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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
for alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn v2.3 (10/1/2013)


INTRODUCTION

To assist newcomers, the information below was compiled by Vidiot, a
long-time observer and occasional participant of the
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn and alt.binaries.sounds.mp3 & lossless
newsgroups. These are common questions asked by many casual users and
first-timers to the group.



BACKGROUND

1. Who is Whitburn?

Joel Whitburn is a dedicated music expert, writer, and publisher in Menomenee
Falls, Wisconsin. Since 1970, his company, RECORD RESEARCH
(www.recordresearch.com, 800-827-9810) publishes dozens of reference books on
the American Pop, Rock, R&B, Country, Mainstream Rock, Disco/Dance, Albums,
and other music charted by BILLBOARD magazine over the last 100+ years. His
books are indispensable references representing many thousands of hours of
work, and are highly recommended to any and all music fans, collectors, and
historians. Whitburn's biographical entry on Wikipedia is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Whitburn (Who's computer is this?)



2. What is the Top 100?

Generally, this refers to the BILLBOARD Hot 100 Pop Singles chart, published
weekly in the U.S. BILLBOARD magazine since August of 1958. Prior to that,
BILLBOARD published various kinds of Top 30 and Top 40 charts, initially
based on sales of sheet music (going back to 1890), and eventually covering
78RPM records and 48RPM hit singles in the 1940s and 1950s.

The BILLBOARD charts were initially based on various criteria including sales
in music stores, jukebox plays, radio airplay, and other factors, and
generally kept track of the Top 30 charts up until 1955. With the explosion
of pop music, BILLBOARD created the Top 100 chart in November of 1955, but
continued the other smaller charts. Eventually, they opted to cover pop music
with a single chart, christened the HOT 100, which continues to
this day.

As of the 2000s, BILLBOARD breaks down the most popular music by several
different factors, some of which are still arcane and subject to a lot of
interpretation.

Music historians argue that the BILLBOARD Hot 100 is not necessarily an
accurate gauge of the most popular songs for each year, particularly during
the 1950s and 1960s, when payola and other problems ran rampant. Good or bad,
the BILLBOARD charts remain the only widely-circulated published
report on songs that were popular across America over the last
half-century -- though competing publications like CASH BOX, RECORD WORLD,
and RADIO & RECORDS often offered widely-differing ratings. RECORD WORLD
ceased publication in 1982, CASH BOX folded in 1996, and RADIO & RECORDS
was purchased by the owners of BILLBOARD in 2006. BILLBOARD continues to
be published, both as an online service and as a conventional printed
trade magazine. Despite the continued "splintering" of the radio formats
and the record industry, BILLBOARD is still regarded as the authority on
American popular music.

For more, check the Wikipedia entry here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_100 (Who's computer is this?)





3. Is this group connected in any way with Record Research?

No. The Whitburn groups (alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop,
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop.d, alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.country,
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.country.d, alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.lossless

and alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.repost) were all started and maintained by
music fans and collectors. None of this is done for profit. It's an entirely
volunteer effort.

There is also an additional group, alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn, which is not
carried as widely by all ISPs. Some users choose to post there due to
political disagreements. Some non-Whitburn groups (particularly
alt.binaries.sounds.m) also often have Whitburn-related posts.



4. What is the goal of the Whitburn newsgroups?

Essentially, to preserve and provide the American pop, rock, and R&B music
listed in all of the Whitburn BILLBOARD charted singles books to collectors,
fans, musicologists, and historians. Members of the newsgroup have also
created data copies of most of the BILLBOARD chart statistics, made available
as Excel files. These can read by many spreadsheet programs, converted to
text, or imported into any current database programs.



5. Where did all the MP3 files originally come from?

Roughly 20,000 of them first appeared on a Korean website
(http://www.2000mp3.com (Who's computer is this?) ) in the mid-1990s. These have reposted many times
on different newsgroups and P2P groups over the past decade.

Many of those files have been replaced by other users and collectors, most
notably MusicProf, Duke Cyber, Dancing Bear, Bullfrog, among many others,
in an effort to post the correct single versions and also to provide
missing or better-sounding versions.



6. How did the Whitburn newsgroups begin?

Starting in 1998, about 15 dedicated collectors pooled their resources and
put together an MP3 collection of every song on the BILLBOARD Top 40. They
shared three goals in common in digitizing their 45s, vinyl, and CD
collections: 1) bring back the old music they loved, 2) listen to the
music without wearing out the original vinyl source, and c) share the
music with other fans and collectors.

During the early part of the 2000s, the collectors traded their music back
and forth on a peer-to-peer file sharing network. Eventually, it was
decided that posting the entire collection via Usenet newsgroups would be
a faster way to stimulate growth and improve the collection.



7. Where do the reference numbers come from (i.e., "1968_082")?

The first four digits indicate the Year the song peaked on the BILLBOARD
charts, followed by a three-digit number indicating the song's relative
Rank based on its overall chart success for that year, compared to all
other songs that charted. [See "How to name a Song File," below.]



8. Does this number indicate the song's commercial success or popularity in
North America?

Not necessarily. Whitburn's POP ANNUAL and COUNTRY ANNUAL books compute the
Rank number based mostly on how high the song charted. This means a song that
charted at #1 for one week will rank higher than a #2 song that stayed at #2
for 8 weeks. (This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point.)
Record historians and chart fans are divided on the accuracy of the Rank
numbers, but the group has opted to use it simply as a convenient number to
use for the collection.

Keep in mind that just because a song charted is not an indication of real
popularity, artistic merit, or anything else. The BILLBOARD charts represent
only a single point of view of music history. One can make a good case that
there are many non-charted songs of immense importance (particularly during
the days when BILLBOARD had no charts relating to Album Rock stations), but
this is beyond the focus of the group. [Users can find non-charting singles,
B-sides, and album tracks on the alt.binaries.sounds "decade" groups,
elsewhere on Usenet.]



9. What do the letters mean next to the numbers, such as "1999_A012" or
"2001_S034?"

An "A" before the rank number indicates the single charted only on the
AIRPLAY charts. An "S" before the rank number indicates the single charted on
the SALES charts. Both Sales and Airplay hits were included in the 1990s
editions of the Record Research TOP POP SINGLES and TOP POP ANNUAL, but were
abruptly dropped starting with the 2004 and 2006 editions.

A small "b" after the rank number indicates the single was a B-side of a
two-sided hit single, such as:

1970_015b - Sly & The Family Stone - Everybody Is a Star [128K M 3.01].mp3

along with the A-side:

1970_015 - Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
[128K M 4.48].mp3


A small "s" after the rank number indicates this is a stereo version of a
mono single:

1970_015s - Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
[256 JS 4.48].mp3


an "r" before the year indicates the single charted on the R&B charts, such
as:

r1965_001 - James Brown - I Feel Good [128K M 2.45]


a "d" before the year indicates the single charted on the Dance/Disco
charts, such as:

d1974_001 - B.T. Express - Express [155 VBR S 3.32]


"nc" after the year indicates the single did not chart:

1965_nc - Beatles - Michelle [256 JS 2.39]


Opinions are divided as to whether non-charting singles belong on the group,
since technically they do not appear in Joel Whitburn's POP ANNUAL books, nor
did they chart in BILLBOARD. Others believe that as long as the song is
correctly identified as a "non-charting" single, no harm is done. It's
generally suggested that non-charting songs are more suitable for the general
MP3 and Lossless "Decade" groups, which accept music of all kinds, not just
charted singles.

Starting roughly in the mid-1980s, record labels began releasing multiple
versions of singles, including dance mixes, "clean" mixes, "explicit" mixes,
"acapella" remixes, and other variations. There is no widespread agreement on
how to identify these, but some users use lower-case letters after the
reference number -- i.e.:

1996_006a - 2 Pac featuring KC & JoJo - How Do U Want It (clean).mp3 [256 JS
4.00]

1996_006b - 2 Pac featuring KC & JoJo - How Do U Want It (explicit).mp3 [256
JS 4.00]

and so on. As long as the version is identified in the file name, the precise
numbering is open to interpretation.



For stereo tracks of songs released prior to 1969, the "s" suffix is added to
the reference number:

1966_037s - The Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball (stereo LP vers.) [256 JS 2.20]


to distinguish it from the hit mono single:

1966_037 - The Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball (45RPM) [256 JS 2.20]


Files should be correctly named and tagged according to the established
convention. For MP3s, the numbers in parentheses or brackets at the very end
of the filename refer to bitrate, mono/stereo encoding method, and running
time, respectively. Example: [256 JS 3.30] would indicate a 256K MP3,
encoded in Joint Stereo, with a runtime of 3:30. [128K M 2.13] indicates a
128K mono MP3, with a runtime of 2:13.

Different versions of songs, such as "LP version," "alt. version," "live
version," "extended version," etc. should be identified in the file name to
make it clear that these files are not the official hit single that charted
in BILLBOARD.



10. Why do the numbers not match the latter years listed of the latest
edition of the HOT 100 ANNUAL?

Record Research recently decided to add all of the separately-charted Airplay
and Sales singles to the existing list. This means the year-by-year rank
numbers for many songs are now different from the ones in the Whitburn MP3
collection. Most regulars agree it would now be too much trouble for us to
update our list to match the published one. One could make a good argument
that the numbers are arbitrary at best anyway, and just serve as a way to
distinguish one single from another in a list.

For songs prior to 1955, Record Research used several different BILLBOARD
charts to determine song popularity. Unfortunately, their methods were
inconsistent and produced different results for different books (such as POP
MEMORIES vs. POP HITS 1940-1954). Bullfrog, Lancefer, Uncle Dave, and others
have combined most of these together and recomputed the numbers to come up
with a new overall ranking for the hits from 1940-1954.

Confusing the matter, Whitburn has changed the Pop rankings several times
for his POP ANNUAL books, particularly for the years prior to 1958. He has
used a variety of different charts, sometimes including "tag-along B-sides,"
and sometimes not, creating ambiguity and discontinuities between older
editions and new ones. For purposes of the group, only the group's own prefix
numbers can be relied upon for naming song files.

Note that recent songs for the current year are usually identified like the
following:

2007-059 - Corbin Bleu - Push It To The Limit

Note the dash after the year, rather than the usual underscore. The dash
signifies that the number is temporary, and won't be finalized until the
people working on the spreadsheets determine the correct rankings.



11. What are the BUBBLERS?

These refer to the BILLBOARD BUBBLING UNDER singles that fell short of making
the Hot 100 charts, usually between #101 and #130. The BUBBLING UNDER charts
first appeared in Billboard's June 1, 1959 issue. It continued until August
31, 1985, but was dropped from the magazine for seven years, apparently due
to lack of interest from radio stations and retail stores. The "Bubbling
Under" charts reappeared without fanfare in the December 5, 1992 issue, and
continues to the present day.

