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If you want to have separate tracks for audio playback, you have to break it up into several separate mp3 files.

I record sermons and motivational talks. How can I set up tract increments, auto or manually, so I can back up and re-listen to a point made just moments ago on a CD? As it is now, the whole talk is just one tract; if I try to back up, it starts all over. Thank you.

In this excerpt from Answercast #67, I look at ways to manage long audio files for playback.

Audio tracks

So, I want to be clear here: you're using the word "tract" which may have specific meaning to you in the sermon and motivational speaking arena. I believe you're talking about "tracks." The different tracks that you'll find on an audio CD.

I'm also not sure if you're speaking about audio CDs or digital CDs (data CDs that happen to have mp3 files stored on them). Regardless, the answer as it turns out is pretty much the same in either case. Each track needs to be a separate mp3 file. That's all it really boils down to.

Multiple mp3 files

You can (if you like) create your sermons or your speaking as a single mp3 file. It can be as long as you like. As you can see here, I typically do about half an hour's worth and I do keep it as a single mp3 file.

If I wanted to have separate tracks for each question that I answer in an Answercast, I would actually have to break it up into several separate mp3 files.

Now, on an audio CD, that just works. If you follow my instructions for how to burn an audio CD using Image Burn, you'll create what's called a .cue file (a "dot cue" file) and in that file, you will list each track in the order that you want them to be played.

When the audio CD is then played in an audio CD player, the tracks get played in that order - exactly the way I think you want it to happen. When somebody hits "go back to the beginning of the track," then they're going back to the beginning of that specific track and not to the beginning of the entire CD.

Data discs

Now, if we're talking about data discs (data CDs where you basically just have an mp3 file or a collection of mp3 files stored on a computer CD), then we need to do things ever so slightly different. But it's common technology.

What you need to create in addition to your collection of mp3 files is called a playlist. A playlist, like the .cue file I talked about earlier, is nothing more than a list of the mp3 files and the order in which they should be played.

That way, your mp3-playing software on your computer (I happen to recommend VLC, but there are many) will play those things in the order that they're listed - simply by double-clicking on the playlist file (or a .pls file is what it usually is.)

That allows you to again have a single sermon (if you will) as a .pls file, but then have that .pls file reference separate segments as different tracks on your sermon.

Reversing audio files

So, that's the approach that I would take. I don't know of a really good or standard way to say bookmark or mark the middle of a single mp3 file that would allow you to return to it.

I'm sure that there are audio programs that might allow you to do something like that. The problem is that whatever it is they do, there's no real standard for it, so it's not something that you would be able to then create and publish and have other people be able to use it with arbitrary software.

You'd be mandating what software they needed to use to listen to your mp3 files or to your recordings.

The .cue file creating an audio CD: that will work in any audio player, assuming that you've got the right media and so forth. But an audio CD works in just about anything.

And the data CDs... well, they work in almost anything these days too, but again, it's the playlist that happens to control what gets played and in what order.

Article C5991 - November 4, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

November 5, 2012 4:45 AM

If I am looking for a part of your answer cast, I just play it and using your "play list" click around on the streaming audio representation back and forth until I find the article I am looking for. It's crude, but it works.

Bill Koenih
November 6, 2012 8:59 AM

My church records services on tape(old fashioned, but--).
I record them to the computer with Cool Edit, break them down into individual components, e.g., music, specials, sermon, invitation. Then I record to CD.

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