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Audio conversion between FLAC and ALAC in Ubuntu

The short answer

If you want to converte audio between Free Lossless Audio Codec and Apple Lossless Audio Codec it’s straightforward as

avconv -i audio.flac -acodec alac audio.m4a
avconv -i audio.m4a -acodec flac audio.flac

Where did this come from

This is the application from Libav which is a complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video. It includes libavcodec – the leading audio/video codec library.

So, you are in good hands!

How to install avconv in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

You already know how to do it right ? Just use apt-get install avconv

$ sudo apt-get install avconv
[sudo] password for biafra:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
E: Unable to locate package avconv
$

What ? This can’t be true!
But it is because avconv is just the new name of… ffmpeg.

At this time you still have to install it using the ffmpeg name

$ sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
 
$ ffmpeg
ffmpeg version 0.8.1-4:0.8.1-0ubuntu1, Copyright (c) 2000-2011 the Libav developers
built on Mar 22 2012 05:09:06 with gcc 4.6.3
<span style="color: #ff6600;">This program is not developed anymore and is only provided for compatibility. Use avconv instead (see Changelog for the list of incompatible changes).</span>
Hyper fast Audio and Video encoder
usage: ffmpeg [options] [[infile options] -i infile]... {[outfile options] outfile}...
 
Use -h to get full help or, even better, run 'man ffmpeg'
 
The warning is just to tell you to start to use avconv
$ avconv
avconv version 0.8.1-4:0.8.1-0ubuntu1, Copyright (c) 2000-2011 the Libav developers
  built on Mar 22 2012 05:09:06 with gcc 4.6.3
Hyper fast Audio and Video encoder
usage: avconv [options] [[infile options] -i infile]... {[outfile options] outfile}...
 
Use -h to get full help or, even better, run 'man avconv'

Update: In Ubuntu 14.04 LTS just sudo apt-get install libav-tools

Conclusion

The simplicity of avconv is a must. Just use it to convert FLAC, ALAC and other codecs. Just a warning: mp3 is not supported. Check the available codecs with avconv -codecs.

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