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Best Practices for a Lossless Music Archive? 176

Posted by Cliff
from the we'll-all-have-terabyte-RAID-arrays-in-5-years-anyway dept.
Sparagmei asks: "I'm a big music fan, and I like listening to the music I own on various pieces of digital gear. Right now, my library's at about 20,000 tracks, ripped from CDs to MP3 at 256kbps (enough that I can't tell the difference on my low-end playback gear). However, with the MP3 judgement rippling through the world, I'm interested in perhaps moving to a different compression standard. Before I do that, I'd like to ask a question: what lossless format would you recommend for making a digital 'master library' that could be (relatively) easily down-sampled to a compressed format?"
Important factors would be true losslessness, filesize (smaller than PCM WAV would be nice), embedded metadata (ID3v2-like), existence of automated ripper software, and (to a lesser extent) an open-source implementation of such software. Widespread playback implementation of the lossless codec is not an issue for me; the lossless library would likely be burned to archival DVD media and stored after being down-sampling with the chosen compressor. The reason I ask is this: I've got a 20,000-track re-ripping job ahead of me. I'd like to do that just once, lossless, so that years from now, when I decide to jump from Vorbis to 'komprezzor_2039_1337' or whatever, I don't need to drag out the old plastic discs. Thanks!"
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Best Practices for a Lossless Music Archive?

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  • FLAC. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:32AM (#18384885) Homepage Journal
    The Free Lossless Audio Codec [sourceforge.net] sounds perfect for you.

    (all answers below are quoted from wikipedia's FLAC [wikipedia.org] page).

    Important factors would be true losslessness,

    A digital recording (such as a CD) encoded to FLAC maintains the quality of the audio perfectly.

    filesize (smaller than PCM WAV would be nice),

    Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced in size 40 to 50 percent.

    embedded metadata (ID3v2-like),

    with support for tagging, cover art and fast seeking.

    existence of automated ripper software,

    Yup, lots [wikipedia.org].

    and (to a lesser extent) an open-source implementation of such software.

    See above.

    Widespread playback implementation of the lossless codec is not an issue for me

    Well, bad luck, you're going to get it anyway :-) Both hardware [wikipedia.org] and software [wikipedia.org] support.

    Also, consider SHN [wikipedia.org], (although it seems superceded). I'll also mentiuon wave pack [wikipedia.org] - because it uses an interesting approach (splitting the file into a small lossy standalone & a lost bits diff). don't bother with Apple's lossless format [wikipedia.org] - it's going nowhere.
    • Re:FLAC. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2007 @08:28AM (#18385261)
      I've built this kind of system for the record company i work for and our digital distribution needs.
      I've used FLAC - it just works. Also I like the Application Metadata blocks you can put into the FLAC files. I use this to store the full logging information from cdparanoia. It allows me to perform a quality analysis of the rip and look for jitter, skips etc. If i find a certain pattern which leads to audible artifacts I can just go back through the archive of tracks and perform an automated analysis of anything else which mught show the same problem.

      Because of the amount of metadata which we need to store for business reasons (P&C, ISRC, barcodes, etc) I have developed an XML based format for entering the info - you wouldn't need this on a personal system I don't suppose.

      For work it's great because I can encode to AAC/MP3/WMA for retailers. At home i use it to export to Ogg because we have an iAudio player, but it's trivial to export to MP3 or AAC instead if we got another device.

      I store all the files in a flat system - each track has a unique ID generated when it was ripped - when I export out to the encoded versions I use the tags to create a Artist/Album/Track hierachy which again can be changed at at time fairly trivially.

      Periodically rsync the exports out to my gf's machine and i've got the collection whenever I want it :)
    • by NayDizz (821461)
      Nuff said. Next question.
    • Re:FLAC. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdotNO@SPAMlepertheory.net> on Saturday March 17, 2007 @08:53AM (#18385437) Homepage

      Just one thing... FLAC does not compress to 40-50%. More like 60(rare)-70-80%. That being said, no lossless codec does better than 60% occasionally. There's no point chasing a couple percent, even when we're talking about hundreds of gigs, because if you're archiving this how much would it suck if you went to recover this years from now, Windows XP and Vista was no longer available, Monkey's Audio went out of business in 2008 and never made a Vista version, which is the last "audio path" that's compatible with Windows '84. IOW, you're fucked.

