Nothern Utah WebSDR Logo - A skep with a Yagi The Northern Utah WebSDR:  Dealing with audio issues

If you are having audio problems with this or other WebSDRs, please scroll down
to the section that applies best to YOUR

For Apple users having audio/waterfall issues (as of March, 2024)

In late March, 2024 we started getting reports that users of Apple devices - specifically those that had updated to iOS 7.14.1 - suddenly found themselves unable to use ANY WebSDR, anywhere - and it did not matter which browser (Chrome, Safary, Firefox) they tried.  After testing, sleuthing, and back and forth by one of our users with Apple support it was finally determined that the combination of the update to iOS 7.14.1 along with the user of Norton 360 VPN "broke" the ability to use the WebSDR.

How this was fixed:

A reliable fix for this is to uninstall  Norton 360 and then reinstall it as it wasn't specifically Norton that caused the problem, but rather some interaction in the iOS upgrade process.

Thanks to those that helped "fix" this problem!

Meanwhile, see below for work-arounds/fixes for other operating systems and browsers.

Chrome users:  To go directly to info about the "fix" for Chrome browsers - use this link.

Firefox users:  If you are having an issue with Firefox (particularly on a Linux system) - use this link.
Problems with Safari or Apple computers/iPhones/iPods in general?

If you are using the Safari Browser - or any Apple products, you may have noticed a recent problem in which you get no audio - even after pressing the "Audio Start" button.

Because I don't use Safari, it didn't affect me - and I couldn't test it, either.  Fortunately, Stan sent me the following note:

I enjoy your SDR but a couple of weeks ago I had no audio on my Mac Safari ... apparently after an update. After a couple of weeks trying to figure out why, I found on Safari v12 the following settings that restored the audio:

Safari -> Preferences  -> Websites -> AutoPlay = Allow All Auto-Play

Don't know if you've had this question, but it worked for me.

Thanks for the heads up!

There is another  problem that shows up with some apple products - particularly iPhones:  It is often the case that you must "un-mute" your phone's ringer (which may be a button/switch on the phone) to hear web-based audio, even though you may be able to hear audio from media files.

Also, if you can play YouTube and other things on your Apple device but don't hear WebSDR audio after trying the above, read this information about fully-enabling sounds on your device.

Apple/Mac/iOS users - try the following steps:

If you hear NO audio in Chrome:

First, If there is a button on the WebSDR interface to the right and above the waterfall display that says "Chrome Audio Start", press it!

Check these first:

Did you mute the audio yourself?  Before you go any farther, you may have muted the audio in one (or more) of several places:

Do you get audio on other programs/web sites using Chrome?  If so, not all of the suggestions below may apply.
Using Chrome on a mobile device

As you may have noticed, when you are using a mobile device such as a phone or a tablet, you are given the option to use the "mobile" version of the WebSDR interface.  When you do this, a "lightweight" version of the web page appears with fewer options - but streamlined to work better on these types of devices.

Support for Chrome was recently added - which also requires one to press the "Audio Start" button - and although it seems to work, it may be buggy.

One issue with the Chrome+Mobile option is that when the screen goes dark, the audio may also stop:  We are looking at ways to work around that.

If you choose to use Chrome with the "normal" Web page, there are reports that the audio will stutter and drop out due to the browser/processor providing enough time to properly service the audio routines.  If this happens, there are two options:

- Disable the waterfall by clicking the "blind" button above and to the left of the waterfall.  You may need to click on the "one band" and then back to the "blind" button for it to take effect.

Use a different browser.  It would seem that the Firefox browser works reliably on (pretty much) all mobile devices - and it seems to work properly if you run either the Mobile or "Full" versions of the WebSDR - although the battery consumption of the mobile version may be slightly lower, particularly if you turn off the waterfall using the "stop waterfall" button.

Once you've ruled out operator error and you still don't have audio, read on.

