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abdomen
2005-08-02, 10:34
I have just purchased the SB2. It is my first Slimdevices product, despite lurking around slimdevices.com since the Slimp3 was first released! I am looking for help as I prepare to get my music collection up and running.

I have not ripped any of my CDs to hard drive yet. My requirements are to rip everything losslessly, to be able to seek through tracks (FF and RW), and to make sure my wife (who is not as into computers for their own sake) can use the Squeezebox setup without difficulty, including ripping additional CDs herself. (Slimserver will be running on a Windows Server 2003 machine.)

I have been disappointed by the two experiments with ripping software I did several months ago. The first was EAC with FLAC , and it was astoundingly un-friendly-- I admit to being a professional programmer who couldn't figure it out. Perhaps my wife would turn out to have no trouble at all getting EAC to rip to FLAC with just the file names, folder structure, and tags we want, but that would irreparably harm my self esteem. (There is no need to provide me links to EAC/FLAC ripping instructions; I believe I read them all.)

My second ripping experiment was with ITunes. It was heaven, from an ease of use standpoint. This I could use without headaches, and so could my wife. The problem was that I learned that the Apple Lossless files I had ripped would be transcoded before sending to the SB2, and therefore rewinding and fast-forwarding would not be possible. Unfortunately, I am one of those people for whom RR and FF are mandatory.

So, now that have the SB2, I am thinking of using ITunes and ripping everything to WAV. I can probably live with the doubled storage and bandwidth requirements, and the less-efficient use of the SB2's cache. But I believe all the metadata will be in ITunes' own files, since WAV files support limited tagging at best. Am I right to be worried about metadata problems if I use an ITunes/WAV approach? Does anyone use ITunes with a primarily WAV-format music collection?

Today, via the FLAC Sourceforge page, I stumbled on the Yahoo Music Engine. I am not interested in the download services available through the YME software, but rather its ability to rip to FLAC. Could this be the wife-friendly, lossless, SB2 RR/FF-enabling, ripping/organizing application I want? Has anyone tried it?

Many thanks for any insights.

ceejay
2005-08-02, 12:32
I can't answer all of your questions, but allow me to offer a couple of minor contributions:

(1) There's been a lot of discussion recently about FLAC vs WAV, most of it in favour of FLAC. I won't repeat it all, but will just point out that the use of WAV files won't necessarily have a cache or bandwidth disadvantage as slimserver will happily (by default, I think) transcode to FLAC.

However I think you are right to worry about the tagging... if you have a lot of music to add, you will probably have to spend a bit of time getting the tags the way you want them since as far as I can tell all of the available databases are inconsistent and error prone to some extent. You don't mention what kind of music you listen to, but if there is any classical music in there this is true tenfold. So what? I'm not sure I'd trust iTunes to keep all of that precious taggging information for me.

(2) I'm sure most people would agree that EAC and FLAC are pretty unfriendly, but it doesn't have to be so. I've set up some simple scripts and configuration files, using MAREO as a front end to FLAC, which *even* my wife can use!

Just a thought...

Ceejay.

radish
2005-08-02, 12:38
Do you care about the quality of your rips? If so (and you should), EAC is where it's at. I'm constantly amazed by how scary people seem to find EAC. The setup to use FLAC just requires you to change a couple of settings on a single config page. Let me know what your requirements are for tags/filenames etc and I'll tell you how to set it up (provided it's possible of course, EAC doesn't easily allow some complex tagging schemes).

abdomen
2005-08-02, 13:17
Thank you for your replies, ceejay and radish.

Ceejay: If I store my files as WAV, I will configure Slimserver not to transcode to FLAC. The reason is that I understand transcoding always disables FF/RW. I share your hesitation to entrust ITunes with all my metadata (i.e. none stored in tags), and with your small push I have just about ruled ITunes out. On MAREO scripts, at the risk of sounding flippant, I don't think I can be bothered. I want to enjoy my music, and am averse to the idea that to do so I must wade into scripting, esoteric tag format details, etc.. As I said, I may well be more of a wimp on this front than my wife.

Radish: I do care about the quality of my rips, within reason, but I have not yet been convinced that I must therefore use EAC. If I were to rip a given track using EAC and again using another piece of software, is there any way I could check how the two compare in accuracy? Thank you for your very generous offer of help with EAC setup. I may well take you up at a later date. However, I have decided that my next step will be to try out Yahoo Music Engine. Again, I really appreciate your kind offer.

By the way, I found a number of things interesting in the following blog posting by one of the developers of YME. His resume impresses, and among other things, he opines strongly but knowledgeably about the commercial music player software landscape.
"Why You Should (or Should Not) Use the Yahoo! Music Engine"
http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-FDuiCSg4eqinB8z.GGJ7TmAz?p=89

takashi37
2005-08-02, 13:36
I kinda feel like a broken record, but you can use CDex to convert to flac with a single click and it's pretty darn wife friendly.

