A Very Baroque Digital Music Setup That Nonetheless Has No Actual Baroque Music In It

How I go from physical CDs or purchased mp3s to my music library:

  1. Rip the CD with Exact Audio Copy, which converts the album to mp3s using LAME.
  2. Since EAC uses freedb to populate each song’s metadata, that metadata is often wrong. Fix the metadata using the MusicBrainz Picard tagger.
  3. Normalize album volumes by using foobar2000 to encode Replay Gain information in mp3 tags.
  4. Get album art using Media Art Aggregator and save it to a file in the directory with the mp3s.
  5. Embed the album art in the mp3s’ tags and convert Replay Gain data to the equivalent Sound Check value using Mp3tag.
  6. Move the music to our Linux server.

And that’s how I re-invented iTunes!

Like all crazy complicated systems, it didn’t start out that way. Back when I began the Great CD Ripping Project, my requirements were simple: turn my CDs into mp3s and put them on our Linux server so Misty and I could access them through SMB. iTunes did crazy things like put album art in each mp3, increasing their filesizes, and I was using foobar2000 as my audio player. We didn’t even have much in the way of mp3 players, just a couple of iPod Shuffles. So all I had to do was rip the CDs using EAC and LAME.

Then I read about Replay Gain, and since foobar2000 had Replay Gain scanning built in, I started doing that. And, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I had album art stored in the directory with the mp3s? foobar2000 would happily read a cover.jpg file and display it instead of depending on art embedded in the mp3s. That’s when I added Media Art Aggregator’s predecessor, Album Art Aggregator.

The iPhone was the final straw. Now I had to have the album art stored in the mp3’s tags, plus Apple had its own alternative to Replay Gain. Lucky for me I could put actions together in Mp3tag to put the cover.jpg files in the tags and to convert Replay Gain to Apple’s Sound Check.

Hey, at least I can be snooty about how much better LAME’s mp3s sound than iTunes, and how Replay Gain lets me adjust volume on a per-album basis. Right? Right?

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