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several upgrade related questions from a newbie

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Hello,

I'm contemplating a fairly serious upgrade to my system and I'd appreciate your insights before I make my purchases.

I currently have the following:

 * several MacBooks (15 inch 2016) running 10.13 (high sierra) & external drives.

 * a fairly extensive audio library in iTunes 12.8 (around 8 TB).

 * an Apple Airport Express with an optical (toslink) link to my DAC

 * a fast router (Netgear Nighthawk X8-AC5300 (R8500))

 

My library is mostly CD quality apple lossless (16 bit, 44.1kHz), but I have a fair amount of high def quality (24 bit, 352.8kHz)

 

The questions I have are:

(1) With my configuration, when I play a high def track on my laptop, does my DAC receive the native resolution of the original file (24 bit/352.8 Khz) or does iTunes or the airport express transcode it to a lower definition?

(2) I'm running out of space on my external drives and contemplating migrating my entire library over to a single NAS box. I'd connect the NAS box via 10GigE directly to my router & use wifi from my laptops. I have a lot of meta data in my iTunes library that I'd prefer not to lose (playlists, song ratings) so I think I may be stuck with using iTunes. My question is -- what's the best way to access the library from my laptop? Perhaps an AFP mount? Is there something to be done with DAAP / UPNP?

(3) Is iTunes better than jRiver and/or other media management apps? Is there software that can convert my iTunes metadata including playlist definitions and album ratings into some other more desirable media management app?  

 

Thanks in advance for all of your thoughts. 🙂 

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1. lower

2. maybe just use the laptop as a controller?

3. don't think anything will give better SQ and meta-data than the 3rd party software meant to run 'on top of' iTunes. audirvana but I don't use it so others can help you here

 

there are other players tho...

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I don't think so.  But if something simulates iTunes control, that should be good enough, eh?  I think Audirvana does that.

 

You might ask Kirk on the Apple or iTunes sub-forum here.

 

 

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oh BTW ... the reason I haven't tried to do this yet is that I am still working on getting the best masterings/recordings of music I like.  For SACDs I rip the Redbook layer into iTunes and figure I am getting the bulk of the SQ improvement.

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"(2) I'm running out of space on my external drives and contemplating migrating my entire library over to a single NAS box. I'd connect the NAS box via 10GigE directly to my router & use wifi from my laptops. I have a lot of meta data in my iTunes library that I'd prefer not to lose (playlists, song ratings) so I think I may be stuck with using iTunes. My question is -- what's the best way to access the library from my laptop? Perhaps an AFP mount? Is there something to be done with DAAP / UPNP?"

 

I'd recommend this as the best way forward. For many years I've been using iTunes for all ripping and curating metadata. Now up to 98k tracks and no problems, however to prevent any potential disconnects between the actual music files and the metadata I'd strongly recommend putting ALL the iTunes files (I.e. the complete iTunes folder) on the NAS. Of the various software options available for server software I chose MinimServer, which runs on the NAS (mine is a Synology DS412+). You could control playback from your MacBook but I bought an Android tablet (circa $100) and use BubbleUPnP as controller (one of many options). It does all I need for gapless playback. I've used this system for 5 years with no problems.

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1. Your limited by the optical cable. Most DACs only accept up to 24/96 via optical. This is not a limitation of either ITunes or the AE as you are using wifi to stream your music.

 

2. I have my music on a NAS and use ITunes to manage my library. I use XLD to rip. I would agree that putting your ITunes folder on the NAS and having your computers automatically connect to the NAS is the way to go. I also say that I've tried 3 NAS, Western Digital, DLink and Qnap and the Qnap is the only one worth using. My suggestions would be either a Qnap or Synology NAS is the way to go.

 

3. A Raspberry Pi with or without a HAT Dac or a BlueSound Node 2i make streaming easier that doing it from a computer. You'd control them with either a smart phone or a tablet like an IPad. They can access your ITunes library on the NAS and you can still use ITunes or JRiver or what have you to manage your library. You would use your AE to feed the Pi or Node via ethernet cable. That's my opinion, YMMV.

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JRiver is probably best for managing metadata and large libraries. It should be able to import your iTunes metadata.

 

Roon is maybe better overall for its pretty user interface, artist/album info, and multi-room/network playback. But it's more expensive and it has a completely different philosophy about tagging and metadata. (It controls everything based on it's database derived from third party sources, and unlike JRiver there is no way for the user to edit metadata tags in the files or to easily sort/display/group files by file metadata.)

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