Archive for the ‘Storing’ Category

So I’ve changed the process I’m using, just to make my life simpler and because the previous process was far too complicated!

  • I now rip a bunch of CDs to a holding directory (\\Tower\rips\flac)
  • Run Musicbrainz Picard to check/amend the metadata, saving the files renames them and moves them to the final directory (\\Tower\music\flac)
  • Run bliss against the directory to catch any missing artwork

The main advantage of this is that I’m letting the tools handle the heavy lifting – I’m not manually moving directories of files around the server.

The other advantage of this is that I can use either the Vortexbox upstairs to do the ripping or use an old laptop running Daphile downstairs – useful when I don’t feel like running upstairs every 10 minutes to change CD! As both devices are configured to rip to the same location and at the same quality, the only difference between them is the file naming convention they output the rip in…. and that doesn’t matter as MusicBrainz renames the files to my preferred format on save.



Posted: July 2, 2018 in Audio, Hacking and playing, Storing
Tags: ,

Bliss describes itself as a tool to fix the metadata in you library:

“bliss performs all the hard work in organizing your music collection; making it consistent, correct and complete with little effort.”

You define a set of rules about how certain key elements of your library should be. At it’s most basic this can be checking that the album artwork is present, of a minimum or maximum size, specific format and name. Additional rules define that the folder structure is correct, that certain tags are present and even if there are duplicates.

It basically scans your music library and then tells you which albums have failed to meet the requirements set out in the rules. It then offers to apply a ‘fix’ for each non-compliance.


Compliance Report (Images courtesy of bliss)

You can point it at your whole library and just let it get on with the scan and then come back a few hours later to see the results.


Initially installing and testing the app gives you 100 free fixes, with 250 additional fixes costing £12, 2500 fixes for £29 or Unlimited fixes for £59. You can buy as many or as few fixes as you need, although best value is definitely the Unlimited fixes for £59.


Some fixes are automatic – updating artwork is one of those… so while I pointed the app at the new rips directory that was being populated by VortexBox, it suddenly started using fixes to download the artwork. My own fault, I should probably RTFM, but I did wonder why fixes were being used without my ‘authorisation’.

Of more concern was the use of multiple fixes to fix the same missing artwork – I’ve contacted the creator to see if this is a known issue and I’ll report back.


So far I like what it is doing, but I’m reserving judgement to see a) how it handles bulk FLACs b) if the issue I experienced is solvable or just me being stupid 🙂



Images courtesy of Bliss

Prices correct as of June 2018 – Pricing page is here

** UPDATE **

2 July 2018 – I’ve been speaking to bliss support (& Dan the creator) about the issue. Nice fast response to my query and it appears to be bliss being a little too enthusiastic about doing stuff. My issue of using multiple fixes for the same album looks like it was caused by bliss finding the first file, fixing it, finding more files in the same folder, fixing them and then finding the remaining files.

I need to figure out how I can prevent bliss from scanning the folder structure until I’m ready – i.e. all my FLACs have been copied to the destination folder.


Music re-rip is a go

Posted: June 26, 2018 in Audio, Hardware, Storing
Tags: , ,

All this playing with rippers, RPi music players and the realisation that the quality of some of our rips is less than poor means that I’m going to re-rip all of it.

Given the mix and match of tools, and the issues with having to apply the correct metadata twice, I’m thinking that I will concentrate on getting the FLACS all done and right before I then batch convert them to decent quality mp3.

To be honest, I also need to figure out what tool I can use to batch convert several hundred FLAC albums…. But lets get the process started….


  1. Rip CD using VortexBox and/or Daphile to FLAC. Store files to \\Tower\rips\flac
  2. Amend file names (add disk ID if required) and add artwork if already found from previous digital version
  3. Move album directory to \\Tower\rips\data for bliss fixing
  4. Use MusicBrainz to check metadata. On saving files are moved to \\Tower\rips\final\flac
  5. MP3 creator creates VBR version in \\Tower\rips\final\mp3


I think that will allow me to get it all done in batches, and allows me to fix any naming issues relating to CD1 & CD2 folder names that appear during the ripping. Also allows me to copy across any decent existing artwork (folder/cover) that already exists, reducing the work for bliss & MusicBrainz.

I’ll add reviews/comments for the next set of tools – bliss & MusicBrainz, once the process is further along.

New Ripper – Vortexbox

Posted: June 20, 2018 in Audio, Hardware, Storing
Tags: , ,

The ripper that was used for many years was Vortexbox (VB)running on an Atom 330 dual core Mini-ITX. This did stirling service, but finally gave up and was replaced with a Micro-ATX core2 box.

Installing VB was easy – both via ISO and (just for laughs – sad I know!) USB. Apart from having to manually expand the file storage system and do the first update & upgrade via ssh command line the installation is easy. One thing that was strange was that despite using a 2.4 version image for both the ISO and USB sources I still ended up with version 2.3. A basic issue with VB is that you don’t get to upgrade to new versions – you can update the basic OS, but version changes require a clean install.

Basic configuration via the very dated UI is quick and easy allowing updates and basic network/IP settings to be done.

The UI also allows for installation of additional services – Plex, Subsonic, Bliss as well as the native Logitech Media Server (LMS) for serving up the ripped goodness,

Configuration is mostly via manual editing of the config file located in the /etc/ripit/ directory. This allows you to specify the output filetype of the rip – FLAC. mp3, ogg etc etc as well as the quality level. If you just want to rip to FLAC and then output a copy to mp3 as well, then the best option is to setup the FLAC encoder via the config file and then just use the FLAC mirror option in the GUI to create the mp3 version. If you want multiple versions every time or ‘non-standard’ formats, then you can tell the config to perform simultaneous rips to different formats.

