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Need Some Software Help: Searching for a Mac FLAC converter that handles albums, not just single files


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OK, I need to make a FLAC copy of all my iTunes albums. In iTunes everything is Apple Lossless. I need a FLAC copy for my new cheap SanDisk player that I bought for my car (there is essentially no decent radio here in the Reno NV area and my iPod Touch was stolen from the car. No iPod-like device, no tunes in the car!).

 

I tried DBPoweramp Music Converter and several others, but they merely batch convert everything to a bunch of individual cuts, with no organization and no rhyme or reason to their arrangement in the destination folder. In other words, their integrity as parts of a complete album is lost. I guess most kids just have hundreds (if not thousands) of individual songs and don't really care how they're organized.

 

Anyway, I need to convert entire albums from ALCA to FLAC albums keeping the album covers and the integrity of the contents including the order the cuts appear in the converted album.

 

Ideally, such software would work in conjunction with iTunes and one would choose the album (or albums) to convert in the iTunes window, go up to "FILE", pull it down and select "Export". All of the available conversion file types would then show up, and one would choose "FLAC". A pop-op panel would appear with all the settings one needs to set for the conversion including choosing the destination for the converted files. Hit "OK" and the conversion would begin. When finished, there would be a folder full of sub-folders named after the albums. But I don't believe anything like this exists and it is, admittedly, an ideal.

 

But it does illustrate what I'm looking for. Software that treats albums as albums and not as a list of individual cuts, disassociated from their original context. I would also like for the software to be able to batch-convert these albums, so all I have to do is select them and hit "convert" - the way DBPoweramp works, but without the random placement of each cut in the destination folder.

 

Anybody know of any software like this?

George

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OK, I was wondering about that, but assumed George would have tried that program.

XLD treats your albums like albums together with iTunes X Lossless Decoder: Lossless audio decoder for Mac OS X , but not integrated , its a seperate piece of free software and thats good , cause it does not interfere with apples update machanisms like plugins do.

Forrest:

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I tried DBPoweramp Music Converter and several others, but they merely batch convert everything to a bunch of individual cuts, with no organization and no rhyme or reason to their arrangement in the destination folder. In other words, their integrity as parts of a complete album is lost.

 

You should find a setting in dBpoweramp that allows you to specify output folder and filename structure. In foobar2000 which is what I use for this purpose the latter looks like this:

 

%artist%\%album%\%track% - %title%

 

This writes individual song tracks into an album name folder within an artist folder.

 

Here it is; see "Output Location", should be the same on the FLAC converter page:

 

dmc-opts.png

 

And here is the Help page:

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/help/dmc/dmc.htm

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iTunes stores certain metadata about your music library in a file called "iTunes Library.itl". This includes album art, playlists, etc. Since I store my library on an external drive apart from the iTunes app and its .itl file, I use shareware scripts from Doug Adams to insure that the cover art and other tags are permanently imbedded in every individual track:

 

Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes - Managing Artwork

 

I use several of his scripts to: renumber album tracks consecutively when combining multiple discs and box sets into one album, to batch-add the artist name to the usually-blank album artist field, and to create and store a separate .jpeg of the album cover art inside each album folder. When necessary, or if changed, this art can be re-imbedded into each track from within iTunes even if the actual library is on a different hard drive.

 

So, the first thing you need to do is, in iTunes, make sure all your albums are sequenced in your preferred track order, and that the cover art is imbedded.

 

Next, locate your iTunes music folder. Typically:

Users > you (home log-in name) > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Music

This folder, whether it is on the same volume as your iTunes app or an external drive, should contain all your music sorted alphabetically by artist/album/track. iTunes does this by default.

 

As has been suggested, download XLD, or another suitable freeware app, MediaHuman Audio Converter:

 

Free audio converter for Mac OS X and Windows

 

Set your prefs for the desired FLAC compression, and the target folder. In XLD, check the checkbox for "Preserve Directory Structure" under "Batch" preferences. In MediaHuman prefs, check "Keep Folder Structure".

 

Now, drag and drop the artist folders from your library onto the XLD or MHAC dock icon (make sure you have selected "Keep in Dock" from the dock icon options when first opening these apps).

 

Don't try to convert your whole library at once. Start with 12-15 albums at a time, and see how it goes.

