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Thread: Help for a newbie

  1. #1

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    Help for a newbie

    I'm awaiting the arrival of a new computer that will be dedicated primarily to ripping my cd's and storing and streaming my music collection to my main stereo rig. Years ago I ripped my collection in lossless to an external drive and thought that was pretty cool. But when my computer died I read a lot of on line, which showed me how primitive my system was. After my antivirus software, the first program I plan to download is dBpa. The one area I would most appreciate help with involves metadata.

    If I understand correctly, dbpa uses several resources that automatically populate a variety of fields. Can someone point me to a resource that identifies all the different fields that can be automatically filled? I would assume those would include Artist, Album Title, Track Number, Track Title, Length, Bitrate. what others? I have a lot of CDs as well as a lot of hi res flac downloads and some DSD. Can I automatically have dbpa identify for me what the nature of the original source file is, as well as the format of the ripped file?

    Lastly, my collection consists of jazz almost exclusively. One of the things I find most interesting about jazz is how different musicians play together in different combinations, with different members being identified at different times as the leader or album artist. What I would love to find out is if there's a way to have the identity of all the sidemen automatically filled into the metadata. Doing so manually is beyond the limits of my patience. So if someone can tell me whether and/or how this can be accomplished automatically, that would be fantastic!

  2. #2
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by jocar37 View Post
    I'm awaiting the arrival of a new computer that will be dedicated primarily to ripping my cd's and storing and streaming my music collection to my main stereo rig. Years ago I ripped my collection in lossless to an external drive and thought that was pretty cool. But when my computer died I read a lot of on line, which showed me how primitive my system was. After my antivirus software, the first program I plan to download is dBpa. The one area I would most appreciate help with involves metadata.

    If I understand correctly, dbpa uses several resources that automatically populate a variety of fields. Can someone point me to a resource that identifies all the different fields that can be automatically filled? I would assume those would include Artist, Album Title, Track Number, Track Title, Length, Bitrate. what others?
    It would be nice if the online databases had one consistent set of tags for all music and ripping programs always simply retrieved and applied that data. But it doesn't work that way. The tags you mention are generally present, but the online databases are inconsistent....some albums/tracks have a lot of supplemental data available, and many others don't. The accuracy of that data can be quite variable as well.

    I have a lot of CDs as well as a lot of hi res flac downloads and some DSD. Can I automatically have dbpa identify for me what the nature of the original source file is, as well as the format of the ripped file?
    dBp only rips CDs. You can use Music Converter to convert most existing digital files. Source information is just metadata....it can be in tags that already exist in the files, or you can add it.

    Lastly, my collection consists of jazz almost exclusively. One of the things I find most interesting about jazz is how different musicians play together in different combinations, with different members being identified at different times as the leader or album artist. What I would love to find out is if there's a way to have the identity of all the sidemen automatically filled into the metadata. Doing so manually is beyond the limits of my patience. So if someone can tell me whether and/or how this can be accomplished automatically, that would be fantastic!
    In a word...no. :( No program can do that for you automatically. Again, the databases are apt to be very incomplete and very inconsistent (not to mention inaccurate) with that kind of "supplemental" information.

    -------

    Just curious: Are you re-ripping your CDs?. If so, what about those files (you ripped to lossless before) makes you feel they need to be re-ripped? You could use PerfectTunes to evaluate their integrity. For those that are determined to be accurate, dBp can't produce anything different or better. Obviously, you'd want to re-rip any damaged or lossy files, and bad rips, but otherwise, there's really no need to re-rip good files.
    Last edited by BrodyBoy; 05-04-2015 at 03:26 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by BrodyBoy View Post
    Just curious: Are you re-ripping your CDs?. If so, what about those files (you ripped to lossless before) makes you feel they need to be re-ripped? You could use PerfectTunes to evaluate their integrity. For those that are determined to be accurate, dBp can't produce anything different or better. Obviously, you'd want to re-rip any damaged or lossy files, and bad rips, but otherwise, there's really no need to re-rip good files.
    Agree with BrodyBoy's points above. Jazz tagging with all the extra info is a bit like classical tagging (requires lots of manual intervention). I also second NOT reripping if you already have lossless files. You can use dbpa to clean up tags, etc. And PerfectTunes to check existing rips. Eventually (soon I hope), PerfectTunes will be able to also look a the databases and somewhat automatically gather tag info for albums (or 'fix' what you already have). This will be essesntially equivalent to the tag data that is provided when one rips with dbpa.

