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max.spicer
2006-09-30, 01:28
I'm just about to start a new job where I'll hopefully be able to listen to music at my desk. I'm therefore planning to get myself an ipod or something similar. I like the sound of being able to take pretty much all of my music around with me so am thinking of getting one of the new 30GB ipods. I had a brief look around at the competition, and in size alone they seem to be about a year behind Apple! I just wondered if anyone here could offer any compelling reasons not to get an ipod and, if so, what to get instead?

The 2nd issue is what file format to play on it. My whole music collection is flac, but I'd want to use a lossy format on a portable. My wife has a Rio Karma so we already run a script to mirror my flacs to mp3 (thanks to Robin Bowes for his flac2mp3 script!). However, after a bit of reading, it looks as if aac would be a much better choice on an ipod as I'd get better quality for smaller file sizes. Sadly, I don't think the Karma plays aac, so I'll probably just have to stick with mp3, or mess around maintaining my collection in flac, aac and flac (not sure I've got the space for that!). Again, can anyone offer any advice on this?

Thanks,

Max

autopilot
2006-09-30, 03:16
given the improved battery life, screen brightness and decent implimentation of gapless playback in the new ipod, i find i hard to recommend anything else right now. up until now i was really down on the ipod but apple seem to finally addressed some of the issues which have been a long time coming. however, depending on how much of a hurry you are, it might be worth holding out to see what microsofts zune is like.

max.spicer
2006-09-30, 11:44
depending on how much of a hurry you are, it might be worth holding out to see what microsofts zune is like.
Hmm, I'm somewhat dubious about the idea of a Microsoft music player. Then again, Apple aren't quite the good guys with the ipod, I guess.

Max

max.spicer
2006-10-02, 10:24
I'm just about to start a new job where I'll hopefully be able to listen to music at my desk. I'm therefore planning to get myself an ipod or something similar. I like the sound of being able to take pretty much all of my music around with me so am thinking of getting one of the new 30GB ipods. I had a brief look around at the competition, and in size alone they seem to be about a year behind Apple! I just wondered if anyone here could offer any compelling reasons not to get an ipod and, if so, what to get instead?

The 2nd issue is what file format to play on it. My whole music collection is flac, but I'd want to use a lossy format on a portable. My wife has a Rio Karma so we already run a script to mirror my flacs to mp3 (thanks to Robin Bowes for his flac2mp3 script!). However, after a bit of reading, it looks as if aac would be a much better choice on an ipod as I'd get better quality for smaller file sizes. Sadly, I don't think the Karma plays aac, so I'll probably just have to stick with mp3, or mess around maintaining my collection in flac, aac and flac (not sure I've got the space for that!). Again, can anyone offer any advice on this?

Thanks,

Max

Gratuitous bump before I go and buy a 30GB ipod. Sorry!

Max

jonheal
2006-10-02, 11:17
Like yours, my collection is in FLAC. My wife has an iPod. For a while there, I was using Robin's script to convert FLACs as needed to mp3s for the iPod. But then I'd end up with duplicate tracks on my music disk that I'd have to store in a location that the Slimserver couldn't see. And the mp3s take up additional hard drive space.

Then I heard about Anapod Explorer [http://www.redchairsoftware.com/anapod]. It's a Windows app with a plug-in that converts FLACs to mp3s on-the-fly in RAM and copies them to the iPod. It's UI is a bit buggy, but it seems to work okay. It costs $25.00.

Now I think I'm remembering that you're a LINUX guy...oh well.

radish
2006-10-02, 11:25
I recently moved from a Karma to an iPod. The big deal for me was gapless playback, and they've (pretty much) nailed that one finally, so I made the switch. Some pros/cons, coming from the Karma (which I still consider the best overall portable player in existence):

Pros:
Capacity - I now have 80gbs (compared to the Karma's 20) and so can _finally_ get everything on. Currently using ~128kbps VBR mp3 and using about 65gb. This is what swung it for me.
Accessories - there's no doubt that you have a much larger choice in cases etc with the ipod than anything else.
Price - the high capacity models are actually pretty well priced compared to the competition. The smaller ones (nano etc) are not so great.
Cosmetics - the ipod looks nicer than the Karma, to my eyes anyway. YMMV.

Cons:
Sound Quality - simply not as good. Not a big deal for me in a portable, but it matters to some people. The preset EQ options also suck.
Interface - Really basic and inflexible. I pretty much hate it, but I can find music and play it and I guess that's all that matters.
iTunes - Big, heavy and annoying.
The Wheel - like typing with mittens on.


So do I love the iPod? Not at all. But it's OK, and it's certainly the best current choice if you want capacity, most of the competition are in the 2-16 GB range and the others are lacking in some important way - usually gaplessness. If you're happy with 20GB I'd still recommend the Karma though...

max.spicer
2006-10-02, 12:54
I recently moved from a Karma to an iPod.[snip]
Thanks for that! Sounds like I should buy the new 80GB Rio Karma ... no, wait! :-( Why oh why did Rio have to go and go bust. Most thoughtless!

