You can get musicmatch jukebox for free off the internet. You need to burn your cd,s as wave files to get uncompressed music on your hard drive NOTE-wave files take up more space on hard drive so get at least 60 gig hard drive if you have lots of music to put on. If you buy a new computer get one with usb-2 not usb-1,it is faster. You can get a usb dac off the web from a company called stereo-link.com to hook your computer into your sound system. I have one and they work very nice (way better than hooking in from most sound cards). I think I payed $200 for it. You can email me if you want,I know other ways to get you good sound with other programs/software. I did lots of research when I did mine but it really depends on how much $$$ you want to spend.I only wanted to spend about $300 for cable+dac so I went with the stereo-link and am very happy.
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Cwlondon, I went to the stereo-link site and I was off on the price, it,s $149 for blue/$159 for gray, comes with cables to hook you up, has headphone jack and rca outs are gold plated. It will work well off of any usb out just fine. My computer is older model with older usb-1 outs and it works fine.
Sogood has got all the bases covered here. I can offer an alternative; buy SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platnium Sound card (along with your new PC;)) which has good DACS along with digital outs to make that connection to your stereo. I find Jukebox a little cumbersome, but haven't put much effort into it since Roxio EZ CD Creator v.5 is so easy. I usually do not recommend that software since I have had so many problems with it, but it works pretty well with their latest patch, and you can rip some high quality MP3s. A large HD is a must (size is up to you, but make sure its ATA133 running at 7200 RPMs) and USB 2 is a wise recommendation. If you want to use the laptop, buy the Extigy by SB which gets you 80% of the way there, and an external HD, but in my experience with Sony, you'd be happier with a new PC. Dude, get a Dell!!!!:)
I'm a big supporter of using computer based hard disk systems as digital music jukeboxes. Click on my system and look at the Imp/perfection system for details of my current setup. However, as far as archiving goes, nothing beats the original vinyl disk, with the original CD coming in second. The reason is that hard disks drives are not a proven long term storage medium. Ten years is a real long time by hard disk standards. Compare that to vinyl (40+ years) or commercially stamped CDs (20 years minimum). My advice is if you do convert to a hard disk server that you keep the originals as your backups.
All current Apple computers are bundled with the appropriate software (iTunes) to rip CDs to hard disk and to organize the music for playback. If you are looking to convert vinyl the then I would suggest acquiring an external A/D converter (I recommend the Apogee Rosetta $1,150 street price) and some recording software (I use Spark XL, but there are others). Converting vinyl to digital is a fairly tedious project.
Thank you everyone.
I would love to hear more about the SOTA in hard drive based formats. Why is vinyl to digital so tedious? And what about the pro recording devices for home use?
Also, it seems that the SB Extigy requires and AC adapter. Are there any mobile solutions to this?
It would be great to use my Grado external headphone amplifier (40 hours from 2 9V batteries?) with an ibook, or my Sony notebook on airplanes. But I want to bypass the cheesey internal DAC and amp. Any solutions for this?
Converting from vinyl obviously has to be done in real time (as opposed to ripping a CD which can be done in 5 minutes). Once its recorded you still have to break down each album side into individual songs (optional, but strongly recommended) and then once you import them into iTunes you still have to type in song titles and artist names (this is done automatically if you rip a commercially available CD). Count on taking around 1 hour for each album.
The following is a link to professionally caliber A/D/A converter with a firewire interface. It's designed to work with laptops:
This link is for a pro caliber internal soundcard with very good quality (but not excellent) converters:
The ideal option for airplay or other portable use is to have a dedicated computer and an Apple iPod. You can transfer songs back and forth.
Cwlondon, you're right about one thing. Once you have your music on hard disk it will be a breeze to make compilation CDs. It's a simple drag and click operation. iTunes allows you to add a comment to each song. I use the comment field to add a numerical rating for each song which I can then use to sort the entire database (13,000 songs). Approximately 200 songs got the highest rating. As a birthday present I gave a good friend of mine 11 CDRs composed of my fav songs. He absolutely flipped - said it was the best present (other than from his wife) that he had ever gotten. It took me a little more than an hour to do it all.
