How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

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DiamondplateDave
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How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by DiamondplateDave »

[Moved into a new thread from: Unloading Massive Collection of Classical Music --admin LadyGeek]

I've come close to starting a thread on this, but this thread is pretty close and the OP presumably resolved their issue. My question is how to convert my 500-1000 CD collection to computer files that I can organize to my liking. I had a lot (~500GB) of files in my iTunes library (AIFF, WAV, MP3, MP4) but my computer crashed and I was unable to restore the iTunes library from my backup. I have the files, pdfs of my playlists, and a 'quick and dirty' library I threw together. I would like to 'clean up' the files I have, then rip a bunch of my CDs so I can have the songs I want, then put the CDs into storage. Every time I start looking into this, it gets too confusing-"MP3s are lossy! AIFF is obsolete! WAV files don't have metadata!" OGG files cause cancer!" So, here's some relevant facts:
1. I have Amazon Music HD, and a bunch of Echo units, and I can stream on my Mac computers and iPhone as well.
So I don't HAVE to have my own music, but....I don't like to be beholden to a soul-less corporation for music. So let's pretend I'm going to go live somewhere with power, but no internet, which is a possibility at this point.

2. I know the streaming is lower quality than CD audio. I'm probably not enough of an audiophile to make a big deal out of it- alot of my listening is done on an Echo Dot hooked to a pair of cheap powered computer speakers. However, I do have some decent amps and speakers (Denon, Marantz, Advent, Dahlquist) so I'm leaning towards having decent quality audio files. Oh, for the record(!) I don't listen to Classical. I listen to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Classic Rock, Folk, and Celtic. So, think Black Sabbath to Loreena McKennitt.
3. I'm primarily a Mac user at this point, I have iMacs, Macbook Pros, iPad, iPhone, but I have used Windows and Linux so I'm not against something that offers platform flexibility. Also (2) Apple Airport Express and an older Apple TV. I also have a (not set up) Synology DS219 with 2x2GB TB drives in a RAID array. Ideally, I think putting the media on the NAS would allow me to access it from any device in the house rather than store ~1TB of files on multiple devices, with the concurrent problem of keeping them synchronized.
I liked iTunes, then Apple 'improved' it, but it's what I have now. I'm open to using a non-Apple setup- Plex, VLC.
I've seen this come up on BH from time to time, so I'm hoping folks here can give me some guidance. Thanks!
Edit: Yes, I know the difference between GB and TB :oops:
Last edited by DiamondplateDave on Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Luke Duke
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Luke Duke »

Get a Spotify or Pandora account.
Create a channel for each genre of music that you like
Toss the CDs
Ramjet
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Ramjet »

Youtube Music, formerly Google Music, is great
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finsterfolly
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by finsterfolly »

Unfortunately, everything seems to be geared toward streaming products these days. In the early 00's I ripped my entire CD library to my computer. It was a bit smaller than yours, but still it was several hundred CD's. When iTunes Match came out, I was all over it. It was easier to play my collection across different apple devices I owned. For a while, all was good. Over the years, it became a bigger source of frustration. Corrupt files, large drives and backups, iTunes updates that didn't seem like improvements, etc.

This year, I finally cancelled iTunes Match, and signed up for iTunes Music. I do still have all my MP3s locally. It is not the control I want, but it does give me flexibility in other areas. The biggest is being able to search and stream music to the Sonos speakers that I have set up in three rooms in the house.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by TomatoTomahto »

I bought a BlueSound Vault i to rip the few CDs I have that aren’t available in mainstream streaming. It was probably a non-BH thing to do.

For 99.9% of my listening, I stream using the TIDAL app via the BlueSound. It’s all AT LEAST in CD quality, and the MQA content is comparable to the master tape. There’s an extra charge for the high quality stream, which I find worth it, but YMMV. Easy to find what I want to listen to, and there’s good recommendations for new (to me) music.
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long_drink
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by long_drink »

I've been using Plex for tv shows and movies for a long time, but I had never done it with music. A year or so ago I started moving my music collection to it and it works great (Plexamp is their client specifically built for playing music). I don't have any negatives to report about it.

