Foobar2000 for the TangoDJ

About Foobar2000

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.

Prelistening

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.

Installation

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.

Basic configuration

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.

Trimming/adding silence

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).

Last.fm

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

Tagging

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.

Example

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:

fb2k-prelisten

fb2k-live

Comments

Was this useful for you? Do you have suggestions for improvements? Please comment below.

21 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 August 4
    Vlad permalink

    Hello!
    At you many class articles about tango DJ how to adjust foobar2000. At me the request to you. Tell please on more detailed as better and as more conveniently with your point of view to change tandas, to search for music in process milonga. As it is more convenient to work with foobar200.

  2. 2010 August 4

    @Vlad: Thanks for your comment, I will look into writing a post or page on how I work before and during a milonga. Sometime.

  3. 2011 January 22
    Mariano permalink

    Hi Simba,
    What is your “standard” Foobar2000-equalizer settings?
    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Greetings from Buenos Aires, Mariano

  4. 2011 January 23

    Hola Mariano!

    I often attenuate/roll of a little on the high frequencies, but it really depends a lot on the equipment you use, especially the speakers, and also the room acoustics. So you basically have to use your ears. If there is a mixer with eq, I usually use that rather than the foobar2000 equalizer as the physical buttons are more convenient and I generally try not to touch the setup of the live player more than I absolutely have to while playing for an audience of dancers.

  5. 2011 August 27
    Shahar permalink

    It’s a wounderful and useful article!

  6. 2012 September 11

    Hi Simba,

    I find this article really useful. I used to dj with Winamp, configuring it as you suggest, one instance live and another for pre-listening, but Winamp doesn’t allow drag and dropping from one instance to another, and so, I’m changing to Foobar with your interfaces.
    There’s one improvement I’d like to have, and don’t really know how to implement it, or where to find what I wish to have. That is a big timer on the upper toolbar with the time played and the time left to play, either in the song or in a selection. This last option (which in winamp its almost automatic) is very useful to calculate which songs to put, for instance, to arrive to a given hour, normally closing hour.

    Do you have any hints?

  7. 2012 September 17

    Right-click status bar (at the very bottom), toggle “Show total time of selection”.

  8. 2013 September 17
    Azriel permalink

    Great tips! I’ve just started getting into tango and I’m in the process of building a library for DJing at local practicas. I’ve seen others using Itunes, mixx, and other programs, but I’ve been planning to use foobar2000.

    Question: Instead of using replaygain, have you tried vlevel?
    http://forums.stereotool.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1988

  9. 2013 September 17
    Azriel permalink

    And instead of EQing… I’m kind of curious about using this, though I have no intuition for how I would specifically make use of it:

    http://www.head-fi.org/t/563120/multiband-compressor-just-the-thing-to-tame-bad-recordings-overbright-phones

  10. 2013 September 18

    Thanks Azriel, I haven’t tried vlevel, but I am very happy with EBU R128 which is used by fb2k to calculate “Replay Gain” values. When it comes to dynamic compression, that could be useful for some tracks, but mostly the dynamic range of tangos from the golden age is already relatively small. Personally I haven’t found the time to mess with it, and if you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s easy to do more harm than good. This goes for dynamic compression and EQ as well as many “restoration” attempts, IMHO.

  11. 2013 September 18
    Azriel permalink

    Could you clarify how you apply replygain/EBUR128 (e.g. source mode, processing etc) ? Thanks again!

  12. 2013 September 24

    I use the built-in replaygain scanner of foobar2000 and it’s the track gain that is applicable to tango (album mode is for mix albums, live, sonatas, conciertos etc.)

  13. 2014 March 15

    Nice article. Thanks.

    Simba wrote “an adjustment to each track, and this information is stored in tags with no modification to the file.

    I think that’s incorrect. Foorbar2000′s storing in tags does make a modification to the file, and this can have a big effect e.g. on incremental backup of a large library. (What’s true is there’s no modification to the waveform in the file. )One may avoid modification to the file by using instead MediaMonkey or JRiver Media Center, though then the adjustment acts only in that same program.

  14. 2014 March 27

    Quite so. I have updated the article. Note that with default settings, many formats (most notably flac) will add padding, meaning only the part of the file reserved for tagging will be modified when you update the tags, and your backup should be able to exploit this.

    Personally, I want the adjustments for other applications as well, and for use on my mobile phone (which doesn’t support replay gain), I apply the adjustment to the wavform as well.

  15. 2014 September 4
    Isabelle permalink

    Hi Simba,
    V. grateful for this article ! just have one problem with set up for pre-listening, have tried following your instructions, but sound from both foobars come through USB headset …. what am I doing wrong ? would be v. thankful for any help/hints !

  16. 2014 September 4

    Thanks Isabelle, glad it can be of help.

    Did you try setting the output to different sound cards under File->Preferences->Playback->Output->Device ? Set the pre-listen instance to the usb headset, and the other to the sound card to use for the audience (internal or external).

  17. 2014 September 5
    Mikel permalink

    Hi Simba,

    thank you for this information. But I can’t understand, how your kind of tagging works. Where do you set these “I use my own genre tag, tdj_genre with categories IS_TANGO, IS_VALS and IS_MILONGA (etc)”? in the song files and in the program? What do you do to have the artists name show up in the headlines of the player for liveoutput. How do you get that headline *** Cortina***?
    First time I tried I gave up after hours of trying, now I try again, but still without any progress. Do you have any hint?

    thank you very much, Mikel

  18. 2014 September 7
    Mikel permalink

    Thanks again for your great advise for Foobar. It’s only one little detail I just can’t get working. The example image of your setup shows highlighted headlines for the tandas. like on the upper left: “Tanturi, Ricardo – Tango”. But no matter what I do, all I ever see with my setup is “? – Tango”. What do I have to do to have the artist name show up instead of the question mark? Thank you so much for an answer.

  19. 2014 September 8

    Hi Mikel,

    I use the tag ARTISTSORT for the orchestra name in the headlines (“Tanturi, Ricardo”) These you will have to add manually or use another tag, such as the ARTIST tag. There are several ways to add extra tags in foobar2000, the simplest is to use right-click->Properties->Tools->Add New Field . This goes for IS_TANGO etc too. (Although admittedly I don’t use them that much anymore myself.

    For the *** Cortina *** I use a test for genre and substitute everything with that string if the genre is set to cortina. I don’t have the exact expression here, but I can look it up later if you need it. All functions are documented here: http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Foobar2000:Title_Formatting_Reference

  20. 2014 September 10
    Mikel permalink

    That did the trick. Thank you so much!

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