Foobar2000 is a lightweight audio player that is excellent for the tangodj on Windows. Free as in beer and quite usable out of the box, the possibilities for customizations are endless.
For prelistening, install two instances of the player, and configure one for each sound device. If the sound from the internal sound card is good (which is often the case with recent laptops), you can use a usb headset, which is cheaper than buying an extra soundcard. If the internal soundcard is not good enough, buy an extra sound card.
Both options give you the possibility to install two players, and configuring them to play to different outputs. One for checking your tandas in advance, the other (with best quality) for the audience.
Download the installer from http://foobar2000.org
Select portable mode when you install, and install twice into two different directories, e.g. fb2k-prelisten and fb2k-live.
I prefer a quite simple layout, for instance “Simple playlist + Tabs”, ”System Default” and “Default Playlist” in the Quick Appearance setup.
Next you have to setup your music library, as foobar2000 has a powerful database interface to your music collection, like most current audio players. Add your music folder under File->Preferences->Media Library->Music Folders Activate the Search media library viewer in the same settings pane.
For the player to use for the audience output (foobar-live), set the “Sort incoming files by” blank under File->Preferences->General.
This is really all you need to get going, compose your tandas in the prelisten player, and drag and drop to the live player. To add the new tanda at the end of the playlist, you can drop it at the end, or at the playlist tab.
Some tips for further customization follow below.
Tracks from different cds typically are spaced with variable amount of silence. For equal silence spacing, use the remove silence dsp that comes with foobar2000. Under File->Preferences->Playback->DSP Manager, add the dsp “Skip silence”. You have to set parameters for the plugin, a threshold of 54 dB and a minimum length of silence of 750ms works for me.
To add silence between tracks you need the additional plug-in Post-track silence. Configure it to add an apropriate amount of silence between tracks, 1-4 seconds. Not too short, not too long. I use 1250ms.
Volume adjustment with ReplayGain/EBU R128
With ReplayGain, you can reduce and almost eliminate the need to manually adjust volumes on individual tracks. You calculate an adjustment to each track, and this information is stored in tags with no modification to the stored waveform. Use foobar2000 to add gain information and enable track gain for playback under File->Preferences->Playback->ReplayGain.
Generally, ReplayGain reduces playback volume, so you may want to add a few dB of preamp, but be careful so you don’t add too much, as this may lead to clipping. I have used +2.0 dB without problems, but it depends on your music collection.
Also consider using the more recent EBU R128 specification for calculating the gain values (this is now the default with Foobar2000).
To keep track of your statistics, create a user at last.fm, install the plugin for audioscrobbler and join the tangoDJ group at Last.fm
I use separate tags for djing, to separate from my other music. For instance, I use my own genre tag, tdj_genre with categories IS_TANGO, IS_VALS and IS_MILONGA (etc) which makes it possible to search only the genre tag and not the title, removing false hits, eg. tangos with milonga in the title.
I have used standard dark palettes in this example for use in the often dark environment of a milonga.
If you want to try (or improve) this setup, you can download the setupfiles below, install under File->Preferences->Display->Default User Interface->Import Theme:
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