Carefully Answered Questions

Have questions? 

You've found the right place to start finding answers.  Here are answers to some of our most common questions.  Please contact us if you need more help or if you have a question not found on this page.

Log In Trouble

I can't log in because I'm stuck in a loop. What do I do?

Sometimes the Safari browser causes a loop during the login process. If this occurs, you can try a couple things: 

1. Clear your browser cache by clicking "Clear history" under the "History" tab in the menu bar.

2. Try a different browser such as Firefox or Chrome.

How To Access Purchased Audio

I'm logged-in, but I can't see a download tab on the Journal issue page.

This may be an issue with your browser. Frequently, if this occurs, the subscriber is using Safari. To troubleshoot, you can try a couple things: 

1. Clear your browser cache by clicking "Clear history" under the "History" tab in the menu bar.

2. Try a different browser such as Firefox or Chrome.

How can I listen to my purchased audio through My Library?

If you have a subscription to the Journal — either a gift subscription or one that you’ve purchased  your audio is available to you from My Library. After you’ve logged in, click My Library in the navigation bar at the near the top of the webpage to see the Journal issues to which you have digital access.  The Journal issues are organized by year; simply scroll down to find the desired Journal issue.  Click the volume number icon for a particular Journal issue, and you'll be taken to its Catalog page.

The Catalog page allows you to listen to the Journal issue via streaming over the internet without having to download any files.  Simply click the Intro button to listen to the Introduction, and the Play button to listen to the interviews.  You can navigate the audio using the built-in audio player. 

If you'd still like to download the MP3 audio, click Download and save the ZIP file "MHA Download.zip" at the prompt.  This ZIP file contains 1) the MP3 audio files of the issue and 2) M3U playlist file for easy import into iTunes or your music player of choice.  Keep reading below for additional information on unzipping and importing MP3 files from the downloaded ZIP file into your iPod, iPhone, or other device.

If I don’t want to stream the audio directly through the website, how can I get the audio files into my computer/iPod/iPhone?

After logging in, select a Journal issue from My Library to be taken to its Catalog page.  If you don't wish to stream the audio and would rather download the files, click Download and save the ZIP file "MHA Download.zip" at the prompt.  This ZIP file contains 1) the MP3 audio files of the issue and 2) M3U playlist files for easy import into iTunes or your music player of choice.

When this file is downloaded, it is placed wherever your web browser routinely stores downloads, although you may have been prompted after clicking on the link to select a place to save the file. This file is a “zipped” archive which must be decompressed (or “unzipped”) before you can listen to the MP3 files it contains.  If you have a Mac, double-click the file and note the location of the unzipped files. If your computer runs Windows, right-click on the ZIP file and select “Extract All...” to bring up an Extraction Wizard. Follow the instructions to begin the extraction, and when it completes, check the “Show extracted files” box and click Finish.  

The unzipped contents will be displayed, which will include MP3 files and a playlist file entitled [Product Name].m3u, which can be used with iTunes.  Remember where these files are located because you’ll need to navigate back to them later. Next, open iTunes and attach your iPod/iPhone/iPad to your computer. 

If you are familiar with using iTunes, simply import the [Product Name].m3u playlist to listen on your computer or your MP3 player; or, create and burn two new playlists onto CDs. If you are not familiar with iTunes, but have some experience installing software or opening files that you’ve downloaded from the Web, the steps listed below should help you.

