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standalone files VS. whole-album-in-one-file approach
chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 18:05
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Hi everyone. I have not yet worked out my "this-is-how-I-will-organize-my-music" system and there is a big question that everyone has sooner or later decided for himself/herself ... and that's where I would need your help, if you can:

Should I split albums into standalone files OR keep one single album file and use links (cuesheets,etc.) ?
Can you name pros and cons of each of the 2 methods ?

(PS: I intend to use lossless file formats from now on, but will keep mp3s for which I don't have a lossless alternative, so I will still need to handle both formats in the future)

....................................................................................................
.........

I will update this section with pros/cons for both sides:

single album file

PROS:
  • little gain of HDD space/reduction of fragmentation (little relevance to me, personally)

CONS:

standalone files

PROS:
CONS:


This post has been edited by chrizoo: Feb 7 2010, 18:52
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timcupery
post Feb 7 2010, 18:13
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You could use cue sheet, or if you're using mp4/aac, simply specify chapters (which can be done using Yamb/MP4Box by importing a cuesheet).

But the vast majority of people use single files. It's still easy to play single files in album format (and do so gaplessly, if that's a reason you were thinking of going to single-album files). And you can also shuffle tracks, create playlists independent of album, etc.

If you're purely an album-guy, and ALWAYS listen to a single album at once, tracks-in-order, then you will save a SMALL amount of filespace by by encoding each album to a single file (because, at least in mp4/aac, you won't be wrapping the overhead of the container format around each song, but rather once for the whole album).


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gfxnow
post Feb 7 2010, 18:18
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Depends on what player you use; whether it's something l33t like foobar or noobTunes.
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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 18:40
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QUOTE (gfxnow @ Feb 7 2010, 18:18) *
Depends on what player you use; whether it's something l33t like foobar or noobTunes.
I am using winamp, but I am open-minded ... if there are important things you can doo with foobar but not wimap, I might consider switching.
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Takla
post Feb 7 2010, 18:44
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If the purpose is exclusively archiving your CDs then it doesn't really matter which method you use.

But consider the various things you might want to do with your encoded audio now, and also consider what you might come to want in the future.

1: listening
2: transferring to portable audio player
3: transferring to home audio player
4: transcoding
5: streaming (home music server, web streaming etc)
6: burning CD
7: burning compilation CD
8: mixing/sampling
9: share/copy music with your family/friends

I'm sure there are lots more possibilities but those are the immediately obvious ones to me.

Another issue is that occasionally people change their preference in terms of software and even operating system. Right now Microsoft Windows dominates the desktop/home market almost completely. That wasn't always the case and isn't necessarily going to remain the case. In view of things like Drobo, Squeezebox, NAS in general, Android, Google OS on netbooks, Apple tablet/phone etc, we might soon be getting back to the situation where people commonly use a variety of different operating systems on different devices. So it pays to keep important data in formats that are easily portable and well supported universally, and to avoid formats, tools and methods that are tied to specific software or a specific OS.

With cue+files you can do anything that can be done with cue+image but the reverse isn't true without some extra work.

So I'd suggest very strongly to rip+encode to cue+files in preference to cue+image unless your aim is definitely only archiving and you are certain this will not change.

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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 18:45
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QUOTE (timcupery @ Feb 7 2010, 18:13) *
... single files. It's still easy to play single files in album format (and do so gaplessly, if that's a reason you were thinking of going to single-album files). And you can also shuffle tracks, create playlists independent of album, etc.
hm..., AFAIK all of this can be done with single-file albums, too.
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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 19:05
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wow Takla, that was *very* thourough!! thank you!

QUOTE (Takla @ Feb 7 2010, 18:44) *
If the purpose is exclusively archiving your CDs then it doesn't really matter which method you use.
I'm not sure if I understand the premise. Yes, I want to archive my CDs (i.e. store them in lossless format on my HDD), but not "exclusively", as I collect music from other sources, too.

QUOTE
But consider the various things you might want to do with your encoded audio now, and also consider what you might come to want in the future.
I like your approach which always keeps an eye on the future. That's important.

QUOTE
1: listening
2: transferring to portable audio player
3: transferring to home audio player
4: transcoding
5: streaming (home music server, web streaming etc)
6: burning CD
7: burning compilation CD
8: mixing/sampling
9: share/copy music with your family/friends

1: YES
5+8: no
2+3+4+6+7+9: Yes, but I don't mind converting at all in these types of situation. I prefer a good solution for (1) (listening) and collecting my music and I'm ready to pay the price in terms of possible inconveniences for 2/3/4/6/7/9


QUOTE
With cue+files you can do anything that can be done with cue+image but the reverse isn't true without some extra work.

I'd be very thankful for examples.

QUOTE
... unless your aim is definitely only archiving and you are certain this will not change.

Archiving as opposed to what?

