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How to generate cue sheets for my FLAC collection?
Neil Gunton
post Nov 28 2007, 16:36
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Hi all,

I just finished ripping my 400 CD collection into flac files. While I am technically inclined (a programmer), I am new to this whole area of digital audio. I thought I was doing great using a lossless format like flac, thinking that I could now re-generate my CDs if they ever became lost or scratched. However I had a 'DOH' moment when I suddenly realized that I don't really have everything... there is the information about gaps between tracks. Obviously many concert albums have no gap between tracks, and it would suck to have a default 2 second gap between every track. I'd like to be able to preserve this information if possible, so that I can regenerate the CD down the line if I lose the original.

I've just gone through a fairly major few days of ripping, and don't want to do all that again! I use Debian linux (Sound Juicer was used to do the ripping to flac). I have done some research that indicates what I might need is a "cue sheet" or "toc" file. Not sure what the difference is, and while cdparanoia -Q seems to quickly read the cuesheet, I can't seem to find any way to get that information into the appropriate file format for archiving, without reading the whole CD again (which would take forever).

I assume what I want to end up with is a directory for each album with the FLAC files (which I already have), along with a small cuesheet or toc file that can be used to burn the CD again.

I realize that this won't preserve things like text, data or videos that were on the original CD... I'm honestly not all that bothered about that stuff. All I want is to be able to preserve the experience I would get by playing the CD in a stereo, which is pretty much all I ever did with CDs anyway. So does the FLAC + cuesheet (or toc or whatever it's called) accomplish this? How can I do it quickly, in Linux, without reading each CD again in its entirety?

Any clues much appreciated.

Thanks,

/Neil

This post has been edited by Neil Gunton: Nov 28 2007, 16:40
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Launfal
post Nov 28 2007, 16:53
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QUOTE (Neil Gunton @ Nov 28 2007, 10:36) *
Hi all,

I just finished ripping my 400 CD collection into flac files. While I am technically inclined (a programmer), I am new to this whole area of digital audio. I thought I was doing great using a lossless format like flac, thinking that I could now re-generate my CDs if they ever became lost or scratched. However I had a 'DOH' moment when I suddenly realized that I don't really have everything... there is the information about gaps between tracks. Obviously many concert albums have no gap between tracks, and it would suck to have a default 2 second gap between every track. I'd like to be able to preserve this information if possible, so that I can regenerate the CD down the line if I lose the original.


Actually, you already have everything you need to recreate the CD exactly. Lossless = gapless, so you won't end up with a different SOUNDING CD burning from the files than you would burning from a cuesheet, assuming you burn a discatonce session with no added gaps. The only difference is that you won't get that negative countdown between tracks as you would on the pressed CD.

The gaps are already included in your files, as the default for any CD ripper is to read from index 1 to index 1 and include everything in between. So as far as the audio data of the CD goes, you have it all, and burning it will put everything back where it goes. The only exception is for the Hidden Track One Audio (HTOA) situation, but it being rare, that's not a real consideration.

The real question is: Do you REALLY care enough about the gaps to know exactly where they are on the burned CD copy? If yes, then at some point you're going to have to read the CD's again and create the cues, or go online if you can and download them. If not, then you're good to go. Some people care about the devil in the details, some don't. I'm in the "don't" camp myself.

I hope this helps, and have a great day.


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Neil Gunton
post Nov 28 2007, 16:58
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QUOTE (Launfal @ Nov 28 2007, 09:53) *
Actually, you already have everything you need to recreate the CD exactly. Lossless = gapless, so you won't end up with a different SOUNDING CD burning from the files than you would burning from a cuesheet, assuming you burn a discatonce session with no added gaps. The only difference is that you won't get that negative countdown between tracks as you would on the pressed CD.

The gaps are already included in your files, as the default for any CD ripper is to read from index 1 to index 1 and include everything in between. So as far as the audio data of the CD goes, you have it all, and burning it will put everything back where it goes. The only exception is for the Hidden Track One Audio (HTOA) situation, but it being rare, that's not a real consideration.

The real question is: Do you REALLY care enough about the gaps to know exactly where they are on the burned CD copy? If yes, then at some point you're going to have to read the CD's again and create the cues, or go online if you can and download them. If not, then you're good to go. Some people care about the devil in the details, some don't. I'm in the "don't" camp myself.

I hope this helps, and have a great day.


Wow, that's great. I have a lot to learn about this stuff! tongue.gif

Thanks for the info, I'll go off and try burning a CD from these FLACs now and see how it is. I never realized that "lossless" included info about the gaps too...

:-)

/Neil
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SamHain86
post Nov 28 2007, 17:02
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... How often do you plan on burning a CD? There are sites like Cue Sheet Heaven or Mixed Up to get your CUE sheets from. Finding a simple way to automate the finding process... no idea.

