Getting Started

Step-by-step Software Installation, Configuration, and Operation

Software Installation

Installing dBpowerAMP Music Converter (free version 10)

This software is used by the dMC Auxiliary Input (below) for recording MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.

  1. Download dMC-r10.exe from my web site, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD.
  2. Double-click the file to install. Just accept all the defaults (except you don't need to let it create the desktop icons).

Installing dMC Auxiliary Input (free version 10)

This software is used for recording MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.

  1. Download dMC-Aux-Input.exe from my web site, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD.
  2. Double-click the file to install. Just accept all the defaults. I like to copy the dMC Auxiliary Input icon from the start menu onto my desktop for convenience.

Installing Mp3DirectCut MP3 editor

This software is used for editing MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.

  1. Download Mp3dc201.exe from my web site, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD, or download the latest version from
  2. Double-click the file to install it. Just accept all the defaults.

Installing Utagit MP3 tag editor

This software is used for editing the tags on MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.

  1. Download SetupUTagIt.exe from my web site, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD.
  2. Double-click the file to install it. Just accept all the defaults.

Installing Winamp media player

This is software is used for playing MP3 files.

  1. Download the latest version from, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD. I provide several different versions since some features of the newer versions don't seem to work on some of my older laptops.
  2. Double-click the winamp521_full_emusic-7plus.exe file (for the latest version), or one of the older version files (winamp280_full.exe, winamp501_full.exe, etc.), and accept all the defaults to install it. You do not need to enable any internet connection, and you do not need to have it add the icons unless you want them.

Installing Wplayer

This software makes Winamp easier to use for tape groups by providing a "tape counter" and other features.

  1. Download SetupWplayer.exe from my web site, or use the copy on my AudioTools CD.
  2. Double-click the file to install it. Just accept all the defaults

Software Configuration

Not all the software requires configuration, only the dMC Auxiliary Input (which you will use for recording your MP3 files), and Wplayer (which you will use for playing MP3 files) need any configuration. Winamp may also need to be configured if you choose to use any Plug-ins of if you need to use DirectSound Output.

Configuring dMC Auxiliary Input

  1. Launch dMC Auxiliary Input (Start->Programs->dBpowerAMP Music Converter->dMC Auxiliary Input)
  2. Click Options
  3. Click the Set button after the Output To folder.
  4. Select the folder where you want your newly recorded MP3 files placed. I usually use C:\My Documents\Recordings, but you may use any folder you like. You must create this folder first using Windows Explorer if it does yet exits. Click OK.
  5. Click the Set button after File Creation.
  6. Now we must tell the software how to name the files we record. Delete everything currently displayed in File Creation. Then double-click "[artist]" and "[track number xx]" under Filename Elements. This tells the software to make a filename using the artist name followed by a two digit number 01-99. Click OK.
  7. Check both the box before "Auto Start Record After VU is Over" and the box before "Auto Stop When VU Drops Below".
  8. Make sure "Auto Start" is set to 5% For 750 ms, and "Auto Stop" is set to 5% For 20000 ms.
  9. Don't change "Record Using [Default]", Input Source, or "Quality".
  10. Click OK.

    Now we need to set up the proper input source. I will assume we are using the "Line-In" input. If you use the "Microphone" input instead, use "Microphone" wherever I specify "Line-In".

  11. Click the "Test Recording Level" button. I know it doesn't look like a button, but it is. A "Test Recording Level" window will pop up.
  12. Click on the little picture of a speaker just to the right of the center of the window (yes, it is a button too). A "Recording Control" window will pop up.
  13. Select Options->Properties. A "Properties" window will pop up.
  14. Make sure that the dot is marked in front of "Recording". Now check the box in front of every item in the list below "Show the following volume controls:". You may need to scroll to get them all. Click OK.
  15. The "Recording Control" window will now show the recording volume controls for every device in your system. Make sure you check to select ONLY the volume control for "Line-In". Caution, on some computers you check the box to disable the control. On some you check to select or enable. Make sure only "Line-In" is enabled or selected.
  16. Select Options->Properties again. ". Now uncheck the boxes in front of every item in the list below "Show the following volume controls:", except for "Line-In". Leave that one checked. Click OK.
  17. Your "Recording Control" window now shows a single volume control for "Line-In". Close the "Recording Control" window.
  18. Click "End Test" on the "Test Recording Level" window.

    Now we need to set our recording options.

  19. Click the little down arrow next to the "Record" button, and select "Record (with options)". The dBpowerAMP Music Converter window will pop up.
  20. Set Channels to "Mono".
  21. Set Frequency to "22050".
  22. Move the green Bit Rate slider (above Channels and Frequency) until it reads "Bit Rate: 32 Kbps".
  23. Make sure "Output To:" is set to "Folder", and that the folder is the one we selected earlier.
  24. Make sure the "Volume Normalize" box is NOT checked.
  25. Click Cancel. Don't worry, the settings will be kept. It simply won't start recording.
  26. Close dMC Auxiliary Input. We are done until we want to record something.

