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CD/Spectrum Pro - FAQ

By far, the most common issues revolve around sound card and driver problems. Please, before sending email with a problem report, be sure your system is in a state where you can record and play back CD audio using only the Win95/98/NT CD player and the Win95/98/NT Sound Recorder. CD/Spectrum Pro requires that your system be able to do this. All multimedia systems should be able to do this with no trouble. However, some drivers exist that can't handle this task properly. If you are unfortunate enough to have one of those drivers, you should contact your computer or sound card manufacturer for a replacement driver.


CD/Spectrum Pro uses the same resources and functionality as the combination of the Win95/98/NT CD player and the Win95/98/NT Sound Recorder. Once your system is in a state where those two applications can be used to record and play back CD audio, chances are *very* good that CD/Spectrum Pro will work flawlessly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why can't I hear WAVs/chimes/system sounds when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?
  2. Why isn't the spectrum animating?
  3. Why is the system so slow when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?
  4. Why can't I hear the music when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?
  5. Why does the volume change when I start/stop CD/Spectrum Pro?
  6. Why do I get some color squares even when the CD is stopped?
  7. How can I check for hardware conflicts?
  8. Why would I sometimes experience a lockup?
  9. Is CD/Spectrum Pro an equalizer?
  10. How would I write a similar program?
  11. Is it possible to synchronize the spectrum/screen savers to LINE-IN (or any other source)?
  12. Is it possible to synchronize the spectrum/screen savers to MP3, MIDI, MPG, AVI, WAV, RealAudio, or other files?
  13. After using CDSPro, my Mixer settings (mic, volume, etc.) have changed. Why?

Why can't I hear WAVs/chimes/system sounds when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?

Many sound cards/drivers do not support what is known as 'full-duplex' WAV operations. This means that they do not allow you to record WAV data at the same time that you are playing WAV data. CD/Spectrum Pro uses the WAV recording mechanism to digitize the music. So, while CD/Spectrum Pro is running, if your sound card/driver does not support full-duplex mode, attempts to play WAV sounds will fail.
Fortunately, this is almost always a driver limitation, not a hardware limitation. What this means is that you can usually fix this limitation by simply installing a new driver that *does* support full-duplex operation. Contact your sound card or computer manufacturer to obtain such a driver (they are usually free, and most times you can download them off the web).

To test to see whether or not you have a full-duplex driver, please perform the following steps:

  1. Close CD/Spectrum Pro
  2. Open the Win95/98/NT Sound Recorder
  3. Open the Win95/98/NT Media Player
  4. Play a WAV file in the Media Player, and try to record it using the Sound Recorder
    Or, begin recording with the Sound Recorder and then perform some task which would result in a system sound.

If you can record the WAV file while it is playing (or if you can hear system sounds while recording), then you have a full-duplex card/driver. Otherwise, you do not. Keep in mind that many drivers are not full-duplex, even though about 97% of cards support it in hardware.

If you have a full-duplex driver, yet still can't hear system sounds while CD/Spectrum Pro is running, there is one more thing to check. Most full-duplex drivers will operate in full-duplex mode only when the input and output formats are the same. For example, if you are recording at 44Khz 16bit and try to play a 22Khz 8bit sound, it won't work. Since most system sounds are 22Khz 8bit, you may wish to use that as the recording format in CD/Spectrum Pro. To do so, right click on the spectrum window and choose to "Configure WavIn Engine".

Why isn't the spectrum animating?

There are six common causes for this.