You sound as if you've come to exactly the same conclusion as I have - the ipod is far from ideal in many, many ways but it is the best out there. Sean: pick up that beer and start soldering together the Slimpod! Please!

Max

Jon
2006-10-02, 19:22
This is a very timely question (for me), as I am about to embark on the same path - converting my lossless files (WMA lossless) to AACs or MP3s, so I can carry my entire collection (about 800 CDs) with me. A couple of questions for anyone that has already attempted this:

1. I assume that I'll need iTunes to load the files onto the iPod, and that I'd point iTunes to the directory that contains the AAC (or MP3) files, and keep it away from the directory containing my lossless files ... is this correct?

2. Will iTunes correctly read my tags and album art from the files (the album art is typically stored in the folder with the given file, but I don't think the WMA tags have the art directly in the file itself), or will it annoyingly go out to the internet/iTunes store and try to update my tags/art (which I have spent many hours cleaning up, and I have them just the way I want them thank you very much)?

3. Opinions on AAC versus MP3?

Thanks!

autopilot
2006-10-03, 04:28
3. Opinions on AAC versus MP3?

I think there is very little between them sound quality wise and itunes/ipod supports gapless playback now using both formats etc. the main difference really is compatability - MP3 obviously has far wider support so you could use them on other devices you might have/get.

It might be worth checking out the wiki at www.hydrogenaudio.org and there has been many discusions regarding this on thier forum.

fathom39
2006-10-03, 12:59
However, after a bit of reading, it looks as if aac would be a much better choice on an ipod as I'd get better quality for smaller file sizes. Sadly, I don't think the Karma plays aac,

Why not batch transcode your FLACs to OGGs into a separate "portable" folder or external drive? Next, Rockbox your iPod so it can play OGGs. Then, you and your wife can load from a common library of tunes. OGG gives better qualiy & smaller file sizes than MP3 but uses more CPU cycles to decode so less battery life.

I bought a used Karma recently but returned it after a few days, was disappointed but (other than the plasticy-ness) just couldn't put my finger on exactly why. While researching the Cowon iAudio I ran across the also defunct iRiver H1xx series and bought one. Love it. OGG support, UMS, replaceable battery & HD, more. The other night I used it to record some vinyl as WAVs.

max.spicer
2006-10-03, 14:07
Sadly, my reading up on Rockbox hasn't done anything to convince me that installing it would be a good idea. It is apparently far from stable, leading to many interruptions in playback, has a user-interface that's far from polished (compared to Apple!), and has a major effect on the battery life of the ipod. Also, I don't think you can yet get Rockbox for the brand new 5th generation ipods.

Thanks for the tip on the iRiver - I'll have a look into that. Sadly though, I feel the draw of the ipod!

Max


Why not batch transcode your FLACs to OGGs into a separate "portable" folder or external drive? Next, Rockbox your iPod so it can play OGGs. Then, you and your wife can load from a common library of tunes. OGG gives better qualiy & smaller file sizes than MP3 but uses more CPU cycles to decode so less battery life.

I bought a used Karma recently but returned it after a few days, was disappointed but (other than the plasticy-ness) just couldn't put my finger on exactly why. While researching the Cowon iAudio I ran across the also defunct iRiver H1xx series and bought one. Love it. OGG support, UMS, replaceable battery & HD, more. The other night I used it to record some vinyl as WAVs.

radish
2006-10-03, 14:54
This is a very timely question (for me), as I am about to embark on the same path - converting my lossless files (WMA lossless) to AACs or MP3s, so I can carry my entire collection (about 800 CDs) with me. A couple of questions for anyone that has already attempted this:

1. I assume that I'll need iTunes to load the files onto the iPod, and that I'd point iTunes to the directory that contains the AAC (or MP3) files, and keep it away from the directory containing my lossless files ... is this correct?

Exactly, that's what I've just spent a week doing (all that transcoding takes a while!).



2. Will iTunes correctly read my tags and album art from the files (the album art is typically stored in the folder with the given file, but I don't think the WMA tags have the art directly in the file itself), or will it annoyingly go out to the internet/iTunes store and try to update my tags/art (which I have spent many hours cleaning up, and I have them just the way I want them thank you very much)?

Tags it seems to handle perfectly well, I set the usual track/artist/album/title tags in the mp3s and they all made it over to iTunes unmolested. It certainly didn't change any tag values for me. What it will do is add gapless tags which are essentially translated versions of the lame gapless header information.

Some tips I learned:

iTunes doesn't recognize compilations automatically like Slimserver does - you have to set the compilation tag. I keep my compilations and artist albums in seperate directories which made adding the tag to the flac files easy - I then made sure the transcoding script copied it over to the appropriate id3 tag.

I have albums which are not really compilations but which do have multiple artists. For example, the Cream of Clapton CD has tracks by Eric Clapton, Derek & The Dominos, Cream, etc. I don't want this flagged as a compilation but I also don't want iTunes to treat each track as it's own album. Setting the "Album Artist" tag (which is really the TPE2/Band id3 tag) to a single value for all the tracks cures this problem.