    also, regarding different tags, there are 100s of them beyond the basic tags you mentioned. You'll see many of these listed in the options for dbpa in terms of which ones you want to write to. Also, with FLAC tags, you can add any custom tags you want. Whether your PLAYER will use these tags is a separate question. Some will, some won't.

  4. #4
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    also, regarding different tags, there are 100s of them beyond the basic tags you mentioned. You'll see many of these listed in the options for dbpa in terms of which ones you want to write to. Also, with FLAC tags, you can add any custom tags you want. Whether your PLAYER will use these tags is a separate question. Some will, some won't.
    Good point....you can basically add whatever metadata you want. One thing to add that I think isn't necessarily clear to new users: While you can go into dBp options and check-mark all the tags you'd like, dBp can only write tags for which it has data. If the online databases don't have any data for a field, and if the user doesn't manually supply it, that tag won't be written. I.e., dBp can't create empty tags. (Sometimes users are confused that the tags they check-marked aren't present in their rips.)

  5. #5

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks all. Sounds like tagging does work pretty much as I suspected. So my desire to have sidemen tagged is unfortunately likely to go unfulfilled.

    I want to re-rip because of the discussions I've read about uncompressed formats having better sonic qualities. A few months back, I did a comparison in which two of us listened to hi res HDTracks FLAC album and an XRCD24 of the exact same tunes (Hank Mobley's Soul Station - great album!). We could hear some distinct differences between the two (I preferred the XRCD). So I have to at least give credence to the notion that there could be audible difference in different formats.

    The biggest quandry for me on this point is WAV vs uncompressed FLAC. The latter is said to have better tagging, but if the "extras" I want aren't available automatically, I may go with WAV, which many say is the best sound. When my computer arrives, I'm planning on ripping in both FLAC and WAV, at least for an album or two. Then I'll do a test to see if I can hear any differences. XRCD encompasses more than just playback, so maybe the differences I heard there would be more pronounced than between WAV and FLAC. Perhaps I should include some lossless tracks in the test as well. As far evaluating with PerfectTunes or any other digital device, I guess i prefer to see what my ears tell me instead. Have any of you listened to the different free downloads at Sound Liaison? i think you may find them interesting.

  6. #6
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by jocar37 View Post
    Thanks all. Sounds like tagging does work pretty much as I suspected. So my desire to have sidemen tagged is unfortunately likely to go unfulfilled.

    I want to re-rip because of the discussions I've read about uncompressed formats having better sonic qualities. A few months back, I did a comparison in which two of us listened to hi res HDTracks FLAC album and an XRCD24 of the exact same tunes (Hank Mobley's Soul Station - great album!). We could hear some distinct differences between the two (I preferred the XRCD). So I have to at least give credence to the notion that there could be audible difference in different formats.
    It's a more accurate and relevant assessment to compare your own actual lossless rips of a given CD.

    The biggest quandry for me on this point is WAV vs uncompressed FLAC. The latter is said to have better tagging, but if the "extras" I want aren't available automatically, I may go with WAV, which many say is the best sound. When my computer arrives, I'm planning on ripping in both FLAC and WAV, at least for an album or two. Then I'll do a test to see if I can hear any differences. XRCD encompasses more than just playback, so maybe the differences I heard there would be more pronounced than between WAV and FLAC. Perhaps I should include some lossless tracks in the test as well. As far evaluating with PerfectTunes or any other digital device, I guess i prefer to see what my ears tell me instead. Have any of you listened to the different free downloads at Sound Liaison? i think you may find them interesting.
    You are misunderstanding some very important points.

