Jump to content
IGNORED

Audiophile, but new to computer audio - need help getting started


Quaveda

Recommended Posts

I had to liquidate my audiophile 2-chnl gear ~20yrs ago. I'm starting from scratch now. Makes sense to use a computer (Mac, in my case) for ripping, downloading, storing, playback. I might start with desktop speakers and headphones in my office. Then set up a listening room later. Not sure of my budget yet.

 

Seems like a good place to start is getting good lossless files onto my Mac. Then figure out how to connect it to whatever gear ( streamer, DAC, amp, headphones or speakers) presumably via either USB in my office, or WIFI to a listening room. Am I on the right track?

 

if so, I could really use some pointers, links, to info about preparing my iMac which has an external HD as well as internal. I don't want to have to rip CDs more than once. where can I learn about a few scenarios:

  • computer music library (iTunes-based, or other)
  • ripping s/w to go from CD to the library , and downloading hires files to the library
  • storing on internal, external, or NAS drive
  • playback sw (iTunes, other)

 

At this point i'd need a way to stream. this is where I'm unfamiliar with gear (music streamer, NAS, UPnP/DLNA ??)

 

if you can point me to a thread, links etc, I would appreciated it, since I'm getting dazed & confused . Thanks!

Link to comment

Hi Quaveda and welcome.

 

You are definitely on the right track.

 

I would start ripping right away. And as long as you rip to lossless you won't have to rip again. I don't use a Mac so I can't be too specific but you should probably rip to a compressed lossless format. I don't think Itunes (or maybe it's the Iphone) can use flac which is probably the most common lossless format used, but Apple has their own (I can't think of its name at the moment).

 

As to desktop sound. There are very small amps available that act as headphone amps and desktop speaker amps. I think NAD makes a nice one.

 

But mainly I would just browse around in this forum and search some of the topics that interest you. There are answers to all the questions you posed in your post in recent and fairly recent threads. Also check out the CA Academy.

 

Chris

Link to comment

Welcome to CA!

 

My position on computer audio is to keep it simple.....that's the real benefits of computers for audio playback.....simplicity, reliability and premium SQ all in one bundle.

 

I like iTunes. I'm familiar with the GUI and I've always had faith in Apple developers when there's new product releases all designed to work within the iTunes/apple network.

 

There are settings for advanced ripping within Tunes which IMO are excellent. I have ripped nearly 1TB of music without a single perceivable error.

 

I rip to Apple lossless

 

I do not purchase downloads but instead physical media from either storefronts, conventions or Amazon or other web vendors. I like having the physical media as a backup archive. I have yet to be able to appreciate HiRes other than the advanced mastering and NOT the bitrate.

 

I use external SATA drives for storage.

Link to comment

How many CDs do you have? As a guide compressed lossless FLAC ends up about 500MB/CD, similar for ALAC. A 192/24 album takes up 1500MB.

 

Work out a backup strategy, rip once, back up often. The choice of file to rip is up to you, there are far too many opinions on which one is 'best', but preference is for files that store metadata (track, artist, album names etc) in the file. Cover art: most apps can download and stays in the folder of the album. Also consider if you have portables.

 

I use dbpoweramp or Jriver for ripping, they are both Windows based. I have heard Max used for OSX with some hits and misses, itunes is OK, works, don't choose the mp3, aac, use ALAC or AIFF instead.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

Link to comment

Forget FLAC, Apple devices can not read it. Rip your CD's to AIFF, a universal lossless format that handles metadata best. XLD is a freeware app for ripping and transcoding. It has more options and quality settings than iTunes. I do use an older version of iTunes to catalog and tag my music files, but I play them with Audirvana Plus ($74), a state-of-the-art, stand-alone music player app that is very popular here. You can download a free trial at its website.

Link to comment
Forget FLAC, Apple devices can not read it. Rip your CD's to AIFF, a universal lossless format that handles metadata best. XLD is a freeware app for ripping and transcoding. It has more options and quality settings than iTunes. I do use an older version of iTunes to catalog and tag my music files, but I play them with Audirvana Plus ($74), a state-of-the-art, stand-alone music player app that is very popular here. You can download a free trial at its website.