The number (b01, b02, etc.) refers to each individual song's relative chart
success. The bubbler numbering system is based a combination of when the song
first appeared on the bubbler chart and then its relative success, based on
total number of weeks charted and highest position reached. Songs are listed
based on when they first entered the Bubbling Under chart. Ties were broken
first by "peak position", then "weeks charted" and finally "weeks at #101".
This was the method first used by Duke Cyber and has become the de facto
standard for the group.

The BUBBLER spreadsheet was derived from Sonat's 1959-1985 original post, but
then was completely revised by Dr. Travel, based on Duke's numbering
methodology. These Bubbler numbers are not assigned by Record Research, since
they have not yet published a BUBBLING UNDER ANNUAL.

For more, you can read this explanation on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubbling_Under_Hot_100_Singles (Who's computer is this?)



12. What are the ROCK TRACKS posts?

These refer to the standalone "Mainstream Rock" and "Modern Rock" published
by BILLBOARD from the 1980s to the present (March 1981 for Mainstream, and
September 1988 for Modern, respectively). Record Research has published both
sets of charts as one reference book, ROCK TRACKS, in 2003. Dr. Travel
created a spreadsheet, "Rock Tracks 1981-2006.xls," and posts a group of
corresponding MP3 files (as of 12/2006). These are noted with the "M" prefix,
as in "m81_066," etc., to differentiate them from the existing POP files. Dr.
Travel has recently included some "Modern Rock Add-Ons" in order
to provide additional songs that did have airplay but did not technically
make the Mainstream/Modern charts, with an additional "a" prefix, as in
"m81_a25."

Sometime in early 2008, Showdog) created "The Unofficial Whitburn Modern
& Classic Rock Archive," providing songs chosen for the years from
1964-1980. While BILLBOARD did not provide actual charts for those years,
one can make a case that there is a de facto group of songs that fit this
criteria -- harder-edged rock singles and album tracks from 1964-1980
that received (and continue to receive) airplay from Classic Rock and
Modern Rock radio stations. Their relative numbers are speculative,
since this specific group of songs are not part of the actual BILLBOARD
canon.

Showdog has created a spreadsheet, "Whitburn Composite Rock
Collections", which has the original Rock Collection. This contains the
Mainstream Rock for 1981 to the present, Modern Rock for 1981 to the
present, and the Classic Rock Collection (Classic Rock for 1964-1980).




13. What are the CHRISTMAS posts?

These refer to Whitburn's CHRISTMAS IN THE CHARTS books, which collect all
the special BILLBOARD Christmas pop hits from 1920 to the present. Showdog
has been posting these MP3s in the past few years, and has requested that
the Christmas posts use the following file format:

x1940_001 - Bing Crosby - Silent Night (96 M 3.00).mp3

Note the "x" denoting "Xmas" at the beginning of the year.




14. How often are songs posted on the group? And how can I request a song?

Like much of the internet, this group is chaotic and disorganized, and is
manned by volunteers and fans. A few regulars upload entire years (or even
decades) of song files when they have the time, but nothing is scheduled. If
you need songs from a specific year, or are missing certain MP3 files, post a
request message (starting with "REQ:" in the subject). It will help if you
also provide the Prefix (Year and Rank) of the song, which is how most
members organize their personal copies of the files.

With luck, a kind soul will answer with the files needed in a few hours or
days. If they do provide your "fills" (missing files "filling" your want
list), be sure to post a 'thank you' message of appreciation, which is the
only reward the posters receive.

You might also post your request in the newsgroup
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.request, and specify where you'd like to see the
files. There's a lot of cross-pollination between the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3
(and decade) groups and the alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn groups.

Before making a request, be sure to check previous posts (preferably on a
premium service like Giganews) to see if the files might still be available.
Be sure to list the specific years and Whitburn reference numbers to help
users locate the files. The artist and song title alone are not enough. And
try to avoid requesting huge groups of songs (for example, "can someone post
every song from 1955-1975?"). Keep your requests reasonable, preferably to
just a single year if possible.



15. Where does the group's collection exist?

Everywhere, anywhere and nowhere. Like the internet itself, the Whitburn
collection is omniscient, vast, and amorphous, but also frustratingly
inconsistent. No single collector owns a complete copy of the correct
versions of every song (except perhaps for Joel Whitburn himself, in his
legendary Menomenee Falls, Wisconsin warehouse). Because different
people upload (and, in some cases, re-upload) different versions of
each year's group of MP3 files, people download different versions at
different times. To everyone's frustration, old -- often faulty -- files
frequently get re-uploaded, perpetuating mistakes and errors.

An effort is being made to try to eliminate the worst songs from the
collection, ensuring that at some point in the future, everyone will have
access to the correct songs.



16. What are WEEDS (and the Weeds List)?

Weeds are bad MP3 files that have been mistakenly uploaded in the past, or
have since been replaced with better copies. These songs include (but aren't
limited to):

a) songs with very bad sound quality [when better versions exist]

b) songs re-recorded by the artist, creating a new version very different
from the original single

c) radically different mixes that deviate from the original single and omit
or add different elements, such as background vocals or instruments

d) MP3 files with technical problems (glitches, incomplete files, corruption,

etc.)

e) songs with incorrect running times (except for clearly-marked non-single
versions)

f) songs played at the wrong speed (too fast or too slow)

g) alternate takes, sometimes recorded around the same time as the hit
single, but a different performance

h) album versions or long versions not indicated as such in the file name

i) songs with after-the-fact sound problems, such as excessive
noise-reduction, filtering, non-standard EQ, etc.

j) "bit-inflated" MP3 files, where someone has taken a lowres file and
upsampled it to a higher KB file (such as a 256K version of an MP3 that
started out as a 96K file)

Wilberforce Snidley Twittwilly has prepared regularly-posted WEED LISTS in
Excel format, to help users remove bad or incorrect files from their
collections.



17. How should I report bad MP3 files?

Discovering weeds is a voluntary effort, dependent on the knowledge of the
user. If you hear a file that has one or more of the above problems, post a
WEED ALERT to the group, naming the specific file in the subject header,
along with a description of exactly what the problem is. Do not repost the
actual file; just describe the specific flaws with the song version or file.





MP3 FILES

1. What file format are the songs posted?

Typically 96-128Kbps MP3 for mono, or 128-320Kbps MP3 for stereo. Experts are
divided as to which bit rates are adequate and which are "not good enough."
It's clear that a 96K MP3 file made from an excellent source will sound
better than a 320K file made from a bad-sounding source.

In the early days of the Whitburn hub, keeping file sizes small was of key
importance, because many users had slow internet connections, plus hard
drives were expensive. As a result, many of the early files were done at very
low bitrates -- as little as 32K or 48K for many files. Nowadays, it seems
reasonable to expect mono files to be done at least at 128K and stereo files
to be at least 256K. Apple's iTunes Music Store and Amazon's Music Download
service have standardized on 256K for virtually all music files.

Note that a mono file encoded at 128K stereo has the same poor fidelity as a
64K mono file, in effect wasting half the space with redundant data. It's
strongly recommended that mono files are ripped in mono for posting as MP3's.
Some experts feel the advanced codecs used in Variable Bit Rate (VBR)
compression are the most efficient and provide the best sound quality in the
smallest space. VBR adjusts the compression depending on the complexity of
the music. However, some older MP3 players have problems playing certain
kinds of VBR files, and some software reports incorrect bit rates for VBR
files under certain conditions, and may even refuse to playback at all in
some cases, particularly with old encoders, although this is no longer an
issue with encoders made after 2006. Others insist that VBR improves sound
quality with the fewest possible compromises on file size. You can read more
about VBR here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_bitrate (Who's computer is this?)

and

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org (Who's computer is this?)

In particular, the HydrogenAudio guys are very knowledgeable and passionate
(to the point of obsessiveness) when it comes to the choice of encoders,
bitrates, and other issues relating to MP3 and other lossy formats.

Another good piece on the sound quality of various nitrates was a lengthy
test done by McGill University in Montreal:

http://www.music.mcgill.ca/~hockman/documents/Pras_presentation2009.pdf (Who's computer is this?)

The upshot is that anything over 192K is difficult to discern from the
original uncompressed WAV files. The author's preference is for 320K as a
minimum, assuming a perfect rip.



2. How can I check to see if an MP3 file is corrupted or has any technical
flaws?

A good shareware Windows program recommended by several users is MP3Test,
available from:

http://www.shivi.de/MP3Test/ (Who's computer is this?)

though some users (including sup191) report that it missed several MP3s with
bad frames.

A better-regarded checking program is MP3Val, available as freeware from:

http://mp3val.sourceforge.net/index.shtml (Who's computer is this?)

MP3 Diags has similar file-checking features, done with a very nice graphical
interface:

http://mp3diags.sourceforge.net/ (Who's computer is this?)


And another program, MPTrimPro, provides several test functions and will also
allow normalizing the volume and removing silent segments at the beginning or
end of the file:

http://www.mptrim.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

And yet another good freeware utility for eliminating silent segments and
clean up MP3 files is MP3Utility, available from:

http://www.geocities.com/mp3utility/ (Who's computer is this?)

For Mac OSX users, an excellent MP3 inspection, trimming, and normalizing
utility is Fusion, available for $30 from:

http://www.rogueamoeba.com/fission/ (Who's computer is this?)

and there's a Mac OSX shareware (actually nagware) program called MP3Trimmer
that has similar features:

http://www.deepniner.net/mp3trimmer/ (Who's computer is this?)

MP3 Scan+Repair will repair most MP3s with damaged headers and also alert
users as to potential problems:

http://www.triq.net/mp3sar/mp3-scan-repair-mac-os-x-release-1-0 (Who's computer is this?)

All of the above work directly within the MP3 format, so there is no quality
loss converting to or from MP3. You can permanently adjust volume, edit
unwanted segments, and trim silent gaps as needed.


3. How can I hear flaws in MP3s?

Experts advise that compression flaws are often easiest to hear with complex
transients like bells, tambourines, and cymbals. Another good test is solo
voice in a real acoustic space with some echo; I've heard strange artifacts
with trailing reverb sounds that seem to get a little "choppy" with
low-bitrate MP3s.

The AES has a very informative (albeit mundane) demo CD called "Perceptual
Audio Coders: What to Listen For." It shows very quickly the harm that MP3
and other codecs do to audio signals, and once you know what the artifacts
sound like, it makes listening to low-res files very painful. The link to buy
the AES CD is:

http://www.aes.org/publications/technical/AudioCoding.cfm (Who's computer is this?)



4. How long do binary music files stay on the server?

That depends on your Internet Service Provider. The good ones (like Giganews)
keep many binary files for as long as 12 months. Some smaller ones may only
have them for a few days, a week at most. If you're not satisfied with the
file retention of your local ISP, opt for another Newsgroup server.

