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FAQ Lite

What is this "Lite" version of the FAQ?
The light version of the FAQ has been created for those who want to quickly figure out how to download and contribute in the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.* hierarchy. This is a draft of an abbreviated version of the FAQ.  Please send comments toWebmaster@mp3-faq.org.

Please take time to go back and read the entire FAQ later!

 

What is the quick and dirty?
You can't make a mistake that will have any impact on anyone else if you are downloading, but if you start uploading, you need to follow the quick reference guidelines (the links lead to the main FAQ):

 1 -  Use a high quality encoder.

 2 -  Make good use of a 0-file and include all pertinent info.

 3 -  Use meaningful subject headers that are not too long.  Avoid using more than 80 characters!

 4 -  Check your MP3s before posting them.

 5 -  Test post in test groups.

6 -   Post at 5000 to 7500 lines per segment (~1/3 to ~1/2 meg/segment) for best propagation.

 7  -  Crosspost into the appropriate decade group (if you know it).

 8 -  Don't post binaries in the discussion or request groups and vice versa.

 9 -  Enjoy the music!

 

Anything else I should know before continuing?
With all newsgroups it is a common and recommended practice to "lurk."  This means that you follow the newsgroup, watching and learning, before you begin posting.  Posting is NOT required.  There is no "ratio" or required "trading" in the a.b.s.mp3 newsgroups.  Leeching is completely acceptable.  If you are new to Usenet, or to binary newsgroups in particular, there are a number of basic FAQs that may help you.

 

How do I request MP3s?
The most obvious answer is to request it in the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.requests group and then hope that some kind soul will upload it for you.  Posting Requests in the binary groups is frowned upon by many, and your request may be ignored.  It also may be honored.  Look at the binary groups and the chaos that is sometimes created by mixing binaries and requests.  Then make a good choice.

Some tips: 

  • Don't be annoying.  You want people to fill your request, not flame you.  Don't post 15 requests in a row or the same request 15 times.
  • Don't crosspost requests between text groups like alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.requests or alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.d and the binary groups.  Someone may not notice you are crossposting, and they will trash the text groups with a binary when honoring your request - a Bad Thing.
  • Be patient.  Search for the title of the requested song in the group where you made your request daily.  Wait a few days before reposting your request.

 

How do I make an MP3?
Making your own MP3 from CD involves a couple of easy steps.  First, make an exact digital copy of the sound file, and then compress it by encoding the file into MP3 format.

 

How do I get the music from my CD-ROM onto my computer?
Digital Audio Extraction (DAE) is definitely the preferred method for capturing the digital source from CD for making MP3s.  This process is also known as "ripping".  DAE produces an exact duplicate of the sound on CD.

 

My CD-ROM supports DAE; what do I use to rip audio tracks?
There are many different software choices, and each has its pros and cons.  Some will encode as you rip the audio, some work better with SCSI drives, etc.  Rippers of choice are AudioGrabber, CDEX, EAC (Exact Audio Copy),  and many others.  All-in-one packages such as MusicMatch are also very, very popular.

For more information go to: http://www.mp3-encoders.com/ or just do a Google search.  Download and try a few or read the comments and reviews in our Tips section: http://mp3-faq.org/tips/encoders.html.

 

Can I encode an MP3 straight off of the CD?
Yes, several all-in-one ripping and encoding packages let you put a CD in your drive, click a button, and enjoy the results.

The current favorite package is probably CDEX with LAME. Also popular is MusicMatch has a decent ripper and a very good encoder (Fraunhofer).

AudioGrabber is a ripper that works with either SCSI or IDE CD-ROMs, and it can use its internal codec or BladeEnc's dll to create MP3s, as well as send command line instructions to an external encoder like MP3Enc31 or L3enc.

 

I've ripped the audio track but the .wav file is messed up.  It seems jittery and has pops or skips.  Why?
There can be several problems.  First, clean the CD and give it a good visual inspection.  Fingerprints, gunk and scratches can cause ripping problems.  Are you ripping from a CD-R copy of the original?  This is a major problem for some CD-ROMs.  CD-Rs just don't reflect as much light as the original CDs.  See the main FAQ Section 3.6.

