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How To Rip Your CD Collection on VortexBox

If you have a large CD collection and you want to rip it on your VortexBox, it's a good idea to think through the process before you start, so you can do it in the most efficient manner. I have ripped more than 500 CDs on my VortexBox, and have come up with the following process that works quite well:

1. Change the VB CD Ripper defaults to rip to an Artist/Album directory structure. By default, the VB CD Ripper uses an “Artist - Album” directory structure, with all albums being ripped to the same directory. With a large CD collection, it makes more sense to have a separate directory for each artist, with all albums for an artist stored in a directory named for the artist. Follow these instructions to change the CD Ripper defaults: How To Rip CDs to an Artist/Album Directory Structure

2. Do not automatically mirror FLAC to mp3 when you rip a CD. VortexBox provides a FLAC mirror which will convert your FLAC files to mp3 for use by iTunes and portable music players. You can have VB mirror the FLAC files to mp3 at the same time you rip the CD to FLAC, but I suggest not doing this. Mirror later after you have fixed the FLAC tags and cover art to get them exactly the way you want. So make sure the “Enable automatic mp3 mirroring” box is NOT checked on the VB FLAC mirror page http://vortexbox/flacmirror.php.(external link)

3. Stop Logitech Media Server when ripping many CDs. If you are ripping a lot of CDs in succession, stop LMS while you are ripping to avoid extra rescans of the LMS music library. Go to the VB GUI System Configuration page http://vortexbox/system.php(external link) and click the Stop button next to Logitech Media Server.

4. Watch the Ripper log file while ripping. When you rip a CD, watch the VB Ripper log at http://vortexbox/ripstatus.php(external link) to see how the rip is progressing. There are several things to watch for:

4a. See if the ripper finds metadata for the CD. If the Ripper log shows “Unknown Artist, Unknown Album”, and you have a Windows or Mac machine with an optical drive, abort the rip immediately by clicking the “Restart Auto Ripper” button. Then delete the “Unknown Artist/Unknown Album” directories and files with Windows Explorer or Mac Finder.

If you have a Windows machine with an optical drive: Rip the CD with dBpoweramp(external link). dBpoweramp has better metadata sources than the VB CD ripper, and you can edit tags prior to the rip to get them right. You can set up dBpoweramp to rip directly to your VB, or copy the ripped files to your VB afterwards. dbPoweramp costs $38, but is well worth it.

If you have a Mac with an optical drive: Rip the CD with XLD(external link). Users have reported that XLD can find metadata for CDs that show up as “Unknown” with the VB ripper. XLD cannot replace spaces by underscores in filenames, so if you rip with XLD, you may want to edit the filenames it generates to match the rest of your collection.

If you don't have another computer with an optical drive: You can let the VB rip continue. When the rip completes, rename the directory from “Unknown Album” to the appropriate name. Then use Mp3tag to find metadata for the CD and fix the track filenames. See this VB forum post(external link) for details.

Mp3tag for Windows(external link) Mp3tag for Mac(external link)

4b. Rip classical CDs with dBpoweramp. The metadata returned by the VB CD Ripper is often not very good for classical CDs. You'll have much better results if you rip classical CDs with dBpoweramp. You can edit tags before the rip to get them the way you want. There are many ways to tag classical CDs, and you have to figure out a consistent way to do it. See Classical Style Guide(external link) and Beginner's Guide to Classical(external link) for more info.

4c. See if the ripper hangs up due to a Hidden Track at the start. Some CDs have a Hidden Track at the start; this can cause the VB CD Ripper to hang. If you see this, abort the rip by clicking the “Restart Auto Ripper” button. You can then rip the CD with dBpoweramp, excluding the Hidden Track, or follow these instructions to rip the CD on VortexBox: How to Rip a CD with a Hidden Track

4d. See if the ripper gets the right tags (Artist, Album, Track Titles, Year, Genre). Sometimes the metadata returned for the CD isn't exactly right. The Year field may be missing. The Genre may not be what you want. The Artist name may not be exactly right. The Album title or Track titles may have errors. If you see tag errors, edit the tags with mp3tag after the rip to get them exactly right. Be consistent in how artist names are spelled; e.g. “Al Di Meola” is not the same as “Al di Meola”. It's important to fix tags right away so your music library doesn't wind up with a lot of sloppy, incorrect tags.