For iPod/iPhone/iPad

  1. Once in iTunes, press Ctrl-S (or Cmd-Option-S on a Mac) to reveal the Sidebar on the left.
  2. Note the PLAYLISTS category in the Sidebar. Navigate back to the other window where the MHAJ-117.m3u file you unzipped earlier is located, and click and drag the file directly on top of the word PLAYLISTS in the iTunes Sidebar. You may have to arrange your screen so that both iTunes and the other window are viewable. It should appear in your list of playlists as MHAJ-117 and add all the MP3 files for this issue to your Music Library.
  3. Make sure the MP3 files can be played in iTunes. If they do not play, try Step 2 again.
  4. In the Sidebar, under DEVICES, click on your iPod/iPhone. In the Summary tab, under Options, locate the “Manually manage music and videos” box. If it is checked, move on to Step A5. If it is unchecked, move on to Step B5.
  • A5. Drag the playlist MHAJ-117 under PLAYLISTS up to your iPod/iPhone icon under DEVICES. It should copy over to your device.
  • B5. Click on the Music tab (next to Summary and Apps). Check the Sync Music box, and make sure either “Entire music library” is selected, or if “Selected playlists...” is selected, make sure you’ve checked MHAJ-117 in the list. Click Sync in the bottom-right hand corner. It should copy the files over in the syncing process.

If you encounter any errors during this process, you may have some settings that need re-configuration.  Go here for more detailed directions.

For burning onto CD-Rs

  1. Once in iTunes, press Ctrl-S (or Cmd-Option-S on a Mac) to reveal the Sidebar on the left.
  2. Note the PLAYLISTS category in the Sidebar. Create two new playlists, one for each of the two CD-Rs required to hold all the audio, by clicking the "+" sign in the bottom left and clicking "New Playlist."  Name this playlist [Product Name]-DiscA.  Create a second new playlist in the same way and name it [Product Name]-DiscB. 
  3. Navigate back to the other window where the [Product Name].m3u file you unzipped earlier is located, and click and drag the file directly on top of the word PLAYLISTS in the iTunes Sidebar. You may have to arrange your screen so that both iTunes and the other window are viewable. It should appear in your list of playlists as [Product Name] and add all the MP3 files for this issue to your Music Library.
  4. Make sure the MP3 files can be played in iTunes. If they do not play, try Step 3 again.
  5. Highlight the first four tracks by holding down Ctrl (or Cmd for Macs) and clicking them.  Then right-click on them, click "Add to Playlist," and click the [Product Name]-DiscA that you created in Step 2.
  6. Then highlight the remaining tracks in the same way, and add them to [Product Name]-DiscB for the second CD.
  7. Insert a blank CD into your CD burner drive. Once iTunes has recognized it, right-click the playlist [Product Name]-DiscA and click "Burn Playlist to Disc."  Choose "Audio CD," Gap Between Songs: none, and then click Burn.  This will burn the first CD.  Repeat the process with [Product Name]-DiscB for the second CD. Your audio CDs should play on any CD player.

Do I need to use iTunes?

Although other applications will also enable you to listen to MP3 files and to burn CDs, we can only provide instructions for Apple’s iTunes (currently version 11.1.5) at this time because of its popularity.  

iProduct Trouble

I'm having additional difficulties transferring audio files to my iPhone/iPad, and the directions in the "Listening to audio through My Library" section are not helping. How can I resolve the problem?

iTunes has been updated many times over the years. These instructions should work for iTunes 11.0.4, which is the most recent version.

If you have iTunes Match enabled and are working with Journal issues prior to Volume 112, read here and then come back to this CAQ. If you are not sure if iTunes Match is enabled, keep reading.

