>Soundbanks for windows... is this something an end user
>would potentially have to deal with, or has it become part of
>the core distribution since sometime after 1.3?
The JRE comes without a soundbank.http://java.sun.com/products/java-media/sound/soundbanks.html
Without a soundbank midi and rmf *will* sound like... erm... poo. :-/
MP3 isn't really an option. The license fees are pretty high and... well there is OGG. It's free and sounds much nicer - especially with low bitrates. (The Jorbis lib does all those tricky things for you.)
Basically there are two ways then. Either pre-decode into pcm (eg for sound effects) or streaming (decoding of tiny
chunks just in time - eg for music). Playback of pre decoded oggs is of course pretty fast (just as wavs), but it needs some ram. Streaming needs more cpu power, but much less ram. However, the usage isn't that high... about 5-10% on a 500mhz machine.
Oh and there is also MOD (a tracker format) you can either playback it with the MicroMod lib or over the fmod lwjgl binding (fmod plays about every audio format).