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I'm writing a shell script for Linux, using Bash, to translate any video-file into a MP4. For that, I'm using avconv with libvorbis for audio.

Inside my script, I have a question for the user :

read -p "- Audio Quality [scale from -2 to 10] ? "
    if [ -n "$REPLY" ] ; then

My "ABITRATE" string goes into the final avconv command-line.

But I would like to give the user the opportunity to answer that question with a value in Kb (Kilobit), and translate it into the scale that libvorbis uses. The "scale from -2 to 10" is this :

Quality Kbit/s  Normalization
 -2      ~32        y
 -1      ~48        y
  0      ~64        y
  1      ~80        y
  2      ~96        y
  3     ~112        y
  4     ~128        n
  5     ~160        n
  6     ~192        n
  7     ~224        n
  8     ~256        n
  9     ~320        n
 10     ~500        n

I would like to know how to check if my $REPLY is in a range of number. For example, I would like my script to do something like this :

if [ $REPLY is a number between 1 and 32 ] ; then 
elif [ $REPLY is a number between 33 and 48 ] ; then 

Is this possible (I'm willing to say 'yes of course, shouldn't be hard' but I don't know the syntax to use) ?

share|improve this question
AFAIK, Vorbis isn't a valid audio codec in an MP4 file (you want to use AAC or possibly MP3)... – evilsoup Mar 9 '14 at 18:55
Thank you, it worked well on VLC but Totem doesn't want to read it. I'm switching to libvo_aacenc – MrVaykadji Mar 9 '14 at 19:57
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The [ command/shell builtin has comparison tests, so you can just do

if [ "$REPLY" -ge 1 -a "$REPLY" -le 32 ]; then REPLY=-2;
elif [ "$REPLY" -ge 33 -a "$REPLY" -le 48 ]; then REPLY=-1; fi

where -ge means greater-or-equal-to (and so on). The -a is logical "and". The [ command is just a command, not special syntax (it's actually the same as test: check out man test), so it NEEDS the space after it. If you write [$REPLY it will try to find a command named [$REPLY and execute it, which won't work. The same goes for closing ].

Edit: to test if the number is integer (if that can happen in your code), first do the test

if [[ "$REPLY" =~ ^[0-9]+$ ]]; then
   existing code
else echo "$REPLY is not an integer" >&2 && exit 1; fi

Of course all these bracket expressions return 0 (true) or 1 (false) and can be combined. Not only you can put everything in the same bracket, you can also do

if [[ "$REPLY" =~ ^[0-9]+$ ]] && [ "$REPLY" -ge 1 -a "$REPLY" -le 32 ]; then ...

or something similar.

share|improve this answer
Exactly what I was looking for, thank you ! Could I use instead simple comparison expression like >= ? – MrVaykadji Mar 9 '14 at 16:18
Bash allows many types of brackets for testing. You have these traditional [ brackets, which work as seen in man test. These are traditional and fool-proof. Then, you have a lot of bash builtins. You have [[ which are similar, but not exactly the same, as this one doesn't expand pathnames (there, < = > mean string comparisons, and integer comparisons are the same as in [). Both also have a lot of tests for file existence, permissions and so on. Then you have single ( and double (( used in @devnull's answer. Check out man bash under Compound Commands. – orion Mar 9 '14 at 16:26
@MrVaykadji I highly recommend you also test whether the variable is a number, you might get unexpected results otherwise: foo='a'; [[ "$foo" -lt 32 ]] && echo yes – terdon Mar 9 '14 at 17:10

You could simply say:

((REPLY>=1 && REPLY<=32)) && REPLY=-2
((REPLY>=33 && REPLY<=48)) && REPLY=-1

Quoting from the manual:


(( expression ))

The arithmetic expression is evaluated according to the rules described below (see Shell Arithmetic). If the value of the expression is non-zero, the return status is 0; otherwise the return status is 1. This is exactly equivalent to

let "expression"
share|improve this answer
I like the simplicity, but what are the (( ? I tried to use them in prompt and it seems to work like if [ ] ; then but I didn't knew that existed. – MrVaykadji Mar 9 '14 at 16:15
@MrVaykadji Added a reference from the manual. Let me know if it's not clear. – devnull Mar 9 '14 at 16:16
@MrVaykadji Moreover, saying if [ condition ]; then foo; fi is equivalent to saying condition && foo. – devnull Mar 9 '14 at 16:19
Okay, nice ! I would like to accept both your aswers (Orion and you) if I could. Thanks a lot for all this, I learned a lot. – MrVaykadji Mar 9 '14 at 16:21
You may want to strip leading zeros if you use this. a=08; (( a > 1 )) will error since 08 is considered octal. you could also force decimal with 10#$REPLY. cmd && cmd isn't quite the same as if cmd; then ... Once you need a else part, chaining logical && and || can cause subtle bugs. – llua Mar 9 '14 at 16:23

You could do something like this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
read -p "- Audio Quality [scale from -2 to 10] ? "
if [ -n "$REPLY" ] ; then

echo "You chose : $ABITRATE : $REPLY"
## If 0 < $REPLY < 33 and $REPLY is a number
if [[ "$REPLY" -gt 0 && "$REPLY" -lt 33 && "$REPLY" =~ '^[0-9]$' ]]
    echo "GOOD"
    echo "BAD"
share|improve this answer

First, test whether the input is numeric. For example, using the regular expression match operator of bash conditional expressions:

if [[ $REPLY =~ -?[0-9]+ ]]; then
  echo "Invalid input (not numeric): $REPLY"
  exit 2

To test numeric ranges, you have two possibilities:

  • the -gt operator of conditional expressions inside [ … ] or [[ … ]] (beware that the < and > operators do string comparison, not numeric value comparison, so [[ 10 < 9 ]] is true);
  • the usual arithmetic operators inside ((…)).


if ((REPLY >= -2 && REPLY <= 10)); then
  : # do nothing -- pass directly to libvorbis
elif ((REPLY <= 24)); then
  echo "Value outside supported range: $REPLY"
  exit 2
elif ((REPLY <= 135)); then
  REPLY=$(((REPLY+8) / 16 - 4))
elif ((REPLY <= 271)); then
  REPLY=$(((REPLY+16) / 32))
elif ((REPLY <= 400)); then
elif ((REPLY <= 707)); then
  echo "Value outside supported range: $REPLY"
  exit 2

(You may want to use different approximation rules, I don't know if the ones I chose are the best here.)

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