Lab 6
Part 2

Using Windows NT Sound Programs

CD Player

Windows NT comes with many applications programs. You have been using some of them throughout this semester in the labs - Notepad, for instance. In this section, we'll be looking at the various programs that come with Windows NT dealing with sound. They are all relatively basic, most of them only performing one main function. Later in this lab, we will look at a more advanced sound program, Goldwave. Remember - any programs you read about in this section of the lab will be available on any computer with Windows 95 or Windows NT on it. Goldwave is one example of the many additional programs you can obtain to manipulate sound files.

The first Windows NT program we will be considering is the CD Player. You can open the CD Player by clicking on the Start button, moving the mouse up to the Programs option, then moving it up to the Accessories option. From there, select Multimedia, and finally, CD Player.

If you have ever worked an actual CD player before, you should recognize many of the buttons in this window. If you leave the mouse on a button, a help label with the function will appear after a second or two. Before continuing, make sure your headphones are plugged into the correct jack on the back of your computer. Don't plug your headphones in on the front (near the CD opening). You want the middle jack in the group at the lower right of your machine. It should be color-coded: green for headphones (and red for microphone). If you have any difficulty, ask a TA for help.

Once your headphones are secured, press the long button on the right side of the CD-ROM drive in the front of your computer. A little tray will slide out. Gently remove the CD you brought from its case, and lay it on the tray. DO NOT push the tray back in. This will damage the motor mechanism on the drive. Instead, press the button again and the tray will retract automatically. Once the tray is closed, you are ready to start listening to your CD.

What, no sound? You're playing a CD, the headphones are plugged in right, but you hear nothing? Be sure both volume controls are turned up: the thumbwheel under the CD opening, and the software volume control doodad. Again, ask a TA for help if you can't get any sound.

You will notice that by clicking on the large rectangle at the left side of the CD player Window, you will be able to make it display any of the following information:

This CD player is pretty simple to operate. Its other main feature is that you can select which songs you would like to have played through the "Play List" -- similar to the "memory" on actual CD players. The Play List determines the order that the tracks on your CD will be played. The computer stores a separate Play List for each CD. It even remembers the Play List for a particular CD, even after you remove it!

To customize your Play List, simply go to the Disc Menu, and select "Edit Play List." The first two fields in the window, Artist and CD, allow you to fill in this information for the CD in the drive. There is no reason for filling in those slots for this lab. The left hand column, labeled "Play List," is the order that the tracks on your CD will be played in. The right hand column, labeled "Available Tracks," is simply every track on the CD in numerical order. If there is a song on your CD that you do not like, simply click on its track number in the Play List, and then click on the "Remove" button. It disappears from the Play List, and the CD will not play it! But wait, there's more! Let's create a Play List from scratch! Simply click on "Clear All," and all the tracks in the Play List disappear! Now, you can choose, from the Available Tracks column, which tracks you want to listen to, and the order in which they should be played. So, if your favorite track happens to be the last one on the CD, after clearing the Play List, simply click on that track number in the Available Track list, click on "Add", and it becomes the first track on the Play List! Even better, you can have it play the same song as many times as you want! Simply Add the same track to the Play List as many times as you'd like to hear it.

Sound Recorder

Spring 2000 bulletin: in the unlikely event that the Sound Recorder is missing from your computer, please read this note for a work-around, or try another computer. Consult your friendly TAs for assistance.

Now that you have learned how to use the CD Player, we will show you how to record sounds off of your CD so that you can include them in your web site! We will use the "Sound Recorder" accessory. The Sound Recorder is able to record any sounds from a microphone or the CD player. (If you own a microphone, you may bring it in and attach it to the back of the computer to record yourself.) The Sound Recorder lets you change the sound quality of a recording, and produce some limited effects. Click on the Start button, move the mouse up to Programs, and then up to Accessories. In the window that pops up, select Multimedia, and finally Sound Recorder.

We will begin by recording from the CD Player. First, you need to choose a sound source: CD or microphone. Click on the little speaker in the system tray (for the mixer settings), pull up the recording properties from the "options" menu, and select CD Audio. You should also adjust the CD volume in the recording properties window to maximum volume.

