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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Need to archive music!

    I've got about 1,000 CDs that I want to migrate to a digital music server. I'd prefer to use my Apple Mac to do this. I'm particular about sound quality and want a lossless compression.

    From what I've read, Apple's ALE format, being lossless, and offering up to 60% compression may be what I want?

    My questions are: How much hard drive space will I need? Is ALE the best format for what I want to do? Anything to watch out for during the conversion? How can I catalog the collection so I can find what I want?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    FLAC is another good codec to check out. It works on different platforms too.

    http://flac.sourceforge.net/

  3. #3
    cab horn
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    Lol, Apple. Go with what Ziemas said please.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Not fluent in English Runaway Cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    My questions are: How much hard drive space will I need? Is ALE the best format for what I want to do? Anything to watch out for during the conversion? How can I catalog the collection so I can find what I want?
    Ask those questions on Hydrogenaudio Forums, but search the archive first!
    You can correct my English mistakes.

  5. #5
    NFL Owner monogodo's Avatar
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    I've got my 400+ CDs converted to WMA at 128kbps (not as good as lossless, but not too bad).

    They're taking up about 35 gigabytes of HD space.

    My guess would be that you'd need at least 100GB of space, most likely more.
    198? Colnago Super (Campy Record) | 1989 Eddy Merckx 7-Eleven Team Issue (Dura Ace) | Catamount MFS (1x8) | Top Image Neptune (SS)

  6. #6
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogodo
    I've got my 400+ CDs converted to WMA at 128kbps (not as good as lossless, but not too bad).

    They're taking up about 35 gigabytes of HD space.

    My guess would be that you'd need at least 100GB of space, most likely more.
    1) 128kbps is horrible, you never want to archive at this bitrate
    2) 100gb of space is < 25 dvds.

    We're done here.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    1) 128kbps is horrible, you never want to archive at this bitrate
    Pardon my ignorance... I've been told that MP3 is the preferred format because of its universiality. Assuming I want to archive for best quality, what bitrate should I use? Should I use constant or variable bitrate? I was also told that LAME would be a good encoder to use - your opinion? I have up to 500 GB to store about 800 CDs. I'm willing to buy a second 500 GB external drive if needed, but would prefer to fit the library on one drive. Thanks for the feedback.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Pardon my ignorance... I've been told that MP3 is the preferred format because of its universiality. Assuming I want to archive for best quality, what bitrate should I use? Should I use constant or variable bitrate? I was also told that LAME would be a good encoder to use - your opinion? I have up to 500 GB to store about 800 CDs. I'm willing to buy a second 500 GB external drive if needed, but would prefer to fit the library on one drive. Thanks for the feedback.
    FLAC is like the lossless version of mp3. It's universal, works on all common operating systems, and can be converted easily to other formats (cda, mp3, etc).

    If I were you I'd back them up to high quality DVDs. What happens if your drive dies?

  9. #9
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas
    FLAC is like the lossless version of mp3. It's universal...
    Does FLAC play natively on portable players? I want not only to archive the music, but also to have it available without further conversion on an iPod or simalar device.

  10. #10
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Apple is a pretty proprietary format. Here's the deal, with 256kbps VBR MP3 encoding, you're gonna have all the detail you can handle. I have a pair of pretty good headphones hooked up to a pretty good amp and I can barely tell the difference between 320k VBR and the raw CD. Under normal listening conditions at work, I can barely tell the difference between 192 vbr and CD.

    Most people put too much effort into preserving the quality of the CD without realizing that the crappy amplifier and outputs they're using are chewing away most of that quality anyway.

    If you're gonna do a sound test, always reference from the CD backwards, never from a low bit rate going up. Its much easier starting from the best then looking for what you're missing instead of going from rock bottom and looking for what you're gaining in quality.

    To figure out space is pretty easy. A CD is around 650 megs, so 1000 is 650 gigs. Multiply that by the compression, say 50%, and you need 325 gigs or so.

  11. #11
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    MP3 is a good format for its universality, but as stated, it is not lossless (e.g. you DO lose audio information).

    That being said...only a trained or pretty sensitive ear would be able to tell the difference between a lossless format and a decently high bit rate MP3.