  1. The audio files for each product are contained in a single "zipped" archive, which may be downloaded from My Library. Log in and click the file named Audiofiles_[whatever the product is].zip. When this file is downloaded, it is placed wherever your web browser routinely stores downloads, although you may have been prompted after clicking on the link to select a place to save the file. This ZIP file must be "unzipped" before you can listen to the MP3 files it contains.
  2. If you have a Mac, double-click the file and note the location of the unzipped files. If your computer runs Windows, right-click on the ZIP file and select "Extract All..." to bring up an Extraction Wizard. Follow the instructions to begin the extraction, and when it completes, check the "Show extracted files" box and click Finish. The unzipped contents will be displayed, which will include MP3 files and one playlist file ending in M3U. Remember where these files are located because you'll need to navigate back to them later. Next, open iTunes and connect your iPod or iPhone to your computer.
  3. Once in iTunes, press Ctrl-S (or Cmd-Option-S on a Mac) to reveal the Sidebar on the left.
  4. Note the PLAYLISTS category in the Sidebar. Navigate back to the other window where the M3U file you unzipped earlier is located. Click and drag the M3U file directly on top of the word PLAYLISTS in the iTunes Sidebar to "import" the playlist. You may have to arrange your screen so that both iTunes and the other window are viewable. It should appear in your list of playlists and add all the MP3 files for this product to your Music Library.
  5. Make sure the MP3 files can be played in iTunes. If they do not play, try Step 4 again.
  6. Do you have iTunes Match enabled? To find out, click Store (next to Help) near the top-left of the iTunes screen and see if "Turn On iTunes Match" is available from the drop-down menu. This means iTunes Match is off and you can move on to the next step below. If "Turn Off iTunes Match" is available, then iTunes Match is enabled and you should read the CAQ here first and then come back to the step below.
  7. In the Sidebar, under DEVICES, click on your iPod/iPhone. In the Summary tab, under Options, locate the "Manually manage music and videos" box. If it is checked, move on to Step 8. If it is unchecked, move on to Step 9.
  8. Option Checked: Drag the playlist you just imported in PLAYLISTS up to your iPod/iPhone icon under DEVICES. It should copy over to your device.
  9. Option Unchecked: Click on the Music tab (next to Summary and Apps). Check the Sync Music box, and make sure either "Entire music library" is selected, or if "Selected playlists..." is selected, make sure you've checked the playlist you just imported in the list of playlists. Click Sync in the bottom-right hand corner. It should copy the files over in the syncing process.

That should do it! If it doesn't and Apple support isn't helpful, email techsupport [at] marshillaudio.org or call 1.800.331.6407 and ask for tech support.

If I use iTunes Match, how can I upload or match the MP3 version of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal?

MP3 versions of the Journal before Volume 112 were encoded at 80kbps mono (equivalent to 160kbps stereo). This is completely sufficient for spoken word audio. Unfortunately, iTunes Match arbitrarily sets the minimum bitrate for uploads as 96kbps, even for mono recordings like ours. Volumes beginning with 112 are already encoded at 96kbps and do not need to be converted, but previous issues need to be re-encoded if you want to use iTunes Match.

This can be done easily by highlighting the specific Songs in the iTunes Music Library and right-clicking on them; then, click "Create AAC Version" or "Create MP3 Version," and iTunes will re-encode the audio in compatible form. Delete the old tracks so as to avoid confusion, and add the new versions to the desired playlists by right-clicking on them and selecting Add to Playlist -> [name of playlist].

Continue with the remaining instructions here.

Can't you set up a "one-click" procedure for downloading and loading your products in iTunes?

Not that we know of. To our knowledge, the only way to get audio files into iTunes automatically is to download them through iTunes, and we can't make the arrangements to do that for reasons explained here.  Even Audible.com, which is much larger than MARS HILL AUDIO, doesn't have a procedure for importing their audio into iTunes with a single-click. 

Fortunately, however, you can now listen to the Journal directly from the new website with just a few clicks/taps, without having to download files!  Simply log in, click My Library, select the Journal issue, and click Preview/Play, and the audio will stream over the internet directly to your computer, iPhone/iPad, Android phone/tablet, or other internet-connected devices through the web browser.

About CD and MP3 Subscription Formats

I don't have an MP3 player.  Should I get a subscription to the MP3 edition of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal?

For most listeners, we wouldn't recommend it.  It depends on how you listen to the Journal, and how much additional work you'd be willing to do to burn the MP3 files onto recording CDs. 

If you usually listen to the Journal from your home computer (and don't need to put it on a mobile device or CD), then a MP3 subscription is for you.  You can stream the audio directly from our website or download the files to your computer.

Otherwise, everything we sell in digital MP3 format may be burned to recordable audio CDs. The instructions for this procedure can be found here. If instructions for technical things make you nervous, take a look and see if you'd be up for the challenge.

In addition to saving money, MP3 subscribers will get the Journal about a month sooner than CD subscribers, since the time for duplication and shipping is eliminated.