    "I'm planning on ripping in both FLAC and WAV, at least for an album or two. Then I'll do a test to see if I can hear any differences."
    "Perhaps I should include some lossless tracks in the test as well."

    I think you're confused about what "lossless" means, or what the lossless codecs are. WAV and FLAC are lossless tracks....you will be comparing two different lossless rips of your files when you compare a WAV rip to a FLAC rip. (If they are both accurate rips, BTW, they will be the exact same audio data...see below.)

    "As far evaluating with PerfectTunes or any other digital device, I guess i prefer to see what my ears tell me instead."

    You're confused about what PerfectTunes does. (It isn't a substitute for your ears, and it doesn't do any sort of audio evaluation....nor are your ears an alternative to what it can do.) Whenever you rip a CD to a lossless codec (WAV, FLAC, etc), you are attempting to create a perfect, bit-for-bit digital file of the all the audio data on the CD. ("Lossless" means that you don't discard any of the information, as "lossy" rips do.) If any errors occur in the ripping process, you get an "inaccurate" file. Sometimes that's audible, sometimes it's not. If your file does not have any errors, and is indeed a perfect, bit-for-bit match, you have what is called an "accurate" lossless rip. This is what we want when building our digital music libraries.

    All PerfectTunes does is compare your digital file to a database of existing rips of that particular track to determine whether your rip is accurate or not. Nothing more, nothing less. If you do indeed have a perfect, accurate, lossless rip, it's impossible to rip it again and make another one that is somehow better or "more" accurate or "more" perfect. This is why garym and I wondered why you'd want to re-rip lossless files. If they are accurate, and only PerfectTunes can tell you for sure whether they are or not, you can't make better ones.
    Last edited by BrodyBoy; 05-06-2015 at 03:48 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    BrodyBoy has provided you excellent info, particularly on bit perfect rips vs "sound quality". To add a couple of more things.

    1. When comparing a hi-res track with a different version of the track, you are often NOT comparing the same mastering. That is, the hi-res track may come from an entirely different mastering than the regular redbook CD track. So if you're hearing differences, it is very likely the *mastering* that is different, not the 24/96 or 24/192 vs the 16/44.1. Many rigorous, formal tests of this have been done (double blind) and the short answer is "hi res" doesn't matter but "mastering" does.

    2. If you are doing listening tests it is critical to test level matched tracks (even an imperceptible volume difference has been shown to lead the listener to prefer the slightly louder track). It is also critical that you do a double-blind test to remove potential biases. The best approach would be do do an ABX test. Foobar2000 has an ABX plugin that can make this easy to do. If you don't believe in the power of biases, take a look at this short youtube video. This is but one example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0

    Respectfully, I'm afraid you've read too much of the nonsense in many audiophile websites and magazines. A lot of crap clothed in "sophisticated" language exists out there and most of it is so wrong I can't even begin to list all the problems. If WAV and FLAC digital files of the same track (same mastering) sound different in your system either something is VERY wrong with your system or you are fooling yourself in your listening test (and we've all been fooled in such tests, so you're not alone).

    Here's a nice recent summary of some problems with the state of "audiophool":
    http://www.theaudiocritic.com/audio-legacy-2/

    Here's some very well done tests/analysis of many of the questions you might have (click on the 2014, 2013, links to the side to go back and see many tests on many audio questions):
    http://archimago.blogspot.com/

    And I recommend that you start reading at this forum for quality, scientific info that is not shaded by advertisers trying to foist $1000 USB cables on the gullible audiophile market.
    http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/

  8. #8

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks, Brodyboy and garym. Many good points. I'm very new to this stuff, so no doubt I've confused/assumed a lot of stuff. And no doubt much of what I've read online is not correct. Which is why I said I will rely on my ears.

    I definitely understand differences in mastering - hence my comment about XRCD. I don't know how easy it would be to discover the mastering (and remastering) techniques used for thousands of tracks, so again, my ears. But this does explain why I have seen occasional comments that a certain Redbook recording sounded better than some later supposedly high-res release.

