Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to convert a single audio file to separate ones with a .cue file

A client sent me a link to their FTP server of a VO for a project I'm cutting. It turns out that whatever place they used to record the VO, I guess, just left their equipment recording while the VO talent read the script.

Meaning, it's one giant 400 MB .Flac file.

A, why they sent it as a .Flac file is beyond me.

B, why it's one large file is equally beyond me other than they literally never hit pause during the entire recording session, which is exactly what it sounds like they did.

Hearing the client "direct" the professional voice over talent is priceless btw…

But, at least they provided a .cue file.

Seriously. I know.

So my task was to either complain and loose my job and sanity -imagine trying to explain .flac, .mp3 and .cue files to a client- or just find a way to break them up myself.

One solution would be to dump the audio into Final Cut and just Control + V at all the gaps or actually listen to it all and copy paste into new timelines or make subclips or something else equally archaic. Another way was to use an app to cut the audio when it encounters silence but that would likely lead to it cutting at pauses in long sentences.

It turns out it's easier than I had thought. First off Toast won't due it easily (if at all) which was my first thought and attempt. I didn't make much progress with it -it seems the more Toast is updated the more confused it becomes as to what it's main function is- but I did remember a cool little free app called Max that I had used a long time ago so I did what I usually do when awakening an old app…look for any updates first.

Looking at some software sites I saw that Max hadn't been updated in a while but as a "related" search item I saw the FREE app XLD which is an acronym for "X Lossless Decoder" which I knew of but never had much use for outside of the odd conversion.

Now, while Max would likely work I decided to try XLD because it was more recently updated, by a lot.

What you need to do to break up a single file into separate audio files using a provided .cue file (technically you could make your own) is this:

1. Drag your .cue file onto XLD. It'll launch.

2. After XLD's window appears look at the left column. There you'll see the main recording. Make sure it's highlighted and active and you'll see the list of individual tracks on the right in the main window.

3. Hit Command + Comma for XLD's preferences.

4. In the Preferences window select the Output Format you want (double check the Options button if you need precise control of the output format, say for like a TV station or something), then set the Output Directory to where ever you'd like it. You can also set things like the format of the file name and the Maximum number of Threads here. Close the Preferences window.

5. Back in the main window hit the Transcode button and away you go.

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