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

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.

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