audio_help

This page provides some information and support for playing audio for American Public Media programs.

Q. What must I do to be able to hear archived program audio and/or the live stream?
Q. I've installed the RealAudio player, but archived program audio and/or the live stream audio won't play. What's wrong?
Q. I've installed a newer version of my Web browser, but now the audio stream won't play. What's the problem?
Q. Sometimes archived program audio and/or the live stream audio cuts in and out, and the player takes long pauses to buffer. Why does it do this?
Q. Why do I receive "cannot connect" error messages with RealPlayer 10?
Q. What is PHP? Why do I need it to listen to audio on your site?
Q. How do I set file associations to work with PHP and SMIL? Why is Quicktime opening instead of RealPlayer?
Q. Help with Windows Media
Q. Is there a Mac version of the Windows Media Player?
Q. How do I download an MP3 file?
Q. I need more help.


What must I do to be able to hear archived program audio and/or the live stream?
In addition to your computer and Internet connection, you'll need a sound card and speakers or headphones. Your computer can use any operating system: Windows, Macintosh, or Unix/Linux/Solaris.

American Public Media audio uses both the RealAudio and Windows Media format (Windows Media is only available for our live streams). It is recommended that you have the most current version of the player installed.

To download the most recent free version of the RealPlayer, go to the Real Networks Web site.

To download the most recent version of the Windows Media Player, go to the Microsoft Download Center.

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I've installed the RealAudio player, but archived program audio and/or the live stream audio won't play. What's wrong?
You may need to update your RealPlayer to a newer version-currently version 8.0 or higher. To see which version of RealPlayer you have, open the player and select About RealPlayer (or similar) under the Help menu. This will display you current version number. If the version is older than 8.0, you will need to download newer version.

To download the newest version automatically:
On the Tools menu, click "Check for Update":

  • If the Message Center window appears, click "Update" to update to RealOne Player v2.
  • If the AutoUpdate window appears, scroll through the list, select RealOne Player and any plug-ins that you want to update, and click "Install."

The upgraded RealOne Player downloads automatically. Follow the prompts to complete the installation.

To download the newest version manually:
You can manually download the newest version here, or download previous versions here.

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I've installed a newer version of my Web browser, but now the audio stream won't play. What's the problem?
For RealPlayer to work with your browser, you need to have the proper plug-ins installed on your computer. If you switch to a different browser or install a newer version of your browser, the live stream may stop working. Try reinstalling the RealPlayer software using your new browser. Install the browser first. Then, go to the Real site using that browser and download the software, and your browser will get the correct plug-ins.

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Sometimes archived program audio and/or the live stream audio cuts in and out, and the player takes long pauses to buffer. Why does it do this?
Most likely, traffic on the Internet is heavy during the times you experience rebuffering and audio cutting in and out. When the heavy traffic times are over, the buffering problems should get better. Your location relative to our servers in St. Paul, Minnesota, may also have an impact on the quality of your experience, especially when listening to archived audio files.

To explain: To say audio is streamed means that dozens of small files called "packets" are being sent over the Internet every second. The RealPlayer receives these packets and reassembles them into the audio you are hearing. The player builds up a buffer by storing up packets to draw from while it waits for more packets, keeping the flow smooth and unbroken. (This causes a short delay between the time audio is sent and the time it is received, usually about five seconds.) When traffic is heavy, some packets get held up or even lost. If more packets don't arrive before the buffer runs out, then you get a break in the stream and a rebuffering message. If your delay is extraordinarily long, or if the stream just stops, your player may be stuck and you may have to restart the software. The best way to do this is to reboot your computer.

Why do I receive "cannot connect" error messages with RealPlayer 10?
Please visit the RealPlayer support site for more information regarding this error. (RealPlayer Support)

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What is PHP? Why do I need it to listen to audio on your site?
When you click a link to hear an archived show, we use a scripting language called PHP to tell your Web browser how to behave. In this case, we are sending audio (and sometimes images) to your RealPlayer by telling the PHP script to create a SMIL file. You'll need to make sure your browser is configured correctly to do this.

A SMIL file is used by your RealPlayer to determine which audio files or graphics to deliver to your player. To listen to audio using RealPlayer, your Web browser's helper applications must associate ".smil" files with that program.

For detailed instructions on how to set these associations, read the next section, "How do I set file associations to work with PHP and SMIL?"

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How do I set file associations to work with PHP and SMIL? Why is Quicktime opening instead of Real Player?

RealPlayer uses ".smil" files which QuickTime can try unsuccessfully to open. Detailed instructions follow for correctly setting file associations for MacOS 8.x/9.x, MacOS X.x, and Windows computers.

Audio Help for Macintosh OS 8/9 Users
If QuickTime is opening instead of the RealPlayer, or if you get the message 'unsupported transport':

You need to un-associate QuickTime with the ".smil" extension type. QuickTime will not open these files. To un-associate it, open the QuickTime player, click Edit / Preferences / QuickTime preferences / Browser Plug-in / Mime Settings / expand "video," highlight "smil 1.0 File" / set to "do not use QuickTime." (If you have more than one version of SMIL or another version of SMIL, repeat the same instructions for each instance of SMIL.)