The only tips I can give are:
  • if the CD is non contiguous media, then you do not need to worry about the pregaps and all that jazz as the standard two second gap will be fine
  • If the CD is contiguous, whether it is a live concert or trance music, then use a burning program that will burn the files one right after the other. If you were in Windows I would suggest Burrrn
Having Windows, I came to hate burning CDs in WMP because of that 2 second gap. This is why I rip exclusively to lossless images with CUE sheets with EAC: preserving the CD experience and respecting the artist (only with fewer files tongue.gif).

EDIT:
QUOTE
Thanks for the info, I'll go off and try burning a CD from these FLACs now and see how it is. I never realized that "lossless" included info about the gaps too...

I didn't either... I would use FooBar2000 to extract WAV tracks from my images to create compilation CDs for my car and they never had gaps. Does FB2K remove silent gaps when extracting a track to a WAV?

This post has been edited by SamHain86: Nov 28 2007, 17:10


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greynol
post Nov 28 2007, 18:59
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QUOTE (SamHain86 @ Nov 28 2007, 08:02) *
Does FB2K remove silent gaps when extracting a track to a WAV?
No. fb2k does like every other gap-unaware ripper, it cuts at index 1.

I keep forgetting if it strips HTOA when cutting if it exists or if it leaves it prepended to the first track.

EDIT:
Silence and gaps are not inextricably linked. You might not be confusing the two, but using terms like "silent gaps" can be misleading to those who don't know better.

This post has been edited by greynol: Nov 28 2007, 19:03


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SamHain86
post Nov 28 2007, 19:29
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@ greynol:
Just so I am clear: the silence I hear between tracks on my images need not be actual silence but the pregap specified in the CUE sheet? Because I burned maybe 2 dozen compilation CDs with Burrrn and never bothered to figured out why ALL the CDs did not have silence between the tracks.

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greynol
post Nov 28 2007, 19:38
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1) The audio data between Track X Index 00 and Track X Index 01 does not have to be silence. In fact it is quite common for this data to be non-silent and even more common for it to be non-null.

2) PREGAP (and POSTGAP) lines in CUE sheets will insert null samples when burning or mounting to a virtual drive.

To clarify: I am using the term "null" to distinguish from data that consists of low-level noise which may be interpreted as silence.

This post has been edited by greynol: Nov 28 2007, 19:45


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SamHain86
post Nov 28 2007, 19:45
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Yes I understand that. However in the case where I had an image that I heard silent gaps between tracks on the source (making the distinction that it may not be null), then used FB2K to extract WAV tracks from that image, and then used Burrrn to make a CD, why were there no silent gaps on the CD?

REPLY to greynol's next post
-Thanks for the insight... /sigh/ oh well.

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greynol
post Nov 28 2007, 19:48
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1) and 2) above are factual and without exception.

Save for the possibility of HTOA (as I mentioned earlier), foobar2k does not omit data (either null or non-null) when splitting images.

The answer to your question lies elsewhere.

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Neil Gunton
post Nov 29 2007, 02:04
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QUOTE (Launfal @ Nov 28 2007, 09:53) *
Actually, you already have everything you need to recreate the CD exactly. Lossless = gapless, so you won't end up with a different SOUNDING CD burning from the files than you would burning from a cuesheet, assuming you burn a discatonce session with no added gaps. The only difference is that you won't get that negative countdown between tracks as you would on the pressed CD.

The gaps are already included in your files, as the default for any CD ripper is to read from index 1 to index 1 and include everything in between. So as far as the audio data of the CD goes, you have it all, and burning it will put everything back where it goes. The only exception is for the Hidden Track One Audio (HTOA) situation, but it being rare, that's not a real consideration.

The real question is: Do you REALLY care enough about the gaps to know exactly where they are on the burned CD copy? If yes, then at some point you're going to have to read the CD's again and create the cues, or go online if you can and download them. If not, then you're good to go. Some people care about the devil in the details, some don't. I'm in the "don't" camp myself.

I hope this helps, and have a great day.


Ok, I tried burning a CD of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" disc 1, from my archived FLAC files. On my computer, the CD player puts in a tiny gap between tracks, which at first gave me pause... but then I tried the original CD, and the stupid program does exactly the same thing - so that's not a good test. So I went over to my stereo and tried the new CD copy... and it worked just fine. No discernable gaps between tracks, sweet - one flowed to the next seamlessly, as far as I could tell. So the FLAC files by themselves do in fact seem to contain everything that's needed to reconstruct the original CD - at least the audible portion. Good enough for me, at any rate.

Now I have to tackle converting all these FLAC files into mp3... I just bought an Cowon iAudio X5 60GB off eBay, but it won't be able to handle the 120 GB of FLAC that I have, so I am going to have to generate mp3 files... now I have to research the optimal settings I should use for lame. Sigh.

Thanks again,

/Neil

This post has been edited by Neil Gunton: Nov 29 2007, 02:11
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