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Department of Linguistics



All of the comments below assume that you need to access both Sound and Movies. This is true for people enrolled in SPH308 (Speech Physiology) but is NOT true for people only enrolled in LING217 or LING901 where only sound, but no movies, can be found in the unit content.

If you are enrolled in LING217 OR LING901 OR LING398 then YOU WILL MOST LIKELY NOT NEED TO INSTALL QUICKTIME. On Windows sound should play using standard, already installed, Windows software.

Sound and Movies

QuickTime is produced by Apple and runs on both Macintosh and Windows. QuickTime plays movies, sound files and other media files. QuickTime runs on its own or works as a browser plug-in in Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer. QuickTime comes ready installed on a Macintosh but will need installation on Windows, but this isn't too difficult. QuickTime is the best solution for movies associated with this site (these movies are all in the default QuickTime .mov format). QuickTime is also a good solution for the sound files, especially on browsers other than Internet Explorer (which we can't use because of phonetic font issues).

Obtaining QuickTime

Web Download

Windows and Macintosh versions of QuickTime can be obtained by connecting to the internet and going to the web page:-   Australian download   US download

Make sure that you select the appropriate version for your operating system. The web site will detect whether you're accessing the download page from a Macintosh or a Windows machine and will present you with an appropriate version of QuickTime. You most likely will want the free QuickTime Player (and most likely on the web page is a button of some kind offering you the option for the "Free Download Now", or similar text). You can choose to download a version that includes iTunes or one that doesn't include iTunes. I don't use iTunes so I downloaded the smaller iTunes-free package (but it's up to you).

The free version of QuickTime won't let you save the sounds or videos found on this site. It only plays the files (the save option is blocked) and you'll need to re-download a file each time you access it in a new session. For around $US30 or $AUD45 (Jan 2009 price and exchange rate) you can upgrade to the "QuickTime Pro" version. This will let you save files, which can be quite handy when you want to look at a large media (sound or video) file on more than one occasion. Also, I doubt whether the iTunes option, if you choose it, would be of much use without the ability to save files.

Saving Sound or Movie Files from the Speech Resources Site

If you want to save a large movie file or wave file, you don't wish to purchase the "upgrade" to QuickTime Pro, and you are enrolled in a relevant class, then you can ask for information on how to save specific large media files without QuickTime Pro.

Installing QuickTime


You should already have QuickTime installed.


In the following instructions I'll assume that you decided to install the Firefox browser (or you already have it installed). Most likely, the comments regarding Firefox will also apply to Safari on Windows, but I haven't tested this.

If you are associating QuickTime with Firefox or Safari and you don't know whether or not to also associate it with Internet Explorer, then my advice is to not associate QuickTime with Internet Explorer (ie. leave Internet Explorer as it is).

If you are installing QuickTime on a Windows system then you should have already installed Firefox before installing QuickTime. If you don't install the browser first you won't be able to associate QuickTime with it during installation.

At some time during the installation, if you are presented with a dialog window that asks you to select which browser you want to associate QuickTime with, choose either Firefox or Safari.

During installation you should be presented with a dialog window that is entitled "QuickTime Settings: Browser Plug-in" (or similar wording). There should be a "MIME Settings" button on this dialog. Click on this button and click the little selection box next to ".wav". This selects QuickTime for .wav sound files when played from within a browser (you'll know it's selected as a tick appears in the little selection box). This step is essential for Windows XP, but seems to be optional for Windows Vista, so to avoid confusion I recommend selecting this option on all Windows PCs.

The rest of the installation should not be problematic.

Enabling Javascript on Your Browser

Nearly all of the audio and video files on this site use Javascripts to run the media files using QuickTime.

In Firefox you enable Javascript by opening Tools -> Options -> Content and then ensuring that the tick box next to the "Enable Javascript" option is ticked.

Listening to Sound Files

On this site sound files are associated with text, tables and occasionally diagrams. Many sound files can be played by clicking on a small image of a loudspeaker.       This will be referred to below as the "sound icon". Each of these icons is associated with some text and clicking on the icon will play a sound file of a person speaking the words in the associated text.

In some cases the sound files may be associated with a phonetic symbol on a chart or table. Usually such sound files can be played by clicking on the red symbols (in all cases this is explained on the page).

