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Help with converting FLAC to ALAC while retaining classical music metadata

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I've decided to embark on the long trek to convert my 18k+ FLAC music library into ALAC. I've decided on ALAC for mainly 2 reasons: iTunes/iPhone/iMac/Sonos compatibility and my desire to keep with a lossless format.

My library is pretty eclectic; I have quite a bit of classical music along with many other genres. I have spent quite a bit of time maintaining the correct tag information; I do not want to lose any of this info I painstakingly added to my library. The tags that I use on my FLAC files are:
  • Filename
  • Title
  • Artist
  • Album
  • Album Artist
  • Disc Number
  • Disc Count
  • Compilation
  • Comment
  • Year
  • Genre
  • Track
  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • Conductor
  • Performer
  • Length
  • Modified
  • Path

I want to be especially sure that I maintain the data in Composer, Orchestra, Performer and Conductor in my migration to ALAC. I also want to include my folder art in each track (many of which I had to scan since some of my CD's are not available for sale).

I have a license for dbPowerAmp, so I can do the conversion on the Windows side if need be (I have BootCamp set up and use Fusion), but I would prefer to do everything in Mac.

I am hoping that some of you good folks will offer up comments about the feasibility of this endeavor, and advise me on possible tools to use, paths to take, pitfalls to watch out for, etc.

Thank you for your time.

Mike
post #2 of 15
If you already have dbpoweramp, download and install the codec pack that includes FLAC (unless you already did that)

http://codecs.dbpoweramp.com/codecs-...codec-pack.exe


Then download and install the codec pack that includes Apple Lossless

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/codec-central-m4a.htm


Then run the MusicConverter app of dbpoweramp, select the folder/files to convert, choose 'Apple Lossless' as the new format, and you're off to the races. Your FLAC metatags should be preserved in the new files. Run a test conversion on a few first to make sure.


If you don't have dbpoweramp, first download the 30-D trial version.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi krabapple,

Thanks for the reply.

I've been experimenting with dBpoweramp for the past few days (I have the R13 version). Unfortunately, on my WinXP machine, dBpoweramp crashes on coreconverter.exe using my testbed.

I thought it might have something to do with an old version of dBpoweramp I had installed from 2007, so I uninstalled the old one and all the codecs and installed the R13 version. I didn't get the coreconverter.exe crash anymore, but I got the dreaded blue screen "irql_not_less_than_or_equal"

I'm running SP3 and all the fixes, so I'm not sure what's causing this problem. I haven't updated my video drivers in a while (I haven't used this machine in over a year), but I don't know if I have the stamina anymore to do the "Windows driver dance".

I can do the conversion using XLD on the Mac side, but I'll have to add the folder.jpg's to each album manually (thru iTunes). It's not too bad a job, but with over 1600 cover art files, it'll take me some time to get them all associated.

i've read that some people used Foobar 2000 to do a conversion from FLAC to WMA lossless, then use iTunes to convert WMA lossless to ALAC, but I've no experience with Foobar 2000, so I can't say for certain if this method would work for me. Fortunately, I've got loads of space to hold any type of intermediary files, so it's not out of the question. I just don't want to lose any tag info.

Oh well..

Mike
post #4 of 15
My copy of dbPoweramp is not new -- though I don't see how to show the version number (create/mod date for the files is 8/2007)-- and the FLAC-->ALAC conversion worked fine today when I tried it (using MusicConverter.exe).. It was a snap.

I'm running it on WinXP Pro , SP3 installed, updates current.

Don't know what your problem could be. But you could try running 'MusicConverter.exe' as a standalone app (by clicking on it from the dbpoweramp folder) instead of 'coreconverter.exe'.
post #5 of 15
I think the problem you are going to run into is that ALAC does not support "Orchestra, Performer and Conductor" tags (or maybe it does and itunes just does not display them - same result). My work around for this is to include this information in the album name.

I use Max for converting flac to alac (http://sbooth.org/Max/). It seems to do a good job with maintaining the tags that alac supports, I don't think it will automatically incorporate folder art, but it might bring across art that was embedded in the flac (I don't know).

Good luck. I think you are going to have to spend some time manually tweaking your tags and art again. Let us know if you do find a way to automate the process. . .
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

My copy of dbPoweramp is not new -- though I don't see how to show the version number (create/mod date for the files is 8/2007)-- and the FLAC-->ALAC conversion worked fine today when I tried it (using MusicConverter.exe).. It was a snap.

I'm running it on WinXP Pro , SP3 installed, updates current.

Don't know what your problem could be. But you could try running 'MusicConverter.exe' as a standalone app (by clicking on it from the dbpoweramp folder) instead of 'coreconverter.exe'.

dBpoweramp seemed to work great on my testbed of ~150 FLACs until it got to a particular one. Then it would hang for a long time, finally giving a "coreconverter.exe" error and crashing. When I searched the web, it seemed that many of the "coreconverter.exe" problems stemmed from using mix-and-match versions of dBpoweramp. That's when I usinstalled my older version and installed the R13 version and all new codecs. This is when I got the blue screen.

I used the batch Converter first, which I think just passes the files (I have my music organized into folders by Artist\\Album Title) to the MusicConverter. I tried running my testbed a few times, but each time I would eventually get the blue screen. It could be a problem with my old Windows machine, but it's been up and running 24x7 for over a year (albeit doing nothing important).

Mike
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I think the problem you are going to run into is that ALAC does not support "Orchestra, Performer and Conductor" tags (or maybe it does and itunes just does not display them - same result). My work around for this is to include this information in the album name.

I use Max for converting flac to alac (http://sbooth.org/Max/). It seems to do a good job with maintaining the tags that alac supports, I don't think it will automatically incorporate folder art, but it might bring across art that was embedded in the flac (I don't know).

