Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

27 April 2013

When sounds don't play on Safari

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE kindly written in recently to say they’ve had problems playing the recordings on this site. What they all have in common is that they’re using Macbooks and iPads running Safari, which is installed as the standard browser on those devices.

I don’t own any Apple products and this has hindered attempts to investigate what’s going on and why. A month or two ago there was another problem caused by a new version of the Flash player used by Google Chrome. Luckily that seems to have been self-corrected by a subsequent update.

But the Safari problem remains and it goes like this:

* Most of the sound files on this site are playable.

* Some are not. They tend to be larger files (usually above 4 MB) but not always. Other factors, such as bitrate and what software was used to encode them, don’t seem to make any difference.

* The aggravation occurs independently of the kind of HTML5 audio player used. I’ve tried Pickle Player, UbaPlayer, audio.js, and the unadorned HTML5 audio element.

* It also happens when using Safari for Windows, suggesting it’s the browser which is to blame, not the device. But Safari will be installed overwhelmingly on Apple products.

* It makes no difference whether the sound files are embedded in a webpage generated by the site’s content management system or in a simple, static HTML page written in Notepad.

* Sometimes it helps to refresh the page, at least on my friend Nick’s son’s iPad.

* I don’t know what else to do except hope that a future version of Safari works better.

It’s becoming more important to keep an eye on how well audio players work as mobile devices surge in popularity. Those with smallish collections of recordings might sensibly opt to set up a Soundcloud account and embed its players on their own blog or website, leaving the issues of device and browser compatibility to Soundcloud’s developers.

But if you want to keep the sound files on your own share of a server, then you could do worse than look at audio.js to begin with as it’s very easy to install.