So what I ended up doing is setting compilation=1 and no Album Artist for the compilations, and compilation=0 and Album Artist set for the artist albums. Phew!

Oh and for artwork - iTunes will only read from tags, it ignores any jpgs in the folders. I don't yet have a script to embed the jpgs in the id3 tags but I'm thinking of writing one.

One final tip - iTunes doesn't like the id3 tags that foobar2000 writes. I read many threads about why not, and I'm convinced the fault lies with iTunes, but I won't hold my breath waiting for a fix! So if you want to edit the tags on your mp3s, you need to use something else.



3. Opinions on AAC versus MP3?


As a FLAC/Vorbis junkie I don't much like either of 'em :) But the available tools/encoders etc are much better for mp3, and it's more compatible, so that's what I use.

kaen
2006-10-04, 03:58
i recommend the iaudio x5, i am very happy with mine.

max.spicer
2006-10-04, 05:13
One final tip - iTunes doesn't like the id3 tags that foobar2000 writes. I read many threads about why not, and I'm convinced the fault lies with iTunes, but I won't hold my breath waiting for a fix! So if you want to edit the tags on your mp3s, you need to use something else.
Ah, good tip. I was thinking about borrowing a friend's powerful windows box and using foobar2000 on it to transcode my flac's to mp3. Sounds like this would be a bad plan!

I've already done the transcode once and it took flipping ages. Sadly, I used --preset standard in lame, which I now think was probably overkill. I'm probably going to go for medium instead, which should mean a 30GB ipod should suffice.

Max

buddachile
2006-10-04, 20:34
i have an ipod and play lame encoded mp3's on it.

regarding foobar2000, i've used older versions of it with no problems with the tags in (older version) of itines. the problem i have with foobar tags is not really a big deal for me. the last character in the artist, album and title fields in itunes shown up with a square seemingly indicating an unknown character. doesn't affect how the text shows up on the ipod itself.

if you decide to go the ipod route i recommend going with lame mp3's because:

* they play gaplessly on the ipod if you use itunes 7 to load them onto an ipod with the latest firmware

* i tried encoding some aac files using dbpoweramp (i.e. NOT itunes) and their resulting playback on my ipod was NOT gapless. my understanding is that if you want gapless aac playback on the ipod you must encode with itunes. bah!

* it's easy to transcode flac -> mp3 in one step with available utilities. i believe itunes does not decode flac, so to get gapless aac you'd have to go flac -> wav (or aiff) and then in a separate step go wav (or aiff) -> aac usning itunes. bah!

* you can play mp3's on just about anything

radish
2006-10-05, 06:23
Ah, good tip. I was thinking about borrowing a friend's powerful windows box and using foobar2000 on it to transcode my flac's to mp3. Sounds like this would be a bad plan!

I've already done the transcode once and it took flipping ages. Sadly, I used --preset standard in lame, which I now think was probably overkill. I'm probably going to go for medium instead, which should mean a 30GB ipod should suffice.

Max

I used the flac2mp3 perl script which is floating around here somewhere. Modified it slightly to take the compilation and album artist tags over into the mp3 but other than that it worked great. The really nice thing about the latest foobar is that it takes advantage of multiple processors/cores if you have them. But the tags looked pretty ugly so I went back to the script.

Brian Ritchie
2006-10-06, 17:19
This is a very timely question (for me), as I am about to embark on the same path [...]

I assume that I'll need iTunes to load the files onto the iPod, and that I'd point iTunes to the directory that contains the AAC (or MP3) files, and keep it away from the directory containing my lossless files ... is this correct?


I'm considering replacing my chock-full and slightly wonky Zen Touch with an iPod (probably 80G), so this topic is interesting to me too. As an adjunct to this question, can I have files on my iPod that aren't under iTunes on my PC, and vice-versa? Or would I need to keep a "shadow" copy of the contents of my iPod on my hard drive? Since my intention is that I'll be generating the iPod contents mainly from FLAC, it feels silly to use up (up to) 80G on my hard drive just to keep iTunes happy.

For my Zen, I have a separate "Zen Food" folder, that contains files (usually WMA generated from FLAC using MediaMonkey) that I might want to put onto the Zen; but (a) I don't transfer them all; (b) I usually delete them after I've transferred them to the Zen; and so (c) I have lots of files on my Zen that aren't under Zen Food. If I can't achieve something similar with an iPod then I probably won't be getting one!

I have another complication: I have about 5,000 WMA files... I have a big re-ripping job ahead of me! (But I need this anyway, since I want to be able to use ReplayGain. Alas, I went through a phase of replacing mp3 rips with wma rips, because I could squeeze 30% more music onto the Zen that way.) From what I've seen, though there is a way to get AAC from FLAC it looks far from straightforward, but I've had enough of corporate lock-in (and feature lock-out!) to discourage me from using Apple Lossless as my source format, so I'll probably just go from FLAC to mp3.

