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Hey there. Just hoping for a little advice on this.

I'm a long time Minidisc user, though I wouldn't put myself at the level of some professionals who know the in and outs of recording, the ATRAC format, own several decks, and such. Currently I own a MZ-NF610 and two MZ-NH1 models, and I plan on nabbing an MZ-RH1 in the near future. I've been using SonicStage 3.4 for a long time to port over my music to minidisc with minimal problem for a while now. However, when I recently upgraded my computer, I had moved up to SonicStage 4.3. I rarely used it though, since much of the music I listed do was already on disc, and I was doing more live recording then file porting.

However, today I had some new music I wanted to burn to minidisc via the netMD model. SonicStage unfortunately would not transfer the files over, giving that message familiar to some users here: "Unable to transfer files." It wouldn't even play the mp3 at all. I looked around for any advice on the matter, and saw in an older thread that it was best to stick with 3.4 anyway, as I'm using XP, and it didn't have the transfer problems seen in the later versions. So I uninstalled 4.3 and reinstalled 3.4 (I tend to save exe's for just this sort of thing). However, I ran into the same problem; the files wouldn't be transferred. THen I did what I should have done in the first place: I checked to see if it would do this to other mp3 files I had. Sure enough, it was able to play many others, but not the ones i wanted to transfer. So this is making me think it has something to do with the files themselves, though I'm not sure what. The files themselves are at 192kbs, and last I checked that was ok with SonicStage.

Basically I'm thinking that there probably wasn't a problem with 4.3 after all, and thinking of going back to it. But I'm wondering if I'm better off just sticking with 3.4. I am only using minidisc equipment and have no plans on getting a Network Walkman. I also have seen some people here and there say that 3.4 was more stable, though I don't know how true that is. And It seems lots of people are happy with 4.3 Ultimate. So should I upgrade, or stay with 4.3?

Also, any advice on getting SonicStage to read and transfer those other mp3s would be great too.

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Summary: your database is messed up.

As long as these are MP3 files (or WAV) ie not copy-protected ATRAC, you haven't done anything wrong. Note that PLAYING some MP3 files in some players will modify the file (I seem to recall Real Player might do this), so any file that got changed will no longer be recognised by SS.

If they were ATRAC files to begin with, you're screwed unless you can go back (via System Restore) to an earlier point in time. This means you lose any uploads since that point, forever. Don't try any of this (trying to get ATRAC files back) unless you need to.

Next, find where Sonic Stage puts your optimized files (my guess is some directory called "Optimized Files" somewhere near where SS keeps your imported files). Delete all the files there. Also there's a couple of things in the "Options" section of SS - delete the temporary files (probably the same as what you just did), and optimize the database (nothing to do with optimized files!).

Stop SS, reboot Windows (just for the heck of it), and try again.

I'm assuming NONE of this helped. If it did, then Hallelujah. Now you have a tedious job. You have to delete all the songs that won't transfer (finding out is tedious too!) FROM SonicStage (make sure you never check the box telling you to delete the music file from the computer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Now re-import them (the file menu) and all will (I hope) be well. That's the tedious part, re-sorting them. You might do well to keep one song in each album (say the first or the last) and do it after you have imported all the others. That way you don't lose the folder and artist information.

Sometimes SS also gets confused if you had ATRAC and converted to MP3 and both files are showing in the SS display. But what typically leads to the above scenario is that an ATRAC file is generated (in Optimized Files) from your MP3 (or WAV) and then it gets deleted or goes out of date (see the comment about realplayer above, though it's not exactly applicable, I speak in generalities) and now the database says "the right file ain't there".

I hope this helps.

And yes, as long as you don't have any files terminally protected with Sony digital paranoia, SS4.3 (especially Avrin's nice updated version "Ultimate") is much better. I believe there might be some weird data rates that I have never used in the earlier versions but unless you know you need them, fuhgeddaboutit :)

If you do have ATRAC files after all this that are protected, you should remove the copy protection. I suspect in 3.4 this means converting them to 4.3 (SOMEONE PLEASE CONFIRM THIS, I DON'T WANT TO MESS THIS POOR CHAP UP). In 4.3 it's a simple matter of running the File Conversion Tool and unchecking the Copy Protect dialog checkbox. You should always do that with your precious recordings anyway.

