dBpoweramp's Batch Converter Quick to Convert Big Music Collections

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
From our front-page news:
If you take pride in your music collection, you no doubt want to stick with reliable applications that perform the job you need done, and can do that job well. I've been a user of dBpoweramp for a while, but somehow missed the fact that R12 was released last summer. The most notable feature for me? Batch converting.

I maintain my collection in FLAC format, but like to keep MP3 "backups" of the same music so that I can take it with me on the go... since FLAC tends to be an amazing space-hog. Plus, on an MP3 player, there's little point of bringing along a quality pair of headphones, unless you don't mind looking like a fool carrying them around.

The problem is, I have never found a program to reliably convert such a large collection of files. The best solution I have found was using foobar2000's built-in feature, but it would always crash after every ~500 tracks... very frustrating. So I quickly downloaded the latest Reference dBpoweramp version and figured I'd give the new feature a try.

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In the end, the program converted all 5,015 FLAC files in a mere five hours on a Quad-Core processor. Though the computer contained eight cores (Intel Skulltrail), the developer noted that the reason for only four cores being supported is due to hard drives not being able to keep up. Seems reasonable, but for those with a nice RAID array, such support would be nice.

Five hours may not sound terribly impressive, but it is. Using averages, each track took 16 seconds to convert, and all 5,015 were taken care of with a simple click of the button. Since the program took advantage of the Quad-Core, the total time taken could have been over twenty hours otherwise!

To say I recommend the application would be an understatement. If you take pride in your collection, dBpoweramp still holds its ground as an audiophiles killer-app.

Source: dBpoweramp Official Page

I threw this in the audio forum because it needs a lot more attention than the software section ;-)
 

Merlin

The Tech Wizard
Yeah FLAC files are huge, but the sound is worth it, lossless most say, I say, It just sounds better, less compression

Merlin
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
FLAC is essentially lossless, with minimal compression. True lossless would be direct CD audio, but there would be virtually no differences in sound quality. CD audio streams at a constant bit-rate of 1411Kbps, meaning that a lot of space is constantly wasted. That's why FLAC is lossless but makes far more sense to use.

FLAC or any other lossless format is the only way to go if you have a decent soundsystem and want to enjoy your music to the full extent.
 

On_Wisconsin

Coastermaker
How's the quality of the *.mp3's? And is this the right program for the price? My dad wants to convert his CD collection to mp3...
 
MP3 is compressing the quality, lossless isn't. Think of MP3 lossy compression as a means to save space by decreasing sound quality, while lossless compression is more akin to compressing a file with a zip archive.

If you use the newest stable LAME encoder at a decent bitrate (192kbps and up, I recommend 256kbps VBR), the quality will be more than acceptable. You should know that in order to take advantage of higher quality music, you will have to invest in higher quality gear, so if you're dad isn't an audiophile, he more than likely won't notice the difference.

You don't have to pay for a program like dBpowerAmp if you don't need the features. A lot of people I know (myself included) are fine with using free programs like Exact Audio Copy, and the only difference is the method of secure ripping used; the actual encoder is the same. There is a tutorial here if you want to setup EAC with LAME.

Rob's been hounding me to finish a CD encoding how-to I promised almost a year ago. I should get on that..

Edit: Rob, to say that FLAC is minimal compression is incorrect. If you look at the actual waveforms between a FLAC file and the original PCM audio, they will be exactly the same.

I know what you meant to say, I just wanted to correct your terminology to be clearer.
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
Thanks for all the information Matt. When I said minimal compression, I was basing it off of the end filesize and bitrate. I didn't think to check the waveforms, but... wouldn't it be all the same, regardless of compression? I guess I never thought to check that out before.

On_Wisconsin, is he ripping these CD's fresh, or did he already rip to another format? If the latter, then I would recommend dBPowerAmp... since it can recode entire collections very, very easily. The only downside is that it will not delete the source files once done, but that's easily taken care of by searching the folder with the Windows find tool and deleting the source files you don't want.

If he hasn't ripped anything yet, then take Matt's recommendation of Exact Audio Copy. I won't lie... it takes a little more effort than the usual ripper, but for those who care about their music, the first five minutes spent setting it up will pay off. The main benefit is that it will work through scratches on the disc, which means no potential skipping.

