Jump to content
IGNORED

Getting started


Simon
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm looking for clear advice on the best way to digitise about 2,000 CDs.

 

My goal is to:

* digitise onto a lossless format - probably FLAC or Apple

* keep all on a hard drive

* be able to play on my traditional hifi

* then compress some disks into lossy format to play on an iPhone etc.

* I want to avoid setting it all up then having to re-do it all in a few years' time.

 

I am an Apple user but would prefer not to get locked into an Apple only format.

 

I'm seeking advice on:

 

1. Whether I can do this using Toast and my iMac?

2. The best format to use to ensure longevity and non redundancy of the format

3. Any guidelines on the most suitable hard drives - I will purchase a dedicated hard drive - fyi I have a Rotel hifi system.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) On the iMac, you wouldn't use Toast. Best way to convert from CD is to use either iTunes, or XLD or Max. All will give the same results (to my ears / experience) with CDs in good condition but XLD and MAX give you better feedback to any issues there may be with older, slightly damaged CDs. Playback would then be with iTunes, though there are other options.

 

2) Best format to use is AIFF followed closely by ALAC (Apple Lossless) if you feel you want/need to reduce disk space usage. While ALAC IS a proprietary format, it is supported by other applications on Mac and Windows. Also if in a few years you decide to move to a different platform that doesn't support ALAC then you can use software to convert it to AIFF, WAV, FLAC, etc without loosing quality.

 

3) You're not going to be able to connect a Hard Drive direct to your Rotel HiFi, you'll need some form of intermediate "computer". This could be either an Apple TV or Airport Express, ideally connected to a DAC, which will access music files via your iMac (best stored on an external HDD - any manufacturer); or you could look at a MacMini connected to a DAC and either Networked or directly attached (via USB) storage. Depending on you budget, suitable DACs start at around £130 for a Beresford, with the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic and Musical Fidelity V-DAC being often recommended at around £200. Prices increase pretty much in parallel to the quality and DAC options vary depending on the device you want to use with them but these are a good starting point.

 

Hope to have helped

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Eloise - very helpful. Some follow up questions:

 

1. I can see the benefit in doing everything through Apple because they'll still be supported (in years to come) - and I intend this to be an ongoing process. Are there really many CDs that iTunes cannot handle in your experience?

 

2. If one has ALAC files, am I right in thinking that because all the underlying digital data is there, that you are saying I could always convert it to FLAC later?

 

3. Once I have ripped my CDs into a lossless format, I don't plan on controlling all the music from a Mac, but plan on having a dedicated hard drive co-located with the hifi. Does anyone know the best device that can act as a DAC into my Rotel hifi, but allows me to choose what to listen to easily from the hard drive

 

4. What's the best hard drive to get that I can co-locate with my Rotel hifi?

 

Simon

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm putting these question sup again in the hope that someone (Eloise perhaps?) may know.....

 

Thank you Eloise - very helpful. Some follow up questions:

 

1. I can see the benefit in doing everything [digitising in a lossless format] through Apple because they'll still be supported (in years to come) - and I intend this to be an ongoing process. Are there really many CDs that iTunes cannot handle in your experience?

 

2. If one has ALAC files, am I right in thinking that because all the underlying digital data is there, that I could always convert it to FLAC later?

 

3. Once I have ripped my CDs into a lossless format, I don't plan on controlling all the music from a Mac, but plan on having a dedicated hard drive co-located with the hifi. Does anyone know the best device that can act as a DAC into my Rotel hifi, but allows me to choose what to listen to easily from the hard drive?

 

4. What's the best hard drive to get that I can co-locate with my Rotel hifi?

 

Simon

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. In my experience, there have been no (zero, nada, none etc) CDs that iTunes has not been able to rip. Other people report problems, so maybe I've just been lucky. It's not so great at automatically fetching album artwork, though, so if that's important you may have to do some scanning or searching - google image search is very effective.

 

2. Correct on both. You can convert back and forth all day long between lossless formats like ALAC / FLAC / AIFF etc and the underlying data will not change. Lossy formats like MP3, by contrast, will deteriorate noticeably after multiple conversions, although they can be very listenable (and hard to distinguish from lossless) on a first generation conversion for ipod use, for example.

 

3. Sorry I can't help much on this. What you're describing sounds more like a turnkey music server, of which there are several. I suspect their support for external hard drives and their requirements for file formatting and storage will be individual to each product, and I doubt if any will have the flexibility of a full computer system. So if you're going this route I think you'd need to choose your music server first before ripping all your CDs.

 

4. See question 3 for reasons not to rush out and buy a hard drive before making a descision on music server vs computer. Personally I've had good luck with Western Digital 'Essential Edition' drives, they're widely available where I live, reasonable cheap, quiet, and (touch wood) none have failed so far.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) I've had to re-rip a couple of CDs because of errors on playback. One was relatively new, but mistreated and scratched, the other appeared to be unscratched but was older and (I think) a bootleg so probably low quality pressing. The second was pretty obviously bad as it had taken about 3/4 hour to read into iTunes in the first place. There was only minor errors on playback though.

 

2) Yes, as Souptin said, ALAC can be converted into FLAC or AIFF / WAV uncompressed without any loss of quality.

 

3) The "dedicated hard drive" as souptin said, is more of a stand alone media server. You'll probably actually get better value from a MacMini (or Dell Studio Hybrid) than buying a dedicated server, though something like a Linn DS has a high quality DAC built in so will save you money there. The other option is something like the PopCorn Hour or HDX - these run the NMT (Network Media Tank) software and will allow you to install a local hard drive, or access files on a network. From what I've seen of them though, they are more oriented towards video playback and less so audio. The MacMini (or MacBook) and iPod touch is probably a better route to go. Options without having a computer include the Linn DS range (£1,000 - £10,000); Sonos system (around £550 for controller and one playback unit); Squeezebox (from £200 for the Duet with Controller). Another cheep option would be to use a Apple Airport Express controlled via your existing Mac and an iPod Touch

 

4) Depending on the route taken with 3 above will give you answer to 4 (which hard drive). The Linn DS system will require a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device which runs a UPnP server, Sonos require just a network share and Squeezebox require a NAS with the SqueezeCentre server software. For the MacMini you have the option of either using it's internal drive (if your library isn't too big) an external USB or FireWire connected drive, or using a NAS via the network. With the NMT units, you have a similar choice to with the MacMini.

 

The main thing to focus on initially is ripping your CDs. Then you'll be in a position to investigate and get demos of some of the options available to you.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) I would suggest XLD to rip your CDs as I find it much more flexible than iTunes, and easier for embedding album information and artwork... Plus you have the possibility to choose the FLAC format which is not available in iTunes.

 

3) If you ever want to use a computer (Mac Mini) as the core of your music server, and wish to reach the best sound quality by using an external DAC, one option that is often disregarded by 'audiophiles' is to use audio interfaces used for music production (TC Electronic, M-audio, Presonus, Apogee, etc...). They provide excellent DAC performance through USB or Firewire, often for a fraction of the price of hifi-oriented boxes. And if you ever want to get into music making, you'd have the gear ready to use ;-))

 

I was considering building a system from scratch using a fancy HTPC Case and use a PCI sound card with 24bit/96kHz capabilities, however, I think a second-hand Mac Mini + DAC is a more robust system.

 

BTW, I find £500+ for a Sonos system is far too expensive for what it does... but some magazines seem to think that it's good value ! Incredible...

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...