Media playing and encoding and whatnot

What are the Good Things for the following tasks?

  • Ripping CDs to MP3
  • Ripping DVDs to some sort of relatively small video format for playback either on the PC or a portable device
  • Playing and managing an MP3 library
  • Playing and managing a video library

Environmental constraints: Windows 7 or Debian-based Linux desktops.

Other considerations:

  • Despite being a frequent Linux user, I’m not philosophically opposed to paying actual money for things if they are useful and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future
  • I hates the iTunes. I’m still using my iTunes-organized music library from about 5 versions ago, but had just been playing them with VLC.

For ripping DVDs (sans DRM), I’ve used Handbrake -

I’ve used Winamp for the longest time in managing playlists and music, though, I’m not sure if they’re going to be Windows 10 compatible (currently on 7, but the future is inevitable, I suppose).

I have a document I’ve written up for a couple friends that explains my entire setup if you want me to send it to you. It explains all the programs on my HTPC and what they do. It’s mostly focused on video though there’s a few things you can use for audio too. I’m running Windows, but almost everything I use can be done in a Linux environment. Here’s my quick answers.

For DVD ripping and conversion I use 2 programs. DVDShrink and HandBrake. I usually use DVDShrink to break the encryption and then HandBrake to convert the individual files on the disc. For DVDShrink, you just have to change the compression to get full quality. And for a program that hasn’t updated in 10 some odd years, it still copies 90% of everything. When converting BluRay’s, I use Acrok. HandBrake can be used for mobile device reformatting or file conversion too. There’s a couple pre-sets that make it easy.

For managing and conversion I’ve bought into the Plex environment. It works nicely with multiple folders on multiple drives. It downloads media info as well and looks great on the TV. Since I signed up for premium, I have access to the clients on my devices as well. The clients connect to the Plex server to either stream or direct play any of the shows regardless of original format. The server does on the fly encoding to what you need. You can also tell it to sync a show/movie or tell it to grab X number of unwatched shows. It will sync in the background to your device and you can watch it offline. This is how I watch my shows at lunch usually. If you’re not double NAT’d like I am (really need to fix that), you can watch whatever is on your server from anywhere as long as you have a good connection. You can also share your library with a friend and they can watch your shows and you watch theirs. You can set restrictions on that if you want too.

Plex also can manage your MP3’s though it’s not as fleshed out as their other stuff. For that, I use MediaMonkey. Great library management, can rip CD’s and can setup sync folders or playlists to transfer to either phones (including iPhones supposedly) or MP3 players.

Plex can be installed on Linux natively and I have used MediaMonkey under WINE. I’m sure the other programs would work as well.

+1 for Handbrake

I use AnyDVD/AnyDVD HD from SlySoft to make the disk readable by Handbrake. AnyDVD HD works with the regular DVDs and the HD DVD formats, as well as BluRay! It isn’t free, but occasionally the lifetime license will go on sale, and is well worth it, IMO.

I let Handbrake handle the compression/conversion. Most movies end up at less than 1GB and still look good on a big screen. I also haven’t had any trouble playing them on my phone… Personal phone is currently a Samsung Galaxy S4, but I’ve put them on a MicroSD and watched them on my work BlackBerry Torch, too.

The newest CD’s I have were purchased through Amazon, so I got the autorip instant downloads, too. When I went through and ripped all my CDs as a project, I used Exact Audio Copy (EAC), but there were fewer choices back then, and the results from EAC were far superior to everything else I tried. That was more than 5 years ago, though, maybe closer to ten. I’m pretty sure I did it on a Pentium III box (HP Kayak workstation!), so a while back.

My HTPC setup is built around SageTV, but hasn’t been used for about a year, mostly because of the happenings in my personal life - the changes that come with getting married and merging households.

Not for at least another year.

I’m currently using AIMP3, which can handle everything except ripping DVD to video file.

  • Ripping CDs: dBpoweramp (Windows) works nicely for me, though I usually rip to flac
  • Ripping DVDs and Blu-Rays: AnyDVD HD (Windows) plus Handbrake (Windows or Linux)
  • Video library: Plex Media Server (Windows or Linux). There are client apps for the phones, tablets, XBox, TV, Windows… it’s all so easy to use even the wife can use it. I can even be sat in a hotel room in the backside of anywhere and stream (with transcoding as required to allow for any bandwidth constraints) to my tablet from my home computer.
  • MP3 library: Plex works again, though to be honest I manually manage the structure, upload everything to Google Music for when I’m on the go (their Music Manager does that automatically) and use Sonos for in house listening.

I knew I asked the right crowd. Thank you.

Yeah, I had forgotten that Winamp was purchased by AOL. Lately,it’s been crashing with large playlists, so I’m looking into AIMP.

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So you’re saying it no longer whips the llama’s ass?

It may be whipping the llama’s ass, but the llama has long been dead.


Thing I have noticed with AIMP is that when you have the player minimized to the task bar (neat option, by the way), pause it for quite a while, and the start it back up again, it crashes.

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