New Projects - Fresh from the Labs

Mp3Wrap—MP3 Merger (mp3wrap.sourceforge.net)

With podcasting becoming ever more popular, people are dealing with large groups of MP3s that have to be squished into one big file and sent out to the general public. This in itself isn't very hard, but these files generally are all re-encoded and placed in something like a run-of-the-mill 128kbps MP3. When something that already has been under lossy file compression, like an MP3, gets encoded a second time, it loses a great deal of audio quality, and the resulting sound is more like a warbly old vinyl record being pumped through a Commodore 64. Well, worry no more radio DJs; this project may be just for you. According to the Mp3Wrap Web site:

Mp3Wrap is a free, independent alternative to AlbumWrap. It's a command-line utility that wraps quickly two or more MP3 files in one single large playable MP3, without losing filenames and ID3 information (and without need of decoding/encoding). It also provides the possibility of including other non-MP3 files, such as playlists, info files, cover images, inside the MP3. This means you obtain a large MP3 that you can split at any moment just using mp3splt, and in a few seconds, you have all the original files again! It's useful because files created with Mp3Wrap are easy to download. In fact, you don't need to know each song name to download, and it's easy to play. Even if you don't have mp3splt to split the file, you can listen to it anyway.

The mix-tape is back! Mp3Wrap lets you compile multiple MP3s into one large file without losing any sound quality.

Installation

Installing Mp3Wrap is a doddle, with a choice of a source tarball or .rpm and .deb packages. Plus, compiling the source is easy and painless. Click the DOWNLOAD link at the bottom of the home page for a list of all the package options. If you're going with the source version, grab the tarball, save it locally and extract it. Open a terminal in the new folder, and do your run-of-the-mill:

$ ./configure
$ make

And, as root or sudo:

# make install

Usage

Mp3Wrap currently is a command-line-driven affair, but don't let that put you off, as it's quite simple. The syntax is as follows:

mp3wrap finaloutcomefile filetoadd1 filetoadd2

It looked like this after I had given it some files:

$ mp3wrap compilation1.mp3 
 ↪02-Origa_Ft_Shanti_Snyder-Rise-2004.mp3 11\ 
 ↪Inner\ Universe.mp3

The terminal output does give some useful information as to what's happening. As a side note, remember that for some reason the program will insert _MP3WRAP just before the .mp3 extension as a sort of identifying mark, so if you're doing something like writing a shell script and having trouble finding your compilation MP3 file, that will be why.

A bunch of useful switches are included, the best of which is -a, allowing you to add more MP3 files to an existing “wrapped” MP3. Another useful switch is -l, which when passed a wrapped MP3 will list whatever files are inside. Check the man page for more details.

A drawback of the command-line nature of Mp3Wrap is that it may become very tiring and strenuous when dealing with a long list of MP3 files (which probably will lead to some mistakes with long playlists). Also, although Mp3Wrap's files are usable on just about anything that will play MP3s, they do have trouble seeking in some older players, such as XMMS and the like. This project is just begging for a GUI front end (which its cousin application mp3splt already has), as a GUI on top would make things much easier for a radio DJ on Friday night and would avoid the likely mistakes that will come from compiling a playlist of songs via command-line switches. Teething problems aside though, this program is a very clever one that will give podcasters a distinct edge over their rivals with original rip quality in their songs, and it might find its way into the hearts of many MySpace emo types looking to make an awful “mix-tape” MP3 compilation for some budding emo on-line girlfriend. Radio DJs and sad teenagers rejoice!

______________________

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

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