Audacity and Sound Companion 2 can import and export in the MP3 format. Audacity uses more current MP3 standards so it is the recommended audio editing application for editing/exporting in the MP3 format. There
are several benefits when using the MP3 format for your sound files.
The most significant one is the much smaller file size that it produces,
when compared to standard WAV formatted files. It is important to
note that the audio quality remains high even though the file size
is much smaller.
As with other types of media (graphics, video, animations,)
it is important to know your "targets" before deciding
which audio format and "settings" to use for preparing
your digital sound files. These "targets" may
include: the total length (in real time) of sound clip, the minimum
level of hardware* and operating systems you want the file to be
able to play back successfully on, the quality of the speaker system
that will be used to play back the files, the level of importance
that "file size vs. quality" (optimization) will be needed
to insure "user-friendly" download times and/or storage
capacity of the media (floppy, CD, ZIP, HD, etc.) that the final
production (project) will need to fit on.
*Another factor is what type and quality of sound card is being
used. To keep this tutorial from becoming overly technical, you will
find out easy enough when you begin testing your sound samples as
outlined below, if your sound card is going to cooperate or not.
The best way to go about this process is to think about your project/production "backwards".
Another words, specifically what computer is going to play these
files in the end. Does it have a Windows 98 or higher operating system
on it? (or System 7 or higher Mac OS?) If your project is in PowerPoint,
is it the version from Office 2000 or later? or is your project in
HyperStudio? Is total file size an important target for this particular
project? Is stereo playback important or will monaural (mono) be
Once these answers are available the next step is to TEST! Make
sure to jot down notes as you go, to keep track of which settings/formats
you are using for each test file. Create a small sample sound file.
But make sure it is at least long enough to determine it's playback
quality when testing. If the project you are working on is going
to have music, then make sure and use music (as opposed to just voice
narration) for the testing. Next prepare the sample clip with a variety
of settings and formats. Make sure to include at least one sample
in a standard WAV format and one in an MP3 format. When you have
finished preparing the samples don't just play them back and leave
it at that. Instead, go ahead and create a sample PowerPoint, HyperStudio,
Flash, Premiere Elements, etc. project, as needed, and insert your sample
sound file into it. Now test and compare playback compatibility,
performance, quality, and reliability. If possible, use the same
type computer and type of speakers and/or sound system that will
be used for final presentation or performance of your work.
If your testing indicates that the MP3 file format is going to produce
acceptable sound quality and seems to playback reliably with the
hardware and software needed, then USE IT! It will save you tons
of bandwidth (file size), which can translate to many potential benefits,
including smaller total file size and storage needed for your project/production,
faster load times during performance, smoother playback, and decrease
in chance for "crashes" or "lockups" during performance!
Here is a walk-through of the process. This example uses a pre-recorded
WAV file that will be converted to an MP3 format and then tested
in PowerPoint 2000.
1. Launch the "Sound Music Loops" Browser. If you are
on a PISD networked workstation these icons are located in the "Multimedia" directory
from your district desktop window. Navigate to the sound called "Industrial."
With "Industrial" highlighted, click the Save button on the Music
Loops Browser. Save the file to a location on your personal (H:) drive. Preferably
in a directory you've created called "Sound Archive" or something
2. Start Audacity or Sound Companion. Choose File < Open.
Navigate to the location of your saved "industrial.wav" file
from the previous step.
3. Select and open the "industrial" sound
4. First, let's check what the current "properties" are
for the existing WAV file. Choose Sound > Sound Format. The
window should look similar to this:
5. Click OK to close the Sound Format window. In this example we
want to change the "Sound Format" in order to save file
space and test for sound quality and compatibility with PowerPoint
2000. Do the following.
6. Choose File>Save As. DO NOT PRESS SAVE BUTTON until you do
a) Change the name of this file to "MP3industrial"
b) Check/make sure that it is going to save it in same directory that your
regular "industrial" file is. (Should be in Sound Archives or similar
directory on your personal (H:) drive.)
c) Click on the drop-down list beside "Save as type:" and
select "MP3 audio files (*.mp3)". DON'T PRESS THE SAVE
d) Finally, click on the "Options" button
located at the bottom of the Save As window. The window will look
Change the format and attributes to match those in
the following graphic:
7. Click OK. NOW CLICK the SAVE button! You should see a progress
indicator processing/converting your file. It may take several seconds,
depending on the speed of the machine you are working on and how
long the clip is. When it is done, close out of Sound Companion.
