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Musical technology

Ok, so I in my last post, I was saying that software patents aren't too evil, that DRM still is quite evil (here a related link to Tim Bray, who's talking about the famous Linn company putting out DRM-free, higher-than-CD-quality music, props to them!), and so that I am switching to MP3.

I had been doing some research, so I figured I'd share some of my resources, while I'm there.

I found a ton of great information on the HydrogenAudio knowledge base, about which encoders are best, the pros and cons of various lossless formats (those harder to find CDs I also ripped to FLAC, for archival), and such things. For example, whether there was any issues with FLAC (apparently, the biggest thing is that you can't put RIFF chunks in them, but I don't think that should be an issue), or whether Ogg FLAC was it now (not really, only for streaming and other special cases, and you can convert from one to another very quickly). Seems like LAME is pretty much the state of the art for MP3 encoding, and that even the latest version of ID3 tags still kind of suck compared to Ogg Vorbis comments (thankfully, my ripping software, Max, keeps a full superset of all the meta-data in its own files).

Speaking of which, I have to recommend Max, it's a great piece of free software, very flexible and with a number of useful abilities, such as encoding to multiple formats in parallel from a single rip (I did some comparison testing between FLAC, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis on some difficult tracks, to test my encoder settings).

I also encountered one of the more practical annoyances with MP3 already, where (with XMMS, at least) seeking isn't accurate. If you hear a specific bit at the 2 minute mark, restart the song and seek back to the "same place", I often found that the time display is off and that when I reach the same bit, the player says I'm 10 seconds or so past the place I was the previous time. Oh well, I don't seek too often, thankfully, but it certainly made that side-by-side testing I was doing rather annoying.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Back in the day - like, late 90's - i had some problems getting XMMS to work with Alsa. So i uninstalled XMMS and never looked back. These days i'm using Audacious, which is actually quite nice, and even supports id3v2.4 tags (go UTF-8!).
Feb. 4th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
I think the problem is a fundamental issue with MP3s encoded with a variable bit-rate, unfortunately. To do accurate seeking, the player would have to decode the song from the beginning to the point you're seeking at, counting how much data it decoded, which could be a bit slow, not to mention silly.

It's about time, for UTF-8...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )