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  #1  
Old 2007-07-14, 02:35 PM
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Question Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

I'd like to start uploading things here; I have azureus, so that'll handle the uploading/seeding stage.

If I've read things correctly, if I have a bundle of raw .flac files, Trader's Little Helper will generate all of the checksums and addtl technical txt files I need to go with the .flac files

I'm OK with using Notepad to type up a summary and lineage note (!)

Where I'm coming unstuck is determining what's best strategy to get the data ripped from CDs to my HD as .flac files; my discs to be ripped will be in two categories; standard CD, 16-bit, 44.1kHz, and 24-bit, 96kHz, both generated from an Alesis Masterlink. Some of my source tapes are off-air FM recorded to reel-to-reel tape, and I want to do the best for them. I get the impression EAC is in favour, but it seems to rip to WAV files, not FLAC - should I consider using EAC to create WAVs and convert the WAVs to FLAC?

I've googled a fair bit to see what's out there, but thought I would ask for recommendations as well. I tried Audacity, managing to record to audio projects without any problems, but for some reason it won't export my projects as .flac files, although the option to do so is on the menu .... mentioned this in a separate thread, though.

Regards, Graham
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  #2  
Old 2007-07-14, 05:37 PM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

For the 24/96 audio, you can burn a CD24:

http://www.alesis.com/support/faqs/masterlink.html#g3

What is a "CD24"?

A CD24 is a special kind of Compact Disc that can be made and played by the Alesis MasterLink. It allows you to store audio at higher sample rates and word lengths than is allowed by the standard consumer "Red Book" CD format. A CD24 can also be played in a computer's CD-ROM drive as long as your soundcard and software can handle the resolution.

How can CD24s be read by a computer?

Alesis CD24s follow the common PC and Mac-compatible CD-ROM standard ISO 9660, and the audio files on the disc follow the AIFF format readable by almost all higher-resolution audio software.

AIFF is the Apple version of the uncompressed PCM Windows .wav format. I'm not sure if these discs will be read by Windows as wavs or as aiffs. All you have to do is go to start > my computer > click on your CD/DVD drive. No special software program is needed. Then select all the files and copy them to a folder on you hard drive. There is no "digital audio extraction" or DAE like what is done with ripping audio CDs with EAC, because these are data discs. Data discs copy much more reliably than audio CDs because they have built in error correction. Maybe you can just change the file extension from .aiff to .wav for each file. Then you can compress the wavs to FLAC with Trader's Little Helper.

For the CD-quality 16/44.1 audio that has been burned to audio CD, you can rip them into .wav format with EAC and then compress to FLAC with Trader's Little Helper. I think EAC is capable of ripping directly into FLAC, but I have never done it this way. I find it to be much simpler to just rip CDs into .wav and then compress to FLAC with a separate program, like TLH or FLAC Frontend. It would be good to configure EAC's read offset, use secure mode to rip, and save the .log file that is generated as proof of an accurate error-free rip.

If you can burn the 16/44.1 files as ISO 9660 data discs, like the CD24s mentioned above, that might be better, because you won't have to bother determining the read offset of your computer's CD/DVD-ROM drive. It might be worth it to configure the read offset anyway so you can make perfect copies of any commercial audio CDs. I'm don't know if the write offset is corrected on the Masterlink's burner when it burns audio CDs. If the discs are burned as data, the offsets are not an issue.
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  #3  
Old 2007-07-14, 06:26 PM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

I remember reading that the HHB-850 professional CD burner didn't need to be write-offset corrected. Its drive was factory set with the correct offset. So maybe the Alesis Masterlink is the same way. You could do a transfer in two different ways and it would yield identical high quality results. Like this:

DAT @ 16/44.1 coax out > coax in HHB-850 burn audio CD > EAC error free secure mode rip with read offset corrected > wav file

DAT @ 16/44.1 coax out > coax in bit accurate sound card > wav file

However, if your DAT is 16/48, then the resampling from 16/48 > 16/44.1 that is done in the standalone audio CD burner may not be as good as the software resampling of programs like Sony Soundforge, Wavelab, r8brain (free), or Adobe Audition. Also you won't have a chance to archive the 16/48 files for DVD-A burning if you use a standalone CD burner.
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  #4  
Old 2007-07-14, 06:42 PM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

You had me worried there - I thought at first the whole of your post was just reprinting the Alesis manual for me ..... all I've done with the CD24s so far is archive some special analogue shows and store them for safekeeping; didn't occur to me that they could be so simply ripped to the HDD.

Since my last post, I found the 'Essential ripping guide for EAC' at http://users.fulladsl.be/spb2267/

This looks a good doc, will be digesting this over the next day or so .... also in the process of installing EAC and TLH, so all going well there...

Regarding the last para, when burning 16-bit 44.1, the Alesis is burning a 'red book' CD which is playable on a standard CD player; when I browse these in the PC drive, the separate tracks are written as .cda files; as per commercial CDs, as far as I can tell. I take this to mean they're not being 'burned as data' in your terms ...?

Regards, Graham
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  #5  
Old 2007-07-14, 06:50 PM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubular
I remember reading that the HHB-850 professional CD burner didn't need to be write-offset corrected. Its drive was factory set with the correct offset. So maybe the Alesis Masterlink is the same way. You could do a transfer in two different ways and it would yield identical high quality results. Like this:

DAT @ 16/44.1 coax out > coax in HHB-850 burn audio CD > EAC error free secure mode rip with read offset corrected > wav file

DAT @ 16/44.1 coax out > coax in bit accurate sound card > wav file

However, if your DAT is 16/48, then the resampling from 16/48 > 16/44.1 that is done in the standalone audio CD burner may not be as good as the software resampling of programs like Sony Soundforge, Wavelab, r8brain (free), or Adobe Audition. Also you won't have a chance to archive the 16/48 files for DVD-A burning if you use a standalone CD burner.

Um, this seems to assume I have an HHB850, which I don't .... I've got a TASCAM DA-20 DAT, and an Alesis Masterlink ... but I'll be concentrating on archiving and torrenting the analogue sources to start with; your Avatar is quite appropriate for this context, as most of my reel-to-reels were recorded on a Revox B77 .... I also lack the 'bit accurate' sound card.

Reports are that the A/D convertors in the Alesis are of professional quality, and I've heard no reason to doubt this fact so far ....

Regards, Graham
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  #6  
Old 2007-07-14, 08:14 PM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Yes, the .cda files on a Red Book audio CD indicates that it is not a CD-ROM data disc. If the Alesis is capable of burning resolutions below 24/96 to CD-ROM, then that would be the way to go, IMO. This way, when you transfer those DATs you can archive the 16/48 files on CD-ROM for future DVD-Audio burning. And you can always burn audio CDs as well for personal use. Both the Masterlink and the HHB-850 are professional grade, so the Masterlink's CD writer drive offset probably doesn't need to be corrected, like the 850.

My dad had a TEAC reel to reel from the early 70s, but he didn't really use it much. I just love the sound of analog sourced vinyl ; I'm not too thrilled with CDs. 16 bit isn't completely horrible, but 24 bit is much better. I'm hoping for something even better in my lifetime, like 48 bit or 64 bit.

Re: the A/D converters on the Alesis Masterlink:

"Do I need to purchase an external converter box to record or play back at high sample rates?

No. The MasterLink has extremely high-quality internal A/D and D/A converters (the AKM 5393 and 4393) that can sample at 96 kHz and have 24-bit resolution. In the opinion of many professionals, these converters and the circuitry around them sound as good as some external converters costing as much as the MasterLink itself."
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  #7  
Old 2007-07-14, 10:54 PM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

for ripping 16bit/44.1kHz audio cdrs, use EAC. some more info here.
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  #8  
Old 2007-07-15, 07:32 AM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Got 3 files from one of my CD24 discs copied to the HDD, and they saved as .AIF files. Renamed them to .WAVs and attempted to use FLAC frontend to decode/save them as flacs. FLAC frontend is v. 1.7.1 etree edition, and I also installed the flac codec from sourceforge.net, v. 1.1.4b.

Added the input files to the FLAC frontend file window, and when I click decode, it opens up a cmd prompt window and attempts to do things with the files.

For all 3 files, it protests;

'File not found; (folder name)/V SPHINX.flac' where V SPHINX.WAV is the first input file, similar msg w diff filenames for other 2. So I tried creating an empty txt file in the target directory, renaming it V SPHINX.FLAC, and get a new error;

'Output file (folder name)/V SPHINX.flac' already exists, use -f to override.

Now I'm familiar with batch files, and using switches such as -f to modify the execution of the file, but how can I use -f from the frontend?

