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find . -type f -name '*.wav' -print0 |xargs -0 -P 3 -n 1 flac -V8
will encode all .wav files into FLAC in parallel.
Explanation of xargs flags:
-P [max-procs]: Max number of invocations to run at once. Set to 0 to run all at once [potentially dangerous re: excessive RAM usage].
-n [max-args]: Max number of arguments from the list to send to each invocation.
-0: Stdin is a null-terminated list.
I use xargs to build parallel-processing frameworks into my scripts like the one here: http://pastebin.com/1GvcifYa
This is useful if you have a program which doesn't work well with multicore CPUs. With taskset you can set its CPU affinity to run on only one core.