Universal Audio Converter – Updated

Since all my other software scripts have recently gotten a bit of a re-work, I thought I should probably re-visit the program I use most often myself: the AbsolutelyBaching Universal Audio Converter, or AUAC for short.

For the uninitiated, AUAC is a shell script which provides the convenient ability to convert almost any audio file format into practically any other. Thus auac -i=ape -o=flac will convert a bunch of Monkeys Audio files into FLAC ones.

The program’s version number has been bumped to 1.10.

There are two basic raft of changes. The first is that it has become ‘distro aware’, meaning that when first run, it will spot the absence of necessary software prerequisites and give you distro-appropriate installation advice (thus, on OpenSuse, you’ll be told to sudo zypper in… whatever is missing, whilst on Fedora you’ll be told to sudo dnf install… something).

The other significant change is to better handle SACD ISO format files. These are rips from SACDs and contain audio files made at much higher bit- and sampling- rates than are used on ‘ordinary’ CDs. AUAC has always been able to extract the files from the otherwise-impenetrable SACD ISO format, but I had long noticed that the resulting output files were usually considerably quieter than equivalent files ripped from a standard CD. It turns out that this wasn’t a figment of my imagination, but a real artefact of the way SACDs are mastered: it is standard industry practice to master an SACD audio track 6 decibels quieter than the equivalent files destined for CDs. The reasons for doing this are technical -but AUAC has now acquired the ability to boost the volume of FLAC files produced from an SACD ISO by the same 6 decibels, so that the volume levels of the extracted and converted files should more closely match their ordinary-CD-produced equivalents. The signal boost is optional -and, even when applied, non-boosted FLACs are produced alongside the signal-boosted ones, so you can audition both sets of files to determine which sounds better to you.

Another minor modification to AUAC that I’m quite pleased about: if you convert from FLAC to FLAC, AUAC has never bothered to delete the source FLACs. It does now, however, if asked to with the -d=y runtime switch. I often convert high bitrate FLACs to standard CD bitrate FLACs, so the inability to tell the source FLACs apart from the destination ones has always infuriated me and lead to a number of mistakes where I deleted the wrong FLAC by my clumsy handling of my distro’s file manager! No longer: FLAC-to-FLAC conversions with the delete option specified will automatically result in only the 16-bit output FLACs being left on your hard disk. At last!!

The new version of AUAC can be downloaded from here. To upgrade an earlier version, simply download the new version (into your Downloads folder) and then issue these two commands:

sudo mv $HOME/Downloads/auac.sh /usr/bin 
sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/auac.sh

Assuming that you installed the original version in the /usr/bin folder, those commands will see the new version over-write it. Alternatively, download the new script and open it in a text editor; then open the original script in a text editor, and paste the new version’s text over that of the original and save the original file once more.

Happy converting!

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