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EAC, FLAC, and Tags

First some background.
I've just recently started ripping my CDs to FLAC.  I'm doing this for two reasons.

1) A lossless backup of my CDs, such that I could re-create them if I lost them.
2) A handy lossless archive that I can use to create any other format that I need, be it mp3, wma, etc. Having the lossless archive on disk hopefully means just pointing a converter at the folder and letting the batch process run.  No more pumping CDs into the drives. 

I recently did EAC -> LAME and while I'm happy with the results, it was a waste of time because if I want any other formats or to use newer codecs, I would have to either get the CDs out again, or, subject the mp3s to transcoding, further lowering the quality. I realized if I'd known better at the time, I would have made a lossless archive first.

Now I found lots of links to using EAC and FLAC to create single file CD images.  However this isn't what I wanted to do.  I wanted a file per track, just as I have with MP3.  I did some searching and finally found the link to Calufraxis EAC and FLAC guide, at http://www.calufraxis.com/eac/eac.htm.

This was along the lines of what I was looking for.  If anyone knows of a better guide with this sort of configuration, please let me know.  I noticed some discussion threads here about his tag configuration.  I have some questions about the "correct" Tag config.

Question 1: Just use OGG/FLAC tags?  No ID3 tags.
The Calufraxis guide had ID3 tagging enabled in EAC.  I guess this was because some older software he had required them.  I have unchecked the ID3 tag boxes in EAC, and I'm just using the OGG/FLAC tags.  I just want to confirm this is "OK". I noticed the files are 4K smaller without the ID3 pad.  I also noticed that the ID3 V2 tags were not visible in Tag & Rename, 3.1 beta 3 trial. But the OGG/FLAC tags are visible.

Question 2: Command line for FLAC
The Calufraxis command line is:
--best %s -T title="%t" -T artist="%a" -T date="%Y" -T genre="%m" -T album="%g" -T tracknumber="%n" -T libid="CALU"

Now I've searched high and low for what the libid tag might be, but can't find it, can't view it in any tag editors either.  So I deleted that part.  Is there anything else that should be in the command line?

Question 3: Who does the tagging?  Is this why command line is so long compared to LAME?

I'm also wondering why the command line for FLAC is so long, having to pass each tag value as a command line option, while the LAME command line is so short.  Is it because EAC does the MP3 tags, not LAME, while FLAC does the tags for FLAC files, not EAC?

Thanks for the help.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #1
Quote
Question 1: Just use OGG/FLAC tags? No ID3 tags.


That's what most people use.  Most decoders will handle ID3 tags, but it's not required so it's best to just use FLAC tags.

Quote
Question 2: Command line for FLAC
The Calufraxis command line is:
--best %s -T title="%t" -T artist="%a" -T date="%Y" -T genre="%m" -T album="%g" -T tracknumber="%n" -T libid="CALU"

Now I've searched high and low for what the libid tag might be, but can't find it, can't view it in any tag editors either. So I deleted that part. Is there anything else that should be in the command line?


I have no idea what the libid is, so you can just leave it out.  I don't think you'll need anything else.  I have -V in my command line so that if a particular sample triggers a bug and doesn't decode to what was encoded, I can catch it and send Josh the problem sample.

Quote
Is it because EAC does the MP3 tags, not LAME, while FLAC does the tags for FLAC files, not EAC?


Yes.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #2
Thanks for the help.  I'm about 1/5 of the way in converting my CDs to FLAC.  So far so good.

You can tell which CDs I played more often... they're the ones with the scratches.  I'm glad I kept both drives installed, Aopen 20x cdrw and TDK 4x dvdrw. The TDK is the fastest, quietest of the two in EAC rips, the Aopen is slower and noisy on some CDs.  But it seems to deal with scratched CDs better than the TDK (I think its similar to NEC 1300).

I just keep telling myself "I'll never have to do this again!".  Looking forward to doing some batch conversions to other formats.  I've got a Maxline 300GB drive coming next week.  I'm going to need it.

Still doing some reading on this and other forums about lossless formats.  But so far I'm convinced FLAC is the way to go, at least in terms of software availability.  It seems to have the widest support right now in terms of players, taggers, catalogers, convertors, etc.  I'm not too worried about smallest file size or encode time.  I saw a lot of comments about encode times being poor for FLAC -best or -8 but when I'm using it, it seems not bad at all on on my system (dual P3-800).  No worse than lame --preset extreme.  EAC is configured to start up two FLAC threads (one per cpu).  This keeps the system at a constant 100% cpu utilization but it's still quite usable.

Now if I could just convince Creative to add FLAC support for their Zen Xtra players...

Thanks again!


EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #4
Thanks Yoth.  Lots of good info in that thread.  It will help me out too, because my next step is FLAC -> LAME mp3s.  Those format / file name strings will come in handy I think.

