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Seeding Guidelines
(Current wiki note- Volunteers needed to write or expand Dat Transfer, Flac compression, Unix sector boundary sections.) flows with TradeFriendly music donated from the community. The long document below takes you through each step of preparing your donation- your seed- for proper distribution as Shorten or FLAC files. What is covered:

Note: All music circulated through must be TradeFriendly. Please see AboutEtreeOrg for why this is crucial. If your seed is not fully permitted to trade, we don't want it.

Quality First

Quality is very important to the members of our community. Before you seed a show, please consider this question: Is this the best possible source? A copy of a show may circulate to hundreds or thousands of people over time, each of which will spend time and money sharing, burning, and listening to a show - so it's a very bad idea to put an inferior seed into the trading pool. Do some Quality Control:

Transferring Your Seed

section redraft in progress, excuse raggedness
Seeding starts with getting your recording into a format for electronic distribution. This involves "transferring" your material to a computer, changing it to 44.1kHz sample rate for CD if necessary, listening to the audio for a quality check, tracking it for CDs, compressing the audio data into a lossless format (Shorten or FLAC), and creating the necessary companion files for your seed, including an informative "info" (txt) file. Recordings are sometimes seeded from burned CDs, in which case the DAT transfer and tracking steps are replaced with a careful digital audio extraction (DAE) step. However, seeding directly from DAT is strongly preferred whenever possible.

If possible, capture and edit the files in 24 bit audio. Save the step of downsampling to 16 bits (required for CD audio) and dithering for the final step. Be sure your audio editor does a proper dither / re-dither!

From Laptop No "transfer" step since recording occurred directly to computer, but recording may have to be downsampled for 44.1kHz audio CD format. References: [24-bit FAQ], [laptop-tapers]

From DAT (this part needs volunteer writers)
(Methods for doing a digi-transfer can be written up on a DatTransfer page linked to here. Volunteers, just go edit that page.)

The folks of (Links to other groups like DAT-Heads, may be able to advise or assist you with the DAT transfer process.

Archival format If you are planning to seed 24-bit archival material directly (perhaps in FLAC format), check out the detailed [24-bit FAQ].

From Analog Media (reel to reel or cassette tapes)- need pointer or writers- is there a FAQ somewhere?

From an Existing CD
Sometimes it's necessary to seed a recording from an audio CD source. In a common example, the material may have been transferred from DAT directly to a standalone unit. In other cases, the original DAT may be unavailable or unreadable. Seeding a CD-sourced show saves you the trouble of having to do a tape transfer. However, the DAE process can be tricky and should not be rushed. Here are some DAE tips:

Extracting a CD with one of these reliable tools will usually take a long time, but the extra time is worth it to ensure you seed the highest quality version of the recording.

Tracking the Seed for CD

You should arrange your seed into tracks in a way that gives a pleasant listening experience. "Buzzkill" careless tracking of seeds is a common complaint from listeners; a little extra thought brings a lot of happiness. If the recording came from a DAT, you'll now need to track it for audio CDs from scratch. If you're seeding from a previous CD, you can optimize the tracking at this point, if necessary. Here are some tracking tips:

Tracking at Sector Boundaries
Paying attention to a simple technical issue during tracking can make a noticeable difference in seed quality. Each track of a standard audio CD is composed of "sectors" or "frames" that are each 1/75 second long (also expressed as 2352 bytes or 588 samples long). If a track is properly cut on a multiple of 1/75 second, it is "sector aligned", or cut "along sector boundaries." When it is not properly cut, the last sector is like a ragged end, which CD burning software just fills in with silence. Listeners will hear a click or pop between tracks because of the music -> sub-second silence -> music transition. This is extremely annoying and easily avoidable. Here are some sector boundary tips:

More Quality Control

After you've done your DAT transfer or DAE, you should listen to the resulting audio files on disc or on your computer to ensure they are clean. There should be no clicks or pops that don't exist on the source media, and the overall sound quality should be the same as the copy you're working from.

Please take the time to listen to at least some of the material you transferred (e.g., a sample from each DAT or CD). Ideally, listen to your recording in its entirety. If it's a killer show, you probably want to hear it again anyway :-)

File Naming

Name your new .wav files according to's basic NamingStandards. They will now be ready for compression into a lossless format, either FLAC or Shorten. Typical compression tools will take the names of the new .flac or .shn files directly from the names of your .wavs.

Some handy tools for renaming files are [Flexible Renamer], [Flash Renamer], [THE Rename] (Windows free/shareware). Be careful not to rename all the files on your hard drive accidentally, though!