Converting to hard disk is not a trivial process, but once you do it you will be amazed at how easily you can access all of your music. You'll listen much deeper into your collection than you ever have before.
if you want decent sound from your computer, but nothing else most commercial systems will not suit your needs well. Talk to one of the smaller companies like micron or abs and spec out a computer with 2 hard drives in as big of a tower as you have space for for future additions, you do not need anything fancy just lots of space, a celeron or duron system should work, and get a good cd burner as this will have fast audio extraction and you can make compilations. use EAC to rip onto the hard drive as wavefiles and buy a soundcard with a digital output because an audio dac will sound much better than anything in a computer.
I had similar bad experiences with MP3s, but now am a quasi-convert. I use them in my iPod, and its OK for commuting purposes. Since I had the MP3s on my computer, I also hooked the computer to my stereo (Quicksilver monos/ProAc RS2s) in my study, and the jukebox software is OK for that kind of thing--its easy and gives good b/ground music. For serious 2CH, its still upstairs to the real rig.
My frustrations with ripping CDs was driven by the lousy software out there. I used a lot of commercial ripping software (all mentioned above) and never got good results, even for WAVs. Then someone turned me on to Exact Audio Copy. Stunning advance in ripping (tongue in cheek)--it actually reads the blocks more than once and does a compare! You would have thought *someone* might have made that conceptual leap somewhere along the way in the commercial world. Anyway, its $20 from somewhere on the web--just run a search on google. No more skips/nasties on WAVs. Much better than anything else I tried. User interface is kind of awful, but the end product is worth it.
If you ever want to try MP3s again, use a free program called LAME, which can be called by EAC. There are some command line presets that work well--I use "--alt preset extreme" for my iPod, but there is also an "--alt preset insane" for really HQ MP3s.
Try SoundForge for sound extraction/editing. Granted, it may be a little "excessive'" - the program is actually meant for much more complex tasks, but it has a built-in ripping facility, and tons of features, if you ever want to try and improve the sound of some recordings. But if you want the best, this may be it. Proffessional quality and reliability to boot, and great flexibility.
Thank you everyone, I have found this thread very useful and expect to convert for jukebox and background applications.
Further to Ipods, I have two questions:
1) Can I buy an ipod for windows software and later convert to the Apple interface if I decide to buy a Mac? (I would rather not spend the money on a Mac, but everyone says it works much better.)
2) Am I being too anally retentive audiophilish in my desire to bypass the internal amplifier and volume controls in computer and Ipod applications?
It seems that my external Grado headphone amp should sound much better, but it has been a pain to find line level outputs on mobile devices.
The computer salesmen look at me like I have 5 heads every time I ask for a line level output or for a battery powered, high quality external DAC. Maybe the internal electronics on the Ipod arent so bad?
Any other advice on audiophile quality, mobile audio, that can run on batteries for long flights would be greatly appreciated.
I think I saw a thread on A'gon a little while ago about external DACs for computers--hmm... try this:
I think the Mac and Windows iPods are pretty different. Google iPod and windows conversion or somesuch. There were some sites with info about hacking the Mac version for a windows environment--if you are ultimately going Mac, you might buy a Mac iPod and see if you can temporarily do the Windows mods.
The internals of the iPod aren't bad, given that its a tiny box. I (temporarily) used a pair of etymotics earbuds and was rather impressed by the sound quality, but had to abandon them (in-ear 'phones were giving me motion sickness on the metro).
If you are trying to squeeze better sound out of the iPod, check into Headroom--they make external amps/processors for the iPod that are well reviewed.
Go to www.etree.org & check the faq page, it will tell you everything you need to know about preserving music digitaly. My hobby & the reason I got into audiophile hell is recoding concerts from bands that allow taping. We are rather advanced in our storage skills when it comes to saving wave files on drives with compression. I record everything on DAT than transfer into my PC using a bit-perfect soundcard (not any sound blaster product, they resample) than convert to shn. SHN will compress the file without dropping any bits & is available for FREE. Once you load MKW on your PC you can then re-convert to analog wav for playback. You can also load SHN-Amp in your PC & play back SHN files without converting back to wav. There has been vollumes written about these techniques as we are a rather "large" community (or so I like to think) Most of us will not listen to MP3, yes it is THAT bad. There are also plenty of ways to cut tracks once you have the wav file in your PC without damaging the original wav. I also use SoundForge for wav capture & feel it is the best way to go. As far as "ripping" I would recommend Nero or Fuerio for burning discs once they are in your PC. Also realize if you get a bit-perfect soundcard you can then output from the card into the DAC of your choice from Coax or Toslink, this will preserve the analog signal in the best way without adding any artifacts to the original source (i.e. resampling)Please feel free to drop me a line if you need any help.