s. For a more serious analysis of codecs, check out SoundExpert’s encoder ratings.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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You're reading How Does Audio Compression Work, And What Is “Lossless” Audio?

What Is Google Home Mini And How Does It Work

What Is Google Home Mini and How Does It Work

What Is Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is a voice-controlled compact speaker that can play music, controls home smart gadgets, can answer trivial questions, creates a calendar, add things to the shopping cart, play videos on Chromecast, and much more. 

If you have Google Home and you want to extend the capabilities of the smart speaker, you can add Google Home Mini to the club. 

Also Read: Keep Your Schedule Right with these Calender Apps

Google Home Mini Features

The special feature about Google Home Mini is its size; Google Home Mini comes in the size of a donut. 

Google Home Mini looks like an air-freshener with a diameter of 4-inch and curved sides. 

Google Home Mini is a little bit larger than Amazon’s Echo Dot. However, the sloppy sides and soft shape look more ominous and give a unique look. 

Available in three colors-dark gray, light gray, and coral red. Such colors give a modern and inoffensive look to the home with HGTV-slash-Apple-Store home décor. 

The top is covered with a textured fabric that always provides a brand new look. However, I have a strong feeling that it will catch dust easily. 

Additionally, if you are a pet owner, you have to keep it in a safe place where pets like dogs and cats can’t reach. Otherwise, it will be scratched. 

Volume is tap controlled like you have to tap on the right and left side to control the volume of the smart speaker. Middle tapping will pause the music or alarm or cancel any command. Additionally, the touch is much sensitive. 

Google has disabled “Hey Google” or “ Ok Google ” features due to bugs in the system.

Meanwhile, the Google Home Mini looks cool and nice and comes with longevity and usability. 

There are four multi-colored lights that light when Google Mini listens, processes, and mutes. 

The unique feature is the additional mute button on the back of the Google Home Mini. You can also mute Google Mini with voice control. 

The Google Home Mini actually works equivalent t three speakers placed in different places at home. A top-firing smart speaker can be the appropriate name for the Google Home Mini. 

Mini microphones are so cool that they can listen even while playing music in the other room. 

But, sources state that the call feature does not work properly. 

Therefore, if you want to use the smart speaker for playing music with better audio quality . You can use it as a Bluetooth speaker. But, if you have a cast speaker, you can make most of the Google Home Mini.

Google Home Mini on a Comparison Table

Good Features Bad Features

Good sound quality

Dust catching fabric

Unique and attractive design

Limited audio

Cost friendly 

Issues faced in calling

Google Home vs. Google Home Mini

Perfect sound

Audio is good

Good microphone sensitivity

Good microphone sensitivity

Unique design

Compact and unique design

Multi-color LED Light

Multi-color LED Lights, add colors to the décor

Charging point

Lacks touch controls on the top 

How to use Google Home Mini

Below-mentioned is the steps to use Google Home Mini: 

1. Plug the power cable in your Google Mini. 

2. Plug the adapter in a wall switchboard. 

3. Set up your Google Home Mini (download the app and set up the device).

4. Start having a conversation with your Google Home Mini and enjoy it. 

I hope the blog was useful and informative in terms of Google Home Mini. Comment down and let us know which feature you like about Google Home and Google Home Mini. 

Thanks for reading. 

Read Next:

How To Lock Down Privacy on Amazon Echo and Google home

Tips To Protect Your Google Home Assistant

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About the author

Aayushi Kapoor

What Is Nat, How Does It Work, And Why Is It Used?

You might have heard of something called an IP Address, – if you haven’t, start off by reading our article explaining the concept – but for this article on NAT (Network Address Translation) you need to know that IP addresses are limited. You also can’t have two devices on a network with the same IP address. 

The problem is that different networks, such as your home network and computers on the internet as a whole, will inevitably have the same IP addresses or have incompatibilities in how their network addresses are set up. NAT solved both the problem of IP address scarcity and incompatible networks that need to talk to each other. 

Table of Contents

Most of the time it’s not something you need to worry about, but sometimes your internet woes are a result of NAT going wrong. So having a basic understanding of what NAT is and how it works can help solve the issue.

Where Does NAT Happen?

In the case of regular users like us, NAT is a job handled by your router. The router has an IP address assigned to it by your service provider. That’s the address that the rest of the internet sees. Every device on your home network is assigned a private IP address, which is what they’ll use to talk to each other. 

