The educated Tanguero

Essential Tango Knowledge

Tango DJing Part 3: From CD to MP3

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Milonga, Music and the DJ – Part 3 (Creating MP3 files)

We are ready now to fill the PC with lots of Tango music to play at our first Milonga. Where to get the music ? Buy CDs at your friendly CD store.  We will talk about that in depth when we talk about the necessary collection of orchestras.

Today I would like to show you in a little hands on exercise, how to convert CD music to MP3 files.

For this, I have chosen a random CD from my shelf (Picture 1).

Picture 1: A Tango CD
Picture 1: A Tango CD

It is a music collection of Sexteto Mayor published by World Network (a German Label). The Title of the CD is “Quejas de Bandoneon” and it contains 18 tracks. Our job today is to grab the songs into MP3 files. Before we start, we take a picture or scan from the CD label (Picture 2), because we want to include that into our files. As I do not have a scanner at hand, I simply take a picture with my mobile phone. Sometimes, pictures can be retrieved using a simple google search. In this case I got a picture of low resolution (282×280) which is OK for a coverpicture.

Picture 2: Cover
Picture 2: Cover

I have to apologize to show only software for PC with Windows. I personally do not own an Apple computer. I was told, that most of these tasks can be done in iTunes. So dear Apple lovers, be patient……

For grabbing (that is the reading and encoding of the songs into MP3 files) we need a software and the actual encoder. I use the software Audiograbber with the LAME encoder. The most recent versions can be downloaded for free at:

http://www.audiograbber.org/

Please install both files (program and encoder), decline the installation of the funmoods malware (call it like you want, but it is difficult to get rid of, if you install it accidentally) and put the CD into the drive of your computer (hopefully it has one).

Starting the software, it will show the disc and the music tracks without further information (Picture 3).

Picture 3: The CD tracks have been detected by AudioGrabber.
Picture 3: The CD tracks have been detected by AudioGrabber.

Audiograbber has the option to look up the CD in a central database (internet access required). Just click on FreeDB and accept one of the hits. This will populate the list of tracknames and also the album information (Picture 4).

 

Picture 4: Album and tracks have been identified by FreeDB.
Picture 4: Album and tracks have been identified by FreeDB.

Now we have to tell Audiograbber, how the files should be named. I personally prefer the combination of Artist and Trackname which can be adjusted in the general settings (Picture 5). The target directory should be entered at the top of the menue box.

Picture 5: General settings of Audiograbber.
Picture 5: General settings of Audiograbber.

MP3 settings can be adjusted in the next menu. I prefer a high constant bitrate of more than 256 kbit/s. Grabbing with 300 kBit/s will create slightly bigger filesizes (appr. 10 MB per Track). For high bitrates, the quality should be set to (true)Stereo and medium-high (Picture 6).

Picture 6: MP3 settings of AudioGrabber
Picture 6: MP3 settings of AudioGrabber

Audiograbber is also able to normalize the tracks. That means, the volume of all tracks are reprocessed to a mean level. Usually DJs like this function. I personally prefer to do this adjustment manually or with assistance of my playersoftware. If you want to do the normalization, just tick the box “Norm.”.

Now we can start the grabbing process by simply pressing the button “Grab!” (Picture 7).

Picture 7: Audiograbber at work.
Picture 7: Audiograbber at work.

The software will need a while but after a couple of minutes, all the MP3 files are ready (Picture  8). I personally rename the folder with Artist and album name, so the Folder will be renamed to: “Sexteto Mayor – Quejas de Bandoneón”.

Picture 8: Album folder with single files for each track.
Picture 8: Album folder with single files for each track.

All the Files are tagged with Trackname, Artist, Album and Year. To check the tags, we need another piece of software. Special programs are able to edit the MP3-tags. I personally use Mp3tag, which can be freely downloaded at:

http://www.mp3tag.de/en/

Download and install the program. Mp3Tag is originally a German program. If it turns up with German menues, you can change the language in the options menue. Now rightclick on the music folder to open mp3tag and load all the content of the folder (Picture 9).

Picture 9: Use of Mp3tag to check the tags.
Picture 9: Use of Mp3tag to check the tags.

We see, that there is a colon in the Track name of  “Adios, Nonino” which we can manually edit (Picture 10).

Picture 10: Editing of single tags.
Picture 10: Editing of single tags.

Selecting all the tracks with the mouse and the Caps Key allows for tag changes of multiple files. In this case, we click on the cover area (the large rectangular area at the left lower corner). Here we can choose the cover picture, we have downloaded from the internet or scanned in manually (Picture 11).

Mp3tag3
Picture 11: Adding the album cover.

In order to write the tags back we now just click on “save-tag” (the disc symbol at the left end of the menue stripe). Mp3tag reports that it has written 18 tags in 18 files (Picture 12). Additionally, we can edit the genre tag, because there are obviously some Milongas included (Picture 13).

Mp3tag4
Picture 12: Tags have to be rewritten.
Picture 13: Modification of some genre tags.
Picture 13: Modification of some genre tags.

 

The album folder is now stored in the collection folder for Sexteto Mayor (Picture 14) and the files are imported in the collection database. The tagging of the files will ensure, that the files can be searched and will show up with the necessary information during playback (Picture 15).

Mp3tag5
Picture 14: Album Folder in the collection´s artist folder.

 

Picture 15: Tag information during playback.
Picture 15: Tag information during playback.

The next article will deal with Tango orchestras and the start of a Tango collection.

Sincerely, your Tango DJ,

-Ricardo (“El alemán”)

 

P.S.: If you use free software and if you find that helpful and convenient, consider to support the authors by just donating a small amount of money for the project.  Audiograbber, Mixx and Mp3tag are very valuable software projects. Used routinely, they can save a lot of time, effort and money.

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