- Why would I want to use MP3 files
instead of cassette tapes at my workshop?
Convenience. You can store an enormous library of recordings on
your hard disk or on CD ROM. You can keep all your recordings
nicely organized by level, dance, caller, etc. in folders and sub
folders. You can use Find Files to search for recordings from
specific dances/callers/etc., and access any recording instantly.
You can make copies of copies of copies without losing any quality.
You can rewind, skip back, and skip forward instantly with no
annoying tape delays. You can record whole dances automatically
without having to touch your laptop or worry about turning tapes
over in time.
- What kind of equipment do I need?
Almost any laptop computer running Windows will do. All laptops
have nice sound systems these days. You just need an audio input
and audio output jack. You can use the same kind of patch box that
you use for recording with cassette tapes. Note that some laptop
computers need to have a stereo input cable even when recording
mono, or you cannot get full recording level. A nice set of
amplified computer speakers gives plenty of volume when playing the
recordings at your workshop.
- What kind of software do I need?
For recording, I use dBpowerAMP Music Converter with the free
add on called dMC Auxiliary Input. For editing the recordings (to
eliminate squaring up music, announcements, extra stuff at the end,
etc.) I use MP3 Direct Cut. To play them back I use Winamp along
with a little program I wrote called Wplayer. Wplayer gives you a
tape counter, tip timer, convenient keyboard shortcuts, etc. See my
Downloads page for links to all the software you need. It is all
- Will Wplayer work with Winamp version
3.xx? Where can I get Winamp version 2.xx or version 5.xx?
Wplayer will NOT work with Winamp version 3.xx. It will only
work with the newest version 5.xx, or the older version 2.xx. Visit
www.winamp.com to get the latest Winamp version 5.xx. Contact me if
you want the older version 2.xx.
- Wplayer doesn't seem to remember the
last playlist I was using. Isn't it supposed to resume in the same
playlist right where it left off?
Yes, Wplayer should remember the last playlist file used and
resume from where it left off. But to remember the playlist, it has
to know which playlist is open. If you opened the playlist using
Winamp (or if you just created a new playlist using Winamp),
Wplayer doesn't know which playlist is open. The solution is
simple. Use Wplayer's Playlist->Open command to open the
playlist using Wplayer. You can also drag-and-drop a playlist file
onto Wplayer to open it. Then Wplayer knows which playlist is open,
and it will return to it the next time you start Wplayer.
- I went to www.dbpoweramp.com and could
find dBpowerAMP Music Converter, but couldn't find dMC Auxiliary
Input. Where is it?
Since dBpowerAMP Music Converter changed to version 11, the dMC
Auxiliary Input add-on is included in the basic software package.
Be advised that the MP3 codec will cease to function after 30 days
unless you register your version 11 software and pay a small
registration fee. The dMC Auxiliary input for the version 10
software may be downloaded here
on my Downloads page..
- Can I control playing of my MP3 files by
Yes! Since you are playing files on a computer, remote control
is mostly a matter of software. I make a remote control system
consisting of a small transmitter with six pushbuttons that you can
attach to your belt. A small radio receiver plugs into the USB port
on your computer. Then some free software called RfRemote lets you
control Wplayer (or any other player you decide to use) from the
remote control on your belt. See my Products page for details.
- How do I set up the RfRemote software?
What about the older IrAssistant software?
See the installation instructions for RfRemote here.
See the installation instructions for IrAssistant here.
- I downloaded the latest IRAssistant
software form www.irassistant.com and can't get it to work. What is
The latest version of IRAssistant (version 3.5) does not work
properly. It cannot send commands to specific Windows applications.
Version 3.40 worked fine, and you can find it on my downloads page.
But I prefer you use my newest software called RfRemote.
- RfRemote (or IRAssistant) can't open
my COM port. What is wrong?
Either you are telling RfRemote/IRAssistant to use the wrong COM
port, or your COM port is not available. The COM port on a laptop
is almost always COM1, but it could be different. If it is a
virtual COM port created by the USB driver used by RfRemote, you
need to check the Windows device manager to see which COM port
number was assigned. If your laptop has a built in modem, the modem
will appear as if it was a COM port. But this "COM" port is only
for the modem, and does not connect to the COM port connector on
the back of your computer. On some computers, the COM port can be
disabled and powered down (often by settings in the BIOS or by
special power management software supplied with your computer).
