Tag Archives: mp3

Turn Yourself Into a Musician with Aviary

Aviary is as “happy as a lark” to introduce their new music service, which they have code-named Roc. You apparently don’t need to have any musical ability at all to create music and beats from scratch inside of your browser. You’ll be able to simulate fifty different instruments and sounds.

The instrument sounds available range from things such as drums, pianos and guitars to harps, flutes and a hammered dulcimer. You’ll have a simple point-and-click interface. You don’t need to understand anything about notes and scales in order to create beautiful works of art. The music creator is simple to use, yet boasts a lot of features, allowing more advanced users to mix and match any instruments – and even record your voice or upload your own custom sounds.

Best of all, you’ll be able to save your creations and download them as an MP3 right to your computer to share with the world.

You don’t have to be a musical – or any other type – expert in order to grab the latest software and apps from our software center.

How to Convert Cassettes to MP3


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One of the first pieces of hardware I ever remember lusting after was a cassette player. I was pretty young back then, and a cassette player was innovative! As I got a little older, making “mix tapes” for girls you liked was all the rage. I enjoyed being able to record things, and play them back. These days, we take audio and video recording for granted. Back then… it was really high tech stuff!

I still have several of my old cassettes. I want to start archiving those memories into MP3 format, so that I can save them. There’s a few different ways that you can accomplish this, using various pieces of hardware. The folks at ThinkGeeksent me something that will help me do this easily… the ION USB Cassette Deck. It works with either Windows or Mac OS X, and comes with its own software. I have to warn you, though. Even though the hardware is an excellent device, I don’t recommend using the software. It’s not so great.

It’s a dual cassette deck of sorts. You can dub from one deck to another. Or, I can use a USB connection and play it back on my computer… and record it from there if I wish. I recommend downloading the free version of Audacity in order to record and edit your audio files.

Pop open the cassette deck and throw your tape in. I still have the first cassette I ever purchased – Twisted Sister. Tell me you remember the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. It’s a classic that’s still played often today! Hey… I loved them back in the day. What’s wrong with liking the song now?!

The ION features LED Audio Level Indicators to let you know when it detects music on one side or the other. The “A” deck is for cassette playback only. The “B” deck can be used to play and record. Copy your music from one cassette to another at regular OR high-speed. There are several nifty little add-ons for all of you cassette junkies!

I do like this gadget, and will be using it quite a bit. I am having a great time going down memory lane and putting faces, names and memories with each song on the tapes.

What’s the first piece of hardware you remember lusting after?

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Holophonic Sounds

Put on your headphones and check out these MP3s:

Chris, Scott Lencl here (scolen3 to the chat room). I came across some pretty amazing technology I thought you would like to see, or listen to in this case. Its called holophonics, a type or binaural audio recording. Basically, two microphones placed on a dummy humans head, and recorded on two separate channels. The sound is enhanced is some special software that gives the illusion of sound in 3D space, most notably the up and down axis, though your brain does most of the work. It only works if you wear headphones, and make sure you have a good amount of volume to give it a more realistic effect.

Here is my favorite link for this: Get Your Virtual Haircut (and Other Auditory Illusions)

My favorites are the virtual haircut, by far – and the holophonic match box. If you have not yet head this before, prepare to be amazed.

Whoa! That’s trippy!

How to Manage your MP3 Files and Tags

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Monit wrote: “This is a Top 5 list on how to fix up a messy music library. Maybe it’s just the organization freak in me, but I can’t stand it when I see a bunch of music files with missing or inaccurate tags that are tossed all over the place. Personally, all of my songs are MP3s, but some of these programs will work with other formats as well.”