Giganews, Supernews, and Terranews are all independent commercial
servers allowing high speed access to many groups, retaining messages for
many weeks, far longer than ISPs like Earthlink or Road Runner. Giganews
currently claims binary file retention of 500 days (16 months), which is
the leader as of late 2009.

If you encounter a large number of files on the group that you want to
download, and the posts go back several weeks (or months), be sure to
download the OLDEST files first (those with the earliest posting dates).
Those are the ones that are in the greatest danger of being dropped by your
newsgroup server, and you may miss some or all parts of the files if you
download the files in a different order.

You can also retrieve files from the web through this website:

http://www.binsearch.info/browse.php?server=2&bg=alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn. (Who's computer is this?)
pop

which works using NZB, an XML-based file format for retrieving posts from
NNTP (Usenet) servers. It appears to go back about four months from the
current day.



5. What is a "Flood"?

This is a large group of files, typically for an entire year or decade,
uploaded at one time, or in a relatively short period of time. This allows
newcomers to quickly amass a large library. The floods happen infrequently
and are totally at the whim of participating members.



6. What is the best software with which to download music and access messages
from Usenet?

Dozens are reviewed and discussed here:

http://www.newsreaders.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.binaries4all.com/beginners/ (Who's computer is this?)

Many PC users appear to use commercial software like Forte Agent, Newsbin, or
Newsleecher, or freeware like XNews, while others use the built-in Usenet
capability of mail programs like Microsoft Outlook (and Outlook Express).
Mac users are divided between programs like Hogwasher and Unison, or just
using the built-in Usenet capability of Microsoft's Entourage. Linux users
have recommended Pan for GNOME and Klibido for KDE.

The standalone programs are generally much better at assembling all the parts
of Binary files. In particular, some Outlook users have reported difficulty
in downloading multipart binary files -- reporting incomplete files when the
entire files do exist, in some cases.

http://www.forteinc.com (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.newsleecher.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.newsbin.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://xnews.newsguy.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.asar.com/hogwasher.html (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.panic.com/unison/ (Who's computer is this?)



7. Is there a way to automatically rename files so that they have the
bitrate, format, and running time in the file name?

Tag & Rename, Ultra Tag, and MP3/Tag Studio can do this automatically. The
user has complete control over how the file names are reconstructed, using
the existing ID3 Tags. Note that you will need the Whitburn prefix embedded
in the ID3 tag somewhere, such as the "Track Number" field (common with many
files). [Each is detailed below in the section on MP3 Tags.]

Many users find that Tag & Rename is the most usable of all these programs,
but it has some annoying bugs (like putting a "0" in the running time slot,
as in "03.42"). MP3/Tag Studio is the most flexible and full-featured of the
three, but has a quirky, unintuitive user interface. In general, Ultra Tag
has some annoyances in terms of how it puts in mono/stereo mode (like
spelling out "Stereo" or "Joint-Stereo" in full). There are workarounds to
deal with most of these problems; ask in the group for specifics.

I find using one of these programs, as well as a good renaming program like
"Better File Rename"

http://www.publicspace.net/windows/BetterFileRename/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://publicspace.net/ABetterFinderRename/ (Who's computer is this?)

can help keep large collections of MP3, FLAC, APE, and WAV files under
control. Versions are available for both Mac OSX and Windows XP/Vista.

Another very useful (and free) Windows utility is Oscar's Renamer:

http://www.mediachance.com/free/renamer.htm (Who's computer is this?)

which allows renaming files as easily as you would changing text in a word
processor.



8. How can I avoid downloading files with formats that I don't want or need,
like APE or FLAC, assuming I just want MP3s?

Several methods:

A. MANUALLY: Read the headers first, and don't select the files you don't
want. Rather than downloading everything from the group, helter-skelter,
simply choose only the files you want.

I find this is often easiest to do if you sort the message threads by USER,
since most users tend to specialize in one particular kind of files. A week's
worth of messages takes less than a minute to do.

B. FILE DELETIONS: If you have a lot of bandwidth and a lot of drive space,
just download everything, look at the files afterwards, and delete what you
don't want.

C. FILTERS: Set up your newsreading software to automatically delete any
headers with the letters ".FLAC" or ".APE" in them. Don't just create a
filter that deletes everything with the word "FLAC" by itself; the filter
must have the dot as the file-type separator.

You could also simply delete any file header that warns that the file is
over, say, 10 megs. There are few, if any, MP3s that large (except for some
very long Modern Rock songs).

The best way would be to set up the filter to work under two conditions:

1) header contains "FLAC" (or "APE")

2) file greater than 10MB

The more precise you make your Usenet filters, the better they work.





LOSSLESS FILES

1. What about other audio formats such as Lossless files (FLAC and APE), AAC,
Apple Lossless, MP3Pro, WMA, or WAV's?

WAV files are so large -- typically 30+ megs for a 3:00 minute song -- we
request that those not be posted on the regular Whitburn Pop or Country
newsgroups in order to preserve bandwidth and server space. (They are welcome
on the alt.binaries.sounds.wav, alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.lossless,
alt.binaries.whitburn, and alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn newsgroups.)

FLAC and APE are both open-source formats that theoretically contain a
perfect copy of the original WAV file but take up 40-50% less space, since
the "air" in the file -- that is to say, wasted space -- has been removed,
but none of the original sound quality has been compromised. Each FLAC file
and APE file also contains a "fingerprint" which can be used to check that
the file isn't corrupted, a feature unavailable in WAVs. FLAC and APE files
can also contain tag information (usually in Ogg Vorbis format), which are
generally not implemented in WAVs. APE files are slightly smaller than FLACs,
but take slightly longer to process, plus are somewhat difficult to play on
Mac OS and Linux systems; FLAC files play well on Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac
OSX, and Linux, but the file sizes are slightly larger.

Several longtime Whitburn collectors have spearheaded an effort to coordinate
the posting of lossless music files (both FLAC and APE), both on the
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless groups, and the
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.lossless group, launched in early 2007.

In a perfect world, assuming infinite storage capacity and lightning-fast
interconnect rates, WAVs would be preferred. But because of the realities and
limitations of transfer speeds and storage, FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec
files) and APE are preferred for the Whitburn Lossless newsgroups, provided
they are specifically identified in the message headers and filenames. While
FLAC and APE formats have identical sound quality, most users appear to
prefer FLAC (as of late 2008).

You can get more info on FLAC here:

http://flac.sourceforge.net/ (Who's computer is this?)

And information on APE can be found here:

http://www.monkeysaudio.com/comparison.html (Who's computer is this?)


Because AAC, Apple Lossless, and Windows Media Audio files use proprietary
technologies that do not easily work with all operating systems and MP3
players, those are discouraged. (The author actually prefers 320K AAC [MP4]
believing it has the best sound quality of any similar compressed file
format, but he's in the minority.) MP3Pro, created by Thomson Coding
Techologies, currently supports only 64kbps, which many critics feel isn't
sufficient for good sound quality.

Another alternative to MP3 is Ogg Vorbis, which is not found as often on the
newsgroups due mainly to lack of support in iPods and some other portable
players. This open-source codec claims to offer superior sound to MP3s; you
can get more info at http://www.vorbis.com/. (Who's computer is this?) Another open-source lossless
codec is becoming popular: WavPack, which works on Windows, Linux, and Mac
OSX; you can get more info at http://www.wavpack.com. (Who's computer is this?)

Unfortunately, though advanced codecs like AAC (MP4) and Ogg Vorbis offer
theoretically better-sound quality than similar-sized MP3 files, MP3 has
become the defacto standard for most music collectors on Usenet. But FLAC and
APE offer far better sound quality than MP3, at the expense of longer
download times, greater storage requirements, and a narrower choice for
portable music players.



2. How can I play back Lossless and MP3 files on my computer?

For Windows users, Winamp is a good freeware player, but you'll need plug-ins
(also freeware) in order to make them work with FLAC and APE. You can get
more info here:

http://www.winamp.com/player/ (Who's computer is this?)

Another more complex player for serious enthusiasts is Foobar2000. You can
get Foobar2000 for free here:

http://www.foobar2000.org/download.html (Who's computer is this?)


Mac OSX users can try Play or Songbird:

http://sbooth.org/Play/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.getsongbird.com (Who's computer is this?)

Songbird is a lookalike open-source replacement for iTunes, but has some
limitations (such as being unable to convert files to other formats). It
has versions available for Linux and other operating systems as well.




3. What is the best way to convert APE to FLAC, or WAV to FLAC, or <audio
format A> to <audio format B>?

One excellent Windows shareware choice used by many in the group is
dBPowerAmp, available from:

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

Note that you need to download separate modules in order to handle different
audio formats (like APE, FLAC, and AAC, and MP3), available at no charge from
dBPoweramp's "Codec Central" (http://www.dbpoweramp.com/codec-central.htm (Who's computer is this?) ).

The author of dBPoweramp, Spoon, also has a very good introduction to audio
formats and tagging, which is posted here:

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/spoons-audio-guide.htm (Who's computer is this?)

The program is shareware, but a "deluxe" version is available for $39 that
adds additional features in the form of the "Power Pack" and "CD Ripper,"
both of which are highly recommended.

Another good shareware conversion utility is Easy CD-DA Extractor, available
from:

http://www.poikosoft.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

It also has excellent built-in CD-ripping and CD-burning modules, and can
handle many different combinations of WAV, FLAC, APE, and MP3. The $30
upgraded version offers extra features and accelerated performance.

And a good freeware choice for Mac OSX users is Max:

http://sbooth.org/Max/ (Who's computer is this?)




4. How can I tell if a FLAC or other lossless file was made from a CD or an
MP3 file?

For some odd reason, there are people who foolishly convert MP3 files to FLAC
(or APE), perhaps in the mistaken belief that it will make the signal "sound"
better. This is the sonic equivalent of taking a 1" square photograph and
blowing it up to 10", believing it will look as good as an original 10"
photograph.

A shareware Windows program called "AudioChecker" can analyze various kinds
of FLAC, APE, and other lossless files and then intelligently make a guess as
to whether the files are legit or just "uprezed" from an MP3 file, based on
technical factors like frequency response. AudioChecker is available from:
http://www.dester.hu (Who's computer is this?)

Another freeware windows program, "auCDtect," does the same thing. It's
available from True Audio:

http://www.true-audio.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

Still another is Tau Analyzer:

http://en.true-audio.com/Tau_Analyzer_-_CD_Authenticity_Detector (Who's computer is this?)

Be warned that neither AudioChecker nor auCDtect will work under Windows
Vista (as of 2009), and neither appears to have been updated since 2006.
There are also frequency analysis programs built in to digital audio
programs such as Sound Forge, Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, and others,
but none work better than carefully listening to the file with your
ears to make the best judgement on sound quality. Be warned that
programs like this will sometimes erroneously report that a file
was sourced from MP3, solely by the absence of frequencies above
15kHz. This may be due to noise reduction or other problems, but
not necessarily evidence that the file was made from an MP3.



5. What's the best way to tag FLAC and APE files?

For lossless files, it's been suggested by longtime lossless maven Tigerman
that users follow this naming procedure:

1962_001[45_m] - Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You [2.37 GO+DB]

This indicates the specific file was created from a 45RPM mono single, runs
2:37 long, and was made by GO & DB (GenesOldies and Dancing Bear), in this
case.

1962_007[CD_s] - The Shirelles - Soldier Boy [2.40 TM]

This file was created from a stereo CD, runs 2:40 long, and was made by
Tigerman (TM). The file-naming procedure helps distinguish different posts
by different users and different sources.

The BPM field is used to store file source information, including 45_m, CD_m,
CD_s, and so on; the Album Artist field provides a short version of the
poster's name; and the Conductor field is currently used for the song version
(45RPM, LP version, stereo LP version, disco mix, etc.).

FLAC and APE files use "Ogg Vorbis"-type Tags (different from the ID3 tags
used in MP3s), which are not supported by most renaming programs. Versions of
Pokisoft's Tag & Rename from 3.5 on up do support FLAC, APE, and even WAV
files.

Having all the fields fully populated helps make it easier for other users to
rename files based on the tags. One can also create new tags from the
filenames, though users are advised to take care to avoid removing the
original poster's name and other relevant information.



6. Where can I find lossless copies of the Whitburn songs?

In addition to alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.lossless (mentioned above), the
following groups are often frequented by Whitburn collectors:

alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1950s alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1970s alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1980s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1990s alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.2000s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.flac
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.ape
alt.binaries.sounds.m





MUSIC ON A.B.S.W.:

1. What songs are posted on the Whitburn newsgroups?

Every effort is made to post the *original single release* of a song as
charted by BILLBOARD magazine in their weekly Top 100 or Hot 100 charts. For
any song from 1899-1968 or so, this generally means the MONO SINGLE version,
with the running time exactly as shown in the Record Research reference
books.



2. Why aren't more of the early songs in Stereo?

Stereo was not widespread until the late 1950s, with early stereo singles
first becoming popular around 1957-1958. The general consensus is that, at
least for hits prior to 1969, the mono version best represents the original
hit single that charted on BILLBOARD and received the most radio airplay.

One can make arguments on either side that the mono version may not be the
best-sounding or most enjoyable version compared to stereo or other versions.
Often, completists will want both the mono and stereo versions; purists will
insist that only the mono is correct. Some (including this author) believe
the stereo version is a welcome addition to the collection provided it's
correctly identified, and that the mono version is always preserved. And
virtually everyone agrees that good mono is better than synthesized stereo.
[See below.]



3. How do we know if the correct single version is mono or stereo?

That's a tough question. In general, all charted singles were mono, from the
time the record charts began in the 1940s, through the late 1960s. Around
that time, producers and engineers gradually began getting a handle on how
best to mix stereo so that it sounded acceptable on both stereo and mono
phonographs (and on stereo FM and mono AM radio stations). Circa 1968, stereo
singles began appearing with greater regularity, and by the early 1970s,
stereo 45RPM singles became standardized and dual-inventory mono/stereo LPs
were phased out, replaced by stereo LPs.

But there are always exceptions. There are mono singles that went all the way
up through the late 1970s (even the early 1980s), and there are some 1970s
and 1980s songs still available only in mono (or the stereo mix is so
radically different, it's almost not the same song). After the late 1960s,
it's pretty much a case-by-case basis.

Note that there have been cases where incorrect MONO versions of songs exist
-- such as the original release of the 2006 Beatles' CAPITOL VERSIONS VOL. 2
CD set, where someone at the mastering department merely "folded" certain
stereo mixes down to mono, creating a song that is technically mono, but is
not quite the original mono mix that matches the balance, EQ, and dynamics of
the original single. One hopes that if the MP3 file is identified as (single)
or (45RPM), it's the real deal. Don't label the file unless you're absolutely
positive your description is accurate.

Group members argue constantly as to which song version is best: the original
45RPM single, a CD recording of the single (made from the master tape), or
the stereo version. The controversy rages between "authenticity," "sound
quality," and "mono vs. stereo," and there are collectors that make good
cases for each position. Ideally, the sound file could satisfy all three, but
we tend to doubt this issue will ever be settled to everyone's satisfaction.



4. What about Album versions, alternate versions, long versions, live
versions, or other variations?

Like stereo, this is a controversial issue on which few agree. Some argue
that only the original single version be made part of the Whitburn
collection; others insist there is no harm having an addition version (or
versions), provided it's correctly identified and offered as an _addition to_
the collection. One can make very good arguments on either side of the issue.

Non-single versions should be clearly identified from the single version in
the song file name:

1969_464alt - Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 (LP vers.) [256 JS 4.49].mp3

This would differentiate it from the correct single, which would be:

1969_464 - Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 (45RPM) [256 JS 2.53].mp3

Note the addition of "alt" (alternate) in the Whitburn numbering system.
This will help further distinguish non-singles from actual single versions.



5. What are "45 Reference files"?

Some have felt it necessary to post "quick and dirty" copies of original
singles, regardless of condition, just so that they can be compared to CD
copies of songs to verify mix content and running time. These are not
considered to be part of the permanent Whitburn collection.

Any reference files uploaded should be identified as FOR REFERENCE ONLY, or
words to that effect, in the file name. Make it clear that this file is not
intended to replace the regular songs in the collection, as shown here:

1964_002 FOR REFERENCE ONLY - The Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love (orig 45RPM
mono) [128K M 2.12].mp3

or if the file sounds particularly bad, do something along the lines of the
following:

1973_043 - Carpenters - Sing (45RPM--poor shape) [128 S 3.18].mp3




6. What are the "Orig Mono 45" posts?

A few collectors (particularly GenesOldies, Dancing Bear, and Bullfrog) have
found good copies of original 45RPM singles, copied them to their hard
drives, encoded them as MP3's, and added them to the collection. These are
unquestionably the most "authentic" version of the BILLBOARD singles, and in
many cases, provide "CDof45" copies that technically sound better than the
original 45RPM pressings.



7. What are "Raw 45" files (aka "Raw Rips")?

These are direct transfers made from an original vinyl 45RPM single, done as
quickly as possible just to make them available. These files may have
numerous ticks & pops, noise, and other sound flaws. They are intended to be
used by others to digitally clean-up as a final version later on (with the
resultant files labeled "CLEANED").

Any Raw rip files should be carefully identified so as not to confuse them
with MP3's that are part of the collection:

1956_106 - The Teen Queens - Eddie My Love (45 Raw Rip) [2.14].flac

It's strongly recommended that raw rips are only posted as LOSSLESS (or
even WAV) files, and not as MP3s. Otherwise, the subsequent
"cleaned" file will suffer a quality loss and sound problems from being
re-encoded back to MP3 after processing.



8. What are "Time-Adjusted" files?

Some years back, it was discovered that some users have turntables that are
off-speed (typically running about 2-3% fast). It's possible to use
time-compression/expansion tools in programs like Adobe Audition, Sound
Forge, or Pro Tools to adjust the speed back to normal with little or no
audible artifacts. For best results, this should be done only to WAV or
lossless files.



9. What are "Cleaned" Files?

These are typically Raw 45 files that users have tried to digitally process
in order to improve their sound quality, reducing ticks & pops, noise, and so
on. This is a controversial area, since few can agree on the answer to "how
much processing is too much?" A good argument can be made that processing
should be kept to a minimum to avoid introducing artifacts such as
distortion, "phasiness," muffled sound, and other problems. Good 45RPM single
restorations can arguably be as good as (or even better) than CD pressings,
assuming a good source, good equipment, and expert ability on the part of the
user. (These kinds of processes are routinely discussed on the Usenet
newsgroup rec.audio.pro.)

Important safety tip: it's strongly advised that users avoid processing MP3
files, because it's not possible to directly eliminate noise, ticks, pops,
and distortion from an MP3 directly. Virtually all known programs have to
first convert the MP3 to a "raw" or WAV file first. After the processing,
then the file has to be converted back to an MP3. Because of this additional
MP3 -> WAV -> MP3 step, the resultant file will lose a great deal of sound
quality from the double compression artifacts. It's recommended that only
lossless or WAV files be cleaned and de-noised instead.




10. What does "Rip" mean?

This term originated in the early 1990s, when collectors began using CD-ROM
drives to transfer CD music files at high speed to hard drive. Apple Computer
popularized the term with their "Rip, Mix, Burn" advertising campaign for the
original iPod, which was released in the fall of 2001.

Some have argued that the term "rip" is incorrectly used when it's applied to
vinyl. A vinyl 45RPM record or LP (or a shellac or vinyl 78RPM record) are
not exactly "ripped" in the traditional sense in that they're not done at
high speed. A vinyl transfer is done in real time via analog connections to
the sound card input of a computer. It's fair to say that using "rip" for a
vinyl transfer is imprecise, but it's nonetheless fallen into common usage.
(It's one of these things, like the word "impactful," that gets popularized
whether we want it or not.)

Some record companies believe that the term "rip" derives from rip-off, but
this has been disputed by users since it's possible to legally rip your own
CD to your own iPod:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripping (Who's computer is this?)



11. What is a Bitrate Upgrade?

Generally, this means a new file made with less compression, assumed to have
better sound quality. For example, a 256K MP3 stereo file will almost always
sound better than, say, a 96K MP3 made from the same source.

Be aware that users have encountered higher-bitrate files made from lower
bitrate songs (aka "bit-inflated" files). To use the above example, a 256K
MP3 file made from a 64K MP3 file will not sound better than the original
64K file. In fact, you can make a good argument that it won't even sound
as good as the original 64K file, because the material has been
compressed *twice* -- like a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy. Files like
this are a total waste of bandwidth.

The only way to tell if a song is truly an upgrade is to listen to it and
compare the sound quality to another known file. Bitrate alone does not
absolutely guarantee sound quality.



12. How can I compare sound files to see which sounds best?

There are two excellent utilities which can compare two files together as
an A/B/X test to allow the user to determine if they can tell the difference.

Foobar2000 for Windows
http://www.foobar2000.org/ (Who's computer is this?)

and

ABXer for Mac OSX
http://emptymusic.com/software/ABXer.html (Who's computer is this?)

It's a very sobering experience to try to tell the definitive difference
between a 128K file, a 192K file, a 256K file, and a lossless file, all
made from the same CD source. Suffice it to say, it's harder than you
might think.