Good luck

Stephen

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Thanks for the response. I'm working on things right now.

So far, I deleted all the optimized files in the folder of the same name (it's weird how SonicStage has three different folders with the same name, in three separate locations on the harddrive. Wouldn't it be more efficient to just have everything in one folder sitting inside the program files directory??), though I haven't optimized the database yet. I then uninstalled 3.4, and installed 4.3 ultimate (love the whole flipping of numbers here). Sure enough, the mp3's wouldn't play... in fact, a lot of my old mp3's which used to play no longer did so. However, some still did. So I'm in the middle of deleting the ones that don't work from the SonicStage database.

However, while doing this, I noticed something interesting. The mp3's that can play on SonicStage are all 256kbs and above. The ones that can't play are all lower kbs. So I'm wondering if this has anything to do with whatever codec or plugin that SonicStage is using to play mp3 files.

Will keep you posted on my progress.

Edit: ok, forget that part about SonicStage only able to play mp3 files that are 256kbs and higher. I just found some 128s that are playing just fine. Still deleting the non playing ones.

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Ok...

I've finished deleting all the non playing mp3's from the database, deleted all the optimized files from the optimized files folder, optimized the database, and reset the computer and SonicStage.

No dice. It still won't play files I import.

I'm thinking my next move might be to uninstall again, and then check and clean the registry. Considering that this is something of a risky move, I want to make sure that this is pretty much the next step before I do it. Should this be my next option, or should I go through all my mp3 files and re-render them, in the hopes that SonicStage will be able to play them?

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At this point I might start to do a few things with a single non-behaving MP3.

a. does it play (and does it play without getting modified) in normal players other than SS?

b. can you install another SS on another PC and import that one file there? I realise that's a problem for many people.

c. Have you checked that the library is stored on a medium where there is lots of WRITEABLE storage before doing the import? The fact you have several "optimized files" folders suggests to me that you have stored the db under a single user (and maybe for several users). Consequently it will be inaccessible to other users through Windows AC lists.

I would consider carefully the benefits of having only a single place for SS database, NOT under your My Documents tree.

Did you upgrade to SP3? Rumour has it that some of the Vista UAL stuff got snuck in there in the interests of "security". Sony has always insisted you have to be more than a plain-joe user when running SS. Perhaps you got away with it but now restrictions on access are being enforced. Yup, time to start looking at ACL's. Sorry.

oh yes, one more thing. Time to talk to the resident genius Avrin. The db is a real Microsoft Access db. Somehow maybe the permissions got munged?

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Oh boy....

The mp3s in question do play in other programs. they have no problem playing in Foobar and Winamp, and with no modifications necessary.

As far as having several optimized files folders, actually I have just one. It's just that i noticed that there were several "SonicStage" folders: one in the Program Files folder, One in the All Users folder, and one in the All Users/Application data Folder. I would think it would be better to just have one folder for all these files, but that's Sony for you.

I can install SS into another computer... I just have to ask my wife if it's ok to use her laptop for that. :P

I'll admit, the files I'm trying to import are in my "My Documents" folder. Normally I store my music in a separate folder not in the "My Documents" folder, but I had just got those other music files and haven't moved them yet. Maybe I should do that, and see if importing them from the folder outside of "My Documents" will work?

What you said about SP3 is scary, because I DID upgrade to it a while ago. Considering that I haven't used SS in a while, and I don't remember having these problems before, I'm guessing that I was enjoying glitch free performance before the server pack upgrade. I have no idea what ACL's are, but something in the way you phrased this making me think this is going to be a headache. It's looking like I might have to speed up my plans to get a dedicated XP laptop just to run SonicStage, and to make sure it never has SP3 on it.

Edit: looks like SS 4.3 is now having problems importing files from my music folder as well, the one that was never in the My Documents folder. This is getting ridiculous: it used to be able to play these files.

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0K, we're getting there... more information now. You cannot import because something doesn't have the right (write!) access to the folders under the user tree.