Do you have plans to convert all the back issues of the Journal to the MP3 format?

We probably won't do this, but a lot of the material from those back issues will be available on MP3 as Anthologies.

This decision is really a matter of trying to allocate our limited time and money as wisely as possible.  Sadly, we don't sell as many back issues as we'd like, partly because it so difficult to advertise old periodical content, especially since some of the features are inevitably outdated.  So our plan is to take the best of the old material and repackage it into thematically organized Anthologies. Look, for example, at the contents of Volume 17 (from 1995). The Mardi Keyes interview will probably end up on an Anthology about family and youth culture; the Mark Slouka piece will probably be part of an Anthology on technology and culture. And Alan Jacobs on Patrick O'Brian? We'll probably have 3 or 4 Alan Jacobs Anthologies, since he's been a frequent guest.

We think that organizing our "vintage" interviews this way makes them more attractive to potential listeners, which should justify the time it takes to repackage them.

Why can't I get a Journal subscription through the iTunes Music Store?

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) is a wonderful invention. It makes a lot of audio and video available to a lot of people and it makes a lot of money for Apple, Inc. If an audio or video producer wants to give away a free podcast without keeping track of recipients, Apple will gladly distribute it for free. MARS HILL AUDIO has taken advantage of this service in the past by distributing our free podcast, Audition. But if a producer wants to know who his listeners are or provide audio on a six issue subscription-basis, iTunes can't help.  And of course, Apple keeps a very large portion of the proceeds from sales.

Almost all of the spoken-word content sold at iTMS is provided under an arrangement with Audible.com, a fine company which has pioneered the distribution of spoken-word audio online. MARS HILL AUDIO was distributing a few products through Audible.com long before Steve Jobs ever thought of selling audio online. For example, Gilbert Meilaender's Bioethics: A Primer for Christians, which we used to sell on cassette, has been available in a downloadable format for a long time through Audible.com. And when Apple entered into an agreement with Audible, suddenly Gilbert Meilaender was there in the iTunes Music Store, along with Eminem and Shakira and many others bereft of a last name. (If you have iTunes on your computer, click here to behold this wonder.)

Because of the terms of our contract, if you were to purchase Dr. Meilander's book from iTMS, MARS HILL AUDIO would see a profit equal to only about 10-15% of the amount we would see if you were to buy it from us.  Additionally, when you purchase anything from iTMS, the producers know nothing about you and so can't establish a relationship.  We just get a check in the mail.  But this doesn't work so well for a non-profit that seeks to cultivate relationships with its listeners and depends on donations for a significant part of its revenue.  As convenient as the iTMS has made the purchasing of downloadable audio, as a struggling nonprofit organization, dependent on the sale of products for our survival, we just can't afford to take advantage of their services.

Technical Specifications

What's the difference between an "MP3 CD" and a plain old audio CD?

Basically, there are two kinds of Compact Discs produced by two different "burning" processes (though using the same CD media): data CDs and audio CDs. Data CDs are generally used for basic data storage and usually contain Microsoft documents, PDF files, programs—and even MP3 files. What's more, data CDs can store many more audio tracks than audio CDs can, at the cost of lower quality. But the MP3 files stored on data CDs cannot be played on many standard portable CD players or car stereos with CD players. This is because most standard CD players cannot read data CDs and can only play audio CDs (though some newer CD players have the capability of reading data CDs composed of MP3 files, a.k.a. MP3 CDs).

Audio CDs actually use an uncompressed form of the MP3 files called WAV files. It is this form of audio that standard CD players can read and transform into signals that speakers can transmit as sound. However, these audio files take up a lot more space on a CD than MP3 files: while hundreds of MP3s can fit on a data CD, only approximately 10-12 WAV files can fit on an audio CD. Why? It is because WAVs can capture higher quality sound than MP3s. There is a trade-off between size and quality, though one has to pay attention to hear the difference. Most of the time, the difference is negligible.