These utilities are also very useful for determining the differences in
song _versions_ between files, particularly between the hit mono single
version and a later CD release or stereo mix.






13. What are Label Scans, and how can they be used?

These are regularly uploaded by Bullfrog, Mr. M, Wilberforce, GenesOldies,
and several others. One way to ensure that the song file being uploaded is
the true single version is to look at the scan of the record from which the
file was made. The single usually has the correct song length on the label,
so that's one way to check the copy of the record against the Whitburn
published times (though there have been several discrepencies over the years,
as noted in the spreadsheet maintained by Bullfrog and others).

Many MP3 library programs have the ability to reference a JPG image with the
specific song. This way, it's possible to have the image from the label or
picture sleeve pop up automatically on your screen as the song plays back.
Rips from stereo CDs can contain a JPG of the CD cover. Ideally, all rips
should have an embedded image as further evidence of the source for the song.
Bullfrog, GenesOldies and others have requested that embedded label scans
measure 3.6"W x 3.57"H (or 724 pixels by 727 pixels), at a resolution of 300
dpi. This will yield a file that's about 300K. Google has a free program
that can be used to crop and straighten scans, Picasa, which is available
here:

http://picasa.google.com/download/ (Who's computer is this?)

Bullfrog advises: "The problem with low resolutions is that when you resize,
the clarity goes all to hell. Even making it smaller can make it bad, so it
has to be at least be 200 dpi. Gene has been using 300 dpi in all his latest
stuff, and larger then usual, but it makes it easier on me, since I do all
the cleaning and final cropping. Anytime you re-save an image, (much like an
mp3) it degrades, so higher is better (within reason). Anything over 300 is a
waste unless you plan on printing a large size of it. We just need the label,
as I think everyone pretty much knows what a 45 looks like."



14. What is a Placeholder, and how is it used?

There are dozens of songs that are currently missing in the Pop, Country,
Modern Rock, and R&B MP3 collections, as well as missing songs in the
Lossless collections. Users have created ".NFO" files that are essentially
very small (1K) text files, made to take up space in a directory of files.
Eventually, it's hoped that these will be replaced with correct MP3 and
Lossless files to complete the collections.

To create a placeholder file, run WordPad (under Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac
OSX) and create a plain text file with the word "Placeholder" in it, then
save it. Make as many duplicates of it that you need. Rename the files to
"year_index - MISSING - Artist - Song Title.nfo", matching the list of songs
for that year. It's helpful to compose all the missing filenames in a text
file, and then use a shareware program like Better File Renamer or Oscar's
Renamer to name the actual placeholder files.




15. How often are MP3 files updated?

That's totally at the whim and discretion of other users and collectors, like
yourself. An effort is being made to keep track of recently-updated files in
the text document:

Whitburn Corrections & Major Upgrades - 1950-1975.nfo

and also a larger RAR-compressed Excel spreadsheet:

Whitburn Corrections & Major Upgrades - 1950-2006

both maintained by Wilberforce Snidley Twittwilly. These note the dates when
a new file (often a better-sounding or more-accurate version) were posted to
the group, and by which user.




16. I've encountered duplicates of songs with similar (but different) names.
How do I know which files to keep, and which to delete?

All of us go through the same problem, because there is no "one" version of
the collection in one place. The only thing you can do is listen to each file
(or at least the first few seconds), decide how it sounds, and delete the one
that sounds worse. That's assuming it's the right song, the correct version,
and the correct running time.

Note that just because one MP3 is at a higher bitrate than the other doesn't
necessarily mean that it sounds better. A very clean original ripped to 80K
mono might sound much better than a crappy original ripped to 256K. However,
all things being equal, "in theory" the higher bitrates should be better.

Be wary of newcomers who post massive amounts of files without regard to what
has been posted earlier. They may be unintentionally repost many erroneous
files and weeds (bad sound quality, incomplete songs, re-recorded versions,
non-hit single versions, etc.).



17. Clearly, if I have a Mono and a stereo of the same song, the mono should
be erased. In many cases the duplicates are JS and S of the same song. Which
should I remove if they're both the same bit rates?

I don't agree that the monos should ever be deleted. In many cases (like for
most songs released prior to the late 1960a), the mono single version was the
actual hit that made the BILLBOARD charts and was played on the radio. The
stereo version might be a radically different mix -- even a different
performance -- than the hit single, or it might be a version that only
appeared on an album.

On the other hand, drive space is cheap. I say, keep them both, assuming they
both sound good. Make different playlists to just play the versions you
prefer. But keep as many files as you can, especially if you're not 100%
certain which is the best version. You never know when a better update might
pop up later on.

Of course, if you have a JS or S file of a mono song, then a mono file of a
slightly-lower bitrate could theoretically sound better. For example: a 128K
JS copy of a mono song should sound worse than an 80K M file made from the
same source. That's because the 128K JS is effectively only using half the
bitrate -- 64K to store each channel of the song. I try to standardize on
128K mono and 256K (or 320K stereo for everything I rip, because I believe
that's the minimum bitrate you can go for reasonable sound quality. But
that's a subjective area, and with a lot of early material (particularly
pre-1964) sourced from mono 45's, you can make a good argument that the
96K mono or even 80K mono files are acceptable.





RIPPING & RECORDING

1. What's the best way to Rip a song from CD?

Some experts advise that Exact Audio Copy (available for free from
exactaudiocopy.de/) does the best job of pulling audio from Compact Discs,
for Windows users. This actually pulls pieces of the data off the CD, then
compares the extracted data to the CD to make sure nothing is lost when
copied to hard drive. A rival program, dBPowerAmp's CD Ripper (available from
dBPowerAmp.com) has a feature called "AccurateRip" which rips CD tracks
twice, checking to make sure the files are identical, then checks the file
against a known good file on a web database. Mac OSX users can use a similar
utility called Rip (available for free from http://sbooth.org/Rip/ (Who's computer is this?) ), as well
as X Lossless Decoder (aka XLD), available from
http://tmkk.hp.infoseek.co.jp/xld/index_e.html. (Who's computer is this?)

Comparison copying methods take several times longer to rip songs from CD, so
they require some patience on the part of the user. For this reason, many
collectors just go with the fastest, most convenient way possible, using
freeware or other programs like iTunes, Windows Media, or MusicMatch. Experts
are divided as to whether high-speed CD ripping (48X & up) compromises sound
quality compared to slower speeds (12X and less). My own experience is that
AccurateRip guarantees you a 99% chance that the rip is good, and it's worth
the extra time and trouble.

These topics are discussed in depth on these websites:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.cdrlabs.com (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.cdrinfo.com (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.cdfreaks.com (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.cdrfaq.org (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.cdr-zone.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.computeraudiophile.com (Who's computer is this?)

For ripping from hundreds of CDs at once, some users have had success with
"robot" CD loading mechanisms, which allow automatically loading and ripping
hundreds of CDs at a time. DBPowerAmp has released an "industrial ripping"
option to their program using off-shelf DVD-ROM changers to stack many CDs at
a time and rip them without user intervention. However, because of problems
with Net music databases (particularly Gracenote/CDDB and All Music Guide),
artist names, song titles, and album titles are frequently misspelled,
mislabeled, or just completely missing. We warn users to always check the
tags and filenames immediately after ripping to "groom" the data and manually
fix any errors or inconsistencies by hand.



2. What's the best way to copy a 45RPM record, an LP, or a 78RPM record to a
hard drive?

To transfer a vinyl record to a digital copy, you need five things:

a) the record

b) a way to clean the record (preferably a vacuum record cleaner, like
those made by VPI or Nitty Gritty)

c) a turntable & tonearm

d) a preamp (to amplify the low-voltage output of the turntable and apply
RIAA equalization)

e) a computer with recording software.

Many users have reported that the modest-priced Technics SL-1200 "DJ"
turntable provides acceptable results; it's available in the $250-$300
price range. I've also had good luck with Shure phono cartridges, but
others enjoy Stanton and Audio-Technica.

We suggest that you always record directly to WAV files, then use
software to help eliminate ticks, pops, and noise after the fact. Note
that getting a clean copy of the record is the _absolute_ most important
goal. No amount of processing can make a beat-up 45 single sound as good
as a mint, virgin record. Also, make absolutely sure that the turntable is
running at the correct speed. Technics turntables have a built-in strobe
light allowing you to check the speed by eye by means of a dotted pattern on
the edge of the platter.

If you're forced to use a worn record, Xenomorph advises the following:

"You might try tracking it wet. With a solution of 1/2 denatured alcohol &
1/2 distilled water. Spread it real thin across the record right before
tracking. It usually gets rid of a large majority of the static sound by
acting as a lubricant between the stylus and groove. It also helps dislodge
the deeply engrained specks of microdust and grime from over the years. Just
make sure the liquid is 'completely' dried and cleaned off with the disc
cleaner after you're done tracking. I only use this on very dirty or worn
records that only have a few plays left in them."

If you have to transfer a work record, be sure that a better-sounding version
wasn't posted in the past, or that a superior version isn't already available
on CD.



3. What's the best software to use for cleaning a file (from LP, 45RPM, or
CD)?

You can spend literally thousands of dollars (even hundreds of thousands of
dollars) for an actual mastering suite and related gear, or you can spend
zero dollars and use shareware.

A lot depends on the quality of your loudspeakers, the listening environment,
and your own skill and experience.

A few quick tips:

1) move the computer and hard drives out of the room if possible. Keep the
listening environment quiet so you can hear all the music and not get
distracted by any fan noise or other mechanical background sounds.

2) don't use cheap computer speakers. If you can't afford decent, full-range
speakers (say, in the $200/pair and up price range for a minimal bookshelf
speaker), then get a good pair of headphones and use those. I like the
Sennheiser HD-600's, and I'm told the newer HD-650's are even better. I've
also used the Sony MDR-7506's and the 7509's, but they're a little bright. On
the other hand, they're great for detecting ticks and pops and other
noise-related problems.

3) For quick and dirty editing and clean-up of songs from CD and vinyl,
I think Adobe Audition and Sound Forge for Windows all work fine, and Peak
and Wave Edit for OSX are good for Mac users. Each is a very straightforward
"meat and potatoes" program that routinely sells for under $200 if you shop
around. (They're even cheaper if you can get a student version or a cheap
legit copy on eBay.) Each comes with free no-frills noise-reduction
plug-ins, and there are also fancier dedicated NR programs, like iZotope,
available at an extra cost. If you want something free, use Audacity,
available for all current OS's including Linux.