  1. CDSPro is using an alternate sound device. To solve this, right-click on the "Waves" indicator in the Console window of CDSPro and choose to "Configure Waves Engine". That will bring up a dialog box in which you can select the in and out devices and format. Choose the appropriate device for in and out devices (not the voice modem devices, and not the "Game Compatible Device"). Also, choose a suitable format, like 44Khz Stereo 16bit. Press OK.
  2. The gain is set too low - drag it up.
  3. The CD audio line volume is set too low - drag it up (in the Mixer window).
  4. The color of the spectrum is set to the same as the color of the background - right-click in the spectrum window and go into Settings and make sure the "Low Color" is set to a very different color than the background color.
  5. The CD player is not hooked up to the sound card - if you are able to listen to CDs only through headphones, this is your scenario. (By the same token, if you listen to CDs through your sound card, this is not your scenario.) You need to connect a proper cable between your CD player and your sound card. Please let only a qualified technician perform this.
  6. By far, the most common cause of this problem is that the sound card is configured to digitize an audio source other than the CD audio (usually the microphone). Look in the 'Mixer' window of CD/Spectrum Pro. There, you can click on the 'Record' button, then adjust the signals that are being digitized using the available sliders. However, if no sliders are present, you will need to go into the software for your sound card to tell it what to digitize (set the ADC source).
    CD/Spectrum Pro uses the same mechanisms in your computer that are used by the Windows 95/98/NT components 'CDPlayer' and 'Sound Recorder'. You should first make sure that you can indeed record and play back CD Audio by shutting down CD/Spectrum Pro and playing a CD with the Win95/98/NT CD player and recording with the Win95/98/NT Sound Recorder. Once you can successfully do this, chances are good that CD/Spectrum Pro will work fine.

Why is the system so slow when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?

Some CD-ROM drivers (usually real-mode drivers) can cause CD/Spectrum Pro to have very poor performance. On systems equipped with those faulty drivers, other applications become extremely sluggish whenever CD/Spectrum Pro is running. Admittedly, CD/Spectrum Pro is a demanding application. But when running on good drivers, reasonable performance should be expected even on high end 486 machines, or low end Pentiums.
If your machine has one of these slow drivers, the best thing you can do (short of buying a new CD drive, or getting better drivers) is to disable the CD player in CD/Spectrum Pro and use only the spectrum analyzer. This will allow you to continue to use The Psychedelic Screen Saver to produce visuals that sync to the beat.
To disable the CD part of CD/Spectrum Pro, right-click on the 'CD' indicator in the Console window. Choose 'Disable CD Engine'.
You should also visit the web site of the computer, or CD driver manufacturer. They may have a newer fixed driver available. They may also have a feedback mechanism where you can let them know you are unhappy with the quality of their drivers.

Why can't I hear the music when CD/Spectrum Pro is running?

Some "off-brand" sound cards do not permit simultaneous listening and recording of sound. When recording starts, they stop sending the sound to the speakers. CD/Spectrum Pro uses the wave capture, or recording mechanism to determine what the sound looks like. Therefore, on these substandard cards, the sound will go silent when the spectrum is engaged. Although there is nothing I can do about this, there is something you can do - complain to your sound card manufacturer and ask for updated drivers. It is possible that they have a driver that will fix the problem. Also, keep this in mind the next time you buy a sound card - is it *really* SoundBlaster compatible? SoundBlaster's are :)

To test for this condition, perform the following steps:

  1. Close CD/Spectrum Pro
  2. Open the Win95/98/NT Sound Recorder
  3. Open the Win95/98/NT CD Player
  4. Start the CD playing and note whether or not you can hear it.
  5. Start recording with the Sound Recorder and note whether the sound stops.

If in step 5 the music stops coming out of the speakers, you have one of these poor drivers.

Why does the volume change when I start/stop CD/Spectrum Pro?

Some sound cards reduce the volume to the speakers when recording begins. We've tried to work around this as much as possible, but remember that the Mixer module is available to allow you to adjust the sound volumes if needed.

Why do I get some color squares even when the CD is stopped?

The color you see (usually in the left-most bin) is simply the baseline noise that your sound card is putting out. We don't make the sound, we just FFT it :)

How can I check for hardware conflicts?

Look in

Start->Settings->Control Panel->System->Device Manager

and make sure your CD player and sound card are configured properly with no resource conflicts.

