Burning MP3 CDs for use with Ford Shaker Stereos

(Written by Octavio Diaz)

 

 

 

 

The Ford Shaker 500 and Shaker 1000 car stereos features a six disc CD player juke box that is capable of supporting MP3 data discs.

MP3 is a file format used to compress audio tracks. The songs or tracks on an audio CD can be converted to MP3 format and the files can be stored on a computer, a data CD or an MP3 player.  The process of converting audio tracks to MP3 files is called RIPPING.  An alternative method of obtaining MP3 songs is downloading them from the internet.  There are various music subscription services that allow you to search and purchase individual songs or entire albums.  These songs are then downloaded and stored in some type of digital media (hard drive, CD, MP3 Player, flash cards, etc)

These MP3 tracks have additional information stored within the file called meta-data.  This data can contain information such as the title of the song, the artist, name of the album, track on the CD, and much more.  The Metadata stored on these MP3 tracks are called ID3 Tags.  There are currently two supported versions.  The shaker is only capable of reading ID3V1 tags.  If you burn your CD with either ID3V2 or ID3V1 and V2, the shaker will not be able to read all of the information stored in the ID3 tag.

The Shaker can read data CDs containing MP3 files.  The type of CD media recommended is  CD-R.  Although other media types may work (CD-R+ or CDRW) may work, from experience, the most widely supported type is CD-R.  A CD can store between 700-800 MB of data.  This translates to about 10 hours of music per CD.

 

Shaker MP3 TRACK AND FOLDER STRUCTURE

The Shaker supports two different modes for MP3 disc playback: MP3 track mode (system default) and MP3 folder mode.   In track mode, the Shaker is capable of reading up to 255 tracks in a single folder (tracks are numbered sequentially from T001-T255) .  If more ten 255 songs are burned onto a CD, the shaker will only recognize the first 255. 

In folder mode, the shaker supports a folder structure consisting of a single level of folders. Up to 99 folders can be stored below the root folder with up to 99 tracks in each folder.  Creating CDs with a single level of folders is recommended to simplify navigation. 

The Shaker systems supports a shuffle feature.  This randomly selects songs within a CD.  Turning this feature off causes the songs to be played sequentially from T001-T255 or F01T01-F99T99.  This feature however will not play songs on a different disc (it does not automatically change CDs)

Ripping CDs

As previously mentioned, the procedure of converting tracks or songs on an audio CD to MP3 files is called ripping.  There are many commercially available and public domain software utilities that allow you to RIP audio CDs to various proprietary file formats or to the universally accepted format called MP3. 

 

Windows Media Player (WMP) is such a program. It is included with all recent Microsoft operating systems or can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s web site.  Another Free Ripper that is highly recommended is Apples iTunes.    In addition to Ripping the CDs, the Itune has the ability to edit the ID3tags and burn MP3 data disks all in a single application.  This is such a powerful tool that I will cover it in detail later in this article.

 

Launch Microsoft’s Window Media Player and from the WMP tool bar, select Tools à Options à Rip Music tab.  Under Rip settings, chose mp3 for the file format and select 192 bps as the audio quality by moving the pointer on the slide bar near the bottom of the options pop-up  to the left.  This is an acceptable quality and provides about 80 MB per album (equivalent to approximately 10 albums per CD).   Other recommended options are to select the “Rip CD when inserted” and “Eject CD when ripping is complete”.  This will speed up the process of ripping a large number of CD by allowing the user to insert CDs and continue to work while the PC automatically rips the CD.  When the process is completed, the CD is ejected and another one can be inserted and will start to rip automatically.

 

Under the same tab, select File Name and in the window that appears, choose convention to be “track number”, “song title” “artist” and “album”. The result is one subfolder per album within a folder having the artist's name and containing all the tracks in order they appears on the audio CD.

 

Information on each track of the CD is stored on hidden files in an audio CD.  This information contains things like the song title, artist, album title, track number, time duration, etc.  The Ripper software you use will read this information and attach this information to the converted MP3 song in the form of an ID3tag.  Different Rippers default to different IDtag version but most use ID3V2.  As previously mentioned, the shaker only supports tags written in V1.0.  To convert the ID3 tags to V1 and make any corrections necessary, you will need to use an ID3 editing software or iTunes.

 

 

 

 

 

Fixing ID3 Tags

So now, you have a collection of MP3 songs that you have ripped or downloaded.  However, the ID3 tag information may not be what you think it is.  Different CD rippers may use different versions of the ID3 tags (currently there are three versions available V1, V2 and V1V2.  Also, not all of the CDs provide the same level of information.  Some CDs may even contain completely inaccurate information.  If you want the Shaker to properly identify the song title, artist and album, you may need to edit the ID3 tags and convert them to V1.  Remember that the shaker only supports V1 formatted ID3 tags.

 

This procedure can be very time consuming if you have thousands or even hundreds of files.  It can be even more complicated if your songs come from different sources such as downloaded music, older CDs, or CDs from smaller labels.  Remember this is optional and not required unless you want the track, album, song title and artist information to be correct.