When a device on your network wants to communicate with the outside world, the router stands in for it. The router has a public IP address, which everyone else sees. It keeps track of which private IP addresses requested what traffic and makes sure the data packets are routed to the right device.

Private Vs Public IP Addresses

By convention, certain ranges of IP addresses are reserved for specific purposes. Public IP addresses are reserved for the internet-facing devices such as your router or web servers. Your ISP allocates a public IP address to your router and that’s the address that all outsiders on the web see. Typically a private internet address is something like 192.168.0.X or 10.1.1.X, but this varies from one router to the next. While private addresses have to be unique within a private network, they are almost certainly the same between private networks.

A public IP address, as mentioned above, is the one seen by everyone else on the internet. When you visit a website, your browser is connected to its public IP address. Typically, home routers don’t allow direct access through its public IP address that wasn’t initiated by it. This means you can’t just type in the public address of your friend’s router and have access to devices on their network.

However, some web services and devices, such as video game consoles, need a more lenient approach. This is where various NAT types come into play. Often problems arise from your connection’s NAT type being wrong for the type of service you’re trying to use. We’ll cover NAT types in more detail next.

NAT Types

While the basic idea of what NAT is isn’t too complicated, in practice there’s a lot of nuance to how it actually works. There are various types of NAT that are appropriate for different translation needs. 

Static NAT

The static style of NAT maps one specific private IP address to a specific public IP address. With static NAT it’s possible to access the device mapped to the public address directly. 

This is the type of NAT used for web servers that are also part of a private network. When accessing the server through this static map, you can’t also access the other devices on its private network. The server itself, however, can talk to the devices on its private network with no issue.

Dynamic NAT

Dynamic NAT is used when you have a pool of public IP addresses that you want to dynamically assign to the devices on your private network. 

This is not used for web server access from outside the network. Instead, when a device on the private network wants to access the internet or another resource not on the private network, it is assigned one of the public IP addresses in the pool. 

NAT Overload (PAT)

With elements of both static and dynamic NAT, the NAT overload style is the most common form and is what most home routers use. It’s known as NAT with Port Address Translation (PAT) among other names.

In most cases, your router has one public IP address assigned to it, yet all the devices on your network probably want internet access. Using NAT overload the router sets up a connection between its public IP address and that of the server. It then sends the packets to the server, but also assigns a return destination port. 

This helps it know which packets are meant for which IP address on your private network. That’s the PAT part of the process, incidentally.

Proprietary NAT Types

To muddle things even more, some companies have decided to slap their own NAT classifications on things. This is mostly applicable to game consoles and you’ll find that when you do a network test, it will tell you that you’re using something like NAT Type 2 or NAT Type D. 

These classifications are specific to the console or device makers and you should check their official documentation to figure out what each classification actually means.

Common Fixes for NAT Issues

Most of the time, for most people, NAT works perfectly and with complete transparency. Sometimes however, it malfunctions or gets in the way. 

Once again, game consoles are most likely to run into issues, because some of their services need your network to accept access requests to your public IP address from outside, since standard NAT configurations usually don’t allow this. The good news is that there are a few common fixes you can try to make NAT less restrictive and allow incoming connections.

You also have the option of doing manual port forwarding, so that devices that need a less strict connection can get it on a case-by-case basis.

It’s Only NATural 

What Is A Storage Area Network (San) And How Does It Work?

Everyone seems to want to jump into purchasing a SAN; sometimes they are quite passionate about the technology. SANs are, admittedly, pretty cool. They are one of the more fun and exciting large-scale hardware items that most IT professionals get a chance to have in their own shops. Often the desire to have a SAN of one’s own is a matter of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Using a SAN has become a bit of a status symbol — one of those last bastions of big business IT that you only see in a dedicated server closet and never in someone’s home (well, almost never).

SAN is a soft term used to mean multiple things at different times and can become quite confusing. In the context of this article, I use SAN in its most common context, that is to mean a “block storage device” and not to refer to the entire storage network.

SAN provides back-end storage. The need for it would be, in all cases, determined by other aspects of your architecture. If you have not yet decided upon many other pieces of your infrastructure, you simply cannot know that a SAN is going to be necessary, or even useful, in the final design.

It is clear that the drive to implement a SAN is so strong that often entire projects are devised with little purpose except, it would seem, to justify the purchase of the SAN. As with any project, the first question that one must ask is “What is the business need that we are attempting to fill?” Not “We want to buy a SAN, where can we use it?”

