CDex

CDex is a Windows tool for ripping audio tracks from audio CDs to WAV or MP3 files. This is a great utility for ripping the audio CD collection gathering dust in your attic and converting them for playing on devices without a CD/DVD drive.

CDex is straightforward to use:

  • Insert your audio CD into a drive connected to your Windows computer. Its tracks will appear listed in CDex.
  • You can pull the artist/album/track info from FreeDB using the CDDB → Read remote FreeDB option. You would need to provide an email address in the Settings before this can work.
  • To rip to MP3, use the Extract CD tracks to Compressed Audio Files option on the right. This uses the LAME MP3 Encoder, which is installed along with CDex.
  • You can configure the directory and filename format for the ripped MP3 files in the settings.

That is all there is to it.

Tried with: CDex 2.16 and Windows 10 x64

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How to save audio of video as MP3

There are times when I want to save the audio stream of a video file as a MP3 file. I tried using Sound Converter for this, but it would fail while trying to install plugins. But using FFMPEG worked fine!

To save as a variable bit rate MP3:

$ ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -vn -acodec libmp3lame -ac 2 -qscale:a 4 -ar 48000 out.mp3

Tried with: FFMPEG 2.7.6 and Ubuntu 14.04

X-plore file manager for Android

X-plore is a two-pane file manager for Android devices. It can be installed from the Play Store here.

This file manager will appeal to all you oldies coming from Windows or Linux. It is loaded with features and looks and operates like the traditional two-pane file managers. The quirky UI is actually very intuitive and easy to use once you get used to it.

The features I love in X-plore:

  • Support for the Copy.com cloud storage. So, I can browse and operate on all my online files directly from the file explorer. Music and video files can be played directly. This eliminates the need to install the Copy.com app.

  • Support for UPnP/DLNA servers. The videos, music and pictures served by a media server appear directly as a filesystem hierarchy. The videos and music files can be played directly. This eliminates the need for a separate UPnP/DLNA client app.

  • Audio files in cloud storage or UPnP/DLNA servers can be operated on and played in a fully featured in-built music player. What I like is that I can add all files under a directory to the playlist of the music player. This music player can also be used by all other apps to play music files. Do note that the music player is a paid feature. After you play 2 songs, the app will indicate that you pay the developer for 3 beers, a very reasonable price 🙂

Tried with: X-plore 3.75, Android 5.0.2 and Moto G2 (XT1068)

ReplayGain

ReplayGain is a Python script that can be used to apply or view Replay Gain information of audio files, like MP3. It is a good replacement for the MP3Gain tool, which has been discontinued since Ubuntu 15.04.

Install

$ sudo apt install python-rgain

Use

By default, ReplayGain applies album replay gain to the input files:

$ replaygain *.mp3

Tried with: ReplayGain 1.3.3 and Ubuntu 15.04

PuddleTag

MP3Tag is a popular and useful MP3 tag editor on Windows. I was looking for an alternative to MP3Tag on Ubuntu and discovered PuddleTag.

PuddleTag tries to be a drop-in replacement for MP3Tag and it gets the job done. It can be used to edit tags and filenames of MP3 and FLAC files.

Installing PuddleTag is easy:

$ sudo apt-get install puddletag

Tried with: PuddleTag 0.10.6.3 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Foobar2000: Convert Audio Files to MP3

Foobar2000 is not just a good audio player, it can be used to convert audio files to any other file format, like MP3. To convert to MP3, Foobar2000 needs the LAME MP3 Encoder.

Getting LAME

LAME ships only as source code. Compiling the source code on Windows can be quite a chore. Thankfully, pre-built LAME bundles can be downloaded from RareWares. The bundle ships as a ZIP file that includes the LAME executable (lame.exe) and library (lame_enc.dll). Foobar2000 uses the LAME executable for MP3 conversion. Unzip the LAME bundle in a suitable location.

Conversion to MP3

Open Foobar2000 and load the audio files that need to be converted to MP3. Select the files to convert in the playlist, right-click and choose ConvertConvert. In the Convert dialog, click on Output Format and choose MP3 (LAME). To set the MP3 bitrate, click Edit. Click Destination to set the filename format and the destination directory. Click Convert to begin the conversion. The first time you do this, Foobar2000 pops up a File dialog to allow you to choose the location where the LAME executable is located.

After this, the files are converted to MP3 and written to the destination directory. The MP3 conversion should be pretty fast since Foobar2000 spawns off one LAME encoder instance per processor core of your computer.

Tried with: LAME 3.98.4 and Foobar2000 1.1.1

Windows Media Player: Stop Adding Album Art

Windows Media Player has the nasty habit of adding album art to MP3 (and other media) files and directories it finds on the disc. These show up as additional files inside the media directories. These filenames are of the form:

Album_Art_{1A2B3C4D-ABCD-5678-9ABC-0A1B2C3D4E5F}_Large.jpg
Album_Art_{1A2B3C4D-ABCD-5678-9ABC-0A1B2C3D4E5F}_Small.jpg
AlbumArtSmall.jpg
Folder.jpg

A lot of people like this feature, since it automatically downloads album art and creates overlays on media folder icons to look like CD covers. However, I hate Windows or anyone messing with my media files and directories. But thankfully, this irritant can be handled.

Disable in Setup Wizard

This automatic update option can be disabled the first time a user invokes Windows Media Player. At first invocation, WMP throws up a setup wizard to configure the options for the software.

Disable the option Update music files by retrieving media information from the Internet.

Disable in Options

To disable these updates from inside Windows Media Player, choose OrganizeOptions. Disable the option Retrieve additional information from the Internet.

Delete the Files

Use a search tool like Search Everything to search, find and delete the offending album art files.

You are now free of the album art vermin! 🙂