First make sure you are either always logged on as either a Power User or an Administrator. If that fixes it we are done (until the next round of MSFT paranoia).

OK time to create a new folder called "SonicStage\Imported Sound" on the root of a disk

(if this direction confuses you we can take it slower) to which you and all users have full access.

You will need exactly one visit to the access control dialog "security and sharing" on the properties sheet for the new SonicStage folder to accomplish this access. You can make the whole disk or just the folder accessible correctly. As a nerd I usually do the whole disk but you can do just the folder, especially if it happens to be on C: you are better to do only the folder. Permissions propagate downwards by default I think.

Now go to the dialog that controls the location of the imported files under SS. T(ools->O(ptions->Location to save imported files

Fix the dialog box to point to the new accessible location you just created.

At some point you might like to copy all the files from where it WAS pointing (under some user tree no doubt) to the new place, folders included, and re-import everything.

Probably not that complicated (you sound reasonably ok with puters). Rather an inflexible design, they should have consider moving the db properly.

There's probably a way to move the actual MS Access DB files, but what I just described will work. Avrin probably knows a nice way to do it. I honestly don't recall why the problem arose but it most likely is an option during installation of the new package of SS. If you can afford to go back deinstall and reinstall SS Ultimate you probably will find there's a way to set the library in a place that is not the default. Sadly I've run out of XP machines that I can try it on, and I don't have a virtual machine setup running at the moment to try it out on, sandbox-wise.

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Hmm... so there be a couple of options here....

First thing I'm going to try is another uninstall/reinstall. I have nothing to loose with that: none of my music on the harddrive itself is in ATRAC, save for what's already burned to minidisc. So I'm trying to wipe out everything that has to do with SS, even in the registry, then install again and see what that gets me.

If I have the same problems, then database meddling it is. I figure when you mean the root of the disk, you mean to put the folder directly in c:, rather than in something like C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\SonicStage\Packages\.

Let's see how this goes.

Oh, a question I've been pondering. If it's a matter of SonicStage not having access to a directory, then why is it able to still play a few mp3's in that directory? that's the one curious thing about all this.

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Maybe they're not there at all. PLAYING them is where ever you imported them FROM. Downloading them is wherever SS decided to convert them TO.

It's the downloading function that fails, and there is all sorts of nasssty code that deals with those conversions, code which Sony strove vigorously to protect, apparently with all sorts of anti-reverse-engineering tricks. Probably some service logged on to do the "music server" part can no longer access the files under the user tree, where in earlier versions it could.

One more thing.... right click the column headers in the main library display and show File Path. You might have to rearrange the display (dragging of col heads, resizing etc) to see what you need.

Another more thing.... fix the option to rename files when titles are edited in SS. It helps sometimes.

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Ok... I either did it wrong, or it didn't work.

I went to my c: disc, and made the folder SonicStage, then the Imported Sound folder in there. Went into the sharing options in the folder's property tab and made it accessible to all users on the computer as well as in the network. Then turned on SS, went to options, and redirected the imported files to go to the new folder.

No dice. And to add insult to injury, it will still play the few files it was able to play when this mess first started. This is AFTER I had uninstalled and reinstalled SS (including taking out the registry entries and deleting the SS files left behind, thus wiping the library) before working to redirect the import files to the new folder.

I'm hoping that I made a mistake somewhere in this method and just have to do it right. Because if not, I'm at wits end. The only trick I can think of is wiping out every last trace of sonic stage from my machine, registry included, and installing again.

I guess I had this coming. I never had a problem with SonicStage before, all the way back to when 3.3 first came out. Fate must have thought I dodged the bullet too long. :P

Edit: Avrin contacted me, saying it might be mp3 codec problems and gave me the link to a file to reinstall Windows Media components. Considering that a little while ago I noticed that I was no longer able to use mp3 files in Windows Media maker, I figured I'd give it a shot. Didn't work. I'll contact him about it later.

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Just remembered: make sure that the Microsoft PCM Converter audio codec is enabled on your PC. It tends to get disabled sometimes, and this may cause problems with SonicStage, since it is used for several purposes (format conversion, etc.).