Is there any way of copy/pasting the text from the cmd prompt window in Win XP? There's a few other messages about headers etc but the above seemed the most significant.....

Regards, Graham
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  #9  
Old 2007-07-15, 10:09 AM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

After you rename the .aif files to .wav, will the .wav's play in Foobar2000 (more lightweight) or Winamp (more graphics)? Both of these media players are free. That would be a sign that the problem is not with the .wav's. I just renamed a 16 bit .wav that was on my computer to .aif, and it played fine with Windows Media Player, so I assume it works the other way as well. I don't think WMP will play 24 bit .wav files unless you have a 24 bit capable sound card. Winamp or Foobar2000 will play 24 bit files even if you don't have a 24 bit soundcard.

Then, I would put all the wavs from one show into Trader's Little Helper, select "audio file details." In "len mode," click "show details" If there are any sector boundary errors or header errors, this will be displayed. Fix any errors if necessary. Then encode to FLAC.

Or in FLAC frontend, set the level to 8, check "verify" box, check "align on sector boundaries" box. Set output directory the same as the input directory, then hit "encode" FLAC frontend might have a problem if there are specific header issues I think. Try TLH if you have problems.

It is important to put all the wavs from one show into TLH or FLAC Frontend when sector boundaries will be fixed because a little bit of silence (a fraction of a second) will be added to the end of the last file usually. If they are done individually or a few at a time, silence will be added to the end of the last file and your show will not be seamless, it will have slight pauses between tracks.

Last edited by Tubular; 2007-07-15 at 10:16 AM.
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  #10  
Old 2007-07-15, 10:45 AM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

If you want to make a CD quality copy of your 24/96 seeds as well, you can use the free r8brain sample rate/bit depth converter to take the 24/96 wavs and convert to 16/44.1. It is a quality program, and rivals the programs Soundforge, Wavelab, and Audition. Use the very high quality settings for best results. You won't have to burn an audio CD on the Masterlink and then use EAC to extract this way.

r8brain free sample rate/bit depth converter:
http://www.voxengo.com/downloads/
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  #11  
Old 2007-08-18, 12:19 PM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubular
If you want to make a CD quality copy of your 24/96 seeds as well, you can use the free r8brain sample rate/bit depth converter to take the 24/96 wavs and convert to 16/44.1. It is a quality program, and rivals the programs Soundforge, Wavelab, and Audition. Use the very high quality settings for best results. You won't have to burn an audio CD on the Masterlink and then use EAC to extract this way.
Way too much like hard work .......... if I'm looking to make a 24/96, I'm recording from an analogue source (Revox B77 or cassette) onto the Alesis HDD. The Alesis will record in 24/96 on the HDD, and allow me to edit track splits etc, and will also allow me to make a CD24 disc on the internal CD drive, or a red book CD at 44.1kHz, 16-bit. So no need to use software to make the CD-quality backups, I'll just burn them in the Alesis.

Regards, Graham
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  #12  
Old 2007-08-18, 02:05 PM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

If the internal resampling and dithering in the Alesis is high quality, and I'm sure it is, then it would probably yield results that would be indistinguishable to most ears vs. resampling and dithering with a PC software program. However, I think Wavelab is the best program for dithering. It has Apogee UV22HR dithering, which is the best I believe. r8brain is a very good free sample rate converter, but I think the pro version of r8brain (not free) is the very best available for resampling. Not that it makes too much difference, though. The folks who really care about sound quality will want the 24/96 audio, and pretty soon most everyone will be listening to 24 bit audio if it is available.

For the analog reels and cassettes, it would be good to transfer it as few times as possible, as I have read that every time you play back a tape, the sound quality degrades a little. So it would be ideal to transfer a tape once at 24/96, then archive the 24 bit raw files, then edit the 24 bit files if necessary (tape flips, patches) and archive those, master and process the 24 bit files if necessary (I think only engineers and experts do this though) and then archive those, then make a CD quality version from the edited, mastered files by using software conversion (on a PC or Alesis type deck), then put it on the shelf until 64 bit A/D converters are introduced.
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  #13  
Old 2007-08-19, 11:05 AM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubular
For the analog reels and cassettes, it would be good to transfer it as few times as possible, as I have read that every time you play back a tape, the sound quality degrades a little.
Tell me about it. I'm just mighty relieved that no-one was selling Ampex tape in the UK when I was getting into reel-to-reel. From the look of your posts, I don't think I need mention tape baking in any detail .....