File naming convention is also configured via the config file as is the details of which ripping engine to use and where the files get saved.

If you want to save your rips to another machine you will have to wander into the belly of the Linux beast and install the appropriate driver to talk to the remote machine (cifs ntfs etc etc), mount the device to an appropriate place and then tweak the config to use that location. Further discussions are in this forum thread.

Metadata seemed to be accurate and reliable, although the ‘get the CD cover’ button failed to do anything that I could see. It definitely didn’t get any covers – I ended up trying Bliss to deal with that issue – more on Bliss in another post.

While I like the ability to create a FLAC and then automatically make the mp3 at the same time, the UI is dated and not as pleasant as Daphile. Granted, once configured, the box is probably running without the GUI open as it is designed to just accept the disk and go, but personally I keep the webpage open so I can monitor what it is doing.

I’m currently running VortexBox as the main ripper and I think I’ll keep it for now as re-ripping the entire library to FLAC with an appropriate mp3 is quicker than manually creating the mp3 every time.


VortexBox –

Installation CLI commands are here

Network drive mounting discussion here


New Audio Ripping Box

Posted: June 16, 2018 in Audio, Hardware, Storing
Tags: , ,

So the old Vortexbox is no more, the Atom 330 is so 32 bit that very little decent software now works on it. More by luck than judgement I managed to find an old micro-ATX board that has now been roped into service.

Given the variable quality of the music library, I’m seriously considering re-ripping everything to FLAC to ensure the best quality on the various playback devices we have.

So the question is – do I install Vortexbox (and perhaps get around to trying Bliss as well) or do I look at alternatives?

Itinerant fiddler…. so alternatives it is!

So far I’m looking at 3 options: Daphile, Vortexbox and dbPowerAmp.

First up Daphile

Daphile is a Gentoo based distro that does basically the same as Vortexbox. It is much more locked down as there is no access to the underlying system, and there are no additional services that can be added to enhance the functionality. It rips CDs as FLACs and adds them to the onboard LMS server. It does support LMS plugins btw.

The UI is much more polished than VB, with very little effort I can configure it to rip to my unRAID server where our music is actually hosted. I can specify the quality of the FLAC, schedule backups of the local music folders and even access Jivelite to control local playback.

Metadata is added but only via a single source (I can’t remember I’ll add it later!) and has mis-identified a couple of CDs.

What it doesn’t do…. No DVD ripping, no Plex, Subsonic or Bliss servers. It doesn’t allow you to rip to FLAC and then automatically create mp3s as well.

Generally I like it, I’m in two minds about keeping it but I have a couple of issues.

  • The inability to also create mp3 files from the same source at the same time
  • Metadata quality
  • Inability to configure naming convention for the output

If I’m just re-ripping for FLAC, then it will do the job very well, but I’ll still need to do manual work to rename and check the metadata. As there are several hundred CDs, that’s not great.

Next up Vortexbox.


VortexBox re-appears

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Hardware, Storing
Tags: ,

So I rebuilt the Vortexbox CD ripper last weekend… A few new CDs appeared over Xmas, so I needed to get them on to the Sonos so I could listen to them at home, not just in the car.

Last time I looked at VB it was on version ~1.5, but the current version is 2.4. It has also moved from an .ISO format to a USB installer (good news).

Trouble is that no matter what I did I couldn’t persuade the old Intel Atom board to boot into the freshly installed VB. I initially assumed that the issue was due to re-cycling of HDD – perhaps the MBR was corrupted: all the usual things that happen when you swap between OS installs. Even with a completely blank HDD (gparted rocks) it still jumped happily through the install process and then reported that ‘no boot device is present’.

Several other people reported similar issues and it looks like the hardware won’t accept a gpt boot partition, so it can’t see that it exists and so it constantly reports that no boot device is present.

The forums also reported that you can append ‘nogpt’ to the install boot params, but that didn’t work for me either. Having wasted enough time on reboots & reinstalls I eventually I found an earlier  v2.3 in .ISO format that I could copy to USB and that did work.

unRAID Update 5

Posted: July 31, 2012 in Storing

Edit – Ooops – Just found this in the drafts folder – should have been posted in July

So unRAID is purring along nicely. Currently running one of the later release candidates and apart from some issues relating to the plugins for SABnzbd, Sick Beard and Couch Potato, it all seems to be working perfectly.
The cache drive is a bit of a worry, it’s running almost permanently because of the use of SABnzbd et al. and the temperatures are now running quite high. I’m also using the 320Gb HDD instead of a spare 1.5Tb drive as I figured that I’d save them for expansion (DVD library rips plan…) and using them for cache duties would only shorten their lifespan. It’s almost a shame that the new plugin system for unRAID v5 doesn’t allow the addition of an extra ‘Apps’ disk outside of the storage pool. At least then we could use a slower or more power efficient HDD for Apps and config data and a fast HDD for the cache. I might seriously consider using a SSD, but I’m not sure if unRAID supports TRIM and that’s an expensive way to find out!
The use of SABnzbd has also meant that I’ve needed to alter the way that I do things a bit, with the system handling the downloads to the cache and then migrating them to the download directory. At this point I can worry about naming conventions and then manually migrating the files to their final destination.
Anyway, the system is working so well that I’ve actually now removed NAS00 from operation and it’s now turned on to be used purely for manual backups from both the unRAID and the WHS boxes.