As I said before, I'm not sure if the rip is quite as high quality as EAC (an no idea how I could tell) but I do know that CDex is very easy to used and configure and seems better designed for the non-tech-saavy set.

You can read about how to do this here...
http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/boards/index.php?showtopic=2127&st=0

Only issue is I get a double set of files on output, one of which has an extesnion ".flac.flac" and is only a few kb. No big deal there, I just delete them.

Drop me a PM if you have any questions.

> The setup to use FLAC just requires you to change
> a couple of settings on a single config page. Let
> me know what your requirements are for tags/filenames
> etc and I'll tell you how to set it up

Very nice offer. Again, I have to commend the great s/n ratio on this board and compliment everyone on how helpful they are!

TL

radish
2005-08-02, 13:43
Comparing two rips is pretty straightforward (with the right tools). Rip two WAV files, one with each app (these should be identical, if both rippers are working properly). Find an md5 checksum app for your platform, calculate both checksums and compare. They should be the same. If they're not, the rips are different.

Another somewhat less scientific approach would be to use FLAC to compress both the wav files. If the resulting FLAC files are exactly the same size, it's likely (but not certain) that the original WAVs were identical.

fathom39
2005-08-02, 18:00
I've played around with EAC, Foobar, FLAC Front End, dbPowerAmp, etc. but I always find myself falling back on the Rio Music Manager that came with my kids Carbon players. Check the download page:
http://www.digitalnetworksna.com/support/rio/product.asp?prodID=215

It is pretty darn fast and easy to use. It rips WAVs to your C:\ drive then encodes FLACs to your specified destination directory.

JulianL
2005-08-03, 03:59
I'm sounding like a broken record too, but this reputation about EAC is so unjustified. It takes 60 seconds to set up for on-the-fly FLAC encoding and, once done, it is a one button press to rip & compress. It's even one of the nice big buttons on the left (the second one down) rather than the smaller buttons from the toolbar.

- Julian

abdomen
2005-08-03, 06:12
I am willing to admit when I am wrong. Last night, I tried out Yahoo Music Engine, and found that, though it was user-friendly and ripped to FLAC quickly and easily, it stores all metadata in its own XML file, and fails to include tags such as year and genre within the FLAC files. So long, YME.

I took another shot at EAC, and things went much better than my last attempt a few months ago. This time, I referenced the following suggestions (linked from these forums in the past):

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=30959

I changed only the output paths, so that I would have an artist\album\tracks directory structure. My first ripped album came out with the directory/name structure I wanted, and passed muster with the Accuraterip database. I am feeling great about it, and yes, I can easily show my wife how to use EAC now that I have it configured.

I have a few follow-up ripping questions for the wonderfully helpful folks around here, and I hope I won't seem overly lazy for not finding the answers on my own.

- In the configuration suggestions linked above, a FLAC compression-level of 6 is shown. I followed this, and Softsqueeze (I haven't plugged in my SB2 yet) did not seem to want to FF/RW through the resulting FLAC files (there was only silence, though the display would indicate the scanning multiple it was "trying" to play). I suspect this is due to FLAC to FLAC server transcoding. To enable FF/RW, do I need to instead produce my FLAC files at a compression-level of 0? Do I have the alternative of instead editing the convert.conf file to enable FF/RW with FLAC files having compression-levels other than 0?

- Will it make any difference to have EAC detect gaps before I rip? And my last question may be related: Given the configuration linked above, are there any advantages I might gain by generating an external cue sheet for each album (note that I am not open to going with a single file per album and an embedded cue sheet)?

radish
2005-08-03, 08:57
The compression level doesn't affect anything on the playback side, use whatever you like. To make FF/REW work you need to disable the FLAC/FLAC transcoding option in the server prefs.

I personally don't see any reason for a cue file if you have seperate tracks, but maybe someone who uses cue files can jump in on that one.

abdomen
2005-08-03, 11:30
The compression level doesn't affect anything on the playback side, use whatever you like. To make FF/REW work you need to disable the FLAC/FLAC transcoding option in the server prefs.Okay, I'll look for that option. Thank you for the answer.

I personally don't see any reason for a cue file if you have seperate tracks, but maybe someone who uses cue files can jump in on that one.Alright; I guess I would still like to know if anyone finds cue files useful for separate tracks. However, reading a few hydrogenaudio treatises on EAC cue files (including http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=EAC_CUE_Sheets) has led me to conclude that I don't care enough to tax my pea brain further on the issue.

What is more actively nagging at me now is the question of whether I need to have EAC perform the "Action" of detecting gaps before I have it rip.

radish
2005-08-03, 13:14
What is more actively nagging at me now is the question of whether I need to have EAC perform the "Action" of detecting gaps before I have it rip.

I'm not sure off the top of my head what I have it set to - probably Yes as I'm a confirmed gap-o-phobic. What it's doing in this case is trimming silence from the end of tracks before encoding, as in some CDs the track marks aren't exactly at the end, but slightly after. I really don't think it'll make much difference to most people, leaving it set to Off will probably render the most "perfect" representation of the CD contents, for better or worse.

