Automatic digital music workflow with VortexBox - (part three) ripping, tagging and album art

I've been trying to streamline my digital music workflow. That is, remove as many manual steps from my current CD-to- FLAC workflow as possible:

I've been using VortexBox to automate these steps. In previous blog posts I've described how to install VortexBox in a VMware home server environment and how to integrate VortexBox with an existing music collection. This week I complete the story by describing my new digital music workflow, from CD to FLAC to listening pleasure.

I start by inserting a CD, but instead of inserting it in the VortexBox's CD drive, I insert it in my laptop's. Because this is a virtualised home server, and the VortexBox runs inside a VMware virtual machine, I can link my laptop's CD drive so it appears to be the VortexBox's, and the VortexBox proceeds none-the-wiser. A real concern for home server users is access to the home server. If the server with VortexBox is elsewhere in the house, perhaps in an attic, basement, locked cupboard or similar it can be tedious to access it and add and swap CDs, so it is useful to reuse the CD drive on more accessible computers.

Choose 'Client Media', 'Connected' and then choose the CD drive you wish to use. You must have VMware Tools installed in the guest to forward a CD device.

Now I insert a CD in my laptop and I watch the VortexBox ripper screen to make sure the rip is proceeding correctly. The screen updates with the progress of the rip:

You can see that the music has been automatically recognised. This means that as the digital music files are saved to the hard disk they are tagged so that Squeezebox and other music players can display the correct album name, artist name, track name and so on.

What about album art? VortexBox has its own facility for fetching album art, but I'm going to use bliss. If I take a look at bliss's activity, we can see that the new music has been automatically recognised, album cover art downloaded and installed as-per my album art rule.

Now the most important bit... listening to the music! VortexBox automatically rescans its internal Squeezebox Server when the rip is complete, so the new music, with its album art, shows up automatically too!

So that's it. Here's what I used to do to rip one CD:
  1. Insert CD
  2. Run 'abcde' on the command line
  3. Choose the tags from CDDB
  4. Copy the resulting FLACs to my music server
  5. If I have more CDs, go back to step 1
  6. Rescan the Squeezebox Server
Now, I:
  1. Insert CD
  2. Wait for the CD to pop out, if I have more CDs go back to step 1
blissful indeed...
tags: vortexbox squeezebox workflow
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The Music Library Management blog

Dan Gravell

I'm Dan, the founder and programmer of bliss. I write bliss to solve my own problems with my digital music collection.