 

I don't like the way the song sounds on the CD because I like more bass.  Should I adjust the equalization (EQ) on the .wav file before making it into an MP3 and uploading it?
Please don't.  People generally want to hear an MP3 that is a close representation of the original CD as possible without such adjustments.  Even though you may feel that something helpful (like normalizing the songs) will make them better, that decision should be left to the final recipient.

 

I've ripped my tracks to hard disk as the first step, now how do I make them into MP3s?
There are a number of different programs that encode MP3s.  Many are free.  Many others are inexpensive, and each has different features and quality.  Feelings run high about which is best.

More information on encoding software can be found in Sections [3.10][3.11] and in the Tips encoder section: http://mp3-faq.org/tips/encoders.html.   You can find good info also at: http://www.layer3.org, and http://www.mp3-encoders.com/.

 

I've heard that not all encoders give quality results.  Which encoder is best?
If you follow the discussion group (alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.d), the encoder of choice currently seem to be:

LAME - this encoder is very popular.  CDEX and EAC are popular front ends for LAME.

 

Should mono material get encoded at the same bitrate as stereo material?
No. Mono originals only require HALF of the bitrate of a stereo recording to get the same quality. If you encode your Stereo MP3s at 128kbps, then the comparable Mono file would only need 64kbps.

 

I don't have a CD-ROM in my computer, but I do have a CD player in my stereo; can I just hook that up to my sound card and sample it that way?
Non DAE MP3s are generally discouraged, but it is possible to do it with your equipment.  You'll want to connect the aux-out or line-out of your CD-player to the line-in of your sound card. 

Follow the instructions you got with your sound card for recording from line inputs.  Use one several excellent audio recording programs available as freeware or shareware.

 

I have some tapes that I want to post as MP3s.  How can I do that?
MP3s originating from cassettes are not of very good quality, but it can be done.  See the Tips section for the setup.  Make sure to identify the source as [cassette] in your subject line.

 

I'm making some MP3s from a vinyl source.  Is there any easy way to make my files sound better?
Easy way?  No.  When making MP3s from vinyl sources even more time and effort are usually required to get the best sounding MP3 possible.  There are some posters who do a fantastic job at making MP3s from vinyl sources, and they take their time and make sure they're done right before posting their files.  Check Section 3.24 of the main FAQ and the Tips section before proceeding as well as the LP to CDR page at: http://www.delback.co.uk/lp-cdr.htm.

 

I've made my MP3s and it's time to name them.  Is there a naming standard?  What information should I include in the name?
Even though most people would like there to be a naming convention, there are far too many different versions of what is the best.  The general consensus is that the full title of the song and the name of the artist should be included.  A number of people would also like the album title, some want the track number, and others want the year and the genre of music.

Also keep in mind that non-Windows platforms, especially Mac, do not have the same long filename features that Windows users are accustomed to.  You may find sorting the newsgroup by Author a good way to keep files posted by Mac users in more organized fashion.

There is no single answer, but AT LEAST put the artist name and the title of the song in the name of the file.  And USE MP3 ID3 TAGS.  That way everybody has all of the information necessary to rename their MP3s as they wish.  See Section [3.28] of the main FAQ and the following paragraph for more info on ID3 Tags.

 

What are MP3 ID3 tags? Should I bother with them?
Use them, use them, use them! The MP3 format allows for the addition of certain information within the MP3 file itself. The ID3v1 standard includes info fields for the Title (Song name), ArtistAlbumYearGenre and even a place forComments.  With ID3v1.1 a Track Number field was added.  The creator of ID3v1.1 is the author of MP3ext, an ID tagger available at: http://www.mutschler.de/mp3ext/ .

The bottom line is that the tags help people, and adding them during the MP3 creation process is the easiest time to do it.  If you've just ripped a song from a CD, all the relevant information is there at your fingertips.  You know what album it came from, who the artist is, and what year the song was recorded.