  • Fix Those Tags This is probably the most useful thing you can do for a messy music library. Having inaccurate or missing ID3 tag info makes it difficult to find your music on your computer, and especially on portable devices. This is the case when dealing with large libraries. A great program that I use is MP3Tag. It processes information very quickly, and has a bunch of small tools to fix file tags. When you first start the program, you can use the “Filename to Tag” feature, which automatically grabs information from the filename and throws it into the Artist and Title tags. Once this is done, the rest is pretty simple. You can either manually enter the rest of the tags, or let a program such as Music Brainz or Windows Media Player (Options>Libray>Retrieve Additional Info from the Internet) fill in the proper Album, Year, Track, Genre and Composer fields. MusicBrainz is available for the Mac, and I hear EasyTag is another great tag fixer.
  • Normalize the Volume How many times have you been listening to a song at full blast because it was really quiet, only to have your ears shattered to pieces when the next track is cued up? To avoid this, use a program like MP3Gain to normalize the volume of your songs. Keep in mind that some artists like to have certain songs on their albums louder than others, so consider using Album Gain to hold those differences, while still keeping the volume of all tracks around the same. If you don`t really share your music, pick a volume that you’re comfortable with. MP3Gain defaults to 89 decibles, but I prefer my music to be normalized at 92db because they still don’t clip from distortion, and they’re closer to the 95db most retails CDs are recorded at (plus your friends will probably be less annoyed if you decide to share some songs).
  • Add album art Most modern Operating Systems and MP3 players have the ability to view album art. This makes finding your music very easy, and you’ll just enjoy your music a lot more. iTunes and Windows Media Player can both add album art to tracks automatically. Personally, I just go on Amazon, and use the high resolution album art they supply.
  • Store the files properly Be sure to store your music in some sort of organized folder structure. As your library grows, you’ll thank yourself later. Personally, I have all my music stored in my music folder (surprising?). I then have about 5 different genre folders where I store my music. As far as file naming goes, I stick to the standard “Artist – Title.mp3” that most people use. I already have track numbers stored in the files, and let my media players handle that.
  • Fix Up Files as you download them Once you’ve fixed up your library (which may take a few days), keep your music organized as you buy or download it. The nice thing about buying your music online is the fact that it’s already properly tagged. That`s not a huge issue though, as it’s very easy to fix up songs if they’re on CD or from a music blog. This step is really important as it’s much easier to fix 4 or 5 tracks at once, compared to a couple hundred.

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How to Deal with Media and MP3 Players while Driving

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I’m the same as you… I take my iPhone everywhere with me. I’m sure most of you have your phones and MP3 players in your cars with you, as well. We’ve all heard of the potential dangers of using these devices while driving. Here are some tips to help reduce your chance of problems.

  • Video Do not watch video!! If your eyes aren’t on the road then you are a danger. Save it for a cafe park or your living-room, although designed to be portable video players as well they were not designed to watched while driving.
  • Searching songs Searching for music while driving is as bad as watching videos, dont find yourself scrolling thru 1000’s of songs just to find the one you want to listen to at that time. If your drive time is 35-40 min I’m sure you can wait. This brings me to my next point.
  • Playlists Use playlists designed at home for certain moods, or make one of your favorite or top rated songs just for when you use the car. This can save you from skipping dozens of songs because you dont listen to them as often as those that would be in your playlist.
  • Preparation Have the device plugged in to the charger and audio input (device/cable) for your stereo, and have it secured in a place that is easily accessible while keeping you eyes on the road. A generic holder of some sort will usually do the trick and are inexpensive. Select your desired playlist before you start driving and if you really want to skip tracks try and do it at a stopped position like at the traffic lights. Also if possible try to have the backlight display set to constantly on, this will enable you to easily see any content at a glance rather than having to reach over each time to activate the screen.
  • Get help If you have a passenger ask them to change the music for you (Tough as it may be for those who dont like others controlling the music in their cars) If you have to focus on the road then its a better choice to get someone else to search music or skip songs. Note: if they really annoy you by constantly skipping tracks then you can always threaten to make them walk and follow tips 1 to 4.

