Can't Import .mp3 files

To Whom this May Concern,

I am visually impaired trying to import my .mp3 files into tracks. However, I get an error message suggesting I try installing the FFmpeg file. I did so and placed it in the Audacity file folder. I don’t know though if I placed it in the correct place! Please see attached file for the Error Message. Thanks for any assistance.

R Bryan Anthony

Audacity version 2.4.2, (late 2020), Audacity became very fussy about what type of mp3 was acceptable …

A workaround could be to use Audacity’s free competitor OCEN audio which is more tolerant, and could be used to convert the mp3s that Audacity will not play into a form acceptable by Audcaity, e.g. WAV or FLAC.

Well, my Audacity 3.1.3 was working fine until today.

I found the problem!! The files were downloaded as M4A files (not MP3 files) which aren’t recognized by my Audacity program. Thanks for the help! BTW, Windows Defender will not let me download the OcenAudio file.


[EDIT - You figured it out while I was typing!]

I assume the files play in Windows Media Player, etc?

Either it’s not really an MP3 or it’s an “imperfect MP3”. Audacity is more picky about MP3s than most other software and there are a lot of “bad ones” out there…

The easiest solution is to convert the file to WAV or FLAC with a 3rd party application like [u]KabuuAudio Converter[/u] or [u]TAudioConverter[/u]. Audacity is going to decompress the file anyway so although it’s an extra step for you, it’s basically the same process.

[u]MediaInfoOnline[/u] can tell you if it’s an MP3 but it won’t tell you if there’s a problem. If it’s MP3 it will say "MPEG Audio (Version 1) (Layer 3)".

Audacity doesn’t need FFmpeg for MP3s. It can optionally use FFmpeg to open MP3s and it’s more forgiving than the built-in decoder but I forgot the trick that tells Audacity to use it… It’s just easier and more foolproof if you convert/decompress to WAV (or FLAC). Audacity is going to decompress when it opens it anyway.

As you may know, MP3 is lossy compression. If you export as MP3 the new MP3 has gone-through another generation of lossy compression and some “damage” does accumulate. You may not hear any quality loss but it’s something you should be aware of. There are some special-purpose editors like [u]mp3DirectCut[/u] that can do limited editing without decompressing.

You may need FFmpeg or other formats and installing it isn’t really that hard… Just download and RUN the [u]FFmpeg Installer[/u]installer (FFmpeg_v2.2.2_for_Audacity_on_Windows_64bit.exe) and it will install in the right place and you should be ready-to-go! (You may need to re-start Audacity and if you have the 32-bit version of Audacity you’ll need 32-bit FFmpeg.)

M4A/MP4/AAC is also lossy but it does not suffer from accumulated damage like MP3 and some other formats.

I had a similar problem - just one MP3 that Audacity wouldn’t import, though VLC played it OK. I ended up using -an online drag-and-drop converter (I can’t 100% vouch for it but it seems kosher and definitely did the trick). I converted the errant MP3 to M4A and then converted the M4A back to MP3. Problem solved.

Windows 10, Audacity 3.2.1