4) Whatever you do, please, _please_ try to avoid over-processing the sound.
Almost every attempt I've heard to de-hiss recordings takes away far more
than necessary. I would rather have a clean recording with a little hiss than
a muddy, dull-sounding recording where somebody has EQ'd the life out of the
music. Always do a "before and after" comparison to make sure you're not
going too far. When in doubt, leave it alone. The de-click and de-crackle
programs do less damage, but I find it's wiser to remove the large pops by
hand, redrawing the waveform, than by trying to do it with software alone.
And again: a clean, untouched vinyl source that takes 3 minutes to transfer
will almost always sound better than a beat-up 45 that someone spent 12 hours
trying to digitally clean up.

5) Always save mono songs as mono files. It saves space, and it
(theoretically) sounds better, too. In the case of vinyl, I find it's better
to first capture mono vinyl in stereo (i.e., 2 channels), and then combine
the channels later on. This will automatically cancel out lots of clicks and
pops, or at least greatly reduce them in level.




4. Are MP3 encoders really different?

Yes. Some are better than others. Most experts insist that the latest
versions of the LAME encoder work best. Others believe that the "official"
encoders licensed by the Fraunhofer Institute are best. Fraunhofer makes
their case at their website:

http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/amm/ (Who's computer is this?)

You can also find good resources on several different codecs here, including
LAME, BladeEnc, Fraunhofer, and Xing:

http://www.mp3-converter.com/encoders/index.htm (Who's computer is this?)

as well as the HydrogenAudio discussion group:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org (Who's computer is this?)

and in the excellent (albeit dated) 2000 book MP3: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE by
Scot Hacker, published by O'Reilly.

The fairest conclusion is, "listen for yourself and decide." The Hydrogen
Audio group regularly debates the topic of decoders. One member recently
made this statement: "The _only_ reason for using a lower bitrate is to
create a smaller file. (Of course, smaller file size is the only reason to
use compression at all!) Things like VBR, ABR, joint stereo, etc., all become
less important at higher bitrates. These options are all intended to improve
encoding efficiency by squeezing the best quality into the smallest file
size.... Once you have achieved "transparent" encoding (indistinguishable
from the original) there is nothing to be gained from "better" settings."

Note there are also disputes on the effectiveness of JS (joint stereo) vs.
actual stereo. The pros and cons are covered thoroughly at this link:

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/mostync/ (Who's computer is this?)

which gives some good technical reasons that support the use of Joint Stereo.




5. Once I've ripped a file, how should I identify the file name?

One glance at the various files on the Whitburn groups will tell you that no
two people seem to use the same system. There are three things that are
mandatory:

Year_Rank (the unique Whitburn collection "identifier" number)

Artist/Group Name

Title

Ideally, you should also add:

Bitrate (128K recommended for mono, 256K or higher for stereo)

Mode (Mono, Stereo, Dual Channel, or Joint Stereo)

Length (in minutes and seconds)

You must avoid illegal characters not permitted in most current operating
systems. NTFS filenames can be up to 255 characters, but a few characters are

not permitted:

/ (forward slash)

\ (backslash)

: (colon)

" (double quotes)

* (asterisk)

? (question mark)

< (left bracket)

(right bracket)

| (vertical bar)

It's generally not a good idea to use Exclamation Marks (!) as well, because
these can confuse search engines and some other software. Parentheses and
square brackets are fine, as are single quotes ('). We strongly recommend
that you use upper and lower case characters, which are easier to read than
filenames TYPED IN ALL UPPER CASE. Of course, any characters can be used in
the MP3 tags, because this is stored separately from the filename.

If the MP3 file is not the original charted single version, be sure to
identify it in the filename. Examples:

1962_090alt - Dee Dee Sharp - Gravy (for My Mashed Potatoes) (vers. 2) [128 M
2.04].mp3

71_067alt - Chicago - Beginnings (LP vers.) [256 JS 7.54].mp3

1969_134alt - Neon Philharmonic - Morning Girl (LP vers.) [256 JS 4.39].mp3

If the song is in stereo but released prior to 1968, it is most likely not
the single version that charted on BILLBOARD. We suggest adding an "s' to the
Whitburn number, and highlighting the stereo content in the song name, as
shown below:

1957_003s - Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock (rare stereo remix) [256 JS
2.29].mp3

1959_049s - Dion & The Belmonts - Teenager in Love (stereo LP vers.) [256 JS
2.36].mp3



6. Should the year provided in the filename have four digits or just two?
I've seen both formats used on the group.

This is a controversial area. It has been suggested that, because of the
possible confusion between songs from the early 1900s (1901, 1902, etc.) and
songs from the early 2000s (2001, 2002, etc.), file names should provide the
full four-digit year. Others maintain this is not necessary. While one can
make good arguments on either side of the issue, it seems that many files
currently being uploaded to the group as of early 2007 are using 4-digit
years. This is especially true for songs charting after 1999.

There is a freeware program available, FourDigitYearPrefixer1.exe, which will
automatically add "19" to MP3 files from 1900-1999 (or "00-99," depending on
how you look at it). Users can also use commercial and shareware file
renaming utilities to do the same thing, like Better File Rename and similar
programs.



7. Is the file-naming format important? Is there a preferred format?

Again, there is wide disagreement about this on the group, and many users
employ more than one system. My personal naming convention is as follows:

Year_Rank - Artist - Title (version) [bitrate channels length]

as in...

1965_082 - James Brown & The Famous Flames - Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Part
1) (stereo LP version) [256 JS 2.03].mp3

The advantage of using brackets for the file information is that you can set
most of the major renaming programs (Tag & Rename, MP3/Tag Studio, etc.) to
extract the tags easier this way. I also recommend keeping the song version
info ("stereo LP version") as part of the actual song title, so it shows up
in the MP3 player info screen. I have separated the "CDof45" or "45RPM" song
types by using the normally-unused CONDUCTOR and/or BPM field, and adding it
to the song as follows:

1965_082 - James Brown & The Famous Flames - Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Part
1) (CDof45) [128 M 2.03].mp3

The reason for doing this is so that the "45RPM" information can be stripped
out and kept out of the song title. All of this is done so that the data is
available in both the file name and the tags, so if one is damaged or
corrupted, you can always change it back.

Adding the bitrate information is important mainly when you're comparing
duplicate files, so you can see at a glance which is probably an old,
inferior version. Bear in mind that you still have to actually listen to the
file to know for sure if it's worse than a previously-uploaded file. There's
always a chance a high-bitrate song was made from a worse source than a lower
bitrate song, making the latter sound better overall.



8. What do all the prefixes mean?

A few of the major ones:

1964 - regular Billboard Hot 100 pop songs for 1964
m1990 - Billboard Modern Rock songs for 1990 [also indicates Classic Rock
hits prior to 1981]
r1979 - Billboard R&B/Soul songs for 1979
c1947 - Billboard Country songs for 1947
d1984 - Billboard Dance songs for 1984
b1967 - Billboard Bubbling Under singles for 1967
1963s - stereo version of a charted single (usually indicated as "LP
version")
1972_47b - B-side of a charted Hot 100 single (generally a side that did not
chart on its own)
1960_nc - non-charting single
1982_x35 - Billboard Christmas charted single

I personally think the Christmas singles should be _preceded_ by an x, as in
"x1982_35", to fall in line with the other groups of songs, but these songs
have yet to be checked and weeded out.

No one has yet started on the Adult Contemporary charts to my knowledge, but
I would guess those would use an "A", as in

a1978_032





UPLOADING FILES FOR THE GROUP

1. I want to participate by providing some MP3 files to the group. How should
my files be posted?

Before you post a song to the group, make sure that an identical (or
superior) file hasn't already been posted in the past. And if it is not the
original single version, be sure to note both the file name and the MP3 Tags
as discussed above. Others users will appreciate if you can populate the
ID3v2 and ID3v3 tags as much as possible, particularly the Album source. It's
strongly recommended that you indicate in the title field if the song is not
the charted single version, mirroring the name of the MP3 file, adding "(LP
vers.)" or "(disco mix)" or similar descriptive terms after the title.

If they are upgrades or additions to the existing collection, please identify
them in the subject header. (See past newsgroup posts for examples.) Be
certain that the file you're uploading is superior to the existing copy. If
you're not sure, identify the post with "POSSIBLE UPGRADE."
Pop/rock songs that charted on BILLBOARD's Pop or Hot 100 charts should be
posted to the newsgroup alt.music.whitburn.pop.

Be sure to check the correct reference number of the song using the latest
Excel chart.

Country songs that charted on BILLBOARD's Country charts should be posted to
the newsgroup alt.music.whitburn.pop.country.

The "discussion" groups (alt.music.whitburn.pop.d &
alt.music.whitburn.pop.country.d) are intended for text-only discussions.
These are not intended for binary file uploads, which belong only in the
regular alt.music.whitburn groups.



2. When I try to post a song it says the file size is too large. What can I
do?

Most ISPs require that binary files posted to Usenet newsgroups be encoded
with yEnc, Base64, or UUencoding, then "split" into parts that are no longer
than 9999 lines (approximately 700K or so per part). Use the preferences of
your newsreading/posting program to limit outgoing posts accordingly. Some
Newsgroup sources, like Giganews, can handle more than 10,000 lines, but be
aware that not all users will be able to get all the parts on all ISPs. A
good average is about 5000-6000 lines, which splits a lossless file into
about 12 parts, or an MP3 in about 5 parts.

Most users appear to prefer yEnc encoding, partly because this method takes
up less space, though it arguably may take slightly more time to upload. The
older UUencoding method appears to be used much less frequently, but both are
supported by most newsreading programs.

Once the parts are posted, any good newsreading program can then download the
parts, automatically decode them, and assemble them together into a single
file.




3. How do I post a large number of songs?

If you intend to post a large number of files (say, over a dozen), a
mass-posting program such as PowerPost is recommended. It's available as
freeware (Windows only) from several sites, including:

http://www.powerpost.cjb.net/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.binaries4all.com/powerpost/index.php (Who's computer is this?)

http://powerpost.free.fr/files/YencPowerPostA&A11b.zip (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.smr-usenet.com/tutor/ppost.shtml (Who's computer is this?)

PowerPost is old (last updated in 2004), and is a little buggy and convoluted
to some as far as set-up goes, but help is available on the Net. A newer
program is JBinUP:

http://www.jbinup.com/en/ (Who's computer is this?)

which does essentially the same thing.

If you post a large number of files, it's recommended that you provide PAR2
files, which can help users repair any incomplete or corrupt files. QuickPar
is one program that can repair downloaded files and remove corrupt files; you
can get more info on it from it here:

http://www.quickpar.org.uk/ (Who's computer is this?)

Another recommendation is that you include an SFV (simple file verification)
file, a plain text file that can be used to help verify that all the files
posted are intact. You can get more info from the creators of the shareware
program Quick SFV:

http://downloads.zdnet.com/download.aspx?&q=SFV&docid=228075 (Who's computer is this?)

or SFVCheck:

http://www.download.com/SfvCheck/3000-2248_4-10513343.html?tag=tab_pub (Who's computer is this?)


