First toe dip into the digital stream

The kids gave me an iPod Touch on Father's Day and I have a 5 year old Mac G5 with a new hard drive waiting to be turned on.
I have been putting off the moment of my first CD rip because I do NOT want to do it twice and I know it will be a serious time suck.
I am also a Mac virgin.

I have a $500 budget and want to make sure that I have high quality rips that last a lifetime.

For my $500 I would like to be able to rip at high quality, wirelessly stream to my Linn AV5103 DAC and a Yamaha receiver (for 2 other less important listening areas) and control music selection with the iPod Touch.

Possible for a low tech like me?
Recommendations and directions to good threads would be great. Simple is truly better!
Congratulations! Welcome to digital music!

Use iTunes to rip, archive and access your music. It's a great program that offers high quality, yet simple to use. Make sure you turn off the "Sound Check" and "Sound Enhancer" options....and use either Apple Lossless or AIFF as your codec. I prefer Apple Lossless, but that can be controversial. ;)

Use the built in AirTunes feature to stream your music to your 5103 (which is a great processor) using an Apple AirPort Express. You can add as many as AirPort Express units as needed. They will automatically access iTunes and the AirPort Setup Assistant it easy. The AirPort Express has both analog and digital out. The digital out is the same "3.5mm" audio Jack, but it has a special "toslink mini" plug. I use glass toslink cables from VanDenHul and WireWorld. You can also use any toslink cable that has a "mini toslink" on one end and a regular toslink on the other.

Download the Apple Remote app from the App Store to allow you to control your iTunes library and what rooms (systems) to be streamed to. It's a very easy and reliable app.

I have been using and designing iTunes music systems for several years, and I am a big supporter of "less is more" when it comes to iTunes. Don't get too distracted by third party software and hardware.

Let me know if you have any questions, and keep me posted as to your progress.

Here is Apple's AirTunes and Remote app page. The AirPort Express is $99 each, and the Remote app is free. The AirPort Express can be wireless or wired. Wireless is much easier and sounds great. It works better (and sounds better) if you have a 802.11n router.
I agree with Hellofidelity. Keep it simple with iTunes. In addition to choosing a lossless codec (I prefer AIFF), also be sure to turn on error correction in the "import settings" of iTunes. The codec setting and error correction can be found by opening iTunes, click on iTunes on the top banner (next to the apple), click on preferences from the drop down menu, look on the general tab and where you see "When I insert a CD", choose what you want the MAC to do (I select "ask to import CD"), then finally click on "import settings". On the import settings tab, select your codec (apple lossless or AIFF), then click on the box to turn on error correction.

That's it! Now whenever you insert a CD, iTunes will launch and ask if you want to import the CD. It will use your chosen codec and use error correction.

Simple as pie! Now you'll need to decide how you want to manage a library of all of your CDs! Some folks just rip everything to the music folder, which is fine. Some folks create a new playlist for every CD. Your choice, but you can always create new playlist from your previously ripped CDs in the music folder at a future time.


Oops! I forgot to mention "Error Correction". Thank you Reubent for the correction.
Please also check out the primers on "Computer Audiophile" website for lots of information from beginners to advanced. I also went for the simplest start up system, using an older Apple G4 that I inherited from my sons, added 2 USB hard drives at $100 each, an iPod touch used for $150 as a controller for Remote and VNC. Be sure to configure the USB drives to back each other up or periodically back up one to another. They will fail! For a total of $350 invested, it is money well spent. I added a M2Tech hiface for a USB>spdif converter for another $150. That's a total of $500. Be sure to have fun! I am using iTunes with Apple Lossless files. Budget about 6-7 CDs per hour to rip.
Hellofidelity, you mention:

"You can add as many as AirPort Express units as needed"

. . . does that mean iTunes can stream to more than one, say 3 AE's, at the same time? If so, that's great; I noticed the multiple speakers option on the bottom right for "Base Station and/or Computer. Just never had more than one AE to try.

Please advise before I go out and buy another AE or more, thanks in advance!

Ericjcabrera....yes, you can stream to more than one AirPort Express at a time. I use them in large homes where there are as many as 30+ rooms without any trouble.

There are three things to consider:

1. 802.11n (that's with a "n") allows for better streaming when multiple AirPorts Express units are used. Sometimes 802.11b/g (that's with a "b" or "g") can cut out or have lag when several are used. You can hardwire the AirPort Express units if your router is "b" or "g".

2. Apple converts ALL data on an AirTunes network to Apple Lossless, so the AirPort Express can only do 16/44. I don't find this a problem since most, if not all, my music is 16/44, but keep this in mind if it effects you.