      What do I do?

      1. Rip twice fully with highest CDParanoia settings and drive offset corrected. Use a high-end drive like Plextor that doesn't allow unreported errors.
      2. Compare rips, with diff. One bit difference, and it's discarded.
      3. Same procedure with cdrdao to get the TOC. Don't rip with cdrdao, you need to edit the code to get highest paranoia settings and support drive offset. Did that once, couldn't apply my patch to the new version automatically, screw it, use both.
      4. Convert TOC to CUE to add to the FLAC.
      5. Encode to flac, embed the CUE (just in case, we still keep both TOC & CUE).

      Actually, I started splitting my flacs with SHNsplit and putting in Vorbis tags, but if you're going to archive and never play the list is the way to go.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WilliamTS99 (942590)
      I also recommend FLAC, that is what I am ripping all of my CDs to. When you can get a 500gig HDD for under $140,it is worth every cent and more to do what you are doing. I have an Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] system set up for network storage so I can play my FLACs with my two Cowon iAudio [cowonamerica.com] (Highly Recommended) portable media players(support FLAC natively), streamed to my stereo through the Xbox media center( XBMC [wikipedia.org], streamed to my computer, my daughters computer, or transcoded for other players. In my opinion FLAC is 100% t
    • by belmolis (702863)

      I also use FLAC. One point to note is that the compression ratio varies considerably with the type of material compressed. I've posted comparisons of algorithms using linguistic field recordings rather than music here [billposer.org]. For my material, the greatest compression was achieved by Lossless Audio [lossless-audio.com], but the increment is not that great, and the time for both compression and decompression is much greater.

    • don't bother with Apple's lossless format - it's going nowhere.

      Unless you want your music to play in iTunes or on your iPod, of course. Personally, I figure that the worst-case scenario is that I have to write an Applescript to convert all my Apple Lossless files to FLAC, which isn't that big a deal.

      You're right that FLAC is a better idea otherwise, however.

  • Me too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:39AM (#18384915) Journal
    I made the mistake of ripping my small collection to MP3 (some to MP3pro...please stop laughing) the first time. I made it about 1/2 way though the 300 or so CDs I have before I realized that I wan't happy with the format (could hear artifacts) and knew I wanted a lossless that I could transcode to the format du jour.

    I went with FLAC, and ripped 'em all. I'm using media monkey as a filing system, and am transcoding as necessary for portable apps. I'm without media server at the moment, so I can't help with streaming and such, though I'm going to be interested to see what others are doing.
  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:42AM (#18384947) Homepage
    Bearing in mind that you're not going to save that much file size using lossless storage, and that you already have an "archive" of CDs in a box in your basement (or wherever), is it really worth the hassle of creating another lossless copy that'll take up even more space?

    If you're planning on re-converting from these lossless copies, it sounds like you're going to be doing a *lot* of work based on some second-guessing of where you'll be in 5 years time; and things may have changed then.
    • by MMC Monster (602931) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:52AM (#18385003)
      Well, a cabinet of CDs in the basement may just convert to a few drives in a storage area network. Network storage is getting cheaper every moment. Besides, he will have random access to his entire music collection (presumably well tagged) in lossless format, which really can't be beat.
    • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
      Personally I convert to lossless for my own personal collection, and transcode when sending off to friends. If I had a portable music player I'd transcode for that also. However, it's far more convenient to keep lossless versions on my hard drive than have to dig out and re-rip three hundred CDs every time I want the music in another format.

      (Yes, it takes time, but generally that's just "copy all the .flacs somewhere and then start a script to bulk-convert, come back in a day.")
    • Not much size = 50%. That may not be much to you, but it's still a reasonable amount. Heck, you could buy enough HD space for the raw waves, encode the discs, and use the extra space for fault tolerance (i.e. two or more drives in raid).

