Dec 2000                                                                                                     

Web Master Wanderings
By Curt Potsic, Space Coast PC Users Group

Home Page

Current Issue

The Space Coast PC Journal 

SCPCUG Web Master Curt Potsic

By now I hope you have tried our new streaming audio Welcome Message ( on the SCPCUG Home Page. I had been wanting to update our SCPCUG Welcome Message for some time. Once I started, I found the project much more involved than I had anticipated. Recording the voice track as a 44,100 KHz sampled WAV file was really no problem using Sound Forge XP 4.5 ( In fact, Sound Forge XP which came bundled with my CD-RW drive has become one of my most valued programs. I'm now wondering how I ever got along without it.

I started out by laying down the voice track in monaural. One of the nice features of Sound Forge XP is it does not limit you to a one minute recording the way Windows Sound Recorder does. I then embelished the voice track with a slight delay, when I say "Welcome" at the beginning, by selecting "Bright Hall" under "Reverb" in the Effects Menu. For the rest of the voice track I added room ambience to give it a live feel by selecting "Medium Room." In addition to Reverb, Sound Forge XP has a host of other effects including Chorus, Delay/Echo, Distortion, Dynamics, Flange, Noise Gate, and Pitch Bend. Each of these in turn either has preset sub selections or sliders for infinite variations. This range of effects should be more than enough to please the amateur recordist or musician in all of us.

I next decided to split the mono voice track into stereo. You do this by right-clicking on the WAV display and selecting "Properties," the "Format" Tab, and changing the "Channels" radio button from "Mono" to "Stereo." I now had the same mono track duplicated for both left and right channels but I needed something to make the left and right channels different. Sound Forge XP has Sound Forge XP with Process Menu activatedthe capability to automatically create a pan. From the Process Menu I selected "Pan" and "Left to Right." Just what I needed. Now I had my voice slowly panning from left to right during the entire length of the voice track. Like the Effects Menu the Process Menu has a number of options including Convert to 8-bit, DC Offset, Fade, Graphic Equalizer, Insert Silence, Invert/Flip, Mute, Normalize, Pan, Resample, Reverse, Smooth/Enhance, Swap Channels, Time Compress/Expand, etc. Are you beginning to see what a truly feature rich program this is? Sound Forge XP has over 25 professional-quality digital audio effects and processes. Plenty to keep me experimenting with sound for a long time.

The really difficult part of the Welcome Message creation came next. I wanted to add some kind of background music but had to be careful as to not cause a copyright infringement problem. So I looked for an auto composing program that would create music. As I have mentioned before, the Internet has everything if you just look hard enough. I found a freeware program called Auto Composing System (ACS) ( by Tetsuji Katsuda. It's Help file states "The Copyright on MIDI files generated by the Automated Composing System belongs to each person who runs the program." Just what I needed or so I thought.

Composite of 3 Auto Composing System Screens

By cranking in a number of parameters for Music Style or using a Wizard, Auto Composing System will cause your computer to create a song in MIDI file format. It generates the music okay but the results are not exactly polished. One experienced in music could probably take the results and create a useable song. I would say this is a program for the experimenter. The program is still in development and I have seen a dramatic improvement in the latest version from earlier versions. Also, there is still very little in the way of help to guide you through using the program. If you have time to kill it is a great program to play with. In fact you could liken it to a slot machine. As it cranks out music samples, you never know when that music gem might just strike you as the sound you were looking for. To get an idea of what Auto Composing System can generate checkout the ACS Sample Outputs ( in Contemporary, Jazz, Classical, and Ethnic music categories or go to the Automated Composing Gallery ( for more samples that allow comparing of the original ACS generated file with a refined edited version.

I cranked out several music samples with Auto Composing System and selected two to play with. One was in a Jazz style and the other in New Age. I tried dragging these MIDI files into Sound Forge XP and found that Sound Forge XP does not accept the MIDI format. So using the internal mixing controls of the Voyetra Audio Station program that came with my old Gateway Ensoniq Soundscape sound card I was able to convert the stereo MIDI files into stereo WAV files. This proved however to be only an educational experience because when I tried mixing these music backgrounds with my voice track in Sound Forge XP it just did not seem to fit. I needed something with a more "spacey" sound to it. After all we are the Space Coast PC Users Group. Back to the drawing boards!

