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Converting FLAC to MP3?
php111
post Jul 9 2013, 02:33
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Hey, am I in the right place to ask what tool/program could convert FLAC to MP3?

Anyway, what is the best free tool/program to convert FLAC to MP3? The reason for converting is because I'm putting music on my iPod and it doesn't support FLAC. And what settings should I use for this type of conversion? Thank you!
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smok3
post Jul 9 2013, 02:59
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Interesting approach here may be/is to use something that will keep flac and mp3 trees in sync, like http://robinbowes.github.io/flac2mp3/ (say you just change some metadata on some flac files, it will only update those and only metadata), otherwise foobar can certainly do it.


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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 03:01
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Thank you for that info! And may I ask how do I change the metadata like you described?
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TomasPin
post Jul 9 2013, 03:15
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Hey that's interesting indeed, pity it's only for mp3 though... Any alternatives with AAC support (at least) that you know of, smok3?

@OP: You can use foobar2000 to easily change the metadata of the FLAC files, then the script will also change the tags of the corresponding MP3 files, if I understand correctly.

This post has been edited by TomasPin: Jul 9 2013, 03:27


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smok3
post Jul 9 2013, 05:44
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@TomasPin; assuming the script is using some sort of separated tagger (which may be AAC "Compatible") it should be possible with some re-scripting (I haven't really dig deeply & my perl-foo is nonexistant).

This post has been edited by smok3: Jul 9 2013, 05:47


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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 12:02
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I don't know how or what to do or where to begin and end to do both change the metadata of the files and use the script. I'm sorry but without step by step instructions to do this I won't be able to do this.
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skamp
post Jul 9 2013, 12:18
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Using foobar2000 would probably be a lot faster, and perhaps even easier. What operating system do you use?


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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 12:37
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@skamp:

I use Windows 7 32-bit. I don't know how to use foobar to change the tags and metadata.
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Dynamic
post Jul 9 2013, 12:52
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A simple way on Windows is to use LAMEdropXpd available here on Rarewares.

It supports FLAC input and uses LAME, which is generally considered the best MP3 encoder. I haven't used lamedrop for many years, but I believe it defaults to VBR of some sort, such as -V4, which is pretty good quality around 150kbps. -V5 is nearer to 128 kbps on average to fit more on the iPod and -V3 or -V2 is generally transparent to most listeners (175-200 kbps). The best advice to find out how low you can go in bitrate for your ears is to do an ABX listening test for yourself. LAME has gapless support on Apple iPods too. I believe LAMEdropXpd will also carry over the tags from your FLAC files.

A bit more of a learning curve is foobar2000 with appropriate encoders installed and presets. As well as LAME for MP3, this can also be used to encode via QAAC into .m4a files (either AAC lossy or ALAC lossless - like FLAC but not quite so tightly compressed) using the same encoder as iTunes uses, and also supported on Apple iPod. You can get pretty good quality starting at around 96 kbps to fit even more on the iPod (or 64 kbps in HE-AAC mode isn't bad either). It needs a little care to set up the encoder and the file naming rules and save the preset, but from then on it's fairly simple to use and will run multiple encoders in parallel if you have multiple processor cores. (To be honest, fb2k is best for me because I often want to adjust the volume (gain) of the output file and it can do that on the fly in batch mode).

Yet another approach, which can be used to verify your lossless files against other people's CD rips as well as to encode them is to use CUETools. This can run a LAME encoder for example, or can run an ALAC encoder (lossless .m4a supported on iPod) or can run QAAC (lossy .m4a supported on iPod). It's probably a little simpler to use than foobar2000 and also can process files in batches.

If your FLAC files were well tagged in the first place, there's probably no need to change the metadata (e.g. Title, Artist etc).

