My CD Player is Obsolete

For the past year I have been using a Sony 333ES player augmented by a MSB Platinum D/A. The sound is high quality and I enjoy the convenience of a multi-disc player. For instance, I can load the player with five Antonio Jobim discs and bossa nova the night away. All this is now in the past and I have moved beyond a separate CD player to the world of computer based hard disk playback - I HAVE DISCOVERED "I TUNES".

I Tunes is an Apple software product that allows a user to organize the recording/playback/disc burning of music files. I Tunes has completely revolutionized how I listen to digital based music. The overwhelming majority of my listening is to rock/pop/jazz/blues. The listening paradigm is album oriented. I insert the CD and listen to the whole album. If I don't like a song, I have the option of pressing the "next" button on the remote. I Tunes has broken the album paradigm by shifting the focus to the individual song level. One of the unintended consequences of the redbook CD format is the proliferation of half-assed music. Back in the day of vinyl an artist only had to come up with 40 minutes of music to make an album. A standard CD can hold up to 74 minutes which puts pressure on artists to fill up the space. The sad fact is, most artist don't have 74 minutes of superior music in them, hence a typical CD normally has a number of throw away tracks that in a previous generation deservedly would have remained unreleased. The end result is I have CDs that contain 5 or 6 great songs and the rest is filler. The sad thing is when it comes time to load the CD player, I will shy away from these discs and thereby deny myself the pleasure of the songs I like. I Tunes provides a wonderful, if techno overkill, solution to this problem.

The key to I Tunes is that it allows a user to easily make and save custom playlists. For instance I can sort the music by artist and within 15 seconds program I Tunes to play only Ella Fitzgerald's songs. A playlist of songs with great guitar solos? A little bit harder in that I would have to individually mark each song, but still a simple drag and click operation. The playlist possibilities are endless. The end result is that I'm listening deeper into my music collection. I Tunes has allowed me to uncover several hidden gems on CDs I already own.

THE HARDWARE: the I Tunes software is pre-installed on all current model Mac computers, or it can be downloaded (free) from the Apple website. I use a 466MHz G4, 100Gb internal hard drive, 2-60Gb external firewire hard drives and a RME soundcard. Total cost is slightly under $3,000. I need the massive hard disk capacity because I'm storing the music in an uncompressed format. (I Tunes target audience is for MP3 formatted music.) The RME card has both AES/EBU and S/PID digital outputs. As far as I can tell, the quality of the music signal has not been degraded.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I am truly jizzed about I Tunes. It's a marvelous product that has allowed me to better appreciate music I already own.
I am, as are many others, interested in this idea, though I use a PC. I'm curious what type of hard drive space you require-per disc (uncompressed!) or per hour, as a ballpark idea. I'm in the market for a new computer and digital camera, so seems I should include music as well....

My biggest problem is my Linn Ikemi doesn't take digital in, so I'd need a good DAC as well.....oh well, why work if you can't spend it!
Kennyt, a typical CD is 500Mb to 750Mb. To date I have stored 3,977 songs (approximately 300 CDs) which take up 180Gb. An advantage of an external hard disk (particularly the hot swappable firewires) is portability. You could carry your music collection around with you in a device the size of a hardcover book and plug it in to any i tunes equipped computer.

i tunes is an Apple product designed to run on Macintosh G3 or G4 computers. I imagine, but can't say as a fact, that there are similar Wintel oriented programs. Can anybody comment?