Pacemaker

 
This is truly amazing.  Pacemaker lowers the pitch of the song without slowing down the tempo, and, conversely, can slow down the song without changing the pitch.  We're so used to the music lowering in pitch when it's slowed down that this is actually kind of surreal.

Probably the best use of the program is playing along with a song on an instrument.  Chances are, the song won't be exactly the same pitch as the instrument.  Fire up Pacemaker and you can not only tweak it to proper pitch, but jump into completely different keys.  In the old days, you just couldn't do this without the song ending up sounding like a funeral dirge or Alvin & The Chipmunks.

Download this older (free) version of WinAmp, install.  Note where you install it as you'll need to know it for the next step.

After WinAmp is installed, run the included 'Pacemaker' program.  Install it in the 'Plugins' folder inside the WinAmp program folder.

Run WinAmp.  You can close all of the small boxes except the main one at the top.

Click in the main box with the right mouse button, open Options/Preferences or hit Ctrl-P:

Click on "DSP/Effect", then the "Pacemaker" entry over to the right and the Pacemaker box will pop open.  To close Pacemaker click on "none".

Move the Pacemaker box out of the way and click on "Configure".  Set the Quality to "Higher", OK.  Now click the 'Close' button to close the panel.  The little Pacemaker panel should still be open:

Highlight the WinAmp box and hit the L key.  Load an MP3 or WAV file.  Hit the Play button on WinAmp.  Grab Pacemaker.  Start playing with the slide gadgets and prepare to be amazed.

To save a song using Pacemaker depends upon whether you're just making an adjustment and letting it go, or adjusting it in real-time.

First off, to save any song in WinAmp, open the Preferences:

Click on "Output", then "Nullsoft Disk Writer".

Click on "Configure" and select an output directory.  If you don't want to save the file in the default 44 Hz WAV format, check the "Convert to format" box, then select the "…" gadget and pick an alternate format.  If you want to save it as an MP3, for example, select "MPEG Layer 3" from the "Format" box and the desired "attributes", such as 192/44.  If you don't have an "MPEG Layer 3" entry (and want one), install the Radium codec.

Close the boxes and play the song with WinAmp.  The song won't actually play, it'll just convert it to the new format.  Don't forget to switch the "Nullsoft" entry back to "wavOut" to put it back into "play mode" when you're finished.

To record a song you're converting with Pacemaker, just adjust Pacemaker and save the song as above.  It's to note that Pacemaker works while this is going on, but it would be hard to 'calibrate' any adjustments since you can't hear the output.

To record a song in real-time while adjusting Pacemaker requires a sound editing program such as SoundForge or Cool Edit.  You'll play the song with WinAmp, making your real-time adjustments with Pacemaker while recording the whole thing with the editing program.

Example using SoundForge:

  • Fire up SoundForge, click on red Record button.  Record window opens up, ready to record.
     
  • Fire up WinAmp, open Pacemaker.
     
  • Flip around to SoundForge, hit red Record button to start recording.
     
  • Flip back around to WinAmp, start playing the song, make real-time adjustments with Pacemaker.
     
  • When song is through, flip back to SoundForge and quit recording.  You may now save the recording as either WAV or MP3.

To note is that the above works just fine on my system.  There might be an input/output audio conflict on other systems.  You also have to have the proper volume controls up on Volume Control or Record Control, depending upon how your system is set up, and there are even cases where you have to run a patch cord from the 'speaker out' jack on your audio card, right back into the 'Line in' jack.