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Re: Sound file formats for journal

Dear Robert,

This is very exciting news! So far people have relied on putting demos on their lab or personal website, which is not very reliable when people (or labs) move. The other option was to put them in a PowerPoint presentation attached to the article as supplementary material. Not terribly user friendly, and the sounds cannot be extracted easily for further examination.

When we developed the acoustiscale wiki with Roy Patterson and Tom Walters, we also wanted to be able to include sound samples. The conclusion we came to is that we wanted both quick online preview but also retain the access to the high quality sound, i.e. make the WAV file available for download. Here's an example of sound demos we've put online: http://www.acousticscale.org/wiki/index.php/SHAR_PGW_2010_Demo_Sounds

This is what I would be looking for on a website. Now for the file formats that people are allowed to upload, I would restrict it to lossless formats such as WAV, or why not FLAC. With MP3 there is a risk that the compression will introduce a minor but crucial degradation authors might not be aware of. The obvious example would be a tone in a notched noise where MP3 encoding would increase the width of the notch.

Concerning the formats that should be available online, this is more of a technical issue, but note that again I would be cautious with making MP3 the only option. MP3 is currently supported by Adobe Flash player, which is probably still the most widely spread way of playing audio on websites. However, Flash is on the decline (see e.g. the fact that Adobe dropped support for newer versions of Android), and will likely be replaced, at least for the purpose of playing sound files on websites, by the HTML 5 audio tag. With HTML 5, the supported formats depend on your browser and a few of them do not natively support MP3 due to patents and licences issues, and amongst them Firefox (the other noticeable is Opera). On these browsers, the supported format is OGG. So I think you want to be able to convert the file uploaded by the authors in the appropriate format, i.e. either OGG or MP3, and for that purpose having a source file in WAV will definitely help.

Good luck!
Best regards,

Etienne Gaudrain, PhD
UMCG, KNO Afdeling

On 13/09/2012 16:54, Robert Zatorre wrote:
Dear list

In an effort to enhance the Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience journal, we would like to enable sounds files to be uploaded for reviewers to be able to hear the stimuli used in a given experiment. Eventually we would also like to have a means of having these sound files embedded directly into the online journal article so that readers can hear the stimuli used. (Of course this could apply not only to stimuli, but also to other sound files that are part of the study, such as recorded vocalizations, speech or musical sounds produced under some experimental conditions, and so forth)

My question for you all is what file formats do you think we would need to support? The two obvious ones are wav and mp3, but perhaps there are others that you may think are important or that have some advantages that should also be considered.

Thank you for your thoughts.

PS feel free to send me your comments directly


Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.
Montreal Neurological Institute
3801 University St.
Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4
phone: 1-514-398-8903
fax: 1-514-398-1338
e-mail: robert.zatorre@xxxxxxxxx
web site: www.zlab.mcgill.ca