This post has been edited by Dynamic: Jul 9 2013, 13:00
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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 13:07
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That is interesting information. Thank you so much for that. I would use lame drop but I don't know how to setup the encoder. Also how good would it be to set it at 320kbps? I don't know how to setup any of that so I won't be able to use it I guess?
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db1989
post Jul 9 2013, 13:21
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Assuming you mean CBR at 320 kbps, it may not be worth the effort of setting it up. We have many threads here discussing why VBR is more efficient and probably equivalent in sensory terms. You might want to check those. But there is probably a way to use it in LAMEdropXPd anyway.

QUOTE (php111 @ Jul 9 2013, 12:37) *
I don't know how to use foobar to change the tags and metadata.
Add the file to the active playlist (using one of the several available methods), right-click it, and choose Properties.
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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 13:26
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@db1989:

Could I just use LameDrop without setting up the encoder since I don't know how and use LameDrop to convert FLAC to MP3 with setting VBR to the max?
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db1989
post Jul 9 2013, 13:30
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Did you try it? In other words, yes. Just download the zip, run lamedropXpd.exe, right-click on it, and there you have LAME integrated (i.e. without requiring you to download and add it separately) and all the options you are likely to need, including CBR. After not using the program for many years, I downloaded it just now to prove to you (A) how easy it is to use and (B) that it is perfectly possible to try things yourself rather than asking someone else to do it for you.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jul 9 2013, 13:32
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php111
post Jul 9 2013, 13:34
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Thank you!
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2Bdecided
post Jul 9 2013, 15:53
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QUOTE (smok3 @ Jul 9 2013, 02:59) *
Interesting approach here may be/is to use something that will keep flac and mp3 trees in sync, like http://robinbowes.github.io/flac2mp3/ (say you just change some metadata on some flac files, it will only update those and only metadata)...
I was just looking for something like that - thank you.

Now to figure out Perl.

Cheers,
David.
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TomasPin
post Jul 9 2013, 21:00
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 9 2013, 11:53) *
Now to figure out Perl.


I'll leave that to you David and other knowledgeable members. My programming skills are null, basically. If you can figure out a way to make it work for AAC I'll thank you kindly and ask you to share the result with us mere mortals. smile.gif


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php111
post Jul 10 2013, 01:42
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I used LameDrop. I left everything on default except I made only one change to the encoder options. That was to use the VBR slider bar and slide it all the way to the right for the max and the max is 256kbps.

Does that work?
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greynol
post Jul 10 2013, 02:25
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QUOTE (php111 @ Jul 9 2013, 17:42) *
I used LameDrop. I left everything on default except I made only one change to the encoder options. That was to use the VBR slider bar and slide it all the way to the right for the max and the max is 256kbps.

Kinda defeats the purpose of using VBR, doesn't it?

Have you conducted any double-blind listening tests which led you to the conclusion that you should set it this way or are you ignorantly doing this out of fear?

Perhaps you should put all those unnecessary bits to better use (if only slightly):
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=101150

This post has been edited by greynol: Jul 10 2013, 02:29


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db1989
post Jul 10 2013, 03:01
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I just tested it. What php111 actually selected by doing that is simply plain old -V0, not changing the minimal bitrate available for VBR or anything like that. The slider changes the -V setting and reports some bitrate to which were probably meant to think it correlates. The presentation of this supposed bitrate as an indicator is presumably just the usual case of a rough average, not a reliable prediction. IMO, something of a concession to users who always need to see a bitrate to feel confident, whereas, as you implied, its the audible result that matters, not comforting figures. But yes, -V0 might well be excessively high. It probably is for most listeners.
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greynol
post Jul 10 2013, 03:46
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Oops! My bad in assuming the slider set a minimum bit rate.


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php111
post Jul 10 2013, 09:58
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I guess VBR 256kbps is not what I want?
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2Bdecided
post Jul 10 2013, 10:01
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QUOTE (TomasPin @ Jul 9 2013, 21:00) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 9 2013, 11:53) *
Now to figure out Perl.

I'll leave that to you David and other knowledgeable members. My programming skills are null, basically. If you can figure out a way to make it work for AAC I'll thank you kindly and ask you to share the result with us mere mortals. smile.gif
It looks kind of approachable (the code, I mean), but I'd be using it for mp3 as-is. Sorry!