 

I also use AIFF files but have never heard a difference between this and ALAC (Apple Lossless) and they will be considerably smaller files if space is of any concern. I also agree with the use of XLD as the ripping software. There are numerous playback software that work in tandem with iTunes using iTunes only as the data manager and Audivrana is a good choice but there is also JRiver for Mac which is a tool that entirely replaces iTunes. Do not begin your project without a backup strategy. You should have as a minimum an additional backup drive that you utilize frequently especially as you are creating your library. For myself I do a weekly backup unless I have ripped several albums in a session and then also maintain a secondary backup I use monthly and store in a fire safe. Many people store the second backup off site.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Link to comment

Thanks for all the great tips. I don't have a huge CD library and storage costs are reasonable, so not worried about that part. I will try ripping and see how it goes.

 

Is this about right? : [Computer or NAS or music server] is used instead of [Record/CD collection + CD transport or turntable]. And this becomes especially cost-effective when you to listen in more than one location in your home because you could deliver the files via WIFI or USB to more than one system [DAC + amplification]

Link to comment

Welcome back to the audio world.

 

Some really good suggestions presented above. Most of all, check out the CA Academy as suggested above, it's on the main page of the site. Use that knowledge base to plan everything out with your hardware as well as the storage plan/back up plan that works best for you. I think that you can use iTunes to rip your CD's with a high degree of confidence and I suggest storing your library on an external drive of your choice, not your Mini. Given that you might be downloading hi res material, Audirvana + is worth every penny as a playback software to control sample rate switching and adjust filters.

 

Good luck!

Link to comment

 

Is this about right? : [Computer or NAS or music server] is used instead of [Record/CD collection + CD transport or turntable]. And this becomes especially cost-effective when you to listen in more than one location in your home because you could deliver the files via WIFI or USB to more than one system [DAC + amplification]

 

Yes.

David

Link to comment

Welcome - this site has a large amount of useful information for you to absorb.

 

Apologies if this is too basic but if you are not already aware, you need to appreciate that there are 2 major ways of playing digital files of music:

Streaming - your music, on a hard disk internal or external to your computer, is routed from there via USB to a DAC (or USB-to-SPDIF converter if the DAC has no USB input) and thence to your hi-fi system. Software to play the music tracks resides on the computer.

Serving - your music, stored on a NAS, is routed via ethernet to an ethernet-to-SPDIF converter (a 'renderer') and thence to your hi-fi system. There are 2 parts to the software needed to play the music tracks: server software which can run on the NAS, and playback control software that normally takes the form of an app on a tablet or mobile. A computer is only needed occasionally, to rip CDs and curate the music library on the NAS.

 

There is plenty of information about both streaming and serving on this forum. Streaming seems to be the (marginally?) favoured approach in the USA, while serving is well established in Europe and elsewhere because of the work done there by Linn, Naim and other manufacturers. I started out with a streaming solution using a Mac mini but baulked at implementing the large number of tweaks that seem to be deemed necessary on this forum and elsewhere to obtain the best sound quality. I've recently switched to a serving solution because very good sound quality can be obtained with a simple system. I use a Synology DS412+ NAS connected to a Sonore Rendu, and thence to my DAC. The server solution may be more expensive because of the need to buy a NAS, if you already have a 'spare' computer available for streaming. If however you have digital data other than music files that you wish to backup and archive the server solution maybe less expensive than streaming.

 

Enjoy the music whichever route you choose!

 

David

ALAC iTunes library on Synology DS412+ running MinimServer with Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet running BubbleUPnP for control >

Hi-Fi 1: Airport Extreme bridge > Netgear switch > TP-Link optical isolation > dCS Network Bridge AND PS Audio PerfectWave Transport > PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge Mk.II > Primare A60 > Harbeth SHL5plus Anniversary Edition .

Hi-Fi 2: Sonore Rendu > Chord Hugo DAC/preamp > LFD integrated > Harbeth P3ESRs and > Sennheiser HD800

Link to comment

Thanks DavidL, this really helps. I was unclear about streaming vs serving. Once I get my source setup (lossless files on itunes or other playback s/w), I will probably start with headphones and desktop speakers. Then later set up a separate listening room.

Link to comment
Which of the forums would be a good one to ask about portable ipod-like players/amps, for using with headphones or in my car, that would allow for easy transfer of AIFF files from my in-home computer ?

 

Either check out the headphone area or go to a forum like headfi.org.

 

Chris

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...