Why would I sometimes experience a lockup?

Some people with lesser known sound cards have reported cases where the computer will lock up when running CD/Spectrum Pro. It is important to note that in Win95/98 and NT, applications (like CD/Spectrum Pro) need help from poorly written drivers or faulty hardware to lock up the computer in this way. Therefore, if you experience one of these lockups, the only way to fix it is get better drivers from your computer or sound card manufacturer.
We've also noticed that the majority of the people reporting lockups have been using Cyrix CPUs. We don't know if the Cyrix chip is the cause of the problem on those computers, but we thought we should mention it.

Is CD/Spectrum Pro an equalizer?

No, CD/Spectrum Pro is not an equalizer. It is a spectrum analyzer. This means that it simply displays the frequency spectra without giving you any opportunity to adjust them. We may add equalizer capabilities when more sound cards support full-duplex wave I/O, but that remains to be seen.

How would I write a similar program?

We've had many requests for information regarding how to write code to do some of the things that CD/Spectrum Pro does. We regret that we don't have the bandwidth to answer programming questions, but we do offer the following:

  • CD/Spectrum Pro was written in C using the Win32 SDK.
  • Most of the interesting code uses the multimedia APIs and some OLE/COM. You can find documentation on everything we did with those APIs in the Win32 SDK online help, or on MSDN.
  • Specifically, folks seem to be interested in the spectrum analysis. We use standard Win32 multimedia APIs to gather the data. You should be able to find all you need in the online help for the Win32 SDK. To process the data, we use a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) - although there are other transformation functions available. Unfortunately, the FFT is too complex to describe here, or in email - so your best bet would be the local library. Be prepared to invest a hefty amount to time to reach "FFT Nirvana" - for us it was several months.

Is it possible to synchronize the spectrum/screen savers to LINE-IN (or any other source)?

Yes. If your sound card/driver supports digitizing a source, then you may use that source to drive the spectrum and/or the screen saver's) visuals. In other words, if you can record the source using the Windows Sound Recorder, then CD/Spectrum Pro should be able to use that source when it is run. The Mixer module in CD/Spectrum Pro exposes whatever standard functionality your sound card/driver might have to allow you to select which source(s) is/are being digitized (press the Record button).

Is it possible to synchronize the spectrum/screen savers to MP3, MIDI, MPG, AVI, WAV, RealAudio, or other files?

The Media Files module in CDSPro will play WAV and MP3 files and the spectrum and/or screen savers will respond automatically. For the other file types, the answer is "maybe - if you have a full-duplex driver". Use you favorite player for these file-types, and if you have a full-duplex driver *and if it can record WAV out*, then CD/Spectrum Pro will be able to digitize the sound. (You need a full-duplex driver since most player software uses WAV output to play the sounds. For more information on full-duplex drivers, see  this other FAQ item.)

After using CDSPro, my Mixer settings (mic, volume, etc.) have changed. Why?

Windows mixer settings include the system volume, system bass and treble settings, and line settings such as which lines (CD, WAV, mic, etc.) are being digitized, which lines are routed to the speakers, etc. These settings are usually retained by Windows from one session to the next, depending on your sound card driver. Some applications, like the Mixer module in CD/Spectrum Pro, provide the ability to modify these settings. In most cases, the changes you make while CDSPro is running will stay in effect even after you close CDSPro - this is expected behavior. In some cases however, they will not - this is completely driver-dependent, there is nothing we can do to change this.

For some drivers, when CDSPro opens up communication with the mixer portion of the driver, the driver changes some mixer settings. The most common manifestation of this is when someone installs CDSPro, runs it, and then their microphone is turned on, or some other mixer setting has changed. This is completely driver-dependent, and does not happen on most drivers. (The Yamaha DS-XG driver causes this most frequently.) Still, it's just a user setting - you can modify it using CDSPro or the Windows mixer. To run the Windows mixer, double-click the speaker icon in your taskbar.

 

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