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How To Download Music
December, 2002

Go to the web site where the music you want is located, for example http://www.gdlive.com/ . You need Cable Modem or DSL service to download these large files, a modem will take forever. Find the show you want, then download the .shn files for the show. You can do it manually, right click (not left click) on file to "save target as" to a folder you create on hard drive for this show. Get the text info files and the "md5" files also. Plan on about 1.5 to 2.0 gigabytes for a 3 disc show. You will need another 2 gigabytes for the .wav files you will create to burn the audio CDs.

Note: My installation of IE5.5 allows me to download two files simultaneously. You can also look into download management software to automate the downloads.

You can listen to the shorten files you have downloaded on the PC with WinAmp and the Shorten Plug In. Shorten files are "lossless" and "error free" data files compressed about 2:1 from the wav files (also error free data files) made from the DAT or other source of the show.

The Shorten audio file compression basically came about from the Phish Head world of "kids" (well, a lot younger than me) with money and cool toys like DAT, CD burners, computers with cool audio software, and fast internet connections. They transformed what used to be the analog audio cassette tape trading days of Dead Heads to now downloading high quality recordings of Grateful Dead, Phish, Allman Brothers etc bands who allow and encourage free non-commercial trading and distribution of their live performances. The shows available are recorded by people who know what they are doing and have high quality portable recording equipment costing more than the cars most of us drive. More and more shows are now available from bands who release digital soundboard recordings of live shows for free distribution.

Go to http://www.etree.org/ to find the link for the free mkwACT (Michael K Weise Audio Compression Tools). When this is installed and running you drag and drop the shorten files with the corresponding MD5 file into mkwACT and the result is the .wav files you need to burn CDs. Organize the files into disc 1, disc 2 etc for the show.

Use the free Adaptec or other software that comes with your CD burner and burn the .wav files to your audio CD. Now you have your downloaded show on your own audio CDs. You MUST use the "disc at once" setting and NOT "track at once". Doing this step incorrectly results in 2 second gaps being inserted between each track or song. You do NOT want that on a recording of a live concert!

When you finish burning the audio CD(s) you can delete the .wav files from the hard drive to free up disk space. If you have downloaded music you really like, or that may not be available on line in the future, you may also want to archive the .shn data files to data CDRs. They probably cost only $0.25 each anyway. If a show is worth the time and effort to download, then it is worth archiving as well. The CDRs with shorten files are completely error free and take the same number or fewer data CDs than the audio CDs for the same show. You can then delete the .shn files from the hard drive. In the future when you sit on or lose one of your prize audio CDs, you just copy the .shn files from your archive CDR to your hard drive, and do the steps above. The result is a replacement audio CD without having to download a second time.

The ideas here were given to me by friends who are experts on these topics. Then I also spent a lot of time reading up on these topics, installing the free software and learning how to use it. None of it is difficult to learn but you can easily spend a full weekend or a full week reading, learning, maybe throwing away a few mistake CDs until you get it right.

Warning: You can spend endless hours having fun with this stuff. If you find that you cannot break away from this you may be a geek and should get help! Turn your sound card on and click below to learn the 12 steps to recovery...

Geek Warning Shock Wave Flash presentation
Geek SWF


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