Thanks for the response dknightd.

Yeah, I know I have a lot of work to do after i get done the conversion to ALAC. It's a shame I like Classical music so much

When I decided to start ripping my CD collection, I chose to store as much info as possible into the FLAC tags. Even though iTunes (and Sonos) doesn't support all the tags, at least I have all the data there.

As to Max, I tried it also. It could easily do the FLAC to ALAC conversion while maintaining all the tags (like dBpoweramp), but just like XLD, could not pick up the folder.jpg artwork. Upon further reading, it seemed like some people preferred XLD over Max because it supports Core Audio conversion to ALAC, which is supposed to be the best outside of using iTunes to do the conversion. XLD, like Max, does have an option to construct output tags from any input tags it finds, regardless if whether iTunes supports displaying them or not.

While i'm working on the dBpoweramp problems, I've begun converting my FLAC's to ALAC using XLD over my network. I toyed with the idea of attaching the NAS directly to my iMac, but I thought it would be more trouble than it's worth. Hopefully I'll resolve my dBpoweramp problem sometime soon. If not, in a few days I'll have my ALAC's created anyway.

Mike
post #8 of 15
As near as I can tell Max uses core audio as well, but that is the least of your concerns.

iTunes is scriptable, so you might be able to script it (or find scripts) to do some of what you want. google "doug itunes scripts" if you have not already found it. It might at least be able to automate embedding the artwork. I looked quickly and found scripts to export art, and to import art from the internet, should be easy enough to make one that imports folder.jpg, but I did not see it in my quick look.

Since iTunes doesn't support the tags you want, you'll have to find some other way to do that. Perhaps there is something on the PC end that can combine tags for you.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

As near as I can tell Max uses core audio as well, but that is the least of your concerns.

Thanks for that catch. Yes, Max seems to use Core Audio too. Hmmmthere must be some reason that I settled on XLD over Max, but I guess it doesn't matter as long as the losslessness of FLAC is maintained (is "losslessness" even a word?) and the tags are kept.

Quote:


iTunes is scriptable, so you might be able to script it (or find scripts) to do some of what you want. google "doug itunes scripts" if you have not already found it. It might at least be able to automate embedding the artwork. I looked quickly and found scripts to export art, and to import art from the internet, should be easy enough to make one that imports folder.jpg, but I did not see it in my quick look.

Very nice site! Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes. There's really some talented scriptwriters. I'm definitely going to spend some quality time there and review all the scripts to see if there's one that can import the artwork for me. If not, maybe I can write a script to do what I want. Stranger things have happened

Quote:


Since iTunes doesn't support the tags you want, you'll have to find some other way to do that. Perhaps there is something on the PC end that can combine tags for you.

I'll take a look around. Thanks again.

Mike
post #10 of 15
You want to play lossless on an iPhone??? I wish I could find the spec for bitrate but it wasn't on the apple site.. I doubt it's very high so you're better off with mp3 anyways.

As for playing on an iMac, get FLUKE. It imports FLAC files into iTunes by tricking it into thinking it's a Quicktime Movie file. Moves the file to the iTunes folder as a FLAC and everything.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTalon View Post

You want to play lossless on an iPhone??? I wish I could find the spec for bitrate but it wasn't on the apple site.. I doubt it's very high so you're better off with mp3 anyways.

No, lossless on my Sonos system, which is *controlled* by my iPhone/iPod Touch. If I'm playing tunes from within my iPhone/iPod, I convert to AAC.

Quote:


As for playing on an iMac, get FLUKE. It imports FLAC files into iTunes by tricking it into thinking it's a Quicktime Movie file. Moves the file to the iTunes folder as a FLAC and everything.

I tried to go the FLUKE route, but during my experimenting I had several iTunes crashes on converted FLACs, hence my intended conversion to ALAC.

Mike
post #12 of 15
It was really strange. If I did a single album at a time I had no problems with Fluke. When I did ~30 songs it would "crash" but the songs still made it into iTunes and worked fine..

I don't really know much about the Sonos but I've used my iPod touch to control iTunes and it's wonderful haha. It is a bit tough going through 20k songs on such a small screen though.

Sorry I don't have any info on ALAC for you.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for checking TurboTalon. I guess I was trying to load too many songs with Fluke. Since I have over 18K to convert, I was doing several hundred at a time. When iTunes crashed, I was worried about the state of the songs (i.e. if they were they created correctly). I decided then to go the non-crashing route and use Max or XLD.

Quote:


I don't really know much about the Sonos but I've used my iPod touch to control iTunes and it's wonderful haha. It is a bit tough going through 20k songs on such a small screen though.

Yeah, it's tough to organize and browse 20K tunes no matter what device you're using. One of my other reasons for going the iTunes route is to build/use genius playlists; I'm sure I have a lot of music that I haven't listened to in many years just because I can't find it


In case anyone's interested, I remember why I chose XLD over Max - XLD allows you to clone your current directory structure to the output. Max will also create directories on the output side, but Max builds it from the tag info in the tracks. I figured it would be much easier for me to add the album art from my folder.jpg's if I maintained my current directory structure (Artist/Album/{Track #}-{Track Title}).

Mike
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, I decided to start my conversion while working out the problems I'm having with dBpoweramp. I started the conversion with XLD on Thursday 9/17. It's now Wednesday 9/23 and I'm about 1/3 the way through

I'm doing the conversion over my network to/from the RAID-X server, so I'm sure that accounts for much of the overhead. I guess I could attach the server directly to my iMac, but I'll leave my current setup be until something pops up where I need to restart the conversion (XLD crash, iMac reboot required). XLD uses about 10% of the CPU, so it doesn't cause any noticeable drag on my system.

Mike
post #15 of 15
MAX is multithreaded so would probably go faster (but use more cpu)
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