Publish Settings for Audio Flash

Choose File➪Publish Settings to access the Publish Settings and to take a global approach to the control of audio output quality. Then choose the Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog, shown in Figure below. This dialog has three areas where the audio quality of an entire Flash movie can be controlled globally.

The Flash tab of Publish Settings has three options to control audio quality.

The Flash tab of Publish Settings has three options to control audio quality.

The Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog has three options for controlling audio quality:

  • Audio Stream: Controls the export quality of Stream sounds. To customize, click Set. This gives you a number of options, which are described in the section that follows. Flash 5 supports .MP3, which is the optimal streaming format.
  • Audio Event: Controls the export quality of Event sounds. To customize, click Set. This gives you a number of options, which are described in the section that follows.
  • Override Sound Settings: If this box is checked, Flash uses the Publish Settings, rather than the individual audio settings that are fine-tuned in the Library.

The Set options
Audio Stream and Audio Event have individual compression settings, which can be specified by their respective Set button options. If you click ether Set button on the Flash Tab, the same Sound Settings dialog appears it is identical for both Audio Stream and Audio Event, which means that the same options are offered for both types of sound. The Sound Settings dialog, shown in various permutations in Figure below, displays numerous settings related to the control of audio quality and audio file size. The type of compression chosen governs the specific group of settings that appear.

The Sound Settings dialogs

The Sound Settings dialogs

The specific options that are available in the Sound Settings dialogs are always related to the compression, or audio-encoding scheme, selected in the Compression drop-down menu. That’s because different compression technologies support different functionalities:

  • Disable: This option turns off all sounds that have been assigned in the Sound panel to Sync as either Audio Stream or Audio Event. If this option is selected, no sound of that Sync type will be exported when the .SWF movie is published. There are no further options for this setting.
  • ADPCM: With ADPCM selected in the Compression menu, the following options are available:
    • Convert Stereo to Mono: Mixes the right and left channel of audio into one (mono) channel. In sound engineer parlance, this is known as “bouncing down.”
    • Sample Rate: Choose from sampling rates of 5, 11, 22, or 44 kHz.(Increasing the sample rate of an audio file to something higher than the native sample rate of the imported file simply increases file size, not quality. For example, if you import 22 kHz sounds into the Flash movie, selecting 44 kHz will not improve the sound quality.
    • ADPCM Bits: Set the number of bits that ADPCM uses for encoding. You can choose a rate between 2 and 5. The higher the ADPCM bits, the better the audio quality. Flash’s default setting is 4 bits.
  • MP3: If you select MP3 in the Compression menu, you can set the following options:
    • Convert Stereo to Mono: Mixes the right and left channel of audio into one (mono) channel. This is disabled at rates below 20 Kbps, because the lower bit rates don’t support stereo.
    • Bit Rate: MP3 measures compression in kilobits per second (Kbps). The higher the bit rate, the better the audio quality. Because the MP3 audio compression scheme is very efficient, a high bit rate still results in a relatively small file size. Refer to Table below for a breakdown of specific bit rates and the resulting sound quality.
    • Quality: Choose Fast, Medium, or Best quality. Fast optimizes the audio file for faster delivery on the Internet, although there’s usually a significant loss in quality. The truth about the Fast setting is this: Unless you’re only using the sound as a rudimentary button click, or (in conjunction with the 8 Kbps bit rate) as the voice track for a simulated moonwalk, this setting is useless. Medium is a usable setting that delivers acceptable quality but sacrifices some speed in favor of quality. Best is the highest quality setting, chiefly intended for files distributed through broadband connections, intranets, or on CD-ROMs.
  • Raw: When Raw (a.k.a. Raw PCM audio) is selected in the Compression menu, there are two options:
    • Convert Stereo to Mono: Mixes the right and left channel of audio into one (mono) channel.
    • Sample Rate: This option specifies the sampling rate for the Audio Stream or Audio Events sounds.

mp3 bit rate quality

mp3 bit rate quality

As a general rule, if you use the Publish Settings to control audio export globally, we recommend choosing MP3 at 64 Kbps. This will result in moderate to good sound quality (suitable for most Flash projects), and the ratio of file size-to-quality will give reasonable performance.

Supporting the MP3 Player
Although this is becoming less of an issue with the release of Flash 5, it may still be important to consider that MP3 is not supported by Flash 3 (or earlier) players. There may be a number of users in your audience that haven’t upgraded their Flash Player plug-in to version 4, much less to version 5. Although, as Flash developers, it would be nice to assume that your audience will eventually upgrade, it’s more realistic, and therefore advisable, to consider implementing a transitional solution. For example, you could provide both a Flash 3 movie with ADPCM-encoded audio and a Flash 5 movie with MP3-encoded audio. Include information on the splash page about the benefits of the Flash 5 player: reduced download time and increased audio quality. This is an incentive for you users to upgrade. You’ll also want to provide a link to Macromedia to download the new plug-in. Another, more “invisible” solution is to add intelligence to your splash page with a “plug-in detection” script that automatically serves users the movie that corresponds to the version of the Flash Player they have installed.


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