• High Resolution Blu-ray The Easy Way

    June 7, 2009 I published an article about ripping audio from Blu-ray discs. That was the last time I ripped audio from a Blu-ray. The whole process is nothing like ripping a CD and is not worth the effort for the most part. Even with new software programs that make it a bit easier to rip these discs, for the average Joe ripping Blu-ray audio is a disaster. Fortunately there is a technology that solves this whole Blu-ray ripping issue. It's called mShuttle and it puts an end to ripping Blu-ray audio discs. I saw mShuttle in action at the AES convention last year, but had not actuated used this technology until very recently. Now that I have personal experience with mShuttle I can honestly say that every Blu-ray audio disc should include mShuttle technology.



     

    Ripping Versus Copying

    Contextual descriptions:

    Ripping: Blu-ray audio files stored on a physical disc are very cryptic in appearance. It's impossible to view a Blu-ray disc and see individual tracks that one could play in iTunes or simply copy to a desktop hard drive. Extracting these files requires ripping software. This software reads the very large Blu-ray files and extracts only the audio into either a single file or into separate files / tracks like an audio CD. Without this software the files on a Blu-ray disc are useless for anything but playback using the physical disc. This description is way oversimplifying the Blu-ray audio ripping process, but readers should get the minor point that ripping is different from copying described below.

    Copying: In the context of computer audio copying is absolutely simple and requires no additional software. This is the classic copy-paste routine. Audio files are viewable just like spreadsheets and photos on a disc. Extracting the files from a disc is as easy as selecting the file, selecting copy, then selecting paste in another location. Blu-ray discs with mShuttle enable users to simply copy audio tracks from the Blu-ray disc using copy-paste clicking.

     

    Blu-ray Audio At AES Convention

    At the 2010 Audio Engineering Society convention at San Francisco's Mascone Center I spent some time talking to Grammy winning Recording Engineer Bill Schnee about the format for his upcoming Bravura Records high resolution 24/192 releases. Also present in this discussion was Stefan Bock, Managing Director and Founder of msm-studioslink in Munich, Germany. We discussed the possibility of downloads and releasing Bravura Records material on Blu-ray discs. At first I was against a physical format, especially Blu-ray based on my previous experience ripping Blu-ray audio. After talking to Stefan, whose studio produces Blu-ray discs with mShuttle, I started to see the light and was open to the possibility that Blu-ray may be the right format for Bravura's new releases. Bill Schnee has big plans for these releases that are far beyond those of us who already appreciate great sound and could use a download only. He is aiming for everyone who has a Blu-ray player because once they hear and see (video content) the Bravura albums they may be turned on to the wonders of great sound.

    Following our discussion I attended a Blu-ray audio workshop titled The Challenge of Producing Blu-ray link. Downloadable audio of this workshop is available for a fee from MobileTape's websitelink (search for 10AES-W19). Stefan Bock was the Chair of the workshop and spent a considerable amount of time explaining Pure Audio Blu-ray and mShuttle. Pure Audio Blu-ray is wonderful for people who want to listen to physical Blu-ray audio discs without complicated menus and a consistent interface from disc to disc. The part I was most interested in was his explanation and demonstration of mShuttle.

     

    mShuttle

    mShuttle technologylink enables users to copy Blu-ray audio tracks from a Blu-ray disc to a music server or any computer with ease. No drawn-out complicated ripping process is required to get bit perfect high resolution audio from a Blu-ray disc. There are two ways to copy the audio tracks from an mShuttle enabled Blu-ray disc.


    1. Standard Blu-ray Player Method
    Using this method a standard Blu-ray player with at least Profile 2.0 is required. The Blu-ray player must be connected via Ethernet or WiFi to the user's home network. Once the Blu-ray disc with mShuttle is loaded into the player and the mShuttle button is selected the user, from any computer on the home network, uses a web browser such as Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome to navigate to the IP address of the Blu-ray player. This address is usually visible via the Blu-ray option menus. Once connected to the Blu-ray player the user enters the mShuttle web page where a click of the mouse initiates the copy process. It's incredibly simple.
     

