Help me form a WASTE network
February 29, 2004 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to rip my entire music collection (mostly CDs) to a big hard drive, with lossless compression. My friends agree that we ought to form a WASTE network. I have questions (More Inside).

Am I going at this the right way? Should I use FLAC? Will this be a difficult project? Can I convert FLAC files to AAC files on the fly to an Ipod in the future (I know about the Rio player, but strongly prefer the Ipod interface) without hassle? Keeping in mind that I'd like to drop my entire CD collection (600+ CDs) in my parents' basement and never think about them again, are there other steps that I ought to take?
posted by trharlan to Technology (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FLAC is definitely the best option for lossless encoding. Simple on-the-fly FLAC->AAC->iPod will probably be a bit problematic, though. Apparently iPods have trouble with non-iTunes-encoded AAC files so you'll probably have to conver to .wav, then encode to AAC in iTunes.

What platform are you on?
posted by zsazsa at 6:59 PM on February 29, 2004

Do the math to make sure you have enough space.

I ripped 400 CDs to MP3 @ 224kbs and it takes up 40 GBs.

Are you sure you want to use FLAC? Ripping directly to AAC might save you plenty of hassle in the future.

If you have little time & plenty of money, you might consider RipDigital to rip all your CDs to FLAC (or any other format).

I chose to rip the CDs with Musicmatch Jukebox and found an album could rip in 3-5 minutes. With three computers going simultaneously, the computers were always waiting on me.

Set aside space to sort & hold the CDs in 'ripped' and 'not ripped' piles. This is what 400 CDs looks like.

I would suggest that if you are going to rip on multiple computers, you set up the shared space to rip into first. The difficulty is combining folders. If you rip into a Beatles folder on one computer and rip into a different Beatles folder on another, at some point you have to manually combine the albums into a single artist folder.

Lastly, do some test rips and look at the ID3 metadata and make sure that you like it. It's not easy to go back and make changes enmass. Make sure you like the file naming and the folder structure. Try out the ripped files on multiple players. Try burning ripped files to CDs and coverting to AAC & MP3s. Be sure everything works well before you begin burning.

Good luck. If you are in SoCal, perhaps we could store backups on each other's network. ;)
posted by Argyle at 7:02 PM on February 29, 2004

I didn't mention Waste in my previous post.

We tested out Waste and found it quite resilient to interception and difficult to scan for even. I'm sure the NSA has a way in, but I doubt the RIAA can without an insider.

The interface is not great, but the idea works. Waste is the start of the real darknet.
posted by Argyle at 7:08 PM on February 29, 2004

If you're on a Windows system, make sure you're ripping your CDs with EAC's secure mode and the proper settings for your drive. MusicMatch and most other ripping software have been shown to occasionally create imperfect copies of CDs.

It'd be a shame to end up with FLAC files that contain read errors.
posted by Jairus at 7:08 PM on February 29, 2004

Don't be skimpy on the hard drive size. (600 discs) * (600MiB/disc typical rip size) * (0.60 typical FLAC compression) = 211GiB = 227 GB.
posted by Galvatron at 7:14 PM on February 29, 2004

I can understand you wanting to have lossless copies of your CD collection, but I can assure you that 320K Mp3 rips are considered indistinguishable.

EAC is short for Exact Audio Copy. The program can be found here. EAC is renowned in the PC community as being the most secure and powerful way to copy your music without getting read errors.

Now that you have EAC, you would want to get a codec that converts the wave into Mp3. Don't worry at all, it is very simple if you don't already know this. Exact Audio copy will even search for the codec on your computer for you! I recommend you download LAME. LAME is short for "Lame Ain't an Mp3 Encoder" which is by and far the best Mp3 compressor ever made. It can be found here.

Once you have EAC setup (which is easy and very quick) you should click on file-compression options-and make sure you are encoding at 320Kbps.

320Kbps is roughly 2.5 megabytes per minute, as compared to 10 Megabytes per minute of red book audio. I have read 2 or 3 books deatailing the history and internal dynamics of Mpeg Layer 3 audio, and 320 is more than enough to properly store your music in "almost" lossless quality. You won't be able to hear a difference.

Like you said, you want AAC. Look around for an AAC codec, which EAC should be able to use. Good luck!
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:01 PM on February 29, 2004

note: 320 is recommended for orchestra music (for than 16 instruments playing at once). 192 is excellent for less than 5 pieces of music.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:19 PM on February 29, 2004

Actually, 320 is overkill anda waste of drive space.
The r3mix setting in Lame was determined, after a lot of testing to be the true archival setting. It is the minimum setting at for what is referred to as CD Transparency.
That is to say, this setting is very very dificult to distinguish from the CD it is ripped from, as determined by an army of "golden ear" types.
Search goggle for r3mix for the whole debate, but you won't be disapointed if you compress to this setting.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:51 PM on February 29, 2004

the r3mix setting is considered slightly out of date by recent versions of LAME. Can't remember what the replacement is, though.