Make sure your port is enabled and powered on. The COM port is
sometimes disabled if the IRDA (InfaRed data) port on your computer
is enabled (mostly older laptops). The port could also be
unavailable if some other software is using the port. This could be
software for transferring data to/from a digital camera, PDA, or
other device. Disable any such software to make the port
- I have a bunch of MP3 recordings on my
hard drive, with playlists set up. I moved the MP3 files to CD ROM
and now the playlists don't work. How can I fix it?
Simple. The M3U playlist files used by Winamp (and some other
players) are simple text files. Just edit the M3U playlist files
using Wordpad or Word and change the drive letter (or drive letter
and pathname) to the new location where the MP3 file is stored.
For example, if you had a file called 01Rubright.mp3 on your
hard disk in a folder called C:\MyRecordings\C2\PaceAug01, and you
move it to a CD ROM in drive D in a folder called D:\C2\PaceAug01,
just edit the M3U playlist file and change the pathname from:
Do this for every file in the playlist using a find-and-replace
command, changing C:\MyRecordings (the old location) to D:\ (the
new location). Make sure you save the edited playlist file as a
If you don't feel comfortable editing the playlist files, you
can just use Winamp to create NEW playlist files using the files on
the CD, and save the playlist file to the same file name you had
before. Answer Yes to replace the existing file.
- How much can I fit on one CD ROM
anyway? What about sample rates, bitrates, compression, etc.?
A CD can hold at least 650 megabytes of data (usually 700). I
record my MP3 files for dances at a sample rate of 22050 and a bit
rate of 32000 bits/second (constant bit rate). All square dance
recordings are mono. This means that one hour of recording takes up
14.4 megabytes. A 650 MByte CD can hold about 47 hours of
recordings. A 700 MByte CD can hold just over 50 hours. How good
does the recording sound? Well, you get a 10 KHz bandwidth, which
is better than AM radio, but not quite as good as FM radio. It is
better than most cassette tape recordings. Recording at a higher
sample rate (like 44100) and using a higher bitrate (like 48000 or
64000 bits/second) would give quality comparable to CD's. But that
makes the files bigger, and we aren't trying to record classical
- What kind of batteries does the RF
remote control system use? How long will they last?
The RF remote control transmitter uses a 2032 size coin cell
battery. This is the same battery used in most computers for the
clock and CMOS RAM, and can be purchased almost anyplace, like
Radio Shack. It should last for several years. The transmitter only
draws power from the battery for a fraction of a second when you
push a button. That's why there is no on/off switch. To replace the
battery, open the case (one screw on the back), and pop the battery
out of the holder. Snap a new battery in. Replace the screw. The
receiver has no battery. It gets power from the USB or COM port,
and draws very little power.
- How much will it cost to get all the
equipment I need to record and play dances as MP3 files for my tape
I just bought a used laptop computer from Ebay for $103.50,
including shipping! It is an IBM Thinkpad 560e 166MHz pentium. It
is fast enough to do all the recording and playback (though I
wouldn't get anything slower). A nice set of amplified computer
speakers will cost about $15.00. You will probably need an audio
cable to connect the computer to the patch box. Radio shack sells
cables for about $4.00 or $5.00, though if you have been recording
on cassette tapes you must already have a cable. If you need a
patch box, I sell them for $25.00 (see my products page), and that
includes the cables. So it is possible to do it for under
- My laptop doesn't have a COM port. Can
I still use the RF remote control system?
Yes. If you have the COM port version of the RF Remote Control
system, you can get a USB to Serial port adapter for $35.00 or
$40.00 that adds a COM port to your computer through the USB port.
Several people have used the RF remote control system using these
adapters. But I now have available a USB version of the RF Remote
Control System for $65.00. This is only $5.00 more than the
obsolete COM port version used to be, so it is cheaper than buying
a separate USB to Serial port adapter.