There are many tools available to edit ID3 tags.  A simple to use shareware version is MP3Tag which may be downloaded from http://www.mp3tag.de/en/download.html.  Apple's iTunes also has an ID3tag editing function. 

 

Which ever one you choose, make sure that it is capable of writing only a V1 ID3 tag.  Some will burn V2 by default.  The shaker only supports V1 and will not support an ID3 tag that contains both versions.  After downloading the software, install the application and launch the it by double clicking on the icon.

 

To begin, select fileà change Directory.  Browse to your music folder.  In a few minutes (depending on how much music you have, the information for all of you songs will appear in the main panel on the left.

Next, select your file reading and writing options.  We want to be able to read everything, but we only want to write ID3V1 tags.  From the Tools menu, select options.  Under tags, select each of the options and choose the options shown below.

     

Correct the fields for each song as necessary and then select all of the songs that need to have their tag information updated.  You can select multiple consecutive files by selecting the first song and holding the shift key while you select the last son in the series.   Non-sequential files may be selected by holding down the CTRL key and selecting individual files.

When ready, select FileàSave Tag.  If the options were selected properly as indicated above, all ID tags will be rewritten in V1 format.

Remember that this program is shareware and if you use find it useful, you should make a donation to the author through paypal.

Burning MP3 CDs

Now, you have your MP3 songs, you’ve fixed the tags on the songs you care about and you are ready to burn them on CDs.  The first step should be to organize your music.  Although the Shaker can play over 60 hours of music, the shuffle feature only works on a single CD at a time.  Also, the Shaker supports two different file structures.  This is where you will need to decide which songs you are going to put on each CD, and whether you want to use a single directory or a directory structure underneath a root directory.

Most media players support creating playlists.  Create a playlist for each CD and drop the songs that you want onto each playlist.  Make sure you constrain yourself to the limits imposed by the physical media and the Shaker’s file structure limits.  Most CDs are limited to 700-800 MB.  And the shaker can only support 255 tracks in a single directory or 99 subdirectories underneath a root directory with no more then 99 tracks in each directory.

 

Apple's iTunes supports burning both audio and data discs, however, WPM only supports burning audio CDs; it can not create a data disc.  For this you will need some CD burning software.  Again, there are many to choose from; I chose Roxio Easy Creator Suite.  To burn a CD using Roxio, follow the procedure below:

  • From the tool bar, select  Common Projects and then select Data Disk
  • Drag and drop the playlists into the Data Disc Project window
  • Select the “View and edit your project” button
  • Choose UDF102 and Joliet Bridge file structure  
  • Select “Validate source files before recording “
  • Select “Automatically verify File System after recording”
  • Click on the “Exclude File Types tab “
  • Choose all files except .mp3, also select the “Exclude all hidden files” and “Exclude all system files “options (this will prevent copying of  .ini and .jpg files normally associated with images of the album  cover.  The display on the Shaker can not display this information.  By eliminating these files you will have more room for songs)
  • Click  the Burn button
  • Select  “Details”, if the button says “Hide Details”, then do nothing
  • Select Read-Only Disc
  • Choose Test & Write
  • Choose the writing speed (Although it may take longer, you will get better results by choosing a slower burn speed.  Choose a burn speed that is no more then 75% of the maximum your media or drive will support for example if your media support 24X but your drive only supports 16x then you will want to choose 12x or less.
  • Start burning your CD

Note, you must select the option to close the CD when finished.  This will make the CD read only.  Failure to do this may result in problems playing the CD.

One last note,  although you may be the most creative person on earth and can create the best looking CD labels, refrain from using paper labels on your CDs.  They can heat up inside the Shaker, start to peel off and completely ruin your Shaker.  The best way to label your CD creations is with a good old fashioned felt tip marker.

 

iTunes to the rescue

Apple has released an application that is available for free from their download site.  It runs on Windows as well as Macs and, as mentioned before, it allows you to RIP, convert, edit ID3 tags, organize your music into playlists and burn MP3 data discs as well as audio discs.  It is by far one of the most powerful media management applications available.

 

Before getting started with iTunes

Before getting started, there is a little housekeeping that will make things easier later on.  iTunes lets you import songs from various formats as well as ripping songs directly from CDs.  iTunes default format is an Apple proprietary format called AAC.  To make things easier for us, we will want to change this to MP3. 

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences, then click the Advanced tab at the top of the window and click Importing

  2. Choose an encoder (select MP3 from the drop down list)

  3. Choose a bit rate from the Setting pop-up menu 128 is acceptable and will allow you to fit more songs on the CD.  If you want a little better quality, select 192.  Very few people will be able to hear the difference but if you are one that can, you may want to sacrifice a few songs on a CD for better fidelity.  The 192 setting creates files that are about 1 MB in size per minute of music

Ripping songs from an audio CD using Itunes,

  1. Insert an audio CD into your computer. After a moment, the songs on the CD are listed in the iTunes window.
  2. Click to remove the checkmark next to any songs you don't want to import.
  3. To remove the gap of silence that normally occurs between songs, make sure the songs on the CD are sorted by track number in ascending order (click the top of the first column so that it's blue and you see a triangle that points up), then select two or more adjacent songs and choose Advanced > Join CD Tracks.

    iTunes imports any joined songs as one track. To change back to importing the songs separately, select the joined songs and choose Advanced > Unjoin CD Tracks.