SANs are complex, and with complexity comes fragility. Very often SANs carry high cost.

But the scariest aspect of a SAN is the widespread lack of deep industry knowledge concerning them. SANs pose huge technical and business risk that must be overcome to justify their use. SANs are, without a doubt, very exciting and quite useful, but that is seldom good enough to warrant the desire for one.

We refer to SANs as “the storage of last resort.” What this means is, when picking types of storage, you hope that you can use any of the other alternatives such as local drives, DAS (Direct Attached Storage) or NAS (Network Attached Storage) rather than SAN. Most times, other options work wonderfully. But there are times when the business needs demand requirements that can only reasonably be met with a SAN. When those come up, we have no choice and must use a SAN. But generally it can be avoided in favor of simpler and normally less costly or risky options.

I find that most people looking to implement a SAN are doing so under a number of misconceptions.

The first is that SANs, by their very nature, are highly reliable. While there are certainly many SAN vendors and specific SAN products that are amazingly reliable, the same could be said about any IT product.

High-end servers in the price range of high-end SANs are every bit as reliable as SANs. Since SANs are made from the same hardware components as normal servers, there is no magic to making them more reliable. Anything that can be used to make a SAN reliable is a trickle down of server RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) technologies.

Just like SAN, NAS and DAS, as well as local disks, can be made incredibly reliable. SAN only refers to the device being used to serve block storage rather than perform some other task. A SAN is just a very simple server. SANs encompass the entire range of reliability with mainframe-like reliability at the top end to devices that are nothing more than external hard drives — the most unreliable network devices on your network &mdash: on the bottom end.

SANs have gained a reputation for reliability because businesses put often extreme budgets into their SANs that they do not put into their servers. So they are often comparing is a relatively high end SAN to a budget server.

The second misconception is that SAN means “big” and NAS means “small.” There is no such association. Both SANs and NASs can be of nearly any scale or quality. They both run the gamut and there isn’t the slightest suggestion from the technology chosen whether a device is large or not.

In fact, a SAN actually can technically come “smaller” than a NAS solution. However, although there are SAN products on the market that are in this category, it is very rare to find them in use.

The third misconception is that SAN and NAS are dramatically different inside the chassis. This is certainly not the case as the majority of SAN and NAS devices today offer “unified storage,” meaning a storage appliance that acts simultaneously as both SAN and NAS.

The key difference between the two is not in backend technology or hardware or size or reliability. Instead, the defining difference is the protocols used to transfer storage. SANs are block storage exposing raw block devices onto the network using protocols like fibre channel, iSCSI, SAS, ZSAN, ATA over Ethernet (AoE) or Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). NAS, on the other hand, uses a network file system and exposes files onto the network using application layer protocols like NFS, SMB, AFP, HTTP and FTP which then ride over TCP/IP.

The fourth misconception is that SANs are inherently a file-sharing technology. This is NAS. SAN simply takes your block storage (hard disk subsystem) and making it remotely available over a network. The nature of networks suggests that we can attach that storage to multiple devices at once and indeed, physically, we can. But SAN is not intended for file-sharing. There are mechanisms available in special clustered filesystems and their drivers to allow for this, but this requires special knowledge and understanding. Many people acquiring SANs are unaware that they need these tools for what they often believe is the very purpose of the SAN — a disaster so common that I probably speak to someone who has done just this almost weekly.

The fifth misconception is that SANs are fast. SANs can be fast; they can also be horrifically slow. There is no intrinsic speed boost from the use of SAN technology on its own.

It is actually fairly difficult for SANs to overcome the inherent bottlenecks introduced by the network on which they sit. Some other storage options, such as DAS use all the same technologies as SAN, but lack the bottleneck and latency of the actual network an equivalent. As a result, DAS will be just a little faster than its SAN counterpart. SANs are generally a little faster than a hardware-identical NAS equivalent, but even this is not guaranteed. SAN and NAS behave differently, and in different use cases either may perform better than the other. SAN would rarely be chosen as a solution based on performance needs.

The sixth misconception is that a SAN eliminates the inherent problems associated with storage choices. A good example is the use of RAID 5. This would be considered bad practice in a server, but when working with a SAN (which in theory is far more critical than a standalone server) often careful storage subsystem planning is eschewed based on a belief that SAN technology has somehow fixed those issues or that they do not apply.