-- Brian

buddachile
2006-10-06, 17:41
...can I have files on my iPod that aren't under iTunes on my PC, and vice-versa? Or would I need to keep a "shadow" copy of the contents of my iPod on my hard drive? Since my intention is that I'll be generating the iPod contents mainly from FLAC, it feels silly to use up (up to) 80G on my hard drive just to keep iTunes happy.

-- Brian

you can have mp3s on your computer that iTunes doesn't know about and still import them into your iPod. i do this. in fact my only use for iTunes is to put mp3s onto my iPod. all you need to do is not allow iTunes to manage your music library for you via a setting in the iTunes preferences. then, plug in your iPod, start up iTunes and just drag files you want into the "Music" tab (or whatever it's called) under your iPod in iTunes and you're done. now you can delete the mp3 files from your computer, move them around, whatever you want. when you connect your iPod again and start up iTunes nothing bad will happen.

the key is to not allow iTunes manage your music library.

Craig
2006-10-07, 01:10
Sorry to plug JRiver's Media Center again but it will work with Flac, can automatically maintain a transcoded mp3 library, can upload to Ipods and most other players and MC12 supports lossless playback on Ipods.

Craig

Brian Ritchie
2006-10-07, 14:28
you can have mp3s on your computer that iTunes doesn't know about and still import them into your iPod. [...] the key is to not allow iTunes manage your music library.
Excellent, thanks! That's another reason not to get an iPod crumbling away...

-- Brian

max.spicer
2006-10-08, 03:57
Excellent, thanks! That's another reason not to get an iPod crumbling away...
Yeah, my last one crumbled away on Friday - it should now be in the post!

What's my best way to get music on it then? I don't want to play the mp3s on my computer and I don't want to organise them in any way. Am I best finding the don't manage my music flag in itunes, using JRiver's media centre or something else altogether? My mp3s are probably going to end up being stored on a headless (with no X!) Debian machine that can be accessed from an XP machine via a network cable (for speed over wireless). The Debian machine does have USB, but I'm not expecting to connect it directly to the ipod!

Max

buddachile
2006-10-08, 07:22
What's my best way to get music on it then? [snip] My mp3s are probably going to end up being stored on a headless (with no X!) Debian machine that can be accessed from an XP machine via a network cable (for speed over wireless). [snip]

Max

Our setups are very similar. I have my slimserver on a headless Ubuntu box with all my mp3s, and I have an XP machine cable connected to my network.

I set up samba on the Ubuntu box so I can just open the mp3 file folders from the XP box. I Connect the iPod to the XP box, fire up iTunes and then I simply drag and drop the mp3 folders I want into the iPod as it appears in the iTunes widow. (Note, I drag onto the "Music" menu item that appears under the iPod menu in the left menu column.)

Don't think any other software out there does this yet, but iTunes will populate the iPod's database with the "gapless info" so LAME encoded mp3's playback gapless on the device.

Because I can work it this way the iTunes software does not offend me. The iTunes store is another matter! (I HATE DRM!)

tomjtx
2006-10-09, 21:16
This is a very timely question (for me), as I am about to embark on the same path - converting my lossless files (WMA lossless) to AACs or MP3s, so I can carry my entire collection (about 800 CDs) with me. A couple of questions for anyone that has already attempted this:

1. I assume that I'll need iTunes to load the files onto the iPod, and that I'd point iTunes to the directory that contains the AAC (or MP3) files, and keep it away from the directory containing my lossless files ... is this correct?

2. Will iTunes correctly read my tags and album art from the files (the album art is typically stored in the folder with the given file, but I don't think the WMA tags have the art directly in the file itself), or will it annoyingly go out to the internet/iTunes store and try to update my tags/art (which I have spent many hours cleaning up, and I have them just the way I want them thank you very much)?

3. Opinions on AAC versus MP3?

Thanks!

all my music is alac or aiff on my hard drive, when I manually import to ipod i 1st go to preferences , advanced, import and specify what I want (aif or alac depending on the cd

NigelMSB
2006-10-11, 01:11
I used the flac2mp3 perl script which is floating around here somewhere. Modified it slightly to take the compilation and album artist tags over into the mp3 but other than that it worked great.Those modifications sound useful to others too (or at least to me!). Any chance of sending them upstream to Robin (http://robinbowes.com/projects/flac2mp3)?

max.spicer
2006-10-14, 11:11
So what I ended up doing is setting compilation=1 and no Album Artist for the compilations, and compilation=0 and Album Artist set for the artist albums. Phew!
How did you set compilation=1 on your mp3s? I've discovered that itunes apparently uses the non-standard TCMP id3v2 frame to indicate compilations, but haven't found a tool that will let me set it yet.

Man, itunes is rubbish! Can people recommend Windows alternatives that will still support gapless music?

Max

NigelMSB
2006-10-15, 02:05
How did you set compilation=1 on your mp3s?I can't speak for radish, but I've used MP3Tag (http://www.mp3tag.de/en/) to do this.