Robin Bowes
2005-08-03, 14:03
abdomen wrote:

> What is more actively nagging at me now is the question of whether I
> need to have EAC perform the "Action" of detecting gaps before I have
> it rip.

abdomen,

In a word - yes.

My routine for ripping a disk to flac with EAC is:

Press F4 - Detect Gaps
Press F3 - Test Gaps On Silence
Press Shift-F5 - Copy Selected Tracks (Compressed)
Sit back and wait

Also, for best results, make sure you have the following settings (which
you probably have if you've followed the instructions in the Hydrogen
Audio forum):

From Action menu:
- Append Gaps To Previous Track (default)

Extraction Tab:
- Check: Fill up missing offset samples with silence
- Check: Synchronize between tracks
- Select: Error recovery quality - High

Tools Tab:
- UN-Check: retrieve UPC/ISRC codes in CUE sheet generation
- Check: Use CD-Text information in CUE sheet generation
- Check: Create '.3mu' playlist on extraction
- Check: Automatically write status report after extraction
- UN-Check: Activate beginner mode, disable all advanced features

Normalise Tab:
- Do not use normalise

Extraction Method tab:
- Secure mode - NOT Paranoid, Synchronized or Burst mode!
- Check: Drive has 'Accurate Stream' feature
- Check: Drive caches audio data
- Do Not Check: Drive is capable of retrieving C2 error information

Offset/Speed tab:
- Select: Use read sample offset correction. A tutorial on how to do
this: http://pages.cthome.net/homepage/eac/setup.htm
- Check: Overread into Lead-In and Lead-Out (uncheck if you get an
error)
- Check: Allow speed reduction during extraction

R.

abdomen
2005-08-03, 14:42
- Check: Synchronize between tracks

- UN-Check: retrieve UPC/ISRC codes in CUE sheet generation

- Check: Create '.3mu' playlist on extraction


Thank you-- very helpful. Your three excerpted settings above differ from the Hydrogen Audio link I gave (the same posting is also linked in the Slimdevices Wiki).

Are you ripping to one file or multiple?

What do you use the playlist file for?

Do you use Create Cue Sheet in the action menu? If not, you don't get a CUE file (right?), so why specify for me the CUE sheet generation options?

I appreciate everyone's help.

Robin Bowes
2005-08-03, 15:01
abdomen wrote:
> Robin Bowes Wrote:
>
>>- Check: Synchronize between tracks
>>
>>- UN-Check: retrieve UPC/ISRC codes in CUE sheet generation
>>
>>- Check: Create '.3mu' playlist on extraction
>>
>
>
> Thank you-- very helpful. Your three excerpted settings above differ
> from the Hydrogen Audio link I gave (the same posting is also linked in
> the Slimdevices Wiki).
>
> Are you ripping to one file or multiple?

Multiple.

>
> What do you use the playlist file for?

I don't. :)

I follow the settings listed here:

http://btmusic.org:2710/extras-rules.php?os=win

> Do you use Create Cue Sheet in the action menu? If not, you don't get a
> CUE file (right?), so why specify for me the CUE sheet generation
> options?

I don't actually use Cue sheets or playlists (other than to use with the
slimserver alarm function) so I can't really comment.

> I appreciate everyone's help.

Glad you've seen the light and are getting on OK with EAC/Flac.

R.

abdomen
2005-08-03, 15:10
I follow the settings listed here:

http://btmusic.org:2710/extras-rules.php?os=win

I'm afraid I can't follow the link. When I try to create a login, I am told "Signup has been disabled, we only allows new signups if you've been invited by an existing member."

If it would not be inappropriate, perhaps you could paste a copy of the settings you wanted me to see.

robinbowes
2005-08-04, 06:20
I'm afraid I can't follow the link. When I try to create a login, I am told "Signup has been disabled, we only allows new signups if you've been invited by an existing member."

If it would not be inappropriate, perhaps you could paste a copy of the settings you wanted me to see.

That's essentially what I did in a previous post.

R.

abdomen
2005-08-04, 09:47
That's essentially what I did in a previous post.
I found some EAC/FLAC-related posts you made in the forum archive, and will study them and do some more experimentation in the next few days.

In the meantime, I would be thankful if anyone has any wisdom on the value of CUE sheets with multiple-file rips.

Robin Bowes
2005-08-05, 01:43
abdomen wrote:
> robinbowes Wrote:
>
>>That's essentially what I did in a previous post.
>
> I found some EAC/FLAC-related posts you made in the forum archive, and
> will study them and do some more experimentation in the next few days.
>
> In the meantime, I would be thankful if anyone has any wisdom on the
> value of CUE sheets with multiple-file rips.

Hi,

I was referring to this post:

http://article.gmane.org/gmane.music.equipment.slimdevices.beginners/472

R.

abdomen
2005-08-05, 06:59
Hi,

I was referring to this post:

http://article.gmane.org/gmane.music.equipment.slimdevices.beginners/472

R.
Ah, gotcha.