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Looks like I wasted your time. Sorry. I recall some horrible problems like this. Make sure you can see the file names in the My Library display. Maybe this will give you a clue. Somewhere some file is not allowed to be created or perhaps accessed.

<puts on Peter Falk pork pie hat>

One more thing..... did you make that folder WRITE accessible?

Added: I just had a first... SS crashing on my new laptop which is running XP SP3. Routine operations like renaming files on a HiMD. No idea what's going on yet.

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Ahhh,,, I just found something really nifty.

Looks like SS is leaving files open by mistake (at least that's my conclusion). I was trying to upload a file, and had joined two fragments together using the little-known "Combine" function of SonicStage.

Problem was, I forgot to decrypt them both first. I set the File Conversion Tool going, and it skipped over the joined file.

After that it got curiouser and curiouser. I tried to delete the file (checking the "delete music from this computer" option you are now familiar with!) and it said it had done so, but NO SIREE, it had not.

All attempts to actually delete the file with Windows Explorer failed until I rebooted the computer ("another program has this file open").

So THERE (I think) is your answer. SS is (or can be) naughty about open files. This is going to take some very patient work to get to the bottom of. Now it's possible that when I attempted to play said joined file with MediaPlayer that it was MediaPlayer's fault. Another thing to check, don't run any players on any of the MP3 files or ATRAC files you are trying to get rid of, and REALLY REALLY make sure something you deleted via SonicStage is really gone.

We might be onto something here.

Stephen

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Just remembered: make sure that the Microsoft PCM Converter audio codec is enabled on your PC. It tends to get disabled sometimes, and this may cause problems with SonicStage, since it is used for several purposes (format conversion, etc.).

Is it the Windows Media Audio 9 Lossless to PCM Converter? I want to make sure before I download and install it.

Sfbp, I'm noticing something strange... every time I click on the "read only" box in the folder preferences to turn it off, it always turns right back on again. Something is stopping me from doing this.

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Is it the Windows Media Audio 9 Lossless to PCM Converter? I want to make sure before I download and install it.

Sfbp, I'm noticing something strange... every time I click on the "read only" box in the folder preferences to turn it off, it always turns right back on again. Something is stopping me from doing this.

Not the attribute.

The ACL dialog (Sharing and Security).

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Ahhh,,, I just found something really nifty.

Looks like SS is leaving files open by mistake (at least that's my conclusion). I was trying to upload a file, and had joined two fragments together using the little-known "Combine" function of SonicStage.

Problem was, I forgot to decrypt them both first. I set the File Conversion Tool going, and it skipped over the joined file.

After that it got curiouser and curiouser. I tried to delete the file (checking the "delete music from this computer" option you are now familiar with!) and it said it had done so, but NO SIREE, it had not.

All attempts to actually delete the file with Windows Explorer failed until I rebooted the computer ("another program has this file open").

So THERE (I think) is your answer. SS is (or can be) naughty about open files. This is going to take some very patient work to get to the bottom of. Now it's possible that when I attempted to play said joined file with MediaPlayer that it was MediaPlayer's fault. Another thing to check, don't run any players on any of the MP3 files or ATRAC files you are trying to get rid of, and REALLY REALLY make sure something you deleted via SonicStage is really gone.

We might be onto something here.

Stephen

This does seem curious. It might be related to what I'm going through here. I have to admit though that I was just deleting the file from SonicStage's library, NOT my computer completely. Maybe that's what I need to do? Just wipe my entire music collection from the drive, then put it back in and see if SonicStage can handle it?

The more I've been fiddling with this, the more I'm becoming convinced that it's not necessarily a database problem, but more about how SonicStage is handling mp3's. I did yet another uninstall/reinstall session, then decided instead of importing a single file to test it, to import a folder.

Once again, it "imported" them, but couldn't play them... all except one. When I checked to see what was so special about this one, it was the kbp: 320.

So this is looking like a codec problem. Unless I'm missing something.

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... Sometimes it's the simplest explanation that proves to be the right one.

