Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Mon 11th Jun, 2007

Man triumphs over machine

MixMeister, among its myriad of great features, can burn a mix to a CD. However, for a while now MixMeister has been refusing to talk to the CD writer in my laptop, reporting only "error -2110" when it finishes 'rendering' the mix and tries to start writing. I had let this frustrate me enough; it was time to try and give Nicole the same mix I gave Kira.

First brainwave was to try and find whatever MixMeister had 'rendered' and see what format that was. Lo and behold, in c:\temp there were files from '0.rb' to '11.rb' for a twelve-track mix, and an 'index.tlf' file in text that listed all of these, with a curious 'DA -P:0' postscript on all but the first. A quick Google on that incantation revealed that MixMeister apparently use Gear Software's CD writing library, since that text is listed in their Linux software manual. This told me that they were probably either ready to write or needed only the smallest amount of mabulation to write onto disk. I copied the files to my network SaMBa server and verified in hexedit that it had all the appearances of sixteen-bit signed integer dual-channel audio, my guess being in MSB order. When you see FFFE in a segment of near silence, you can guess that that means '-2'.

A bit of further reading of the cdrecord manual revealed that it can take .wav and .au files and ignore their header section, but anything else is assumed to be plain audio of exactly the type I was looking at. I tried this, and it burnt all the tracks and produced a CD of audio. A CD of white noise, actually - another coaster to add to the collection. White noise in this instance almost certainly means that you have got the endianness of the bytes wrong; fortunately there is a -swab option to cdrecord to fix this. So, after the mantrum:

cdrecord dev=/dev/cdwriter pregap=0 -v -eject -swab -dao -audio {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11}.rb

I arrived at a perfectly working mix CD with no gaps between tracks, with only minimal help from MixMeister and with no thrashing around in Windows trying to wrestle with its unhelpful error messages and general lack of anything approaching information. As a friend commented later, a triumph of man over machine.

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