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fre:ac development status update 09/2015 Print
Written by Robert   
Thursday, 01 October 2015 08:48

Although it's already October in most parts of the world, this is the fre:ac development status update for September 2015. First, I'm sorry there is no new snapshot release yet. In the previous update I promised it for September, but there were several bugs that had to be addressed first. If everything goes well, a new snapshot should be ready next weekend. Let's have a look at the upcoming changes:

Retina support

It has taken quite some time, but finally, support for Retina displays on newer Mac models is ready for release. This will make fre:ac look much better on such displays. Improvements are most visible with text, diagonal lines like in checkboxes and images such as toolbar icons.

Implementing Retina support took longer than expected due to issues with OS X behaving differently when drawing lines in high DPI vs. normal DPI mode.

Cue sheet handling

Several improvements have been implemented with regards to handling cue sheets. I already mentioned the ability to look for compressed files in place of a .wav referenced in a cue sheet in last months issue. The following additional improvements have been added in September:

  • When creating cue sheets in single output file mode, they are now saved along with the output file. Previous releases used the regular output folder and filename pattern to create cue sheets even in single file mode, so in some cases the cue sheet was put in a completely different place than the output file.
  • The cue sheet loader now considers tags included in referenced files. Previously, only metadata mentioned in the cue sheet itself was recognized when loading a cue sheet. The new behaviour is configurable, so you can choose what to use when information in tags differs from what is mentioned in the cue sheet.
  • Last but not least, there now is an option to ignore errors when trying to load cue sheets which is useful when adding folders with unmaintained cue sheets that got out of sync after renaming referenced files or the like. Such cue sheets will be ignored when this setting is activated and the actual audio files will be added instead.

Audio format handling

Several users reported different issues with handling audio files, especially MP3s. The following improvements will be implemented in the next snapshot release:
  • fre:ac now detects concatenated MP3s with non-adjusted VBR headers. There are some tools out there that can concatenate several MP3s into one big file without reencoding which is great as you won't lose audio quality in this process. However, not all of these tools care about adjusting the first file's length info header. The latter thens claim a playtime of e.g. 3 min even though the actual file has a much longer playtime after tracks were appended. The next snapshot release will compare the file size mentioned in the info header with the actual file size and discard the length info in case a significant difference is detected.
  • The new release will also improve parsing of the VBR info header mentioned above. Previous releases just checked the existence of such a header, read the data they needed and then stopped before the actual end of the header frame, leaving it to the MP3 decoder library to sync with the first actual MP3 frame. This could lead to problems with some decoders, especially the MAD decoder, that reported wrong sample rates or numbers of channels in the process.
  • The auto resampling mode of the LAME MP3 encoder was not working in previous releases of fre:ac. Instead it complained about non-supported sample rates and denied encoding of tracks if the sample rate did not match one of those supported by the MP3 format. This issue was fixed in fre:ac 1.0.25 and will be fixed in the upcoming snapshot as well.
  • Some FLAC files, especially if they have been cut out of single file disc image FLACs without reencoding, have their MD5 checksum zeroed. Unfortunately, the verifier introduced in the 20150725 snapshot release did not recognize such situations and reported a verification failure for those files. This will be fixed in the next snapshot.

Other issues

The new release will also fix some CD drive detection issues on Windows. Previous releases sometimes detected only one of multiple drives, especially if you had a system with more than one SATA controller or were using virtual drives. The reason for this was the SCSI path ID being ignored in the CD drive detection code of fre:ac's CDRip library, so devices using the same adapter, target and unit ID and differing only in the path ID were treated as one and the same drive.

So long, thanks for reading! Be sure to come back next weekend to grab your copy of the new fre:ac snapshot release!