4 Audio Compression Tips: How to Share Audio Files Online
There are many reasons why your business may wish to send, receive and share high-quality audio files. You may, for example, need to send a lengthy audio file away to be transcribed by a professional transcription service to make it quicker and easier to access the data within. Or perhaps you want to to get market research feedback visualised in a more simple transcribed format, such as detailed notes.
Whatever the reason, you need to be sure that your files are of sufficiently high audio quality so that none of the information they contain is lost in transit. At the same time, however, you also need to ensure that they are of a manageable size. This will prevent them from taking up undue space on your network and mobile devices, or clogging up bandwidth and bottlenecking your operations.
That means you’re going to need to get familiar with compression. Here we’ll look at 4 tips to make it easy to share files online without compromising audio quality.
1. Don’t worry about using
“lossy” formats. They’re really
not what you think!
Sharing audio files is much easier when the audio is in a smaller file format. Typically, those recording the audio file can choose to use either a “lossy” or “lossless” format. You might be tempted to use a “lossless” format by default… but that’s not always necessary.
If you’re a legal professional sending away a witness statement for transcription or a video production technician sending a voice-over to be captioned, you know that every syllable counts. As such, you might be averse to using any kind of “lossy” format. But don’t worry, lossy formats don’t necessarily detract from the quality of the audio. In fact, for dictation, voice notes and even vocal tracks for video, they’re often perfectly acceptable formats.
Lossy formats strip out a lot of data from an audio file and make them more manageable, but the loss of this data doesn’t make your files inaudible. In fact, if you’re listening through headphones, you’re unlikely to even notice the difference. Lossless audio files are only usually essential if you’re mastering the audio mix for a major home video release, so sticking to lossy formats for your transcriptions is perfectly acceptable.
2. Don’t be daunted
by the jargon
If you’re unfamiliar with audio compression, terms like Codec or Bitrate might seem daunting. But these are easy to wrap your head around when you get to know what they mean. Getting to know these terms can help you to make more sense of the interfaces of different compression software programs and ensure that your compressed audio files meet your needs.
What is a codec?
A codec is basically the way in which the audio file is compressed. This will determine how small you can make the compressed file.
What is bitrate?
Your bitrate is the quality of the audio file. A higher bitrate means better quality but of course, that also means an unwieldy file size. Bitrate is measured in kilobytes per second (kbps). For most purposes, bitrate ranges between 64, 128, 192 or 320 kbps.
Bitrates can also be constant and variable, so you can increase quality where sound needs to be more complex and nuanced.
What is sample rate?
The sample rate of an audio file is the number of samples of audio carried per second. It is usually measured in Hz or kHz. The lower the sample rate, the lower the file size. Most MP3 files (arguably the most popular audio file type) use a sample rate of 22.05 kHz.
3. Know which file type
best suits your needs
Whenever you create or compress an audio file, you will usually have a choice of formats in which to export it. Each of these has its own impact on the size and quality of the compressed file. MP3, for example, is the most commonly chosen because it’s the most familiar format. As a standard format, users know that it is likely to work with a broad range of devices and media players.
But by no means is it the only format at your disposal. Using a format like MP3PRO, for example, combines the familiar MP3 format with a form of compression called spectral band replication. This makes audio files smaller and able to be played on MP3 players without compromising on audio quality.
ACC also boasts smaller file sizes and largely better audio quality than MP3… The only trouble, however, is that not all media players can afford it. The WMA format can also be used to compress audio and its low bitrates make it a good choice for online streaming. Finally, there’s the ACS format which is also a good all-rounder offering good quality/size ratio and can be played on different electronic devices.
4. Don’t pay for compression software.
There are lots of perfectly
good ones for free!
In business, most live by the adage of “you get what you pay for”. When you invest in better materials and better employees, you’re able to provide a better service to your clientele. Yet, while this is an admirable sentiment, there are occasions where a free solution does the job just as well as a paid solution.
Let’s look at some user-friendly and 100% free programs which you can use to compress your audio files into a more manageable format.
Audacity is a freeware application for recording and compressing audio tracks. Popular with podcasters, it’s easy to use but can take a little grappling with to get really familiar with its broad range of functionalities.
WinZip is a fantastic little tool for compressing all kinds of files, not just audio files. There’s a free version with limited capabilities which are still more than substantial enough for most audio compression needs. Their .zipx format allows users to reduce file sizes by 15-20% with no loss in audio quality.
Apowersoft Video Converter Studio
Don’t want to mess around with codecs, bitrates and sample rates? No problem. Applications like Video Converter Studio by Apowersoft offer a convenient workaround. Simply select parameters for file size and the program will automatically choose a codec to suit your needs.
Apowersoft Free Audio Converter
Apowersoft Free Audio Converter is perfect for those who need to compress audio files quickly and easily online. This browser-based tool has a simple interface and makes it easy to control settings to ensure that you reduce files to a size that’s manageable for your needs.
Advanced Audio Compressor
If you need to compress batches of audio, Advanced Audio Compressor is a very useful tool. Multiple files can be uploaded together, enabling users to make changes en masse and compress them all at the same time into a manageably-sized, shareable folder.
There is a free trial version of Advanced Audio Compressor which allows you to get to know the interface and play with some functionalities. Unfortunately, however, you’ll need to sign up for the paid version if you want to start saving and using audio files. Still, the productivity gains it can facilitate may see the software more than pay for itself.
When you’ve chosen one that works for you, simply convert your files into your preferred format and away you go. With a little know-how, compressing and sharing audio files online is easier than you may think. That means you can get the audio files you need to be transcribed easily and efficiently.