Posted in Music

Apple Lossless vs Flac

Below is a very old post which I saved to my drafts folder over 6 years ago, according to the date on “Draft Saved.” I am posting it just for reference, as some things have changed and I no longer use a Mac 100% of the time and no longer consider Apple Lossless to be even an option.

After I wrote the draft below, I decided and ripped all my collection to flac using EAC and dbPoweramp. All the music files have been happily sitting on my NAS for the past few years – a bit lonely I’ll admit. I’ve been using Spotify and Pandora quite a bit for some time now and haven’t listened to my flac collection much.


Original draft date: Sometime in 2010

Just as I thought that I had already made a decision regarding which format to choose to rip my music collection, I find myself confused, looking at pros and cons, and considering starting all over again.

There are different and mixed opinions when choosing a lossless codec. A vast majority vote for flac due to its wide availability in both software and hardware, and also for being open source.

Apple Lossless, on the other hand, it’s tightly integrated with iPod, iPhone, iTunes, and the rest of the Apple software and hardware. It makes the most sense if you are strictly using Apple software and hardware (which I am, to some extent). Being a Mac user, I had originally chosen to go with Apple Lossless – there was no doubt about it.

But now as I’ve ventured into open source software and have been using Linux, I see Apple Lossless more of an obstacle and less of a “one-fits-all” decision.

In order to play Apple Lossless, I’ll need iTunes at the very least. There are other programs out there that play Apple Lossless, but iTunes is the most known.

Flac, on the other hand, has software available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There is also a wide range of hardware products that will play flac files without the need to do anything special.

Posted in Computers, Music, Programming

Writing Some Python Code

I’ve written a neat little program using Python 2.6.4, which allows me to list the folders in a directory that match a specific criteria that I’ve set.

Here is a bit of history and reason for the program, before I describe it.

When I began ripping my CD collection with EAC and iTunesEncode, I was still fairly new to EAC, and had very, very little previous exposure and experience with the program. To make a long story short, I ripped some CDs, which – without taking notice right away – need to be re-ripped due to incorrect settings in EAC and iTunesEncode, since I was still playing with the different settings and parameters.

When I went back to add these to iTunes for properly tagging, adding an album art and organizing them in my Lossless Library, I discovered that I had quite a few of these “ripped” CDs that didn’t play, so I labeled the folder name “Artist Name – Album Name + ‘Needs RE-RIP’, with the idea of later going back to these CDs and ripping them again.

But instead of going through the folder and manually picking out which ones I had earlier tagged to be re-ripped, I wrote some Python code to help me do this.
The program is quite simple: Lists the folders in the EAC – Ripped directory that have the word “RIP” anywhere in the directory name; a process that I would have had to do manually. Instead, the small program picks out those which need ripping again, puts them on a list, and saves this list to a file! Now it’s much easier to pick out the ones that I need, instead of manually going through the directory.

Now – I haven’t got much programming experience – just some Python, C, C++ stuff that I’ve learned in school and studied/practiced on my own. I used the Internet as a refresher to help me remember how to open a file, and write to it, and how to list the contents of a directory. Besides that, the rest I coded by using previous examples and experience.

Anyways, without much further blabber, here is the code and the output. Feel free to leave some comments, use it and change it a bit if need.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

# listFolders.py

import os, io

def main():
count = 0
countLine = 0
musicDir = os.listdir(“/Volumes/MUSIC/EAC Ripped/EAC Ripped – Needs Tagging/”)
musicDirPath = “/Volumes/MUSIC/EAC Ripped/EAC Ripped – Needs Tagging/”
outFile = open(“/Volumes/Mac HD/Users/Juan/Desktop/Needs Rip.txt”,”w”)

print “*” * 60
print musicDirPath
print “*” * 60
print

outFile.write(“*”*60+”\n”+musicDirPath+”\n”+”*”*60+”\n”)

for needsRip in musicDir:
if “RIP” in needsRip:
count = count + 1
if (count < 10):
print "0"+str(count), "-",needsRip
outFile.write("\n0"+str(count)+" "+needsRip)
else:
print str(count), "-",needsRip
outFile.write("\n"+str(count)+" "+needsRip)

print "\n*** CDs that need to be re-ripped: "+str(count)+" ***"

outFile.close()

main()

*******************************************************************************************************************************
Here is the output:
*******************************************************************************************************************************
************************************************************
/Volumes/MUSIC/EAC Ripped/EAC Ripped – Needs Tagging/
************************************************************

