Detect Supported Audio Formats with JavaScript

By  on  

As streaming becomes our main entertainment source and vendors fight to create the best video format, it's going to be more and more important that we detect device and browser video support before posting videos on our websites.  We think less about audio but the same principle applies:  detect whether or not a given audio format is supported before using it.  So how do we detect if a given audio type is supported?

We can detect audio format support with HTMLAudioElement.prototype.canPlayType, the same strategy that's used with video:

// Create an audio element so we can use the canPlayType method
const audio = document.createElement('audio');

// Does the device support mp3?
audio.canPlayType('audio/mpeg'); // "probably"

There are three possible results from canPlayType:

  • "probably" : The media type appears to be playable
  • "maybe": Cannot tell if the media type is playable without playing it
  • "": The media type is not playable

We can create a function much like my supportsVideoType function to make audio detection easy:

function supportsAudioType(type) {
  let audio;

  // Allow user to create shortcuts, i.e. just "mp3"
  let formats = {
    mp3: 'audio/mpeg',
    mp4: 'audio/mp4',
    aif: 'audio/x-aiff'
  };

  if(!audio) {
    audio = document.createElement('audio')
  }

  return audio.canPlayType(formats[type] || type);
}

// Usage
if(supportsVideoType('mp3') === "probably") {
  // Set the video to mp3
}
else {
  // Set the video to wav or other format
}

Taking the time to detect edge audio and video formats is well worth it, allowing you to deliver clearer media with better compression to improve load time.  Keep these JavaScript functions in mind for your large or small media site!

Recent Features

  • By
    CSS vs. JS Animation: Which is Faster?

    How is it possible that JavaScript-based animation has secretly always been as fast — or faster — than CSS transitions? And, how is it possible that Adobe and Google consistently release media-rich mobile sites that rival the performance of native apps? This article serves as a point-by-point...

  • By
    Welcome to My New Office

    My first professional web development was at a small print shop where I sat in a windowless cubical all day. I suffered that boxed in environment for almost five years before I was able to find a remote job where I worked from home. The first...

Incredible Demos

  • By
    Introducing MooTools Dotter

    It's best practice to provide an indicator of some sort when performing an AJAX request or processing that takes place in the background. Since the dawn of AJAX, we've been using colorful spinners and imagery as indicators. While I enjoy those images, I am...

  • By
    Create Your Own Dijit CSS Theme with LESS CSS

    The Dojo Toolkit seems to just get better and better.  One of the new additions in Dojo 1.6 was the use of LESS CSS to create Dijit themes.  The move to using LESS is a brilliant one because it makes creating your own Dijit theme...

Discussion

  1. Sam Dutton

    Nice article!

    For what it’s worth, I have a demo of

    canPlayType()

    at simpl.info/cpt.

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!