If you are on a Windows system with Firefox and QuickTime installed then you will see the following small window pop-up each time you click on a sound icon (or other sound link). The window should be similar to the one in the following image.

On other combinations of browser and sound player on Windows, you will see a similar, but not identical, pop-up window. I haven't tested this with Safari on Windows, so I don't know what it will look like.

Unblocking Popup Windows

You may have popup windows blocked on your browser. You may either need to unblock popup windows, or (much better) you can set an exception for Macquarie University. On Firefox do this by going to Tools -> Options -> Content. Leave "Block popup windows" ticked. Go into "Exceptions", type "" and click "Allow". Allowing "" will allow popup windows for all web sites at Macquarie University.

Testing Sound

If your sound is properly set up, when you click on the sound icon below you should be able to hear the phrase "p as in pat" (where "p" is pronounced as an aspirated /p/ followed by a schwa). You should see the small pop-up window (see above) open near the upper left corner of your monitor.

The actual sound in this clip starts 0.01 seconds from the start of the file. Some cheap built-in sound cards will clip of the first 0.01 or o.02 of a second (or even more) of a sound clip. If you have such a sound card the "p" might be chopped off. Contact me (Robert Mannell) if you have this problem and provide a detailed description of what you see on the screen (especially whether a small pop-up window, like the one above, appeared) and what you hear (so I can tell how much sound was chopped off).

Click on the sound icon below to test sound.
/p/ pat  

The following link is a simple a "bare" link to a sound file. It doesn't use a Javascript that calls a pop up window, like the previous link does. It's possible that it even uses different sound software to the previous scripted link (but I've only seen this behaviour on Windows Vista). If the following link works and the previous link doesn't then the most likely reasons are that you have not enabled javascript in your browser, you have blocked popup windows (see above for solutions to both issues) or you didn't select ".wav" in the MIME settings window.

I have found only very slightly different behaviours (slight differences in appearance) for a Windows XP machine running Firefox, a Windows Vista machine running Firefox and a Macintosh (OS X 10.5) running the Safari browser. For most configurations the first link (the sound icon) creates a small pop-up windows that plays the sound and the second link (the "bare" link) opens a new window and plays the sound from that window.

If you have installed QuickTime on Windows but you only heard sound on one of the links then let me know exactly what happened and how your computer is set up and we'll discuss options (it's too complex to pre-guess all possibilities here). If you email me make sure you describe your computer (especially its age), your operating system, your browser and whether you installed QuickTime.

Can't hear any sound but your sound software has been installed?

  1. Check the volume levels on your system. Is the sound level set high enough?
  2. Is your computer sound card connected to headphones or a speaker? If the speaker is a powered speaker, is it turned on?

Sound Quality

The sound quality of the vast majority of the sound clips is very good (the main exception being a few files in the Intonation topic). The recordings are not perfectly silent studio recordings and most clips have a fairly low level of background noise. No clips have the start of the first word chopped off.

If the sound quality is consistently bad or the start of some sound clips are chopped off then this is a consequence of a poor quality sound card and/or associated hardware driver software installed on your computer. In most modern computers, say less than 3-4 years old, the sound card should be OK and the vast majority of people will not have problems with sound quality.

Sound is generally heard much more clearly if you listen to it on a reasonable set of headphones.

What do I do if I can't hear sound or the quality is very bad?

In the past we supplied alternative materials on audio CD and paper for people without appropriate computer and sound technology. The creation of these alternative materials was extremely time consuming but initially the number of people requiring them made this necessary. We started developing this site in about 2000 and in those days, until about 2003-2004, not everyone had adequate computing resources. The need for such materials is so rare these days that we discontinued the practice of supplying alternative materials at the start of 2005. Additionally, the resources have grown greatly over the years. The Speech Resources web site currently consists of over 1000 web pages, about 2500 sound files, about 50 movies or shorter movie clips and a very large number of image files. There are now about 7000 html and media files on the site. Furthermore, the site is expected to grow substantially in 2009 as we start to integrate various speech databases into the site. It simply isn't possible for two people to manage this and to additionally provide cross sections of the site on alternative media for people without a certain minimum standard of computing equipment.