NigelMSB
2006-10-17, 06:01
How did you set compilation=1 on your mp3s?I had a play with FLAC3MP3 v0.2.7 and iTunes v7.0.1, and mapping the COMPILATION Vorbis comment to the TCMP ID3 frame works. Setting COMPILATION=1 in the FLAC files creates MP3s that iTunes sees as having the "Part of a compilation" tick box enabled (so TCMP=1). Setting COMPILATION=0 or having no COMPILATION comment causes iTunes to have the "Part of a compilation" tick box disabled.

N.B. If you disable the "Part of a compilation" tick box, iTunes removes the TCMP frame (it doesn't set it to "0"). Also, if you view MP3s that have TCMP=0 (created from FLACs with COMPILATION=0) in MP3Tag, they show up as COMPILATION=1 (i.e. TCMP=1, not TCMP=0). This is presumably because of the iTunes behaviour above, i.e. MP3Tag treats TCMP=1 as the only valid state for the TCMP frame.

Multiple Vorbis comments are still a problem. It'd be great to be able to concatenate them (e.g. ARTIST=Fila Brazilia;ARTIST=Ponga becomes TPE1=File Brazilia & Ponga) or have a priority list (e.g. GENRE=Classical;GENRE=Baroque becomes TCON=Baroque if the Baroque > Classical) where appropriate. Converting Replay Gain to iTunes SoundCheck would be useful (SlimServer goes the other way already). Ah yes, and the previosuly mentioned album art too. Yep, iTunes is terrible really for not supporting the existing methods of doing stuff.

I don't use all of these mappings, but my FLAC3MP3 now has:

# hash mapping FLAC tag names to MP3 frames
our %MP3frames = (
'ALBUM' => 'TALB',
'ALBUMARTIST' => 'TPE2',
'ALBUMSORT' => 'TSOA',
'ARTIST' => 'TPE1',
'ARTISTSORT' => 'TSOP',
'BPM' => 'TBPM',
'COMMENT' => 'COMM',
'COMPILATION' => 'TCMP',
'COMPOSER' => 'TCOM',
'CONDUCTOR' => 'TPE3',
'DATE' => 'TYER',
'DISCNUMBER' => 'TPOS',
'GENRE' => 'TCON',
'LYRICS' => 'USLT',
'TITLE' => 'TIT2',
'TITLESORT' => 'TSOT',
'TRACKNUMBER' => 'TRCK',
'MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMID' => 'TXXX',
'MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMSTATUS' => 'TXXX',
'MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMTYPE' => 'TXXX',
'MUSICBRAINZ_ARTISTID' => 'TXXX',
'MUSICBRAINZ_SORTNAME' => 'TXXX',
'MUSICBRAINZ_TRACKID' => 'UFID',
'MUSICBRAINZ_TRMID' => 'TXXX'
);

radish
2006-10-17, 06:58
Those modifications sound useful to others too (or at least to me!). Any chance of sending them upstream to Robin (http://robinbowes.com/projects/flac2mp3)?

Sure - it's a really easy change though, just add the fields to the lists at the top of the script (which I just noticed you've already done!).


How did you set compilation=1 on your mp3s? I've discovered that itunes apparently uses the non-standard TCMP id3v2 frame to indicate compilations, but haven't found a tool that will let me set it yet.

Man, itunes is rubbish! Can people recommend Windows alternatives that will still support gapless music?

I don't have a problem with TCMP because as far as I can tell it's a hole in the standard - there's no official compilation flag. Anyhow, I set it using flac2mp3 in the same way NigelMSB mentions.

EDIT: Oh, and yes iTunes is pretty sucky. I don't know of anything else which writes the magic gapless tags though. They have been decoded, so it shouldn't be long!

NigelMSB
2006-10-20, 06:07
Oh and for artwork - iTunes will only read from tags, it ignores any jpgs in the folders. I don't yet have a script to embed the jpgs in the id3 tags but I'm thinking of writing one.
In case you fancy the challenge (!), I found this Perl script. http://www.krkeegan.com/archives/35-Perl-ID3Tag-and-Errors-with-Cover-Art.html. I've not tried it but someone there says it works.

One final tip - iTunes doesn't like the id3 tags that foobar2000 writes. I read many threads about why not, and I'm convinced the fault lies with iTunes, but I won't hold my breath waiting for a fix! So if you want to edit the tags on your mp3s, you need to use something else.
Foobar2000 now has a "ID3v2 Writer Compatibility Mode" that might fix it. FLAC2MP3 is still easier in the long run, though.

radish
2006-10-20, 06:47
Foobar2000 now has a "ID3v2 Writer Compatibility Mode" that might fix it. FLAC2MP3 is still easier in the long run, though.