When you do post songs, please use as short a subject header as possible, so
that people can at least read the name of the song. For example:

1972 FLOOD: 1972_001 - Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face [256K
JS 4.16].mp3

WHITBURN 1950: 1950_001 - Patti Page - The Tennessee Waltz [128K M 3.01].mp3

and so on. Please avoid lengthy subject headers such as:

ATTN.: HEY, JOE SCHMOE! HERE'S ALL THE FILLS YOU WANTED: ** 1972 FLOOD **
1972_001 - Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face [256K JS 4.16].mp3
which will not be easily read or scrolled on many newsreading programs.



4. What songs are NOT appropriate for posting to the
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn groups?

Those would include:

a) songs that did not chart in BILLBOARD

b) songs that do not have the correct filename structure (specifically
including the prefix number, artist name, and title) so that users can
compare it to existing files

c) live versions of songs where the hit single was a studio recording (or
vice-versa)

d) re-recorded versions or other "fake" versions of the song

MP3 files of songs that fall into one or more of the above categories can be
posted to the regular MP3 music groups, including
alt.binaries.sounds.1950s.mp3, alt.binaries.sounds.1960s.mp3,
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s, and so on. Make sure the songs are the charted
single versions, preferably the hit single as listed by BILLBOARD. Be sure to
check out what's been uploaded before you upload a new version, because a
better-quality version may already be in the collection.



5. What about a group for R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop songs?

Unlike Pop and Country, there is currently no Whitburn newsgroup devoted
entirely to this music category. However, you can upload such songs by
consulting the appropriate Excel spreadsheet of R&B songs and naming the
files accordingly. When in doubt, post a message asking how the songs should
be posted first.



7. What about very early recordings, such as Edison cylinders?

The Whitburn collection goes back to 1890, at the dawn of BILLBOARD magazine
(during the days when sheet music was charted, as opposed to records or
cylinders). Few collectors have the equipment capable of playing old
recordings. Among the professional groups devoted to this activity is The
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at University of California,
Santa Barbara (UCSB), and another is The Association of Recorded Sound
Collections. You can get more info on these organizations from:

http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/index.php (Who's computer is this?)

and

http://www.arsc-audio.org/ (Who's computer is this?)



8. Can I upload entire albums to the Whitburn groups?

No. These groups are only intended for collectors of the charted singles for
the respective genres (Pop, Country, Bubbling Under, R&B, and so on), not
entire albums.

Entire albums can be uploaded to the "decades" groups:

alt.binaries.sounds.1950s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1960s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1970s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1980s.mp3

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1950s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1970s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1980s

alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1950s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1970s
alt.binaries.sounds.lossless.1980s

alt.binaries.sounds.wav.music.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.wav.music.1970s

and also the general groups:

alt.binaries.complete_cd
alt.binaries.sounds.m




MP3 LIBRARIES & TAGS

1. Why do so many of the MP3 files uploaded have incomplete or incorrect MP3
tags?

The ID3 refers to a header inserted into a few bytes of the MP3 file. This
stores user-supplied information on Song Title, Artist Name, Year, and other
information.

It takes a lot of manual work to enter this information correctly. Also,
many collectors have different ideas on how best to identify each song, and
what to place into each ID3 tag field. If the file names are incomplete or
faulty, you'll have no choice but to re-edit them yourself.



2. How can I rename & edit all the tags myself?

There are hundreds of utilities available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and
other platforms, including freeware, shareware, and off-shelf programs.
Three popular ones for Windows include:

Tag & Rename, available from http://www.softpointer.com/tr.htm (Who's computer is this?)

MP3Tag, available from http://www.mp3tag.de/en/ (Who's computer is this?)

Ultra Tag, available from http://www.atelio.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

and MP3/Tag Studio, available from http://www.magnusbrading.com/mp3ts/ (Who's computer is this?)


All of the above have pros and cons, and are capable of automatically
creating all the MP3 tags based on file name and other information. For Mac
users, there's Media Rage, available from http://www.chaoticsoftware.com (Who's computer is this?)
Any of these are considerably more flexible than the basic MP3 tag editing
features provided in programs like iTunes or MusicMatch.



3. How should songs be tagged?

ID3 and Ogg tags are very important, providing metadata that can provide
extremely useful information to help users organize their collections.

The ARTIST field should get the artist's name, and the TITLE field should get
the song title. Users are divided as to whether the artist's last name should
come first (as in "King, Carole"), but the vast majority of users use the
conventional method of "first name + last name." Users are divided as to
whether to use "The" before group names, such as "Beatles" vs. "The Beatles."
Some also remove articles like "A," "An," or "The" prior to the song, so that
they will alphabetize correctly. One can make a good argument either way.
[The author notes that he gets extremely annoyed by people who use commas in
file names, like "Teenager in Love, A."] The YEAR field is used to store the
year in which the song peaked on the charts, as determined by the Whitburn
POP ANNUAL (and the group's spreadsheets).

Modern music library programs like the latest iTunes (7.5 or newer) will
automatically sort song titles correctly, ignoring the articles, and allow
the user precise control over how to sort artist names.

Many users have designated the TRACK field for storing the Whitburn "Rank"
number, which can be helpful for sorting specific years or groups of songs.
The ALBUM field can be used to provide the original label number (for single
releases) or the name of the LP or CD from which the track was ripped.

Some users optionally provide the names of the songwriters in the COMPOSER
field. The COMMENTS field has traditionally held a summation of the chart
information, as follows:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Debuted on 11/24/1984 and peaked at #2 on 2/2/1985 on the Billboard Hot 100
chart for 2 weeks. Label/number Columbia 04679. Source: Whitburn TOP POP
ANNUAL.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The ENCODED BY field is traditionally used to designate the name of the
user(s) who ripped and/or cleaned the file. Optionally, some use the BPM
field for designating the source of the song: 45RPM for a 45RPM mono single,
45_s for a 45RPM stereo single, LP_m for a mono vinyl LP, CD_s for a stereo
CD, etc. CONDUCTOR is used for the song version -- 45RPM, stereo LP version,
alt. version, disco mix, etc. ALBUM ARTIST is used for the abbreviated name
of the poster, used by some to name the Lossless files. Finally, the COVER
ART field can imbed a JPG image into the file, like the 45RPM single, the CD
cover, etc.

For more, you can examine the files posted in the various MP3 and Lossless
Whitburn groups, and note how the files are named and tagged. Ideally,
whichever system you use should be as consistent as possible and at least
include the Title, Artist Name, Year, and Track (Rank) as a bare minimum.



4. What is the Whitburn Renamer?

This is a self-contained MP3 renaming program created by Xenolith and others,
called WBRenamer. It's intended to automatically generate all the ID3 tags
based on the Whitburn group Excel chart of BILLBOARD chart statistics. Copies
are uploaded occasionally to the group as freeware.

The chief benefit of this program is that it will automatically add Song
TItle and Artist tags, along with comments providing Chart Debut Date, Peak
Numbers, and other information, pulling in this information from the
spreadsheet. Its drawback is that it's Windows-only, plus because it's a Beta
version, it has some known bugs.



5. Why are some MP3 files louder (or softer) than others?

There are no real standards for loudness, for either CDs or vinyl. As a
result, if you buy ten different major-label CDs in a store, some will
invariably be louder than others. Recently-mastered CDs have a tendency to
being overly-loud, because of the common industry misconception that "louder
is better." (For more on this phenomena, do a Google search on "Loudness
Wars.")

There are four things you can do to fix songs that are too loud or too soft:

a) re-rip the same song from a CD or vinyl source, adjust the native WAV
file's gain using audio editing software, then create a new MP3 file

b) edit the MP3 with an audio editing program, change the volume, and re-save
it again as an MP3. This is not recommended, because MP3 files have to be
converted back to regular WAV audio in order to do sound processing, then
re-encoded back to MP3 again. This will, in essence, "double-encode" the
file, greatly reducing the sound quality.

c) use a utility like MP3Gain or MPTrim to set the headers in the file so
that your MP3 player will automatically turn up (or down) the volume as
required. They're available from:

http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/ (Who's computer is this?)

http://www.mptrim.com/ (Who's computer is this?)

d) use the options available in some MP3 playlist software (like iTunes or
MusicMatch) to raise or lower the volume. This setting should work with
compatible players (such as an Apple iPod playing an iTunes playlist).



6. What about making FLAC or APE files louder?

Because FLACs and APE files are compressed (albeit losslessly), they must
first be converted to either WAV or RAW files for editing. Most current
digital audio programs like Adobe Audition and Sound Forge can open them,
allow you to change the file, then re-save it in the original format.
Unfortunately, the programs tend to trash some of the tags and embedded image
files, so beware of changes.

dBPowerAmp can also change FLAC and APE files, with the aid of additional
codecs (available free from dbpoweramp.com), by making a copy of the original
file and raising or lowering overall gain. Be sure to check the configuration
settings to make sure the tags are undisturbed after processing.

Keep in mind that relative loudness is not only caused by level, but also by
relative compression and EQ. In some cases, it isn't possible to make
certain files louder because of dynamic peaks. For this reason, the best
general way to go is to use one file as an average level for comparison, then
raise or lower the volume of the other files to avoid any abrupt transitions
in level.



7. What is Compression?

There's two different kinds of compression. One is "lossy data compression,"
like MP3s, which throws away data in an effort to make the file size smaller
and more efficient. The problem with this scheme is that any time data is
missing, the signal that's left will have distortion and other artifacts,
which are audible under certain conditions. Only "lossless" data formats keep
all the audio information intact, like FLAC, APE, AIFF, and WAV files.

The second is "dynamic range compression," which makes the loud parts of the
song softer, and makes the soft parts of the song louder. Many music
producers & engineers intentionally compress the dynamic range to make the
song sound "louder," mainly by bringing up the level of the quiet parts.
When done to an extreme, dynamic range compression can make a song sound
distorted, even painful to listen to.

For an example of intentional dynamic range compression, listen to any of
these three songs:

1964_059 - The Honeycombs - "Have I the Right"

1965_144 - The Dave Clark Five - "Any Way You Want It"

1972_055 - The Raspberries - "Go All the Way"

These are loud, loud songs, but at least it was done intentionally, for a
creative effect. There are too many CDs coming out nowadays that have been
artificially compressed and limited, distorting the original recording in
an attempt to make them sound more "commercial"; this Wikipedia article
covers the problem in great detail:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war (Who's computer is this?)



8. What is the best way to manage all of these files?

It's fair to say that everybody has their own system. I have a series of
hard drives, each dedicated to a particular piece of the collection.