So, if one simply wants to store as many MP3s as possible on a CD, one should burn them onto the CD using the data CD process. But if one actually wants to be able to pop a CD into a car stereo to listen to it, one will generally want to burn audio CDs.

What are the specifications of the MP3 format used for the digital version of the Journal?

The MP3 files are produced at a bit rate of 96 kbps and a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz.  The MP3 files use a single (mono) channel, which halves the file size compared to stereo output.  We think the reduction in file size (and download time) is worth it, since spoken word doesn't benefit from two channels very much.  The MP3 files (prior to Volume 112) used to be produced at a bit rate of 80 kbps (mono), but we increased this to accomodate iTunes Match's requirements.

Digital Sharing Etiquette

What are the ground rules (a.k.a. digital etiquette) regarding the sharing of Mars Hill Audio content?

Regarding the sharing of MHAJ subscription content with friends, we would - of course - like more people to know about our work and to benefit from it. But, we also need to stay in business, which means we need to keep selling our content and limit the ways in which distribution methods can be abused by those who don't quite appreciate the real damage done by careless redistribution.

So we've come up with a compromise between total restriction and getting Napstered to death. If you want to share material with a friend, you are free to e-mail it to them as long as you agree to three conditions:

1) you forward them a link to our website (www.marshillaudio.org) and to our podcast page (mhadigital.org)

2) you gently ask the person to whom you're sending it not to send it to anyone else

3) you not send any one person more than one feature from each issue of the Journal. An exception may be made if you're willing to burn a CD of the Journal; in that case, you may by all means share either one or two disks with someone, as long as you give them a friendly reminder not to rip MP3 files from it.

Lastly, we ask that you share only features from our Journal and not other products in your efforts to introduce others to MHA, as most of our other publications are fairly inexpensive to purchase.

We also offer a sample issue of the Journal, and our podcast Audition is another great way of introducing others to MARS HILL AUDIO.

In the end, there's no way we can police this, but we're trying to be good stewards on behalf of our subscribers who are paying in order to continue listening to MHA.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation!

Back Issues of the Journal

Can I purchase back issues of the Journal?

Yes! Many (though not all) of our back issues are available to purchase as digital downloads. We are also adding new content on a regular basis so that you can purchase other types of audio products in addition to the Journal. Please visit our catalog to see a full listing of MARS HILL AUDIO products.

While many audio companies are giving up on CDs, we still like the shelvable, sheathable, sharable qualities of these shiny discs. About half of the subscribers to our Journal still prefer CDs over MP3s, and we're happy to oblige. However, the cost of reproducing CDs of our back issues has become prohibitive, which means that we can only sell hard copies of what is currently in stock. If you would prefer to purchase a back issue on CD, please call us at 1.800.331.6407 or email us at soundthinking@marshillaudio.org!

Additionally, we plan to continue re-purposing the content that is not outdated into new, topic-focused Anthologies. Keep an eye out for them!

MP3 download instructions for CD subscribers

I'm a CD subscriber; how do I access the MP3 version of my subscription?

 

If you're a CD subscriber, you also have access to the MP3 format of the Journal.

If you've never created a user account on our website before, you'll need to register before you can log in and access your subscriptions. When registering for an account, make sure you use the email address associated with your subscription. This is important, because the system checks your available subscriptions and products against the email address of your user account, so be sure it's the correct one. If you regularly receive emails from us, then the email address at which you receive our messages is the one we have on file for you.

Once you've logged in, just click the My Library tab at the top of the page to see a list of Journal volumes available to you. Click on the Journal volume you want to download, and follow the directions for downloading MP3 files to your computer.

What if I don't have an email address associated with my subscription?

 

If you've never provided us with an email address, or just aren't sure which of your several email addresses might be associated with your subscription, go ahead and create a user account on the website with the email address you want associated with your subscriptions. Once you've done that, send us a message through the Contact Us page and we can manually link the user account you just created with your subscriptions and products. In your message, be sure and include your first and last name, as well as your zip code, so that we can correctly identify your account.