Make sure the file helper section of your Web browser associates .smil files with your RealPlayer.

IE 5.x: Click Edit / Preferences / Receiving Files/File Helpers. Scroll down until you see "SMIL Document." (There may be more than one with a similar name. Use the same instructions for anything with SMIL in it.) Click on one, then click the "Change" button. Under "File Type" look for "application." (It will probably have a QuickTime icon there.) Click the "Browse" button next to the icon and browse until you find RealOne player or whichever Real player you have installed on your machine. Select it and click the "Open" button. Repeat for each instance of SMIL in the File Helpers window. Close the windows and quit your browser. Then re-launch the browser and try listening again.

Netscape 7.x: Add a new mime type for ".smil": Click Edit / Preferences / Helper Applications / New Type. In "Description" type "SMIL." In "File Extension" type ".smil." In "MIME Type" type "application/audio." In "Application to use" click the "Choose" button and browse to your Real player, then hit "OK."

Audio Help for Macintosh OS X Users
If QuickTime is opening instead of the Real player, or if you get the message 'unsupported transport':

You need to un-associate QuickTime with the ".smil" extension type. QuickTime will not open these files. To un-associate it, open the QuickTime player, and click Edit / Preferences / QuickTime preferences / Plug-In tab / Mime settings / expand "video", highlight "smil 1.0 File" / set to "do not use QuickTime." (If you have more than one version of SMIL or another version of SMIL, repeat the same instructions for each instance of SMIL.)

Then instruct Real Player to open SMIL files. Open RealOne Player and click Preferences / Media Types. Under "SMIL," select "Always play with RealOne Player," and click "OK." A window will pop up. Select "Configure," which will automatically close and configure your Web browser.

Make sure the file helper section of your Web browser associates .smil files with your Real player.

IE 5.1.6: Click Edit / Preferences. In the left-hand window, click on the arrow next to "Receiving Files." (You may have to scroll down to see it.) Then click "File Helpers." In the right hand window, scroll down until you see "SMIL 2.0 file." (There may be more than one with a similar name. Use the same instructions for anything with SMIL in it.) Click one, then click the "Change" button. At the bottom of the window is an area called "Handling." It will probably have a QuickTime icon there. Click the "Browse" button next to the icon and browse until you find RealOne player or whichever Real player you have installed on your machine. Select it and click the "Open" button. Repeat for each instance of SMIL in the File Helpers window. Close the windows and quit your browser. Then re-launch the browser and try listening again.

Netscape 7.02: Add a new mime type for ".smil": Click Netscape / Preferences / Navigator/Helper Applications / New Type. In Description type "SMIL", in file extension type ".smil", in MIME type, type "application/audio", in "Application to use," press the choose button and browse to your RealPlayer, then 'OK.' Audio Help for Windows Users

You need to un-associate QuickTime with the ".smil" extension type. QuickTime will not open these files. To un-associate it, open the QuickTime player, click Edit / Preferences / QuickTime Preferences / Browser Plug-in / Mime Settings / expand "video," highlight "smil 1.0 File," unselect it. (If you have more than one version of SMIL or another version of SMIL, repeat the same instructions for each instance of SMIL.)

You should also set files with the ".smil" extension to open with your RealPlayer at the system level: Click Start / Programs / Accessories / Windows Explorer / Tool menu / Folder options / File types. Under "extensions," scroll down until you find SMI and SMIL. Make sure both "opens with" the Real player/RealOne Player. Use the change button to locate the RealPlayer if associated with something else.

Make sure the file helper section of your Web browser associates .smil files with the RealPlayer.

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Help with Windows Media
Please refer to the Microsoft Knowledge Center with any issues you may be having with the live Windows stream.

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Is there a Mac version of the Windows Media Player?
Yes. It is available for OS versions 8.1 though OS X. See: Windows Media Download Center

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How do I download an MP3 file?
On many computers, you can simply click on the link to the MP3 file and this file will download to your computer. If this doesn't happen automatically, right click on the link and choose "Save Target As.." or "Save Link As.." on your PC, or "Save File As..." on your Mac. After downloading the file, right click again and choose "Open With...", then choose an application to open the MP3 file, such as iTunes or Windows Media Player.

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I need more help.
If you have problems playing American Public Media audio, let us know in an e-mail to mail@americanpublicmedia.org. So that we may better assist you, please tell us as much as you can, including:

  • File or page where you had the problem—a specific URL helps a lot!
  • Description of what happened. If you can remember an error message, tell us what it said.
  • Computer information including computer brand (Example: Dell, HP), operating system (and service pack version if using Windows), and browser version (Netscape 7.0; Explorer 6.0, etc.)
  • Connection speed (28.8, DSL, etc.)
  • RealAudio/Windows Media Player version

We regret that we can not always provide as much assistance as we'd like. For more help, see RealNetworks' support site or visit the Microsoft Knowledge Center.

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