Plex does require more setup than other solutions, but once it's done, the maintenance isn't bad.
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Sandtrap
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Sandtrap »

I digitized my CD’s over the years but finally “gave in” as there was so much of it.
Over time, I buy the albums and songs and download them then make playlists.
Probably a pricey solution over the long term but I’d rather own the files than depend on streaming. Thus not dependent on a WiFi or internet access.

The additional benefits of shopping for music is a fun hobby now.

The old CD's reside in my shop or warehouse next to Boom Boxes that play cd's and . . . cassette tapes. :shock: :shock:
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Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Gryphon
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Gryphon »

I've got a similar sized collection - about 600 CDs plus various digital purchases, a little over 10,000 songs total.

For mobile use I keep an MP3 library on my laptop & cell phone. I used the iTunes/Music apps to encode the songs at 256kbps VBR with Quality set to Highest. Sometimes I can hear a slight difference from the original (or at least think I can hear one), but since I'm listening to those libraries in less than ideal circumstances (in the car & RV while traveling) I don't worry about it. This library is about 120GB.

For home use I keep a second library encoded in Apple Lossless (FLAC would also be an option here but I'm pretty solidly in the Apple camp at this point, and I can always transcode if needed). This is about 280GB (which is why I don't have it on my phone) but I don't have any concerns about quality.

I don't really have any interest in streaming. Some of the obscure stuff in my collection probably isn't available anyway, and I don't want my favorite songs disappearing the next time a couple executives get into a pissing contest or an artist gets into a snit over royalties.
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tcassette
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by tcassette »

You should first install larger hard drives into your Synology NAS, then rip your CD collection to the Synology using a lossless codec like FLAC or ALAC. This will result in file sizes a little more than half the size of those using the WAV format but will preserve the fidelity of the CDs. If needed, the Synology software can transcode the codec you choose to another format. Many available ripping software packages will automatically add album cover and song data to the ripped folders.

Most modern playback equipment, from software to networked receivers, will allow you to pick random playback. It's like having your own radio station. :beer
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by bloom2708 »

I would say it is not worth the effort to convert.

Whatever phone ecosystem you have, buy Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music.

I have a 1TB drive with all kinds of music. I haven't looked at it in 6-7 years. When I do look at it I see all the wasted hours ripping CDs, converting to different higher bit rates, etc.

Buy a subscription and go for a nice walk or bike ride or read a book. :D
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Artful Dodger
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Artful Dodger »

Since you’ve used Apple Music, earlier this summer they began offering their stream in CD quality at no extra cost…

Lossless Audio

Apple Music will also make its catalog of more than 75 million songs available in Lossless Audio. Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file. This means Apple Music subscribers will be able to hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio.

To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download. Apple Music’s Lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz.1


I’ve got maybe 500 CDS, but as far a actual music quality, they’re totally redundant. I still greatly enjoy looking through my collection and picking out something to play, and maybe read the liner notes. I’ve also have several Grateful Dead boxes with cool artwork, concert reviews, and notes that I like to read. So, for me, having the physical CDs still gives me pleasure. If they didn’t, I’d chuck them and use Apple Music or another streaming service.
FireSekr
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by FireSekr »

Similar situation to you. Have hundreds of CDs, and prefer to own my own copies rather than beholden to a streaming service.

Im not an audiophile either, but even with moderately decent equipment I can here quite a big difference in quality between Spotify/Apple Music/pandora and a CD

I have ripped all of my CDs to a 2tb hard drive using no compression (AIFF mostly some .wav). I then use Roon to turn an old MacBook Pro into a music server and I can stream music from my server to any room of the house completely losslessly.

This method lets me listen to whatever I want whenever I want and it amounts exactly the same as the underlying CD. I also purchase some albums from HDTracks, which have lossless files with higher bit rates than standards cds.

There really aren’t any downsides to this method other than having to pay for Roon which is $120 or so per year and well worth it. I used to use Plex which is similar but free, and I like Roon a lot better so I don’t mind paying for an improved experience.
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by FireSekr »

Artful Dodger wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:20 am Since you’ve used Apple Music, earlier this summer they began offering their stream in CD quality at no extra cost…

Lossless Audio

Apple Music will also make its catalog of more than 75 million songs available in Lossless Audio. Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file. This means Apple Music subscribers will be able to hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio.

