Posted by: Diabolic Preacher | January 22, 2007

converting and re-encoding files using CDex

this is not a review of CDex and doesn’t cover it’s main feature i.e. as the name suggests extracting audio tracks from an audio cd. btw what would dvd-audio be ripped as?

CDex is free software available here. It is basically a graphical frontend (interface) for a variety of audio format encoders. encoders are basically dll files that add functionality of processing and converting audio tracks into various formats with various qualities. a sufficient number of encoders come with CDex itself, however in the long run you’d probably settle for just one or two encoders with personalized settings. each of these encoders are mostly individual projects that aren’t essentially maintained by CDex developer(s) and hence can be updated individually instead of waitin for next build of CDex to bundle in the not-so-new versions. However as you’ll notice ver. 1.70beta 2 is the latest release and been there for quite some time now, but so far is the most easy to use audio converter and cd ripper for the windows platform that is GNU licensed..

This post is about re-encoding existing compressed/encoded tracks to lower qualities or to ‘free’er formats…such as FLAC, OGG Vorbis, etc. Converting to lower quality is suggested when sending files over the internet or to host them on web servers which limit the storage space or bandwidth allowed per month. really low qualities don’t sound good at all…so you need to experiment till you find the right setting…per song. one may also want to downgrade the quality to fit more songs on portable audio players with limited storage capacity…or someone with a terabitten collection. Well, this howto is about re-encoding mp3’s in a different quality…although the instructions can be modified to help you convert your mp3 files to the much superior ogg vorbis format, except some rare players like iAudio G2 by Cowon Audio (the guys who make JetAudio…the current favorite in the lab…one player plays all and is bloated with designer features). So without further ado, get the setup for CDex from the Download section of the project. You may download the Unicode version if you are on Windows 2000 or Windows XP or the non-Unicode version for Windows 9x.

The installation is simple and self explanatory. Read the FAQ to see if there already is a workaround for your problem. Else search on google with important keywords of your query/question i.e articles and pronouns don’t count. Finally, comment here with your query. googlable answers won’t be answered. 😛 Now…onto the steps…post-installation: –

  1. Start CDex from desktop or from the Start menu
  2. You would need to set the encoder options and the output file and path options initially only…unless you need to configure again for a different purpose. Although CDex doesn’t provide an option to maintain multiple configuration profiles, you could make copies of the CDex.ini file…but that’s not recommended till you experiment and fiddle around with the settings till you know for sure what settings are best suited for which scenario. always remember that most of these codecs are lossy i.e they lose quality on decreasing bitrate and you can’t magically improve the quality by re-encoding at a higher bitrate..it just adds bloat…like gas 😛 So the minimal settings required for converting mp3’s back to mp3’s with lower quality bitrate is as follows. : –
    1. Remember that anything below 96kbps…almost often 96kbps included has a radio-ish sound…tinny sound if you may. use it only for recorded speech like podcasts. One more point to note while starting CDex for the first time is (atleast on 2000/XP) that you might come across an error message when starting up that stated that the program has failed to load the wnaspi32.dll (Adaptec ASPI driver), even though you may find the file existing where it is supposed to i.e. C:\WINDOWS (WINNT in some cases)\system32\ (location of windows installation may differ on some systems). Now there are two options out of this error. You can either opt to use the Native NT SCSI library or download the correct version of wnaspi32.dll from here. Opting for the former requires you to have admin rights login to rip CD’s although a normal user can be allowed the privilege as well…though it’s not a safe way. Check the FAQ for details. Preferably opt for the ASPI driver.
    2. Start CDex from the desktop or the Start menu shortcut. Press F4 or click on Settings under Options menu. Under Generic tab, see that the path set by default has actually enough space. This folder is used to store the intermediate .wav (PCM waveform) files which do not compress the content at all. The wav files are created simply because the cd rom is a slow device and may not be able to transfer data fast enough for the encoder and the data written (the mp3 created) may not be consistent.
    3. Under the Filenames tab, there are 2 text entry fields where you need to set the path to the directory where your output files will reside. Set to this preferably to some location with long term storage capacity. this is where your collection will pile up. Filename format specifies the format in which the filename will be generated from the meta information (ID3 tag). hover the cursor over the text field for more info.
    4. Lastly the Encoder tab. the other tabs are related to CD ripping and hence not covered here. This section is the interface to select which format you want to encode or compress your file in…quite a few are bundled with the CDex package and the encoder interface has ability to use few external encoders as well…given that you specify their location. Since this is a post to show how to lower the quality of your mp3 file (and save a copy), we’ll look into the options of the LAME encoder which is selected by default. The only option you really need to mess around with is the Bitrate Min setting, which is to be set lower than the actual bitrate of the song… e.g. you could convert a 192 kbps track to maybe 128kbps or 112kbps and in extreme cases 96kbps…with this setting depending on how small a file you want and how less you care about the sound quality. let the others be as they are though you may want to want to click the help button at the bottom of the configuration window…which basically makes it look like this post is a waste of time 😛
  3. Now time for conversion…at lasht! 😀 . In main CDex window goto Convert menu and click on the “Re-encode compressed audio files”. It will open a file/directory selector dialog. you could dump all the files you want to convert in one directory and browse to it’s path using the button on top with the “…” symbol once CDex identifies the audio files in a directory and displays them…you can select all or make a custom selection of certain files/tracks.
  4. what else are you waiting for??…click that Convert button. 😀
  5. sit back n relax…let’s check if that stupid dataone connection is workin at all…if the university connection is still clogged 😀

i might have made a lot of assumptions coz i had this installed long time back…and it’s a really useful tool that i often use to compress files to fit on my cell phone. hope you find the software useful as well…see if open source stuff is really worth it’s salt n pepper.

latest coolest news…kubuntu installed on hard disk of my p3 machine…wifi detected….yaaahooooo!!!…now if only bsnl works…need to get gcc and mpg123 decoder…n maybe ffmpeg n a few games…i need repositories!!…it’s dapper drake version…i was thinkin it won’t run on p3…but eet deed 😀


Responses

  1. whattup preacher?

    hey! that was some night friday night, huh?!
    i can’t believe you roo and me stayed up chatting for so long
    and soo late (for you two)
    haha
    i think we shd stick to more normal schedules
    so sleep-induced madness doesn’t ensue 🙂
    i was dehydrated from all that typing

    • Re: whattup preacher?

      i can join in the conference anytime your normal schedule clashes with my schedule… 🙂

      sleep-induced madness…i’m beyond that 😛

      • Re: whattup preacher?

        okay 🙂

      • Re: whattup preacher?

        now if only radha makes one for her own.


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