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To Buy a Zune

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You may be trying to decide exactly what type of .mp3 player is best for you. Here are some reasons sent in by a community member, listing why he prefers the Zune.

  • FM Radio Not many other media players have this feature, but it’s a good idea to have if you want to listen to your favorite station, news, or if you just don’t want to listen to anything on your Zune. It is also possible to use this to listen to other people using their Zune and a FM broadcaster connected to it.
  • Podcasts Now I wasn’t much into podcasts before this last major firmware update and new release of the Zune 2’s. But with the new feature, I’ve been working on finding good podcasts to listen to when I work. And with the Zune software, you can customize your podcast subscriptions and auto sync the most current ones, or if you want to listen to old ones if you’re new to that podcast, start at the beginning.
  • WiFi and syncing With the new firmware and hardware came wifi syncing. Now there’s a misnomer that you have to connect the Zune to your computer to WiFi sync, this is only to setup the sync. After that, if you have your Zune software running and a wireless router, then you can sync when anywhere near the router. The wifi includes the so called “squirting” (sharing of songs with other Zune users in person) that you can do, which the 3 day was removed and the 3 play kept. The temporary keep is a DRM that is in place by Microsoft for the Zune.
  • Video Even though the screen may be small, it works for watching videos and even DVD movies which you’ve ripped from ones you own. And it’s possible to do and keep the quality you want for a small screen. Or if you have a Zune 80, you can have a slightly higher resolution. Another feature that I would put under video is the slideshow feature with pictures that you can add a music playlist to. You can use something like this for a wedding reception or graduation party.
  • Firmware updates Firmware updates you ask? Well, the reason being is that other mp3 & media players only give you the firmware that it was released with. But with the Zune, there’s updated features and bug fixes. Just as the latest major update added podcasts and wifi syncing and the last minor update fixed some battery saving features. New features are probably a little down the road but they have been pretty good so far.

Here are some current deals on Zunes:

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Top 5 Things to Do with a Broken iPod

 

I’m always looking for your top 5 ideas, tips and tricks. Sonya sent me an email with the top 5 things you can with a bricked iPod. Let’s face it, wouldn’t you want to keep it around and use it for something else? It’s a fashion statement!

  • Use it as a stress reliever. This works for non touch-screen iPods only. When I’m stressed, I like to repeatedly click buttons and things. You can push and punch buttons to your hearts’ content with a bricked iPod.
  • Use it as a wallet. Gut it, and use the docking port as the money slot. Of course, people think iPods are worth stealing anyway. Imagine them thinking they stole a working iPod, find it broken, then toss it in the trash with your money inside! Still, a fun idea.
  • Use it as a fancy mirror. The back of it would make a good mirror. Impress your friends by whipping out an iPod mirror, instead of a boring compact.
  • Play iPod Frisbee. Well, you may not be able to play it more than once or twice. But still, it could be quite entertaining.
  • Use it as an expensive paper weight. Great idea! We all have papers on our desk. At least by having the iPod laying on the desk, you’ll look cool!

Do you have an iPod? I know of people whose iPods have broken. They went out and bought a cheap mp3 player, gutted their iPod, and put the cheaper one inside. They still have the “appearance” of using an iPod. Would you do that? Have you done it already?

What are your tips for reusing old technology of any sort? Leave me a comment to let me know, or send me an email to [email protected]

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Top 5 iPod Ideas

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I love getting your emails with your Top 5 tips, tricks, ideas and suggestions… whether they are Technology related or not. Tonight, I wanted to share a community members’ recommendations for improving an iPod. Personally, I think most other Mp3 players could benefit from these, as well.

