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fre:ac development status update 07/2015 Print
Written by Robert   
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 13:16

Here's the July 2015 update on fre:ac development.

The past month was quite productive, so I've got a lot of things to share. The best is: I'm already preparing a new snapshot which you'll get to try this weekend!

Ogg Vorbis on x64 (other than Windows)

The reason for the quick release is a little unfortunate, though. The 20150705 snapshot was the first to include an Ogg Vorbis codec with the Lancer SSE patch applied. Turned out that patch contained a bug that made it incompatible with non-Windows x64 platforms, so the x64 flavours of 20150705 on OS X, Linux and FreeBSD all produce garbled sound when encoding or decoding .ogg files. The reason is the use of long values in structures used by the SSE optimizations. While the long type on Windows is always 32 bit regardless of the system bitness, it changes size to 64 bit on most other x64 OS which in turn causes problems with code expecting every long value to always be 32 bit. As this is quite a show stopper bug for everyone using Ogg Vorbis on one of the affected platforms, I decided to make a new release as quickly as possible after I fixed this.

New features and some more fixes

Fortunately, the rest of this update is much more enjoyable. I worked hard and added a whole bunch of new features after the 20150705 release:

  • Input verification for lossless audio formats
    While the previous snapshot added verification for lossless output files, the coming one will add support for checking the integrity of input files for some lossless formats. This currently works with FLAC, TAK and WavPack which include an MD5 checksum of the original audio. fre:ac will display an error message when it detects a checksum mismatch for such a file.
  • Improved support for multi-channel audio files
    With previous versions of fre:ac, you often got the "fre:ac does not support more than 2 channels!" message when trying to convert multi-channel audio files (e.g. 5.1 files). The next snapshot will add (basic) support for this. You will be able to convert multi-channel files between formats supporting more than two channels. These include WAV, FLAC, Vorbis, WMA, WavPack and TAK. In addition, the new release will add scripts to enable decoding of AC3 and DTS files.
  • Support for editing the configuration while converting
    Ever since the first public release, fre:ac denied changing the configuration while a conversion was running. No more! The upcoming release will allow configuration changes to be made at any time. These will not affect running conversions, so if you start a conversion of some CD tracks to FLAC, you can already set up fre:ac for the next conversion run using LAME or any other codec without interfering with the running job.
  • Support for shutting down the computer after conversion on OS X and Linux/Unix
    This option previously worked on Windows only and is now available on OS X and Linux/FreeBSD as well. It can be useful if, for example, you want to go to sleep and have your computer shut down automatically after finishing that long running conversion job.

Besides those features and the Ogg Vorbis x64 fix, the snapshot will also fix some minor issues. When using parallel conversions, tracks sometimes stayed in the joblist even if they had been processed successfully. This was caused by a synchronization issue between the management thread that schedules the individual track conversions and the actual worker threads. Another issue affected decoding of very short MP3 files (just a few seconds long). fre:ac often produced empty output for such files due to a bug in the MP3 decoder initialization code. These two issues will be gone with the next snapshot.

fre:ac 1.0.24

That's it for the upcoming snapshot release, but there's more. fre:ac 1.0.24 will be released this Friday (if everything goes as planned; the SourceForge site is still only halfway operational after they had a storage system fault last week, so the fre:ac release depends on whether they get everything back up in time). This new stable release will fix some minor issues and annoyances, update the Vorbis codec to version 1.3.5 (plus aoTuV 6.03 patches) and enable the flat titlebar style on Windows 8.x and 10 (see last months update for details).

That closes this update. Make sure to grab one of the new releases this weekend and come back for the next issue in a month!