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Rip, Convert, Listen

Linux offers several excellent music players, including (but not limited to) XMMS, Zinf, noatun, amaroK, Juk, Rhythmbox, and Kaffeine. Most of these can play streaming Internet audio, compact discs, and best of all, digital audio files. With music stored as digital audio files, you can enjoy your music wherever and whenever you want to.

Linux offers several excellent music players, including (but not limited to) XMMS, Zinf, noatun, amaroK, Juk, Rhythmbox, and Kaffeine. Most of these can play streaming Internet audio, compact discs, and best of all, digital audio files. With music stored as digital audio files, you can enjoy your music wherever and whenever you want to.

If you don’t know how to convert CDs into audio files on Linux, this column is for you.

Rip with Grip

You can turn your CDs into digital audio files in two easy steps. First, “rip” the music files from your CD to your hard drive as WAV files. Next, convert the WAV files into OGG files.

For convenience, create a folder for all of the WAV files using a command like mkdir ~/music/wav. Next, if you don’t have Grip installed, get it from http://nostatic.org/grip. Open Grip, choose the “Config” tab, then “Rip,” and then “Ripper.”

For “Ripper,” choose “grip (cdparanoia),” and for “Rip file format,” enter ~/music/wav/%A_-_%d_-_%t_-_%n.wav. Next, choose the “Misc” tab under “Config,” and check Do not lowercase filenames. On the same tab, next to “Characters to not strip in filenames,” enter ‘”&-.

Choose the “Tracks” tab. Grip should have connected to the Internet and downloaded the titles of your CD and its songs. Check all of the boxes in the “Rip” column and then choose the “Rip” tab. Press the “Rip Only” button.

Immediately, Grip whirrs into action and starts creating files named:


White_Stripes_-_Elephant_-_09_-
_The_Hardest_Button_To_Button.wav

When Grip is done, put in another CD and repeat the process. WAVs average 10 MB per one minute of music, so keep an eye on your hard drive’s free space!

Convert

Once you have a good number of CDs converted to WAVs, it’s time to convert them to OGGs. Yes, you could use MP3, but OGG is a patent-free format — and it sounds better. Be aware, though, that many portable music players (like Apple’s iPod) only support MP3… for now.

To convert to OGG, you need the OGG encoder, which should already be on your system. If it’s missing, get it from your Linux vendor.

Go to a command line, change directory to ~/music/wav and enter oggenc -q 8 *.wav.

OGG encoding is based on quality level, from 1 to 9, with 9 representing the best possible quality. If you listen to jazz or classical, or just want great-sounding tunes, go with 8. If you listen to other music, have bad speakers, or don’t have a lot of hard drive space, go with level 4 or 5. Now, go to bed while your machine does its work.

While drifting off to slumber, you may be asking, “Why didn’t I just press the ‘Rip+Encode’ button in Grip instead of just ‘Rip’? Wouldn’t that do everything for me?” Yes, Grip can both rip and convert the resulting WAVs, but doing both at the same time really slows Grip down. By separating the processes, you can do your ripping in bulk, and do all of your encoding while you’re asleep.

In the morning, for every WAV, you should see a corresponding OGG:


The_White_Stripes_-_Elephant_-_09_-
_The_Hardest_Button_To_Button.ogg

At this point, you can delete the WAV files to save space, or back them up to re-use when another audio-encoding format comes along.

There are two additional tools you might want to investigate. First, you can change the filenames of your WAV or OGG files into a regular, canonical format. For instance, you can change…


The_White_Stripes_-_Elephant_-_10_-
_Little_Acorns.ogg

… into:


White_Stripes_-_Elephant_(2003)_-_10_-
_Little_Acorns.ogg

Krename is a great program that allows you to batch rename files. Get it at http://www.krename.net. Read the instructions — it’s an amazingly powerful program.

Finally, it’s a good idea to add the hidden metadata that most music players display when you’re listening to a song. For that, you want to use a wonderful program named EasyTAG, available at http://easytag.sourceforge.net.



Scott Granneman teaches at Washington University, consults for Bryan Consulting, and writes for SecurityFocus and Linux Magazine. You can reach him at scott@granneman.com.

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