Step-by-step Software Installation, Configuration, and Operation
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.
This software is used for recording MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.
This software is used for editing MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.
This software is used for editing the tags on MP3 files. It is not needed if you do not record your own MP3 files.
This is software is used for playing MP3 files.
This software makes Winamp easier to use for tape groups by providing a "tape counter" and other features.
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.
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".
Now we need to set our recording options.
(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.
To enable DirectSound Output (required on some computers to be able to play a tip timer sound while music is also playing):
To select a plug-in such as Pacemaker:
Click "Close" when you are done.
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.
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.
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).
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:
|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.