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View Full Version : Ripping to FLAC and making a copy that works with ITunes



MrClive
2011-07-14, 08:55
Hope you can help.

I'm looking to re-rip my CD's to FLAC as I currently have my music stored in ITunes.

From what I've read up in other forums I can rip to FLAC and then convert a copy to MP3 so that this I can still use ITunes to sync with my Ipods

Can anyone recommend the best way of doing this?

What would I do with the music files that I've bought from ITunes (thankfully not that many), can I convert these to FLAC?

Is there an alternative path?

As I've got probably approx 200+ CD's what's the most efficient way of doing this? I'd probably be using my laptop to do this although I am toying with the idea of getting a Vortexbox server at some stage.

aubuti
2011-07-14, 09:13
The software choice depends a lot on what OS you're using. If you're on Windows, then I strongly recommend dBpoweramp for ripping your CDs. I'm sure many others on the forum will as well. It uses AccurateRip to confirm that you get an error-free rip, and if the AccurateRip shows discrepancies with others' rips or it's an obscure CD that isn't in the AccurateRip database it will automatically do a "secure" rip by ripping multiple times until it gets two matching results. dBpoweramp also has extremely good metadata/tag handling. You'll save a lot of time typing and editing the tag info.

You can set up dBpoweramp to encode to both FLAC and MP3 at the time of your rip, but I prefer to do them separately. I rip to FLAC, add or clean up tags, and then do a batch transcoding to MP3 (also with dBpoweramp).

dBpoweramp isn't free. It costs about US$36, and is well worth it in my opinion. There is a free trial so you can see if it's worth it to you. Hell, you could even rip your 200+ CDs during the trial period, which I think is 30 days. But you're likely to want to pay for it anyway for future use.

If your iTunes music isn't DRM'd, you can convert it to FLAC using dBpoweramp. Note that this will not improve the sound quality. They will still be lossy AAC files, except now they'll take up more disk space. But at least you won't degrade the quality by further transcoding. And don't bother to make MP3 copies of the AAC files, as those will sound worse than the original AAC.

Finally, if you're on Windows you should get the freeware mp3tag (www.mp3tag.de), which is a powerful tagging program that works on FLAC as well as MP3. You can edit tags with dBpoweramp, but I find mp3tag much better for mass-tagging operations.

maggior
2011-07-14, 09:13
You'll get quite a few opinions with this.

Personally I use a windows program called dbPowerAmp to both rip and encode. It is very good about getting accurate tags and encodes to FLAC on the fly so by the time the CD ejects, the FLACs are encoded already.

Once I've ripped my FLACs, I then use dbPowerAmp's batch encode to create mp3 versions of the files in a separate directly. These I then import into iTunes to use with my iPod.

dbPowerAmp, with tagging and mp3 support, does cost money (~$40 maybe? I forget). Free software you can use are a combination of EAC to rip you CDs (and encode to FLAC directly if you like) and foobar2000 to create the mp3 files. This will give you the same results, but may require a little more tweaking to get things going efficiently and you may have to intervene to fix up tags received from freedb.

If your existing iTunes files contain DRM, you can't use them with the squeezebox. If they do not, you should be able to play them directly without encoding them to FLAC. There is no advantage to converting a lossy file to FLAC - the file will just be bigger with no improvement in sound quality.

aubuti
2011-07-14, 09:19
If your existing iTunes files contain DRM, you can't use them with the squeezebox.
Sorry I forgot to mention this in my post. Actually there is software that can remove the DRM from iTunes tracks, although I forget the details. Also, as a last resort you could use iTunes to burn a CD with the DRM'd tracks, and then rip that CD to FLAC. Again, the quality would only be lossy AAC quality, but at least it wouldn't be further degraded.

maggior
2011-07-14, 09:50
aubuti - Yeah, our posts collided. I'm pretty sure iTunes has an option where you can "upgrade" your DRM'ed tracks to non-DRM for a fee. Probably a lot easier than going the "burn a CD and rip to FLAC" method.

Apesbrain
2011-07-14, 10:11
Sorry if some of this is redundant to other quicker respondents...
From what I've read up in other forums I can rip to FLAC and then convert a copy to MP3 so that this I can still use ITunes to sync with my Ipods

Can anyone recommend the best way of doing this?
If you are on Windows you can use EAC (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/) and latest version of MAREO (http://www.webearce.com.ar/) which will simultaneously encode your CDs into FLAC and mp3 or any other formats. Both are free. Latest version of EAC will even fetch album art.


As I've got probably approx 200+ CD's what's the most efficient way of doing this? I'd probably be using my laptop to do this although I am toying with the idea of getting a Vortexbox server at some stage.
With that number of CDs the only cost-effective way to do it yourself is one at a time. Figure you should be able to rip 8-10 CDs per hour. Vortexbox is a nifty tool for ripping and serving but won't significantly increase ripping efficiency -- still manual. There are services that will rip CDs for you (http://www.google.com/search?q=cd+ripping+service&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=&oe=); typically about a dollar per CD.