    Conversion of audio to digital is basically like a riemann sum problem. You are taking an analog waveform and reproducing it via discrete points. So essentially the higher the bit rate (number of points) the higher the accuracy of the reproduction.

    CBR (constant bit rate) usually peak out at 320 Kbps. I've never seen a program that would rip higher (or a player that would paly higher). They might exist, but would make things complicated and you would lose the "universality" that MP3s are good for.

    VBR (variable bit rate) take a "minimum CBR" so that you reproduce all music at that CBR minimum, but if the analog waveform is complex enough, it raises the bit rate to an amount it can get a decent representation of the original waveform.

    Ok....that's some basic explanation. I used to always record at 320 CBR just to ensure I had the highest quality. Yes, it takes an immense amount of space. Just to try to reduce future recordings, I have since dropped my ripping down to 192 or 256 VBR.

    If you are truly fanatical about the quality though, then you should go with a lossless format, but the sizes will likely be large. I would probably go with FLAC because it's an open format and thus bound to have LOTS of support, not just support from one company/sector.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  12. #12
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Most people put too much effort into preserving the quality of the CD without realizing that the crappy amplifier and outputs they're using are chewing away most of that quality anyway.
    This is so VERY VERY true.

    I don't know how many people spend gobs of time on getting super high quality rips of their music and then listen on a computer with an onboard sound card through $50 speakers that came with their Dell. It's pointless work if you listen through junk.

    At work I'm stuck with a dell and onboard sound....I just got a really good pair of headphones. At home I have a good sound card, great speakers and if I go headphones, another good pair of phones.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  13. #13
    NFL Owner monogodo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    1) 128kbps is horrible, you never want to archive at this bitrate
    2) 100gb of space is < 25 dvds.

    We're done here.
    1.) 128kbps is a good compromise of quality vs. file size. Considering the tiny speakers I play it through, it's good enough. Sure, it's not going to sound well on a high-end system, but I'm not playing it through a high-end system. If I were to take the time to re-rip my collection at 196kbps or higher, I'd also have to purchase another HD to store it on.

    2.) He's talking about archiving CDs, not DVDs. Since I'm now posting from home instead of work, I can say that I have 10159 songs on my HD, which take up 35.57GB, with an estimated playing time of 670:43:08. My collection encompasses over 425 artists, and over 700 CDs. So depending on bit rate and file type, my guess of 100GB wasn't that far off, taking into account the fact that he may buy more CDs over time and want to add them to his collection.
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  14. #14
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Pardon my ignorance... I've been told that MP3 is the preferred format because of its universiality. Assuming I want to archive for best quality, what bitrate should I use? Should I use constant or variable bitrate? I was also told that LAME would be a good encoder to use - your opinion? I have up to 500 GB to store about 800 CDs. I'm willing to buy a second 500 GB external drive if needed, but would prefer to fit the library on one drive. Thanks for the feedback.
    Simply put, if you want to have a perfect copy of something, FLAC is the way to go. Using LAME to encode these songs off your cds means that if you ever want to recreate the original cd you had (for example, scratched or lost or damaged in some way), you will NEVER be able to do that off your backups unless they were in lossless format (i.e FLAC).

    If you don't have a dvd burner, i'd suggest you get one ($35 will get you one). Dollars to capacity, dvds are about 7 times cheaper. You will be able to fit several cds one one dvd and FLAC also sports compression.

    I have a pair of pretty good headphones hooked up to a pretty good amp and I can barely tell the difference between 320k VBR and the raw CD. Under normal listening conditions at work, I can barely tell the difference between 192 vbr and CD.
    This has nothing to do with archiving music. Whether or not you can hear the difference on your equipment is irrelevant. If you encode anything off a cd to 128~320kbps mp3s, information WILL be lost. This is not the way you want to archive anything.

    However, if you don't care that you won't be restoring cds perfectly then use LAME to encode all this to 320 mp3's.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  15. #15
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Since my preferred output will be iPod Nano, I've opted to use Apple Lossless codec. I can hear quality differences between the ALE format and MP3 at 320 with VBR. Since storage space isn't an issue, the outboard hard drive will hold all my music with room to spare.

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