Here are two excellent articles by Kenny Lee and Tim Vincent. It describes the process by which you can acquire music via the internet using the shn format. Shn files are vastly superior  to MP3 files in sonic quality. Tim Vincent's article for MAC users appears below. PC users can check out Kenny Lee's PC shn guide by scrolling down or clicking here

Getting and Processing .shn Files
Using Macintosh System 9.x and Earlier

by Tom Vincent

To get and process .shn files, the first thing you need is the following software:

a Newsreader - to connect to newsgroups
a Decoding/Decompression utility - Binary files (like sound files, pictures, movies and software) must be converted to ASCII characters before uploading them to a newsgroup, then reconverted back from ASCII to binary after downloading them. That is the reason for this utility. If the conversion is not made after you download the file, your computer will not know what to do with it.
Shorten, a conversion utility to change .shn files to.wav files, audio files your mac can understand and play

I recommend the following software. I have chosen them because they're free, very reliable, or both. The links will open in a new window so you can download the needed software, and to return here simply close the new window. I suggest downloading and installing all the software before proceeding any further.

NEWSREADER (you only need one, but you may want to try them both out and see which you prefer. I have been using MT-Newswatcher for years, and I am delighted with its performance):
MT-Newswatcher for System 8-9.x (Free):

Toth 1.70 ($25 shareware):

Decoders (Here again, you only need one. I strongly recommend Rosetta, and it's well worth the minimal shareware fee. It's fast, accurate, and understands all the commonly used compression algorithms):
Rosetta (formerly YA Decoder) ($15 Shareware)

Stuffit Expander 7.0.3 (Free)


Now, install the software you just download. If your computer wants to restart after installation, don't worry—I'll wait.

Once your software is installed, launch your newsreader.

Configuring your newsreader to get newsgroups:

When you launch your newsreader, it will ask you a few questions, such as your name, email address, etc. The most important question it will ask is something along the lines of "What is the address of your newsserver?" this address will read something like "". If you don't know the address of your newsserver, go to your ISP's web page and look in the support area for "newsgroups", "reding News", or something similar. Copy & paste this address into your newsreader.

Once the newsreader knows where to find the newsgroups, it will download a list of available grioups. THIS CAN TAKE A LONG TIME, depending on your connection speed and the number of groups your ISP carries. My ISP (RoadRunner) carries 54,964 different newsgroups.

Once this is complete, in the menu bar at the top pf the moniter, choose Edit ->Preferences. When the Preferences window opens, scroll down until you get to "Viewing Binaries". Click on this to highlight it, and the right side of the window will change. (see picture)

Where it says "BinHex", click the "Set" buttons and search your hard drive for "Rosetta", and choose it. repeat this for the areas labeled "uuDecode" and "MIME Base64".
Now lick the icon on the left labeled "Helper Applications", under "File Mappings" click the button labeled "Edit IC Mappings". This will open Internet Config.

Scroll down in the window listing file types until you reach the file extenstion "uue", click on it to highlight it (as shown below), click "change", find Rosetta on your hard drive, click OK, then close the window. When the computer asks you if you want to save the changes you just made, click "Yes".

Congratulations! The hard part is over—we're almost done!


Next, we want to set up Rosetta.

Launch Rosetta. Go to the menu bar, and choose Edit -> Preferences
Look at the window, and check the boxes shown below:

Click "OK", and we're done with Rosetta.

Now let's set up File Exchange to recognize SHN files

Go to the Apple Menu -> Control Panels -> File Exchange to open the File Exchange Control Panel. Click the tab labeled "PC Exchange to bring it to the front. Click the column titled "PC Extension" to highlight it, then type "s". This wil jump the selection down to file extensions beginning with the letter "s". You will not see an extension ".shn", so we must add it.

Click the "Add" button. A new window will open that looks like this, but the text boxes for "Extension", Name", and "MIME Type" will be blank. Enter information into thos boxes exactly as it appears below If only the left side of the window shows, click the button labeled "Show Advanced Options" This will open up the right side of the window as shown below. Enter the info, then click the button labeled "Select" (the cursor is pointing at it in the picture). File Exchange wil search your hard drive and present you with a list of all the applications you have installed. Scroll down until you find the application "Shorten", click to highlight it, click OK, click "Add" close the control panel, and you're done.
When you find the files in NewsWatcher that you want to download, command- click (or right click if you have a two button mouse) on the article title, and choose "Extract Binaries" from the contextual menu. Sit back, wait for the binaries to download, and let Rosetta work its magic. Then, take the file that Rosetta has left behind, drag it into Shorten, and let Shorten work its magic. When the process s complete, you will be left with a .wav file that you can, listen to with iTunes or QuickTime, or burn to CD.

Questions? Send me an email;

"Usenet Group User Guide" 
written by Kenny Lee 

Newbie’s Guide to Downloading Jefferson Family Music by Kenny Lee 

This is not a definitive guide written by a recognized subject matter expert. It is a list of pointers, from someone who has done this sort of thing for a while, for others who may not have. This document is clearly skewed toward PC users. I am not familiar enough with the Mac world to address it intelligently. Perhaps a kind MAC user can write a similar document. 

What Kind Of Music Is Available? 

Audience recordings and Soundboard recordings of music recorded by Jefferson Airplane, and successor bands like Jefferson Starship, and various configurations of same. What is NOT available are copies of commercially released albums. If you want these, you’ll have to buy them. Why not support the band and thank them for their generosity in allowing the exchange & trading of non-commercial releases? 