Without closing Sound Recorder, open CD Player if it is not already opened. Now, select a song or track that you like. After hitting the play button on the CD Player, click on the Record button on the Sound Recorder (the right most button with the circle on it). The computer is now recording the music off of the CD. You'll notice sound waves appearing in the Sound Recorder window. To stop recording, hit the stop button (the button with the square on it, adjacent to the record button). You can hit the record button anywhere in the song that you'd like. In addition, to record certain sections of the song, you can hit the Stop button on the Sound Recorder to pause recording, and then the Record button again to continue the recording when the CD arrives at the point at which you wish to continue the recording.

After stopping the CD Player, hit the Rewind button on the Sound Recorder, and then the Play button, to play back what you have recorded. If you are not pleased with what was recorded, simply select the File menu and New to start a new recording; the last recording will not be saved. To save a recording, go to the File menu, and select Save As. The sound file is growing at about 21.5 kilobytes per second (KB/sec), so keep your recordings to a minute or less. Remember to save to your network drive for permanent storage. We will ask you to put a sound on an HTML page. Remember that the files for any sounds that you want accessible from your Web site must be in your public_html directory. But also remember that your directory has a limited quota, so watch out for extra-long recordings and extra-big files. Your trusty TA can help if you have concerns about this.

Sound quality and file size

The sample rate (how many times per second the sound waves are sampled to make the digital representation), the number of bits per sample, and whether it is a mono or stereo sample determine the quality of a sound recording and the size of the file created to store the sound. By default, the Sound Recorder recorded it in "Radio Quality." Radio quality is a mono recording using 8 bits per sample and 22050 samples per second, giving files that grow about 21.5 KB/sec. Other choices are "Telephone Quality" and "CD Quality". Telephone quality is even poorer and more compact: a mono recording using 8 bits per sample and 11025 samples per second, giving files that grow about 11KB/sec. CD Quality is much better and more space consuming: a stereo recording using 16 bits per sample and 44100 samples per second, giving files that grow about 172KB/sec (8 times that of Radio Quality). To change the recording quality, go to the "Edit" menu of Sound Recorder and select "Audio Properties". The window that opens has a Playback section and a Recording section. From the Recording section, open the drop down menu labeled "Preferred Quality" and select the quality you want. Click on "Apply" and then "OK" at the bottom. The window will close. Then go to the "File" menu and select "New". The new quality will be used for recording the new file. Note that once you have recorded a file using a particular quality, you must choose "Properies" under the "File" menu to change the quality for that file, even if you want to completely record over the contents of the file.

Choose a 10-second segment of your CD to record. When judging sound quality, it is often more noticeable on songs than on a voice, so take this into account in your selection. Make three recording of this segment: one in each of the three qualities and save these in three files. Listen to the recordings. Can you hear the difference? Look at the file sizes: you can certainly see the difference. You will submit the files for the recording in Radio Quality and the recording in Telephone Quality. You can delete the file for the recording in CD Quality, since it is large.

Simple effects

Now that you've discovered how to alter the quality of the music, lets learn about adding some effects. Later on in the lab, when you use Goldwave, there will be a variety of effects for you to choose from. For now, however, we'll deal with volume, speed, echo, and reversing. Choose something you have recorded and go to the beginning. Now, from the "Effects" menu, try different effects and see how they sound. To undo your effects and get back to the original file, select "Revert" from the file menu (you can't do this if you "Save" the changes to the file). Start with the 10-second Radio Quality recording you have saved to submit for the "Sound quality and file size" section above. Apply "Reverse" to this and save it in a separate file for submission.

Media Player

The media player allows you to play back files that you have already saved without opening Sound Recorder. Start the Media Player by selecting it from the same place where you found CD Player and Sound Recorder. From the File menu, select Open, and then choose one of the sound files you have saved. Once the file is loaded, hit the play button on the far left to listen to it. You should recognize the stop, fast-forward, and rewind buttons from the CD player.

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