01 – Alejandro Fernandez – Me Estoy Enamorando RE-RIP
02 – Coldplay – X&Y – RE-RIP
03 – – Universal Religion 2004 (Live from Armada at Ibiza) RE-RIP
04 – Armin van Buuren – Transparance – CD1 RE-RIP
05 – Armin van Buuren – Transparance – CD2 RE-RIP
06 – Astor Piazzolla – La Camorra RE-RIP
07 – Celine Dion – All The Way… A Decade Of Song RE-RIP
08 – Coldplay – Parachutes RE-RIP
09 – Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends RE-RIP
10 – Deep Dish – Global Underground #021- Moscow – Deep Dish (Disc 1) RE-RIP
11 – Deep Dish – Global Underground #021- Moscow – Deep Dish (Disc 2) RE-RIP
12 – Godsmack – Faceless RE-RIP
13 – Godsmack – IV RE-RIP
14 – Jonny Lang Lie to Me RE-RIP
15 – Jose Padilla – Cafe del Mar – Volumen Seis RE-RIP
16 – Counting Crows – August And Everything After – RE-RIP
17 – Michael Buble – Crazy Love – RE-RIP
18 – Ulrich Schnauss – A Strangely Isolated Place RE-RIP
19 – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II RE-RIP
20 – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III RE-RIP
21 – Nick Warren – Global Underground 011- Budapest [1] – RE-RIP
22 – Nick Warren – Nick Warren – Global Underground 011- Budapest [2]- RE-RIP
23 – Oakenfold Anthems – The Classic Perfecto Mix (Disc 3) – RE-RIP
24 – Yo-Yo Ma – Vivaldi's Cello RE-RIP
25 – zerO One – psy-fi RE-RIP
26 – Yo-Yo Ma & Friends – Songs Of Joy & Peace [Deluxe Edition] RE-RIP
27 – Paul Oakenfold – Oakenfold Anthems – The Classic Perfecto Mix (Disc 1) – RE-RIP
28 – Paul Oakenfold – Oakenfold Anthems – The Classic Perfecto Mix (Disc 2)- RE-RIP
29 – Yo-Yo Ma – Super Hits RE-RIP
30 – Zero One – Re-RIP
31 – Yo-Yo Ma – Appassionato RE-RIP
32 – 3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down – WAV ONLY needs RE-RIP
33 – Coldplay – A Rush of Blood To The Head – RE-RIP
34 – Sarah Brightman – Harem RE-RIP
35 – Yo-Yo Ma – Obrigado Brazil RE-RIP
36 – Ricardo Arjona – Animal Nocturno RE-RIP
37 – Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy RE-RIP
38 – Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing RE-RIP
39 – Staind – 14 Shades of Grey RE-RIP
40 – Staind – Dysfunction RE-RIP
41 – Staind – The Illusion of Progress RE-RIP
42 – Yo-Yo Ma – Soul of the Tango RE-RIP
43 – Boundaries Of Imagination – RE-RIP, errors

*** CDs that need to be re-ripped: 43 ***

*******************************************************************************************************************************
Again – this is quite a basic program, but it does two things for me: Saves me some time, and, more importantly – gives me some more needed coding experience!

Additional Note: The spacing and indentation is not set correctly – not sure why it was not displayed correctly. Also, this was created on a Mac, so the directory paths are different if the program were to run in a PC.

Posted in Music

From CDs to Lossless – An Update

I’ve been converting all my CDs to Apple Lossless audio files. To do this, I’ve been using EAC and iTunes encode, which have been working wonderfully good up to now.

At first, EAC was a bit daunting and somewhat difficult to use, but after a few days of experimenting with it, trying out different settings, different rips, reading some online guides and forums, I think I’ve found the “sweet spot” that works for me. The only thing I wish it was able to do is: include a field for “Album Artist”, another field for Disc Number, and finally, Album Art. But then again, nothing is perfect, and I value more the quality, accuracy and control of my rips instead of these minor details which I can control later.
I started using EAC to rip directly to WAV, since there was no built-in Apple Lossless audio codec, and I really wanted to use this to be compatible with iTunes, iPhone, and my future Apple TV (if I ever get one).

After reading some blogs online, I was glad to have found iTunesEncode. This little program allows the conversion of WAV to Apple Lossless audio files using EAC + iTunes. The combination really did it for me, and now that I look back, I have NO IDEA how long (much longer than I would have desired) it would have taken me to convert those WAV files to Apple Lossless using iTunes, then adding the tags manually.

In a nutshell, the way it works is this: Configure EAC to your desired and recommended settings by many online guides and forums, use iTunesEncode as the “External Compressor”, add the iTunesEncode options (switches), and voila. After a few minutes (depends on rip quality, disc condition, etc), you’ll have a perfectly ripped copy of your CD in Apple Lossless format! All it takes from here is adding the newly-ripped media to iTunes, getting the Album Art from the iTunes Store or anywhere else on the web, adding a disc number, album artist and DONE! The CD went from physical form to a perfectly ripped audio file, fully tagged and in my iTunes library.

