• How To Convert HDtracks FLAC High Resolution Downloads and Add to iTunes (Video with Commentary)

    As the title says here's a how-to video with commentary explaining the process of converting high resolution FLAC files into AIFF files and adding them to iTunes. This is necessary because Apple's iTunes does not play FLAC files without third party applications. Some computer audiophiles can handle this activity in their sleep while others may not even download high resolution audio for fear of a FLAC attack. Only kidding no such thing exists, but the process is foreign to many Computer Audiophile readers. After watching this video all readers should be able to handle this conversion and library addition without any issues.



     

    You may want to adjust the resolution of the video to 720 HD or at least 480p.



     
    Comments 111 Comments
    1. soundsolutions11's Avatar
      soundsolutions11 -
      Hello Chris!<br />
      Thank you for the great how too video, it was very helpful. One question; which version of MAX did you use? On their web site they have two choices:<br />
      <br />
      The stable version of Max requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later.<br />
      <br />
      The unstable version of Max requires Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi soundsolutions11 - I'm using Max version 0.9.2. I guess it's the unstable version available here http://files.sbooth.org/Max-r1438.tar.bz2<br />
      <br />
      I've had no issues with this version. In fact it resolves an issue where Max would either lock up or quite unexpectedly. <br />
      <br />
      <center><br />
      <img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0410/max-version.png"></img><br />
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      I use XLD to convert from FLAC to AIFF in iTunes. You just select the folder containing the FLAC tracks via the File->Open... menu item, and XLD converts the tracks and puts them straight into iTunes. <br />
      <br />
      Sometimes it automatically converts the cover art and sometimes it doesn't. So you may need to use the iTunes Get Info dialog to paste the cover art into the album. I've never done anything about the album liner notes and Chris's suggestion to add the pdfs to the albums sounds like a good idea to me.<br />
      <br />
      I need to go the other way, and convert AIFF tracks ripped from CDs to FLAC files, in order to play them on my Samsung Q3 portable player. I've found that Max is best for doing that. With XLD, the meta data, like the track names doesn't get converted, but Max does the full conversion including meta data.
    1. RankStranger's Avatar
      RankStranger -
      to rename the picture file the same name every time and set the preferences to look specifically for that file name. I think the defaults are cover.jpg, folder.jpg and front.jpg so I just use them but it could be anything.<br />
      <br />
      It will even reduce bigger pictures down to 300 x 300 (or whatever).<br />
      <br />
      Hope that makes sense.<br />
      <br />
      RS<br />
      <br />
      P.S Tag is also awesome for editing metadata before conversion
    1. jark's Avatar
      jark -
      Excellent video Chris!, but what if you want to copy the files into an iPod too?. Max can't change the sample rate from 96khz to 48khz in order to play those files on an iPod. I've tried XLD but the resulting files sounds awful with lots of annoying cracks and pops.<br />
      <br />
      I refuse to play mp3 from my iPod. All my music is either ALAC or AIFF, but I've been having this issue with downloaded HD files. Basically I want to be able to play those files as best as I can from my iPod when I'm at the office, so the only way is to down convert the sample rate to 24bit/48 Khz which is what the iPod is capable to play.<br />
      <br />
      Any suggestions? second part to your video, maybe?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      <p><b>RankStranger: </b><i>"The way to get XLD to add the album art every time is to rename the picture file the same name every time and set the preferences to look specifically for that file name. I think the defaults are cover.jpg, folder.jpg and front.jpg so I just use them but it could be anything."</i></p><br />
      <br />
      <p>I've just been experimenting with the albums I've downloaded from the B&W Society of Sound. It seems that the ones with names like this 'Undiscovered Voices of the Carribbean - Artwork image.jpg' work fine with importing the cover art, whereas the ones that are called 'cover.jpg' don't work and need manual fixing up after importing into iTunes. I checked my XLD prefs and I have 'cover.jpg front.jpg and folder.jpg'. So I'm not quite sure what is going on here.</p>
    1. RankStranger's Avatar
      RankStranger -
      but I think that some flac files have the artwork embedded in the file. Sometimes they seem to just come up when it looks like they shouldn't. Don't know about the correctly labelled ones not working. Maybe make sure they use .jpg. even if it is .jpeg it won't work.<br />
      <br />
      RS
    1. thinskin's Avatar
      thinskin -
      I picked up Amadeus Pro for OS X a few years ago in one of those bundle deals. It has a very simple batch processor that will convert to ALAC while retaining bit and sample rates. What I really like is that is also seems to retain the meta data (although sometimes track numbers get lost).<br />
      <br />
      All I do is launch the script file, and drag the files on. I really recommend it.