PS: Can you explain in a few words what streaming/home music server is ?
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greynol
post Feb 7 2010, 19:05
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In case you haven't searched, this discussion comes up quite regularly. It also comes up quite often as a side discussion in other related topics.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=68338
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=62670
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=71722

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 7 2010, 19:17


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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 19:07
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Moderators: This thread is definitely not about "CD Hardware/Software".
Can the one who moved this thread please move it back to General Audio (or a more appropriate section)? Thank you.


And why can't I edit my OP anymore (as opposed to all my other posts in this thread)? I wanted to update my OP as the thread goes along ... sad.gif

PS: thank you for the links greynol!

This post has been edited by chrizoo: Feb 7 2010, 19:23
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greynol
post Feb 7 2010, 19:11
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While I can see where you're coming from in relation to players, I have a feeling that all other technical details are going to be about ripping, which is why I moved it.

You can't edit after an hour, sorry.

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 7 2010, 19:12


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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 19:23
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okay greynol, I don't think this is the right place, but with your experience here you certainly know better. let's see. Note however, that the links you posted are in "general audio", too and I want to talk about the same subject wink.gif

QUOTE
You can't edit after an hour, sorry.

that's a pity, because there are types of discussion which require editing the OP. This is thread is an example. There are multiple other cases (e.g. guy posts free audio tool here and wants to post updates or new download link to the OP, etc.)

This post has been edited by chrizoo: Feb 7 2010, 19:25
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WonderSlug
post Feb 7 2010, 19:32
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I use both types but according to my own preference.

I use separate files for all my albums.
This allows me to easily create my own compilations of music, picking and choosing individual tracks as I wish.

I use an additional single file for the whole album when it is released as a continuous mix.

An example is the "World of Goa Trance" releases, where each CD is a mix of 10 songs that merge into each other so it's one long ~60 minute session. As can be inferred, this is mainly for Trance/Euro type music. This also solves any gapless playback issues that may arise on a particular player setup. Gapless playback is of utmost importance with this type of music.

This post has been edited by WonderSlug: Feb 7 2010, 19:35
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greynol
post Feb 7 2010, 19:32
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QUOTE (chrizoo @ Feb 7 2010, 10:23) *
that's a pity, because there are types of discussion which require editing the OP. This is thread is an example. There are multiple other cases (e.g. guy posts free audio tool here and wants to post updates or new download link to the OP, etc.)

I think developers are exempt from this rule, but it may also depend on the forum, I'm not sure.

There's a topic about this which is pinned to the top of the Site Related Discussion forum.

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 7 2010, 19:33


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chrizoo
post Feb 7 2010, 21:54
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@greynol: thank you for the link and explanation.

QUOTE (WonderSlug @ Feb 7 2010, 19:32) *
I use separate files for all my albums.This allows me to easily create my own compilations of music, picking and choosing individual tracks as I wish.
cue sheet => songs added to player's media library => "easily create my own compilations of music, picking and choosing individual tracks as I wish"



This post has been edited by chrizoo: Feb 7 2010, 22:08
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Takla
post Feb 7 2010, 23:54
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QUOTE (chrizoo @ Feb 7 2010, 18:05) *
......I'm not sure if I understand the premise. Yes, I want to archive my CDs (i.e. store them in lossless format on my HDD), but not "exclusively", as I collect music from other sources, too.


1: YES
5+8: no
2+3+4+6+7+9: Yes, but I don't mind converting at all in these types of situation. I prefer a good solution for (1) (listening) and collecting my music and I'm ready to pay the price in terms of possible inconveniences for 2/3/4/6/7/9....................................


By exclusively I meant if your ripping the CDs is purely for the purpose of backup, as opposed to wanting to do other stuff with the resulting files such as play them, edit them, distribute them, copy them and so on.

If you don't mind the extra work of splitting/converting then cue+image is as generally good as cue+files, but who likes extra work?

example of something that requires extra work if music is all cue+image: copying tracks to your portable player/manipulating metadata/copying a single track etc etc etc. Nothing is impossible but it means some extra work. Why should it be more complicated than copy+paste, or require a specific application? This can seem like a trivial point until you want to work with large batches of files when it can become time consuming, and of course building in an extra step (or series of steps) to accomplish a task also means building in more possibilities for mistakes to be made, both user error and software issues. A good motto is KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid! It's not always possible to keep everything absolutely simple, and complexity has very a strong appeal of its own for many people, but when dealing with files you created a long time ago (or files created by someone else) it's really a bonus if you don't need to remember/know how they were created them and what super clever piece of software/process you now need to handle them (speaking from painful experience here).

home servers, streaming etc: a good place to start might be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_server and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_streaming and probably the hydrogenaudio wiki.