The next thing to try:  Click the "Button"

Increasingly, some web browsers are requiring the user to "activate" the multimedia (audio/video) if a site has it - and Chrome is no exception.  To do this, the code on the web site itself needs to be modified to provide this button - but not all web sites have this.

We have added this button on the Northern Utah WebSDR - so you need only click on the button that says "Chrome audio start" which, if present, will be just above the waterfall and to the right.

Note:  Not all WebSDRs have this button.

Work-around #1 - the most reliable:

Use a different browser such as FireFox, Seamonkey or PaleMoon to name but a few.

It is possible that these other browsers will eventually follow suit in disabling audio by default, but we'll deal with that if/when it happens.

The suggestions below may work to enable sound in Chrome with the WebSDR, but reports indicate that it may not be consistent - or continue to work after software updates.
Figure 1:
Check to see if the browser tab shows a tiny "muted speaker" icon.  If it does, right click on the muted speaker to open up a dialog box:  If you see "Unmute site", click on it.  If it says "Mute site", it is not already muted.
Important:  Chrome "remembers" if you muted the site last time you visited it which means that even if you reboot or restart Chrome, it will still be muted!
Location of audio muting in tab while using Chrome

Work-around #2:

Disable the security "feature" in Chrome so that audio works on all web sites that have it, just like it did before - this option seems to be the most reliable if the site doesn't have a "start" button of some sort: Work-around #3:
Figure 2:
A screen shot of what might need to be changed to always enable "auto play" to get WebSDR audio in Chrome.
Select the "No user gesture is required..." option (highlighted) and then click the "Relaunch Now" button at the bottom of the screen (not shown) to restart the browser.
Click on the image for a full-sized version.
Changes in Chrome to permit audio to work with a WebSDR

Enable the sound on the browser for that specific web page.

While this option may be present on Windows-based computers, it may not be available on other operating systems.

It also seems that these settings may not "stick" and quit working and/or the option disappears entirely after it is used.  If this is the case, use work-around #2, above.

If you are having issues with audio on Firefox

As of late July, 2022, a change was made in the newer version of Firefox (version 103).  With this change, the default setting is to now such that the same "gesture" needed by the Chrome and Safari browsers to start audio or video (e.g. press a "Play" button) is now needed for Firefox.  

Because of this, there is now a "Firefox/Mozilla audio start" button on the Utah WebSDRs that MUST BE PRESSED to get audio:  This button is located just above the waterfall, along the far-right edge of the screen as depicted in Figure 3, to the right.

If you do NOT want to press this button every time you use the WebSDR, do the following steps:
Figure 3:
The "Firefox/Mozilla audio start" button located just above the waterfall and on the far right of the screen.
You may need to CLICK this button to get audio to work on this and other WebSDRs.
Click on the image for a full-sized version.
Changes in Chrome to permit audio to work with a WebSDR

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click on "Edit" and scroll down to "Settings" and click on it
  3. Click on "Privacy and Security"
  4. Scroll down to "Permissions"
  5. Scroll down to "Autoplay"
  6. Click on "Settings"
  7. Where it says "Default for all websites", left-click on the down arrow and select "Allow Audio and Video".  You can also configure for specific sites if you wish.
  8. Close Firefox and restart.
Please note:  The ability of a web browser to automatically start playing audio and video from a web site is considered by some to be both an annoyance and a minor security risk which is why Firefox eventually followed the other browsers in requiring the user to take an action to allow such to start.  Please keep this in mind if you choose to do the steps above to restore Firefox to the setting it had prior to version 103 where "autoplay" was allow from ALL web sites.

Thanks to "Rich" for being the first to supply the above steps when he was solving issues with Firefox on his Ubuntu 22.04 system.

"What did you do on the Northern Utah WebSDR to provide work-arounds with some of the Chrome and Apple audio problems?"

Do you run a WebSDR system and wish to know how to modify the code to allow Chrome and newer browsers running on Apple systems to work?  Go to the Chrome WebSDR fix page for details - and yes, it's for things running on Apple systems, too.

Additional information:

Go to the Northern Utah WebSDR landing page