Testing the File
To test (hear) your file, make sure that you have some headphones
or speakers set up and plugged into the correct port (spkr out) on
your computer's sound card (located at the back of the computer).
You also may need to adjust the Windows "Volume" slider,
by clicking once on the sound icon in
the lower right corner of your desktop and adjusting. (Some headphones/speakers
also have their own volume controls to adjust as well).
1. Open Windows Media Player from Multimedia
Folder on your district desktop.
2. Choose File > Open and navigate to the location of your
test files. (Personal H: drive > sound archives.)
3. Select the original "industrial.wav" file first
and listen to it. Press the "Play" button if it
doesn't start to play back automatically. Play it once again
to get a good feel for it's playback quality etc.
4. Next, return to File>Open and navigate to the converted
version. Select the "MP3industrial.mp3" file and
listen to it. Play it again as needed. If you are satified
with the playback quality comparisons proceed to the next
5. Now for coolest part! Drum roll please.................
Return to File>Open (in Windows Media Player) and navigate to the
directory where your two test files are, but this time once you can see
them both listed in the window, instead of selecting and opening one
of them, just click on "View Menu", located in the upper right
hand corner of the "Open" window, and select "details" from
the list. This will display the "file sizes" so you can see
the huge difference between to two sizes and yet little or no audible
difference in the quality of the playback!!!
When done observing the file sizes, just click cancel, and
then close Windows Media Player.
Testing with an Application
1. Your file is now ready to test in an application. For this test
we'll use PowerPoint. To keep things brief for the scope of this
tutorial, just create a simple PowerPoint file with one blank slide
2. Choose Insert > Movies and Sounds > Sound from File. "Navigate
to" and select your MP3industrial.mp3 file and click OK.
3. You should get the following prompt.
4. For this tutorial and test, just click Yes. (Certainly
you could program this to suit your needs in a real project.)
5. Making sure your speakers/headphones are working
and ready, choose Slide Show > View Show.
6. Your test is now complete.
Summary on MP3 Format Use
As mentioned earlier, testing is the key! Once you
have determined that the MP3 format is going to work effectively
for your particular project, then you can continue with investing
some time in converting your WAV files into this format.
As with any media preparation and production
for use in your classroom multimedia projects, make sure that you
follow all copyright and fair use guidelines, as well as any "end-user" agreements
and usage rights for any source material you are intending to use. You
are required to follow these as stated in the Acceptable Use policies
as well. The following site can be helpful with determining some
of these basics. The Copyright Site. Your
campus Learning Media Specialist(s) (librarians) are another great
source to consult as well.
There may be times and/or project needs when you are
recording "live" from a microphone or other source, such
as, CD. If permissable, you may want to "capture" these
files in an MP3 format to begin with, prior to editing. To do so,
follow the same instructions in the "Recording "live" audio" or
with music cds" tutorials, but before you begin recording,
choose Sound > Sound Format and choose the format
and settings you wish to record with. Be advised that some formats
may not be compatible with your system. The best method will be to
test first, then decide!
Here are some settings that have worked for me in the
past, when desiring to record/capture files in the MP3 format initially,
using Sound Companion 2: Go to Sound > Sound Format and
change the "File Format" drop-down choice at the bottom
of the Sound Format window, to "MP3 audio format", then
click the button to the right, labeled, "Options" and select "24
kBits/s, 22,050 Hz, Mono," from the drop-down for "Attributes." Click
OK to close the Sound Format window and then proceed with your recording
session as normal.