Someone who knew what they were doing - and had the time and motivation to do the job - would probably find it very easy to extend to aac. It's always the intersection of those three things that's needed! I find time to be most lacking. sad.gif (Curiosity was always a big enough motivation for me.)

Cheers,
David.
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db1989
post Jul 10 2013, 10:18
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QUOTE (php111 @ Jul 10 2013, 09:58) *
I guess VBR 256kbps is not what I want?
Firstly, there is no such thing as VBR 256 kbps. Any bitrates you seen quoted in association with VBR are estimates only, based on average results from particular versions of particular encoders on particular sets of files. Secondly, to determine whether the maximal -V0 is what you want, you would need to perform listening tests; either that, or take what other people say on faith and hope their average results are applicable to your hearing; that is, want may refer to not wasting space or simply to peace of mind.

Both of these points have been discussed to distraction on this site many times in the past. Suffice it to say that if you dont want to think too much about it, -V0 will be more than good enough for almost all cases, and even lower settings like the oft-recommended -V2 would probably be OK. CBR is inadvisable, as is giving more than passing concern to bitrates when using VBR.
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Dynamic
post Jul 10 2013, 13:37
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If you have a big capacity iPod and not too much music, don't worry too much. The setting -V0, which comes out to around 256 kbps on average, will usually be overkill and a modest waste of bits on encoding sound you cannot possibly hear, but it's what is used to encode Amazon MP3s using LAME.

Part of the reason is presumably that Amazon don't want to field customer complaints (hence use widely compatible MP3 with a good encoder at overkill setting) and part is that higher bitrate that matches iTunes' current 256 kbps is useful for marketing it as most people assuming equivalent bitrate is equivalent quality. The general public uses the simple heuristic of bitrate equating with quality and 256 being great quality and it's good enough that they're happy with the music they buy. If they run out of space on the device, they'll just take some other music off it or buy a bigger device.

You'll never regret -V0 (what you keep calling 256kbps) on quality grounds as it's virtually the most bulletproof MP3 can get (that's not to say there are no 'problem samples' though).

You might regret it if you run out of space on the iPod, in which case you could re-encode all your music to a lower setting in bitrate (higher in V number). You might later regret that if you start to get annoyed by artifacts that you learn to identify.

If you've not trained yourself to identify encoding artifacts and don't have hearing damage, you'll probably find the music very enjoyable at -V4 or -V5 even and will be able to fit almost twice as much music on the iPod.

Your FLAC files probably run at around 900 kbps on average, so you can multiply the number of GB they occupy (Select all the folders and right-click/Properties) by the following ratios to estimate roughly how many Gigabytes the MP3s would take up (I've accounted for the 7% GB versus GiB conversion too, though it's still only a rough rounded-up estimate)

-V0 (approx 256kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.31
-V2 (approx 200kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.24
-V3 (approx 180kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.22
-V5 (approx 130kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.16

So, if you have, say a 32 GB iPod, you can probably put 32/0.31 = 103 GB of FLACs (270 hours of music) onto it at -V0, but could squeeze 200 GB of FLACs (530 hours of music) onto it at -V5. At a very popular high quality setting like -V2, it's more like 133 GB of FLACs (350 hours of music).

Most people find artifacts get very rare at -V3 or -V2 even in critical listening conditions. The popularity of -V2 in polls on this site of music afficiondados is probably a good sign that you're likely to be extremely happy with that if you can't be bothered to do ABX tests for yourself to find your own level.
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probedb
post Jul 10 2013, 15:51
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QUOTE (Dynamic @ Jul 10 2013, 13:37) *
-V0 (approx 256kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.31
-V2 (approx 200kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.24
-V3 (approx 180kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.22
-V5 (approx 130kbps) multiply FLAC GB by 0.16


Isn't this just the same as saying VBR 256Kbps?

I'd say this is a very rough guess at working this stuff out.
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