When I read about Nine Inch Nails’ latest project, Ghost, I was inspired to hear of a well known artist sticking it to the man and releasing their content without a label and distribution chain, much as JoCo does (although I’d imagine Trent Reznor has much more bankroll behind him than Jonathan Coulton).

As the first (of four) parts of Ghost was a free taster I went to the site and downloaded it, 3 days later I’d listened to it at least once daily and wanted to hear the rest of the collection. $10 is a paltry fee for two pressed CD’s so I ponied it up (plus another $13 for shipping, about £12 in total) and was offered a free one time download of the audio file, DRM free, in either high quality MP3, Apple Lossless Audio or FLAC.

Geek that I am I chose FLAC, for purest quality to later be encoded as I chose. The connection was mighty slow so in the mean time I researched methods for converting the FLAC files to 192kbs MP3s to go on my MP3 player. Here’s what I came up with:

Option 1: Using the command line gst-launch program with a pipeline deduced from the Brian Pepple’s blog and the gst-launch man page: gst-launch filesrc location=file.flac ! decodebin ! lame bitrate=256 ! filesink location=file.mp3

Option 2: Programatically, in Python, as explained at n3il wiki. Uses Python to call gst-launch with a similar pipeline as above but use Python to script passing all of the files in a directory.

Option 3: Using a tidy little Gtk+ application, SoundConverter, which uses uses Gstreamer to encode to one of a variety of formats (MP3, Ogg, Flac, Wav.).