Audio editing

Since I have been playing WoW so much less of late, I find that I have had some time to work on a couple of website related projects that I have been putting off for, oh, let’s call it 4 years. If you stopped by my page in 2005, then again yesterday, you would have noticed that my navbar (everything to the left of the body here) has remained unchanged for that entire time (and you would also have a freakishly good memory). Since converting to the blogger script way back when, I have to update my blogger template to change any of that. Of course when I do that anything that is already over there is just gone unless I take the time to archive it. What I have been working on all day is just that: archiving the Music Lost to History.

I had to trudge through all my pre-blogger posts to find as many of the songs I had featured there as possible, and was a bit irritated that the links to samples of the songs were now all broken. So I decided to figure out how to do the samples myself. First I had to figure out how to embed them. Of course I know the standard HTML functions for embedding .wav files, however since a 1 minute wave file weighs in at about 11megs, I wanted to try to get a slightly smaller format. That was when I found out that a standard MP3 can’t be embedded unless the user (you) has a third party plugin to play it. I also found out that the third party plugin that had been in use for Firefox browsers has been blacklisted for allowing remote code execution. So I had to find another way.

A bit of hunting around on google found me a number of audio embeds, but the thing they all had in common was that the source was stored on their server. These are available from Google, Yahoo, MSN, pretty much any name that you can quickly link to anything internet related. Since the actual source is stored on their server, it is subject to being moved/renamed/changed without warning, thus leaving all my links just as dead as they currently were, so that was straight out the window. Most of these players are running in Shockwave Flash though, so I started searching for shockwave audio embeds rather than MP3 embeds and soon found myself at this site, which was offering just what I wanted: A source that I upload to my own directory for embedding the files. Bonus is that it is so lightweight and hides away (mostly) when not in use, and is easily resizable. Here is a sample:

So now that I was able to embed it, I had to find a way to edit the MP3’s so that -hopefully- I won’t get any angry emails from the record companies. I am going on the logic that if I am only offering a small sample of the song I am more likely increasing their revenue (by forcing readers to seek out the MP3 and pay for a download) than advocating piracy. I don’t know anyone that has an MP3 library filled with about a minute’s worth of each song at the very least.

In the past I have used Goldwave for my audio editing needs. At least I have tried to. Since I lack any post-graduate work in audio engineering, I am barely able to figure out how to make it do a damn thing. I’m sure it is extremely versatile (hell it has to be with that intimidating wall of sliders and buttons), but I’ve no inclination to become a sound engineer just to sample a song. Thankfully I happened across Audacity.

Audacity is great for what I am doing. The intimidating wall of sliders and buttons are neatly stored in drop-down menus so I don’t have to look at them. There was a minor situation involving being able to extract my edited songs as MP3’s, which required downloading a “Lame.DLL” encoder, but that went fairly smoothly. Now I am able to open up the song, slide the bars to the section I want to sample, extract it as MP3 and upload it. It only takes a minute to get all this done (a huge plus since I am so lazy), so I have no excuse not to do it.

If I would have known how easy it would be to find the tools I needed to complete this project I would have done it years ago. There are so many programs and applications available for just about any task you can imagine now, it boggles the mind. When I first set up this site I had a problem finding applications like this, and if I even could find them they were ridiculously complicated to use. I’m glad to see that so much of this stuff is so readily available now. Perhaps it will motivate me to take care of a few other things I’ve been meaning to do here…I still haven’t changed the rest of my navbar since 2005, for instance.

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