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CD ripping, digital music, music streaming, iPod / iTunes / Sonos - various thoughts, suggestions, ideas, odd ramblings ….

iPod to PC / Mac Music Recovery

Even this late in the iPod lifecycle we're getting a couple of calls a week in the same vein. "Can you get music off my iPod and onto my computer?"

There are still people who, for whatever reason, have music on an iPod that isn't on their current computer. Often it's due to that hard drive failing, sometimes people move to a new PC and forget to take their iTunes library with them. They're left with an iPod Classic stuffed with tracks and a new PC / Mac with no music. Can we get their music back?

Let's be clear what isn't a problem - purchased music. If you log into your iTunes account on the new computer you can re-download tracks you purchased from iTunes Music Store. The issue lies with the music you've ripped from your purchased CDs. Can those tracks be recovered?

As we often say to clients - all things are possible. If you do a Google search you'll find several pages with guaranteed, surefire, undoubted methods to backup from an iPod to a computer. Indeed, in the early days of our CD ripping service, we did this pretty often. We even purchased software for our Macs and PCs that allowed us to do this. At the heart of any of these approaches is an intervention to stop the automatic sync of device and computer. Once that has even begun, in that fraction of a second, if you can't grab the music player an turn it into a vanilla flavoured external storage device, you're screwed. You don't get two chances. Zap, it's all gone.

Today it's much more difficult than it was fifteen years ago. The whole process is so much faster. Of course we have our own iPods to practice with and we speak from experience. We know that it goes wrong too often. Of course we're speaking from a commercial perspective, we're no longer confident that we can take on the risk of it not working. So we're happy if you want to say it can be done, it's just we're not doing it any more.

iPod to PC / Mac Music Recovery

Even this late in the iPod lifecycle we're getting a couple of calls a week in the same vein. "Can you get music off my iPod and onto my computer?"

There are still people who, for whatever reason, have music on an iPod that isn't on their current computer. Often it's due to that hard drive failing, sometimes people move to a new PC and forget to take their iTunes library with them. They're left with an iPod Classic stuffed with tracks and a new PC / Mac with no music. Can we get their music back?

Let's be clear what isn't a problem - purchased music. If you log into your iTunes account on the new computer you can re-download tracks you purchased from iTunes Music Store. The issue lies with the music you've ripped from your purchased CDs. Can those tracks be recovered?

As we often say to clients - all things are possible. If you do a Google search you'll find several pages with guaranteed, surefire, undoubted methods to backup from an iPod to a computer. Indeed, in the early days of our CD ripping service, we did this pretty often. We even purchased software for our Macs and PCs that allowed us to do this. At the heart of any of these approaches is an intervention to stop the automatic sync of device and computer. Once that has even begun, in that fraction of a second, if you can't grab the music player an turn it into a vanilla flavoured external storage device, you're screwed. You don't get two chances. Zap, it's all gone.

Today it's much more difficult than it was fifteen years ago. The whole process is so much faster. Of course we have our own iPods to practice with and we speak from experience. We know that it goes wrong too often. Of course we're speaking from a commercial perspective, we're no longer confident that we can take on the risk of it not working. So we're happy if you want to say it can be done, it's just we're not doing it any more.

When Dreams Become Nightmares

We make mistakes. OK, I admit it. Of course we do everything we can to avoid them but I have to put my hand up and say yes, from time to time, we get something wrong. It burns inside when we get a complaint and I try to swallow hurt pride and say sorry, then put it right.

When a complaint came from a repeat customer that hurts all the more. We ripped the CDs in the normal way and returned his 300 CDs plus his digital files on a hard drive. He rang a few days later to ask a point on file structures and I asked if he was enjoying his expanded digital music library. He was kind enough to say yes, but …

So I asked what’s the but?

Well, the Mozart compilation has two discs missing. Hmm … how did that happen. Thankfully he wasn't too upset but I appreciate how annoying that kind of glitch might be. Naturally it set my mind racing on how that might be. Before we get to the cause of that here’s another issue we faced from another client’s CD collection we ripped this week.

It’s Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Something I can take or leave but undoubtedly one of the major works of an English classical composer. Pretty bit of cover art too but sadly the otherwise comprehensive album notes don’t say who created the image. You’ll also see it’s a two CD set. The discs cover other composers works too but the headline piece is split over the two CDs.

Except it’s not. Looking through the output files in iTunes it was easy to see the second discs didn’t show up. To correct this I put CD 2 into the drive. I should explain how ripping software works. When the CD is recognised iTunes measures some vital statistics - overall length (in time), number of tracks, length of each track. This creates a digital fingerprint and it’s that which is matched against CDDB in the case of iTunes or GD3 when we’re using our robot rippers. On the basis of that match Apple or whoever then supplies the metadata - album name, track details, artists, composer and so on. Not whatever Decca has printed on the front of the disc.