      It's not about the space or size, though, but the convenience. Having 1000+CDs is not convenient (presumptive for his 20k tracks), and if you decide to switch formats (for whatever reason) you have to go through a lenghty manual process to re-rip everything. With foobar, yo
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian (588974)

        Not much size = 50%. That may not be much to you, but it's still a reasonable amount.

        Yes, but from that point-of-view alone, you're still having to do a lot of work to get it. And it's not 50%; it's 150%, unless he's binning his original CDs.

        With foobar, you can take that collection - or any subset - and do a custom recode. It may take a day or two, but its totally automated.

        I dunno; it kind of smacks of the geek tendency to spend a day automating a procedure that would otherwise take 15 minutes or so, and then using it 3 or 4 times before they decide they want things done differently and abandoning it. Can't beat that logic ;-) Maybe I'm wrong, of course, but I'm just getting that vibe; I know, because I've sometimes don

        • When I ripped, I used EAC which basically ripped and encoded each track as it went, so the effective space was only 50% of the raw data.

          I'm with you on the automation flaw. Sometimes we do it because we can. It's been good for me though, and the formats seem to really be improving rapidly. There really are 48kb codecs that sound okay now on most music - not all, and not perfect, but good enough for my car. I like the flexibility of the online storage, and it has come in handy a couple of times already.
  • Ape (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mobby_6kl (668092) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:51AM (#18384993)
    Since FLAC was already mentioned, I'll just suggest you try Monkey's Audio [monkeysaudio.com]. It's lossless, usually compresses better than FLAC, the source is available (not sure what license though), supports tags, and basically does everything you want. It's probably not as widespread as FLAC, but that shouldn't be a problem in your case.
    • Re:Ape (Score:5, Informative)

      by TeknoHog (164938) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @08:06AM (#18385105) Homepage Journal

      Ape compresses a few % better than Flac at the expense of much more CPU usage. When compressing lots of CDs at once, the difference is significant. Flac was designed to be light on resources to facilitate portable devices, but it helps with modern computers as well.

      Also, Ape is not free software, despite the availability of source for certain versions. It's only officially released for Windows.

      So, in line with most others, I'd recommend Flac, but you might also look into WavPack as it also seems to be free software.

      • by omeomi (675045)
        Also, Ape is not free software, despite the availability of source for certain versions. It's only officially released for Windows.

        To clarify, Monkey's Audio is a free (as in money) application. Why some people refuse to call free software "free" unless it's FOSS continues to escape my understanding...If you mean FOSS, why not just say "FOSS".
        • It's a language problem. English makes no distinction between gratis, free as in money, and libre, free as in speech. The words are the same, but the meaning is different. In this case, the grandparent was noting that Ape is not free as in speech. They weren't stating one way or the other whether it is free as in beer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by omeomi (675045)
            The grandparent said it wasn't "free". He didn't specify which "free" he was talking about. Since it is "free" under at least one definition of the word free, his statement is incorrect. While one who knows a bit about FOSS could assume that they meant free as in speech, they didn't explicitly *say* that. And since the majority of the population means "free as in beer" when they're talking about whether software is free, people who insist on claiming that software isn't free if it's not free as in speech ar
          • What I want to know is where everybody's getting all this free beer!
      • I second that. Ape is a bitch to work with compared with FLAC. There is no official spec, no official Linux version... Furthermore, unlike FLAC, Ape is probably not patent-free. This means that many players support FLAC, while none support APE. The only nice thing about Ape is that since it is lossless, you can convert it back to PCM WAV and reencode in FLAC without any loss in quality. Nuff' said.

        So rght now FLAC is the way to go for lossless archives. And if a better codec comes round, you can always rec
      • by Dr. Spork (142693)
        I don't think this is true, at least from my experience. APE (Monkey's Audio) encoding on "medium" is about twice as fast as FLAC encoding on the default level, and the APE files are considerably smaller to boot. Yes, if you encode APEs on "insane" it will take a lot of CPU power, which is why that's a stupid thing to do.

