Karaoke software blog Life, karaoke and everything

February 12, 2008

Karaoke CD+G Ripping Demystified

Filed under: Hardware,Software — Tags: , , — Piotr @ 12:44 pm

As playing karaoke from a computer becomes more and more popular, we have a lot of questions about CD+G ripping. Some people are getting perfect results, some are getting artifacts on screen, and some are getting black screen. What gives?

1. Drive

If you are ripping with software like Power CD+G Burner and all you are getting is black screen, then propably your drive does not support CD+G subcodes. Most modern drives have no problems with it, but for some completely unknown reasons some laptop drives suffer this illness. When we see MATSHITA as drive name (it is short for Matsushita, the company behind Panasonic brand) we suspect trouble. And these MATSHITAs are put in Sony Vaios, so go figure.

Conclusion: If you are getting black space when ripping, then your drive is no good for CD+G ripping and no software will make it work.

2. Software

Once you know your drive delivers CD+G subcodes you need a software that will do it properly. And proper way of ripping CD+G karaoke discs is by performing error correction. Karaoke players have chips that perform error correction to display scratched discs. Computer CD and DVD drives do not have this chip, so it needs to be done by software. This explains why some software products provides “cleaner” rips (ie. without random dots and missing letters) than the others. Power CD+G Burner has this error correction built in. Of course some drives are better that other, also if disc is scratched very badly, then it is impossible to fix all errors. Read speed also is a factor here –usually the lower the speed, the better quality of the rip.

Conclusion: If you are getting display artifacts try ripping with Power CD+G Burner. If still getting dots and missing letters, try lowering read speed on Rip tab. And if all else fail, replace your drive (from all the drives we have tested Plextor drives gave the best quality).

3. Multisession discs

Several karaoke publishers recorded their CD+G discs in multisession mode, adding extra data session to the disc. I do not know the reason for this, but the result is that ripping the last track does not work properly using standard methods. Power CD+G Burner allows to rip the last track from multisession discs properly — all you have to do is to enable multisession disc support in settings. Why is it not enabled by default? Power CD+G Burner uses FreeDB database to look up song titles. With multisession support enabled the disc structure looks differently and does not matches against FreeDB signature.

Conclusion: If you are unable to rip the last track of the disc, go to Settings and enable multisession disc support.

4. Track names

Power CD+G Burner uses FreeDB database to look up track names (internet connection is required for this). Also the disc you are ripping has to be in the database. If it is not, you have to enter the track names manually — and I would like to encourage you to do this, as Power CD+G Burner submits this into FreeDB database, so the disc will stay there if you or anybody else uses it again in the future. In the last year users of Power CD+G Burner submitted 1347 discs into the database.

5. Format

I often am asked a following question: What format should I rip to? Usually I recommend MP3+G format (this is MP3 file with the audio, and CDG file with the graphics). You may also use ZIP, which is the same as MP3+G, but both files are put inside a single ZIP archive. If you intend to burn songs you rip, use BIN format, as it does not use audio compression and retains the original audio intact (not that many people are able to hear the difference between uncompressed audio and 192 kbps MP3 though).

6. File Names

Power CD+G Burner automatically names files based on disc ID, artist name, and song title. You may define how the files will be named in Output filename mask field:

  • {Song} will be replaced with track name, so if you define ‘CD1 – {Song}’ as a filename mask, files ‘CD1 – Track 01.bin’, ‘CD1 – Track 02.bin’, etc. will be created. If track name is retrieved from FreeDB server, this will be usually artist name and song title.
  • {Album} will be replaced with the album name retrieved from FreeDB server.
  • {TrackNumber} will be replaced with the track number (with a leading 0 for tracks 01 – 09).
  • {Artist} will be replaced with artist name (artist name has to be separated by ‘/’ [slash] from track title)
  • {Title} will be replaced with title (title has to be separated by ‘/’ [slash] from artist name)
  • Note: to use {Artist} and {Title} markers each track name needs to be of the following format:
    Artist name / Song title (most FreeDB entries follow this rule)

So if you want names like this: SC9801 – 03 – Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing then define the following mask: {Album} – {TrackNumber} – {Artist} – {Title}.

Track names are also stored in ID3 tags of MP3 file, so any tag-aware software should be able to retrieve them regardles of the file name.

I hope this shines some light on the mysteries of CD+G karaoke ripping. Happy singing!

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January 30, 2008

iPod Touch: Star Trek karaoke

Filed under: Hardware,Software — Tags: , , — Piotr @ 6:11 pm

When I was younger I liked StarTrek TNG a lot. So my first thought when I got my new iPod Touch was ‘This would fit Mr Data‘. It is a cool toy — the design is slick, and the user interface is amazing. It actually looks like made user interface displayed in movies, with windows zooming and sliding at the touch of a finger. And it has a position sensor — if you flip it sideways the display also flips. Impressive.

iPod Touch with its big display can be a great tool for practicing your karaoke. The lyrics are clearly visible, and the playback is smooth. And with video output cable you may connect your iPod to the TV and play your karaoke there. The bad thing is that you need to purchase a cable from Apple, as the trick for using cheap A/V cable that used to work for iPod video does not work with Touch.

iPod Touch playing karaoke

iPod Touch uses MP4 format for videos. To load your karaoke there you can use Power CD+G to iPod Karaoke Converter (trial version available, lifetime license is $39). It reads CD+G discs directly, or you may use MP3+G files from your hard disc.

Power CD+G to iPod Karake Converter

Power CD+G to iPod Karaoke Converter screenshot

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