3. Volume control for the additional AirPort Express units can be either fixed or variable. This means that either each AirPort Express will just be a line level (analog or digital) source, in which you will need to make sure there is a local volume control for each system, or you can have it adjust when the iTunes volume is changed. I prefer that the AirPort Express units be fixed so each system/room can be independent.

I hope this helps....


Thank you!
Great advice. Many thanks.
What does anyone know of Max as a ripper for MAC?
I would like to rip at a high quality so that I only ever do it once.
Is there a noticeable difference between Apple Lossless and other higher levels of ripping a CD?
How does MAX or other programs help and what are their benefits?
Clarets2, I have used Max and know a few people who do as well. It's great for FLAC on a Mac. As for Apple Lossless vs. FLAC, WAV and AIFF? Well, that's a debated issue....

Here is my opinion (and it differs per person)....I feel like iTunes and Apple Lossless are just as good as FLAC (Lossless) and AIFF/WAV (uncompressed). I have tried other programs (Foobar, dBPowerAmp, EAC), and while they offer some very interesting and detailed features, I feel like lossless is lossless and uncompressed is uncompressed, and they both sound the same. Warning: this is not everyone's opinion and I'm sure they will have their own experience and reasons. I do not disagree with other ways of ripping and achieving music, but I prefer the Apple iTunes way.

With that said, I have listened to systems (Windows, Mac and Linux) that all were able to sound wonderful, and I have heard systems sound different depending on the hardware and software used, so I can completely understand why people have different preferences and tastes.

I recommend to people that they at least start with lossless (ALAC or FLAC). If external hard drive and device space is limited, then lossless allows more music to be stored while still being "bit perfect". For people who are OK with large file sizes, AIFF seems to be the best because it handles meta data tags (artist, album, song, etc.) better than WAV.

Some people feel uncompressed (AIFF and WAV) sound better than lossless formats (FLAC and ALAC), but I haven't been able to consistently confirm this in my own system designs. Lossless and uncompressed sound the same to me when listening with the same computer and playback systems. I have done blind tests with myself and others, and there has never been a consistent preference that showed one was better. Again, some people in these and other forums disagree, but I'm just telling you my experience, and I don't want to disrespect other opinions on this issue and I always keep an open mind.

Like always, you should listen for yourself and make your own conclusions. I have some friends that disagree with me, so I always think a person should do as much as possible to find out what works best for them.

To sum up, I feel like a Mac with OSX Snow Leopard and iTunes (setup correctly), using Apple Lossless (ALAC) is as good as any other solution out there for 16/44 content. I also feel like the newer Macs are the best sounding computers I have heard, even with Windows running on Apple's BootCamp. Windows PCs can also sound just as good, but they require some "tweaking". Both Windows and Mac (and Linux for that matter) can make excellent digital music transports.

I am currently diving into 64 Bit Mac OSX, followed by Windows 7 in 64 Bit. So far I can say that OSX in 64 Bit sounds better. I don't know why, which is why I have another recent post about it, but it does....consistently. I have also been able to confirm that SSD (solid state drives) and lots of RAM improve the sound of a Mac.

One final might read and hear people talking about third party audio software like Amarra and Pure Music....and I have tried them....but I don't have an opinion about them yet. I recommend people get the basics right first, and then research those software options after. I personally do not use them currenty, but my mind is open....

Happy listening.... ;)
I use the system you describe in your first post.
But, a few additions.
First, for paranoia reasons, I have a wired network. I use my Airport Express in wireless mode by first turning ON my Mac's Airport. I have NO wireless router, and the AE is used as a 'dead end'.

The ONE FLY in the ointment is that SOME equipment DOES NOT like the high jitter / clocking problems of the AE.
My CA840c, which has a wonderful DA section simply will not 'lock' to the AE for more than a few minutes at a time. The noise it makes for a couple seconds while it is out of sync is really Awful....

CA has sent me an update which I am chicken to install, needing to use my laptop and VIA Serial Port! not even USB!

So, I'd just add that you should TRY the DA convertor with the AE and do so for at least 15 minutes, to make sure there are no clocking problems. You don't want to go thru this.
Magfan brings up a good point. Some DACs have trouble locking onto the AE's signal. :(

In addition to listening for a longer period of time, also change tracks and turn the stream on/off to verify your DAC/processor can lock properly. The 5103 does a good job.
Thank you for all the advice. thought it was time for an update.
My G5 fried its new hard drive as some of the capacitors were faulty ...missed the recall back in ' that got recycled.
Back to my PC and now happily ripping with corrections and all else turned off as AIFF files.....simple.
Purchased a Squeezebox Duet and loving it.
Digital out to my 5103 is great though the Ikemi still beats it so will hang on to that for a little time to come.
Turntable still wipes the floor with both but that's another thread!

? I have is how to expand the number of rooms? Do I have to buy more receivers from Logitech or do I have another alternative?