Cool! I read a number of posts from the devs saying they'd never do such a thing, but I guess they relented. It's nice to have it as an option, particularly as it makes such good use of multi-core processors.

dwinter
2006-10-20, 22:06
I put rockbox (www.rockbox.org) on an iPod 4G (20GB) so I wouldn't have to convert all my FLAC files. I can't tell any difference though between 128Kbps MP3s through the default iPod OS and FLAC on Rockbox with the default earbuds and slightly better headphones. But I've ordered some good Shure headphones and will probably keep using FLAC. The power doesn't seem to last as long, but I assumed that was because the hard drive was being used a lot more during playback with FLAC files. Also, Rockbox is not as stable as the default OS, but it hasn't been too bad. And I haven't had much of an issue with playback problems. More just with it crashing and having to reboot the iPod.

David

bathyscaaf
2006-10-23, 00:17
Sadly, my reading up on Rockbox hasn't done anything to convince me that installing it would be a good idea. It is apparently far from stable, leading to many interruptions in playback, has a user-interface that's far from polished (compared to Apple!), and has a major effect on the battery life of the ipod. Also, I don't think you can yet get Rockbox for the brand new 5th generation ipods.

Thanks for the tip on the iRiver - I'll have a look into that. Sadly though, I feel the draw of the ipod!

Max

I had Rockbox installed on my Nano...worked great. Stable. The only drawbacks: shorter battery life, no support for USB 2.0
The workaround, though, is to boot up in the original firmware (you can do that) and drop your flac files in that way, the reboot into Rockbox.

buddachile
2006-10-23, 02:58
I had Rockbox installed on my ...shorter battery life, no support for USB 2.0...

is the shorter battery be life due to the lossless files or the use of the rockbox os? if you use mp3s or aacs is the battery life still lower?

also, why bother with rockbox if you can just transcode flac to alac? (not trying to be a smart ass, just curious.)

max.spicer
2006-10-23, 11:57
I think it's down to CPU use. Rockbox is more cpu intensive than the native firmware, and flac is much harder to decode than mp3. The combination of the two therefore leads to a much higher load on the battery.

Max


is the shorter battery be life due to the lossless files or the use of the rockbox os? if you use mp3s or aacs is the battery life still lower?

dSw
2006-10-23, 13:32
also, why bother with rockbox if you can just transcode flac to alac? (not trying to be a smart ass, just curious.)

Good point. I think Rockbox is a great idea, but battery life is pretty important (especially on an iPod!) and I would argue that lossless isn't really needed on a DAP.

Now if there was an application that allowed you to drag FLAC onto an iPod and have it transcoded and properly tagged on the fly then that would be perfect... (eagerly awaits someone pointing out such an app ;)

NigelMSB
2006-10-26, 06:23
In case you fancy the challenge (!), I found this Perl script. http://www.krkeegan.com/archives/35-Perl-ID3Tag-and-Errors-with-Cover-Art.html. I've not tried it but someone there says it works.This thread might not be the best place for this. Sorry if it's not.

The script to add artork to MP3s comes from http://perl.thiesen.org/scripts/id3image and from my testing it does work. I'll not post the entire result here because I don't know Perl and I don't trust what I've hacked with, and I don't want to post a modified FLAC2MP3 with Robin's permission. So, here's the steps to get it working:

1. Take FLAC2MP3 v0.2.7 and edit lib\MP3\Tag\ID3v2.pm. Find the line "$flags = chr(128) if $tag_data =~ s/\xFF(?=[\x00\xE0-\xFF])/\xFF\x00/g; # sync" (line 615) and comment it out (iTunes can't handle unsynronised frames, I think). Edit FLAC2MP3.pl and add "use MP3APIC ();" at line 27 (after "use Getopt::Long;"), add "MP3APIC::AddAPIC($srcdirroot, $srcfilename,$destfilename);" at line 493 (after "$mp3->close();").

2. The attached file is the from above link and has been (badly) modified to make it a .pm. Rename it "MP3APIC.pm" and place in lib\.

3. Install ImageMagick (http://www.imagemagick.org/) which includes PerlMagick needed to read the JPG images.

Limitations/to do:
- needs testing and needs someone who knows Perl to get it working properly. Don't let it near MP3s you care about.
- gives an error about text encoding.
- iTunes can't handle very large files (1200x1200 works fine, but 5000x5000 doesn't) so it needs some logic to re-size very large images. I tried this but iTunes wouldn't see the embedded images.
- probably has some horrible Win32-only file path logic.
- really needs to have a list of possible files names to use for the JPEG, not just Folder.jpg
- uses ImageMagik, not GD. Is GD generally preferred? Can GD handle this task?

Anyone who knows Perl fancy taking it on?

Brian Ritchie
2006-11-05, 19:39
Excellent, thanks! That's another reason not to get an iPod crumbling away...


Well, I finally gave in and got an iPod just over a week ago... not without some teething problems, but it's growing on me now.

By and large, I prefer it to my old Zen Touch. There's more detail to the sound; but then again, as soon as I plug my in-ear Sennheisers in, I hear a distinct hiss that can be distracting when listening to quiet music in a quiet place. There are some surprising shortcomings in comparison to the Zen Touch; but here probably isn't the place to go into these. (If only someone would bring out a portable with the same now-playing capabilities of the Squeezebox!) Instead, I'll concentrate on my experiences with iTunes and its interaction with my music library.

