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Preparation, posting, and playback of audio files on insideCatlin

 

Background

Many audio formats exist -- MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC, MOV, OGG. Computers are still not perfect at playing all of these different formats. Additionally, copyright and proprietary control complicate the audio format landscape. To reach the broadest range of users, you should take care to properly prepare your audio files. This guide shows you how. Although dozens of different audio applications exist, we focus on a few that work well for current users at Catlin Gabel.

MP3 is currently the most universal format for publishing audio. However, most devices record in a different format, due to MP3 licensing requirements and encoding speed. So you must convert the file. For example, an Olympus digital recorder records in WMA format (Windows Media Audio). Windows computers can play WMA files by default, but Macintosh computers require either Flip4Mac (preferred) or Windows Media Player for Mac, both free products. If you use the built-in recording capabilities in Garageband, you may end up with an AAC file (Apple Audio Codec), which Apple computers can play by default, but Windows players require iTunes (free).

Editing

If you want to edit your audio file before publishing it, try Audacity (Windows/Mac) or Garageband (Mac only). Save your project in the application's regular format as you work. When you finish, export the file. If you use Audacity, select Export as MP3. If Export as MP3 is not available, download and install the LAME MP3 encoder. In Garageband, Send Podcast to iTunes. Read further on to see how to convert iTunes files to MP3 format.

Audacity Garageband

Conversion

You may choose to publish your audio files without editing. In this case, convert directly to MP3. For Windows, first set your iTunes import format to MP3. Go to Edit menu -> Preferences ->
Advanced -> Importing and select the MP3 format (you only have to do
this once). Select File menu -> Add to Library to display your MP3 files. Select the files that you want to convert to MP3, then select Advanced menu -> Convert to MP3. Now, you will see two copies of each audio file, one WMA and one MP3 for each file. To tell them apart, right click on the column headers in the view and display the Kind column.

The Mac version of iTunes cannot read WMA files, so you should use a different conversion utility. Switch is an excellent choice, built to quickly process large numbers of files. Download the free version.

Posting

Both Moodle and Drupal allow you to post audio files directly, but you will achieve greater compatibility with more users if you embed the files using the systems' audio tools.

Moodle

You may embed audio into any Moodle web text region, for example on your site's home page, on a new web page, or in a forum post.

Select some text, then select the link tool.

Browse and select the audio file from your filesystem.

Select the file that you just uploaded.

The resulting audio player.


Drupal

Select Create Content -> Audi.

Tag your audio to one or more divisions.

Browse for the audio file.

The resulting audio player.

Depending on your audio file, you may have to specify the Artist and Title on the next page.

Drupal Podcast Feeds

If you publish audio in Drupal, you gain some nice podcast URLs. To direct people to the web page for audio playback, use the format /ls (or ms, bs, us). To subscribe directly in iTunes, use itpc://inside.catlin.edu/ls/feed (or ms/feed, bs/feed, us/feed). Give it a try.