Standalone non-networked PCs are what we were used to, but now it's common to have (or want to have) quite sophisticated networked home entertainment. How about having all your music in one place and accessible and controllable by any device (PC, laptop, phone, PDA, tablet) on your home network? This is quite typical now, and easy enough to set up from scratch or you can buy an off the shelf solution....but if all your music is in a form the server doesn't know how to use (example: lossless image+embedded cue in 7z container) then your music archive is useless until you have laboriously converted it (perhaps to single track flacs or similar). But at least you'll have learned to write batch files or bash scripts by the time it's all straightened out smile.gif

Cue+image imo is absolutely fine for archiving and ultimately usable whatever you like to do, while cue+tracks is absolutely fine for everything with no caveats.
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WonderSlug
post Feb 8 2010, 06:58
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QUOTE (chrizoo @ Feb 7 2010, 12:54) *
@greynol: thank you for the link and explanation.

QUOTE (WonderSlug @ Feb 7 2010, 19:32) *
I use separate files for all my albums.This allows me to easily create my own compilations of music, picking and choosing individual tracks as I wish.
cue sheet => songs added to player's media library => "easily create my own compilations of music, picking and choosing individual tracks as I wish"


And if you use the music with something that doesn't support cue sheets, what then?

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OmniCbex
post Feb 8 2010, 09:26
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QUOTE (WonderSlug @ Feb 8 2010, 00:58) *
And if you use the music with something that doesn't support cue sheets, what then?


You get one big long file and have to manually search for the song (with the slider)

What this format is good for:
-Archiving, preserving all the gaps- and being overtly perfectionist
-Playback only using cue sheets and a player that supports them (anything else is too annoying when you just want to hear select songs)
-nothing else without first splitting it up anyway

if you can thing of nothing else useful to you (broader choice in software or anything else Takla mentioned) than by all means.

This post has been edited by OmniCbex: Feb 8 2010, 09:36


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g725s
post Jul 16 2010, 04:17
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It seems that the consensus here and other posts I've read on this subject is that track files might be favored over the single file. I'm very new to this but would this single file also be referred to as an image?

I'd like to see a poll on what versions of the various formats are favored, something like this: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=68338 posted by greynol above.
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greynol
post Jul 16 2010, 04:24
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An image need not just be a single file. Multiple files together can make up an image as well. When I use the term image in conjunction with a single file for all the audio I generally qualify it by saying single-file image.


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shakey_snake
post Jul 16 2010, 04:59
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Two other considerations:
  1. Multi-file "images", typically involve using non-compliant cue sheets, which can be unfortunate depending on the software you use (fb2k).
  2. Also, single-file images can allow you to play hidden track zero (by playing the file without the cue). Whereas with multiple-file "images" you either: [a] prepend hidden track zero (which forces you to listen to it each time you listen to track 1) [b] separate it as it's own file (weird solution, IMO) or [c] discard the hidden track zero.


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greynol
post Jul 16 2010, 05:10
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QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Jul 15 2010, 20:59) *
Multi-file "images", typically involve using non-compliant cue sheets, which can be unfortunate depending on the software you use (fb2k).

CUE sheets are not playlists and were never intended to be playlists. Besides, those who rip to individual tracks generally do not need CUE sheets unless they want to preserve index and other non-audio information, or if the CD has pre-emphasis.

QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Jul 15 2010, 20:59) *
weird solution, IMO

How is this weird? If someone wants their tracks as separate files, why shouldn't a hidden track also be contained in its own file? Makes perfect sense to me.

QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Jul 15 2010, 20:59) *
play hidden track zero (by playing the file without the cue).

What if they want to only play the hidden track or want to be able to skip to another track after listening to hidden track? This solution seems far more weird than the straight-forward approach of dedicating a hidden track to its own file.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jul 16 2010, 05:18


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g725s
post Jul 16 2010, 05:31
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 15 2010, 20:24) *
An image need not just be a single file. Multiple files together can make up an image as well. When I use the term image in conjunction with a single file for all the audio I generally qualify it by saying single-file image.



I've very new to all this so I'm only testing EAC at this point for ripping to hard drive. So far I've only tried Action>Copy Selected Tracks, and Action>Copy Image And Create CUE Sheet. Both options show the tracks as separate in the folder. In that folder where the .flac files are stored they both look the same to me.
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spoon
post Jul 16 2010, 08:50
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QUOTE
Also, single-file images can allow you to play hidden track zero (by playing the file without the cue). Whereas with multiple-file "images" you either: [a] prepend hidden track zero (which forces you to listen to it each time you listen to track 1) [b] separate it as it's own file (weird solution, IMO) or [c] discard the hidden track zero.


Even though the HTOA track is the gap before track 1, it still makes sense to separate and write it as track 0.

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g725s
post Jul 18 2010, 16:36
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Is there a more complete list of HTOA albums than at Wikipedia? : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_album...n_in_the_pregap

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googlebot
post Jul 18 2010, 18:18
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QUOTE (chrizoo @ Feb 7 2010, 19:05) *
[*]little gain of HDD space/reduction of fragmentation (little relevance to me, personally)
[/list]


It's the opposite for most modern filesystems (HFS+, NTFS, EXT*) BTW. Smaller files can be allocated much more efficiently regarding fragmentation than large files.
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