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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Synchronizing music library in multiple formats

Getting a new Sonos player motivated me to clean up some problems in my CD ripping workflow.  First, some background:

I decided a while back to rip all my CDs to FLAC.  The need for specific formats and bitrates are dictated by the device(s) you're trying to use, and with everything in FLAC, I can just re-encode my entire collection to a new format and/or bitrate whenever I want.

I use EAC for ripping.  Works fine.

I wrote my own tool, which I should publish sometime, to handle mirroring a music collection.  Conversion is handled by standard command line tools (e.g. lame) with config scripts that control the rules.  What's been a nagging problem for quite some time is The Compilation Problem.

It's remarkably hard to find good write-ups on the "right" way to handle compilations, so for the sake of future searchers, here you go:

  • Set the artist on individual tracks to be the actual track artist.  So this will be a different artist for every track on a Soundtrack or DJ compilation
  • Set the album artist ("ALBUM ARTIST" tag in FLAC/Vorbis or "TPE2" in id3v2) to something fixed for the album - "Various Artists" in the case of a soundtrack or the name of the DJ for compilation CDs.
  • Ensure you set the "TCMP" tag to 1 in the id3v2 tag - this is what flags the tracks as part of a compilation.  iTunes will then pick these up and merge into one album, using the Album Artist field.


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