WinAmp controls my iPod

24 12 2004

So now that I have my free iPod, I’ve been working on getting my music all ripped over to .mp3 format and getting it uploaded onto my player. I’ve got a pretty good system for ripping, equalizing the volume, uploading and managing songs, and finally dealing with a hard drive full of .mp3 files. I’m going to give an overview of how I have gone through the process so hopefully other folks can benefit. I will generally describe the steps and then as time goes on, and my creative juices flow, I’ll write other articles that fill in the details.

On my old .mp3 player, the PJB100, I had a bunch of music that I didn’t own, and a lot of stuff that I didn’t listen to. It was not as if I just wanted to transfer all the songs from the PJB to my iPod. I wanted a clean start of only my music, to buy the stuff that I would like to own, rip all the songs at the same quality bit rate, and normalize the volume. We’ll get to that process in a minute.

Use and Control on the most macro level
The PJB was not as easy to just listen to. This may be because I wasn’t using it as I have with my iPod: as an external drive. I always played it through my computer speakers, which was awkward when trying to make play lists, sort songs, or delete music that I didn’t want. Now I’m using WinAmp with the ml_iPod plug in. The set up seems to work well.

One of the problems that I ran into with iTunes (IMHO way too commercial, just look at the site…) was that it wanted to erase all the music that was on my iPod when I added music from a different computer. When I searched for a solution the first one I found was WinAmp. I have heard that this is possible with iTunes also, but I’m comfy here now with WinAmp.

Listening, sorting and managing: The process

When I get to my computer I connect my iPod. It is recognized by my computer and its controls are locked. I then start WinAmp. From WinAmp I can play any song on my iPod, play any play list, add/remove songs, add/delete/edit play lists, upload to my iPod, and yes even download songs from my iPod to my hard drive. Slick!

The process from ripping to upload is a bit more involved. I use Exact Audio Copy with the LAME .mp3 encoder to rip the songs from cd’s to .mp3 format. EAC rips at a variable bit rate so there is less “loss” when compressing. This leads to a little bit larger file, but better sound. EAC also has robust error correction routine, so if you have a scratch it can figure out what should be heard. I then take the files through MP3Gain to losslessly normalize the volume so I’m not constantly changing the volume on my iPod. I rip to my “My Music” folder, and then transfer the files to a folder therein called “To Be Gained”. After I “gain” the previously ripped .mp3 files, I move them to a folder called “To Be Transferred”. That folder is watched by WinAmp’s Media Library. Once the files are uploaded to my iPod, I move them to a final folder “To Be Burned”. These files I will burn to CD in .mp3 format for backup, so I don’t have to do all this again.

So there you have it! The process in a nut shell. I will be back for more detailed instructions on WinAmp, EAC & LAME, and MP3Gain soon so watch the blog. I’m RSS’d here. Add that feed to your favorite news aggregator. If you don’t know what RSS is then check the RSS definition in wikiPedia.

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