I wrote up a quick how-to for another staff member a few months ago on how to set it up though, so if you are interested in it, let me know. I think I wrote it for FLAC, though, but MP3 wouldn't be much different.

As for FLAC vs. MP3, if your father really cares about the quality of his music, then FLAC is a good choice. If he's not entirely fussy, MP3 256Kbps or 320Kbps would be fine. I do happen to be fussy, so I keep my entire collection encoded in both. The FLAC is for listening with on my PC, while the MP3 is for the MP3 player.
 

madmat

Soup Nazi
How exactly do you get the batch conversion to work? I'm running the same version and it only encodes tracks linearly, it won't encode two at a time even though I'm running a dual core CPU.
 

On_Wisconsin

Coastermaker
Rob - fresh...straight from the CD.

Also, he loves the quality of the 200k-500k stuff of the mp3s he has now. He just wants to take some of his CDs that he has and convert them to mp3 to use them on the go.
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
Matt, are you positive you are running the latest version? Mines R12, but R13 is out now... will download soon and see what's new. In the dBpoweramp Configuration panel, it says 'Release 12.4' up top. I believe that's the first version that officially supported multi-threading.

If you do have the latest version and it's still not automatically using both cores, I'm not sure what to tell you. There's no option... it does it automatically, just by detecting the amount of cores. It even works on all four cores for me in Linux, so you might have a really strange problem.
 

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Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
Rob - fresh...straight from the CD.

Also, he loves the quality of the 200k-500k stuff of the mp3s he has now. He just wants to take some of his CDs that he has and convert them to mp3 to use them on the go.

I am not sure what you mean by '200k-500k'. The max official bitrate for MP3 is 320Kbps, but it can be surpassed with certain players and codecs. The majority of those will not work on a normal MP3 player, though. Some won't even work with the majority of audio players on the PC.

That aside, if your father has a lot of hard drive space, I highly recommend ripping them to 320Kbps. They take more room, but it's nice to know you have the best MP3 quality available. He could expect most albums to rip at around 100MB. My FLAC collection is 150.4GB currently, while the MP3 version is 50.3GB. I'll make another post for a quick how-to...
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
Here is a how-to I wrote for another staff member a few months ago, which was for FLAC. I made a few edits to add one for MP3 as well though. You can download the same FLAC.cfg file and load it up, then just go through and make the changes to adjust it to MP3.

Please note that there might be some inconsistencies here... If I had time, I'd go through thoroughly and make sure it was perfect, but I'm quite certain all these steps are accurate. If you run into any problems, just post here and we'll figure it out. You might want to test it on your own PC before trying it on your fathers.

If this seems like too much of a hassle, then just setting up EAC to direct rip the CD's will be fine. I edit a lot of options to make sure it's perfect and the best it can be. Audiophiles will debate what 'perfect' settings there are, but I've ripped almost all of my albums using these settings and am pleased with the results.

Ripping to FLAC

http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/en/index.php/resources/download/

Install EAC, making sure to install all that comes with it. After install, run it, but push cancel on the wizard that comes up. Copy this FLAC.cfg (the attachment is here) to the install directory and then go to EAC > Profiles > Load Profile. It should change the orientation of the app on the screen, so you know it worked.

From here, there are a few things to check. First and foremost, put a music CD in the drive and make sure that a little CD-ROM icon appears in the bottom right-hand corner. This is Accurate Rip, which compares YOUR rips to others online, if they match, it will tell you it's a verified rip. It might prompt you to start inserting different audio CDs for testing... don't cancel this. Do what it says, and then proceed with the checks below. A lot of them will be selected already thanks to that profile, but I am just making sure that nothing important got unchecked in the process.

EAC > EAC Options

(Extraction) Make sure all boxes are checked, except for "Delete leading and trailing..."
(Extraction) Use 30 minutes and 5 minutes under the "After each" section.
(Extraction) Select a "High" error recovery quality.
(General) Make sure "On unknown CDs" is checked, as well as "automatically access online..."
(General) Check "Show status dialog..." You might also want to use "Eject CD after extraction". That's up to you.
(Directories) Select the folder you want to save your music in.
Ignore the Normalize and Write tabs. Normalizing is -not- good for what we are going for.

