-----Original Message-----
Wende Waters [mailto:wendewaters@sbcglobal.net]
Friday, October 12, 2007 6:54 PM
Bill Ogilvie
Subject: Re: AIFD:new computer music system


    Much could be said (and has been) on this subject. We use a Dell Inspiron for dancing, and Poikosoft to rip CDs and convert .wav files to .mp3s. We have the files archived on a separate, external hard drive (both wavs and mp3s) as well as another archive copy on CDs (besides the original). Mike Hefner was the one who really structured this system, and Susie Thennes the good little footsoldier who copied the 600? songs that weren't already on CDs from the original source. She used SoundForge for editing clicks and pops. About that time I took over, but I have just been doing CDs and working on the naming conventions in the database. Mike found Poikosoft - a Finnish company who sells the S/W for $35.00 with free updates forever. The Inspiron's sound card had a floating ground, so I had to buy a grounding box from a music store to tie the PC's ground system to the amp. What the Hey? but I originally tested the setup on an old Toshiba laptop and it didn't have that problem. The Dell came with MusicMatch software that wasn't very user-friendly. They wanted you to buy extra, expensive packages for speed control and a "jukebox" (which is what we do). I finally had to uninstall it, because I could never stop it from coming up with helpful/marketing messages, and it was bothering the programmers. So we use Windows Media Player, which is free, works just fine, and has a free speed control. We don't use playlists, as the software is somewhat capricious (you can't create a playlist while programming, for example, as it causes songs to unexpectedly halt). I have most of the songs in one big folder on the desktop. You can double-click on a title to play, or right-click to add the song to the Now Playing list, or move songs up and down in the playlist.

    I think that the main reason that our system is so dependable is that we only use it for dancing. It only holds copies of the mp3 files. We don't use it to rip CDs, or convert files, or store files. It was something that I insisted on, from years of experience in computer test, design and manufacturing, i. e.: if you have a system that is supposed to consistently do a particular job, DON"T do design and/or modifications with it, as it can affect the performance of the test system in unexpected ways. Every once in a while one of us will bring it home and download updates for Windows and Windows Media, but usually it's not ever online. Mike and I have Poikosoft and SoundForge on our home computers, and I keep the external hard drive and backup CDs because I'm the Program Chair. The only problem I've seen is caused by people not seating a CD down on the locking spindle of the DVD/CD drive, which causes the CD player software to lose its tiny mind. You fix it by going back to the previous Restore Point.

    As to music quality, I can't hear a discernable quality loss from wav files to our mp3 files, which are all recorded at 128 kbps. I was having some recording sound quality issues in the beginning (tunes were skippy), which were resolved when I added a lot of RAM to my computer motherboard. There is an excellent free document online called the McFadden FAQ about every aspect of digital recording. Check it out. My main test for music quality is to put the music on a CD, put it in your home stereo system and crank up the volume. If that works, try it in a boombox. If it skips or the sound quality is bad, get a clean copy before you convert it to mp3. Poikosoft has a repair/record setting. I think that people record these things and only listen to them on their PCs, so the sound quality issues are not apparent until the first time you run it through an amp, and then Yowee.

    Sorry this is so long. I know it sounds like I have an axe to grind, but actually I have needed to write this down for a long time for the DIFD archives. So take that into consideration, and allow your mind to wander freely if something strikes you as not interesting. Maybe we will see you at Camp?