I bought a second internal disk, and copied my music files to it, and pointed SlimServer to that. No problem. So now (for a limited time only) I had a "spare" copy on which to risk letting iTunes loose. I installed iTunes, and I'm fairly sure I'd restricted its initial scan to my original music files. I discovered to my qualified delight that it offered to convert all my WMAs to AAC; being wary, I declined. (Thank heavens too! For converting even a few WMA files takes aeons - and I have 4000+. I'd still be waiting on the installation finishing :-)) So this restricted iTunes to working with my mp3 files. Or so I thought.

Curiously, I found references in iTunes to files from my new drive, though I don't recall giving it permission to look there. (And no, there are no refs to the new drive in the playlists, and no shortcuts.) So I'm still slightly worried that iTunes might have modified my supposedly-protected music files, though no signs of damage so far. Yet more curiously, it didn't load its library with *all* my mp3 files. Roughly, it looked as though it had worked from my .m3u playlists; but it hadn't created analogues of those playlists! (And if there's an easy way to replicate an m3u playlist in iTunes, it eludes me.)

Dismayingly, though it hadn't converted the WMA files, it had added them to its library (it completely ignored FLACs). This made synchronisation a real pain, for iTunes would hang for 10 or more minutes on *each* sync attempt, while it "discovered" all these WMA files that it couldn't do anything with, and *only* then would it start syncing properly. After several painful iterations, I worked out how to delete all the WMA files from the iTunes library, which sped up synchronisation no end.

I made a few WMA-to-AAC conversions, allowing iTunes to keep the converted files in its own little world. As I said, the conversion took ages, though the results were rather better than I feared they'd be.

But I didn't really want to sync anyway, since my aim is to only put "pale shadows" of the original tracks onto the iPod. So I turned off syncing, and tried adding a few albums manually. At some point during this, I somehow managed to replace all 1500 tracks that were on my iPod with a single album. No warning or confirmation request from iTunes whatsoever - it just did it! (Later, I made a similar mistake with a playlist: with sync turned on, and because a newly-created playlist wasn't automatically replicated on the iPod, I asked to sync with it alone. Bzzt!)

Very soon, I started looking for alternatives to iTunes. I did some experiments with MediaMonkey and dBPowerAmp in converting FLAC and WMA to AAC, but wasn't happy with either. (Navigation in dBPowerAmp's converter dialog is a pain; MM doesn't do AAC, but I love its file-renaming capabilities.) Within a couple of days I'd switched to using Anapod Explorer, and have hardly touched iTunes since. It lets me drag and drop any of my music files onto the iPod, and transcodes them on the way. (We already use Red Chair's Notmad for our Zens, and Anapod is very similar.) Since I'm not keeping a copy of the (transcoded) files, I can't use Smart Playlists in iTunes; but Anapod allows something similar that works directly with the iPod contents. Anapod also claims to copy artwork with albums if it finds a particular filename (e.g. cover.jpg) in the album's folder. (No such option in iTunes, and I'd better not get started on how bloody awful it is to add artwork there...) Fortunately, this matches how I've set things up. Unfortunately, I've yet to get it to work. Also, if there's a way to get Anapod to generate AAC, I've not found it yet; but I'm happy with mp3 for now.

I don't think any of this has damaged my "real" music files (i.e. the ones meant for SlimServer). I was a bit worried that iTunes might be adding album art to the audio files directly, having read of some problems with embedded art; but no sign of any problems (or embedded artwork) yet. And I'm not trying to go the other way, and "take advantage" of iTunes in SlimServer (such as use of playlists, smart or dumb).

-- Brian

Jon
2006-11-05, 20:05
Very soon, I started looking for alternatives to iTunes. I did some experiments with MediaMonkey and dBPowerAmp in converting FLAC and WMA to AAC, but wasn't happy with either. (Navigation in dBPowerAmp's converter dialog is a pain; MM doesn't do AAC, but I love its file-renaming capabilities.) Within a couple of days I'd switched to using Anapod Explorer, and have hardly touched iTunes since. It lets me drag and drop any of my music files onto the iPod, and transcodes them on the way. (We already use Red Chair's Notmad for our Zens, and Anapod is very similar.) Since I'm not keeping a copy of the (transcoded) files, I can't use Smart Playlists in iTunes; but Anapod allows something similar that works directly with the iPod contents. Anapod also claims to copy artwork with albums if it finds a particular filename (e.g. cover.jpg) in the album's folder. (No such option in iTunes, and I'd better not get started on how bloody awful it is to add artwork there...) Fortunately, this matches how I've set things up. Unfortunately, I've yet to get it to work. Also, if there's a way to get Anapod to generate AAC, I've not found it yet; but I'm happy with mp3 for now.-- Brian

I just completed migrating copies of my WMA files (9,000 of them) to my brand-new iPod as well. In my case, I used Easy CD-DA Extractor to convert all of my WMA lossless files to MP3s ... recruited two PCs for the task, the entire process took about 36 hours (unattended). With Easy CD-DA Extractor, you can drag entire directory structures into the list of files to convert, and it does the rest. The only problem I ran into with EZCD is that it did not copy the "compilation" tag for some reason ... which was easily fixed in one operation with Tag&Rename.

