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Liquid Audio vies to provide music

The market for Internet-based audio will get a little bit noisier with the release of a new product from Liquid Audio, which purports to deliver CD-quality sound over the Net.

The market for Internet-based audio will get a little bit noisier tomorrow with the release of a new product from Liquid Audio.

The company will post a free version of its Liquid MusicPlayer on its Web site tomorrow with the promise to deliver CD-quality sound over the Net. It will also introduce a server for delivering streamed audio called MusicServer as well as audio mastering software called Liquifier.

A start-up launched last August, Liquid Audio has partnered with audio industry pioneer Dolby Labs as well as Intel. The company's products will use a version of the Dolby Digital compression technology to stream sound files over the Net. Streaming allows users to listen to clips as they are being downloaded from the Internet rather than after being downloaded.

Liquid Audio's partnerships may be one of its strongest assets as it enters the crammed online audio market. The virtual standard for streamed audio has become Progressive Networks' RealAudio, but bigger players such as Microsoft and Netscape Communications are also entering the market with audio products of their own.

Liquid Audio doesn't see itself competing with other streaming media makers, according to Phil Wiser, vice president of engineering. The company plans to focus on online music delivery rather than simply providing a technology for adding audio to Web sites.

"We're a music-on-demand company. We're putting together a system that has been designed for the delivery of music," Wiser said. "We're not a direct competitor to [Progressive Networks]."

Today, Liquid Audio announced another alliance, this one with EDnet, a provider of network services to the entertainment and media industries. EDnet will use specialized versions of Liquid Audio's products in its services.

Also throwing his support behind Liquid Audio will be rocker Sammy Hagar, who will announce tomorrow that he has released a new song, "Salvation on Sand Hill," exclusively in Liquid Audio's sound format.