CD to minidisc

Stuart, a customer who recently bought around 50 backing tracks on CD asked me a question about converting them to Minidisc…

hi Kenny
I bought some backing trax of you a while ago!..i was wondering if i sent you the 4 cd’s could you transfer them to Minidisc?
cheers
Stuart

Hi Stuart

Yes, we can put your backing tracks on to Minidisc for you, that’s not a problem. However the problem is the studio time it will take to do this.

The studio rate of £20/hr has to be covered and 52 songs would take about 3 hours of studio time to record, costing £60.

As I say, I’m happy to do this for you, but before you make a decision, remember, you already have your CD with all the songs so you could save all that time and money by just connecting your computer to a Minidisc recorder and record them on to Minidisc that way.

This way it’ll cost you nothing.

I wrote an article on how to record mp3 files from a computer to Minidisc and, as it happens, the process for recording a CD to Minidisc is exactly the same. Instead of “playing the mp3’s” on your computer and recording them to Minidisc, you pop the CD in to your computers CD tray and “play the CD” instead.

All the connections from your computers soundcard to your Minidisc recorder are the same as in the article HERE

Regards

Kenny

Batch converting of mp3 files

A customer asked a question about converting mp3 files all in the one go…

Hi Kenny,
Is there a way of converting all the files in a folder to 128kbps at the same time, instead of individually?

Hi

I don’t personally batch convert files but I do know that the software we use in the studio is capable of doing it. However I doubt if you’d want to pay $600 just for a program to batch convert files(!)

There’s a free program called Switch which you could try – it just might do the job:

http://www.nch.com.au/switch/

Regards

Kenny

Saving edited backing tracks

The subject of bit-rates for backing tracks seems to have got a few of you asking some other related questions about this…

Hi Kenny,
Having read your blog entry about mp3 encoding (not that i know anything about it) I happened to look at my own tracks, only to find that all mine were at 256kbp. I use soundforge 8 for editing and saving my tracks. When I download a track it is saved in “My received files” I then load it into soundforge to edit, ie to cut silences at start and end and to adjust volume, once that is done I save it to “Backing tracks” folder and then when required to a SD card if playing in my SD player or into Onstage Performer if transfering to my laptop. Thanks to your article, I am now in the middle of changing all my tracks to 128kbp as the files will be half the size they were. I do seem to have one problem though with soundforge and I don’t know if you can help me? I’m having a problem saving any editing. If I change the volume so as not to “peak” the edit process does it’s thing. Then if I play the track the volume change has taken effect, so I click on “Save” when the “Save” process has finished the track re-appears in the frame but the “Save” hasn’t worked, as the peak lights up on the volume again. Any idea’s?
Regards
Gordon

Hi Gordon
 
Yes, re-encoding your backing tracks from 192Kb/s to 128 Kb/s will allow you to double the number of tracks you can store on your SD card.
 
If you are having trouble saving your edited file in Soundforge, then try using “save as…” instead of “save” and give it a new filename.
 
Sometimes programs have issues over-writing files that they still have opened within the program, so saving it as a new file with a different name usually does the trick. As an aside, this generally applies to any file in any program that you’re trying to over-write and I suggest you always use “save as…” instead of “save” – if nothing else, it lets you go back to the original file if for any reason the over-write doesn’t work or you make a mistake and need to redo something.
 
If using the “save as…” command doesn’t solve the problem, then you’ll have to delve a bit deeper I’m afraid. Like most software problems, there’s usually 3 common problem areas to look at:
 
#1. The “problem program” installation has become unstable. Re-installing it usually fixes the problem.
 
#2. Windows itself or any other programs running on your computer that use the same components as the “problem program” have become unstable. Re-installing Windows, the “problem program”, or any other programs which share components with the “problem program” usually fixes the problem.
 
#3. The “problem program” doesn’t function well with your particular operating system. Compatibility problems with Windows running third party software are commonplace because Microsoft do not let anyone know their source code so only Microsoft products can be absolutely guaranteed to work well on Windows computers (although many critics claim even Microsofts own products often have issues running on Windows)!
 