I've got ONE Ampex cassette in the whole collection of thousands, and it's the ONLY one that exhibits a problem that stops me playing it. I'll get around to baking it one day. A few of the others have degraded a bit, but in the main, they're all still perfectly usable, a mix of TDK, Maxell in the main. I was in the habit, when my masters were recorded onto cassette, of immediately or soon after, making a 'copy master' for general listening. The copy would take the hammering, and the true master sat on the shelf.

As far as the reel-to-reels go, they fall into 2 categories - 7" reels, recorded on my Akai 4000DS, and 10.5", dating from when I got my Revox in 1978. A couple of the 7 inchers decayed way too quickly - both manufactured by Scotch / 3M - one of these was recorded in 1975/6, and some patches are still OK, but some are dropping out really badly; I get the impression the magnetic material is just falling off the binder. The second Scotch was recorded in 1978, and became unusable a few short years later. Luckily I got a repeat broadcast of the main item on that tape, but I lost a few things that I'd really rather have kept.

Some of the early BASF 7" tapes are going off a bit, but I'm gradually getting them backed up to digital media.

The 10.5" are a mix of TDK, Agfa, Memorex, and most seem to be holding up OK - these days, I only play them when I'm transferring them to the Alesis. As an added safety precaution, I 'unlace' the tape from the tape guides and head assembly when fast-forwarding or rewinding, so that the only contact the tape has is on playback. It's a bit of a pain, but safer.

Regards, Graham
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  #14  
Old 2007-08-19, 11:25 AM
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubular
After you rename the .aif files to .wav ..... Then, I would put all the wavs from one show into Trader's Little Helper, select "audio file details." In "len mode," click "show details" If there are any sector boundary errors or header errors, this will be displayed. Fix any errors if necessary. Then encode to FLAC.
I renamed the .aif as .wav, put them into TLH audio file details, and clicked show details; for each file, I get the message;

"file is not a supported type of audio file, or is corrupt."

Also, TLH doesn't have .aif as one of its supported file types......


Looked at the same disc with EAC, and it says 'No audio CD in drive'

There must be a way....

Regards, Graham
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  #15  
Old 2007-08-19, 05:06 PM
Tubular
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Re: Recommendations for ripping 16-bit and 24-bit to flac

Any Mac people out there know anything about renaming .aif files to .wav for use in Windows?

I think the 24/96 .aif files that you renamed to .wav have incorrect headers. I don't know if Trader's Little Helper can fix header issues.

I think you need a program called shntool. It will allow you to fix a lot of problems with .wav files. It actually fixes .wav's, not .shn's, the name is a bit of a misnomer. You can get it here for free: http://www.etree.org/shnutils/shntool/ Get the Win32 version where is says "where can I get it?" Unzip the file, and drop the shntool.exe file in your C:\WINDOWS folder. It is a command line program, so you have to use the command prompt (start > all programs > accessories > command prompt). It is easier if you have the folder with the .wav's you want to analyze and fix on your C:\ drive so you don't have to do lots of typing. I don't think the folder can have any spaces in it. If it is the Rolling Stones May 15, 1974 24bit SBD for example, rename it to rs1974-05-15.sbd.flac24 Then do a len check on the files from the command prompt. Make sure the command prompt says 'C:\' You may have to change it by typing 'cd C:\' Then type 'shntool len rs1974-05-15.sbd.flac24/*.wav' You will get a readout. If there is an 'h' in the middle column, that indicates header errors. To fix them type 'shntool strip rs1974-05-15.sbd.flac24/*.wav' Then you will get a bunch of .wav's that have the word 'stripped' appended to them. Those stripped files are fixed. Now you can delete the word stripped from each file and encode them to FLAC with TLH, if that was the only problem in the len check. If there are other errors there will be different letters in the three columns from the len check. Refer to the shntool.pdf for what other errors or reports mean, and how to fix them. For one, the files are better than CD quality, so that will be one of the reports (not an error). Good luck, it might seem hard, but once you get used to it it is easy.

btw, I'm definitely not an analog tape expert. What is 'tape baking'? Yeah, I was thinking that analog tapers such as yourself made a copy of the master and listened to the copy instead of hammering the master. I've also heard that some people did that with their vinyl; made a tape copy of the vinyl and played the tape instead of the vinyl.
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