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Music server primarily for a ripped CD collection


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Hi All,

 

Here's my situation and I'd welcome any advice:

 

I have a few thousand CDs I want to rip and then playback through my A/V receiver.

 

Because these are CDs I don't need to worry about resolutions greater than 16/44 (unless there's a simple and legal way I can rip my SACDs that I'm unaware of).

 

I primarily listen to classical music, so gapless playback is a must.

 

Based on my research, it seems like the two cheapest options are:

 

Rip the collection to iTunes on my existing computer, buy an AppleTV or Raspberry Pi, and use AirPlay to get the music from my computer to the the receiver.

 

Two questions:

 

1. As the signal goes from my computer to the AppleTV/Raspberry to my receiver, is it going to go through any kind of resampling that's going to degrade audio quality?

 

2. Should I rip the music as AIFF, WAV or ALAC?

 

The other alternative is to buy a computer and hook it up to my receiver via HDMI, but I feel like that's overkill given that I'm just playing back 16/44 files.

 

Thanks

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If you have a few thousand CDs why would you be looking for the cheapest options? Ripped CDs can sound amazing so I just don't get your last paragraph, I include a screenshot of one on my site Eric Clapton - Unplugged which is a phenomenal sounding CD recording.

 

I tend to rip as wav but I don't use ITunes. I'm not saying the cheapest options are bad but just to reconsider your just playing back 16/44 files mindset. An alternative to hdmi would be a usb to spdif converter and either a coaxial or optical cable to your receiver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you have a few thousand CDs why would you be looking for the cheapest options? Ripped CDs can sound amazing so I just don't get your last paragraph, I include a screenshot of one on my site Eric Clapton - Unplugged which is a phenomenal sounding CD recording.

 

I tend to rip as wav but I don't use ITunes. I'm not saying the cheapest options are bad but just to reconsider your just playing back 16/44 files mindset. An alternative to hdmi would be a usb to spdif converter and either a coaxial or optical cable to your receiver.

 

Agree. 16/44 WAV can and will sound amazingly good if ripped and played back properly. Rip using EAC or dbpoweramp in accurate bits, play back using computer. All are free or low cost, just do the ripping slowly in secure mode. Patience pays off. I used to rip CDs to flac, going back and forth from WAV, and eventually ended up playing WAV exclusively.

WS2019 Core Datacenter, dualPC, JPLAY Femto, AO3, Fidelizer Pro 8.8, MC2XY, IOS app.

 

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von_levi,

 

It sounds as if you are looking for an inexpensive solution. Many savants at the CA forum would advise you to purchase dBPoweramp for ripping your software (to FLAC or WAV) and JRiver Media for cataloging and playing your music. (I think CA forum member “hifidelit” is also recommending JRiver Media. That’s the software that comes bundled with his bespoke music servers.) Those products are fine, but since you mentioned your interest in classical music I thought that I would chime in with a different idea.

 

If you decide to use JRiver Media, here are a few suggestions. CA forum creator, Chris Connaker, is a huge fan of JRiver Media. Check out Chris’ lengthy article at CA on how to customize the JRiver Media user interface so that you get the most out of the software. You should also visit the website of Vincent Kars, another fan of JRiver Media (and also MusiCHI). His website is called The Well-Tempered Computer. Vincent has some excellent advice for classical music lovers on how to use standard ID3 tags for classical music and how to add custom tags. His explanations are well written, but if you are not a programmer, you might be overwhelmed by Vincent’s suggestions for working around the limitations of ID3 when cataloging classical works. Be prepared to learn how to use JRiver’s custom script language and also “regular expressions” to get your classical music collection in shape.

 

While JRiver Media is a favorite of many enthusiasts, I don’t think it is the best option for a classical music lover. As Vincent Kars wrote, the software is designed for organizing pop music, not classical music. JRiver has a steep learning curve and you’ll be doing a lot of custom scripting to overcome the constraints of ID3. If you need help with the software, you’ll be posting your support requests at a public forum and hoping that a customer (or possibly someone from JRiver) will help you with your problem.

 

For someone interested in ripping a large classical music collection, the best software is a product called Wax. Unfortunately, Wax is not available as a software-only product, only as part of a complete system (3beez’s Wax Music Management System). The system is not cheap – I had to swallow hard before I bought mine – but their custom software is the only software I have seen that really solves the classical music problem. All the software you need for ripping, cataloging, and playing your music collection is preinstalled in the system. I recently finished ripping my music collection (which includes over a thousand classical works) to my Wax Box. The Wax system was easy to use, it sounds great, and gapless works. Also, customer support is excellent. The developer himself answers emails promptly and fully.

 

The 3beez team is obviously sensitive about their price. They have published a chart comparing their system with their competition (including prices) along with their opinions about the advantages of their product at their website. Their opinions are prejudiced, but the information provides a helpful starting point. The price for the 3beez system is in the middle of the pack. You can build or buy a computer for much less, but you won't get Wax. Well worth the $5400 I paid for the system, in my opinion, but only you can decide.

 

Good luck with your project.

 

Elise_B

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I would like to strongly discourage you from using iTunes if you mainly listen to classical music. The iTunes database structure is IMO not suited at all to the complexity of classical music and the intricacies of the tagging that is required to use it properly. Also, its proprietary format does not allow you to play FLAC files, for instance.

 

I have been in a similar situation to yours not long ago. I have several thousand CDs with almost exclusively classical music that I have been starting to digitise, while at the same time also downloading HD music from websites like Qobuz or HDTracks. I play the music through MinimServer (installed on a Synology NAS where the music files also reside) to a streamer and use Kinsky on an iPad as control point.

 

The most time consuming and labour intensive task is the ripping and tagging process. I would encourage you to use an open format such as FLAC which is still lossless and can be used by any player software, thus giving you greater flexibility for future developments. For the ripping process I'm using DBPowerAmp, which also provides a very basic tagging of the files, and has the advantage of disposing of AccurateRIP to verify whether the files have been properly ripped. I then clean up the tags with the MusiCHI tagger which provides a unified and consistent tagging terminology for the files. Gapless playback is possible with many renderers today, the challenge for implementing this mainly lies in the interaction between the renderer/streamer and the control point. Lumin solved this very well, but their streamer is also rather expensive.

 

I decided against using a computer as a player and/or streamer as (i) it is not as user friendly as using a tablet and (ii) I did not want to have a computer in my listening room. Now I can just switch on the AV receiver and streamer, choose a recording on the iPad with the Kinsky or Lumin app and have it play instantly. Very intuitive and with the MinimServer browsing structure also very well suited to a classical music collection.

 

There are of course other possibilities (among them several excellent stand-alone solutions such as the Wax system); but if price is an issue (when isn't it...), the stand-alone solutions are mostly rather on the expensive side. Patched-together systems also work very well (but may take a bit more time to set up) and are usually less cost-intensive and also more flexible as each component can be replaced if it is outdated or does not meet the expectations.

 

Just my 2c.

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