Audacity does not recognize MP3 file when imported


I do not know much about audio files but I have used Audacity successfully in the past to trim MP3 files. Recently, I have not been able to import any of my MP3 files. The message I am getting is:
“Audacity did not recognize the type of the file ‘C\Users\Owner\Downloads\file name.mp3’.
Try installing FFmpeg.
For uncompressed files, also try File > Import > Raw Data.”

I just downloaded the latest Audacity Version 3.2.4, and I’m using Windows 10. The MP3 files are recorded personally by me on a purchased Voice Recorder App on my phone, in 44 kHz sample rate and 128 kbps encoder bitrate (I’m not sure if that makes any difference when importing into Audacity?).
I have followed the Help instructions to try to open the file as FFmpeg-compatible type file, same result. I was able to import the Raw Data only, but the file came across as static noise.
Can someone please let me know what I’m doing wrong?! I don’t think my files are corrupt as I’ve recorded them myself. Thank you in advance for any advice!

I assume you can play the file with Windows Media Player (or whatever you normally use)?

Usually the most straightforward is solution is to convert the file to WAV with a 3rd-party conversion program such as [u]Kabuu Audio Converter[/u] or [u]TAudioConverter[/u]. Audacity is going to decompress the MP3 anyway so it’s basically the same process, although it’s an extra step for you.

There are a lot of “imperfect” MP3s around and Audacity is more picky about MP3s than most other software… And occasionally you’ll run-across a file that’s named MP3 but it’s actually something else, and that confuses Audacity.

Raw import won’t work. MP3 compression is a lot like encryption and the raw data will sound like garbage.

Audacity doesn’t normally use FFmpeg to import or Export MP3s. There is a “trick” to importing with FFmpeg and that will usually work, but I’ve lost the link and I’m too lazy to search and it’s just easier(and maybe more reliable) to convert to WAV. There is also software for repairing MP3s but it’s rather “technical”.

a purchased Voice Recorder App on my phone,

If that app will record to WAV you’ll get better quality (although you may not hear any difference, especially with voice) and hopefully the WAVs will open in Audacity.

MP3 isn’t necessarily “terrible” (depending on the bitrate) but it is lossy compression. Data is thrown-away to make a smaller file. When you open a compressed file in Audacity (or any “regular” audio editor) it gets decompressed. If you then re-export as MP3 you are going through another generation of lossy compression and SOME “damage” accumulates. If you want MP3, ideally you should compress ONCE as the last step.

There are special editors such as [u]mp3DirectCut[/u] that can do some limited editing without decompressing the MP3. But in your case there is “something wrong” with the MP3 so you are probably better-off using Audacity and creating a new MP3 (if that’s the format you want in the end).

Try opening the file in MediaInfo. I suspect it’s not actually an MP3, but something else. If it says RIFF WAVE, it’s a .wav, if it says Advanced Audio Codec, it’s an .m4a

Thank you so much, guys, for your feedback. I did download MediaInfo , and it turns out the file is created as a Mpeg-4 file, despite given the extension MP3. Which is probably why Audacity and other cutting software doesn’t recognize it and can’t open it. I’m not sure yet why the Voice Recorder App on my phone does that, I’m trying to find a solution to that problem next. I haven’t tried converting it to MP3, as I don’t want to have that extra step in the future (as I have to cut and edit files often).

Rename it to M4A (MP4 or AAC will probably also work).

Since you’re already installed FFmpeg it should open.

Or my above suggestion of converting the file to WAV with another program almost always works (as long as the file is OK and playable and not too-obscure of a format).

Doug - it worked!!! Thank you so much. I changed the extension to .MP4, and downloaded the FFmpeg library, and I was able to import it effortlessly in Audacity! Thank you for your generous help.