I could have easily taken the CD out of its case, popped it in my computer’s CD-ROM drive, fired up iTunes and encoded away to get the “same results”, but instead, I chose the approach mentioned here. I quote the phrase same results because in the end, I’d end up having Apple Lossless audio files, but no way of really knowing (other than listening to each individual track) of its rip quality. Some CDs, no matter how much you take care of them – will develop surface scratches, or if you buy some of them used like me, although they are in “like new” or “very good” conditions, sometimes they may still have a few scratch or two, which may or may not affect playability. This happened to me when I originally ripped my CDs with iTunes a few years ago in 128 kbps; some songs had skips, some obvious, others not so – but it was, indeed, a flawed rip.

I use iTunes to store all my music, and rarely (if EVER) use the original CD after I’ve transferred it to my computer, but I still must have the physical copy somewhere. As I read in a blog somewhere – the physical copy is like my “license”, my “backup”, my “rights” to the music, plus I have access to liner notes (not that I ever read them more than once…)

In the near future, I will post the EAC guide that I’ve been using, as well as other details regarding this project.

Posted in Music

Going Lossless

After much debating and thinking about it, I’ve decided to convert all my CDs to Apple Lossless. For quite a few days, I pondered on the idea of whether to go to the lossless format or not, comparing any differences, file sizes, portability, compatibility, pro’s and con’s of going lossless (or not), and such.

After briefly comparing Flac and Apple Lossless, I have decided to go with the latter, for the simple fact that it provides the best overall benefits and compatibility for my needs. While many audiophiles out there support the Flac format, going this way simply was not an option for me simply because there is no iTunes support, and lossless is just lossless.

I will begin the long and tedious journey of ripping my CDs, once again – hopefully this time will be my last, unless some better lossless way is discovered. This also means that I plan to trim down “the extra fat” in my iTunes library, by simply having music which I have purchased digitally and ripped from a CD which I own or may borrow.

Gone are the days of adding music to the library just because I can, or just because “it’s a new release and I want to have it…” If it’s in my library, I own it, whether in digital or CD form.

Which leads to another topic that I’ve been actively thinking of over the past few days. Is lossless really worth it? What about buying the music online, digitally? There are music online stores, such as iTunes Media (or Music) Store, and Amazon MP3, but as long as CDs are sold, this will be my preferred method of buying music.

Posted in Music

The Current Status of Music

Music is evolving at an alarmingly fast pace, there is no doubt in my mind about it. Have a listen at any artist that has released an album within the past one or two years, compare it to the music they had a few years ago, and you should quickly notice the difference. It’s like, the artist tries to fit more into the mainstream crowd, plays “radio” music to please the rest of us.

What they tend to forget a lot of times, is that their true followers were those that started to listen to their music since their early beginnings, back in their non-so-popular days. A few examples of these are: DJ Tiesto & Paul Oakenfold. Listen to their later releases and compare to their music from the late 90’s, and up to 2004-2005.

It seems that anyone today can make up a few lines of the same, boring, non-creative repetitive blabber, pick a beat and some synth sounds from a computerized program, and create “music.” Where have the days of creativity, passion, feeling gone? Is there anyone out there that is musically inclined and open to expending their taste? I would love to meet young people, especially in their early 20’s to early 30’s who listen to a different type of music other than what gets overplayed and overhyped on the radio.

Who listens to Jazz, Classical, Tango and Vocals anymore? Does anyone out there listen to Frank Sinatra, Kenny G, Gato Barbieri, Yo-Yo Ma, Andre Rieu or others alike?

Please drop a line if you do. I’ll be still searching the dictionary for the definition of “boom boom pow.”

Posted in Music

Jackson burial moved to September 3 – CNN.com

First and foremost, my respect to Michael. I wasn’t a true fan, didn’t follow his music, but do enjoy listening to his most popular music.

Click here to read the original article published in CNN.com

Having said that, I wonder – Yes, we know who he was. We know he was the King of Pop, a huge artist with incredible success, lived a life of fame and drama, etc.

But, how is it possible that a body is not buried within a certain period of time. How is it possible that, if he died on June 25th, he still has not been interred? Typically most people who die will have their service and burial within a few days, maybe a week or two – after their death. Mr. Jackson has already been dead for nearly two months! Doesn’t the body decompose? Where is his body being kept? In a freezer? Inside his casket?

I don’t know, but I’m quite intrigued and annoyed at the fact that the poor man is still not in his final resting place.

Wherever it is, please make it happen. He is no longer with us, and he needs to rest in peace. Stop with the bickering, the fighting and get him to his final destination.