In this case Disc 1 is disc one, and so is Disc 2. A screw up by Decca. So much for German attention to detail, Otto on the night shift was asleep when these went into the printer. Unfortunately this Dream turns into a nightmare as we don’t have a true copy here from which can can substitute the errant tracks.

Going back to the first clients issue he kindly agreed to put the two “missing” discs into his computer and yes, you guessed. Our digital fingerprints had spotted these discs as being from another two albums. Other than slotting them into the set they client had purchased the discs had been ripped, the metadata was correct in all respects except album names. He was able to enjoy the sound albeit wrongly labeled.

I’ll take that one - could do better, We’ll be paying more attention in future. And you lot on the night shift, wake up at the back.

When Dreams Become Nightmares

We make mistakes. OK, I admit it. Of course we do everything we can to avoid them but I have to put my hand up and say yes, from time to time, we get something wrong. It burns inside when we get a complaint and I try to swallow hurt pride and say sorry, then put it right.

When a complaint came from a repeat customer that hurts all the more. We ripped the CDs in the normal way and returned his 300 CDs plus his digital files on a hard drive. He rang a few days later to ask a point on file structures and I asked if he was enjoying his expanded digital music library. He was kind enough to say yes, but …

So I asked what’s the but?

Well, the Mozart compilation has two discs missing. Hmm … how did that happen. Thankfully he wasn't too upset but I appreciate how annoying that kind of glitch might be. Naturally it set my mind racing on how that might be. Before we get to the cause of that here’s another issue we faced from another client’s CD collection we ripped this week.

It’s Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Something I can take or leave but undoubtedly one of the major works of an English classical composer. Pretty bit of cover art too but sadly the otherwise comprehensive album notes don’t say who created the image. You’ll also see it’s a two CD set. The discs cover other composers works too but the headline piece is split over the two CDs.

Except it’s not. Looking through the output files in iTunes it was easy to see the second discs didn’t show up. To correct this I put CD 2 into the drive. I should explain how ripping software works. When the CD is recognised iTunes measures some vital statistics - overall length (in time), number of tracks, length of each track. This creates a digital fingerprint and it’s that which is matched against CDDB in the case of iTunes or GD3 when we’re using our robot rippers. On the basis of that match Apple or whoever then supplies the metadata - album name, track details, artists, composer and so on. Not whatever Decca has printed on the front of the disc.

In this case Disc 1 is disc one, and so is Disc 2. A screw up by Decca. So much for German attention to detail, Otto on the night shift was asleep when these went into the printer. Unfortunately this Dream turns into a nightmare as we don’t have a true copy here from which can can substitute the errant tracks.

Going back to the first clients issue he kindly agreed to put the two “missing” discs into his computer and yes, you guessed. Our digital fingerprints had spotted these discs as being from another two albums. Other than slotting them into the set they client had purchased the discs had been ripped, the metadata was correct in all respects except album names. He was able to enjoy the sound albeit wrongly labeled.

I’ll take that one - could do better, We’ll be paying more attention in future. And you lot on the night shift, wake up at the back.

Honestly Craig?

Recently enjoyed a brilliant trip to New York, the end of a great long holiday driving up from Atlanta, Georgia to enjoy Thanksgiving in NYC. As we're sitting in the reception, I mean "lobby" of our hotel in Brooklyn, waiting for a cab to JFK and our flight home I received an email.

Apparently from one Craig Malin via hotmail.co.uk here it is:-

Im looking to set up something similar but around my location, would I be able to ask you a few questions and get some friendly feedback ? Thankyou, Craig.

My response was "Where?". I got this reply.

Worcestershire

Sent from my iPhone

Over the last 15 years of CD ripping I've helped many people get into this business. Indeed I produced a how-to-do-it manual that went out to people in Singapore, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Germany. Originally I thought I might make a fortune selling this, or even operating on a franchise basis. After careful thought I decided not to try to capitalise on that idea but I've tried to help people - if it wasn't going to damage my business.

I have worked with hardware and software companies to solve CD ripping problems and to make the whole business of digital music better for everyone. Sure, I've benefitted from that but so to have other people and companies.

I wasn't sure how to handle this, Craig might have just phoned me, instead he emailed me. Was this something that would help his business and dame mine? While cogitating the cab arrived and off we went into the monsoonal rain and the freeway system.

Still thinking about this one when I got past JFK security I checked my phone the answer was there. My fear that this was just a fishing expedition that would help Craig at my expense was confirmed. This arrived:

I take that as a no?

Sent from my iPhone

Quickly followed by:

We're gonna start in London Too , give you some competition

Sent from my iPhone

It seems my suspicions were justified, this was simply an attempt to get some free business advice at the expense of a competitor. Now I'm relieved I didn't fall for this scam.

So, if at some point in the future you're thinking of asking me for help please bear in mind that Craig Malin's ham fisted attempt to pull the wool over my eyes has left me rather more jaded than I was before. You'll need to start from and establish a position of honesty.


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