Episodes with a duration of zero seconds

You may find that some podcast episodes show a duration of zero seconds in your podcast app. This can be caused by a number of issues.

Potential Causes

Importing from a host without durations

Some hosts, especially podcasts hosted on Wordpress, may not have durations. When using the podcast importer, these episodes may get interpreted as having a duration of zero. We will attempt to follow up and automatically detect the length of an episode, but our systems may be unable to read your MP3 file. For instance, it may be encoded in a way that our servers cannot decode.

Invalid ID3 tags

MP3s encode metadata as ID3 tags. The TLEN tag informs the MP3 decoder of the length of the file, which can save a substantial amount of computation for files that are not encoded as CBR. If the TLEN tag is malformed or set to zero, the episode may be detected as being zero seconds.

Bad duration detection

Pinecast uses your web browser to determine the length of an episode. We load a hidden MP3 player on the New Episode page and ask your browser to tell us the audio duration. If your browser lacks an MP3 decoder, or if the MP3 is encoded in a way that your browser cannot determine the length (e.g., when the MP3 is encoded as VBR), the duration may be detected as zero seconds.


Most simply, Pinecast will automatically attempt to reprocess your MP3 on our servers to detect its correct duration. This will happen for all new MP3 files lacking a duration. This process may fail, however, if we are unable to decode the file. We may also encounter an encoding that we are unable to process, causing us to be unable to determine the file's length.

If your audio is stuck at zero seconds, you should first try re-uploading the file. You can do this by visiting the Edit tab on your episode's dashboard, clearing the existing MP3 file, and choosing a new MP3.

If the episode is still detected as zero seconds long after re-uploading (note that it may take up to five minutes for our background job to reprocess it), try re-encoding using different settings. We recommend using CBR encoding and adding a TLEN ID3 tag. Your encoder should have an option to do this. Adobe Audition users may need a separate tool to accomplish this.

We recommend avoiding software that uses the Xing decoder. Xing is notorious for producing MP3 files that are nonstandard and have corrupt ID3 tags. MP3s created with Xing may also fail to play on some listeners' devices. We recommend using software that is powered by recent LAME and Fraunhofer decoders.

If all of the above fail, please contact us directly and we'd be happy to help diagnose the problem and get your MP3's duration set correctly.

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