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Troubleshooting Sound

As if you didn't have enough problems already, there are things that can and usually will go awry with your use of audio in Flash. Here are a couple of items you might run across and suggestions on how to handle these anomalies:

  • Some people don't have sound cards. Believe it or not, most of corporate America still isn't arming their employee workstations with sound cards. Even if they do ship with the board, there is no guarantee that the person has speakers.

    You can't do much about the speakers, but ActionScript routines are available that let you sift through a local SYSTEM.INI file on a PC and look for the occurrence of the string "Wave=". That typically means that a sound card has been installed, and if someone managed to get speakers on her desk, she can listen to your audio tracks.

    If the string doesn't show up, you probably should run a second script that will disable the audio tracks from loading into the movie. This reduces download time and eliminates the possibility of playback errors for a user who clearly doesn't need to suffer through them.

  • Sounds play in the Flash editor, but not in the final SWF file. This can be a terrible realization. It's the kind of error that sends you into a mental tailspin late at night when you probably are too tired to digest this weird manifestation. There is one possible, rather simple, explanation, however.

    Remember that the Publish Settings (and the Export Movie settings, for that matter) under File in the main menu have options for various compression routines. One of the options under the various settings is a Disable option, which you might have inadvertently selected somehow. It seems like an odd thing to forget, but it should be the first place you look when the sounds won't execute.

  • RealPlayer Audio won't play back. Note that only streamed audio plays back after publishing a file for RealPlayer. Audio events do not play back. To make sure you are seeing the correct playback for RealPlayer, set the event audio in the Publish settings to Disable. Set your preferences for streaming audio to raw compression with a sample rate of 11KHz, 22KHz, or 44KHz.

    Additionally, audio files with a 5KHz sampling rate will not compile in RealPlayer. The input cannot be compiled properly into RealAudio. You will need to go back to the original source file and import a higher rate into Flash.

  • Sounds play with a clicking noise in the Flash editor. Occasionally, playback on audio also will be accompanied by a clicking noise that often obscures the track and also occurs when the movie is played back in a browser. Developers experiencing this problem will note that it occurs only in Flash, and on other workstations the problem does not occur.

    Unfortunately, this is a hardware problem. Several sound cards have been identified as the cause of the problem on Windows 95 and Windows 98:

    • Crystal Audio System (found in the IBM Intellistation E Pro)

    • Sound Blaster Audio PCI 64D

    • Sound Blaster Audio PCI 128D

    • ESS Maestro-2E (found in Dell Inspiron laptops)

      Unfortunately, the best thing to do is to update the sound card's driver if possible and see whether the problem persists. Try this first before you contemplate pulling your sound card altogether.



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