To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download. Apple Music’s Lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz.1


I’ve got maybe 500 CDS, but as far a actual music quality, they’re totally redundant. I still greatly enjoy looking through my collection and picking out something to play, and maybe read the liner notes. I’ve also have several Grateful Dead boxes with cool artwork, concert reviews, and notes that I like to read. So, for me, having the physical CDs still gives me pleasure. If they didn’t, I’d chuck them and use Apple Music or another streaming service.
This is awesome thank you for sharing. I use Apple Music with my Apple Watch and had no idea they started offering lossless.

After reading your post I had to go into settings to enable this. Apple probably should have done a better job publicizing this
sully45
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by sully45 »

If I were digitizing my cd collection:

I would use EAC to perform all the rips. This will rip the cd's as accurately as possible and attempt to repair any skips/glitches as they occur. Do it right, once. Make sure you use the FreeDB feature to autotag the albums as they rip.

EAC will output wav files, I would transcode everything to flac and delete the originals, this should cut storage space in half. Various options for that software, DB Poweramp is really nice for transcoding on all of your cpu cores, but costs a bit.

Use playback software of choice. Personally I've always used foobar. Many of these programs will have a file organization feature that will organize your music library into the directory structure of your choosing. Ex: Artist/Album/Disc/track1.flac...

Edit: DB Poweramp also has a pretty nice looking secure rip program. And all their software has a 21 day free trial. Maybe plan a few days to take the free trial and get this done in one batch. I'd buy beer and food and invite my brothers over to listen to albums and hang out while I got it done.
Last edited by sully45 on Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
roamingzebra
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by roamingzebra »

DiamondplateDave wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:33 pm Every time I start looking into this, it gets too confusing-"MP3s are lossy! AIFF is obsolete! WAV files don't have metadata!" OGG files cause cancer!"
That's pretty funny.

I'm not an audiophile but I have a huge collection of CD-ripped MP3s that I play on a portable MP3 player. I recently found that one can download better quality versions using youtube-dl, i.e., AAC/M4A versions, which give much better quality for the size (believe me, the difference is dramatic!).

The problem for me is that although my MP3 players play M4A, the usual features of shuffle, etc. are not available. So when I'm out walking/running, I listen to the old MP3s and when I'm at home and want to listen to my 15 favorite tunes, I listen to the M4A version and manually shuffle if I don't want to hear in alphabetical order. Someday I'll get an M4A-capable player and I will convert more of my collection.

There's really no need to do the conversion all at once. Just concentrate on the tunes you're playing the most at a particular time and convert them.
Lookingforanswers
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by Lookingforanswers »

bloom2708 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:13 am I would say it is not worth the effort to convert.
Whatever phone ecosystem you have, buy Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music.
I have a 1TB drive with all kinds of music. I haven't looked at it in 6-7 years. When I do look at it I see all the wasted hours ripping CDs, converting to different higher bit rates, etc.
Buy a subscription and go for a nice walk or bike ride or read a book. :D
This is correct.

I spent dozens and dozens and dozens of hours about 10 years ago digitizing my 1,000+ CD collection. I even shipped dozens of albums off to a company that digitizes vinyl LP's for all that music of mine (a surprising amount!) that had never been converted to CD's or digital. For awhile, I delighted in the fact that I had access to everything on digital, and organized lots of genres and sub-genres and playlists.

Then.....I kind of stopped listening much to my old music. As streaming services got better and better, I found myself leaning on the recommendations and tools of Pandora, Spotify and Amazon Music.

Now I pretty much rely on Amazon Music, but every time I upgrade to a new device I reload my entire legacy digital files over to a new phone. I did it again last week when I upgraded to an iPhone 13 and at one point I thought, why am I still carrying all this content around on my phone? I think I'd enjoy music more if I just had a handful of basic playlists on my phone, and then downloaded what I want from Amazon Music when I heard a new artist I wanted to explore or thought of an old favorite I wanted to listen too again.

I wish I had all that time back.
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by wfrobinette »

sully45 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:26 am If I were digitizing my cd collection:

I would use EAC to perform all the rips. This will rip the cd's as accurately as possible and attempt to repair any skips/glitches as they occur. Do it right, once. Make sure you use the FreeDB feature to autotag the albums as they rip.

