As a video workflow specialist/consultant who is a purist and also extremely into audio-only production and distribution, I am constantly re-evaluating the best ways to distribute high-quality audio and have viewers play it on the web. My preferred methods are in constant evolution. Ahead you’ll see —and hear— my three preferred methods in different cases, why I stopped embedding audio with the Stitcher player (although I still distribute my CapicúaFM show there).
As a video workflow specialist/consultant who is a purist and also extremely into audio-only production and distribution, I am constantly re-evaluating the best ways to distribute high-quality audio and have viewers play it on the web. My preferred methods are in constant evolution. Ahead you’ll see —and hear— my three preferred methods in different cases, and why I stopped embedding audio with the Stitcher player (although I still distribute my CapicúaFM show there).
In this article
In this article, you’ll see:
- Different situations to embed audio
- Goals to keep in mind with any audio embedding method
- Four audio embedding tools I rejected, and why
- Three audio embedding tools I do use, and why
- What about YouTube?
Different situations to embed audio
I have different applications to embed audio:
- Samples of audio to include with articles here in ProVideo Coalition magazine, when I review microphones, preamp/A-to-D converters, software equalization, or the audio quality of a video camera, audio recorder or video recorder
- A single podcast episode, by itself
- A podcast episode, with the list of recent episodes listed below
I use different methods in each case. First you’ll see goals to keep in mind with any audio embedding method. Then, you’ll learn which embedding players I have rejected, and why. Next, you’ll see the ones I currently use, and their advantages in different cases.
Goals to keep in mind with any audio embedding method
- Maintain the first-generation compressed version (i.e. MP3 or AAC/M4A) after lossless production in AIFF or WAV. Never allow for a second-generation compressed version.
- Compatibility for embedded playback on all devices —desktop and mobile— without reliance on Adobe Flash.
- Visual attractiveness to entice people to click
- In FaceBook, a player that actually plays while embedded, without forcing the potential listener to click away from FaceBook, since people are much likely to play the audio if it’s visually implied that clicking won’t take them away to another tab or page.
- In some cases, a player that can list prior episodes right below.
- Faithfulness to a single stats system, at least within a genre.
Audio embedding tools I rejected, and why
Stitcher’s embeddable player (Why I don’t use it)
The above is only a screenshot, for reasons explained below
Although Stitcher’s player is extremely functional, sadly, Stitcher re-compresses the already compressed MP3 file, and does so very heavily, to the point that it is audibly inferior. So although I still distribute my CapicúaFM show via Stitcher for discoverability reasons, I no longer embed Stitcher’s player anywhere.
Facebook’s automatic MP3 player (Why I don’t use it)
I never used Facebook’s automatic MP3 player (where you would simply enter in the URL of the MP3 file into Facebook), because Facebook discontinued it before I became aware of it. I am unable to supply a screenshot since it is no longer available.
Podtrac’s embeddable player (Why I don’t use it)
First, I want to clarify that I absolutely love Podtrac’s stats system, and I use it. For those who are unfamiliar, Podtrac is the leader in measurement for premium online shows and podcasts. But this article is mostly about how to embed audio, not how to measure it. As of the publishing time of this article, the Podtrac player still uses Adobe Flash on the desktop (formerly called Macromedia Flash and Shockwave Flash) — You know, the technology that doesn’t work on today’s popular mobile devices and is even rumored to be retired very soon from desktop computing. The player can be made to work on mobile, but in my tests at least on Android, when you press to play on mobile, it just then redirects you to the raw MP3 file, using the browser’s own player, and is then no longer an embedded experience. I suppose and hope that Podtrac will upgrade its player sometime soon. In the meantime, I stopped using the Podtrac player since I have found so many better ones, as you’ll see ahead. I need my audio to play everywhere, and without depending upon Adobe Flash, and as embedded.
Libsyn’s embeddable player (Why I don’t use it)
If you are not familiar with Lynsyn, it is one of several excellent services (like their competitors audioBoo and Blubrry from RawVoice) to host their audio files, instead of hosting them on the same server where you host your website. [Parenthetical comment: Many podcast consultants warn their clients that they should never host their audio files on the same server as the website for two main reasons: (1) Because many standard web servers don’t support Byte Range Requests, which is a requirement for iTunes inclusion. (2) Because they are afraid that podcasters will violate the hosting company’s “unlimited” traffic/bandwidth policy. I respect their opinion. However, my podcast is hosted on a very good web server which indeed supports Byte Range Requests. It also has a true “unlimited” traffic/bandwidth policy, so I don’t currently use any independent server for MP3 files, and as of publication time of this article, my CapicúaFM show has had over 51,000 downloads according to Podtrac.] So the main reason I don’t use Libsyn’s player is because I don’t currently host my audio files with Libsyn, even though the Libsyn player does work fine with Facebook, as you’ll see here.