Also, AAC is higher quality than MP3 for a given bit-rate.
posted by cogat at 9:50 PM on February 29, 2004

Some people have suggested ripping to a lossy format such as AAC or MP3 instead of the original poster's lossless preference. The point of ripping to a lossless format, rather than a 'CD-quality' lossy format, is being able to transcode to the format-du-jour without two generations of lossy encoding.

For example, if you rip all your music to MP3, but need AAC for something tomorrow, you'll need to decode the MP3s and reencode them as AAC, incurring additional loss.

On the other hand, if you store everything in a lossless format such as FLAC, you can always transcode the FLACs to MP3, Ogg, AAC, WMA, or whatever you need tomorrow with no more loss of quality than if you had ripped the original CD again, in theory anyway. This is especially important if multiple people are accessing the files, since each person may have different quality and format requirements.

In practice you might need some custom scripts to convert and tag everything correctly, but at least you should not need to re-rip the original CDs. In fact, as I consider this project I think correctly tagging the AAC or MP3 files sounds like the most difficult part of it, but it's nothing that can't be accomplished with some scripting, if you can't find a piece of software that will do it for you.
posted by hashashin at 10:12 PM on February 29, 2004

Keyser Soze: I'm going to be ripping my partner and my collection soon (somewhere between 8000-10000 CDs and records), and I too am very seriously considering going with FLAC or some other lossless format. I'm very familiar with the current state of MP3/AAC/MPC/etc compression, and how good a well-encoded lossy rip will sound, but I think if I'm going to be putting in the effort to rip all of these CDs, it'll be worth the extra space to know that no matter what format is popular down the road, I'll be able to transcode to it without losing any fidelity.

cogat: The replacement is --alt-preset standard, with LAME 3.90.3. This is the setting/version that has been tested to be transparent, with the exception of some 'problem samples'.
posted by Jairus at 10:48 PM on February 29, 2004

Oh, and before I forget, dBpowerAMP Music Converter will transcode from FLAC to AAC (and to/from pretty much anything else) and take care of your APE/ID3/whatever tags for you.
posted by Jairus at 10:51 PM on February 29, 2004

That's cool. If your going to rip vinyl what i've been using thats gotten me great results is using Adobe Audition, formerly known as Cool Edit 2000. The pop and click remover can scan the entire file automtically, while keeping audio fidelity amazingly untouched.

I am sure with a collection that large you have some serious vinyl hardware to get the most out of your collections. Either way, I would get a new needle (at least an Audio Technica $30 model, entry level professional).

Anyways, that is my two cents. Good luck.
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:18 PM on February 29, 2004

wow.. i thought my friends and i were the only people who use WASTE...
posted by lotsofno at 4:05 AM on March 1, 2004

Not nearly...
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:13 AM on March 1, 2004

WASTE, to me, is the WorldScript-Aware Styled Text Engine used in many Macintosh applications. (It's better than the built-in TextEdit because it's not limited to 32K of text!)

What is WASTE to you folks, that has something to do with music? I am having trouble finding anything on Google that doesn't have to do with, well, waste.
posted by kindall at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2004

posted by shepd at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2004

0.60 typical FLAC compression

Well, shoot, with only a 40% size savings, I would say save the headaches and just rip 320s. On-the-fly FLAC to MPG-4 processing is going to bog, just leave them in mp3 and remember you've still got the AIFs. Catalog and spindle the originals. On those odd occasions where you really want the AIF, it's good to have the disks in some comprehensible order.

But if you're making a collection, best to take the long view of things. Look at the cost of an 80 GB drive five years ago compared to today. Audio compression is soon going to be a no-brainer. Create a solution that makes sense down the road, when there will likely be very little offline storage, and storage itself will be less of a problem than processing efficiency.

Not that tomorrow's processors are going to have much trouble handling today's tasks, but as a rule of thumb I think we ought to prioritize processing over storage.
posted by squirrel at 12:40 PM on March 1, 2004

The r3mix setting in lame is deprecated and should probably be removed completely. The current best overall (quality/size) that is nearly indistinguishable from cd in 90% of cases is alt-preset standard. For those albums which defy good encoding at this preset, there exist other flags like alt-preset insane.
posted by mikeh at 3:37 PM on March 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

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