        FLAC is asymmetric, meaning that the files take less calculating to decode than to encode, but it was my impression from tests I've seen long ago that it's about the same as "medium APE"

  • FLAC doesn't compress the absolute best of the alternatives, but it's 'good enough' and is widely supported, even directly on some portable devices. You won't wake up one day to find out that FLAC support has all but disappeared because the original developer lost interest (since the source is out there, unlike many alternatives). You will also be able to trivially transcode FLAC to Vorbis with meta-data intact, and do it FAST. (not a unique property, but well supported with FLAC/oggenc2 [nifty.com]).
  • I suggest you back on a Hard disk; It's about the same price per Gigabyte, smaller, and i guess easier to maintain; Last but not least : it's more durable.
  • My advice (Score:4, Funny)

    by adam1101 (805240) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @08:01AM (#18385063)
    Don't use FLAK or some other monkey sound formats. Go with a real standard, like Windows Lossless, or
    Apple Lossless, they just sound sooo much better. But you do need high end Bose equipment and gold
    plated Monster cables to really bring out the warmer and fuller mid-range and the increased bass response.
    • Yes, because permanently locking down your entire media collection with a proprietary codec stored in a proprietary format is exactly where everyone should go.

      Dude, I'm a Windows sysadmin, I like Windows and use it exclusively, I have no in depth Nix knowledge (though I can get around okay), and even I know .wma isn't the way to go.

      My suggestion is FLAC, as many have noted here.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2007 @08:41AM (#18385343)
      Yes, I agree with the parent. Use those most excellent formats for storing your music or else use PKZIP for MS-DOS and then copy the ZIP file to a IOMEGA ZIP drive for safekeeping
    • Everybody sit down. Did you see the line about Monster cables and Bose?

      Parent was trying to be funny. He wasn't, but don't go off the deep end.

      Overrated is more appropriate, though Troll probably will be the choice of the Mac fanbois for the Apple Lossless dig he included.

    • by DavidTC (10147)

      You should just transfer your collection to vinyl if you Care About Music(TM). Although that's kinda hard.

      And Apple Lossless sounds so much better than Windows Lossless, you're obviously a troll. And you've forgotten to mention that they should sit on their own hard drive, because putting them on a hard drive used for other things will result in the audio files getting dirty.

  • Sorry to jump on somebody elses post... but can anyone speak to the quality of hardware based devices that can rip CDs straight to FLAC format such as the products offered by olive.us?

    Most hardware devices I've seen either a) can't rip, b) can't convert to FLAC, c) can't burn CDs from FLAC, or d) are just wireless devices to send the audio back to your computer's crappy speakers.

    Anyone know of any other great sounding devices that rip, convert, and burn?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DavidTC (10147)

      Anyone know of any other great sounding devices that rip, convert, and burn?

      Dozens of manufacturers have a device that can do that. I believe they're called 'computers'.

  • The last word in lossless archiving...
  • I've been ripping all my CDs using cdparanoia and encoding with FLAC. I keep two copies of all the FLAC'd suff on separate hard disks, and verey year or two, when I buy new hard disks, I migrate the data to the new disks in case the old ones fail.

    There's no point in burning to DVD for "archival" since DVD is too unreliable. Anecdotally, DVDs seem to last only a few months to a year or two. Perhaps good quality tape archival would be good if you need the security? But really, hard disks are so cheap nowaday

    • A couple of suggestions. Instead of copying to 2 separate harddrives and replacing the HD every year or 2, I would suggest a mirrored RAID instead. You only need to replace a drive once it fails, with very little chance of both drives failing. That said, if its very important to you to keep these files, you should either burn them to archival DVD or portable HD and keep them offsite (IE: at your office, your parents' house). You never know when you might lose your PC to a fire, theft, flooding, rare chanc
      • by turgid (580780)

        I don't do RAID at home since it's too complicated and ropey on Linux(*). The advantage of it being on non-raided separate drives is that they can be spun down when not in use, they can be different sizes and different manufacturers. They can even be on different interfaces i.e. IDE, SCSI and SATA.