Configuring Wplayer

  1. Launch Wplayer. Winamp should automatically launch as well.
  2. Select Options->Settings. A Wplayer Options window will pop up.
  3. Set "TipTime" to the number of minutes you want the tip timer to run before rotating in new dancers. I usually use 12 minutes.
  4. Set "Back Time" to the number of seconds you want to automatically back up when you pause and then resume the playing. This avoids missing a word. 1 or 2 seconds should be enough.
  5. If you want a sound to play when the tip timer expires, check the "Sound ON" box and use the "Browse..." button to select a sound file to play. You can use any sound file, preferably short. Some may be found in C:\Windows\Media", or you may download many interesting sound effects from the internet (bells, gongs, horns, etc.) Click "Preview" to hear your sound.
  6. If your computer cannot play music and the tip timer sound at the same time, you can probably fix this by setting "Play Sound Using" to Amovie, and changing Winamp to use DirectSound Out.
  7. Click OK.

Configuring Winamp

(you only need to do this for using DirectSound out, or for using plug-ins)

If you wish to use any plug-ins, such as Pacemaker for changing the speed of the music, you must first download and install the plug-in by double-clicking the install file for the plug-in.

  1. Launch Winamp (or Wplayer, which will launch Winamp as well).
  2. Click the "~" symbol in the upper left corner of the Winamp window. Select Options->Preferences from the menu.

To enable DirectSound Output (required on some computers to be able to play a tip timer sound while music is also playing):

  1. Click Output (under Plug-ins in the left pane).
  2. Select the DirectSound output in the right pane. (The default is waveOut, which should work on most computers).

To select a plug-in such as Pacemaker:

  1. Click DSP/Effect (under Plug-ins in the left pane).
  2. Select your plug-in in the right pane.

Click "Close" when you are done.

Software Operation

Operation of dMC Auxiliary Input

How to record files at a dance

Boot up your computer. Connect an audio cable from the audio input jack on your computer (Line-In or Microphone) to the High (for Line-In) or Low (for Microphone) output on the patchbox.

Launch dMC Auxiliary Input. Enter "99" for the number of tracks to record (or you will be sorry). Enter the callers name (or other unique identifier) in "Artist". Enter whatever you want in "Album" and "Comment", and enter the "Year" if desired. Caution- for multi session dances make sure you enter something different for "Artist" for each session to avoid overwriting files. The program will warn you if you are about to overwrite any files.

Click "Test Recording Level". Click the little picture of a speaker. This is the easiest way to open your recording volume control. Click "End Test".

Click the "Record" button. The program is now waiting for sound to start the recording.

Important: when the caller puts the music on it is always a good idea to check the recording level on the VU meter displayed on the screen. It is a bar that increases from left to right, changing color from green to red. The VU meter should be peaking at about 1/2 to 2/3 of full scale at the LOUDEST parts of the callers voice. Adjust your recording volume control to get the level right. A little louder from time to time doesn't hurt, but it shouldn't be going up into the red all the time.

When the dance is over, close the dMC Music Converter window (the one in back, with the "X" in the corner), and click "Yes" to cancel the conversion. Close dMC Auxiliary Input.

You now have a set of MP3 files named <artist>01, <artist>02, etc. stored in the destination folder you have set up. These files will include squaring up music, announcements, walk-thrus, etc., and probably need some editing before they are ready to use at your tape group.

Operation of Mp3DirectCut

How to edit your MP3 files

Launch Mp3DirectCut. Also Launch Windows Explorer and go to the folder where your MP3 files are located. You will see the files you recorder, names <artist>01, <artist>02, etc.

Drag and drop the first file to be edited onto the Mp3DirectCut window. You will see a graphical representation of the sound in the file, with taller peaks representing louder sounds. We delete parts f the file by first selecting them, then clicking the "Cut" button. Selections can be made by clicking and dragging with the left mouse button. Selections can be adjusted bigger or smaller by clicking and dragging with the right mouse button. The beginning or ending point of a selection can also be set to the current cursor position (the vertical dotted line in the middle of the window) by clicking the "Set Begin" and "Set End" buttons. You can listen to the file by clicking the "Play" button, and stop by pressing the "Stop" button. I never use these buttons, since the spacebar will also toggle between play and stop.

Since we probably need to delete some squaring up music at the beginning of the file, click "Set Begin" while we are still positioned at the start of the file. Hit space to start playing. You can skip ahead while playing by hitting the right arrow key, or by clicking on the scroll bar below the graphical display. Read the Mp3DirectCut help file for more instructions on navigating around in your file. When you find the point where the tip really starts, stop playing. Right click and drag the mouse to extend the selection to the point where the tip starts. Click "Cut" to remove the selection. (The selection is not really deleted yet. We can get it back by clicking "Edit". Then we can adjust the selection in case we had cut too much or too little.)