I just got a Xtra 60GB a few weeks ago.  Previously I had done EAC->LAME mp3s, -preset extreme, and was quite happy with the results.  But new formats come and go, as well as new versions of LAME, so it's nice to be able to try new codecs without digging out the CDs.

There sure is a lot to learn!  First it was choosing between the lossy codecs.  Then it was tagging, because the Xtra like other MP3 players uses the tags to build it's library, not the folder or file name.  I like Tag & Rename.  Then it was on to backing up the CD collection, and learning about lossless codecs.  The transition from EAC -> LAME to EAC -> FLAC wasn't too hard.  Next up is FLAC -> LAME  using Foobar I guess.  Foobar's user interface takes a little while to get used to for me anyways.

But before I do that, I've got to learn about ReplayGain.  I've heard a lot about it and what it's supposed to do, but it's going to take me a bit longer to figure out the details of how to compare albums and tracks.  Creative has their own "SVM" (smart volume managment) that comes with any EAX player, but so far it only works on the player, not my PC.

After that, I've got to do some ABX testing.  I've not done any in a while, but I've got a few "problem samples" in my collection.  They seem to give some codecs real problems so I'm very interested in trying those out under ABX conditions to see how the codecs do on my ears / headphones.  Should be interesting.

Thanks again for the link!

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #5
Quote
Is there anything else that should be in the command line?


To that I would add

-T Comment="%e" -T Encoder="Exact Audio Copy (Secure Mode) / FLAC 1.10"

Make sure you have "Use CRC Check" checked, and in the Offset tab, check "Write CRC Checksum into ID3 Tag comment field".  Of course, you aren't using ID3 tags, but enabling this flag makes %e = "CRC: XXXXXXXX", substitute the actual CRC value for the Xs.  Neither of these are absolutely mandatory, but I like to use them.

Quote
You can tell which CDs I played more often... they're the ones with the scratches.


For me, it's not only the ones I play most often, it's the ones I carry in my car the most.  I have some CDs that I've only had for a year or two, carried them in my car throughout most of that time period, and they already have tracks that will not rip, due to oxidation, not scratches.  It seems the ones that suffer the problem the most are the ones that have little or no silkscreening (printing) on the top.  The top of the CD is most vulnerable because it doesn't have a thick layer of lacquer like the bottom does.  Never knew about oxidation until recently.  Extreme heat, sunlight, and humidity are probably the worst things you can expose your CDs to, and the inside of a car can get very very hot.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #6
Thanks again for the reply.  You're absolutely right about the top of the CDs being the most vulnerable.  I had two (from a 2CD set) that had very soft top coating, and of course they were the ones I was playing in the car, and got a few scratches on the top. 

They were at the point where they skipped when played in some CD players, but somehow EAC  managed to get good copies from them.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #7
Hiya,

Is there a way to get EAC to create a cuesheet for the ripped CD? So that it retains track gap lengths, etc... enabling an exact copy of the CD to be created straight away rather than having to stick the original CD into a player to figure out the track gap lengths and things. Also, if this was possible, would it work with the flac files? I've got the flac plugin for Nero...

Even if i had to decode to wav for the cue sheet to work, this'd be better than nothing.

Thanks
Adam

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #8
Hi adzy31,
Welcome to HA.

This doesn't exactly address your question, but, I list several programs in this thread.
The HydrogenAudio Wiki still seems to be down so I'll go through the (simple) process quickly. Actually, I've already written a tutorial for my needs so I'll adapt that.
This tutorial was written with ripping to individual tracks in mind. If you will be ripping to one wav select 'Single WAV File (Alt+S)' instead.
I also wrote this with applications in-mind which support the formatting style of Cue sheets produced by EAC.
[span style=\'font-size:8pt;line-height:100%\'](It's still a bit rough my apologies. If you have any further questions I'll try to answer them.)[/span]

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pre-Requisites:
  • In EAC go to "EAC Options" and then click the 'Tools' tab. Make sure 'Retrieve UPC/ISRC codes in CUE sheet generation' is checked. Also check the second box, 'Use CD-Text information in CUE sheet generation'.
  • Verify that detection accuracy is set to "Secure" under EAC | Drive Settings | Gap Detection
FYI From the EAC FAQ:
"Q:What is the difference between Gap Detection Methods A, B, & C ?
 A:These are all different methods for retrieving the index markers (gaps,
  etc.). Some methods will work with some drives, the others won't, you
  should test all of them which works best for you. None of them is by
  used method better or worse than the other, but by used method the A is
  the fastest one and C the slowest (if it works correctly!)."