So, in a nutshell, if the “problem program” worked fine before, but has now mysteriously stopped working, then it’s most probably #1 or #2 above.
 
If the “problem program” has never worked properly, then it’s most probably #3 above.
 
Troubleshooting software problems is often like looking for a needle in a haystack.
 
Generally the makers of your software and Microsoft don’t help – the software makers blame Windows for problems and Microsoft blame the software makers.
 
The poor users usually find themselves in a catch-22 situation where they’ve got problems with a program that doesn’t work but no-one wants to help them or accept responsibility for it.
 
Welcome to the world of Windows (and by the way, Apple Mac are not much better despite what Mac afficianados would try to have you believe)…
 
Regards
 
Kenny

Audacity for live recordings…

Tony from the UK asked me a question about making recordings live at a gig and then putting it all together afterwards at home using Audacity…

Dear Kenny,
You seem like a pretty helpful fellow and I would like to ask your advice.  Here is the scenario: When I record a CD which I sell at my gigs I simply use my mixer amp to play the CD track and add the vocals via a microphone all in one pass. Having done a lot of BBC Radio gigs in the past I have a very good sense of microphone technique and usually end up with a reasonable recording. (I can send you one if you would like to hear it). The problem is that I can’t edit the vocals because everything is on one track. Is it a good idea to record the vocals only while listening to the track and then paste themin or somehow add the track via Audacity or some other Studio software? (I don’t particularly want to invest in compressors or multi-track hardware etc.) I just want to be able to mess around with vocal and then add it to the backing track.
Tony (UK)

Hi Tony

Yes, it is possible to record the vocals entirely on their own at your gig and then paste them in to Audacity afterwards.
Obviously when you put it all together at home afterwards, you need to dub your recorded vocal over the exact same backing track you sang along to when you recorded it originally so that there won’t be any sync problems.

It should then be quite a simple case of lining up both the vocal and the music in Audacity.

Once you’ve done that, you can start to experiment with and add vocal effects and balance everything out etc before making your final master.

As far as making the final CD is concerned, I’ve written an article about making CD’s which you should find useful: CLICK HERE

Converting Minidisc to MP3

Ilze asked me a question about converting from Minidisc to mp3…

Dear Kenny!
Thank you for always sending such helpful information. I really like your site cause you really care about your customers and think about us musicians in general. It is very nice to have such great service. THANKS! I am trying to convert songs that I have on minidisc (some are mp3 tracks and some are midi) to my ipod. I record it on to my computer with a music program (nuendo)and then do a mixdown to Mp3, but I find the quality is not as good as on  the minidisc.It all seems very compressed and equal in sounds…no ups and downs. Is there anything I can do to improve the quality? Hope you can answer this.
Thank you,
Ilze van Zanten

Hi Ilze

Glad you’re enjoying all the stuff I send out – it’s nice to know someone appreciates it!

Regarding sound quality issues with MP3, there are probably three things you need to be aware of when converting fom Minidisc to mp3:

1. If the quality of the song on the minidisc is poor quality to begin with, then when you record it in to your computer and encode it to mp3 it will still be poor quality (the rubbish in, rubbish out rule applies).

2. If the quality of the computer sound card on the computer you’re recording to is not good quality, the resultant mp3 will also be poor quality.

3. If the quality of the program you are using to do the mp3 conversion is not good quality, the resultant mp3 will also be poor quality.

4. The bit-rate you choose on the mp3 recorder can affect the quality. Generally the higher the bit-rate the better the quality. However just be aware that too high a bit-rate results in a bigger file size causing some mp3 players to skip and stutter when trying to play the file (skipping is not good for backing track playback). A bit-rate of 128Kb/s gives the best trade-off between sound quality and file size and is a safe bit-rate for backing tracks – most mp3 players will play 128Kb/s files without skipping or problems and the sound quality is more than good enough for live onstage use.

Regards

Kenny