Creating a link to an audio file on your web pages

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Link directly to an mp3 file
    This will allow the user to download the file, and once they have they can play it. While this allows the user to store the file on their iPod (or similar), it also has disadvantages:
    1. The file may take a long time to download (of concern to those without good or cheap access to high bandwidth downloads like broadband)
    2. The user then has the file on their hard disk and can redistribute and/ or edit it as they please
  2. Link that allows 'progressive download' (m3u) - recommended
    This method is easy to achieve - you can do it yourself - and has three main advantages:
    1. The user can listen to the file immediately without waiting for a download
    2. The file is not put onto the user's hard disk where it can easily be redistributed
    3. But it does not allow the user to listen on their iPod (or similar)

It might be worth considering putting both means of getting the file on the page. Then those with problems with bandwidth can choose the progressive download and those who use an iPod can simply download the file.

How to put a link to an mp3 file on your website

You can do this simply by putting the file in your website and creating a link to it:

When the user clicks on this link they will be given the option to download the file. They will have to wait until this is complete before they can play their copy of the file.

How to put an m3u file and link on your website

That's it. Now, when the user clicks on the link, the mp3 file will play immediately in the user's default audio player. It will play through to the finish without being fully downloaded onto the user's hard disk.

Advice on mp3 files


Neither iTunes nor Windows Media encodes to mp3 as standard. Both use proprietary formats. iTunes encodes to AAC and windows media encodes to WMA. You can change this in both programs.

In iTunes:

In Windows Media Player:

You will also need to think about sampling rate and bit rate.

Sampling rate and bit rate

The bigger the bit rate and sampling rate, the larger the file and so the longer the potential download, but also the higher the quality. So there is a trade off. There are a number of options for the bit rate and sample rate of your recording and both will affect the overall quality. You may find the table below helpful in terms of how to think about the sound quality you require.

Sound quality

Sample rate


Bit rate

Reduction ratio

Telephone sound

2.5 kHz


8 kbps


Better than shortwave

4.5 kHz


16 kbps


Better than AM radio

7.5 kHz


32 kbps


Similar to FM radio

11 kHz


56-64 kbps



15 kHz


96 kbps



>15 kHz


to 128kbps


Stereo versus mono

It is important to remember that for a stereo recording, the sample rate is split between the stereo channels - ie a stereo 44 kHz sample rate will give two channels of 22Khz whereas a mono sample rate of 44kHz gives a single channel at 44kHz. So, a quick way to double the quality of speech in the file is to encode it as mono. There is no real advantage in having stereo speech as stereo exists to replicate the natural width of the sound coming from an orchestra or band, whereas a voice is naturally from a single source.

To alter the settings of your encoding (these can't be altered once the file is encoded, it has to be re-encoded) you need to change the setting of the program you are using to do the encoding.

Altering encoding settings with iTunes

Altering encoding settings with Windows Media Player

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