EAC will output wav files, I would transcode everything to flac and delete the originals, this should cut storage space in half. Various options for that software, DB Poweramp is really nice for transcoding on all of your cpu cores, but costs a bit.

Use playback software of choice. Personally I've always used foobar. Many of these programs will have a file organization feature that will organize your music library into the directory structure of your choosing. Ex: Artist/Album/Disc/track1.flac...

Edit: DB Poweramp also has a pretty nice looking secure rip program. And all their software has a 21 day free trial. Maybe plan a few days to take the free trial and get this done in one batch. I'd buy beer and food and invite my brothers over to listen to albums and hang out while I got it done.
I just digitized my entire library of over 600 CDs and dbpoweramp worked extremely well. Did it over a 3 month period.
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by wfrobinette »

DiamondplateDave wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:33 pm [Moved into a new thread from: Unloading Massive Collection of Classical Music --admin LadyGeek]

I've come close to starting a thread on this, but this thread is pretty close and the OP presumably resolved their issue. My question is how to convert my 500-1000 CD collection to computer files that I can organize to my liking. I had a lot (~500GB) of files in my iTunes library (AIFF, WAV, MP3, MP4) but my computer crashed and I was unable to restore the iTunes library from my backup. I have the files, pdfs of my playlists, and a 'quick and dirty' library I threw together. I would like to 'clean up' the files I have, then rip a bunch of my CDs so I can have the songs I want, then put the CDs into storage. Every time I start looking into this, it gets too confusing-"MP3s are lossy! AIFF is obsolete! WAV files don't have metadata!" OGG files cause cancer!" So, here's some relevant facts:
1. I have Amazon Music HD, and a bunch of Echo units, and I can stream on my Mac computers and iPhone as well.
So I don't HAVE to have my own music, but....I don't like to be beholden to a soul-less corporation for music. So let's pretend I'm going to go live somewhere with power, but no internet, which is a possibility at this point.

2. I know the streaming is lower quality than CD audio. I'm probably not enough of an audiophile to make a big deal out of it- alot of my listening is done on an Echo Dot hooked to a pair of cheap powered computer speakers. However, I do have some decent amps and speakers (Denon, Marantz, Advent, Dahlquist) so I'm leaning towards having decent quality audio files. Oh, for the record(!) I don't listen to Classical. I listen to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Classic Rock, Folk, and Celtic. So, think Black Sabbath to Loreena McKennitt.
3. I'm primarily a Mac user at this point, I have iMacs, Macbook Pros, iPad, iPhone, but I have used Windows and Linux so I'm not against something that offers platform flexibility. Also (2) Apple Airport Express and an older Apple TV. I also have a (not set up) Synology DS219 with 2x2GB drives in a RAID array. Ideally, I think putting the media on the NAS would allow me to access it from any device in the house rather than store ~1TB of files on multiple devices, with the concurrent problem of keeping them synchronized.
I liked iTunes, then Apple 'improved' it, but it's what I have now. I'm open to using a non-Apple setup- Plex, VLC.
I've seen this come up on BH from time to time, so I'm hoping folks here can give me some guidance. Thanks!
Flac is what you want for lossless music.

I had tons of stuff by the Dead and off shoots that just aren't available to reliably stream on demand. Unless you have a bunch of music that is collectible and not available on Amazon, I wouldn't waste your time.
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22twain
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by 22twain »

I have more than 5000 classical CDs, going back to the mid 1980s (and some LPs from before than that never made it to CD). Many of them are on specialist labels, some of which are defunct or have been swallowed up and neglected by major labels. I don't want to risk losing access to material because of the vagaries of contracts between streaming providers and recording companies.

So I've been steadily ripping CDs and scanning booklets to PDF for more than ten years now, as I listen to old stuff. It gives me something to do in retirement.

I'm in the Apple ecosystem, so I rip to Apple lossless format (ALAC) using the XLD software which accesses a database of checksums to verify that the rips are accurate. Then I drag the files into Apple's Music app on my desktop iMac, re-tag them to my standards for consistency, and add scans of the booklet covers. Finally, I drag copies into folders on two duplicate HDDs to archive them, to protect all the work I did in tagging them.

