Linux.com has an interesting How-To article regarding digitising records and tapes with Audacity. If you’re not aware of the software, Audacity is an open source, cross platform, recording and sound editing tool.
The Linux.com article goes through the basic process of digitising old records and tapes, although only touches on some of the technical mountains to climb when connecting a turntable to your sound card line-in. If you require more details about how to connect a turntable to your computer, in conjunction with a phono pre-amp, then the Audacity tutorial for transferring tapes and records to a computer is what you need to read.
While the Linux.com article was squarely aimed at the consumer, desiring to transfer their older music collection to a digital file format, focusing on Ogg and MP3 creation, I was more intrigued about the possibility of using Audacity in a more archival function. As of version 1.3.3, Audacity supports full export of the open source FLAC lossless audio format. FLAC supports metadata tags containing information such as title and artist and generates filesizes roughly 50% less than other popular lossless formats, such as WAV. FLAC and Audacity could make a good solution for a professional audio archival project.
Red Devil’s Tech Blog has a good article reviewing how four different major Linux distributions deal with making video and audio codecs available.
Fedora, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu are all covered, with Vector Linux getting a brief tongue in cheek mention at the end.
It seems that Fedora is moving away from their strictly no non-free software approach, to one encouraging end users to install Fluendo’s commercial codecs, of which new versions have just been released. Mandriva is doing something similar with their paid for 2008 Power Pack.
Personally, I applaud this approach. While I wholeheartedly support free and open source software, I also don’t mind the concept of paying a small amount for something essential, like video and audio codecs. If this is what it takes, to avoid even the sniff of legal problems for a Linux distribution, I’m fine with it.
Tip of the iceberg you say? I can understand that response too. What I don’t see at this time is a valid alternative, besides installing, what is in some jurisdictions, legally questionable software.
I’d be much more concerned about Sun purchasing MySQL and Novell/SUSE cosying up to Microsoft, than paying £20 for some very useful codecs. Perhaps an organisation like Fluendo deserves support, just to keep yourself personally in the clear.
I wonder why Ubuntu doesn’t follow this lead.
Ultimately though, I think the decision has to be up to the end user. Linux is about choice. And I’m quite the hypocrite anyway, not about to purchase Fluendo’s codecs. All the decoding functionality I need is done with libavcodec, which is a core dependency for FFmpeg.
Although not yet noted on the Fluendo News page, customers who have previously purchased codec packs from Fluendo are receiving an email regarding updates.
In summary, here’s a list of the codecs offered by Fluendo in the Complete Set Pack:
Windows Media Audio Decoder (Windows Media 7, 8, 9, 10, Pro, Lossless and Speech)
Windows Media Video Decoder (Windows Media 7, 8, 9 and VC1)
Windows Media ASF Demuxer
Windows Media MMS Networking
MPEG2 Video Decoder
MPEG4 Part 2 (DivX) Video Decoder
H.264/AVC Video Decoder (32 bits only)
MPEG2 Program Stream and Transport Stream demuxer
MPEG4 ISO Demuxer
MP3 Audio Decoder
AC3 Audio Decoder
AAC Audio Decoder (32 bits only)
Below is the text of the email being received. It looks like some good optimisation work has been completed on the Windows Media and MPEG2 decoders:
You are receiving this mail to inform you that the Fluendo product you bought has been updated…
Here are the details on updated products :
- Windows Media Video now supports Windows Media 7 and 8 on top of
previously supported formats Windows Media Video 9 and VC1.
Additionally this codec has received a lot of optimization love which
makes it possible to play big HD clips on smaller hardware. Products
including that codec : Complete set of playback plugins, Windows Media
playback bundle, Windows Media Video.
- Windows Media Audio now supports Windows Media 10 and Windows Media
Speech on top of previously supported formats Windows Media 7, 8, 9,
Pro and Lossless. This codec has been optimized and consumes almost
50% less CPU. Products including that codec : Complete set of playback
plugins, Windows Media playback bundle, Windows Media Audio.
- MPEG2 Video decoder has been optimized to reach similar performances
than other competing decoders. Products including that codec :
Complete set of playback plugins, MPEG playback bundle, MPEG2 Video
- H.264/AVC and AAC have been added to the 32 bits Complete set of
playback plugins -64 bits should arrive in Q2 2008. You can now play
your AAC songs or watch QuickTime movies using a highly optimized set
of decoders for those formats. Products including that codec :
Complete set of playback plugins.
- MMS network source has been thoroughly tested with a lot of Internet
streams. Lot of improvements were done to support as much streams as
possible. Products including that network source : Complete set of
playback plugins, Windows Media playback bundle, Windows Media MMS.
Fluendo’s team wishes you a happy new year for 2008.
Best regards, Fluendo Support Team , FLUENDO S.A.
So, perhaps consider purchasing your video and audio codecs from an Open Source company, rather than installing w32codecs or Gstreamer Bad and Ugly.