I decided to search the Internet again for Royalty Free Music. There are a number of companies selling Royalty Free Music however in most cases this music is for professionals at a professional price. In other words it is not cheap. Finally I found a site in the United Kingdom called eJay ( that offered free music samples. The free sound samples are at In addition to the free sounds this site offers MP3 song downloads, music news, NetRadio, music software, etc. The free sounds are in the MP3 format and added each week. If you dig into their archive you will find quite a selection. I downloaded sounds in the categories of Chilled Spheres, Atmospheric Tunes, and Spacey Dance FX.

The music and sound samples varied from 3 to as much as 17 seconds. What this means is several had to be pasted together to cover the 60 seconds of my voice track. Here again Sound Forge XP showed its great capabilities. Loading an MP3 file into Sound Forge XP automatically converts it to a WAV file. With the sound graphically displayed it is a simple matter using cut and paste to precisely arrange several sound samples in a serial order. I was also able to polish the music track by fading in and out, inserting silence, and crossfading sounds upon sounds.

I now had two separate WAV tracks (music and voice) both recorded at 44,100 KHz, 16 bit, stereo. Now was the time to see if it would all fit. I had both tracks loaded into Sound Forge XP, selected the music track, highlighted it, and copied it. I next selected the voice track and from the Edit Menu selected "Paste Special/Mix." This brings up a dialog box with two volume controls, one for the copied track (music) and one for the track you are pasting into (voice). By adjusting the music track volume 13 dB down from that of the voice track I was able to get a perfect sound mix where the music did not overpower my voice. One of the features I like about Sound Forge XP is its "Undo" capability in the Edit Menu. I discovered that 13 dB down was the proper mix by trial and error using the "Undo." Also if you try mixing two WAV tracks recorded at different sample rates Sound Forge XP will warn you that the source sample rate is different from the destination. If the source sample rate is lower, it will cause data to play faster and sound higher pitched in the final mix. Sound Forge XP allows you to change the sample rate while preserving the pitch by using the "Resample" function under the Process Menu.

Almost finished now. We have our final 60 second Welcome Message track but it is in WAV format occupying 10 MB. Much too large for use on the SCPCUG Home Page. The file needs to be converted into something much smaller for streaming on the Internet. Sound Forge XP has this capability. By selecting "Save As" from the File Menu you are presented with a variety of choices including Microsoft Wave (*.WAV), RealMedia (*.RA and *.RM), RealNetworks G2 (*.RM), Video for Windows (*.AVI), Windows Media Format (*.ASF), Windows Media Audio (*.WMA), Creative Labs (*.VOC), etc. I selected to save it in the RealNetworks G2 RealMedia format for greatest compatibility. In the resulting Encode Options dialog box for my Target Audience I selected Stereo Music Audio, No Video, G2 RealPlayer Compatibility, 56K Modem, and Single Rate Web Server Compatible. This process is very similar to that of the RealNetworks Encoder, RealProducer. RealProducer8 Basic is available free at,prdcr_062300.

In 22.5 seconds I had my saved (.rm) file and it was only 254 KB in size, perfect for streaming. All that remained was to create a (.ram) metafile i.e. pointer file with the proper path as to where to find the .rm file, upload them both to Palmnet's Server and create the proper hyperlink on the SCPCUG Home Page. For more details on how streaming works see my Nov 99 Web Master Wanderings article on "How to Stream Audio and Video with RealProducer G2" at

Finally, those of you who have read the Sept 26th Interview ( I gave to Mark Decotis, Editor of Florida Today Online, know that I expressed my concern for help with the SCPCUG website. No help has been forthcoming. The job of Web Master and writing the Web Master Wanderings column has been taking up entirely too much of my time. So reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that I must make some cutbacks. The most logical place seems to be the Web Master Wanderings column. Therefore Web Master Wanderings will now be a bi-monthly column. Accordingly, the next column will be Feburary 2001.

Note: Web Master Wanderings articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.