  • Scratch-free. iPods aren’t cheap devices and for the money we pay we should get something that doesn’t scratch just by touching it. Apple is going in the right direction with their new iPod line, metal front and glass screen, but the shiny back is still unprotected. I wish that apple would figure out a way to keep the shiny back, but make it scratch-resistant, maybe use some kind of coating? If Apple can’t figure out a way to do that, they should at least ship iPods with the plastic sticker-screens already on.
  • Flash drive based iPod classic. This holiday season, I want to upgrade to an iPod classic from a first generation iPod nano. I want the classic because it can play videos and it has a 2.5 inch screen, but I can’t give up the benefits of having a flash drive based player. If Apple would release an iPod classic with a flash drive, it would be lighter, faster, the battery life would be much better and it would be more durable than an iPod with a hard drive. A couple of days ago, I dropped my iPod nano on concrete with good force and nothing happened to it, if the same thing happened to a hard drive based iPod, it would probably break. 32 GB flash drives are out there, so why not make use of them, Apple?
  • Direct podcasts.
  • It would be great if Apple would make iPods capable of downloading podcasts without a computer. Apple should make a cable with Ethernet plug on one side, and 30 pin iPod connector on the opposite end, then you could connect your iPod to your router/modem in the evening and have a fresh batch of podcasts in the morning. This way large podcast downloads won’t slow your connection down when you surf the internet, and it is much more convenient. I want to add to this one: I don’t want to have to use anything on my desktop. Mp3 Players should be synching with BlueTooth, including Podcasts on demand.

  • Flash video support.
  • Flash videos are everywhere and the fact that you have to convert them in order to view them on your iPod sucks. I don’t think that there are any media players that support flash, but if iPods did, it would be a big feature. RealPlayer 11 has a feature where when you are watching any flash video, and you wish to download it, all you need to do is hover your mouse pointer over the video, a little button pops up saying “Download this video”, you click it and done. I wish that Apple would do something as simple with iTunes, then all you have to do is click the button and sync. This would be faster, easier and the video quality would be excellent as you are playing the original file.

  • Security authorization.
  • Apple should make iPods authorize an accessory before using it. If you are asking why, here it is; say your iPod gets stolen, the way it is now, the thief has full access to your iPod and it will work for him/her as long as it would for anyone else. But if you would have to authorize the charging dock and/or the syncing cable, your iPod would become a “vegetable” when the charge runs out. Apple should make the authorization a one-time-thing so after you authorize the accessory, you go about your business as usual. Also, the authorization should take place on the iPod so that if you are away and you want to charge your player, you would connect the charger, a little message on the screen would pop up “Enter your secret code to authorize this accessory” and then you charge. I think that authorization shouldn’t be an option, because if the stealing community knows that all iPods are protected this way, it would make less sense to steal them.

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Normalizing MP3 Volume Levels


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http://live.pirillo.com/ -Hopefully my volume stays the same during each of my videos. I try to moderate the volume, so it’s always near the same. A community member wonders if there are any good solutions for editing MP3s to equalize their volume.

I threw this out to the community in our live chat room on WyldRyde IRC Network. I knew there were a couple of different programs that can level the volume of all the MP3s in your library. However, none of them were coming to mind. As soon as I asked the question, several people pointed me to MP3Gain. This program is free, and open source. Not only does it equalize the volume on all of the MP3s in your library, it also does some statistical analysis to determine how loud the file actually sounds to the human ear.

Another good program is called the Levelator. This app is found on Gigavox.com. Gigavox is a site run by my good friend (and longtime Gnomedex supporter) Doug Kaye. The Levelator is also free, you just need to register. Anything on this site is something I would definitely trust.

Wicket likes to be soft, I like to be loud. Maybe if we use one of these programs, you won’t have to constantly reach for your volume controls.

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MP3 Album Art

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Shadow noticed that a few of his podcasts were showing up with full icons instead of generic MP3 icons. So, how do you do that?

Embedding the album art is the image that’s inside the MP3 file. The easiest way on Windows is by using a piece of freeware called MP3-Info Extension.

When you right-click a file and select properties, you’ll see a bunch of tabs that give you more information about that particular file. From there you’ll be able to edit the files metadata and the ID3 tags, including the album art.

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