        * I say that as a Linux fanboi since 1995. I do Linux RAID at work :-( I like to upgrade my kernels at home quite frequently. There is no guaranteeing that a RAID from one kernel version will work on the next. Th

        • by turgid (580780)

          Actually, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the Linux RAID stuff. Some of our machines at work have months of uptime.

          The thing is, I haven't got the time or money to do RAID on Linux at home.

        • I do RAID on Linux all the time, and I've never had problems with kernel versions causing incompatibility, or system flakiness. What kind of RAID are you using?
          • by turgid (580780)

            Sorry, I work for a dreadful company and it's causing me much bitterness. Please, pay no attention to my rantings.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      There's no point in burning to DVD for "archival" since DVD is too unreliable. Anecdotally, DVDs seem to last only a few months to a year or two. Perhaps good quality tape archival would be good if you need the security? But really, hard disks are so cheap nowadays, it's feasible to have many PeeCees with new, high-qulaity disks in your house and to have multiple copies of the data.

      I've been archiving music on DVDs for a couple of years, and just this week I decided to get an external hard drive instead. I figured the price per GB is almost equal; in Finland there's the 'tax' on blank DVDs, but not (yet) on hard drives.

      Of course, a hard drive is more versatile and portable. My only worry so far has been that a broken DVD is much less of a loss than a broken HD.

    • by MojoStan (776183)
      "There's no point in burning to DVD for "archival" since DVD is too unreliable. Anecdotally, DVDs seem to last only a few months to a year or two."

      As we all know, the quality of blank DVD media varies by brand, manufacuring plant, etc. Note that some brands (e.g. Maxell) sell DVDs from different manufacturers (e.g. Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden). Therefore, some Maxell DVD models are very good (manufacured by a good factory) while other Maxells are very poor (cheaply manufactured).

      The current "standa

  • In my opinion, there is no other choice for lossless audio compression than FLAC. Since it was BSD licensed a couple years ago, it has been rapidly taking over the world.

    It appears to have overtaken all other lossless formats in popularity online, in a short time.

    It is the only one seeing significant adoption in multiple brand of hardware (MP3) players.

    I'd say it has a brighter future than Vorbis, even though it is at a several year disadvantage.

    I've found that just about every audio program I use, has sil
  • by jroesner (200756)
    I use flac because my Squeezebox supports it. So does XMMS. So does Winamp. Nero and Roxio support burning audio CDs from it (with appropriate version/plugin).

    I'd been down the mp3/Ogg Vorbos road but found myself transcoding from one lossy format to another which had to stop. With flac I have the lossless copy to transcode from. I rip on Windows using dBPowerAmp and with AccurateRip I feel that when it says it's accurate, it is. I've seen people start to rate dBPowerAmp as good or better than Exact A
  • Check out Flac2MP3 [robinbowes.com] which I'm using to generate a metadata-complete MP3 image of my FLAC files. Whenever I add a couple of new albums to my archives, I run a shell script and the MP3's are available for my iPod. Album covers from Amarok don't transfer over, but it's a plenty good system for me.
  • Use of the term "best practices" indicates that you've already assumed that whatever you're doing is wrong, and that whatever someone else tells you to do is right.
    "Best practices" is to IT what the "zero tolerance" concept is to schools - no questioning, no thought required, simply doing whatever the current meme dictates.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Gosh, I hope you don't brush your teeth twice a day simply because "best practice" would indicate that it would be wise for you to do. For those of us that don't have time to rederive everything under the sun/re-invent the wheel constantly, "best practices" provide a noticeable improvement in either efficiency or quality of output, while requiring a significantly smaller investment in time than rederiving the optimal solution. Sure, I had a grand time re-deriving some of the integral tables in the back of
  • what's the point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by coaxial (28297)
    Seriously. What's the point? What are you trying to accomplish? You can't hear the difference at 256kps lossy versus lossless, so why waste you're life converting your already lossess music archive from CD form to harddrive form? It's not like you're going to be transcoding all that often, if at all. I encoded my entire CD collect 7 years ago as 320kbps constant MP3. I'm thinking about re-encoding it, because there's no point in having the files that big. 256kbps variable mp3 is would probably still
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ant P. (974313)

