I want digital audio

I love my hi-fi CD based systems, but I'm sure loving my iPod too! I can take 30-40 uncompressed CDs with me in the car in something the size of a deck of cards. I take all those CDs to the office, or travel anywhere, and pull up any song or CD or playlist and have some tunes. I can't wait for higher storage capacity and better audio capabilities. I can just imagine having my entire CD collection available at the press of a button. I'm sure the bleeding edge components will cost a lot (like the Linn system), but the iPod is setting the model for doing it pretty well for low cost (compared to many high-end systems). Some may turn their shoulder to it, but I think the iPod and the concept of digital audio are exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads over the next year. I hope someone comes up with a digital "transport" to connect to the DAC of my choice. Perhaps CES 2004 will have surprises for us in this new arena.
I like your attitude Budrew. You are growing with the medium you have embraced. I would think that everyone should be excited about what the future holds for digital storage and retrieval. These are exciting times watching the unfolding of this technology. Setting aside all the fussing and fueding about the superiority of one software over another, ultimate portability and accessability is something only the digital realm will provide.
Budrew, get a G5 PowerMac. It comes with a built in Toslink digital ouput and iTunes software. You can order it with 500Gb of internal storage and more can be easily added via external Firewire drives. It will serve as an excellent quality hard drive transport. It willl allow you to organize your CD collection into easily accessible playlist and it will provide total integration with your iPod. A G5 cost <$2,000.
The G5 is a good deal. I Googled for "digital music servers"
and came up with a Marantz unit that had 80 GB storage that retailed for
around $2800 (it outputs analog only). With the G5 you get a computer
too! I just wish it had a different type of digital out other than toslink
(none of my DACs accept toslink). FWIW, I've been a long time Mac user
and glad to see Apple paying attention to this capability. I'm curious
what some of the audio manufacturers are thinking along these lines,
whether of not they want to play.
I have over 1,000 CD's burned to an external hard drive, which
I run with an apple i-book and i-tunes. I plug that into my processor and I have access to the entire catalogue. I don't use
this for critical listening, but it is great for parties. You can let your
guests scroll through the CD's and add to the play-list for the evening, lots of fun. Now that they are making these huge hard drives, you don't have to compress the music, you can rip your whole colection straight to the hard drive uncompressed.
If the Toslink optical output is a problem, you should get a Monarchy DIP. It will convert the Toslink to either an AES/EBU or S/PID coax signal. It also functions as a jitter reduction device. I believe they cost $200.
Rsbeck, I just did exactly what you have set up, but it's not working as I intended. The iBook I'm using is one I had laying around and the hard drive is only 20 GB total. I purchased a large external hard drive to store the music files (around 40 GBs so far). But whenever I try to create a playlist from the external hard drive or at least just play a song from it, iTunes copies the files onto the iBook's hard drive, which defeats my whole purpose of having hundreds of CDs available instantly. What's the solution here? I tried to Consolidate the Libraries, but that didn't do anything. Thanks.
Budrew, you need to go to the Preferences/Advanced screen and set the folder location correctly for when you're importing. Also tell the system to not organize your music folder and not copy new library additions to your music folder. You may have to delete some songs from the existing library and then add them to the library again.
I connect the external hard drive to the i-book with a Fire Wire.
Then, I actually click on the folder on the hard drive, drag it over
to the i-tunes screen [set on library] and drop it right in the area
where the titles go. This unloads all the titles, but the music stays
on the external hard drive. When I play the music, it plays from the
hard drive. If I disconnect the external hard drive, I still have all
the titles on my screen, but if I click one, nothing plays -- because
the music is on the external hard drive, which is disconnected.
If you drop a rather large file, the whole file of titles has to download before you see any titles, so be patient.

Hope that helps.