Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The silent MP3: To bed with the iPod Shuffle or Zen Stone

Flaws in products call for hacks, so that's why I tried to solve the following annoyingness.

Lots of people listen to their mp3 player in bed and fall asleep with the music still on. "Shuffle" players like the iPod Shuffle and Zen Stone don't have a "do not repeat" option, so they just continue playing songs until the battery dies. That will most probably disturb your good night's rest, and apart from that you will wake up with an empty battery. And we don't want either of these, do we.

I figured that a small hack could solve both problems: put a very long silent MP3 in your playlist. You could peacefully sleep over it and it wouldn't drain your player's power either. So I generated a set of MP3 files that occupy just 3.5 MBytes per hour of true quality silence. They are encoded at 8 bits, mono and 8 KHz (the minimum sound quality playable by most players). The links are at the bottom of this post, packed as .rar archives. This is how it works:
  1. Determine how long you want to sleep, e.g. 7 hours.
  2. Download the corresponding silent mp3 file and put it in your playlist just after the track by which you will likely fall asleep. If you don't have a playlist, simply rename the mp3 so that it is played after the last music track you want.
  3. Go to bed with your favorite music, fall asleep and enjoy the silence.
  4. Get up, switch off your mp3 player, and have a croissant.
Suggestions are open for other uses of these silent MP3s. So onto the next problem now: avoiding being strangled by the headphone chord while sleeping.

Files (compressed with RAR):
Update 16th April 2009: Due to popular demand I'm adding a complementary set of shorter MP3s, for all you sleephackers out there. This should cover your napping needs.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. These were just what I wanted. Having the several different lengths met several needs, too.

Anonymous said...

By the by, how I'm using them:

I use pzizz, a nap/sleep/meditation soundtrack generator. Wanting to have them on an iPod Shuffle, using these I can now add several nap tracks with an hour buffer between, and a sleep track at the bottom of the playlist followed by a 7-hour silence. Perfect.

Steven said...

You're welcome! I guess I'll have to check out pzizz :-)

music said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
music said...

perpect,i using these I can now add several nap tracks with an hour buffer between, and a sleep track at the bottom of the playlist followed by a 5-hour silence
http://mp3-player-speakers.com

music said...

good post

Anonymous said...

Life must be so easy for you clever types! I especially like 8 bit 8 KHz mono and naming it last. Thanks!

Steven said...

You have no idea. Sometimes I wish it would be more challenging.

Rob said...

I can listen to my favourite podcasts AND get some sleep.Brilliant.

Sangorrin said...

haha funny idea XD

Lauren Lionheart said...

Just what I needed. I'm doing some dual audio experiments before bed & while I'm sleeping and this will give me some more options (without having to make a silent MP3 myself). Thank you so much for sharing these. You are awesome!

Blank mp3 said...

Very cool, I just published some silent mp3s but of a shorter variety. I hadn't thought of *this* application for them :)

Anonymous said...

Thank u.!! Earlier i tried to create blank mp3 which consumed more space.
Its good and small in size too..

Koen said...

cool idea!
And an ironic answer to all those noisy media nowadays :-)
Perhaps Spanish radio can broadcast some in contrast to their fantastic babbling skills.

Steven said...

@Koen: Noisy media? Good point. Maybe I should commercialize these MP3s as meditation background music ;)

Alejandro said...

I find your silence to be of the utmost quality. I did one myself but when at highest volume I could hear background noise. Not with your file. Good job and thank you!

Marxam said...

You have no idea how long I was looking for something like this. You're a lifesaver.

steve said...

Brilliant! Just what I was looking for. I was expecting it to be a challenge to find something like this, I thought I'd have to make one myself. Thank you!

Steven said...

@Alejandro @Marxam @steve: You're very welcome!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!!! I have been looking so long for a silent mp3 because I use my iphone in my car and it plays the first song automatically. I usually like to use Rhapsody so if I take a call over my bluetooth it stops the music on Rhapsody but still plays whatever mp3 is listed first on my phone. If I delete all of the mp3's Rhapsody won't play, besides there are certain songs on itunes that Rhapsody doesn't have. All I had to do was change the file name so the silent track is first. You have made my week!!!!!

Steven said...

Hey you're welcome! Awesome to hear what you're using them for.

faruk reaper said...

good work,thx a lot ;)

Anonymous said...

I sleep 9 hrs. How about a 9 hrs one?
:)

Steven said...

Good point... though you can simply put a 1-hour silent mp3 after an 8-hour one, can't you?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am doing that.
Thanks for the files!
I slept well last night. haha!

Tiny Bunch said...

I'm part of a group of swing dancers that perform once a month as a public service in nursing homes. I'm putting an hour of silence between each track on my playlist so I don't have to run up and stop each song.

I won't be talking for an hour between each song, Probably more like a minute or two. But I don't want to be watching the clock.

John F, New York said...

Really handy. Many car stereos will start playing music as soon as you plug in your iPhone, and they all seem to like playing the first track. I am really, really getting tired of hearing A.D. 1928 so many times. I will take one of these and rename it to A.D. 1900 :)

Veronica Lowe said...

"So onto the next problem now: avoiding being strangled by the headphone chord while sleeping."

There are quite a few wireless earbuds or pillow speakers on the market.

Jack said...

Thanks for making these. I am putting together a 45-minute long video slideshow of over 200 short clips from our kindergarten class, and for some reason iPhoto inserts a music track even though I tell it "no music please".

I'm going to try to have it play the hour-long silent mp3, so that the kids singing and talking from the videos is not overwhelmed by iPhoto's lazy guitar jam.

Steven Van Vaerenbergh said...

@Jack That is a pretty creative solution :)

Blog Zombie said...
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Unknown said...

Solved a problem I have with my new car, which always plays the first alphabetical song on my iPhone when then phone is plugged in. Thank you.... now it plays silence!

lee woo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

nice. my carradio starts playing the first song when i turn it on. So now i have your track wich gives me time to chose what i want to listen to.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. i was doing an experiment with ffmpeg and needed audio to keep the stream alive for some reason, and the sample i had was christmas music that had become annoying.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! In addition to some of the replies above about using them in the car, I also use them for certain cars I rent that have lousy Bluetooth systems. In those cars, especially Dodge and Chrysler cars, the turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps or Waze on my phone get cut off or for short directions, it doesn't read out the directions at all, unless I play some music while running Maps or Waze. There are times I don't want to listen to music but still want to listen to the directions, so playing one of the silent MP3s did the trick and enabled me to get every single direction from Maps or Waze! #winning

Steven Van Vaerenbergh said...

@Anonymous. Amazing... Thanks for sharing