    1. Leo Pard's Avatar
      Leo Pard -
      Apple is ridiculous for still holding out on FLAC.<br />
      <br />
      MAX is garbage...it crashes constantly on my new Mac Mini.<br />
      <br />
      xACT is far, far superior.
    1. vajtful's Avatar
      vajtful -
      Thanks for the tutorial!<br />
      <br />
      What's the benefit of AIFF vs. ALAC? The ALAC files seem to end up to be smaller from the same FLAC files.<br />
      <br />
      I converted some HDtracks files to ALAC, and iTunes could stream it to Apple TV. I did not know iTunes could do that. Is it downconverting the sampling rate and/or bit depth?
    1. ManWithAPlan's Avatar
      ManWithAPlan -
      The only way to do so would be to use a program like Adobe Audition (Mac beta or Windows versions) and downsample the frequency. But more importantly, this is Stupid, because if you're going to down-rez the files, just convert them into 320kbps MP3's with Max and they will automagically convert to 24/48 files for your silly little non-hi fidelity iPod usage. Why the hell would you "refuse to play mp3 from your iPod"??? That's exactly the place that mp3's of high bitrate are incredibly useful! Never mind the ease of use issues of not having to juggle wav/aiff frequency/sample rate modification in Audition or Logic or the like. We're talking about an iPod here.
    1. ManWithAPlan's Avatar
      ManWithAPlan -
      Max had crashing issues with the latest "stable" build on 10.6.6 and later. So if your Mac Mini is "new" as you say, you should be running the latest "unstable" build of Max, as it is much more, errr...stable. Go figure. But then again, the latest "unstable" stable build of Max has a fatal flaw right now, wherein one cannot convert high rez FLAC to MP3, for those applications where this would be useful. If you don't care about that however, then again, the latest "unstable" build is perfectly stable :-)<br />
      <br />
      As for xAct, I find it childish and toy-like, but remarkably effective in a pinch, so I do keep it in the tackle box. Along with XLD, though it is equally the makings of a one-armed traffic cop. Rip/Max/Tag/Decibel are the go-to tools in this cobbler's workbench IMHO.
    1. ManWithAPlan's Avatar
      ManWithAPlan -
      Most cobblers worth their salt will embed the artwork in the flac files themselves. Why leave things to chance? If ripping a CD, I use Rip on the Mac and embed the album artwork at the time of ripping. If I'm downloading from HDtracks or wherever, I analyze the files with MediaRage and edit the album artwork with higher rez images that I find on the web if/when necessary. MediaRage is a great tool that I use in addition to Tag. Tag is simpler, but does not allow album art to be tagged. MediaRage has batch process stuff built in, regex stuff, complex rules analysis, very cool stuff useful for very very large collections or when modifying metadata of large amounts of files at one time. Oh, and did I mention album art tagging/analysis for FLAC? Cool.
    1. Leo Pard's Avatar
      Leo Pard -
      xACT has recently gone through to updates that to me make it a world class conversion tool. The user interface is now very clean. It is fast, and 100% reliable. MAC is just too boxy.<br />
      <br />
      Nice tools in the workbench you have thee.<br />
      <br />
      I like Fidelia for playback the best.
