Wax User’s Manual

Wax is a system for managing a collection of music recordings. It is a self-contained system comprising software, which we call Wax, and hardware, which we call the Wax Box. The Wax Box stores the sound archive and interfaces to the audio system. The software implements the catalog and provides control over playback. The Wax system is able to rip CDs and import downloads so that you can create a sound archive complete with metadata. You interact with the Wax system using your tablet, smartphone, or desktop system.

Wax is fundamentally different from existing music managers in two important ways. First, the fundamental unit for recordings is a “work”, not a track. A work is usually a collection of tracks. It can collect whatever tracks you choose. In pop music, a work can be an album. For symphonic music, a work can be a single symphony, even when the tracks come from a CD with more than one symphony. For operas, a work can be a single opera even when the tracks come from multiple CDs. Music collectors usually think in terms of works, so a music manager that supports the concept makes operation more natural.

The other distinguishing characteristic of Wax is that genres are fundamental to the organization of a collection rather than a mere attribute of a track. Wax recognizes that the ideal way to catalog works varies by genre. For example, symphonic works can be cataloged by composer, work, conductor whereas shows can be cataloged by show, composer, lyricist. By organizing collections around genres, Wax supports an operation sequence that is natural for music lovers: first select the genre, then the work, and finally the tracks.

The user interface for Wax normally runs on a handheld device such as a tablet, but it can run on a desktop system. Operation from a tablet is usually most convenient when playing music. It allows you to make selections, control playback, and read all the metadata associated with the recording from the convenience of your listening position. Operation from a desktop system may be more convenient when ripping recordings because the keyboard can make it easier to enter metadata, if necessary.

The Wax Box has two hard disk drives, one for storing the sound archive and the other for storing a backup. It also has an optical disc drive for ripping. Although the Wax Box provides an analog output, you have the option of connecting an external DAC using a USB port or a TOSLINK interface. You can also use USB ports to connect a smartphone, portable media player, or flash drive for importing or exporting sound files, or an external hard disk drive to expand the sound archive.

The Wax system provides a turnkey solution. Just connect the Wax Box to your audio system, configure the Wax Box so that it connects to your home network, configure your tablet, smartphone, or desktop system to view the user interface generated in the Wax Box (remote desktop), and you are ready to start building your collection and listening to music.

Quick start


When setting up the system for the first time, we advise configuring it in the most foolproof manner. Change the configuration incrementally to localize any problems that arise. The Appendix contains information about options (Configuring the Wax Box in your music system) for configuring your system to better meet your requirements.

For the purpose of this Quick start, use the configuration described in the Appendix as direct control:

  • Connect a computer monitor or TV to the Wax Box using the appropriate connector (HDMI usually) on the back panel.
  • Connect a mouse and a keyboard using two of the USB ports or the PS/2 port.
  • For Wax Box 3 and Wax Box 4, connect the external ODD to a USB port. It is usually most convenient to connect it to one of the ports on the side of the case just behind the front panel so that it is easy to stash the ODD until you need it for ripping. These ports are on the right side of Wax Box 3 and the left side of Wax Box 4.
  • Connect your audio system (or powered PC loudspeakers, just for testing) to the green jack (which is a standard 3.5mm stereo jack).

When you turn on the Wax Box (the power button is on the left side, just behind the front panel, for Wax Box 3; it is on the front panel for Wax Box 4), the user interface will appear on the monitor. Use the mouse to interact with it. You should be able to play music using this simple configuration (but be aware that some of the features of the Wax system will not function without a network connection).

If you have a Wax Box 4 SE, you must connect two power cables between the external linear power supply and the Wax Box. One connects to the +5V output and goes to the BitScrubber board. The other connects to the +19V output and goes to the connector on the lower left of the back panel. Be sure that the red slider switch at the back of the power supply is set to the appropriate lines voltage. Turn on the power supply using the rocker switch, and then turn on the Wax Box by pushing the button on the front panel. Use the reverse sequence to turn off the Wax Box: Push the button on the Wax Box first and then turn off the power supply after the blue power LEDs go off.


Once you set up the hardware, the first thing you will want to do is play some music. With Wax, it’s really easy. There are only three steps:

  1. Select the genre of the music you would like to play. At the top left you will see the name of the current genre. You are actually looking at a button. Click on it to produce a list of all genres and select the one that you want. Notice that the list of recordings below the genre button updates to display all the recordings in the genre. Scroll through the list of recordings to find the one that you want to play.
  2. Select the recording that you want to play. Once you locate the recording that you want to play, click on it. Notice that a list of the tracks on the recording appears below the list of recordings. By default, all the tracks are selected for play. If you don’t want to play all the tracks, select the ones that you want to play. Also notice that a play button appears at the top right.
  3. Activate play by clicking on the play button.

Easy, right?

When you activated play, the display changed. Wax automatically switched to Play mode. In Play mode, Wax displays all the metadata associated with a recording, including the cover art. You will also see progress bars that monitor progress through the recording and metadata telling you about the track that is currently playing. There are actually four modes. You can select the mode using the button labeled Mode. You will use Edit mode to create new recordings by ripping CDs or downloading files. Config mode provides ways to configure Wax. You were originally in Select mode. Go back there now by selecting Select on the dropdown menu. Now you can see that the recording you are playing also appears in the panel on the right. That panel is where you create a play queue – a sequence of recordings to play. Wax automatically put your selection in the play queue when you activated play. You could add a recording to the play queue by selecting it (in the list of recordings on the left) and dragging it to the play queue. Now, Wax will play your second selection when it finishes playing the first one.

Notice that when you activated play, the image on the play button changed. Clicking it now will stop playback. Click it again to resume. The volume control appears when you click on the loudspeaker icon just to the left of the play button.

The next three chapters provide more details about selecting and playing recordings, but you already know the essentials. Creating new recordings is more complicated. Read about it in the chapter on Edit mode.

Every chapter begins with a list of essential reading. Wax has many features, but you don’t have to learn all of them at once – or ever. The essential reading is brief yet sufficient for a command of the essential features. Try to be at least aware of the other capabilities of the software so that you will know to refer to the manual when you are trying to do something more advanced. Most Wax users find operation to be intuitive after a short period of familiarization, so you may never need to read most of the manual. However, if you ever need a little guidance, be assured that the information is almost certainly here.