Archiving CD Audio - Preamble
How do you archive a CD collection as lossless FLAC audio files on DVD (or external USB HDD) and have the ability to burn a CD from them as required?
Outline of the Task...
Ripping a CD to one large 'CD Image' file makes sense for achieving purposes as it is easier to deal with one file (one album) and a CUE sheet holding the track information, rather than a collection of tracks. If one wanted a particular track it could be extracted from the album length file using the cue sheet. If one wanted an exact copy of the CD one just loaded the CUE and burnt a CD.
Why is the cue file important?
The cue file contains Artist, Album and Track information. More importantly it holds the pre-gap timings - that is - the length of the silence between each track. With this information an exact copy of the original disc can be made.
What are Meta-Tags?
Embedded within each music file are 'Meta Tags' which contain Artist, Track and and Album information and well as technical details about the encoder and the quality of the encoding. Album cover artwork can also be embedded into the music file (though I prefer to add separate files for the artwork and booklet).
A good Meta-Tag editor for MAC OSX is called Tag. For more information about Tag see...
For Windows MP3tag is a user-friendly and versatile tool for re-tagging music files of all main types.
How do I use FLAC+CUE files on a MAC?
There is NO application for the MAC OS I know of, that can directly burn an audio CD from a FLAC file using a CUE file to supply the necessary track information.
You make use of the CUE indirectly...
The CUE file is used to split the one large album length FLAC 'CD Image' into individual track length FLACs. During the the splitting process the 'Pre-gap' time can be added to the end of each track. You then set the inter-track gaps in the burning program to 0, load the tracks into your CD burning program and start the burning process. You end up with a copy of the original CD when the audio CD is burnt.
Depending on the burning software the individual track files may need to be converted from FLAC to the WAV format before an Audio CD can be burnt.
'track' centric or 'album' centric?
For most music styles 'track' centric is OK, but it does not work very well for Classical music. Here it well and truly sucks. With classical music, single tracks can result in extremely long file names. Not only this, the 'flow' of the piece may be affected on play back, as the silence between the tracks (the pre-gaps) are no longer as the conductor and/or producer intended.
On the other hand, having single tracks from the outset means that it is a little easier to make a CD from various artists, a 'best off' or the like.
Horses for courses I suppose!