    All PerfectTunes does is compare your digital file to a database of existing rips of that particular track to determine whether your rip is accurate or not. Nothing more, nothing less. If you do indeed have a perfect, accurate, lossless rip, it's impossible to rip it again and make another one that is somehow better or "more" accurate or "more" perfect. This is why garym and I wondered why you'd want to re-rip lossless files. If they are accurate, and only PerfectTunes can tell you for sure whether they are or not, you can't make better ones.
    I'm not familiar with PerfectTunes. is that the same as/related to AccurateRip?

    The best approach would be do do an ABX test. Foobar2000 has an ABX plugin that can make this easy to do.
    I would love to try a legit ABX test. But realzing even before your gentle admonitions how far over my head I am already, I was leaning strongly toward JRiver over Foobar, simply because everything I've read indicates it's much easier out of the box, and I'd probably get too frustrated trying to learn Foobar. I don't suppose you know if there is ABX capability in JRiver, do you?

  9. #9
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    PerfectTunes does several things:
    1. Automatically find and add (if you want) better album art
    2. find (and delete if you want) duplicates in your library
    3. Most importantly (for me) is that it checks existing digital rips (albums) to compare them to the ACCURATERIP database. Previously, one could only get this comparison by actually RIPPING the CD. Now one can take prior rips and have them checked against the accuraterip database.
    4. in the future, it is planned that PerfectTunes will also be able to find the metadata (tag info) automatically and fix it for you.

    Not sure about Jriver and ABX. I'm not actually suggesting you switch to foobar as player. Easy enough to install the basic program and the one component for ABX and use it just for the test.
    Install foobar from here
    http://www.foobar2000.org/download

    install component from here (just extract and put in foobar components folder
    http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_abx

    Then select the two tracks you want to compare, highlight them, right click and choose UTILITIIES then ABX. (note that the output of an ABX test may be confusing. It is basically the probability of getting the comparison correct by guessing. So a HIGH number is not good (it means you can't reliably distinguish between the two tracks).

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    p.s. Do you still trust your ears after watching this (and this documents many well known tests, it is not a trick video). The mind is a funny and powerful thing!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0

  11. #11
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by jocar37 View Post
    Thanks, Brodyboy and garym. Many good points. I'm very new to this stuff, so no doubt I've confused/assumed a lot of stuff. And no doubt much of what I've read online is not correct. Which is why I said I will rely on my ears.

    I definitely understand differences in mastering - hence my comment about XRCD. I don't know how easy it would be to discover the mastering (and remastering) techniques used for thousands of tracks, so again, my ears. But this does explain why I have seen occasional comments that a certain Redbook recording sounded better than some later supposedly high-res release.
    There are certainly mastering differences between CDs....that's usually how they justify re-releases (and re-re-re-re-releases! !) So for the different CDs available of a particular album, of course it makes perfect sense that you should hear differences between them. Like you, there are times when I have compared and found the old release preferable to the new one with the fancy-schmancy hi-tech mastering. And sometimes vice versa. I agree that that's where the ears come in. We are passing judgement on the result of differently-mastered releases.

    But this isn't what we're doing when we rip a CD. We are not creating a new master, per se, by ripping a little differently or using different settings. The CD is what it is. Then when we rip it, we are simply making that bit-perfect digital file from it. When ripping to lossless, there is only one possible "good" outcome....that perfect copy. The rip adds nothing nor subtracts anything from the source CD, and to be clear, that's not a "choice" we're making (some sort of "purist" preference), it is the very definition of ripping a redbook CD to lossless files. We're just making a copy of the CD we've chosen to rip.

  12. #12

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    And I recommend that you start reading at this forum for quality, scientific info that is not shaded by advertisers trying to foist $1000 USB cables on the gullible audiophile market.
    garym, always happy to discover a good new reference. I'm not familiar with hydrogenaudio. I'm curious why you feel that the information on this site is more trustworthy than other sources. Who are the people who post to it, and what makes them more reliable than members of head-fi or computeraudiophile? Advertising is only one reason to doubt the reliability of information.