EAC > Drive Options
(Extraction Method) With an audio CD in the drive, click "Detect Read Features", then make sure "Secure Mode" is selected.
(Drive) Click "Autodetect read command now", and also make sure "Spin up drive before extraction" is selected.
(Offset) Make sure "Use AccurateRip" is checked. The rest of the screen will be faded out.
(Gap Detection) Make sure Detection Method A or B (doesn't really matter) is selected and also "Secure" detection.

EAC > Compression Options
(External Compression) Click "Use External" and then browse for the FLAC install. It should be inside the EAC install folder.
(External Compression) Use .flac as the file extension, if it's not checked.
(External Compression) Command-line options should be:
-6 -V -T "artist=%a" -T "title=%t" -T "album=%g" -T "date=%y" -T "tracknumber=%n" -T "genre=%m" %s
(External Compression) Make sure "Delete WAV after compression" and "Check for external programs" are checked.

That's all that needs to be checked. You could go to EAC > freedb and make sure a fake e-mail address is used. It's just needed to grab the CDDB info from freedb.org. When all done, go to EAC > Profiles > Save Profile and save to a brand-new file, not over top of the one I am sending here.

Restart the application and then you should be able to rip immediately. You might have AccurateRip ask you to insert upwards of three CDs in order to judge the offset of the drive, and it should. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be a problem, but I can't see it not doing it.

To rip, just hit Shift + F6. It will rip automatically to the folder you specified. This is how I have the albums ripped:

Artist\Year - Album\Track# - Song Name.flac

You can adjust that if you want it different, under EAC > EAC Options > Filename.

Ripping to MP3

http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/en/index.php/resources/download/

(Download LAME 3.97 from the attachment here and extract it to somewhere on the PC)

Install EAC, making sure to install all that comes with it. After install, run it, but push cancel on the wizard that comes up. Copy this FLAC.cfg (the attachment is here) to the install directory and then go to EAC > Profiles > Load Profile. It should change the orientation of the app on the screen, so you know it worked.

From here, there are a few things to check. First and foremost, put a music CD in the drive and make sure that a little CD-ROM icon appears in the bottom right-hand corner. This is Accurate Rip, which compares YOUR rips to others online, if they match, it will tell you it's a verified rip. It might prompt you to start inserting different audio CDs for testing... don't cancel this. Do what it says, and then proceed with the checks below. A lot of them will be selected already thanks to that profile, but I am just making sure that nothing important got unchecked in the process.

EAC > EAC Options

(Extraction) Make sure all boxes are checked, except for "Delete leading and trailing..."
(Extraction) Use 30 minutes and 5 minutes under the "After each" section.
(Extraction) Select a "High" error recovery quality.
(General) Make sure "On unknown CDs" is checked, as well as "automatically access online..."
(General) Check "Show status dialog..." You might also want to use "Eject CD after extraction". That's up to you.
(Directories) Select the folder you want to save your music in.
Ignore the Normalize and Write tabs. Normalizing is -not- good for what we are going for.

EAC > Drive Options
(Extraction Method) With an audio CD in the drive, click "Detect Read Features", then make sure "Secure Mode" is selected.
(Drive) Click "Autodetect read command now", and also make sure "Spin up drive before extraction" is selected.
(Offset) Make sure "Use AccurateRip" is checked. The rest of the screen will be faded out.
(Gap Detection) Make sure Detection Method A or B (doesn't really matter) is selected and also "Secure" detection.

EAC > Compression Options
(External Compression) Click "Use External" and then browse for the MP3 install. It should be inside the EAC install folder.
(External Compression) Use .mp3 as the file extension, if it's not checked.
(External Compression) Command-line options should be:
-b 320 --add-id3v2 --pad-id3v2 --ta "%a" --tt "%t" --tg "%m" --tl "%g" --ty "%y" --tn "%n" %s %d
(Here is a good site for more settings, at lower bitrates)
(External Compression) Make sure "Delete WAV after compression" and "Check for external programs" are checked.

That's all that needs to be checked. You could go to EAC > freedb and make sure a fake e-mail address is used. It's just needed to grab the CDDB info from freedb.org. When all done, go to EAC > Profiles > Save Profile and save to a brand-new file, not over top of the one I am sending here.