    2. Computer With Blu-ray Drive Method
    The requirement to copy audio from an mShuttle enabled Blu-ray disc directly on a computer is simply a Blu-ray drive. The drive can be either internal or external. I use an external Blu-ray drive connected to my MacBook Pro via the FireWire 800 interface. It's actually an internal drive with an external housing, but that's a story for another day. The computer does not need any special ripping software and doesn't even need to be capable of playing Blu-ray discs. It only has to read the disc's data. There are two ways to access these audio files using a computer with a Blu-ray drive.

    a. Browser - This method is somewhat similar to the standard Blu-ray player method in that the same web interface is used to copy files. The easier part about this method as opposed to the standard Blu-ray method is the user doesn't need to connect to the player over a home network. The user must browse the Blu-ray disc through Windows Explorer or OS X Finder and open a file named something like index.html. This launches the user's web browser and the identical interface as a standard Blu-ray player. From this interface it's a simple click for a whole album or a few clicks for individual tracks to begin copying to the user's location of choice.

    b. Finder / Explorer - This is my preferred method of extracting Blu-ray audio from an mShuttle enabled disc. Once the Blu-ray disc is in the computer the user simply browses the disc using Windows Explorer or OS X Finder. Instead of seeking the index.html file, the user enters the folder containing the actual music files. Inside the folder each track is listed individually as well as a complete album zip file. Extracting the music is as easy as Copy-Paste. I simply select all the tracks and drag them to my Mac desktop. No ripping software involved. I have other Blu-ray audio discs but without mShuttle technology I haven't found a way to copy the audio tracks from the disc without the complicated ripping process.


     

    2L & mShuttle In My System

    I recently received the blu-ray disc Home from Ensemble 96 on the 2L label (2L-076-SABDlink). This Blu-ray disc contains mShuttle technology. I placed the disc into the Blu-ray drive connected to my MacBook Pro and started browsing. The content available via mShuttle is completely up to the artist, record label, etc… Ensemble 96 contained digital copies of the album in FLAC at 24/192 and 24/96, as well as WAV, and mp3 formats. Browsing the disc's folders I selected the FLAC files at 24/192 and simply dragged them to my desktop. Also contained on the Blu-ray disc is a huge 1958x1958 version of the album's cover and a very nice PDF with all the album details. The whole process is really beyond simple. If users can browse their hard drives for a photo they can browse an mShuttle enabled Blu-ray for high resolution audio.

     

    Final Thoughts

    After trying an mShuttle enabled Blu-ray disc I contacted Stefan and Bill and sent them this exact email.

    "Hi Bill & Stefan - I finally got my hands on a Blu-ray with mShuttle. It's the Kind Ensemble 96 from 2L. I put the disc in my computer with a Blu-ray drive and was able to use the mShuttle web interface or copy the files directly. The process is incredibly easy. All music Blu-ray discs should use mShuttle. It's wonderful for those of use who want the 24/192 files for our music servers."

    Over the last several months I've gone from A) Totally against physical media to B) Open to the possibility that it may be right for Bravura Records, to C) Every Blu-ray disc should use mShuttle and it's a great way for Bravura to release it music. Currently Blu-ray drives are available starting at $49 (internal) and $99 (USB External). Considering most of us have spent more than that amount on every other single item related to this hobby, there's no reason to complain. Go to NewEgglink, find a drive, add to cart, and start copying high resolution Blu-ray audio the easy way.

     

     