For example, one 1TB drive has all the Pop single MP3s from 1940-2007
(including Bubbling Unders), the Country singles from 1940-2007, and the
R&B's from the same period. Other drives have the Lossless singles, all
organized in folders by year and by decade.

The folders go basically:

Billboard Pop
1940 MP3s
1940
1941
1942
and so on.

Each decade separates out the music enough that I can get to each individual
file fairly quickly. I then create custom playlists in iTunes to organize the
files for playback, either on the computer or on various iPods.

At the moment, I have one iPod with the bulk of the Pop collection on it,
about 50,000 songs from 1950-2011 (including mono and stereo versions).

I've been renaming the files manually, with the help of programs like Tag &
Rename, but users prefer the Whitburn Renamer, which gets posted to the group
from time to time. I've found it to be too buggy to rely on, and I feel more
comfortable sticking with my own system.




BILLBOARD CHARTS

1. What charts are available?

By far the most useful for pop/rock fans is "Billboard Pop ME
(1890-2012).xls," presented as an Excel spreadsheet that is updated and
uploaded to the group every few weeks. This project was started by Lancefer
in the mid-1990s, but is now maintained primarily by Bullfrog. Included is
most of the combined information from the Record Research TOP POP ANNUAL
1955-1999, TOP POP SINGLES 1955-2004, POP MEMORIES 1890-1954, and POP HITS
1940-1954. This is an ongoing effort that has taken many thousands of
man-hours, and users are encouraged to spot any typos or help provide any
missing information when possible. The file is made available in RAR archive
format and can be decompressed by virtually all recent Zip and Stuffit
decompression utilities.

Another terrific chart is "Bubbling Under Charts 1959-2009.xls," an Excel
spreadsheet that is uploaded every so often. It was reportedly created by
Duke and "someone at Sonat Services, Inc.", and is now being maintained by
Dr. Travel.

Also available is "R&B Charted V2," an Excel spreadsheet that provides all of
the charted R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, and Rap singles from 1942-2004. Again,
information is lacking on who is currently maintaining it.

Finally, there's "Whitburn Country Collection 1944-2009.xls", which
has been posted in the past by StrayGoose.

Also available are separate charts for ADULT CONTEMPORARY, along with PDF
scans of the Record Research TOP POP ANNUAL books.




2. What are the "Britburn" and "Ozburn" collections:

Britburn is a collection of hits from the U.K., overseen by occasional
Whitburn participant KirkM. The corresponding spreadsheet (christened
"Britburn") contains a list of the British charted singles from 1952-1969.
These are occasionally posted in the Whitburn Repost group and in the MP3
decade groups.

K1w1 has created a similar collection for Australia, "Ozburn," with a
corresponding spreadsheet. While these songs do not have any relation to the
American BILLBOARD charted hits, users may find it interesting to compare and
contrast how identical songs performed on the charts in different countries.




3. How can I read the charts if I don't own a copy of Microsoft Excel?

You need not own a copy of the current version of Microsoft Excel in order to
open and read these spreadsheets. Two good open-source spreadsheet programs
include:

OpenOffice: http://www.openoffice.org/ (Who's computer is this?)

Gnumeric: http://www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/ (Who's computer is this?)

There is also a free Excel viewer available for Windows from Microsoft:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c8378bf4-996c-4569- (Who's computer is this?)
b547-75edbd03aaf0&displaylang=EN

Apple now has a Macintosh OSX spreadsheet program, "Numbers," part of
their iWork package that can open Microsoft files. Also, most current
database programs can convert Excel spreadsheets in just a few minutes,
allowing users to view the data in a customized form.





FOR NEWBIES

1. I'm new around here. What can I do to help?

a) read the spreadsheets. Note the "official" Prefix number, which helps
organize the Pop collection (and the others).

b) if you download a bad file (wrong song, bad quality, bad rip, bad MP3
artifacts, etc.), post a comment about it with the subject WEED ALERT.

c) if you have a better copy of an existing song, post it to the group --
preferably following the suggested file-naming methods discussed above.

d) only call the file the "single version" (or "mono single" or "45RPM") if
you're absolutely, positively sure it's really the charted single. If you
aren't sure, omit this info and ask for help.



For more info on collecting and creating MP3s, be sure to read the MP3 FAQ,
available on any of the "decade" groups (alt.binaries.sounds.mp3,1970s, etc.)
as well as here:

http://www.mp3-faq.org (Who's computer is this?)

and here:

http://www.mp3-faq.org/downloads/absmfaq.txt (Who's computer is this?)





NETIQUETTE

Some users persist in acting obnoxiously, using foul language, insults,
derision, even threats of violence. None of these have any place on Usenet
groups like the alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn groups. There is too much
stress, strife, and suffering in the world as it is without adding to it
here.

It's strongly recommended that members of the community use restraint and
tact when responding to messages. In many cases, it's better to withdraw from
the conversation, rather than persist in provoking an argument.

Users are referred to Chuq Von Rospach's "Primer on How to Work with the
USENET Community" document, revised by Gene Spafford and Mark Moraes,
available on the Usenet group news.groups and on the web at

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/primer/part1/ (Who's computer is this?)

Also recommended for newcomers: INTERNET FOR DUMMIES and MORE INTERNET FOR
DUMMIES, published by IDG Books.





MISCELLANEOUS


HOW CAN I COMPLAIN ABOUT A USER?

There are always jerks and feebs on every newsgroup who seek more to stir up
trouble than they do offer genuine discussions or contribute in a positive
way to the group. These individuals are typically called "trolls," and their
biggest goal in life is to see how much trouble they can stir up. (Some go so
far as to drop into a newsgroup that they know nothing about, ask stupid
questions, then start up a huge screaming debate, then sit back, enjoying the
ensuing chaos. The Audio and Political newsgroups are big on this.)

Because the Net is essentially disorganized chaos, there is very little you
can do about stopping other users who annoy you except to send complaints to
root@<users' domain name> and comment appropriately. Unfortunately, because
many users employ false identities and fake email addresses (such as the
ever-popular "noone@nowhere.com"), it's difficult to trace such people.

Often the best thing you can is simply to ignore these people and use Kill
Filters to automatically delete their messages before you see them. All major
Newsreading software provides the ability to flag unwanted messages. You can
do the same thing with your email software, if you're being harrassed at your
own email address. Unless the messages appear dangerous or threatening, the
best advice is to just ignore them.



WHY DO MY QUESTIONS OR ANSWERS TAKE SO LONG TO SHOW UP ON THE NEWSGROUP?

Essentially, there are tens of thousands of Usenet news servers around the
world. Normally when you post it appears first on your local server, and then
it "propogates" it to its neighbors, and they continue the distribution on
down the line. The path header records the route taken by the message. The
result is that you might be able to post a message and see it immediately
through your local ISP, but it may not be seen by others for hours or even
days.



I CAN'T FIND ALL THE MESSAGES OR FILES ON THIS NEWSGROUP. WHY ARE THEY
MISSING, AND HOW CAN I GET THEM?

All Usenet newsgroups work on the principle of being "propagated" -- bounced
from server to server all over the world, and stored on your ISP's local hard
drives. They don't exist in any one place, so there's no "local" problem that
can cause X number of messages not being available -- assuming your ISP is
getting all the messages.

A lot also depends on what specific kind of software you're using, and how
long your ISP holds on to old messages. Typically, most ISPs hang on to maybe
2 weeks' worth (tops), then flushes them all as new messages come in to
replace them. The better independent Newsgroup providers, like Giganews and
Supernews, retain messages and files for up to six months, and sometimes --
for the text-only newsgroups -- several years.





WHY ISN'T THERE AN ALT.MUSIC.BINARIES.SOUNDS.WHITBURN.R&B, OR AN
ALT.MUSIC.BINARIES.SOUNDS.WHITBURN.AC?

courtesy of jtbell@presby.edu (Jon Bell)

One of the more frequently posted questions is "How can I create a new
newsgroup?" Briefly, creating a new newsgroup in the comp, humanities, misc,
news, rec, sci, soc or talk hierarchies involves first proposing the
newsgroup in news.announce.newgroups, then conducting a "vote" among those
Usenet readers who have an opinion on the proposed group. The entire process
can take up to three months.

Creating a new newsgroup in the "alt" hierarchy involves proposing it
informally in alt.config, then (if the response is favorable) getting someone
to send out a "newgroup control message" for the group if you don't know how
to do it yourself.

Other hierarchies have different procedures, or perhaps no formal procedure
at all. If you want to create a new newsgroup in the (hypothetical!) podunk
hierarchy, you might look for a newsgroup called podunk.config or
podunk.general, and ask there about the proper procedure.

For more details, see the following articles. You can find copies of (or
links to) all of them at the following Web address:

http://web.presby.edu/~nnqadmin/nnq/ncreate.html (Who's computer is this?)

(1) "How to Create a New Usenet Newsgroup", by David Lawrence

posted in news.admin.misc, news.announce.newgroups, news.announce.newusers,
news.answers, and news.groups

(2) "Guidelines on Usenet Newsgroup Names", by David Wright and Mark Moraes

posted in news.announce.newusers, news.groups,
news.admin.misc, alt.config, alt.answers, and news.answers

(3) "How to Format and Submit a New Group Proposal", by Russ Allbery

posted in news.announce.newusers, news.answers, or news.groups

(4) "How to Write a Good Newsgroup Proposal", by David Lawrence and Una Smith
posted in news.announce.newusers, news.answers

(5) "So You Want to Create an Alt Newsgroup", by David Barr

posted in alt.config, alt.answers, news.answers

and on

http://www.math.psu.edu/barr/alt-creation-guide.html (Who's computer is this?)

(6) "How to Write a Good Newgroup Message", by Brian Edmonds

posted in the newsgroup alt.config and at

http://www.cs.ubc.ca/spider/edmonds/usenet/good-newgroup.html (Who's computer is this?)

These articles are posted periodically (usually at least once per month) in
the indicated newsgroups. If you don't find them there, that simply means
that the most recent copies have "expired" on your news server. New copies
should be posted eventually.

Finally, the following Web addresses contain collections of information on
creating an "alt" group, including the "So You Want to Create..." article,
and a description of the actual newgroup control mesage.

http://www4.ncsu.edu/~asdamick/www/news/create.html (Who's computer is this?)
http://www.tezcat.com/~haz1/alt/faqindex.html (Who's computer is this?)

Note: for beginner's information on newsgroups, check out
http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Lab/6882/ (Who's computer is this?)

Updates available at
http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Lab/6882/newgroup.html (Who's computer is this?)


---------------------------------------------------



last updated 10/1/2013

Any and all comments or suggestions on this FAQ are greatly appreciated.
Post a message with FAQ COMMENTS in the subject line on
alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop or alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.d (the
non-binary text discussion group).

--Vidiot





Where you can get the newsgroup alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop