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Using ALS with other Software

The MPEG-4 ALS Reference Software can be used in conjunction with other software in order to allow e.g. batch encoding or CD ripping. In the following, some applications that can be used together with ALS are described.

Exact Audio Copy (CD ripper)

Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is a very accurate CD ripping software. It permits the use of external encoders to convert CDs directly into encoded file. In addition, EAC can look up metadata from music databases such as freeDB.

With some additional preparation, EAC allows to convert CDs directly into ALS encoded MP4 files. In order to do so, you will need the following:

Preparations (necessary only once)

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Start the Exact Audio Copy application and select the menu item "EAC > Compression Options".

In the following dialog box, choose the tab "External Compression" and set the compression options according to the following explanations and the screenshot:

  • Select "Use external program for compression"
  • Set "Parameter passing scheme" to "User Defined Encoder" (last of the drop-down list)
  • Set "Use file extension" to ".mp4"
  • Provide path to ALS encoder (mp4alsRM22rev2.exe or later)
  • Set "Additional command-line options" to "-v -a -o15 -r-1 %s %d". Other options are possible (type "mp4alsRM22rev2 -h" for a list), but %s and %d always have to be the last two since they stand for source and destination file.
  • The "Bit rate " and "Quality" options don't do anything. You may set "Bit rate" to "768 kBit/s" to get a rough estimate of the compressed file size to be expected.
  • Select "Delete WAV" if you want the intermediary wave file to be removed.
  • Deselect "Use CRC check" and "Add ID3 tag"
  • Preferably select "Check for external programs return code" in order to get feedback in case of errors.
  • Click "OK" to save the settings and close the dialog box.

Converting a CD (or individual tracks) into ALS files

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Insert an Audio CD into your CD drive. Preferably, the CD should not have any copy protection, in order to avoid ripping problems.

After a short while, a list of all tracks, showing length and size, will appear in the main window:

  • Select one, several, or all tracks in the list.
  • Choose menu item "Copy Selected Tracks > Compressed" (or click on the "MP3" button on the left) to start continue
  • Select the destination folder from the following dialog box and click "OK" to start ripping

After each ripped track, a command-line window will briefly pop up and show the progress of the ALS encoding. When all tracks have been ripped, there will be a beep, and you can click the "OK" button.

Save your Settings

You may save and load different versions of compression options, e.g. with/without metadata, or different encoder options. Just make your settings in the "Compression Options" box and click the "New" button at the bottom of the main window, enter a name, and select "Compression options" if you don't want to affect other settings.

Mp3tag (Metadata Editor)

Mp3tag is a powerful tool to edit metadata of common audio formats, including ID3 tags as used by MP3 files, and MP4 metadata as used by iTunes and MPEG-4 ALS.

It can rename files based on the tag information, replace characters or words in tags and filenames, import/export tag information, create playlists and more.

Mp3tag supports online database lookups from, e.g., Amazon, discogs, or freedb, allowing you to automatically gather proper tags and cover art for your music library.

Using Mp3tag with ALS

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Mp3tag can be used to add metadata to ALS encoded MP4 files, or to modify existing metadata. Please make sure to use Mp3tag v2.45a (not v2.45) or higher in order to ensure maximum compatibility with ALS.

ALS encoded MP4 files can be obtained by encoding uncompressed wave files using the ALS reference software, or by directly converting a CD into the ALS format with e.g. ExactAudioCopy.

Once the MP4 files exist, start Mp3tag, open the directory where the files are stored ("Change directory…"), and select the file(s) to be edited (see screenshot). You can choose either one or multiple files. In the latter case, changes are applied to all selected files, which is beneficial to edit information that applies e.g. to all files of the same album.

In order to further reduce the amount of manual editing, metadata can be retrieved from databases such as freeDB or from Amazon. Simply use the "Tag Sources" menu and select a source. After you have entered some information to identify the file, you will be presented with a list of corresponding titles. This also works for multiple files of an album.

Once you have added the metadata or applied the changes, simply save the modified file by selecting "Save tag".

Playback of ALS files with metadata

Metadata in ALS encoded MP4 files can be displayed by VLC media player, MPlayer, and other applications based on the FFmpeg libraries, such as XMedia Recode.

You can get more information about software that supports ALS in the corresponding section on the main ALS page.

Furthermore, there may be other applications that will display the MP4 metadata, but might not be able to play the ALS encoded content due to the lack of a corresponding decoder plugin.

Batchenc (Encoder Front-end)

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Batchenc is a Windows front-end for arbitrary command-line encoders and decoders using arbitrary options. I allows batch encoding and decoding of multiple files. Different combinations of codec and options can be saved.

In order to further simplify ALS encoding and decoding, you can download a customized Batchenc presets file with some ALS preset examples:

You can substitute the original Batchenc presets file with this one, or copy and paste its entries into the original file. The ALS codec (mp4alsRM22rev2.exe) has to be in the search path. You may change the name of the codec file (e.g. mp4als.exe), but file name and preset entries have to match.

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