SAN FRANCISCO —, one of the best-known music directories on the Web, said it has acquired Inc., a smaller startup with an unusual technology for broadcasting sound over the Internet.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Both companies are closely held.

Listen Chief Executive Rob Reid said TuneTo’s technology addresses some major problems for Internet radio and other ventures based on streaming, a widely used technique for broadcasting music that is an alternative to downloading complete files.

Rather than sending digital information all at once in a continuous stream, TuneTo initially distributes player software to consumers that contains a major chunk of the data that they will later need to play music. After that, broadcasters only need to send about one thousand bits of data per second for high-quality sound, versus 50 kilobits to 138 kilobits a second for ordinary streaming.

Mr. Reid said the procedure is particularly applicable for delivering music to wireless devices, where transmission speeds are substantially slower than to desktop personal computers. He added Tuneto’s technology could also work in future music-subscription services.

“We looked at 50 to 100 different companies in the delivery of music to end users,” Mr. Reid said. “For a lot of reasons, we believe the TuneTo infrastructure is the most sensible way to offer subscription services.”

Though best known for a Web directory that helps consumers find out about music online, Listen has been moving to get most of its revenue from supplying services and technology to other companies. Mr. Reid said his firm plans to hire TuneTo’s 15 employees.

Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.