It is true that some high-end SANs do have some amount of risk mitigation features unlikely to be found elsewhere, but these are rare and exclusively relegated to very high-end units where fragile designs would already be uncommon. It is a dangerous, but very common practice, to take great care and consideration when planning storage for a physical server but skip that planning and oversight when using a SAN. You cannot assume that the SAN handles all of that internally or that it is simply no longer needed.

Now that we’ve shot down many misconceptions about SAN, you may be wondering if SANs are ever appropriate. They are, of course, quite important and incredibly valuable when used correctly. The strongest points of SANs come from consolidation and special types of shared storage.

Historically, customers sought out SAN solutions for consolidation. A SAN allows us to combine many filesystems into a single disk array, allowing far more efficient use of storage resources. Because SAN is block level, it is able to do this anytime that a traditional, local disk subsystem could be employed.

In many servers, and even many desktops, storage space is wasted due to the necessities of growth, planning and disk capacity granularity. If we have twenty servers each with 300GB drive arrays but each only using 80GB of that capacity, we have large waste. With a SAN would could consolidate to just 1.6TB, plus a small amount necessary for overhead, and spend far less on physical disks than if each server was maintaining its own storage.

To efficiently leverage consolidation, it is necessary to have scale. And this is where SANs really shine — when the number of attaching nodes becomes very large. SANs are best suited to large scale storage consolidation. This is their sweet spot and what makes them nearly ubiquitous in large enterprises and very rare in small ones.

SANs are also very important for certain types of clustering and shared storage that requires single shared filesystem access. This is actually a pretty rare need outside of one special circumstance — databases. Most applications are happy to utilize any type of storage provided to them, but databases often require low-level block access to be able to properly manipulate their data most effectively. Because of this, they can rarely be used, or used effectively, on NAS or file servers. Providing high availability storage environments for database clusters has long been a key use case of SAN storage.

Outside of these two primary use cases, which justify the vast majority of SAN installations, SAN also provides for high levels of storage flexibility. Potentially, SANs can make it very simple to move, grow and modify storage in a large environment without needing to deal with physical moves or complicated procurement and provisioning. Again, like consolidation, this is an artifact of large scale.

In very large environments, SAN can also provide a point a demarcation between storage and system engineering teams, allowing there to be a handoff at the network layer, generally of fibre channel or iSCSI. This clear separation of duties can be critical in allowing for teams to be highly segregated in companies that want highly discrete storage, network and systems teams. This allows the storage team to do nothing but focus on storage, and the systems team to do nothing but focus on the systems without any need for knowledge of the other team’s implementations.

The most important aspect of SAN usage to remember is that SAN should not be a default starting point in storage planning. It is one of many technology choices and one that often does not fit the bill as intended — or does so but at an unnecessarily high price point either in monetary or complexity terms.

Instead, start by defining your business goals and needs. Select SAN when it solves those needs most effectively, but keep an open mind and consider the overall storage needs of the environment.

What Is ‘New To You’ On Youtube And How Does It Work?

Since the very beginning, YouTube has been quite capable of recommending relevant videos. Now, with machine learning operating at its peak, the recommendation system has gotten even sharper, allowing you to explore different videos across the board. 

To make exploration more fun, YouTube has introduced another neat, new feature, which would allow you to refresh your feed whenever you need it. So, without further ado, let’s check out what ‘New To You’ is and how it would help you find new recommendations. 

Related: YouTube PIP Not Working on iPhone? How To Fix in 8 Way

What is ‘New to You’ on YouTube? 

For mobile devices, ‘New to You’ is a new tab on the YouTube app that would allow you to get fresh recommendations, beyond the standard recommendations you get on the home screen. It only includes videos that you haven’t watched, allowing you to explore different categories. 

The feature has been enabled through a server-side update on mobile devices. The feature can be availed through the computer — desktop browser — as well but it’s not as straightforward as the mobile client. 

Related: How To Search Audio Transcripts of a YouTube Video To Find Which Part You Want to Watch

How does ‘New to You’ work?

Usually, the standard YouTube feed is quite capable of throwing a list of recommended videos at you. However, if you have been consuming YouTube regularly, your news feed might get a little boring, with older/already watched videos populating the primary feed more often than not. 

‘New to You’ is a breath of fresh air in that respect — especially on your mobile device. The new recommendation system offers you videos that you haven’t seen yet, while also keeping your preferences in mind. It keeps track of your watch and search history, but widens the scope of recommendation, resulting in curated recommendations that are not identical to the stuff you already watch.