Is there an alternative path?
That depends on whether you can get beyond your belief that there is something deficient about how iTunes does the same thing (http://designwsound.com/dwsblog/hifi-computer-faq/cas-5-cd-ripping-for-mac-itunes/). If you like iTunes and are comfortable with it why not use it to encode your CDs to Apple Lossless? Quality is the same as FLAC -- and as the original CD -- and I think latest versions of iTunes have the ability to convert Apple Lossless to AAC (lossy) on the fly when uploading tracks to an iPod. (Maybe someone more familiar with latest iTunes can confirm/deny?) If so, that saves you from having to store two libraries. The risk is that you may give up future compatibility should you move away from the Squeezebox system: Squeezebox Server can decode and stream Apple Lossless but almost any music server can handle FLAC. Should that happen there are several free applications that will convert Apple Lossless to FLAC without any loss of quality.

For anyone just starting out in this area here is a truly GREAT resource that will answer many questions and save a lot of your time: The Well-Tempered Computer (http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/).

Essential computer audio tools:
- CD Ripper: Exact Audio Copy (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/)
- Tag Editor: Mp3tag (http://www.mp3tag.de/en/)
- File Converter and ReplayGain Calculator: foobar2000 (http://www.foobar2000.org/)
- Album Art: Album Art Exchange (http://www.albumartexchange.com/)
- Album Art Editor: IrfanView (http://www.irfanview.com/)
- Music Server: Squeezebox Server (http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download)
- Software Player: SqueezePlay (http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/SqueezePlay)
- Hardware Player: Squeezebox (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/speakers-audio/wireless-music-systems)

MrClive
2011-07-19, 05:33
Thanks all for your advice

4mula1
2011-07-19, 09:18
dBpoweramp + mp3tag here. I use dBpoweramp to rip to both flac and aac simultaneously (I make sure the tags are correct to begin with before I rip so I don't have to modify them twice afterwords) then use mp3tag to add special tags and artwork to the aac copy.

bobkoure
2011-07-20, 06:54
Yet another vote for dbPowerAmp and MP3Tag.
As to whether you want to leave your current iTunes files in AAC or convert, IMO depends...
FLAC, PCM (Wav), and MP3 are decoded on the player. That means that the server is lightly loaded when handling these formats (not as simple as 'just pass the data through' but pretty close). Good if you're running a low-power server or a NAS.
I dunno if the SongScanner works (or works well) with anything but these three 'native' formats. Anyone know?

If you have to convert your files when you get them out of iTunes, then FLAC is a fine choice. There'll be no further loss in converting (wasted space, but storage is cheap). There will be further loss if you then convert those FLACs into a lossy format, so save the AACs, and mark the FLACs somehow.

As far as ripping 200 CDs, dbPoweramp's got a batch ripper. I've used it to rip a couple thousand CDs (big project!). I'd suggest, if you have a laptop with a CD reader, use that; put it somewhere where you're going to be doing something else, like watching a movie, and just feed it a new CD when it sticks its tongue out at you.
Of course, if you use the batch ripper, tags won't necessarily be just right, so I'd rip to just FLAC, fix-up tags, and then use the dpPoweramp converter converter (free with dbPA, and maybe free by itself) to convert to whatever other format you want

bobkoure
2011-07-20, 07:04
That depends on whether you can get beyond your belief that there is something deficient about how iTunes does the same thing.
I'm not sure iTunes does an AccurateRip (or something like it - no reason they couldn't as I'm sure apple has all the CRC data necessary).
dbPoweramp can accurate-rip to Apple lossless if you care about this.
Either way, the only issue is that you're doing AAC->PCM/FLAC conversion at playtime on the server. Probably not a big deal.
As far as "future proof", well, dbPoweramp's got a converter, so you can convert everything to FLAC (or other lossless format) without losing quality or tags. Basically, so long as you get a good rip into some lossless format, you won't have to rip those CDs again.

kmr
2011-07-21, 20:41
Even though I'm on a Mac, I use dbpoweramp; just about the only thing I use my WinXP virtual machine for. I haven't found a native MacOS ripper that I like yet (there are some interesting projects going on at sbooth.org, but they weren't ready for prime time the last time I checked).

I use dbpoweramp's multi-encoder to rip to FLAC and AAC simultaneously, then import the AACs into iTunes for use in stuffing my iPods.

whoosh
2011-07-21, 21:00
Even though I'm on a Mac, I use dbpoweramp; just about the only thing I use my WinXP virtual machine for. I haven't found a native MacOS ripper that I like yet (there are some interesting projects going on at sbooth.org, but they weren't ready for prime time the last time I checked).

+1 on using VMWare Fusion to run dbPoweramp.

I haven't fully set this up yet, as I've only just completed my re-rip into FLAC earlier this week... But my plan for iPod consumption is to sync with MediaMonkey, which will convert from FLAC to whatever compatible format of choice in real-time. So it will take forever to sync, but you don't incur the space penalty of multiple file formats on your main storage. This worked for me on a trial run several months ago. I need to get after it again now that I'm all FLAC on the server. :)