I am curious whether Anapod Explorer handled your compilations properly? I plunked down $25 for Anapod, convinced that I didn't want to use iTunes ... and was dissapointed with the result, because it would not apply the compilation tag onto the iPod, so under "artists" on the iPod I was seeing every artist that appears on any compilation (call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to view my collection as a group of CDs, and only want to see the primary artist on any given CD). Interestingly, I then decided to connect my iPod to iTunes to see if it would do a better job ... and it read all the files on my iPod and applied the compilation tag! Strange, but it worked. I emailed Anapod asking for advice on the compilation tag issue ... a week later, and I still have not received a response ... very dissapointing.

So, ultimately, I switched back to iTunes ... I have to say, I am much happier with iTunes than I expected to be ... though it took some experimentation to figure out how iTunes interacts with the iPod.

Regarding artwork ... the way I handled it was via MP3tag, which has the ability to import artwork into MP3 files ... you just tell it what file to look for (folder.jpg in my case) and it does the rest.

So, one week and much fiddling later, I have the iPod (mostly) behaving the way I want it to.

buddachile
2006-11-05, 21:38
What I find works well for me is not telling iTunes about any music on my system. I say to iTunes: "I HAVE NO MUSIC." iTunes seems pleased enough and I am secure in the knowledge that it will not muck with any of my files. Then I just drag and drop music files from folders into the iPod as it shows up within iTunes. No problems that way. If I have to convert a flac file I do it with dBpoweramp. I never have to worry about what iTunes may or may not do with my music files this way, and I get gapless playback on my iPod.

I'm not a huge iPod fan. I just found it to be the most convenient way to access 60G of music in my car.

dSw
2006-11-06, 01:45
Within a couple of days I'd switched to using Anapod Explorer, and have hardly touched iTunes since. It lets me drag and drop any of my music files onto the iPod, and transcodes them on the way. (We already use Red Chair's Notmad for our Zens, and Anapod is very similar.) Since I'm not keeping a copy of the (transcoded) files, I can't use Smart Playlists in iTunes; but Anapod allows something similar that works directly with the iPod contents. Anapod also claims to copy artwork with albums if it finds a particular filename (e.g. cover.jpg) in the album's folder. (No such option in iTunes, and I'd better not get started on how bloody awful it is to add artwork there...) Fortunately, this matches how I've set things up. Unfortunately, I've yet to get it to work. Also, if there's a way to get Anapod to generate AAC, I've not found it yet; but I'm happy with mp3 for now.

Thanks for posting your experience Brian - some really useful information in there. A question on Anapod, though - do you find that it handles the conversion of tags ok?

Brian Ritchie
2006-12-05, 18:36
I am curious whether Anapod Explorer handled your compilations properly?

Sorry Jon, I've not much experience with compilations, tag-wise. The one compilation that springs to mind seemed to end up being spread around the different artists, but it was iTunes that did that! I'm fairly sure I didn't get the tags right; and I haven't been bothered enough to redo and try again, neither with iTunes nor Anapod.

Sorry also for taking so long to reply - I'm not tracking this thread and forgot to check up on it until now.

-- Brian

Brian Ritchie
2006-12-05, 18:46
Thanks for posting your experience Brian - some really useful information in there. A question on Anapod, though - do you find that it handles the conversion of tags ok?

Sort-of. I seemed to end up with some curious truncations, as if there was some limit on tag length at some stage during the transcoding process. I've never quite been able to pin it down.

I've not been using Anapod's transcoding feature much for a while. The main reason is that I realised that you're supposed to be able to configure Anapod so that if it finds a "cover.jpg" file in the same folder as the files, it will add it as artwork on the iPod; but this *doesn't* work when transcoding is involved. So all new rips get converted (MediaMonkey, flac-to-mp3) into an "iPod Food" hierarchy, I add cover.jpg, then drop it into Anapod.

Since the iPod spends most of its playing life in the glove compartment or in my pocket, and since its illumination is set to go out after about 5ms, adding the artwork is a bit pointless really; but since it *can* display it... !

-- Brian

Brian Ritchie
2006-12-05, 18:54
I don't think any of this has damaged my "real" music files (i.e. the ones meant for SlimServer). I was a bit worried that iTunes might be adding album art to the audio files directly, having read of some problems with embedded art; but no sign of any problems (or embedded artwork) yet.

Possibly not true: I've found at least one album where the SB3 produces a loud click at the start of each track, and I *suspect* that artwork added by iTunes might be the reason. I've yet to determine the cause for certain, but accidentally letting iTunes loose on them is the only recent change I can remember (and they definitely played OK in the past).

-- Brian