    Also, your reference to $1000 usb cables suggests that you do not believe that there is a difference between one cable and another. Or are you just saying that higher price does not mean higher quality? If the former, do you believe that to be true for coax, optical, headphone cable, speaker cable, etc.? FWIW, I just bought some new headphone cables for my LCD-3's and was very pleased with the results.

    If the latter, can you recommend a good source to identify what attributes a good usb or coax or optical cable should have? I actually will need a long (>5M) usb cable for my new setup and, based on your comment, looked at hydrogenaudio to see if I could find some guidance and was disappointed not to find any there. I'm tempted to just go to monoprice or blue jeans rather than audioquest, but I have to admit I'm curious about some of the "high priced spreads."

  13. #13
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Regarding cables, anyone that tries to sell an "audiophile" ethernet cable is a liar and a crook. Audiophiles have never recovered from the move to digital and continually try to use concepts/issues that *were* an issue with analog systems in the context of digital music.

    I personally find that bluejeans cables are high quality, well constructed, fairly priced cables. I think about 99% of all my cables are purchased from bluejean cables.

    edit: and if you're interested there have been many, many rigorous, double-blind tests of different sorts of cables. After reading a few of these, you'll be happy to give bluejean cables your business and use the savings for buying new music!

    hydrogenaudio has no advertising. But more importantly, they require that actual rigorous tests (ABX, etc.) be provided along with any claims as to audio differences. I'm sure there are other sites too that are quality. Regarding computeraudiophile site, I've seen so many crazy, ignorant things posted there, flying in the face of all known science and engineering that I can only shake my head. Its really quite embarrassing as to how all this voodo is cloaked in the "sheen" of quasi-science. Head-fi has *some* good stuff, but is also often filled with voodo and science deniers. Audiophools are hungry for something that will "lift the veil" and are unfortunately suckers for the biased reviews contained in the ad-supported audio magazines and sites. (and it is not just the folks making money off this; there is no shortage of delusional folks that *want* to believe and will latch on to any cockamamie idea anyone puts out as to why "audio" is not bound by science and engineering and that voodo is just fine.) It's a real problem for anyone looking for quality information.

    I would suggest going back to that archimago blog site I linked and reading many of his detailed tests from 2014 and 2013. You'll get a flavor of how an unbiased, engineering/science based person goes about testing and comparison. Respectfully, many of your comments indicate that you may have "drunk the koolaid" of audiophoolery. But at least you're asking for info and perhaps you can recover. I know many recovered "audiophiles" that can now look back and laugh at how gullible they were. I admit that I fit into the recovered audiophool category.

    Then again, there is nothing wrong with you going whole hog into the military grade milled aluminum components, $1000 ethernet and USB cables, and a mistaken idea that a bit-perfect WAV can sound better than a bit-perfect FLAC. It's only a hobby and its your money of course. And independent of all this, everyone needs bit-perfect lossless rips and ability to convert from one codec to another, and dbpa is an excellent source of these tools.
    Last edited by garym; 05-07-2015 at 08:42 AM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    Regarding cables, anyone that tries to sell an "audiophile" ethernet cable is a liar and a crook.
    Agreed.

    Ethernet and USB cables are transferring digital data and not analog audio. Ethernet/USB cables will either work or not work.

    The digital data is in the form of 1's and 0's. The devices sending and receiving this data will confirm that the data is being sent/received correctly (software/firmware handshaking). If the data is not sent/received correctly, errors occur.

    A cheap, working Made In China ethernet/USB cable will work EXACTLY the same as a $1000 ethernet/USB cable. So, reliability is the only issue you need to consider with these cables.

  15. #15
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by mville View Post
    If the data is not sent/received correctly, errors occur.
    And such errors will be OBVIOUS (things won't work). They will NOT be "subtle differences in sound quality, soundstage, etc."

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