To play the music on the old-school audio/video system in my living room, I use an Apple TV box which streams via my home network from the iMac's music library. I sync some of it to my iPhone for listening when I'm out and about.

Nowadays I buy most new recordings as downloads, but I also like to browse and buy used CDs when I get the chance.
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

I ripped my CDs to both MP3 and FLAC format on my Synology DS418+. Then, I can stream to any devices.

No, my CDs are not available from the streaming services.

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sasquatch12
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by sasquatch12 »

I took all of my our CD's and ripped them into FLAC Lossless format and put them on my Auralic music server. I can stream them to any device or play them on my stereo system. I don't like the MP3 format it sounds like trash compared to FLAC, I used a program called DBPoweramp to rip all my CD's one by one on my computer. It is a great program to use and you can find guides on the web to help you get it set up. It generally does not take long to rip them, I would just grab a bunch and rip them while watching TV, working out or browsing the internet. It took some time but I am happy with the results.

I have a higher end stereo system at home and the FLAC format sounds so much better than MP3 on that system. To me it was worth the time to rip all my CD's and have them all in one easy to use music server so I can listen to any song at any time.
cjcerny
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by cjcerny »

CD ripping has been a thing since about 1995. If you haven’t done it yet, suspect you won’t ever do it. Lots of very good hi res streaming services now. I would just audition several and pick one. Only reason to still rip CD’s is if you have some that are not available on the streaming service you select.

Also, make sure you understand how to backup and restore any CD’s that you do end up ripping, if any.
roamingzebra
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by roamingzebra »

sasquatch12 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:07 pm I don't like the MP3 format it sounds like trash compared to FLAC, I used a program called DBPoweramp to rip all my CD's one by one on my computer.
I was fine with MP3 until I heard AAC/M3A.

When I heard FLAC, it was pretty obvious it was far superior to the above. However, the files are big. Anyone wanting to convert to FLAC needs to take that into consideration and make sure they have enough disk space.
skis4hire
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by skis4hire »

I would check how many of your albums are on the streaming services. I would rip the ones that aren't and stream the rest.

I personally use YouTube music which lets you upload your own files and play them alongside the full streaming catalog. So I have access to all of my music through one app but only had to rip a few albums. I've been pleasantly surprised that the song recommendations introduced me to a number of new artists and even subgenres that I enjoy.

Most people can't tell the difference between 320k or even 256k mp3 vs the source in a blind ABX test, even on good equipment, so I would go with mp3 for the universal compatibility.
fatima526
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by fatima526 »

Mac/Apple user. I have large CD collection, mostly before streaming was a thing. Most was ripped as MP3 320kbps. Purchase, then rip. I went back and ripped my absolute favorites to Apple Lossless. I also have GBs of internet radio streams as MP3 that I listen to more than CDs. None of my listening is critical, so the mix of different formats doesn't bother me. My iTunes Library is on external HD that is backed up regularly.

I put a lot of work into playlists. Maybe 10 years ago I wrote scripts that extracted playlist info from the iTunes Library XML file, and save the results to .txt files and backed up separately. Then Apple changed the XML file format, and I lost interest in the maintaining the scripts. Now I just print the playlists to .pdf files as needed.

I am a Apple Music subscriber, but only use it to discover new (to me) music. I rarely buy CDs now, if I do they get ripped Apple Lossless, even if the music is available on streaming.

I've explored iTunes alternatives years ago (Plex, Synology NAS) but for the way I listen to music, nothing compelling enough to switch. I really have no use for the solutions where you upload your collection and it gets commingled with music outside your collection. I like "my" collection maintained and curated locally.
brookwright
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Re: How to Digitize Massive Collection of Music

Post by brookwright »

I had the same issue. My brother convinced me to look at the Brennan B2, which was designed by Martin Brennan, a Cambridge physicist. It rips and stores CDs in a FLAC format. It also allows you to download wirelessly from your computer in whatever format you have them in. It has an internal 15W amp so you can hook it up to speakers. I bought Klipsch speakers, and it sounds great. The Brennan can store up to 5,000 CDs in a lossless format. I have ripped around 600 CDs, and it has really allowed me to discover and re-discover music that I had stopped playing.

It has been one of the best things I've bought this year. Strongly suggest you look at this reasonably affordable solution.
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