Restart the application and then you should be able to rip immediately. You might have AccurateRip ask you to insert upwards of three CDs in order to judge the offset of the drive, and it should. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be a problem, but I can't see it not doing it.

To rip, just hit Shift + F6. It will rip automatically to the folder you specified. This is how I have the albums ripped:

Artist\Year - Album\Track# - Song Name.mp3

You can adjust that if you want it different, under EAC > EAC Options > Filename.
 

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Eli

Obliviot
why rip with eac

Rob,
I am very surprised you are recommending EAC as the ripper of choice in a dBpoweramp thread you started. Have you tried the CD ripper in dBpoweramp? Its faster and as/more secure then EAC. Plus the meta-data is the best available when ripping with R13 and PerfectMeta.

As for FLAC. Lossless is exactly that. Think of it as a zip file for music. Nothing is lost. You can uncompress FLAC back to the original wav file and its EXACTLY the same. Thats not the case with lossy methods like mp3.
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
Rob,
I am very surprised you are recommending EAC as the ripper of choice in a dBpoweramp thread you started. Have you tried the CD ripper in dBpoweramp? Its faster and as/more secure then EAC. Plus the meta-data is the best available when ripping with R13 and PerfectMeta.

Hah, to be honest, no, I have never ripped a CD using dBpoweramp, and have never even thought to. When I was first introduced to EAC, I never looked back. It did what I wanted it to, and did it securely. The fact that it was free and never required paid updates helped also...

Regardless, I'm willing to give it a try. I just upgraded to R13 and plan to pick up an album today, if it happens to come out on time (it's been delayed about four times already). I'll relay my thoughts here once I get around to ripping it.

As for PerfectMeta, I have never had a problem with inputing the data myself if there are inaccuracies from freedb.org. I often buy albums that are not even listed, so I've become used to inputing some data myself, so I don't think I'd much benefit from the service.

Regardless, as a completely free application, I think EAC is great. dBpoweramp is -not- free, and with a little work, EAC kicks serious ass. dBpoweramp has a few features that are nice, but I'm not sure how many people think those are worth the ~$30 price tag, over using EAC.

Thanks for the comments and welcome to the forums :)
 

madstork91

The One, The Only...
all I know is that my collection in anything but MP3 would require that I have a TB drive just for it.
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
After giving the ripper a test, I do have to admit that I find it a lot more straight-forward, and not to mention better-looking, than EAC. I still think EAC is fantastic because it can do a lot and is FREE, but dBpoweramp is still a great alternative.

If price wasn't an option, right now I'd likely recommend dBpoweramp. It's easier to deal with, and straight-out does a good job. Now, I haven't tested it out with scratched CD's (and I still have a few known ones in my collection), but I'll give that a test in the weeks to come.
 

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Eli

Obliviot
If you are doing 1 or 2 discs, entering your own meta-data is no problem. But if you are doing 10s, 100s or even 1000s of discs, having the ripper get great meta-data for you is huge. dBpoweramp also grabs CD covers.
 

Rob Williams

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Moderator
If you are doing 1 or 2 discs, entering your own meta-data is no problem. But if you are doing 10s, 100s or even 1000s of discs, having the ripper get great meta-data for you is huge. dBpoweramp also grabs CD covers.

Of course, but the average user isn't going to be ripping 100's of CDs, usually. And even if they are, most of the cddb data is likely going to be accurate.

The power user won't care much about certain manual input regardless. I never usually agree with the genre chosen, for example. In two regards, dBpoweramp's PerfectMeta was wrong, because David Banner is more Hip-Hop than Rap (to me, but the latter is what it chose), and it also put in a weird year (2008 08 20, instead of just 2008). So I don't see it as being perfect either, unless PerfectMeta does something else I don't realize.

As it stands, I like dBpoweramp's ripper quite a bit, and I'll continue to use it. Too bad it doesn't emulate well in Linux... I was hoping it would.
 

Eli

Obliviot
That is (probably) the actual release date. You can go into options and force it to only tag the year. I agree with genre, I don't think anyone has good genre tagging. And no PerfectMeta is not perfect, but it pulls meta-data from AMG, GD3, MusicBrainz, and freeDB and compares the results from all 4 and comes up with the best meta-data results. You can hit control-M in the ripper to see the PerfectMeta screen.
 
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