    1. jark's Avatar
      jark -
      ManwithNOplan,<br />
      <br />
      First, there is a hell of a difference between a crapy MP3 and an AIFF or ALAC at 24bit/48 Khz...if not, what are you doing in this site??<br />
      <br />
      Second, what you are saying makes not sense at all: <em>"convert them into 320Kbps MP3's with Max and they will automagically convert to 24/48"</em>...<br />
      <br />
      ...Third, if I'm using a <em>"silly little non-hi fidelity"</em> iPod at the office is because is a portable solution, or you want me to move my gear from home everyday?...<br />
      <br />
      And finally what's the point of having a great portable amp with a great Headphones like the Denon AH-D2000, if I'm going to play an MP3?<br />
      <br />
      All I'm saying is that I want to play my music AS BEST AS I CAN from an iPod, meanwhile I'm at the office...And an MP3 is NOT. The next time, please save your useless comments like "stupid" or so...<br />
      <br />
      cheers<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Enough with the attacks. Further nonsense will simply be removed. <br />
      <br />
      Now back to our regularly scheduled program ...
    1. ManWithAPlan's Avatar
      ManWithAPlan -
      Really, name calling? Jark appears to be a jerk then, hmmm, wow, that felt good.<br />
      <br />
      That said, I made a mistake in that Max will convert to 16/48 when converting high rez files to MP3, my mistake, not 24/48. But the overarching point is the same. The iPod is not a very high sound quality device to begin with, no matter what it's paired with. I notice you ignored the fact that reducing sample rate is going to be a laborious process otherwise, and result in a loss of sound quality anyway. But again, if you're willing to do it, I suggested Adobe Audition to you...go nuts with it. <br />
      <br />
      You might also review other constricting choices you've made, for instance, this business of carrying an iPod to the office so you have your songs with you. Ask yourself, in 2011, with the quality of internet access that most of us enjoy, why carry around digital files on a physical device at all? <br />
      <br />
      Instead, think about a software tool like Subsonic, a web-based music streaming application that can be simply loaded up at home on a Windows/Mac/Linux machine (any old whimpy laptop will do, nothing fancy), and stream your entire music collection, including High Rez tracks directly to any web browser on the planet. Users get logins, you can limit their access to only be able to stream, not download anything, it has a wonderful user interface, album art, playlist creation, etc. etc. Oh, and it's free.<br />
      <br />
      Not only would you be able to stream your music in original AIFF or ALAC, but you would also be able to stream to an iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad with a little app called iSub ($5). Imagine working out at the gym and streaming all the original files to your iPod (transcoding optional server-side), without having to decide which music to sync to it and which to leave out, etc. At the office, you can just use a web browser to stream and connect your headphones directly to the laptop you're streaming on. Oh, and with Subsonic, you get to choose your "player" client-side. In other words, instead of just playing thru the web browser's built-in lower quality player, simply set your profile to stream to an external player on the laptop, something like Decibel, or a windows equivalent high quality player, whatever you'd like. <br />
      <br />
      My suggestion is that you don't really want a faster horse. You may want something better, when you really step back from it.
    1. VandyMan's Avatar
      VandyMan -
      Why doesn't HD Tracks make ALAC available in addition to FLAC? I can't see any reason why they would not support every popular lossless format.
    1. goldsdad's Avatar
      goldsdad -
      <i>"...change the sample rate from 96khz to 48khz in order to play those files on an iPod. I've tried XLD but the resulting files sounds awful with lots of annoying cracks and pops."</i><br />
      <br />
      XLD 20110228 on OS X 10.6.6 does the conversion to 24-bit/48kHz ALAC without audible problem for several files that I've tried. Analysis of the results suggest it is using the well-regarded resampling code included with OS X.<br />
      <br />
      Are you hearing the cracks and pops on all files converted from 96kHz to 48kHz by XLD?<br />
      Do you hear the noises when the 48kHz files are played on your Mac, or just the iPod?<br />
    1. ManWithAPlan's Avatar
      ManWithAPlan -
      ALAC is proprietary, FLAC is not. You can easily transcode from FLAC to ALAC if that's your choice. You might ask the better question - why isn't AIFF or better yet WAV available across the board on sites like HDtracks, instead of only on certain sites, and only inconsistently on hdtracks?