  4. To add the selected songs to your library, click the Import button in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window.

    The display area at the top of the iTunes window shows how much time it will take to import each song. To cancel importing, click the small X next to the progress bar.

  5. When the songs are finished importing, click the Eject symbol to the right of the CD in the playlist, or click the Eject Disk button in the lower-right corner of the iTunes window.

By default, iTunes plays songs while they're being imported. You can click the Pause button to stop playback, or continue to use iTunes for other tasks; the import will continue. You can also stop iTunes from playing songs automatically by deselecting the "Play songs while importing" checkbox in the Advanced pane of iTunes Preferences (in the Importing section).

Importing MP3 and other music files into iTunes.

When iTunes is installed, it will optionally search all of your attached hard disks and CDs for every audio format file it knows and will list it in the iTunes library.  It will also attempt to categorize the files by album or genre if the information is available.  The songs will remain in their native format and can be played by iTunes. 

However, to burn these songs or to edit their ID3tag information, the songs must first be imported into iTunes.  Before you do this, make sure you have configured your preferences as described in the getting started section above.

To import the songs

  1. select the songs to be imported from the play list.  You can select multiple songs by holding the CTRL key while selecting individual songs, holding down the shift key while selecting the first and last song in a sequence, or you can select all of the songs by typing Ctrl-A
  2. Import the songs using File-> Import.  This could take a little while and you will see the progress on the screen.

Editing song information within iTunes

All of the information about a song is not always correct.  Some older CDs or CDs from smaller labels may have the song titles or tracks confused.  As a result, the name and information on a song maybe sometimes be incorrect.  To edit the information, right click on a song and select get info.  This will access a database on the internet that will retrieve all of the know information about the track selected.  if the information is incorrect, you can edit it in this screen.  This information will be used to create the ID#tag information.  If the information is wrong here, the information displayed on your shaker may not match what you think you are listening to.

Converting ID3Tags using iTunes

To create the ID#tag or convert it to V1.0,

  1. Select a song or songs as described above
  2. Select Advanced - > convert ID3 Tags
  3. Select V1.0 from the drop down box and then select OK
  4. If the Convert ID3 Tags option is grayed out, make sure that you have selected an MP3 file.  If not, convert the song to MP3 by choosing Advanced -> Convert Selection to MP3.  When the conversion is complete, you will have two copies of the files.  one in the original format and one in MP3.  You can delete the original file of you prefer.  Now, you should be able to create the ID3tag for this song
  5. If the Convert ID3 Tags option and the Convert Selection to MP3 options are both grayed out, that means that the song has not yet been imported into iTunes.  Select File -> Import and then follow the instructions starting at 1 above.

 

To burn an MP3 data disc using iTunes

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences, then click the Advanced tab at the top of the window and click Burning.
  2. Choose MP3 CD as the Disc Format, then click OK.
  3. Select the playlist containing the songs you want to burn to the CD, and make sure all the songs you want to include on the CD have a checkmark beside them.

    You can only burn a CD from the songs in a playlist, and only the checked songs will be included.

    If the playlist contains more songs than will fit on one CD, iTunes will burn as many songs as fit on the CD. You may want to move some of the songs to a new playlist, and then burn each playlist to a separate CD. (You can see the size of the selected playlist at the bottom of the iTunes window.)

  4. Click the Burn Disc button in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window.
  5. Insert a blank CD-R disc and click Burn Disc again. If your playlist includes songs in formats other than MP3, such as songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store, they will not be burned on the CD.

 

Playing your CDs

Now all of the hard work has been done and you are ready to start enjoying some tunes.  You have your 6 MP3 CDs in your hands with over 60 hours of your favorite music.  Let's get Rocking!

 

On the Shaker, press the LOAD button to begin the CD load sequence. When the radio prompts to select a slot, use the presets to select the desired slot to load the CD. If the selected slot already contains a CD, the display will read SLOT FULL. Press and hold to autoload up to 6 CDs. Load CDs one at a time when the radio prompts to load a CD.

 

Press the menu button and toggle to the Track/Folder mode.  Select the track/folder mode you chose to use when crating your CDs.  After setting the Track/folder mode, press the menu button again till you reach the shuffle mode.  Turning this feature on will allow the Shaker to randomly play songs within the currently playing CD.  To switch to a different CD, use the up down button to select the next CD you would like to play.

 

When a song is playing, the display on the Shaker will display the track, song title, artist name and album title.  This information is longer then the display in the shaker.  To view all of the information, press the TEXT button (preset 6) repeatedly until all of the information is displayed.

 

Congratulations you now have over 60 hours of music to listen to on your Shaker.  Now crank up the tunes and go for a ride.