What Do I Need To Take Part? 

A desire for the music, because depending on the specifics of your internet connection, and other factors, it can be a hassle. Other than that, you’ll need: 

An internet connection and USENET/Newsgroups access (this is usually included with an internet subscription). 
USENET/NEWSGROUP downloading Software, such as Free Agent, Agent (a more feature rich version of “FREE AGENT” that ain’t free), Newsrover, or even primitive readers like Outlook Express. 
A CD Burner (CD-R/W) and CD Burning Software, such as Roxio EZCD Creator, Nero Burning Rom, or similar. 
File Decompression Software, such as MKWact. 
A PC with a good amount of available hard drive storage (the average show can take up a to GB and an half of disc space until it is “burned” on a CD and can be deleted. 
All of the above can be had fairly cheaply these days, and some of the software can be had for free. A good source of free “tools of the trade” can be found at 

OK. I’ve acquired all of the above. What’s next? How do I get started? 

You’ll need a usenet reader/browser/download program. My favorite Newsgroup downloader is Newsrover. An evaluation version can be downloaded from Newsrover downloads AUTOMATICALLY, while you do other things (I run it 24 x 7). It finds “pieces” of files, even from different USENET services, and completes your downloads for you. It rejects duplicates, and makes the downloading much easier. In fact, it almost eliminates the process for you. Well worth the purchase price of around $30. But just about any newsread can be employed successfully. I cannot cover the specifics of every software package you might acquire, but once you settle on the newsgroup software that’s right for you, install it, run it, and “subscribe” to the following newsgroups: 




The first is the most important. It is where the music is available for you to download. The second is the so-called “discussion”group. No music files are actually posted here. This is a forum for one to ask questions, request shows, request reposts, or other types of discussion. The last one is the “reposts” group. This is where others will post messages, or portions of messages, that you didn’t receive or received as corrupted files. If you go to the “discussion” group, and request a “repost”, this is where you will find it. 

A word about USENET services. 

Most folks get a “free” usenet service from their internet provider. Some of these services are decent, with good coverage of binary groups, good retention (the files “stay there” for at least a day or two), and completeness. Others are not. You may find that it is necessary to subscribe to another supplemental USENET service. There are lots of them out there, and other posters will share their experience with you and make recommendations if you ask. 

Getting Started 

The first place to go is the “main” group: 


Once there, look at the messages posted. Most will be “multi-part”, that is, a large file (such as one song) broken up into as many as several hundred pieces. Depending on what Newsgroup/Usenet software you’ve acquired, you may have to manually select the pieces you want. More sophisticated news group/usenet programs can do this for you, making the multi-part messages appear as a single message. 

What Are These Files? 

Music files, in their native format, are called “WAV” files. These are extremely large and would take inordinate amounts of time to post/download over the internet. Thus, file compression schemes are used to reduce the file size to make them easier to upload and download. A common compression scheme is MP3. MP3 files are a fraction of the original WAV file in size. Yet, they can be decompressed (or played with MP3 software/players) and sound about the same as FM radio quality. A degree of quality loss is apparent with MP3 compression. For this reason, SHN compression was developed. SHN files are not compressed as much as MP3’s, thus, when they are decompressed, there is NO loss of quality, and the files are exact replications of their original WAV files. This is called LOSSLESS compression. The downside of SHNs are that they are much larger in size than MP3 files, and as such, take much longer to upload/download. It is for this reason that SHN compression is used almost exclusively by people with high speed internet connections, such as DSL or Cable Modems (or the good old T1 at the office). 

You’ll also see files with the extension TXT or NFO. These are information files. They contain set lists, information about the lineage of the show, and other pertinent information. They can both be read using WORDPAD or other simple text editors. Often times, its simplest to just rename NFO files, if you have trouble opening them. For example, rename ja670310.nfo to ja670310.txt, and you should be good to go. There are freeware NFO file viewers you can download from the internet, if you’d rather not have to do this. Or, if you want, you can adjust the file association of your computer to open NFO files with WORDPAD. 

The final type of file you will see are MD5 files. These are extremely important, as they allow you to verify that the files you have received are perfect replications of what was sent by the poster. If you downloaded mkwACT already, you are in good shape. Simply make sure that the downloaded music files and the MD5 file are in the same directory, double click the MD5 file, and mkwACT will confirm whether or not the files you received are ok. IT will also let you know if files are missing. If your files fail the verification check, you should delete them and try to download them again or request a repost. 

Miscellaneous other files: On occasion, posters might include cover art for CD Jewel cases and the like. These usually have BMP, TGA, JPG, or GIF suffixes. 

Next Step: Convert the SHN or MP3 files to WAV 

If you’ve installed mkwACT, you can simply highlight (“select”) all the music files after they’ve been MD5 verified, right click on them, and choose “decode to wav”. mkwACT will then do the job for you, and you’ll soon have all your files ready to burn on CD. 

Hint: Don’t delete the SHN’s or MP3s. If you’re not lacking for disk space on your hard drive, you can always pitch in and help out with reposting for those who weren’t as lucky as you. After a few days, when everyone has the show, you can delete it to free up room. 

A few suggestions: 

I’m not a shill for any software manufacturer, BUT, I like and use the following tools: 

Roxio EZCD Creator (WinXP bugs are largely behind them now) 

NERO Burning ROM 

These are two tools that do more or less the same thing – CD Burning. There are other good ones out there: CDRwin, Feurio, and others. Find one you like (you can download evaluations of just about all except Roxio), and use it. 

Good luck, and happy downloading.