Put MP3 Files On Your WordPress Blog (and avoid the chipmunk effect)

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)

Last week, I wanted to put .mp3 files on my WordPress blog. Easy, right? Well, this one fit into the category of “should be quick and easy but wasn’t.”

My jouney began with Lorelle on WordPress as she always provides very good information related to WordPress technologies. This article entitled Video, Music, Podcasts, Audio, and Multimedia WordPress Plugins provides a good place to start. It always makes you realize that you will need to allocate a lot more time for your project.

I researched each of these and decided to go with the Audio Player WordPress Plugin for now and maybe make a change later. I liked this player for its simple but elegant look. You can see it in action on this page: Spoken Spanish: Essays, Viajar de forma diferente (Paulo Coelho).

The instructions on the Audio Player WordPress page were very clear and concise. I would be up and running in no time I thought…except for one thing, one giant thing that many sights mention but few mention a resolution to: The phenomenon known as The Chipmunk Effect.

It sounds like this:

On the Audio Player page, they provide this quote:

The “chipmunk” effect

The Macromedia Flash player has a problem playing files that are encoded at a rate that is not a multiple of 11.025 kHz. This effect is sometimes called the “chipmunk” effect: the file is played at double speed. To avoid this, encode MP3s at 11.025 kHz 22.050 kHz or 44.100 kHz.

They mention this “chipmunk” effect but provide no solution. You will run into this problem with most flash player plug-ins.

And so the problem-solution detour began. First, I am aware that mp3s come in various versions of Bit Rate quality, usually 128kbps, 192kbps, 256kbps, etc. As end users, we have only needed to know that higer numbers provide proportionally better sound but take up a bit more space.

But encoding at 11.025kHz, 22.050 kHz? I don’t even know where to find this kHz setting. After much searching, I came across an article entitled Why do my MP3 files sound bad in Flash Player? Once again, I thought I had come upon the holy grail, the quick fix! And, once again, I was slightly mistaken. I highly recommend this article as it is very informative. However, the hyperlink to part of the solution does not work. But, at least, now I have more information to go on.

And with this information, I eventually found the solution to get rid of the chipmunk effect. Here it is:

Step 1: Download Audacity…you will need it.

Step 2: Download the lame files here. Put the extracted zip files into your local c: drive. I chose a directory called c:\lame because I thought it was particualrly lame that this easy project was taking forever!

Step 3: Using Audacity, convert your file to a .wav file. Choose File | Export as WAV… This step was particularly curious for me as I already had mp3 files. So, basically, I needed to convert them to WAV format and then convert them back to mp3 format. Tip: Export the WAV file to your c:\lame directory.

Step 4: Go to your command prompt (Start | All Programs | Accessories | Command Prompt), type cd \lame to put yourself in the lame directory. Now, type the following: lame -b 48 –resample 22.05 filename.wav filename.mp3. Obviously, replace filename with your particular file name.

That’s it. You’re done! This mp3 file will now be playable in your WordPress Audio Player Plug-In. Refer to the WordPress Audio Plug-in page for implementing and customizing the player on your blog.

In my particular case, I had the chipmunk problem because my mp3s were created from the sony sound recorder software (Digital Voice Editor 3) which apparently does not create a standard sampling rate. Others report the problem is caused by Audacity, which sometimes does not create a proper sampling rate on smaller files.

In any case, I hope this post helps anybody out there who is having the chipmunk problem!

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
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