You can add ID Tags directly with most MP3 players, like Winamp.  But there are also a number of utilities to help you easily add the information, and some of the encoder programs will even do it automatically.  For more info and software downloads see: http://www.layer3.org/programs/ and our utilities page.

 

Cool, I've IDed all of my MP3s and I'm ready to post.  Is there anything else I should know?
Yeah, a couple things.  First of all, please listen to your files.  Are there any pops in them?  Do they cut off before the song is over?  Secondly, see the "Posting MP3 files" section of the main FAQ.

 

What should I know before posting?
(the following links lead to information in the main FAQ)

  • Make good use of your  0/x file and include all pertinent info.
  • Use meaningful subject headers that are not too long.  Avoid using more than 80 characters!
  • Test post in test groups.  Test again after every reinstall.
  • Crosspost into the appropriate decade and genre group.
  • Alert the requestor if you are responding to a request.
  • Wait s while before reposting.
  • Cancel your "oops" if you do mess up.

 

Where should I post my MP3s?
You should post your MP3s to the main MP3 binary group (alt.binaries.sounds.mp3) with a crosspost to the appropriate "decade" group and to the appropriate "genre" group.  A crosspost does not take up extra space, and more people can find your post more easily.

Please post ALL MP3s to the main group.  Do not post into the "genre" groups WITHOUT a crosspost to the main and "decade" groups.

 

What are the "decade" groups?
The legitimate decade groups are:

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1950s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1970s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1980s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1990s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.2000s

(there are some other "decade" groups like alt.binaries.sounds.1980s.mp3, but they were formed incorrectly, and your posts won't be propagated widely if you post there.

 

What are the "genre" groups?
Some of the genre groups are, but are not limited to:

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.beatles
absm.bootlegs
absm.blues
absm.brazilian
absm.comedy
absm.country
absm.dance
absm.french
absm.heavy-metal
absm.jazz
absm.latin
absm.spoken-word

and several others.

There are currently more than 90 groups in the a.b.s.m.* hierarchy and unfortunately more are created all the time.  Many of the groups are unavailable on most ISPs.  For more information on the groups, see Section [1]

 

Why should I crosspost the files?  Doesn't that eat up bandwidth and disk space?
No, crossposting does not eat up bandwidth or disk space.  Crossposting DOES NOT mean making your post TWICE.  It means that you include both newsgroups in the "Newsgroups:" header of your post.  Each news server will only carry one copy of your post, but it will provide two separate "pointers" to that file.  It actually can save space.  If someone posts a CD in main, someone else posts in the decade group, an yet another posts in the genre group, and nobody crossposts, then nobody notices the same thing got posted three times and two extra posts of the CD are a waste.

 

My news server doesn't carry the decade groups so I can't crosspost to them.  Can I?
Sure you can.  When you crosspost, the information in your "newsgroups" header propagates to the other servers along with your post.  As long as your server carries at least the first of the groups listed in the header, it should accept your post and propagate it (and all of the header information) on to other servers.  And if those other servers carry the decade groups, then pointers to your post will appear in all the specified newsgroups.

 

What should I put in the subject header of my post?

You should put the artist (or author) name, the album name (or book title) and the file name.

Many versions of popular posting utilities construct a good subject header for you by default. See the Utilities page for links to posting software.

Things to avoid: Avoid adding brackets, particularly with numbers in them. Avoid adding punctuation or odd characters. All may cause problems for some downloaders.

Avoid starting the subject line with something like the track number, "Attn:", "yEnc" or other words that will cause your post to mix in with other posts when sorted by various readers.

However you choose to construct the subject line, please try to keep it brief. One of the most widely used news readers has problems with lines longer than 80 chars, keeping it below that will be helpful for many users. Scan through the groups and see how they sort, using odd characters or beginning the subject with anything aside from something specific to the post (author or artist for instance) makes many readers sort in a confused manner.

Most importantly of all, no matter how you decide to construct your subject line, post a file to the test group (alt.binaries.test) first and make sure it is going to go up the way you envisioned.