Audio embedding tools I do use, and why
Here are three embedding tools I do use, and why:
SoundCloud’s embeddable player
Above are two SoundCloud players from my recent Review: Sennheiser PC–8 digital mic/headset with 48 kHz sampling
If you have read my recent reviews, you have probably seen that I often use SoundCloud embeddable players for individual short samples when reviewing microphones, preamp/A-to-D converters, software equalization, or the audio quality of video cameras, audio recorders or video recorders. Two examples are above. For that particular purpose, I find three advantages to the SoundCloud, plus a bonus that I don’t use personally: (1) It allows me to upload the uncompressed WAV file, and automatically and nearly instantly creates a very good corresponding MP3 for use with the player’s streamer. (2) It simplifies the option for people to download the original uncompressed WAV file. (3) It is esthetically attractive. (BONUS): I know that the SoundCloud player is also embeddable in FaceBook, although I don’t currently use it for that, since I don’t host my full shows with SoundCloud (at least not currently) for logistical reasons regarding stats, and the full shows are the only ones I would like to embed on Facebook.
iVoox’s embeddable players
First, I want to clarify what iVoox is, and then I’ll go into their wonderful embeddable players.
Born in 2008, iVoox is physically located in Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town and municipality north of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. Its website is currently only in Castilian (castellano)—the most widely-used Spanish language—, not in Basque (euskera), Catalán, Galician (gallego) or Valencian (valenciano). Even if you don’t speak or read Castilian, it will be beneficial for you to know about iVoox’s player.
Although content consumers might consider iVoox to be a service similar to iTunes or Stitcher, iVoox is quite different from the content producer’s perspective, because for some, it can also be a server to upload their audio files. I personally don’t use iVoox that way for CapicúaFM, since I already have my audio files hosted elsewhere, and I already have my podcast RSS feed created through other means, which goes beyond the scope of this article. However, some content producers may seek a much simpler solution than what I have done, and may find it with iVoox. However, those who do should be aware that with free iVoox accounts if they upload MP3 files to the iVoox server, they will be re-compressed again by iVoox (although iVoox says that is only mildly re-compressed). Only Pro iVoox accounts have the option of what they call HQ audio. However, for my case, iVoox does not re-compress or degrade the audio quality of my shows, since they are hosted elsewhere.
Now let’s talk about iVoox’s wonderful embeddable web players. The new iVoox players work fine on desktop or mobile devices.
You have the choice of embedding a single episode (see example above), or the current episode with prior ones listed below:
And since iVoox doesn’t actually host my MP3 files, it fortunately doesn’t affect my statistics done with Podtrac. On both of the two iVoox players I have presented so far, there are buttons to download the MP3 (Descargar), subscribe (Suscribirse), share (Compartir), or to Like (Me gusta). iVoox has a nice-looking free player for Facebook that plays while embedded there, without forcing the potential listener to click away. There are also smaller, simpler players from iVoox that I haven’t used to date, and finally, (like Stitcher for Android and iOS, and Apple’s Podcasts app, currently just for iOS), iVoox offers free apps for mobile devices, including Android, iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch), and even Windows Phone for listeners to subscribe.
HTML5 audio embedding
Sometimes, it is desirable to offer playing an MP3 file without distracting the potential listener with options to download, subscribe, share, or like. In those cases, I use the standard HTML5 embed code, which is simple to accomplish if you already know how to code HTML, even in a superficial way. If you know how to code HTML but aren’t yet familiar with this particular technique, just read the source code from this example:
The HTML5 player can also work with WAV files, but not with Internet Explorer, according to what I have read. I have only used it with MP3 to date.
What about YouTube?
This section about YouTube is related to increased distribution for discoverability of new listeners, not embedding.
Thanks to an indirect link from Daniel J. Lewis, creator of MyPodcastReviews.com, I was convinced to do something I would have previously thought to be silly: Distribute audio-only programs on YouTube, for discoverability reasons only, superimposed over a static logo.
As stated by the creator of TunesToTube:
Despite being a video site, YouTube has also become the most popular place for people to listen to music – TunesToTube lets you upload an MP3 to YouTube. All you need to do is upload an MP3 and an image to the TunesToTube server – it will combine them and create an HD video. Once the video is created, the YouTube API is used to upload it to your YouTube channel – this normally takes around 10 seconds!
Why use the TunesToTube service? There are 3 main processes in making a static-image video with audio in the background: Overlaying the image on to the MP3, rendering the video which can be time consuming, and uploading to YouTube. Individually these processes can take a lot of time, even with software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas etc. – it is much quicker and easier when everything is automated online!
