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| "SACD ripping HOWTO" ::                                [2011-07-04 02:43PM] |
|                                                      author: Jeremy Malcolm |
|                                                                             |
| Super Audio CDs (SACDs) were a next-generation CD format, capable of much   |
| higher fidelity as well as 5.1 channel surround sound... and unlike         |
| regular CDs, designed to be impossible to rip. Although a handful of disks  |
| and players are still being sold, the format has been a failure, mainly     |
| because the CD format wasn't broken to begin with, except for audiophiles   |
| and record companies.                                                       |
|                                                                             |
| Since my SACD player was my early-model PlayStation 3, which has already    |
| broken once, I needed to rip my SACD music into a more durable format.      |
| Also, I wanted to be able to listen to it in 5.1 channels which I hadn't    |
| been able to do before now, because my tuner only has an optical audio      |
| connection, and the PlayStation demands an HDMI connection for playing      |
| multi-channel audio.                                                        |
|                                                                             |
| Luckily, ripping music from SACDs has just become possible. This tutorial   |
| will teach you not only how to rip your files from SACD, but also how to    |
| play them in multi-channel format without the need for any expensive        |
| audiophile hardware or software. What you need is:                          |
|                                                                             |
| * A PlayStation 3 model CECHAxx, CECHBxx, CECHCxx or CECHExx, released in   |
|   2006 or 2007.  See if you can find one on eBay.                           |
| * Said PlayStation must be running firmware version 3.55 or 3.41 - which    |
|   means that you won't be able to use it on Sony's PlayStation Network.     |
|   Unfortunately, downgrading the firmware is not currently possible.        |
| * A modified unofficial version of that same firmware called OtherOS++.     |
| * SACD Ripper. Unless you want to compile your own binary, you can          |
|   download a precompiled one here.                                          |
| * The PS3's root keys, which are needed the first time you run SACD Ripper. |
| * DSDConverter (this is for Mac OS X, I'm not sure about other platforms).  |
| * FFmpeg and MPlayer (for any operating system).                            |
|                                                                             |
| The first step is to install the OtherOS++ firmware.  To do this:           |
|                                                                             |
| 1. Copy the OtherOS++ firmware file that you downloaded to a USB memory     |
|    stick as /PS3/UPDATE/PS3UPDAT.PUP.                                       |
| 2. While your PS3 is off, press and hold the power button until it turns    |
|    on then turns off again.                                                 |
| 3. Press and hold the power button again until the PS3 beeps, then leave    |
|    it held down until it beeps twice more.                                  |
| 4. You are now in the PS3 recovery menu. Plug in your USB stick, select     |
|    System Update and follow the instructions.                               |
|                                                                             |
| Now install and run SACD Ripper.                                            |
|                                                                             |
| 1. Copy it to a USB memory stick, and insert that into the PS3.             |
| 2. Go to the PS3's game menu and you'll see "Install package files".        |
|    It should find the SACD Ripper package, so select it and install.        |
| 3. Unzip the PS3 root keys package that you downloaded to the root of a     |
|    USB stick. Run SACD Ripper and insert the USB stick when it prompts you  |
|    for the root key files.                                                  |
|                                                                             |
| You're now all set to perform your first rip.                               |
|                                                                             |
| 1. Insert an SACD. SACD Ripper should recognise it.                         |
| 2. Insert a large capacity USB device. SACD Ripper under-states the size    |
|    required, and won't warn you if your device isn't big enough. As a       |
|    rough guide, a multi-channel SACD of about ten tracks needs about an     |
|    8Gb device. External hard drives are usually quicker than USB sticks.    |
| 3. Press the circle key to change the format in which the SACD is ripped.   |
|    We want either DSDIFF (DSD) or DSF (DSD). The sound quality is the same  |
|    no matter which of these you choose. However do take care that if your   |
|    SACD is multi-channel (not all are), you choose one of the "mch"         |
|    formats, not "2ch".                                                      |
|                                                                             |
| Since you are not an audiophile, you don't have any software capable of     |
| playing the DSD format directly, so we'll need to convert it to an          |
| ordinary PCM (eg. WAV) file. This is what DSDConverter is for. To use it:   |
|                                                                             |
| 1. Move the USB device to your Mac.                                         |
| 2. Run DSDConverter and open the first ripped track. Choose WAV as the      |
|    file format and 24 as the bit depth (or 16 to economise on file size).   |
| 3. The setting for sample rate is a bit more complex. If you want to be     |
|    able to compress it to a reasonable size (10-15Mb) later, you need a     |
|    sample rate of 44.1 Khz, which is no better than CD quality. If you are  |
|    unhappy with that, but don't mind a file at least ten times larger, you  |
|    will have to stay in WAV format, and choose whatever sample rate you     |
|    like (176.4 should be enough, though).                                   |
| 3. Click Start and make yourself a tea or coffee.                           |
|                                                                             |
| Next we will compress the file into an AC-3 file, which is a good           |
| compressed format for multi-channel audio (another alternative is           |
| multi-channel MP3, but this isn't so widely supported). It's exactly the    |
| same Dolby Digital format that you get on DVDs. We're going to use FFmpeg   |
| for this.                                                                   |
|                                                                             |
| 1. From the command line, type "ffmpeg -i [file.wav] -ab 320 [file.ac3]".   |
|    Of course, replace the parts in square brackets with the actual names    |
|    for your input and output files - but you must include .ac3 as the       |
|    extension for your output file, so FFmpeg knows what format to use.      |
| 2. The "-ab" setting is the bitrate. Note that this is not the same as the  |
|    sample rate! It controls how compressed the file will be. 320 is the     |
|    same bitrate used on DVDs, so should be good enough for most people,     |
|    but feel free to experiment.                                             |
|                                                                             |
| Finally, how do you play this file? Here is where your mileage will vary.   |
| In my case, I have a computer running Ubuntu hooked up to my sound system,  |
| and it decodes AC3 audio in hardware. So I need to play the AC3 file        |
| without my computer decoding it first. The command line that I use is:      |
|                                                                             |
|   pasuspender -- mplayer -ao alsa:device=hw=1,0 -ac hwac3 [file.ac3]        |
|                                                                             |
| Breaking this down:                                                         |
|                                                                             |
| 1. pasuspender tells Ubuntu's PulseAudio sound system not to interfere with |
|    MPlayer, since PulseAudio doesn't yet support AC-3 passthrough.          |
| 2. -- is just a separator to tell pasuspender that what follows is the      |
|    command I want to execute without interference from PulseAudio.          |
| 3. The -ao option to MPlayer specifies the audio output device, which will  |
|    certainly be different on your system to mine. Use "aplay -l" to find    |
|    out what it is on your system.                                           |
| 4. The -ac option tells MPlayer that we want to play the file using         |
|    hardware AC-3 decoding.                                                  |
|                                                                             |
| There are a few ripped files that MPlayer hasn't been able to play, and     |
| I'm not sure why, since they play fine (but in stereo) using other          |
| multimedia players such as Totem. But most files play very nicely.          |
|                                                                             |
| So it was a bit of a marathon, but I can now hear my SACDs in all their     |
| multi-channel glory for the first time, and they sound great! If you run    |
| into trouble with the above procedure, feel free to drop me a note and      |
| I'll try to help you out.                                                   |
|                                                                             |
| UPDATE: Read the comment below for some improvements to this HOWTO.         |
|                                                                             |
|                                                         reply (14 comments) |
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