What about the zero-file (0/x)?
A zero-file is a simple text entry in the body of your post to which the binary then gets attached.  Most newsreaders will create it if you simply compose a text post and then include the binary as an attachment.  The zero-file will then be part zero of the total number of parts and the first part of the binary will be part one, etc.  The zero-file should contain ANY and ALL pertinent information about the post.  Another common practice is to include an .nfo file as an attachment preceeding or following your binary posts to describe the post rather than or in addition to a zero- file.  An .nfo file is just a .txt file that has been given an .nfo extension to denote that it contains iNFOrmation about the posting.

How many lines per segment should I use when I post?
Try setting your segment size to something between 5000 and 7500 lines (about 1/3 Meg to 1/2 Meg).  7500 lines is usually fine, but there are news servers that are filtering anything over 325k (approximately 5150 lines).

How do I post multiple MP3s at once?
Use Power-Post 2000: http://www.cosmicwolf.com.

I thought I had it all set up right, but I made a mess.  What can I do to clean it up?
Cancel your unfinished posts.  Most newsreaders will allow you to easily cancel your own posts.  Read the help file. The unusable pieces of your post do nothing but consume space on the news server and you should cancel them.  For more on canceling posts see Section [4.19] [4.20] and [4.21].

Whoops! I posted an MP3 to the discussion/requests group.  What should I do?
You should not only post a brief apology to the discussion group, but you should also cancel the post.  Clean up your mess and free up the server space.  Most news servers allocate different amounts of space for the binary groups than they do for the non-binary groups, so stop hogging all of the non-binary space with your misplaced binary.

Is there a daily posting guideline for absm.*?
There used to be. There is no longer a consensus on how much a contributor should post in the hierarchy.

While some claimed consensus in the earlier days of the hierarchy for what was considered a reasonable cap, other posters do not see the point of limiting the amount posted to absm.*. Some posters voluntarily limit their posting to the equivalent of one commercial audio CD per day. They believe this can make a difference in retention.

You need to make up your own mind. Look around. Look at who is doing the best job of posting and emulate their style. Learn from them.

What about reposts?
Wait a while. Several hours, or a full day.  Then repost only the missing parts (you are using Power-Post 2000, right?)

Wait at least few days before considering any complete repost.  The people who didn't get it the first time often don't get it the second time either.

But people keep requesting the same songs.  What do I tell them?
Reply to their requests with a message that tells them when you plan on reposting it, that's part of what the .requests group is for.  Since the expire times in the non-binary groups are sometimes longer than in the binary groups, your reply will alert any other people who might come looking for those songs in the following days.  This will help prevent the constant reposting of the current pop hit.

Can I post album cover scans in the MP3 binary group?
Sure.  Even though they are not MP3 files it is acceptable to post accompanying album scans along with the songs.  You may also want to crosspost them to alt.binaries.pictures.cd-covers.

 

Should I zip (arj, rar, jar, gzip etc) my files before uploading?
In general, no.  Only MP3s with long periods of silence in them (and that's rare) benefit from zipping or other compression.

Should I share other binaries with the group?
If they are available on the WWW or ftp, do not post the binaries on Usenet.  Just post a message in a.b.s.m.d that includes the WWW/ftp address.  Post sound utilities in alt.binaries.sounds.utilities and post an announcement in the discussion group to let people know.

Post such things only in the appropriate group.

What are the "test" groups and who should use them?
You should use them if you're new to binary posting, are using a newsreader that you are unfamiliar with or if you have changed your settings.  The test groups (alt.test and alt.binaries.test) are intended for posting tests without disrupting the normal activity in other newsgroups.  They are there so you can work out the wrinkles of posting *before* you do it in the MP3 groups or any other group.  Everybody makes mistakes; wouldn't you rather make yours in a test group?