Those were the words from the creator of TunesToTube that convinced me that distributing audio-only content on YouTube does make sense and is not silly. Many people leave YouTube running and playing audio only in a separate tab or page on their computer. However, I was concerned about re-compression and degradation, as unfortunately happens with Stitcher. Regarding that, TunesToTube states on its website:
The MP3 you upload does not get re-encoded by this site, and additional steps are taken so the audio quality is as good as it can be on YouTube.
That sentence is carefully worded to avoid mentioning the fact that although no re-encoding takes place on the TunesToTube website, an MP3 does get re-encoded/re-compressed by YouTube, and after contacting him, the creator TunesToTube agrees with that fact. Here I’ll explain it in more detail:
Seeking the audio purist path
I know which filetypes YouTube accepts officially, and some filetypes that YouTube accepts unofficially. After testing and discussing it with the creator of TunesToTube, I discovered that the TunesToTube website currently only accepts MP3, and MP3 is not the native format YouTube uses to stream, which is H.264 with AAC/M4A embedded in the video file. So even though it is technically true that the MP3 file you upload does not get re-encoded/re-compressed by the TunesToTube site, it does get re-compressed by YouTube, and I am an audio purist whenever possible.
How and why I processed episodes 1–6 with TunesToTube
At the time I had this conversation with the creator of TunesToTube, I had six pre-existing episodes of the CapicúaFM show. So I decided that only for the sake of discoverability, I’d use the TunesToTube service to get those six episodes up to a CapicúaFM YouTube channel I created for this express purpose only. Although TunesToTube is free, the free service adds a watermark, so I made a donation to avoid that, and uploaded all six very quickly. Although re-compressed by YouTube, it is not nearly as bad sounding as in the case of Stitcher.
A plea to TunesToTube’s creator
I am attempting to convince TunesToTube’s creator to allow for uploading of WAV files to avoid re-compression by YouTube. (If TunesToTube will accept a WAV file, then the very first compression would be done by YouTube.)
How I achieved the pure path in the meantime, with ProRes 422
In the meantime, I took care of CapicúaFM episode 7 manually, without the help of the TunesToTube service, by creating a filetype not officially accepted by YouTube: Using Final Cut Pro X, I created a project at 1280×720 and 23.976p, I imported the uncompressed WAV file, imported the CapicúaFM logo at 1280×720, and exported it to ProRes 422 at 1280×720 23.976p which maintains the audio as uncompressed PCM. Then I uploaded the ProRes 422 directly to YouTube. Yes, even though YouTube doesn’t officially accept ProRes 422, in practice YouTube does accept it, which means that the audio is only getting compressed once, for the very first time by YouTube.
How I “spun” episodes 1–6 in the description
For episodes 1–6, at the beginning of the description of each video on YouTube, I included a statement that says that for higher quality audio or more information, to visit CapicúaFM.com. For episode 7, which only had the audio compressed once, I omitted the part about the “higher quality”. I reiterate that my only reason and purpose for distributing my audio-only programs on YouTube is for discoverability. I do not plan to mention YouTube during the CapicúaFM program or to link to this YouTube channel from the CapicúaFM website. The only purpose of this YouTube channel is to attract potential listeners who aren’t previously familiar with the CapicúaFM program. Although the YouTube plays unfortunately don’t work with the Podtrac stats, at least all of the other methods do, and I can have a single extra set of statistics for the “video simulcast”. I am sharing this information to you, since if you are reading this article, you are likely a content producer, which probably is not the case with most of CapicúaFM’s listeners. Most of them are probably content consumers, given the content of the show.
Recent relevant articles
- Review: Audio-Technica BP40 high-end dynamic studio microphone
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- Establishing SCM: a standard Scale for Confidence Monitoring
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My latest book (paperback + ebook)
My most recent book is available in two languages, and in paperback as well as an ebook. The ebook format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, Android tablets, Mac computers, and Windows computers. Although generally speaking, Kindle books are readable on smartphones like Androids and iPhones, I don’t recommend it for this particular book since it contains both color photos and color comparison charts. The ebook is also DRM-free.
In English, it’s The Castilian Conspiracy. Click here and you will be automatically sent to the closest Amazon book page to you based upon your IP address. Or request ISBN–10: 1456310232 or ISBN–13: 978–1456310233 in your favorite local bookstore.
En castellano, se llama La conspiración del castellano. Haz clic aquí para llegar al instante a la página del libro correspondiente a tu zona y moneda en Amazon, según tu dirección IP. De lo contrario, solicítalo en tu librería preferida con los ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.
No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.
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The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalition magazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!