5. See if the cover art retrieved by the VB is what you want. The VB CD Ripper will try to find cover art for the CD, and place it in cover.jpg in the album directory. Sometimes this works well, but sometimes the VB does not find cover art or gets incorrect cover art. If the cover art is missing, incorrect, or too small, you can find better cover art on the Internet. A good source for cover art is Album Art Exchange(external link). Download one of their 600×600 images for your CD, and place it in cover.jpg in the album directory. You can also check link) or Google Images(external link) to find cover art if you can't find it at Album Art Exchange.

You can also use bliss(external link) to find and upgrade cover art; see step 10.

6. Fix directory structure errors. If you changed the VB Ripper defaults to rip to an Artist/Album structure, you may have to modify the directory structure due to differences in the artist name on various CDs.

For example, say you want all albums by the Eagles to be stored in /storage/music/flac/Eagles. You rip another Eagles CD and it has the artist name “The Eagles”. The VB Ripper will put this album in /storage/music/flac/The_Eagles. You should move the album to /storage/music/flac/Eagles, and delete the /storage/music/flac/The_Eagles directory.

Of course, you should also change the Artist tag in each track from “The Eagles” to “Eagles” with mp3tag. Consistency in directory structure and tagging is important!

7. When you are done with a ripping session, start up the FLAC to mp3 mirror. Skip this step if you don't want FLAC files mirrored to mp3. If you want the FLAC files mirrored to mp3, now is the time to do it, when the tags in the FLAC files are perfect, and the cover art is exactly what you want. It's a good idea to embed cover art in the mp3 files if you are going to use them in iTunes or in a portable player that can display cover art, like an iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone.

Go to the VB FLAC Mirror page http://vortexbox/flacmirror.php.(external link) Check the “Enable mp3 embedded cover art” box and click the Submit button. Then click the “Start mp3 mirroring” button. The default mp3 quality (190 kbps VBR) is fine for portable players. The encoding from FLAC to mp3 is a CPU-intensive process that can take a lot of time to complete.

7a. Remirror FLAC to mp3 after you change FLAC tags or cover art. Sometimes you'll find errors in FLAC tags, or upgrade the FLAC cover art after doing an initial mirror to mp3. You should remirror FLAC to mp3 after making changes to FLAC tags or cover art. The remirror process is efficient: it will only update changed FLAC tags or changed FLAC cover art, without redoing the time-consuming FLAC-to-mp3 encoding.

8. When you are done with a ripping session, restart LMS and rescan the media library. Go to the VB GUI System Configuration page http://vortexbox/system.php(external link) and click the Start button next to Logitech Media Server. Once LMS has started, go to the LMS web page at http://vortexbox:9000.(external link) Click on Settings in the lower right corner of the page. On the Settings page, go to the Rescan Media Library line, select “Look for new and changed media files”, and click Rescan. Sometimes it's best to select “Clear library and rescan everything” to make sure the LMS database is correct. This rescan takes longer, but it will ensure accurate results. If you change cover art, select “Clear library and rescan everything”. When the rescan completes, your newly-ripped CDs should be available for playback.

9. When you are done with a ripping session, and mp3 mirroring has finished, backup your media library to an external USB drive. This is important! You should always have an up-to-date backup of your media library on an external USB drive; see How To Backup /storage to a USB Drive.

10. Use bliss to help manage your music library. bliss(external link) is an excellent tool to manage your music library. It can find missing cover art and upgrade existing cover art. It can restructure the directories and files in your music library. It can help with Genre and Year tags. You can install it from the VB GUI Upgrade page http://vortexbox/upgrade.php.(external link) The first 100 “fixes” are free, then you have to pay for more. It's well worth the cost.

how_to_rip_your_cd_collection_on_vortexbox.txt · Last modified: 2016/02/02 16:54 by keith