FiiO X3, iTunes and ReplayGain?

I’m not a big fan of streaming services. Main reason (besides audio quality and that you always need an internet connection) is the fact you end up ‘zapping’ through ‘hits’ instead of (yes i’m probably old) experiencing an Album.
Growing up with a walkman, discman, minidisc and later the ipod i’m used to collecting music, arrange it and selecting certain albums to listen to (for someimes week after week the same stuff).
Since my collection of music was still growing (offline in itunes) I tried using my iPod again, but for some reason they are not only very expensive (second hand) but also almost always broken (they contain a little harddisk). So you will need a modified ipod where they replace the harddisk with a SSD or SDCard. You’ll end up paying around 300 euros for a refurbished modified model.
When researching I discovered alternative products, especially the ipod look-a-like products of FiiO.
Long story short, I ended up buying a X3 (2nd gen) for multiple reasons (like its also an usb DAC, has removable SDcard slot, scrollwheel like the old ipod etc..).
After receiving my new FiiO X3ii, hooking it up to my macbook, opening itunes… now what?

iTunes

On windows there are many choices, on OSX there are not many choices if it comes down to musical collection managements. So iTunes is still much alive and working fairly well.
Hooking up your iPhone or iPod will give you easy accessible synchronize options and there is an option called volume adjust to get the same level of volume when skipping through a lot of different tracks of different albums. This information is also synchronized to your iphone or ipod.
Though they are very solid looking protable (dac) audio players, they pretty much lack the Desktop software you never thought you would need.
Connecting the FiiO to your mac will give you a removable USB disk in the Finder.. that’s it.
So I copied my mp3-collection onto the removable storage, disconnected the fiio form my mac, and updated the library on the device.. it was a disaster.
Multi-CD albums would mix up, artist filter would suddenly show ‘featured’ artists as a separate option and skipping through random songs would need you to switch between vol 40 and vol 60 all the time.. it was not a great experience.

FiiOSync (aacgain, ffmpeg, atomicparsley, metaflac and itunes)

I figured that I would not be the only person having this issue, so i searched the web. Conclusion, i’m not the only person, but my combination (itunes, osx, mp3) made it pretty much unique. Most people start using mp3tag/foobar2000 on windows to solve the issues I encountered. So I came up with the following solution:

FiiOSync [download now] (44M) (fiiosync.zip) (OSX)

Updates

  • 30-03-2017 Improved cover.png scaling and added the option to opt-in for track# in the filename, this way the fiio internal search is suddenly useful, disk/track order is still accurate when using the library for browsing since it uses the tags for sorting
  • 29-03-2017 added support for Apple Lossless (ALAC) by transferrig the ALAC files as FLAC to the FiiO and tagging them with metaflac, isnt much slower than copying
  • 27-03-2017 with better cover resize and added an option to switch between whole album syncs or just updating the cover.png
  • 25-03-2017 fiiosync can now convert the album art to match the screensize of the x3ii, just check the checkbox to have fiisync write a scaled cover.jpg to the target album folder while syncing

How does it work

  • You will need a m4a- or mp3collection arranged in iTunes
  • Open iTunes and enable ‘Share iTunes Library XML with other application’ found under the Advanced-tab
  • Install ffmpeg, atomicparsely, metaflac and aacgain, easiest way is by using Homebrew brew install ffmpeg atomicparsley metaflac aacgain
  • Download and unzip FiioSync and move the App to your Applications folder
  • Open and configure the paths if you didn’t use the default brew installation
  • Connect your FiiO and select its Volume on the top bar (click the refresh button if the Volume isn’t listed yet)
  • Click on ‘Scan Albums’ and wait for the scan to complete
  • Select the Albums you would like to sync
  • Click on ‘Synchronize’ and wait till it’s done.

What does it do

  • It copies the files from their itunes-reference location to the selected fiio path
  • and while copying retagging the artist and album and track name with the iTunes tags, also making the track numbers incremental across multi-cds
  • Running metaflac/aacgain without modifying the source files, but writing the correct ReplayGain tags in id3v2 or mp4v2 to the target file on the fiio
  • Cover art is scaled and blackbars are added into the file so the FiiO does show the whole image
  • Track-filenames are altered to the Title only (there is a setting to disable this if the numbers in front are still prefered)
  • So nothing is altered/changed on the source file in itunes, only the files copied to the fiio are altered

what does it solve

  • Setting the ‘replaygain’ to none, track or album in the options on the FiiO will work
  • Gapless playback will work (tho it is limited to ALAC in itunes)
  • Multi-cd tracks are listed and played in the correct order
  • Indexing artists and albums in the correct and clean way on the FiiO (represent iTunes)
  • Able to search through Tracks with the FiiO library search
  • Full cover art on screen (instead of half)
  • Now your FiiO syncs and behaves more like an iPod and iTunes :-)