Recording Songs & Questions

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You can record and save song hooks, question audio, and even system prompts in your station's production room, as long as you observe the correct file format specifications when saving each file.

 

HandComQuest requires all audio prompts be recorded and saved as 8-bit or 16-bit, 8,000 cycle MONO A/mu-Law format .WAV files.

 

This means no .PCM, .MP3 or RealAudio files can be used. When you have a printed Song Test List, it will be easy to locate the songs that need to be recorded.  They are indicated by three asterisks to the left of the title (***) in the printed Song Test List.  The filename that you will use to save them is indicated to the far right of each title (such as 408.WAV, etc).

 

Using Cool Edit To Record

 

Your ComQuest Fileserver has a sound card and a product we license called Cool Edit 2000.  Cool Edit is a full-featured audio recording and editing tool.  It has far more features than you will ever need or use to record song hooks and audio prompts, but it is fairly easy to learn and use, so we have provided it for your convenience.

 

To launch Cool Edit, click on its icon on the main ComQuest screen:

 

icon15

 

The default settings should already be loaded when you launch Cool Edit (unless they were changed for some reason in the last session).  Be sure you have your audio source ready to play the song clip.  Usually this is the provided cassette deck, or an optional CD or DAT player which is plugged in to the sound card on your Fileserver.

 

You should be able to monitor the source through the computer speakers on your Fileserver. Adjust the monitor volume of the speakers according to your preference, but keep in mind the speaker volume has no effect on the recording level into your computer.

 

Here is an overview of everything displayed on the basic Cool Edit screen:

 

CoolEdit

Cool Edit display screen

 

To begin recording, cue up your source audio and pause it (or get ready to press the Play button), and click the red record button in the lower right corner of the Transport toolbar (in the lower left corner of the Cool Edit screen shot above).

 

CoolRecord

Record button in Transport toolbar

 

The New Waveform window will be displayed:

 

CoolNewWave

New Waveform screen

 

The defaults should already be set, as they are in the screen shot above, but if they're not for some reason, change them to 8000 Sample Rate, Mono (Channels) and 8-bit (Resolution), and click OK.

 

Cool Edit is now recording.  Begin to play your source for this song hook (or question audio or system prompt; whatever it is you're recording for the ComQuest system).  Make sure the level is in the correct range (not peaking too high, or too low overall), by monitoring the red VU meter across the bottom of the Cool Edit screen.

 

CoolVU

Cool Edit VU meter

 

When the hook has finished playing, click the Stop button in the upper left corner of the Cool Edit Transport toolbar to stop recording.

 

CoolStop

Cool Edit control buttons

 

Don't worry about being too tight with the starting or stopping of recording; it's easy to clean-up the hook in Cool Edit, and trim dead-air from the beginning or end of a hook:

 

Next, Save the audio you've just recorded.  If it's a song clip, you will want to save it as the Song ID number, in the format described above, with a .WAV file extension.

 

HandWhen saving song hooks, it's not necessary to type the .WAV file extension; it will be added automatically to the filename.

 

 

CoolSave

Saving a Cool Edit sound clip

 

Other than the file name you enter, the only other critical step is that the audio is saved as A/mu-Law Wave, as indicated in the screen shot above.  If this is not the default file format you see in the Save As Type field, you must change to this format. Any other format of audio file will not work with the ComQuest IVR system, even though it may play back through your Windows computer just fine!

 

Cleaning Up The Audio

 

It's beyond the scope of this manual to give you specific, hands-on instructions in Cool Edit, but we can certainly show you some tips and tricks on your computer.  Simply call ComQuest Technical Support, and we'll be glad to dial-in to your Fileserver's modem, and give you a quick 15-minute tutorial on the features of Cool Edit.

 

A couple quick tips that will help you improve efficiency with your ComQuest system:

 

Trim all audio (songs, questions and system prompts), so there is no dead-air before or after the actual audio.  The flow of the music test is many times a succession of audio prompts and song clips, etc.  If any of them have dead-air, it will slow the flow of your entire test.

 

Normalize the levels.  Remember the old-days of callout, when hooks were played from cassette decks down the phone line?  Each hook (or at least each interviewer's cassette deck) level would vary wildly, sometimes blasting the respondent in the ear, and other times barely audible.  Well now, you have the luxury of digitized, uniform audio... so use that to your best advantage.  After recording any audio, follow this simple procedure:

 

Click on Edit on the Cool Edit menu

 

Click on Select Entire Wave

 

Click on Transform on the Cool Edit menu

 

Click on Amplitude

 

Click on Normalize

 

Set the level to 85%

 

Click OK to Normalize the level (be sure to save the audio again after doing this).

 

If you follow these simple steps with all songs, questions and system prompts you record into your ComQuest system, everything will play back, loud, clear and consistently for all respondents.

 

Batch & Script Processing

 

Cool Edit Scripts allow you to save a series of actions (such as a cut/paste or applying a transform) to be performed again with the click of a button. Scripts are similar to Macros; your exact mouse moves, and any tweaking of parameters are stored, and repeated in the same sequence when recalled. As an example, suppose you have a combination of effects with particular settings (an EQ setting, a Hall reverb, etc) that you like to apply often and in combination to achieve a certain sound. You can record these steps, and specific settings, to be carried out again by simply calling the script.

 

There are three types of scripts. The type created depends upon your state when you initiate the recording:

 

1. Scripts that start from scratch. These scripts start with no waveform opened, and their first command is /File/New.

 

2. Script that works on the current wave. This type of script operates on the entire waveform. It requires a file to be opened, but with no selection made. Actions begin at the playback cursor position in the waveform, and will affect any data present at that point.

 

3. Scripts that work on a highlighted selection. This type requires a highlighted selection to be made. All actions in the script pertain only to the portion that is highlighted, leaving the rest of the waveform untouched.

 

There is already a default script loaded on your system called ComQuest.  It contains the settings (sample and bit rate, mono and normalization) that you will use in the ComQuest program.  You can use this script for a single hook (item 2, above), or you can process several hooks at the same time, by using this script in Batch Processing mode.

 

To use for a single hook, first open that song hook so it is displayed in Cool Edit.  Then, click Options / Scripts & Batch Processing, select the ComQuest script in the left box, and click on the Run Script button.

 

To process more than one song hook or voice prompt at the same time, don't open any audio file, but just go to Options / Scripts & Batch Processing, but this time click on Batch Processing.  You will then select the audio files you wish to run the script against.  Be sure the destination path is the C:\ComQuest folder, or if it's not, remember to move the processed audio files to that folder when you're done.

 

For more in-depth instructions regarding Cool Edit, please click on the Help menu item to the far right in the program, or feel free to call ComQuest Technical Support.

 

See also

Sound Card