Corropted audio

If you work with a lot of audio files, especially longer recordings, sometimes you run into an error like this one from Adobe Audition. The error is usually caused when a field recorder fails to close an audio file properly or when a field recorder looses power during a long recording.

Without going too deep into the way WAV files are recorded, basically the WAV data is recorded into the file. At the end of the file the recording the file is marked with header information that’s appended to the file. This tells your media player or in this case Adobe Audition how long the file is, what format it was recorded in, and other info about the WAV file (checksum and so on) that is usually needed for playback. If this info is missing or incorrect most media players will throw up errors. You can usually fix this broken audio using VLC.

Open with VLC

Grab a copy of VLC from there site and install. Make sure you read the install notes to avoid adding any search bars or other random apps to your computer. I don’t use VLC for file playback so I usually choose custom install and un-check all of the support file formats. Once you have VLC player installed, right click on the WAV file that’s causing you problems and open with VLC media player.

VLC convert

Usually if VLC is able to fix your file, you’ll be able to play it back from the main screen, this is a good way to make sure this method will repair your audio.  Once you’ve checked playback click on the “Media” menu and select “Convert / Save…”.

convert file find

From there you’ll see this menu. In the file table click the add button and select your broken audio file. Once you’ve done that click on the “Convert / Save” button at the bottom of the screen.

Converted converter wav

That brings you to the convert screen. Click the “Browse” button and find the folder you want your corrected audio to be saved to. In the same browse screen you’ll need to type in the file name and extension. In this case I typed in “Converted file.wav”.  In the settings section select “Audio-CD” from the drop down menu, then click start.

Running convertion

Once you hit start, you should see a progress bar moving in VLC media player. Once it completes the audio will show up under the selected name, in the file folder you selected earlier. When VLC converts the audio it reconstructs all of the header information, and makes the file playable in other programs.

Final audio

Now the file shows up in Adobe Audition and all of the recording information is corrected. This solution will not solve every corrupted WAV file problem out there, but it’s usually the first thing I try when I run into a WAV file that won’t play in Audition or Premiere timelines.  Special thanks to Jess for asking for this tutorial. I end up using this method maybe two or three times a year and always forget to post a tutorial.

On a side note, if you use the Zoom h4n and you’ve recorded a long file (in this case 64 min), after the recording has been stopped be sure to give your field recorder a minute or so before you power the unit down. This can also be a problem if you’re using a memory card over 4GB in size. For whatever reason, it takes the h4n longer to close files when using a large memory card. This corrupted file was part of a live podcast I was recording for a festival last month. If  you decide to listen, just remember I drank a few too many beers.

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