Make Some Noise

A dozen different audio playersWant sound in your site? Here’s a few ways to inject audio into your posts. [An article by Barrett Golding. Sonics are from Transom » Shortlists around the web.]

  1. MP3 Link
  2. Audio Player (WordPress)
  3. Audio Player- Jetpack (
  4. PRX Embeddable Player
  5. NPR Media Player
  6. Yahoo! WebPlayer
  7. HTML5 Audio
  8. Playlist
  9. Other Audio Players

The simplest way is just to link to the URL of an MP3: “White Paint”.

In HTML, that’s: <a title="sound-file" href=">"White Paint"</a>

In WordPress you can upload your own MP3, using WP’s Add Media tool, then use that MP3’s link: “Monika Mueller Sings”. When you click an MP3 link, how (& if) the audio plays depends on your browser, operating system, and settings. For instance, Safari/Mac launches a new browser window and plays the MP3 in QuickTime.

WordPress Audio Player

You can put an MP3 player right into your post. Transom is among the many who choose the easy-to-use plugin, WordPress Audio Player:

“White Paint” (from Atlantic Public Media: The Sonic IDs)

This installs a player at your site, that you can color with the Audio Player’s excellent settings screen. To add audio to your post, just type in this shortcode:

Or use WordPress’ Media Uploader to auto-insert it:

  1. Place your cursor where you’d like the audio to go.
  2. Upload the audio.
  3. Click the button labeled “Audio Player” (added by the plugin) under “Link URL” in the Add Media screen.
    Audio Player button in WordPress Media Uploader
  4. Click the “Insert into Post” button, at the bottom of the Media screen, and the player will be in your post.

You can have multiples MP3s on one page. To avoid cacophony, it stops one player when another is triggered. Try it:

“Monika Mueller Sings” (from Transom: Three About Me)
“Monika Mueller Bartends”

Audio Player also comes in a standalone version for non-WordPress sites.

Audio Player- Jetpack (

If you’re using’s Jetpack with the Shortcode Embeds activated, you already have access to a WordPress Audio Player (and SoundCloud Audio Player). Just use a this slightly different audio shortcode:

“Monika Mueller Groups”

Jetpack’s [audio] fetches an Audio Player from It’s harder to color this way, though. Nor do you get that play-one-at-a-time feature that comes by installing your own WordPress Audio Player.

PRX Embeddable Player

Another simple solution is to put your audio at PRX (you have an account, right?). Then just embed their player in your post. Make sure you enable Sharing for your piece(s), then grab the code from the “<Embed>” button at the upper-right of your piece page.

PRX embed buttonPRX offers a big or small player. Their “Share” button at the bottom has the embed code, so others can share your audio too — can you say “viral?” And at PRX, ‘course, radio stations can purchase a broadcast license for your piece: then you, the producer, get most of the profit.

Other places to upload then embed/share audio are SoundCloud and Audioboo. Jeff Towne wrote an in-depth Transom feature on both.

NPR Media Player

Many national series offer an embeddable player for each story. On each NPR story-page is a “Listen” link that launches their custom media player.

NPR Listen link, with speaker icon

To the right is the embedded NPR player, with Maria Elena Fernandez’s “The Short List: A Bilingual Day of the Dead”. The “Embed” link at the bottom has the code to copy & paste into your webpage.

Yahoo! WebPlayer

One crazy-easy way to add audio to your site is the Yahoo! WebPlayer. All you do is use this bit of HTML: <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

That JavaScript adds a player (bottom-left, then finds any MP3 links on your page, and auto-adds a play button next to each. Or you choose only specific MP3s, such as these links to more Short Lists at NPR:

“Big Day for a Big Shot” from NPR by Sean Cole.
“Disco Discoveries” from NPR by Ben Walker.
“Stuck in the Middle” from NPR by Melissa Harrell.

Click any play button above, and watch the player do its thing.

(If adding the above <script> yourself is above your pay-grade, there’s a Yahoo! Media Player: WordPress Plugin. Also check Playtagger- Mod, now in use at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog: It’s a rewrite of the now-defunct playTagger.)

HTML5 Audio

Most audio players are made from Flash then inserted by JavaScript. If either aren’t installed and enabled, the user will see a default message, like:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

That message will get seen a lot: Half of all mobile web traffic comes from one source, iOS (aka, iPhone/Pad/Pod-Touch); and iOS is Flash-free. That’s why the best players have a non-Flash fallback, usually HTML5. Audio Player does not have a fallback, so we added our own.


This Playlist file format is more for radio stations than radio stories. Rather than put a player in the web-browser, a playlist file triggers the default player of your web-visitor’s computer, such as iTunes of Windows Media Player. So when s/he goes to another webpage, the audio keeps playing.

Playlists come in several flavors, including M3U (.m3u) and PLS (.pls). This link is the live feed of Cape and Islands Radio. And this playlist file has all the MP3s on this page: shortlist.pls.

The .pls format looks like this (length is in seconds):

Title1=My Radio Story

Title2=Another of My Radio Stories



Other Audio Players

Here’s some more of the best audio players out there. All these do video; all switch to HTML5 when there’s no Flash; and all have WordPress plugins:

  1. JW Player (WP plugin), used by This American Life, Radiolab, WNYC.
  2. jPlayer (WP plugin), used by Third Coast Festival.
  3. Flowplayer (Flowplayer (WP plugin), used by PRX.
  4. MediaElement.js (WP plugin).
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Comments (4)

Barrett rocks. Transom rocks. Jay rolls. This was very valuable. May your diatribe increase. Larry the J

Comment added by Larry Josephson on 11.09.11

Thanks for this nice writeup – I love WordPress and have been using it to host podcasts since 2007, the simple Audio Player is the solution I use, too (on and

For people looking for stats… the best solution I found was Blubrry, they do a plugin, too, which integrates stats into WordPress and offers some skins for an audio player:

I don’t actually use their audio player component, but I like the plugin as it makes it easy for you to configure your RSS feed enclosures for podcasting and does proper XML for you.

Comment added by Fred on 11.10.11

[…] Make Some Noise – Suggestions on how to add audio to a website or blog post. […]

[…] Make Some Noise – Suggestions on how to add audio to a website or blog post. […]

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