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Newbie software questions -- need help

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I'm just getting started in computer-based audio. I have a Toshiba laptop with the hard drive partitioned off 1/2 for Vista and 1/2 for Linux. I would prefer to use Linux 100% if possible but the goal is optimal sound quality. The only reason I still have Vista on my hard drive is for Apple I-tunes. I have a couple of questions:


1. What is the best software to use and is it for Linux or Vista? Again, I simply want the best sound quality even if it means using Vista.


2. Should I buy an external hard drive for storage and, if so, what's a decent cheap one? I don't plan on having a gigantic music library.


3. Is there an online source for audiophile quality music where I can purchase by the song or album that I could subscribe to for a fee? As I understand it, the music you buy off I-tunes isn't high fidelity (or is it?)


4. Is there a way to get I-tunes or equivalent for Linux (other than using a Windows emulator inside Vista)? Looking on Apple's website, I-tunes appears only for Windows or Apple OS.


And anything else you can tell me to get started here. I guess it's time to take the plunge. Thanks much in advance.




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1. "Best software" is difficult to define for may obvious reasons. But, for my money, MediaMonkey (Windows only) is certainly great software with a great user interface, a zillion addons, a rich forum (and a community who are very helpful) and lots of flexibilty that works with reliability and stability.

2)Depends on how much music you have and what format you use. External USB drives of 1 terrabyte are now about $120.00 or thereabouts. If you have a FRY's, they are typically the cheapest in an area.

3) Yes. One that comes to mind is HD tracks. There are others. Itunes tunes are mp3 and not considered high fidelity by many

4) I think you are correct. Songbird is a program that will run on all 3 OS's (or rather, there is a version for each OS) - you might want to check out.


Computer music is lots of fun. The ability to jump around, sort and search for a specific item (song, artist, composer, genre, etc) brings a lot of fun back to listening to music. I think you will find yourself listening to more music than ever.


Don't get too crazy about the software, disc drive, etc. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.


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1. Personally I've always found iTunes to give a good quality replay (with XP and latterly MacOS). Some people will argue that only using ASIO or WASPAI will allow you true bit-perfect output with Windows, but my experience (backed up by several subjective measurements) is that iTunes can give similar results. Some people will also argue that audio quality differs beyond just the "bit-perfectness" or otherwise of the software and that Foobar is the best. My advise to you is if you are very serious about quality - you try downloading Foobar, Media Monkey and J.River Media Centre, rip some music to WAV and/or AIFF and compare the three of them along with iTunes and Windows Media centre. That way YOU can decide if you are hearing a difference with your own system and how important the quality is compared with the ease of use.


2. You need an external storage if just to ensure you have a backup of your files. Depending on the size of your library and the size of the HDD in your laptop then you may not need one for day to day use - but once you've ripped your CDs once, you really don't want to be having to rip them again if you drive dies or if you accidentally erase all the tags in your files, etc.


3. There are quite a few suppliers of High Resolution (better than CD quality) music these days. But it all depends on your taste in music. If you are into contemporary rock/pop music, then your choice is mostly between iTunes/Amazon/etc and buying the physical CD and ripping it to a lossless format (AIFF/WAV uncompressed or ALAC/FLAC compressed). You are correct iTunes (music store) isn't CD quality and best avoided in preference to buying original CDs or high resolution downloads.


4. The closest to iTunes for Linux is Songbird as was previously meantioned.


The one thing you didn't mention but personally I think is important, is that when converting your CDs make sure you choose a lossless format. There is a good thread http://www.computeraudiophile.com/In-What-Format-Should-I-Rip-My-Music about best file formats for different OSes and different circumstances. If you decide to use iTunes, I wouldn't worry about it being not of good enough quality, several High End HiFi companies recommend it as a solution for computer audio source into DACs costing 5-figures. There maybe some very minor differences but the most important thing in the beginning is getting your music onto your PC in a format that keeps the quality of the original.


You may see on here discussions as to weather iTunes produces as good a rip as EAC or dbPowerAmp. My personal opinion is that there is NO difference between different rips as long as they have been ripped correctly. This is (IMO) where iTunes falls down as it gives no feedback on the success (or otherwise) of the rip. Therefore I would say it's worth investigating EAC or dbPowerAmp - both give feedback and good results, the major differences are down to the user interface.


Once you've got all the software side sorted ... then you can have fun deciding how to connect the laptop to your HiFi.


Hope I've helped.





...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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