     
    Comments 97 Comments
    1. The Offenbach Kid's Avatar
      The Offenbach Kid -
      Chris<br />
      <br />
      I'm presuming that once the files are on the Mac I could "Max" them to aiff and store them in iTunes for Amarra playback?<br />
      <br />
      Also, I don't know what the qualification standards are but having already downloaded some 24/192 music from 2L I'd like to nominate them for addition to the CASH list.<br />
      <br />
      Cheers,<br />
      <br />
      Neil.
    1. sauerball's Avatar
      sauerball -
      Having ripped around 15 BR discs to my NAS to listen over my network, I can say unequivocally that it is a painful process. It also has been worth it because I have been able to access some fantastic music over my best equipment (as opposed to using my PS3's intentionally crippled toslink out). <br />
      <br />
      While the mshuttle much better, why not just put the files on a DVD or BR data disk if the purpose is to copy them to a computer for playback? I suppose those that want to play over a "normal" BR player would be excluded from that solution.<br />
      <br />
      More high quality music that sounds great is always a win.
    1. The Offenbach Kid's Avatar
      The Offenbach Kid -
      Chris<br />
      <br />
      I must also ask a question which hopefully only demonstrates my lack of knowledge as opposed to a lack of intelligence.<br />
      <br />
      My 2010 MacBook Pro doesn't "do" Blu-ray. The drives I've looked at so far on NewEgg are Windows compatible but not Mac OS X. Likewise the ones I've looked at on Amazon.<br />
      <br />
      FastMac do drives for Mac but the Mac still needs to have Windows installed to be able to use PowerDVD.<br />
      <br />
      I know we're only reading the Flac files off the Blu-ray disc in this instance, as opposed to playing a Blu-ray Movie, so can I use any Blu-ray drive or do I have to search for one that is Mac compatible?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      <br />
      Neil
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi kirkmc -You mean multi-channel not multi-track correct?<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Neil - Any Blu-ray drive will work just fine for this purpose on a Mac.
    1. The Offenbach Kid's Avatar
      The Offenbach Kid -
      Hi Chris<br />
      <br />
      Thanks very much for the quick reply.<br />
      <br />
      Out of interest, is there an advantage to obtaining the music files from the Blu-ray, other than owning a "hard-copy"?<br />
      <br />
      I ask because I've just downloaded the 24/192 files from this particular disc directly from 2L.<br />
      <br />
      I know that you also get a 5.1 version on the Blu-ray, but as I do not have a surround system this is of no use me.<br />
      <br />
      Neil
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      being able to play them with your best equipment (your own DAC, etc) as opposed to using an HDMI-connected processor...well, that advantage is not as big with 2L cuz as you stated, you can download their content off their store. However, you pay for that and all you have is 24/192 stereo files. If you buy the disc, you also have the BluRay experience of using 5.1 hirez surround too (and any video, of course). And, let's assume that 2L isn't going to be the only m-shuttle provider. Not every m-shuttle music provider will necessarily have a store with download purchase capabilities.<br />
      <br />
      For those of you without BluRay drives for your computer, or who want to listen to (not necessarily store) 24/192 BluRay stereo via your DACs (rather than your midfi HDMI receiver/processor) you can also grab that data without ripping and without waiting for m-shuttle (which is wayy more convenient than what I'm about to describe). I have several posts here and on AC about the little known HDMI de-embedders like Monoprice's $45 one or the Atlona 577. It sits between your BluRay player and your HDMI processor/receiver (or TV) and allows you to plug in its coax or toslink into your DAC, grabbing up to 24/192 stereo audio from bluRay discs, DVD-Audio discs and PCM'd SACD discs (usually 24/88 or 24/176).<br />
      <br />
      That being said, let's petiton for more and more studios/Blu Ray music sources to use m-Shuttle.<br />
      <br />
      P.S. the other thing I LOVE about 2L is that they are trying to standardize simple blind navigation (i.e headless, no display needed) using the red/blue/yellow/green buttons on your Bluray player's remote. They call it Pure Audio and it makes changing to the DTS Master HD 24/96 5.1 layer as easy as pressing "red", and going to the LPCM 24/192 stereo layer by pressing "yellow:, etc etc. VERY nice.
    1. sq225917's Avatar
      sq225917 -
      Wouldn't it be great to see a new 'standard' hard copy format emerge out of this- who would ever thought of Blu-ray as potentially being the saviour of hires audio hard copy formats.
    1. bottlerocket's Avatar
      bottlerocket -
      Chris, You've done a good job explaining the merits of Blu-Ray and mShuttle, but why is this better than data disks? I'd like an option that did not involve using the a blu-ray drive at all. Most PCs and MACs have drives that can read DVD, so why not use a DVD data disc?<br />
      <br />
      If you've got a market where 30% of the people want the files copied to their music servers and the rest want playback from a Blu-Ray player, why not just include a data disk and a Blu-Ray in the same package. Or better yet, just let the server people skip the blu-ray all together via a data disk only option.
