January 2, 2006

Tech question.

A listener to the most recent podcast writes:
Does anyone know why #29 is playing at fast-speed on my computer? I know that's a silly question, since there are a million things it could be. But it's the first Audible Althouse that's done this. How do I slow this puppy down? The on-screen controls seem to have a forward and reverse, but that just switches me to the next (or previous) Audible Althouse in sequence. Other than that, I only seem to have a "pause" and a "play". But when I hit play, Ann's voice goes so fast it's not understandable. Help!
I'm afraid the problem could have been caused by the adjustments I made to deal with the file-size problem (discussed yesterday here). Any advice?

32 comments:

reader_iam said...

Ann, I'm not hearing that problem and I'm listening to the podcast now.

This time, I'm doing it directly from the link in your blog post and through my computer. Normally I have it auto-dowloaded via iTunes and then listen to it on the iPod through the Bose docking station.

I'll switch over to the iPod version just to see if there's a difference.

And I'm checking with someone else as to what could explain this ...

reader_iam said...

No problem with it when I get it the other way, either.

Be back in a sec with a question and a suggestion for your listener ...

Ann Althouse said...

Mango: So is the problem that some players are primative and don't adjust?

mango said...

If you sampled it at, say, 24k hz, to save file space, and then it's being played back at 44.1k or 48k hz, which is standard, then it would sound like Chipmunks.

Ann Althouse said...

Apparently, I have ESP!

reader_iam said...

Cell died ...

Before it did, the answer may have to do with the assumptions the LISTENER'S player/computer software is making about file size or something like that. We'll be back in touch soon. I didn't catch the specific number/entry/thing to check before the phone died.

How recent/regular of a listener? Meaning, has he/she been listening for quite some time or coincidentally just the couple previous to this one (and the change back to your original settings). This is not an OT question, but potentially relevant.

Back shortly with specifics,

reader_iam said...

Taking dictation from DH:

"My assumption is that the listener's player is assuming a 44khz sample rate, but the podcast has been encoded (from the beginning) at an 11-khz sample rate. That would cause things to sound 4X as fast as they should be.

Why the listener is having a problem now and not before could be due to the fact that he or she coincidentally started listening to your podcasts right after you started recording them using the new computer defaults and his or her software settings happened to coincide with the (incorrect, for file size) settings you had been using for your latest podcasts.

Alternatively, the person had had no problem before but their software made an auto-readjustmen in settings when it hit your first podcast post new computer and didn't switch the settings back automatically this time. It's impossible to know right now which happened, without more information.

In any case, the listener should either set his or her software or player settings for podcast-listening to conform to the previously delineated settings.

Or, if he or she has access to iTunes, download the podcast through THAT forum (rather than clicking your post link) and iTunes will handle it automatically."

Hope this helps!

If more information is forthcoming about what the listener is using, DH may have more specific help to offer.

Ricardo said...

reader: It's "me", and I'm a "he". :) Part of the problem may be that I'm using a three year old Sony Vaio. I'm downloading directly from the link in the blog post. The only Audible I'm having trouble with is #29. I've gone back all the way to #20, and they all download at normal speed. For some reason, I can't find #28 on there. But #20-27 all download fine. It's only #29 that comes out at Chipmunk-speed.

reader_iam said...

Heh. First time DH has used a payphone in a decade, he says. Expressed surprise at cost.

We may share the same house, but sometimes I think we live on different planets.

Double heh.

reader_iam said...

Ricardo: Thanks for the clarification! He/I were tripping over all those he-she's (not big fans of the singular their around here).

He's out and about and unreachable right now due to his dead cell phone, but he'll be in touch soon. I'll ask him if he knows about your specific equipment and check back in here, if the problem hasn't been resolved meanwhile.

Ricardo, you may very well not have noticed a problem with #27 (and won't with #28), as Ann didn't, because the podcasts simply weren't long enough to create large-enough files to hit the issue she encountered that brought to light her changed settings post new computer.

Why your particular player (and others like it??? anyone else having problems, Ann?) is choking on this issue I'll leave to someone more technical and knowledgeable than I.

Now, if you want advice on how, say, to make bread rise beautifully, I'd be right there with you ....

; )

Later.

mango said...

Ann -- Yeah, I think it's that the affected players are primitive or set to play at a given sample rate, as opposed to the native sample rate of the file. Not knowing what the people who were having trouble are working with, I can't exactly suggest how to fix it, except to check your audio settings.

As for you, it might solve the problem by sampling at 44.1 and then compressing to adjust filesize, but that's more work for you, and if it's not affecting too many people, I wouldn't really fret it.

And I'm enjoying the telepathic connection.

Ricardo said...

Reader: Thanks for the info. I listened to #28 successfully last week, so the change (on my computer) happened between then and #29 which features "the chipmunks". I'm using a Sony Vaio FR130 from 2003, so THIS may be the year for a new computer. I'll keep playing with it, although my audio files (so far) haven't shown me a big red arrow pointing to a "this is the problem". At my age, I need lots of big red arrows.

Thanks again.

Ann: There's no reason for you to change any settings, if I am the only one having the problem. Hopefully, I can figure it out. Or I'll call in the techies.

brylin said...

When I click on the first link and go to the libsyn webpage, and when I click on the player in the upper right of the page, it comes out playing too fast.

But when I click on the "here" link it plays just fine as streaming audio. I'm using my IBM Thinkpad and Windows Media Player software (pretty standard stuff).

