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While you technically do not "need" one, you probably "want" a dedicated CD player. I'd have to believe there is a quality improvement using a dedicated player. Honestly I'm not a fan of Apple products at all. For a CD player I went the route of an Emotiva ERC-3 and am very happy with the purchase. More than happy if I consider the value (i.e. there are better stand-alone players, however, the cost would be many times greater). Just my .02.
gdhal I must disagree.The level of quality in todays inexpensive DACS far surpasses most inexpensive cd players & most include Analogue Out so it will act as PreAmp..For all out assault I recommend the SMSL "M8" DSD/DXD DAC,about $250.00 DELIVERED!For simple 24/96 the HiFiMeDIY "SABRE DAC2"can't be beat for UNDER $100.00 Delivered!!!
rockanroller,Archive all cd’s on Macbook,download new HiRes music & use a Streaming Service.Start out with the Free services like Pandora...MacBook>DAC>Amp...Have a look at my headphone system for ideas...
I agree completely with freedriver. Inevitably you'll want to upgrade some of the components or software in the future but there are so many advantages to having your music accessible from a computer that the important thing is to get started. It will change the ways you listen to music, for the better.
There are some things to think about as you put it all together. Music takes a lot of disc space and most laptops don't have very large hard drives. It might not take long to fill up the drive on your MacBook, particularly if you start downloading high-res files.
Consider an external hard drive attached to the MacBook as your primary repository and keep your favorites on the MacBook drive for traveling. Hard drive memory is so cheap these days that you should buy a couple of one-terabyte external drives for starters, one as your primary and one as a mirror backup of the primary for the time when your primary fails, which it eventually will. This is really important, you don't want to have spent all those hours ripping CDs and the money spent on downloads just to have it all disappear when a drive fails. And, again, it's not a question of whether a hard drive will fail, the question is when.
Because the components in a laptop have been miniaturized to save space they are a little more prone to failure than external components and they're expensive to replace. I would suggest you get an external CD/DVD reader to do the ripping. They're cheap and a lot less expensive to replace than the internal drive on a MacBook.
sfar has spoken some very wise words.
After several reloads of my entire library I decided to to upgrade to a NAS drive thar supports dual drives in a mirrored RAID configuration.
This approach guarantees that both drives carry a copy of my library and in the event of a drive failure, I simply replace the faulty drive and the NAS drive takes care of copying data to the new drive automatically. No backups are required.
When I first built the NAS DRIVE i used a couple of spare drives from old computers. they worked very well, but I later found out that RAID really requires server quality drives.
You guessed it - one of the drives failed.
I simply popped in a new server quality drive and the system took care of everything else. I then replaced the other old drive with a second server quality drive.
The system has been running flawlessly.
I've downloaded tracks up to sample rates of 24/192 and never encountered any problem with this configuration.
I stream via my iMac that is connected to my DAC via USB. Both the iMac and NAS drive run over an ethernet wired connection (not wireless) to maximize transfer rates.
I use iTunes for library management and Audirvana to trnafer data to the DAC
Hope that helps :
Unfortunately RAID does not protect from controller failure, virus, lightning or simply operator's mistake. That's why I keep 2 backup copies instead. Second copy is an additional protection from something bad happening during backup. Also RAID does not protect from fire, theft etc. while my second backup kept at work does. In addition, unpowered drives tend not to fail. RAID might be a good solution, but I would still make one extra copy. Drives are cheap these days.
Once network (Ethernet, WiFi, Async USB) is used payback program does not make any difference (unless it is making additional processing - like oversampling). It is because data and not the music is sent (no timing) while timing is recreated on the other side of the network bridge. At this point nothing on computer side makes any difference (program, speed, amount of RAM etc) - saves a lot of money. You can also use computer during playback (as I do) - it won't make any difference.
kijanki's solution of having two backup drives is very smart and exactly what I did before I retired. I rotated a weekly backup of my complete primary drive to two drives using SuperDuper so that they would be bootable from my laptop if my iMac failed and I kept one of the backups in my office.
Since I've retired I don't have a good off-site location but I keep the second backup in a fire and waterproof case locked inside a locked metal gun safe in my garage.
All this may sound like overkill but in the years I was responsible for technology at a large newspaper I did so much grief counseling with people who'd lost months of work because they never made a backup that it made a big impression on me. Once you get into the routine of backups and maintenance of your computer it doesn't take much time or effort and it will help you get a good night's sleep.
To your question about whether to focus on high res downloads, the reality is that most recorded music is not available in high res formats and likely never will be. Focus on the music you love, not on its resolution. Great music at 128 kbps is still great music.
Unfortunately RAID does not protect from controller failure, virus, lightning or simply operator's mistake. That's why I keep 2 backup copies instead. Second copy is an additional protection from something bad happening during backup. Also RAID does not protect from fire, theft etc. while my second backup kept at work does. In addition, unpowered drives tend not to fail. RAID might be a good solution, but I would still make one extra copy. Drives are cheap these days.+1. A couple of additional things that RAID doesn't protect against:
-- If the RAID array's power supply were to fail in such a manner that it goes into an overvoltage state, all of the drives in the array could be simultaneously destroyed. A well designed power supply will include protection mechanisms which minimize that possibility, but I wouldn't assume that all power supplies are well designed, especially in low cost consumer-oriented products.