    1. kirkmc's Avatar
      kirkmc -
      These discs are designed for blu-ray audio playback. The set already comes with a CD for normal playback; if it had a DVD for data, that would be three discs. There's plenty of space on the blu-ray disc, so, in many ways, it makes sense.<br />
      <br />
      This said, I agree with you. It's hoops to jump through that could be avoided. I guess until blu-ray readers on computers become common, it's a good stop-gap.
    1. The Offenbach Kid's Avatar
      The Offenbach Kid -
      Ted<br />
      <br />
      I don't have a 5.1 system, so I can't take advantage of that, but there may be something you can confirm for me.<br />
      <br />
      The center of my stereo system is the Devialet D-Premier hybrid analog/digital amp and dac which operates at 24/192. The RCA inputs can be configured analog or digital and there are 2 optical inputs as well as an HDMI in and out, but the HDMI functionality is not yet active. (There's an SD card slot on the back of the unit for firmware/software upgrades).<br />
      <br />
      My music source is a 2010 MacBook Pro connected to the amp via the Weiss INT202.<br />
      <br />
      My plasma TV is the Pioneer KRP500 (the last and best of the Kuros) and my Blu-ray player is the Pioneer LX52.<br />
      <br />
      The system is set-up to output pcm stereo and the TV is connected to the Devialet via the line out/analog in connections as they're the only ones currently available. This means (I think) that the best I'm getting is at most a sample rate of 48kHz.<br />
      <br />
      In the absence of any info from Devialet as to when the HDMI connections will be activated, could I use something like the Atlona 577 to interrupt the HDMI link between the Blu-ray and the TV and route the 24/192 audio to the Devialet and just the video signal to the TV?<br />
      <br />
      This would be great.<br />
      <br />
      Cheers,<br />
      <br />
      Neil
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      offline or to another thread so as not to hijack Chris's topic anymore than I have.
    1. The Offenbach Kid's Avatar
      The Offenbach Kid -
      Yes, I think you're right.<br />
      <br />
      Neil.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi bottlerocket - Very good question. I believe it comes down to cost. None of the record labels are making money hand over fist. Blu-ray with mShuttle is a good way for them to limit risk and reach as many customers as possible with one disc. 2L may not be the norm in the future. I think more releases from other labels will only include one Blu-ray disc with mShuttle.<br />
      <br />
      I'm like most of the CA readers who simply need the files and could happily live with a data DVD. I think Blu-ray with mShuttle is a good compromise.
    1. Joe Fonebone's Avatar
      Joe Fonebone -
      mShuttle sounds very promising, should it ever actually be adopted. However, there many Blu-Ray disks out there to be ripped, e.g. my Tom Petty Live Anthology Blu-Ray audio disk. Of the ripping software that you are aware of, do you have a preference? I was looking at Aiseesoft Blu Ray Ripper the other day.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks.<br />
      <br />
      P.S. I've had good luck with a Buffalo External 12X USB 3.0 Blu-ray Writer (BR3D-12U3), albeit just for ripping CDs and regular DVDs so far. Very fast and accurate.
    1. barrows's Avatar
      barrows -
      only question is: can we expect the major labels to be willing to distribute high resolution audio on BRD and incorporate m-shuttle? It seems clear that having m-shuttle does not satisfy the record labels' apparent desire (no matter how misguided!) to have DRM protection.<br />
      While I love getting high res as a simple download, or via a DVD data disc, I would have no problem dealing with BRD and the m-shuttle approach if the major labels will adopt it-but I fear this will just be another approach adopted by the smaller audiophile labels.<br />
      Chris, do you have anymore information on the future of BRD/m-shuttle as far as major labels go?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Barrows - mShuttle seems like it's a compromise for the majors as it allows them to continue the existing physical product business model and pleases consumers without DRM. Unfortunately I doubt they see it this way.<br />
      <br />
    1. barrows's Avatar
      barrows -
      we just have to hope that they see the light!<br />
      I will keep my fingers crossed, so to speak...
    1. breadvan's Avatar
      breadvan -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Is there a list of BD with mShuttle technology built in? My recent 2L music BDs don't. Thanks.
    1. wappinghigh's Avatar
      wappinghigh -
      I quote Breadvan:<br />
      <br />
      "Is there a list of BD with mShuttle technology built in? My recent 2L music BDs don't. Thanks."<br />
      <br />
      I mean Chris this is a perfect example of WHY it will fail..<br />
      <br />
      Confusion in the market before the thing has even got off the ground..<br />
      <br />
      Purchasing via direct music downloading completely bypasses all this nonsense because you know exactly what you are buying and can put it right into your music server with just a few button clicks..<br />
      <br />
      AND the whole world is your market...<br />
      <br />
      There is absolutely no going back Chris..<br />
      <br />
      Wap..<br />