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fre:ac development status update 02/2018 Print
Written by Robert   
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:51

Hi all, it's time for an update on fre:ac development again.

The past month has been quite productive. However, due to some planned features turning out to be more difficult to implement than expected and new bugs surfacing, there is no new alpha release yet.

But let's have a look at the good things - the changes implemented in the past month.

Format selection for single file conversions

Selection of desired output sample format

Until now, when converting multiple tracks to a single output file, fre:ac could only do that when all input tracks had the same sample format. When mixing different sample rates or mono and stereo tracks, an error message appears to inform you about the issue.

That will officially be over with the next alpha release. From then, when encountering different sample formats, fre:ac will bring up a dialog to let you choose the desired output format.

Improved Delete after encoding option

The option to delete input files after a successful conversion has to be enabled for each new conversion task in current versions of fre:ac. This is to prevent you from accidentally deleting your music library when forgetting about that option being enabled.

Some users, however, use that option regularly and it's tedious for them to re-enable it all the time. Therefore, the next alpha will introduce some changes to it.

There will be an indicator on the Start conversion toolbar button and the corresponding menu entry to signal that the option is active:

New indicator for delete after encoding option.

Also, it will not disable itself after every conversion, but stay active until fre:ac is restarted. In addition, a checkbox in the confirmation dialog will allow you to keep the option enabled even over restarts, until you explicitly disable it.

Minor improvements

Some minor improvements and fixes have been implemented in the previous month and will be included in the next alpha:

  • Reading CD-Text will be supported on Linux and FreeBSD (not on macOS yet, though)
  • All CDDB dialogs will be resizable and remember the previous size
  • Fixed the quality setting for the FAAC encoder, which was not working correctly
  • Fixed a typing issue on macOS where edit fields would stop accepting input
  • Improved build system to auto-detect CDK path on Windows (no more editing Makefiles)

Progress on SuperFast LAME

I have made some progress on implementing a SuperFast version of the LAME encoder component. This requires some additional work due to how MP3 framing works. Frames are not independent entities in the MP3 bitstream, but can be intermixed with previous frames, i.e. the actual frame data can start before the frame header in a sparse area of a previous frame in order to make optimal use of the available bytes in frames.

This bitstream has to be unpacked into distinct frames in order for the SuperFast technology to work. The frames are then put in the correct order and are repacked into a new MP3 bitstream. I have a working proof-of-concept implementation of the unpacker already and will go for the repacker next. Once that is done, I will be able to assess performance and integrity of the implementation. What will be left then is to implement a Xing/LAME info header generator and make the proof-of-concept ready for a preview release.

SuperFast LAME will not be ready for the next update, but progress is being made and there should be a first preview available in a few months.

Next alpha and stable release

The new alpha originally planned for January should be available within the next two weeks followed by the release of fre:ac 1.0.32 a few days later.


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