-- Undiscovered bugs in the RAID controller's programming. User comments that can be seen at Newegg.com about certain RAID devices include significant numbers of instances in which data was lost due to this.
Also, if the array's controller circuitry were to simply fail without harming the hard drives, but the same or a similar controller is no longer available, depending on the RAID mode that was used the data on the drives may be unrecoverable.
Once network (Ethernet, WiFi, Async USB) is used payback program does not make any difference (unless it is making additional processing - like oversampling). It is because data and not the music is sent (no timing) while timing is recreated on the other side of the network bridge. At this point nothing on computer side makes any difference (program, speed, amount of RAM etc) - saves a lot of money. You can also use computer during playback (as I do) - it won't make any difference.That's not strictly true.
- Audirvana caches the entire track - before it sends to the DAC, hence eliminating all possible network related issues - then it's just the USB cable issues to overcome
- It also bypasses the crappy Apple audio and streaming program code for significantly improved performance over stock iTunes playback
I've tried Audirvana and Amarra and to these ears Audirvana had an audible slight edge - it's also a lot cheaper :-)
BTW - my NAS drive, along with the various routers etc..are all on a very good UPS + seperate Surge protection just because of what Al pointed out
My NAS drive is from DLINK and it works very well - at least for me so far
But if you have a fire you've got a lot more problems than reloading your music - even my paranoia has to draw the line somewhere :-)
Audirvana might improve playback in S/Pdif streaming but does nothing to network playback since data is sent in packets of different size - not in the real time. The fact that Audirvana is caching is absolutely irrelevant with the network connection.
Shure I will have more serious problems when my house is on fire, but thats why I don’t want to have more. In addition It took me long long long time to rip about 2000 CDs and I don’t want to loose it.
Kijanki - I think I may have grabbed the wrong end of the stick and we may be talking about two different things
- NAS Drive Library in the basement connected via Ethernet cable to router
- iMac in Living room connected via Ethernet cable to the same router
- iMac connected to DAC via USB cable
- iTunes used for Library management
- Aurdirvana used to move content to my DAC
I was referring to streaming content from my NAS drive to my DAC
Then there is streaming content directly from the web - in which case you are absolutely correct - Audirvana does not cache in this instance and basically allows iTunes to control playback (i.e. in my setup)
To me it is all streaming and I may be misusing this term.
I guess I should have been more detailed in my comments - my apologies
So just to let other members understand what I have observed(suffered) - when playing content from my NAS drive using iTunes only.
- originally I had the whole setup configured using a wireless network
- I experience severe breaks in the music - sometime playback just stopped
- I even talked with an Apple support guy - he advised I convert everything to MP3 :-)
- I then decided to implement a gigabit Ethernet between the NAS drive and the iMac
- this reduced the severity of the breaks but did not provide a complete remedy to the problem - especially with 24/192 files
- I still encountered frequent clicks and pops, especially when using the computer for other stuff at the same time
- Audirvana not only fixed the clicks and pops, but also improved the quality of playback significantly when splaying content from the NAS drive only.
As for the "Backups" - I think the ease of backing up these days is affording us a new luxury.
- back in the days of vinyl - some people might have taped each album and stored tapes off-site
- then with the advent of CD's and computer technology - some might have burned duplicates for off-site storage
- now it is so simple to copy the entire library to a hard drive and place it somewhere off-site for the most protection we've ever had to this point.
So I have to wonder - is anyone using "the cloud" to store their library???
- perhaps the ultimate solution
I would like to understand the details of what you have implemented please.
So I have to wonder - is anyone using "the cloud" to store their library???Hi Steve (Williewonka),
No, I would have to say it is not a desirable solution, at least as the primary backup solution for a large music collection. While incrementally uploading the files for backup purposes, over time, should be fine in most cases, consider what would happen if the entire library had to be downloaded due to failure of the local hard drive(s). Even making the optimistic assumptions that the user's interconnect connection is as fast as 100 mbps, and that the download speed is not limited by the responsiveness of the server at the other end or by any servers in the route through the Internet that is in between, downloading say 2 terabytes of music would require approximately 56 hours of non-stop downloading. And under less optimistic assumptions about the speed of the download process, that could conceivably stretch out to several weeks.
Williewonka, assuming that all bits are being sent (bitperfect) without any processing the only thing that can affect sound is jitter. In case of NAS, WiFi or async USB minimizing timing errors made by computer by caching does not make any difference since different clock is being used on the other side of the bridge. It can only make a difference in real time streaming like S/Pdif.
I had also 1 second drops with WiFi. I found later that it comes from two sources: from the routers of my neighbors and from my microwave (and possibly neighbor microwave). There was only 12 channels to choose but each channel occupies 3 channels width - very easy to collide with other routers. My microwave worked at identical frequency as one of the channels cutting off the music. Finally I gave up and bought dual band router. Now, a lot of channels to use and very low traffic (5GHz is not very common), but also 5GHz poorly penetrates obstacles like walls shielding me from the outside. Since then I have no drops at all.
You're right - backups are so easy now. To make backups that my Mac does automatically (Time Machine) they had whole departments of IT people before. Also cost of media is insanely low, like 5TB Seagate drive in Costco for $119. Taping albums was very common form of the backup but tape left unused were known for layer to layer copying. Large recording studio, where my friend works for about 30 years, had procedures to rewind each tape in huge archives. It all ended with digital recorders.