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HOWTO: Convert all your mp3s and other encumbered formats into superior OGGs easily!

This will allow you to convert your music archive (and videos too, but I haven't tried that yet) into the royalty-free, open source and superior OGG format. No more installing the annoying restricted mp3 support codecs! OGG is included by default and just works out of the box because it is not restricted or burdened by any patents or copyrights. Your MP3s should be able to be converted into a smaller OGG file, too, so depending on your settings and if you convert correctly you can shrink the size of your entire music collection. Keep in mind that when you purchase your next portable music player to get one which supports OGG, which there are several kinds that do. Also, buy one that supports Linux or simply supports directly accessing the player like a memory stick, and doesn't require installation of some proprietary Windows application to access it.

If you first would like a true demonstration that OGG is better than MP3, if you have a wave file around, amaze yourself and your friends by comparing MP3 to OGG and showing them that the smaller OGG sounds just as good! If you don't have a wave file, converting an MP3 into a bit smaller of an OGG is still a good example as you will not be able to hear a difference between them. Keep in mind if you go too small by converting it into too low of a bitrate, any codec will sound bad at that point.

Converting from one lossy codec to another always results in some additional data loss, but this is minimal for me and I cannot hear a difference in part because OGG is very good, and because I use fairly high default quality settings in this example. Ideally if you can convert from the original source instead of from MP3 or other lossy codec formats to prevent more loss, you may wish to do so. Also, I use a fixed bit rate in this example, so always test that you are happy with your results and that everything went smoothly before deleting your original files!

Step 1: Open Add/Remove.

Step 2: Choose show all available applications in the top right corner.

Step 3: Look up all the formats you wish to convert from, like mp3, and mark them. Some of the following applications may not be necessary to install, but I'm too lazy to find out which ones are truly needed, so just do them all! For mp3, check mark the "GStreamer extra plugins" package that says it contains codecs to play mp3, sid, mpeg1, etc. Check mark the "Ubuntu restricted extras" package. Check mark "Mplayer". Look up "convert" or whatever and check mark "soundKonverter". If you'd like what is in my opinion the best audio player, you can also check mark "Amarok". Click install. If you can't find certain codecs or packages for certain file types in Add/Remove Applications, open up Synaptic Package Manager and look there.

Step 4: Start soundKonverter from Applications > Sound & Video.

Step 5: Go to Settings > Configure soundKonverter and click on Backends. Make sure there are decoders for the files you want to convert from, and that the OGG encoder is there too. If it's not, search for things to install for decoding and encoding the things you want and rerun the program to see if it found them. I use mplayer for the decoder backend, which is why I had you install it in the previous step.

Step 6: Back in soundKonverter, select Source Directory for your output if you would like to keep your folder structure, otherwise change it to something different if you would like to create a whole new folder system for your music.

Step 7: Adjust the output format to ogg, and select a quality. I use "high".

Step 8: Drag and drop a file into the window and select start. The old file will not be deleted, you will only delete files after you are comfortable with their new counterparts. Play this file after you are finished and compare it to the original. If you chose something other than Source Directory, it will tell you where it is saving it in the Output column as it is encoding the file.

Step 9: As soon as you are comfortable with your quality settings and don't mind having the same quality setting for all your music files, select Add Folder in the bottom left of soundKonverter and add your entire music folder, and then select start. If you would like to have the quality setting lower for low-quality mp3s so that they shrink in size instead of increasing, add those separately. The same goes for any collections of ultra-high-quality mp3s, you may wish to encode those at a higher bitrate, but you probably don't need to select the *same* bitrate. Again, always test first and make sure you like it before you delete the originals! Keep in mind that there is no option (that I've found) to delete while encoding, so you need to have enough space, or do smaller sections at a time. You can use a program like KFind (accessible through the Dolphin file manager) to find all your mp3s or other file types and delete them after you are finished.


NOTES: soundKonverter can convert videos too, just look at all the file formats it supports converting to and from! Play around with this great utility to convert all your annoying proprietary audio and movie codecs into free ones!

Yes, there are ways to do all this through the command line and would be much quicker since the GUI is always slower, and if someone would like to make a simple command line tutorial to do all this, I will provide a link to it, but this tutorial is intended for the command line impaired.

Yes, I know that you can't "upconvert" in quality, and yes I know that converting from one lossy format to another can be bad sometimes, but in this case I'm completely satisfied with the results. The decoded and then re-encoded music I get from this are indistinguishable for me from the original. If you are an audiophile and notice a difference, set the quality settings higher.

If you are converting all files to a set bitrate like you are in this tutorial, keep in mind that very high quality bitrate files like 190 and 256 may be downgraded in quality somewhat if you convert them to 144 kbit OGGs by using the "high" setting. I find "high" to be a happy medium, but in reality I believe that you only need to use the same or slightly lower bitrate for each song you convert into OGG from mp3. This would be about 33% lower if it were from a wave file, since that is the approximate bitrate compression difference I think between mp3 and ogg, but you need to use higher I think since it's mp3 to ogg and you want to prevent lossless-to-lossless format data loss as much as possible. Anyone care to clarify this for me? In this case, make sure that if you have any "ultra-high fidelity" music collections that you increase the quality for them if you wish to retain the quality. For lower quality sound files, keep in mind that using a high quality setting may be unnecessary. Again though, I find "high" or "medium" to be a perfectly acceptable setting.

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