How do I download this stuff?
If you *are* looking in the correct groups, but you are confused because you're seeing something like:

begin 644 song.mp3
M_^,@Q``2@5#]&49(`ORFY(P``H\!A=`@1(`0/`870($800LF%L```H4&%Q6V
MD*!0Q#+GJA`*$"/5$"#)S4%;:@H),7;4!,V4!`,1(VZ1MJ($$4:.D;:G`$,$
M`@$0H%`(P7,&V`*$1N3_XR#$$1DS@KFYDE!!!+J".,F12W!K&07G\#X7`T)O
M^6%L`H"`VG^*X-XMA=@5R?_^)@KC<8`*`6"&__\>$CSQ89S/___GGW,:C/__
M__\QIAD]V'Y[F?_____,CP1Z0P_,`15NZFM,K/_C(,0'&`%>WG^,22#'K*0`
M$`'(V'M[#,I7=P_A%"]RS>DX&G\F]G)')1L7(S9144)!=&(MTDK3RR$G4$F#

`
end

then you'll need to go back to Section [1.6] of the main FAQ and read some of the information at the links there.

I know *where* to look for the MP3s, but I can't find any complete MP3 files.
If you consistently see incomplete files, your news server is probably not receiving all of the parts that are necessary to get a complete file.

The solution?  Either find a new ISP or look into an additional pay-news server.  Information on ISPs can be found at http://thelist.internet.com/ or in alt.binaries.news-server-comparison and alt.internet.newservers (available at www.dejanews.com and www.remarq.com) or at Yahoo's Usenet server page.

Some popular pay-newsservers are Altopia, Giganews, Newscene, Newsguy,and Supernews.  See Section [9.7] of this FAQ for more info.

Can I sample a song without downloading the entire file?
Yes.  One way is to just download the first part of the file (which may require that you split the file into its separate sections), decode it using your newsreader or a third party decoder, and play it with your MP3 player.  Winamp will give you an error, but play the file anyway.

Check the Tips section for detailed instructions on using Agent to sample before downloading.

I'm using Outlook Express and it's not automatically decoding the MP3 files.  How do I get the files?
Dump Outlook Express.  If you choose not to take this advice, more tips for using Outlook Express can be found in the Outlook Express Sub-FAQ.

How do I make a normal music CD from these MP3 files?
Most burner software will want you to first decompress your MP3 files into .wav files before creating an audio CD with your burner.  With some newer software you can burn an audio CD without the intermediate step of creating a .wav file.  Many software packages can do direct MP3 to CD-R:   Nero, MusicMatch Jukebox, WinOnCD,  and AudioCD MP3 Studio (shareware).  Some packages are better than others, and the newer and more powerful your equipment, the better the chance for success.

How do I decompress my MP3s into .wav files for burning a CD?
Most player packages will do this or you can use a dedicated decoder.  Try decoding to .wav with your favorite player first.  There are instructions for Winamp in the main FAQ.

I've got my .wav files; how do I burn a CD?
That question is beyond the scope and relevancy of this FAQ.  The first thing that you should do is read the instructions or the help files for your CD-R software.  You can also try the newsgroups: comp.publish.cdrom.hardware, alt.comp.periphs.cdr or alt.cdrom.

There is also some information available on the WWW.  There is a good CD-R FAQ at: http://www.fadden.com/cdrfaq/ and the at the comp.publish.cdrom FAQ.

What about Napster?
Napster was a very popular new way to acquire MP3s.  The demise of Napster has brought a lot of new blood to the MP3 hierarchy (with a lot of habits that do not work well on Usenet).

Napster has often had MP3s of distinctly inferior quality.  Please listen to all MP3s before uploading to this hierarchy.  Lurk, leech, listen, and learn.  Figure out what this place is all about before going wild.  It is a different community with different standards.

I don't use a Windows-based PC.  What about me?
The PowerMac Sub-FAQ - the definitive word on the Mac

Pure Mac MP3 Utilities Archive - lots of links

The Mac Orchard - Macintosh Internet applications (including newsreaders)

MP3 software for Unix/Linux - Link to the Unix/Linux section of MP3.com

DOS-based MP3 Players - DOSAmp and MPXPlay. 

 

Don't forget to go back and read the entire FAQ!