Now use the scroll bar to move to near the end of the file. Since the automatic sound activated recording is set to stop after 20 seconds of silence, there will be at least 20 seconds to delete at the end of the file (along with anything else that might have been recorded after the end of the tip). Play, and move forward or backward (with the arrow keys or scrollbar) until you find the end of the tip. Stop playing. Click and drag to mark a selection starting at the end of the tip. Scroll to the end of the file and click "Set End" to extend the selection to the end of the file. Click "Cut" to remove the selection.

You can also delete anything you want out of the middle of the file (such as a sequence that didn't work, or one where the caller had the dancers square up to try again).

Now we are almost ready to save the edited file. But one more thing should be done first. On the Edit menu, select Normalize. Mp3DirectCut will now attempt to increase the level (volume) of the file as much as possible without clipping. It does this quite quickly, and is faster on faster computers. Click OK if the indicated Level Change is greater than zero. If the Level Change comes out zero, then the level is already as high as it can be (maybe you recorded at too high a volume?), so just click Cancel. By always normalizing the level you will find that the different tips you record will play back with a more consistent volume.

Now the file can be saved. Select File->Save all..., select a file name (different from the original filename), and click OK. I always save to a different file name, keeping the original file intact until I am satisfied with my editing. This way, if I screw up, I can go back to the original recording and edit it again. Now drag and drop the next file to be edited onto the Mp3DirectCut editor. Dragging and dropping is the easiest way to edit a lot of files in sequence. After you have edited all the files you can delete the originals and just keep the edited versions.

You may find some short recordings from sound checks, short announcements during breaks, etc. These can just be deleted. With a little practice you will be amazed at how quickly you can edit all the tips from a dance.

Operation of Utagit

Labeling your files so you know what they are

Open Windows Explorer and go to the folder where your files are. Launch Utagit. Click "Auto Update" to switch to auto update mode. Enter the tag information you want in each field. Typically this is Track=1, Genre=(none), Title=Tip01, Artist=Callers Name, Album=name/date of dance, Year=year of dance, Comment=anything you want (I usually put at least level of the dance). Check the boxes for Auto Increment of Track and Title.

Now simply drag and drop your MP3 files one at a time from Windows Explorer to the Utagit window, in the order in which you want the tip (track) numbers assigned. Each time you drop a file the Track and Title number will increment by one, ready for the next file. Read the Utagit Help file for more detailed instructions.

Your MP3 files now have ID3v1 tags, labeling the files so you will always know what they are, who called, and what dance it was. Now save your files in a safe place. I usually organize my files into folders by the level called, and by the dance, keeping the files from a given dance and level together in their own folder. Keep your files organized. It can be hard to find something once you have hundreds of files (unless they are well organized).

Operation of Wplayer and Winamp

How to play files at your tape group

Launch Wplayer. Winamp should launch automatically. Make sure Winamp is displaying the Winamp playlist editor.

Step one, we need to create a Winamp playlist. Click on the Winamp playlist editor. Press CTRL-A to highlight all files currently in the playlist. Press DEL to delete them all. Now drag and drop MP3 files from Windows Explorer onto the Winamp playlist. You can also drag and drop a folder to add all the MP3 files in the folder to the playlist. You can drag and drop files in the playlist editor to rearrange their order. Usually when dropping a folder the first and last files in the folder don't get placed in the proper order. It's a funny quirk, but not hard to fix. Now save the playlist by clicking "LIST OPTS" and selecting "SAVE LIST". This assumes you are using the Classic Winamp skin. For the Modern skin click Manage Playlist and Save Playlist. Save the playlist to a folder such as C:\My Documents\Playlists, and give it a meaningful name (like the name of the dance). The file type is ".m3u".

Step two, we need to tell Wplayer which playlist we will be using. Select Play->Open Playlist, and select the playlist file (".m3u" file) you just saved.

Step three, we need to tell Wplayer where to save information about playing the files in this playlist. In Wplayer, select File->Save As...". This will save a Tape Group file (".grp"). I usually save it in the same place, and give it the same name, as the playlist file. That is OK since they have different file types.

Step four, play it! With the Wplayer window selected, hit the spacebar. Your first tip should start playing. The Position and Counter will start to count up, and the Tip Timer will start to count down (the tip timer starts timing as soon as you start playing something). You can control Wplayer with a few easy keyboard shortcut keys. The most commonly uses keys are as follows:

Shortcut Function
Spacebar Toggles Play/Pause
Left arrow Backs up 5 seconds
Right arrow Skips forward 5 seconds
End or Z Zero the "tape" counter
Home or R Rewind back to zero
F12 or T Tip timer control
(press once to stop timer, press again to reset the timer)
Tip timer will start running automatically when you start playing

When you close Wplayer (or switch to a different Tape Group File), you will be asked if you want to save changes. Click Yes so Wplayer remembers where you left off in that playlist. The next time you open that Tape Group File, Wplayer will open the same playlist and return to the exact place you left off (last place you zeroed the counter).

I find the easiest way to open Wplayer is to simply drag and drop a Tape Group File (".grp" file) onto the Wplayer desktop icon. You can also drag and drop a new Tape Group File onto Wplayer to change to a different file.