Tag Archives: audio

My (small) experience with Arch and different environments

17 Oct

This is a quick note to share my short experience with Arch so far.

I wanted to set up a small audio station, using an oldish netbook (Dell Inspiron mini 10). I thought I’d give Arch a go, for the interesting install process, and to ideally have a minimal OS just for music playback.

I installed Arch with Xfce on top, and had to struggle for a while trying to fix several issues, including ALSA not remembering the volume level between sessions, always starting muted, and my external hard drive not mounting automatically at startup.

I ended up thinking I did a bad job at configuring my system, and after trying several things, I decided to go for the lazy option and install Manjaro, in its Xfce version. I ended up having the same issues from the beginning. So I gave another lightweight environment a go: LXQT.

Manjaro + LXQT ended up working perfectly, for both audio and external drives. I assume the issues were coming from the basic Xfce configuration, and even though LXQT is still in its infancy and is missing a few things (e.g. no way to turn display off when idle), it has done a great job and feels very light on my system. I recommend giving it a go!

On the audio side, I noticed that Xfce uses ALSA by default, whereas LXQT uses Pulseaudio. My issues probably had a lot to do with that.

It is now a pleasure to listen to music using Clementine 1.2, with Clementine Remote on my Android Fairphone!


Enable MP4 and WMA playback for Clementine on KXStudio 14.04

29 Apr

This is a quick note on one of the small issues I encountered since I started using KXStudio as my only OS. KXStudio is great Ubuntu-based distribution maintained by the amazing FalkTX, and directed at music production. It has repos that have up-to-date music production apps, as well as extra utilities that make it a lot easier to build your Jack server-based studio.

I noticed that I could not play MP4 out of the box in Clementine, getting an error message like “Your GStreamer is missing a plug-in.”. I simply had to install the “bad” part of the gstreamer plugins – “base”, “good” and “ugly” being already installed. The package is called “gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad” and you can install it by executing the following command in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad

You might also have noticed that WMA files don’t play, with a similar error message. For WMA playback, you will need to install a package that is not in the official repos. For that, add the “mc3man/gstffmpeg-keep” PPA and install the corresponding package with the following successive commands, following the prompts each time:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mc3man/gstffmpeg-keep
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg

Remember to restart Clementine after those changes so it takes into account the new plugins.

This was tested on KXStudio 14.04 with Clementine 1.2.3 (now in the KXStudio 14.04 repos).

The next version of Clementine (probably 1.3) will use gstreamer1.0, which will solve a few issues with it not playing some formats, including lossless WMA for example. So make sure you remove that PPA and uninstall the package when you upgrade Clementine.  But really, you should just convert those nasty files to a different format. Clementine has a built-in transcoder that you can use to convert your problematic formats (MP4, WMA) to open formats that will never bring up issues like this in the future, like FLAC for your lossless tracks or Ogg Vorbis for your lossy ones. And get your new music in those formats too!

Split a large audio file into tracks according to cue file on Linux

30 Jan

split2flac initYou might find it useful to divide a music release that consists of one entire audio file, according to the .cue file that comes with it. There is a very easy way to do this on Linux, thanks to an open source package called split2flac.

Note that the following instructions are for a debian-based distribution.

To use split2flac, you will need to download the latest files from the GitHub project, unpack the archive and move the executable to usr/bin. You can do that last thing with the following command:

sudo mv /path/to/slit2flac /usr/bin


As stated in the readme file, you have to have the two packages shntool and cuetools installed, which is easily done with the following command:

sudo apt-get install shntools cuetools


I use the default FLAC format output as it is an open standard and it is lossless even though it is smaller than a WAVE file for example. However, if you want other formats as outputs, you can create symlinks that will allow you to use extra commands that do exactly what they say:

cd /usr/bin
sudo ln -s split2flac split2mp3
sudo ln -s split2flac split2ogg
sudo ln -s split2flac split2m4a
sudo ln -s split2flac split2wav


If you want to use a lossy format, I recommend you use the open .ogg format.

You will then need to install extra packages depending on what you want to do. In my case, I had to have wavepack and flac too because I was going from a .wv file to .flac chuncks. If you want to use split2ogg to save some hard drive space, you will need vorbis-tools. If you get an error, it is most likely because you are missing a particular package for your format conversion. Have a look at the readme file to find out what you are missing.

You can then use this nifty tool, for example with the simple command:

split2flac path/to/audio/file/filename.wv


split2flac will automatically find the .cue file and the covers that are in the directory, and create a new folder with the covers and the split, tagged and converted tracks!


split2flac tags your new converted tracks

split2flac tags your new converted tracks