Strongbad, do you have a virus?
August 1, 2008 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out what the hellfire is wrong with my .mp3 files?

Recently my .mp3 files (and I have 40+ gigs of them) started doing something weird. They sound scrambled, stuttery and mixed-up, rather as though they are underwater and in French and backward. My Google-fu yields many possibilities, from corrupted hard-drives to viruses, but no one else describes having the exact problem I do-- rather, their .mp3s start developing small cracks and skips, instead of scrambling. What's going on, and is there any way to reverse it?

Relevant information:
-This happened all at once. One day they were fine, the next day...

-I usually use JetAudio as my media player, and they sound scrambled, but when I try to play them with RealPlayer it gives me the whole "Extra downloads are needed to play this..." And then says it cannot find the relevant downloads. The file never plays. Previously these files played just fine in RealPlayer.

-If I transfer an .mp3 to my Creative Zen MuVo .mp3 player, it still sounds scrambled.

-BUT, and this is a big one, my Audible files still play just fine, both in AudiblePlayer and on my .mp3 player.

I have not messed with my soundcard settings, I have done nothing to my hard drive recently, and I have not downloaded or used any .mp3 related software recently. Everything else seems to work fine. What in the world is going on?
posted by WidgetAlley to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
To rule out a software issue, download Winamp or VLC Player.

You could check if something has altered the files by going into the folder where you keep them and turning on detailed view, if you can't see a "Modified Date" column, right click on the column title at the top and turn it on. If all your MP3's have a modified date of around the time this problem presented itself, then you'll know something likely has corrupted them.

It isn't a corrupt hard-drive (at least not physically, as only one type of file is affected).

If you restore an mp3 from your backups, does it play?
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:28 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Based on your description, I would say hard drive failure. I had similar issues when one of my hard drives failed once, where parts of songs would be out of order and some parts would be random noise.

Either restore from backups, or if you haven't backed up your data, buy a new hard drive and back everything up immediately. If you have anything important on that drive that is not backed up, in my opinion there is a higher than normal chance that you will lose it.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2008

Less likely possibility: There is a virus that has been going around recently transcoding MP3 to WMA (in an ASF container), keeping the mp3 extension, and trying to get you to download malware. It is possible that you are infected and the Audible DRM has prevented those particular mp3s from being transcoded?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2008

Response by poster: Although I have not yet had time to see about the possible answers you guys have come up with (traveling this weekend), a new development has occurred.

An Audible file that I uploaded to my MP3 player, which played just fine at the beginning of my weekend-long car trip, has somehow developed the scramble when I checked back a day and a half later. It hasn't been in contact with my computer or anyone else's since it uploaded (and at that time, it was fine.)

posted by WidgetAlley at 9:01 PM on August 3, 2008

I'd recommend that you try re-encoding with Easy CD-DA Extractor. See if that fixes the issue. And, of course, do the whole virus defense thing.
posted by Citrus at 8:03 AM on August 4, 2008

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