How can I combine mp3s and deliver them via MMS with a web interface?
December 1, 2004 3:26 PM   Subscribe

ServerSideResearchFilter: A friend, who is a prominent Australian comedic voice talent, would like to dynamically stitch together disparate mp3s through a web interface and convert the resulting mp3 to suitable delivery for mobile phone voicemail recordings via MMS. While i can conceptualise the web interace and preview mechanism through flash, I am clueless to how the backend would work.

So, what specific technolgies should i enquire into to make this dream a reality (i am aware this kind of application development would be pricey), and also, are there any sites that you know of doing this at the moment?
posted by elphTeq to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Lots of depends here. You're going to have to research the phones and phone service companies to determine what format the phones will accept.

Is this going to be primarily targeted at Australians?

You're going to be looking at multiple different formats, depending on the brand of cellphone. MP3, MMF, Midi, SP MIDI, RTTTL, IMelody, EMelody, SMAF, etc. Not all of these will be appropriate for voicework. Actually almost none of them will be good for voice work.

A good start would be With these Ringtone Software packages.

The Ringtone Creator engine looks to be what you are looking for, but I can't say I've heard of anybody ever using it. So no recommendation either way.
posted by stovenator at 5:24 PM on December 1, 2004

Oh, (too late for on-preview, sigh), I notice you're not wanting to send these as ringtones, but rather as voicemail. Oops.

As far as stitching together MP3s, your best bet is to keep the files in WAV format, stitch together the WAVs, and then encode them to MP3. There are programs out there that allow you to stitch together MP3s, but in my experience stitching wavs, and converting to MP3 has always turned out better.

The reason for this is that you might have two MP3 that used a different codec or bit rate, and stitching them together sometimes gives you poor results.
posted by stovenator at 5:30 PM on December 1, 2004

SOX is a pretty cool Unix app that you could use to do all sorts of command line sound mangling. I don't really know how great it would be in a high volume site, but worth looking into.
posted by 4easypayments at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2004

suitable delivery for mobile phone voicemail recordings via MMS

I'm not tracking with you as I don't understand the connection you're making between voicemail and MMS.

If you're transporting the resulting file via MMS and want a recipient to playback that file when they receive the MMS (or alternatively save that sound file and turn it into a ringotone), the relevant questions are:

(1) what file size limitiations to you have to worry about (e.g. some carriers may cap MMS at 100KB or 300KB)?, and
(2) which codecs are supported on the device?

If I understand correctly that you want to create/send/playback MMS messages then look at AMR and QCELP as standards-based codecs required in GSM and CDMA devices (with MMS support) respectively. Increasing numbers of devices support MP3 but (a) still not many and (b) not great compression given your constrained file size due to MMS limits. A good start would be to find an MP3-->AMR encoder (see here for some).
posted by donovan at 6:22 PM on December 1, 2004

I've seen some people say that you can actually just smoosh mp3s together. If that's correct, I suspect you could just do cat file1.mp3 file2.mp3 > file3.mp3. The caveat that different codecs/bit rates could give poor results seems reasonable to me, but from the sounds of things it would seem you have control over how which files get to the server.

But if you want something more elegant mp3cat for perl, PyMP3Cut, for Python, cutmp3 and mp321 for the unix command line, MPEG AudioScissors for windows.... probably a dozen other such utilities out there.
posted by weston at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2004

If you are wanting to set people's voicemail to have comedy messages (the opposite part of what donovan describes) you need to access their voicemail and use the prompts to set a new voicemail message - they will need to set a voicemail PIN for you to be able to do this.

You can then use any format recording you desire, but you have to find a way to inject it into the telephone line for the operator voicemail to be able to record it.
posted by ajbattrick at 4:24 AM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: for clarity: he wants to have the ability to deploy the smooshed mp3 as either ringtone or voicemail message. There are exisiting mechanisms for delivering ringtones but not so much for voicemail, as I am learning.

thanks for the leads!
posted by elphTeq at 5:20 AM on December 2, 2004

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