[span style=\'font-size:8pt;line-height:100%\'](To test Gap Detection - have a disc in your drive and press F4)[/span]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
[span style=\'font-size:8pt;line-height:100%\']This assumes you already have a disc in your drive & EAC is loaded.[/span]
  • Within EAC: Go to the 'Action' menu (alt+a) & scroll down to the option entitled 'Detect Gaps  F4' (I use the F4 hotkey for detection)
    (A small box should pop-up entitled 'Analyzing' and says 'Detecting Pre-Track Gaps' beneath this will say 'Track' and the current track it is processing.)
  • Within EAC: Go to the 'Action' menu (alt+a) & scroll down to the menu entitled 'Create CUE Sheet' (alt+s) and select 'Multiple WAV Files With Gaps... (Noncompliant)' It's the 2nd option (Or 3rd depending on your point of view) & has no hotkey.
    (A small box should pop-up entitled 'Analyzing' and says 'Detecting UPC/ISRC' (followed first by UPC and then the ISRC of the current track it is processing.)
  • Save the .cue
[span style=\'font-size:8pt;line-height:100%\']The reason I do step 1 rather than letting EAC automatically detect gaps when making the Cue sheet is because I like to keep my logs. EAC  doesn't/didn't append 'Pre-gap length' to the log otherwise.[/span]

Note:
By default EAC saves tracks like this 'FILE "Artist - Album - # - Title.wav" WAVE' however to work properly it needs to be 'FILE "Artist - Album - # - Title.flac" WAVE' (Or the file naming scheme and file extension you will be using)
Open the cue file in a text editor and search for .wav and replace it with .flac.  (The easiest way is to use the search and replace feature in notepad.  Simply press ctrl-h to bring up the dialog box.)

Versions of EAC prior to 0.95 store the full path of the wav inside the cue sheet.
Example: "FILE "C:\Ripping\Artist - Album\Artist - Album - # - Title.wav"
If using 0.9 beta 4 you also need to remove the "C:\Ripping\Artist - Album\" part so use the search and replace feature mentioned above.  This time, however, the "replace with" field should be left blank, in effect, deleting that path information.  Don't forget to resave the file after these changes.

Hope this is of use, tec

p.s. Would a mod please consider whether this would be better served with a thread split? Thanks.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #9
I can recommend using EAC to rip to FLAC which have worked flawlessly for me. 

To supplement EAC I use (TGF) and (MA3D) to achive perfect rips and tagging storing the files in BOX (The name I have chosen for my music folder): 

(EAC) Super accurate, but slow the files are transferred to the BOX in FLAC format. Freedb provide CD information, which is not always correct. Composer and pictures not included. Encoder tag is set to CD (EAC).

(TGF) Super tagger that retrieves information from All Music Guide. Required for update of basic tags and addition of Composer. As an extra bonus lyrics can be retrieved automatically via Google with a snap.

(MA3D) Retrieves picture from Amazon.com which is stored in the album folder. Windows XP will use this picture for displaying album art directly in the Explorer.

When it comes to converting FLAC to lossy I was not aware that f2k could do the job, so I made my own program to perform this task. I have called it less2more, since it convert lossLESS to a format with MORE meta information. 

(less2more) Provide overview of pending albums easily identifying missing composer, lyrics, and/or picture.

(less2more) Convert pending albums using LAME to mp3, insert picture as tag and update encoder tag.

It has been devilish to program all the tag handling and had I been aware that f2k could do the job I would have used that. 

Anyway now I will probably continue to use less2more, since it interfaces directly to iTunes 4.5 via OLE. Ensuring all tracks are added automatically, performing iTunes sound check, encode to AAC using iTunes encoder, reuse rating from iTunes. 

Bottom line is that the best solution today will not be the best solution tomorrow as new releases of digital music software and encoders appear every year. That is more often than I like to re-rip my CD collection and I have therefore pieced together this solution that stores the CD in a lossless format that can automatically be re-encoded as new and improved file formats and encoders come along. 

Good luck with the ripping. 

BTW: I plan to use a USB2.0 250 GB external Maxtor harddrive for backing up my lossless music. I can't bear the thought of fatal harddisk failure happening just after ripping 500 CD's.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #10
Where can I get a copy of your software less2more... I need to be able to convert my flac files to mp3 using lame.

Does anyone know how to use foobar to do this and keep all file structures and ID3 tags...

IE Flac files and folders -----> mp3 files and folders

Thank you, any command lines nessisarry to complete project will be appriciated...

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #11
Open up Foobar2000 and go to "Preferences" and then to "Diskwriter" under the "Components". Check the box that says "Create subdirectories". Change the "Output file name formatting: to whatever you want. I use

%artist% - %album%/$num(%tracknumber%,2) - %artist% - %title%

Click "Save all" then close. Load your flacs into foobar and then highlight them (or just click on the playlist) and right click then go to "convert"--> "run conversion". This will give you a popup with a drop down. Choose the LAME preset you want and hit "OK". You will now be asked for an output directory. Choose your directory and you're good to go.

EAC, FLAC, and Tags

Reply #12
I suggest that you forget less2more and go with foobar2000.

I don't mind providing a copy of less2more, but I will not be able to support you.
In its current state it is undocumented and very inflexible in the way it want to organise the music.

Basicly its a Perl script that I tailored for my personal requirements and unless you are a skilled Perl programmer you will be better of going with foobar2000.

 
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