Let’s assume that you have a music album in one flac file and you want to split it so that each song is a separate flac file. The linux tool needed for this task is called shntool. In order to install it in Archlinux you need to give the following:
$ pacman -S shntool
The command you need to give in order to get the separate files is:
$ shntool -f blabla.cue blabla,flac
where blabla.flac is the album .flac and blabla.cue its .cue file.
One year ago, I wrote about this tool on an audio forum I participate and I realized that there’s people that is really concerned about the quality of the output files after the split. It’s very easy to assume that I was the only Linux user so I had to find a way to prove that most of the well known splitting tools (including shntool) have the same results. The methodology used was very easy:
1. I ripped an album twice using EAC: one as a big flac and one with separate flac files.
2. I split the files with shntool, and I extracted the flac files to .wav with the following command:
$ flac -d *.flac
3. I calculated the sha1sums of the .wav files that I got from the split files:
sha1sum *.wav > sha1sum_split.txt
The result was:
051bfcc1866c16a58a888a33bdc3360a96183fa9 split-track01.wav 0842d6228eee86ec435f9741338e3903c9c84335 split-track02.wav a218ff4c8f69c64bbe64665da5dd375932609b7f split-track03.wav 03bb5358b14952793329c1ad7a01d2208962f64b split-track04.wav 9b7be776d85234e9c7501b3428f8542ee3379fd5 split-track05.wav d7e348a556bdd5f7980deea3e767d100f67fd41a split-track06.wav 870e02543747f275dfe3e1826367a0699728ff96 split-track07.wav
4. I used the same commands to extract the flac and calculate the sha1sums using the files of the original rip (the standard one with the separate files).
The shas1ums were the following:
051bfcc1866c16a58a888a33bdc3360a96183fa9 01 - track01.wav 0842d6228eee86ec435f9741338e3903c9c84335 02 - track02.wav a218ff4c8f69c64bbe64665da5dd375932609b7f 03 - track03.wav 03bb5358b14952793329c1ad7a01d2208962f64b 04 - Track04.wav 9b7be776d85234e9c7501b3428f8542ee3379fd5 05 - track05.wav d7e348a556bdd5f7980deea3e767d100f67fd41a 06 - Track06.wav 870e02543747f275dfe3e1826367a0699728ff96 07 - track07.wav
As you can see, there were no surprises. The resulting wav files under both procedures were identical.
Now what about, two very popular windows programs that people use in order to split flacs?
This is the result using Foobar:
051bfcc1866c16a58a888a33bdc3360a96183fa9 track .wav 0842d6228eee86ec435f9741338e3903c9c84335 track .wav a218ff4c8f69c64bbe64665da5dd375932609b7f track .wav 03bb5358b14952793329c1ad7a01d2208962f64b track .wav 9b7be776d85234e9c7501b3428f8542ee3379fd5 track .wav d7e348a556bdd5f7980deea3e767d100f67fd41a track .wav 870e02543747f275dfe3e1826367a0699728ff96 track .wav
and it’s obvious that using CUETools I got the same results.
So, what did I do here? I proved that under all procedures, the resulting wav files were in fact the same files. What is different when using shntool, or foobar or CUETools, is the flac compression level (and please don’t start with the affect that flac compression level has in sound in 2017!).
What is very funny, is that even after I presented the above results to this forum, I got replies like “yes, but I can still hear a difference comparing the split files between foobar and Cuetools”.. And then I realized how hard is to win an audiophile. Damn, they always win!