Guide To Tools
Digital Media Tools
What is the guide all about?
The point of this guide is to give you a starting point when looking for tools to create and manage your digital audio library. Below you will find links to a number of great programs that members of the Slim Community use to work with their music. Please feel free to add pros and cons and new tools if you use or have used the tools listed below.
The guide is split up into several groupings (some of which link to other sections of this wiki):
Digital media is stored in files. These files are encoded using different Codecs (which stands for Compressor-Decompressor). For a player to be able to play a digital audio file, it must be compatible with the particular codec that the file is encoded in. There are different codecs because different codecs specialize in different things. While Codecs aren't exactly tools, you'll need the right codecs for some of the tools that you'll find in the rest of this guide. Details.
Transfering music from a physical source to a file is called ripping, this includes the most typical ripping which is transfer music from a CD to your computer. This wiki already includes a terrific Guide to Ripping where you can find links to all the tools and information you need. Details.
Some CDs (and other media) are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) also known as Copy Protection. There are many different methods of obscuring the audio data to stop you from enjoying your Fair Use right to transfer music to whatever format you wish (so long as you own the original media). The first step in getting DRM protected CDs ripped is to determine which DRM protection method is being used. Details.
Once you know which type of DRM is being used to protect your media, you need to work-around the protection. Details.
Encoding of digital media happens at the same time you rip your media. However often times the formats that are output are not ideal for your purposes or you have a need to recode the file into a different format. Details.
Many digital audio codecs support meta-tags. Meta-tags are simply a small amount of data included in the file that tells you more information about the file itself. SlimServer reads these tags when it organizes your files so it makes sense to want to have your tags correct for all files in your library. Please note that different codecs (see file formats above) store their tags in different ways, so make sure that the tool you choose to edit your tags supports the codecs that you are using. This wiki already contains a great Guide to Tagging which includes a discussion of the different tools available. If you have classical music in your collection you'll want to check out the Guide to Classical Tagging since tagging this genre of music is often more complex than other genres. Details.
Different audio encoders and different CDs can output music that is at various perceived volumes... shockingly there is no standard for this in CD manufacturing. SqueezeCenter (and SlimServer from version 6.2.x) supports a special kind of meta-tag (see Tagging above) called ReplayGain. Details.
One of the downsides of having your music in a digital format is that you lose out on the artwork associated with the CD. Many people like to have the artwork associated with their albums display when they are listening to music. SlimServer and serveral software and hardware players (like some iPod models) support album art. Details.
Playback / Audio Library Most of us use SqueezeCenter and Squeezebox to playback our digital media, but having dedicated tools to playback on the computer and having a good tool to organize and manage your collection can be very important. Details.
Its sometimes nice to have a catalog of your music so that you can share and organize your collection. Details.
Compact Disc (CD) is still the most prevalent audio music format on the market, so sometimes you'll want to move your digital media back to CD. Details.
Some tools are unique or don't quite fit into one of the above catagories but are also quite useful. Details.
Contributors: Street Samurai