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My recollection is that the dBpoweramp batch converter has a pretty flexible engine. You can use it to create folder structures out of metadata. When you do a conversion you get to specify the output location. Look at the options associated with the "Dynamic" tab.

 

I suggest a three step process: First copy the files for a single album to a new folder using O/S utility so you won't mess up your library. Then use the dBpoweramp Music Converter in manual mode, playing with the settings. Make sure it does what you want, and it will take a while to figure this out. Second, repeat this process, this time with some test files from different albums, making sure that the album files get correctly isolated and sorted into your target folder structure. Third, turn the batch converter loose on a few folders from your library and verify you get the desired results. Finally, you can work on your entire library. I usually break the library up into pieces (check boxes in the batch converter) shooting for doing about 6 hours worth of work in a batch so that I can run the process overnight. With a dedicated computer, I have also converted an entire library (in this case the conversion was from FLAC to MP3), but this ran for about 60 hours straight.

 

Normally, I don't use the dynamic feature of the music converter, and just preserve the existing folder structure. This is safer to use if your existing folder structure is the way you like. If you use the dynamic feature then you may get weird results for some albums or files if your metadata is screwed up.

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Thank you all for the information. I will digest what everyone has posted and see what I can do. It strikes me that this is much more complicated than it should be. If files are part of an "album", they should "know" that and keeping them together when changing format should be something that's automatic. Obviously it isn't. But with the help of folks like you who have answered my inquiry, I'm sure that I'll be able to figure it out>

George

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iTunes has its own way of recognizing and grouping files into "albums". It uses the tags to do this. Two files with different "album" fields, or different "artist" fields will be grouped separately. At least with earlier versions, it was very picky, something as simple as a trailing space vs. no trailing space would be treated differently. There are other fields that iTunes may use to group "albums". When tagging files I use the dBpoweramp tag editor to make sure that all the tag fields in each file that belongs to an album are identical, except for the song title and track number, of course. (I don't use iTunes, but files that I create get converted to mp3 and apple lossless and uploaded to a web site and some customers download and play these files using iTunes.)

 

There are many different ways to organize libraries and tag fields. Librarian skills are involved, something that may be beyond the state of the art of "artificial intelligence". :-)

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OK, I need to make a FLAC copy of all my iTunes albums. In iTunes everything is Apple Lossless. I need a FLAC copy for my new cheap SanDisk player that I bought for my car (there is essentially no decent radio here in the Reno NV area and my iPod Touch was stolen from the car. No iPod-like device, no tunes in the car!).

 

I tried DBPoweramp Music Converter and several others, but they merely batch convert everything to a bunch of individual cuts, with no organization and no rhyme or reason to their arrangement in the destination folder. In other words, their integrity as parts of a complete album is lost. I guess most kids just have hundreds (if not thousands) of individual songs and don't really care how they're organized.

 

Anyway, I need to convert entire albums from ALCA to FLAC albums keeping the album covers and the integrity of the contents including the order the cuts appear in the converted album.

 

Ideally, such software would work in conjunction with iTunes and one would choose the album (or albums) to convert in the iTunes window, go up to "FILE", pull it down and select "Export". All of the available conversion file types would then show up, and one would choose "FLAC". A pop-op panel would appear with all the settings one needs to set for the conversion including choosing the destination for the converted files. Hit "OK" and the conversion would begin. When finished, there would be a folder full of sub-folders named after the albums. But I don't believe anything like this exists and it is, admittedly, an ideal.

 

But it does illustrate what I'm looking for. Software that treats albums as albums and not as a list of individual cuts, disassociated from their original context. I would also like for the software to be able to batch-convert these albums, so all I have to do is select them and hit "convert" - the way DBPoweramp works, but without the random placement of each cut in the destination folder.

 

Anybody know of any software like this?

 

Firstly, if you've allowed iTunes to organize your music, then each album gets its own folder. You can use a batch converter that will keep the destination folder the same as source.

 

Secondly, iTunes names songs first with the track number so a numeric sort will keep the folder organized.

 

Would you consider allowing iTunes to organize your music before you convert? There are also software packages that will look up and tag your itunes library if you need to add track numbers etc. Is there something more?

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