      You can't hear the difference at 256kps lossy versus lossless, so why waste you're life converting your already lossess music archive from CD form to harddrive form

      Maybe because at some point he'd like to upgrade from the low-end gear he said made the difference inaudible? Even on $30 headphones the difference between MP3 and lossless is clear as day.
      Or maybe because he wants a backup copy to rebuild from in case the CDs get scratched? Not everyone has an audio CD collection made entirely of titanium and di

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tmasssey (546878)

      Seriously. What's the point? What are you trying to accomplish? You can't hear the difference at 256kps lossy versus lossless, so why waste you're life converting your already lossess music archive from CD form to harddrive form?

      There are so many thing wrong with this statement...

      1) Hearing artifacts at 256kbps. I will agree that even with decent speakers you may not be able to hear them. But with good gear, it's *noticable*. I used to have a pair of B&W DM602-S3 speakers as my mains and MP3's were fine. Then I upgraded to the 704's. All of a sudden I had to throw away my entire collection of MP3's: the artifacts just slapped you in the head.

      2) Why have your media on hard drive? Why *not* have your media on hard dr

      • $1 or $1.50 is about right. I think squeezebox will do it for you for about that price.

        What's worse than his comment about high bitrate MP3s is that he's planning on transcoding from lossy to lossy. The artifacts get multiplied each time. Disclaimer: I can't tell the difference with MDR-V6 cans or my e3cs (both are decent, though neither are made with snake oil) above ~200kb, and have been stumped by less than 96kb on certain content with advanced mp4 encoding.

        *shrug* As I've said - rip to FLAC, transcode t
      • > 1) Hearing artifacts at 256kbps.

        Yup, completely agree. CD stands for Crap Digital after listening to vinyl on horns.

        > Seeing as a 400GB hard drive is going to cost less than $200

        Eh? Where DO you do your shopping??

        I just picked up a SATA3 WD 500 Gig for $140 (US) from Newegg.

        If you're in Canada, NCIX is the newegg of Canada :-)

        Cheers
    • I encoded my entire CD collect 7 years ago as 320kbps constant MP3. I'm thinking about re-encoding it, because there's no point in having the files that big. 256kbps variable mp3 is would probably still be more than enough.

      Maybe because not everyone uses those $30 speakers that come standard with all Dell computers? I personally rarely use my computer speakers (I have a set of Klipsch 2.1 ProMedia's), but instead have my sound routed to my receiver. No computer speakers can compete with a real stereo.

  • Is there any linux software that will convert flacs to mp3s and preserve the tags?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mahonri5 (708013)
      Oggify [freshmeat.net] was designed to handle flac to mp3 or ogg conversion in bulk, while preserving the tags. I've been happy with it (not that I'm biased or anything), and so have a number of other people. It's open source, free, and in Perl.
      You should try it.
  • Dunno what judgement you're on about mate, but MP3 is free for personal use.

    I'd use FLAC - 20,000 tracks isn't really all that much, and storage is only going to get cheaper. Pulling numbers out of my arse gives me 300 meg or so per CD using FLAC, so assuming you've got 10 tracks per CD that's 600 gigs. That'll fit on a couple of hard disks for £150 or so (UKP), although you might want to back up your stuff onto DVD also. Or you might want to find a backup medium which has some chance of being rea
  • ive always wondered why people dont just use drive/folder compression and keep them as raw wav files? no special codecs needed. no converting. its just there in its original form, and im sure the compressed size must be similar? anyone do this?
    • by pipatron (966506)

      No, because lossless compressing of audio, video, executables and text files require different compression algorithms if you want a decent compression ratio.

    • Compression algorithms designed around block repetition and relative frequency of occurrence of particular byte values don't typically work too well with audio files - when you've got a waveform, you'll have jitter that wrecks any exact repetition of data, and since it's basically going back and forth, you won't see much difference between how often 0x10 and 0x40 occur. Audio lossless compression takes advantage of the specific properties of audio - for example, FLAC does things like taking a linear predict
  • I'm using flac for our entire library. However, I'm at the point of seriously considering a switch to ALAC. I use some custom scripts for ripping the tracks on OS X, tagging them with audiotag (http://www.tempestgames.com/ryan/), and then some mirroring scripts that check filestamps and output a mirror of a selected portion of the flac tree in a lossy format.

    I'm possibly switching to ALAC because iTunes will play it back natively, and I can use it under FrontRow in a Mac OS X media center frontend. The o
  • I will go with the flow and say Flac is the most used open source format for lossless. However I will digress from the flow and say most MP3 players don't support Flac. Since the widely used iPod is really here to stay, I have to say Apple Lossless is a good solution. No the compression is not as good, but it's more convenient, like it or not. And the compression not being as good doesn't mean there's a difference in output quality, it's lossless or it's not? :) So the super file format for losslessness sho
  • I'm not sure if this is the best thing to do, but I decided to just make disk images of my CD's, and store them on an external HDD. Then I use iTunes to rip them to 192Kbps AAC format for my iPods. I figured out that I could fit about 400 CDs, more or less, along with the ripped files, on a 250GB drive.

    The disk image files themselves are made with Roxio Toast in Digidesign's Sound Designer II format. Yes, it's proprietary software and a proprietary format, but the likelihood that this format will be readabl
    • by mixmasta (36673)
      You can. See search for dvd decrypter ... if you feel like removing all the crap from the disk, dvd shrink it is.
    • There is a more open way of imaging CDs. For this, I assume that the CD-ROM drive is IDE channel 1 master. You'll either need a UNIX-type machine or "dd" from the UNIX Utilities for Windows on Sourceforge.net.

      1. Insert CD to be imaged into the CD drive.
      2. Type in dd if=/dev/hda of=/home/yourname/name_of_cd.iso
      3. Move the .iso from your home folder to whatever subdirectory you want.

      To read the image on a UNIX machine:

      mkdir /mount
      mount -t iso9660 /home/yourname/name_of_cd.iso /mount

      and then the contents of th
  • FLAC should be your first choice but if you go mp3 I prefer LAME using VBR @ 'q 0'. Average bitrate on my library is between 240 and 280Kbps. Playing through my Squeezeboxes on any system from low to high I can NOT tell a difference. I have even tested a variety of interconnects including making my own. Of course you still need to downsample for most portable. Decoding high bitrate VBR files will suck your battery dry.
  • Disk space is ridiculously inexpensive these days -- a good 500 GB hard drive will set you back under USD 140 when on sale. You didn't specify how large your collection is in terms of uncompressed space, but let's say 20,000 tracks represents about 1,300 albums on CD (15 tracks per CD). That's about 800 GB (600 MB per CD). Four 500 GB drives (two for data, two for backup ... you *were* going to have an on-line backup, right?) and you're set.

    As other replies on this thread have observed, lossless compressi
  • I'm sorry if I think this Ask Slashdot question is dumb. There is no way to make a wrong choice! Suppose you pick something random and obscure like Apple's lossless codec, and later find yourself regretting it. With less than 10 clicks, you can recode all your files the yet-unreleased verion of FLAC, APE, or whatever other lossless codec better suits your needs. And you can repeat this as many times as you like! Because the files are lossless, you will never lose any quality. In fact, this is to me the most
  • I've been wanting to do this for a while too. I'm in the same situation with about 10 gigs of MP3s (r3mix or preset extreme) I have about 2,000 CDs I want to (re-)encode, and only want to do it once.

    My ideal setup would be:
    Have a bunch of lossless files on a portable harddrive
    Have a portable media player that can play high-quality lossy files
    Have an "update" process, that when I move music to the portable media player, automatically encodes it to the lossy system, so I can fit more onto it, but keep the lo
  • Flac is great because of the license, freely available tools and because my digital audio players ( 4 SqueezeBox network players at home and an iRiver H140 with rockbox on the road) support it natively. Tag support is included.

    The great thing about any lossless format (as long as you have the uncompression tool) is that you may at any time choose to convert to any other format without loss. I regularly convert Monkey audio downloads to Flac without loss.

    That's the real problem with MP3 library's you can nev

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