Turns out it's the mp3 files after all. Or at least, SonicStage not liking them.

I decided to re-encode one of the mp3's that wasn't playing in SonicStage. A quick run through with Cdex, and one import of the new file later... it plays.

So somehow, I don't how how, most of my mp3 collection has become unuseable by SonicStage. In order to input them, I'm going to have to re-encode the lot of them. Wonderful.

I have close to 50 gigs of music encoded in mp3. To say this is going to be a slog is an understatement.

I'm not planning on doing this all at once. It's just too much tedium to handle right now. So I'm going to do this on an "as needed" basis. Every time I feel like burning a particular mp3 to minidisc, and it (most likely) won't import, I'll re-encode it with Cdex it right then and there. Not pretty, but at least it will work.

This leads me to another question though... a question about bit rates. the bit rates of my files are all over the place... the older ones anyway. My newer stuff i have encoded in 320kbs, and those don't seem to be causing SonicStage any problems. I was thinking of re-encoding my older mp3's that way, but considering I'm dealing with a lossy format, I don't know how the sound quality will turn out if I go from a lower bit rate to a higher one. Is it a good idea to re-encode say, a 128 kbs file to a 320 kps one, or should I just encode in the same bit rate?

Edit: that last part might be a moot question... so far I'm not finding ANY mp3 files under 256kbs that SonicStage will play. The 128kps ones that I found playing earlier turned out to be m4a files, which SonicStage currently has no trouble dealing with.

Edit2: After some more fiddling around, it seems I've confirmed that for whatever reason, my copy of SonicStage 4.3 simply refuses to play any mp3 file that is under 256kbps. I even re-encoded a file without changing it's original bit rate. SonicStage turned its nose up at it. So it has to be whatever codec that SonicStage is using that's causing this. And I don't know how to fix that. I also have no idea why it's doing this. I'm even importing old mp3's from months ago that I had burned to minidisc, and because of it's bit rate, it won't play it. So strange.

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Well then, Avrin's idea about codecs must be right. I have no idea how SS decides which codecs it will use with MP3. I've never seen the problem you relate, though I have only tried a few rates. Could it be something to do with variable versus constant bitrate?

Or perhaps you installed some new application that changed all the "normal" codecs for MP3? Horrors, is it just possible that the OLD sonicstage had better (more) codecs than the NEW one???

Stephen

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Well then, Avrin's idea about codecs must be right. I have no idea how SS decides which codecs it will use with MP3. I've never seen the problem you relate, though I have only tried a few rates. Could it be something to do with variable versus constant bitrate?

Or perhaps you installed some new application that changed all the "normal" codecs for MP3? Horrors, is it just possible that the OLD sonicstage had better (more) codecs than the NEW one???

Stephen

Oh gods, that would be a horror. Still, this is Sony, so I wouldn't be surprised.

Considering from what i heard about SS not having its own native mp3 codecs, the problem could be myfault... though to be honest, I'm not too convinced. I installed the k-Lite codec pack a while back in order to watch avi files, and it has the ffdshow audio codecs. Still, I'm pretty sure I had done this way before SS started having these problems. If it turns out it's ffdshow that's the culprit however, I might have to start digging around for another codec pack.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought I would give you guys an update on my SS situation.

I finally got the chance to go with my plan on using a laptop specifically to interface with my minidisc units. I formatted the drive, reinstalled Xp and all the relevant drivers I needed, and then got around to installing SonicStage.

Just before I did though, I decided to install 3.4 instead of 4.3.

Result: no problems whatsoever with my mp3 files. SS can read and play them without a hitch.

Considering that my wife had installed SS 4.3 earlier on her own laptop and had the same problems I did, I'm tentatively concluding that the newer version just doesn't accept mp3's at lower bit rates. I could upgrade to 4.3 on the laptop to make sure, but I just got things working ust right, and I don't want to risk screwing things up on the one machine that I'm dedicating to my minidisc stuff. THen again, considering that I might have to replace the harddrive, I might upgrade just to find out once and for all.

Anyway, thank you guys for all your help; your advice did help inadvertently with other things.

Now, if only SS accepted flac...

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