So, all in all, you get a nice recommendation system that not only keeps you interested but also doesn’t recommend stuff that is too wild for your liking. 

Related: What Is Bally Sports Wisconsin? 

Is ‘New to You’ personalized?

‘New to You’ is not as personalized as your regular explore feed, but there are elements that you will find familiar. For example, ‘New to You’ shows you videos that are in line with the stuff you generally watch. So, in that sense, it is personalized to an extent.

However, it doesn’t show you videos from channels you are already subscribed to. You get fresh videos from channels that might interest you, which can help your watchlist grow organically. It’s not as personalized as your Explore feed but feels a lot more targeted than the Discovery space.

Relevancy is a key term when it comes to ‘New to You,’ more so than personalization.

Related: How To Get Spotify or YouTube Music in Quick Settings on Android 12

How to find ‘New to You’ on Mobile

If you are running the latest version of the YouTube app, you may have received the server-side update by now. To use the ‘New to You’ recommendation system, all you have to do is launch the YouTube app and go to your ‘Home’ tab.

At the top, on the right of the ‘Explore’ section, you should find the ‘New to You’ tab.

If you don’t swipe down to refresh the feed. Once you get the button, tap on it to explore the ‘New to You’ feed.

How to find ‘New to You’ on computer

If you have subscribed to thousands of channels over the course of your YouTube history, you might not even see the button appear on YouTube. 

Why is your ‘New to You’ button not glowing?

When you have a new recommendation the ‘New to You’ tab would have a blue-magenta border around it. When you exhaust the list of recommendations, the tab stops glowing and resembles any other tab on the page. So, if your ‘New to You’ button seems ordinary and sits at the end of the top carousel, YouTube is just asking for a bit of time to catch up with you. 


Vsdc Free Audio Cd Grabber Lets You Rip Audio Files

Gone are the times when we used to listen to music on CD players. While everything around us is getting digital, we want our music to be digital too. Keeping a pile of CDs is too old-fashioned, and we all prefer having our favorite music on our PCs. This is where Audio CD rippers come to use. An Audio Ripper is a software that lets you copy the audio content from a CD to your PC where media is not at all damaged after extraction. Audio file ripping is a process where the audio file is copied and reformatted, and compressed in a format compatible with the media player on your PC.

There are many different software available over the web that let you copy the audio files from CD to your PC and VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber for Windows PC is one of them. VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber lets you rip audio files from a CD or DVD and save them to your Windows PC in any file format of your choice.

VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber for Windows PC

This freeware comes with a simple and user-friendly interface. It is a tool designed for users to convert the contents of their CDs to one of the audio file formats supported. The main overview has a ribbon with all menu options and a pane displaying the entire content of your audio CD with details like the duration, size, and state of the audio files.

Features of VSDC Audio CD Grabber

Supports major audio formats– The program copies/extracts the audio files from a compact disk and save it in your PC in a compressed format like WMA, MP3, M4A, AMR, OGG, AU, AIFF, WAV, and more. It supports CDs, DVDs as well as Blu-ray discs.

Preset settings- The program comes with preset adjustments which include the output directory, the quality of the audio file and the required output. Edit them on your own preferences and hit Grab.

Speed and Quality- The program works on high-quality audio ripping algorithms, and thus you get a good-quality ripped audio file on your PC. However, your preset options may affect the quality of output. The VSDC Audio CD Grabber uses multiple processors and supports the technologies like Core Duo, Dual Core, and Hyper-Threading, and thus it can copy and convert the audio file in real-time and that too without compromising with quality.

Download it here and get all your audio files from CD to your PC. It does not bring any crapware along with it.

What is VSDC Audio CD Grabber?

VSDC Audio CD Grabber is a software, which helps you create CDs or DVDs of your favorite music. You can rip a CD of audio files with the help of VSDC Audio CD Grabber. For your information, this software is fully compatible with Windows 11, Windows 10, and some other older versions.

What is the best free software for ripping CDs?

There are many tools for ripping CDs on Windows PC. For example, you can use VSDC Audio CD Grabber. It is available for Windows 11, 10, etc. Whether you want to rip one or ten audio files, you can do that with the help of VSDC Audio CD Grabber. The user interface is uncluttered but full of options so that you do not find any problems using it.

Now take a look at VSDC Free Audio Converter too.

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