I notice that you have the bitrate set at 40khz. The lower the bitrate the smaller the file size but the poorer the sound quality (music is from 128 to 320 or more). For spoken audio 40 is just fine.

I mentioned in a previous post that the 44.1khz sampling rate or sampling frequency is pretty standard. I wonder what your sampling rate is?

I'm listening right now and there's the fan (Paglia at about minute 28). Fan off at minute 30:22. It's not that bad, but noticeable.

brylin said...

I should have said 40k bits/second bitrate, not 40khz bitrate.

brylin said...

Your file size for 29q is 19 MB.

brylin said...

Regarding the fan issue, the 12" PowerBook is made for maximum portability. There's probably no way to eliminate the fan noise other than moving a greater distance from the computer or maybe setting the microphone volume higher to drown out the fan.

Consider getting your old notebook repaired and using that one for podcasts.

brylin said...

Here's the libsyn chart for bitrates. Notice how the bitrate corresponds to the file size.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I, too, had squirrel-sounding Ann on that podcast at first. I closed out my window and tried another time and it was fine.

Listening through my laptop, I had every setting as loud as possible and Ann's talking was quite soft. Then the theme music blasted me out of my chair.

Robert said...

The recording I downloaded sounds like… well, frankly, like flatulence. Is it supposed to sound like that?

reader_iam said...

Ricardo, it may not be your equipment. You may want to check again at the next podcast.

brylin said...

Here's a libsyn user comment page about the replay speed issue. From the 3 user comments the "chipmunk" problem appears to be a function of the sampling rate for the flash player libsyn uses on its webpage.

Or is it a squirrel problem?

Seriously, check your sampling rate and see whether it is something other than 22.050 or 44.1 khz.

brylin said...

Having just listened to the entire podcast, the intro and outtro music is louder than the speech, so you need to raise the volume of the speech recording if possible.

Ann, all my comments are respecfully submitted. I hope you don't take offense.

Getting "professional" quality from a small PowerBook may just be unrealistic, with respect to the fan problem. If you use ice as a coolant, be very careful not to get any electronic equipment wet.

reader_iam said...

Re: fan.

My question on the other thread about pinpointing from which side the fan emits was not meant as a joke.

It's likely possible to fabricate something, I'm told, that will deaden the sound at least a bit without hurting the fan capabilities.

And I'll bet the next podcast will play just fine.

D_Walters said...

How much would just remoting the mic as far away as possible help.

Ann Althouse said...

Re the fan: I don't want to go back to the other computer, because it stalled several times during each podcast. The new computer doesn't do that.

I got the idea of pre-chilling the computer. You know, put it in the refrigerator for a while before starting. But I still like the idea of putting it in a bed of ice, kind of like shrimp cocktail. (With a water barrier of course.) Any reason no to do that?

reader_iam said...

Increasing distance would be the obvious thing except that she uses the computer while recording--to look up posts & comments and such--and therefore needs to be close enough to see the screen. Therein lies the challenge.

Ann Althouse said...

Brylin: You're right about the volume of the music. I need to set it lower.

brylin said...

Electronic parts are very sensitive to water, and to some extent humidity. Not to mention the possibility of getting a severe electric shock.

Pre-chilling the computer wouldn't do much good because the heat builds up very quickly in the processor and any chill would quickly wear off.

I don't have a PowerBook, but with my older Thinkpad (A30) the bottom heats up and the fan goes on. So putting it on a double-ziploc-freezer bag might help, but it's risky.

My newer Thinkpad R50p doesn't ever heat up and I never hear the fan.

brylin said...

My guess is that if you call Apple Tech Support they will tell you NOT to use ice.

It's probably a good idea to call them (I think it's free for the first few months after a new computer purchase) and bounce some ideas off them. That's what I would do. If it's free, you only use your valuable time, but the advice is professional and "right from the horse's mouth." They could probably quote you the decibel ratings on the PowerBook.

Theo Boehm said...

As a PowerBook user, I'm fmiliar with the fan problem. I, too, have tried recording (music in my case) with a PowerBook, and found I had to put it in another room and run the microphone cable under a door. The fan is surprisingly noisy given Steve Jobs' purported aversion to computer whirring.

This, BTW, is reported to be the big reason for Apple's switch to Intel: Intel's chips threaten to run cooler, making PowerBooks more useful as computers and less as personal lap warmers. Hope moving your PowerBook is a practical solution for you.

Theo Boehm said...

Duh...I should have read reader iam's comments above more closely. Of course, Ann needs to view the screen while recording. For what it's worth, I've found that you can indeed delay the fan's coming on by keeping the case cool, but pre-chilling's a lost cause. The aluminum case heats up too fast, but also dissipates heat pretty well if there's good air circulation, so you might try sitting the computer on a small paperback to allow air to circulate from underneath. A cold room helps...and saves on heating bills.

Ricardo said...

Thanks to everyone (especially you Ann, for putting my note on the blog) for getting me back up and running with the Audibles. I'm back in business, listening to the mellifluous voice of America's premiere blogger and podcaster. I never could get the fast-speed issue worked out in the libsyn, but I downloaded iTunes (I know, I'm behind the times) and got #29 through them, and it works perfectly. So I'm subscribed, and ready to go. Thank you Reader, for all your suggestions, for holding my hand while I was sitting here steaming at the computer, and for putting the image of fresh-baked bread into my head. And thank you brylin for all the tech explanations, which were slightly above my level but which started to make sense the more I delved into this issue. So, if you guys ever need anything from Texas, just let me know.