How I go from physical CDs or purchased mp3s to my music library:
- Rip the CD with Exact Audio Copy, which converts the album to mp3s using LAME.
- Since EAC uses freedb to populate each song’s metadata, that metadata is often wrong. Fix the metadata using the MusicBrainz Picard tagger.
- Normalize album volumes by using foobar2000 to encode Replay Gain information in mp3 tags.
- Get album art using Media Art Aggregator and save it to a file in the directory with the mp3s.
- Embed the album art in the mp3s’ tags and convert Replay Gain data to the equivalent Sound Check value using Mp3tag.
- 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?