Compression and Fingerprinting

The audio .wav data you have created should next be compressed into a lossless format. Compressed files will be easier and faster for people to transfer around, and to store as archives. Currently, uses either FLAC or Shorten. If you use one, it's easy to understand the other. However, flac is under active development, while shn and (more importantly) the tools for using shn files are not being kept up to date.

FLAC (volunteer writers needed for this section)
FLAC though newer to, is a proven and more modern format, with several important advantages over Shorten. Tools available for compression to .flac are listed on the FLAC page.

You are strongly encouraged to add tags (also known as FlacMetadata ) to the files. Unlike shn, but like most other modern compression formats, flac has a section of the file which stores information about the file. The comment field allows you to identify lots of information about the show, gear, encoder, etc. That means no more mystery files or versions! The track name and number is used in many flac players (both hardware and software players).

Place the .flac files you create into a new directory that conforms to our NamingStandards. (If multiple tapes circulate per date, consider ExtendedNamingStandards for the top directory).

You should create a FlacFingerprint (ffp.txt) file for your .flac set, using NamingStandards. This file will help future traders identify which flac set they have for a given show date. See the FLAC page for software links; the FlacFrontend program can generate a fingerprint file, for example.

(Side note: Whether to include whole-file .md5 fingerprints as well is [a topic of debate]. Although whole-file .md5s are [formally discouraged] at, they can be useful in other venues such as the [Live Music Archive] (more specific link at the site to be prepared soon).)

Mike Wren wrote, a long time ago now: "We still need someone to write up a seeding standard for 24bit audio (how do we track, how do we archive for DVD-A support, etc.). I'll be bugging people about this --MW"

Shorten had been's preferred audio compression method for several years, and many traders are quite comfortable with it. A number of tools are available for compression to .shn. See the [Small SHN and MD5 FAQ] or the [ software page] for choices that work on your computer platform.

Some, but not all, Shorten tools include the option to make the .shn files "seekable" during direct play, by appending an extra table of seeking data to each file. See the [Small SHN and MD5 FAQ] and's [Seeking FAQ] for more info. Your compressing with the seek-appended option will be appreciated by those listeners who use their computers as .shn "listening stations."

When you are finished, place the .shn files you create into a new directory that conforms to our NamingStandards. If your band is widely taped and multiple sources circulate per date, consider ExtendedNamingStandards for the top directory.

Important: After you have prepared your .shn files, generate .md5 file(s) that contain checksums for each of them. These checksums are essential for people to check for .shn file corruption after a download, and to help future traders identify which shn set they have for a given show date. More information about .md5s and tools to create them (often bundled with a Shorten tool) are listed in the [Small SHN and MD5 FAQ]. Name the .md5 file(s) according to our NamingStandards and place them in the same directory with the .shn files (they will probably already be there on creation).

Within your new .md5 file(s), there should be checksum lines corresponding to all of the .flac or .shn files you are seeding, and only lines for those. Depending on the md5-making program you used, if you had other files (such as a .txt file) next to your music files when you generated your .md5, then you may have checksum line(s) for the other file(s) too. Please remove other unwanted lines from your .md5 file if necessary, by opening, editing and saving it in a text editor such as Notepad. Any other checksum lines will only cause confusion later.

Optionally, you can also generate .md5 file(s) for your original wav files. This provides an extra level of quality control for others. [Md5summer] is an easy Windows tool for this purpose. Name the .md5 file(s) according to our NamingStandards and place them in the same directory with the .shn files.

Creating an Info File

An info file is a plain .txt file that tells people about your seed. Often it's the only thing a potential listener has to help him decide whether or not to download or trade for your fileset versus another fileset. Since downloading and trading take time and effort, the more details you can give, the more you will help the decision. Here are some info file tips:

Name the .txt file according to our NamingStandards and place it in the same directory with the other files. Within the directory you made, you now have a complete "shn set" or "flac set."

Circulating Your Seed

Use the mechanisms of to publicize and distribute your fine new TradeFriendly seed. The usual method is to let ftp SiteOps know about your seed, then arrange to upload the files to the interested ones. Here are some circulation tips:

If There Are Problems

Sometimes there is a problem with your seed that is not detected until you've put it into circulation. For example, a .shn file may have gotten corrupted during your initial upload or even (rarely) during your compression step. There may have been a mistake during DAT transfer. In some cases, other members can fix minor errors and reissue your seed as a fixed copy. In other cases, you are the best or only person who can fix the problem. If necessary, please give the problem that extra bit of your attention, so that your overall effort of seeding won't go to waste.

Accept Thanks!

We appreciate your generosity! :)

See also: NamingStandards, ExtendedNamingStandards, BandAbbreviations, BandAbbreviationGuidelines

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This Page Last Changed: Apr 29, 2007 07:25:08
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