Building a Music Library
Regardless of how you plan to stream music at home you will need a centrally stored music library. Using i-Tunes isn’t the best way of storing your music because it compresses music and that means that you don’t get the best from it. The compression is clearly audible; even through headphones or on an ordinary stereo system or half decent docking system. Even if you change the settings in i-Tunes you can’t buy music uncompressed because Apple only sell it that way.
What is a music library
Basically it is your CD collection. Pure and simple. You already have one but probably spend a great deal of time cataloguing it and finding the CD’s you want to play. Often finding the song or album you want is a nightmare and means trudging upstairs or into the back room. A digital music library enables you to access your music easily and almost instantly. You can search by artist, genre, album or even song. And you can built playlists and save them if you wish. Of course you can even cue up the music for the whole evening.
There are also sonic advantages. Ripped CD’s can sound better than the CD itself. I know that sounds a little insane but when you play a CD on a CD player you don’t recover all the data. A bit perfect copy of the CD will always provide 100% of the data.
But before we explain how to get your CD’s into a centrally stored music library lets look at storage. Storage is an important issue.
Why is storage important
If you store your music on your laptop, MAC or PC then you run the risk of losing it if you have problems with your device. If you upgrade or change your device you will also have to copy it across to the new one and if your device fails you will lose everything. If you have a large collection of music you can also find that your device slows down because of the amount of storage being used.
The easiest way to get round this is to look at a network storage device (NASdrive).
The QNAP TS-112 above is the best solution we know of. This is a network storage device. It plugs into your router and allows you to access your music from wherever you are in the house, either wired or wirelessly.
Your router brings internet into your house. Network items (computers etc) can be connected to it wirelessly or hard-wired. If you have a PC or static computer it will probably be connected via an Ethernet cable. If you have a laptop it will more than likely be connected wirelessly.
This is where your music collection is stored. It will solely be for the purpose of storing your music and will not tie up or use the resources of your computer.
Explore these links to look at the costs. We’re shown the QNAP drive and the recommended 2TB drive for it. You can of course use a smaller or a large drive.
The 2TB device will store over 3000 CD’s. It is small and plugs in to your router (wherever that is). It requires no maintenance and plugs in with a standard ethernet cable that it will come with. It doesnot rely on your computer or laptop being on and will serve music on demand. If you change your laptop or PC it will have no effect on your music library.
Now you have some storage what next?
The next job is to archive your music to your music library. Fill the shelves so to speak.
Most people own a lot of CD’s. The first job is to take bit- perfect copies of the digital information and store it as FLAC files on the QNAP. By doing this you are building your own library from the music you already own. This sounds complicated but in fact is pretty simple because a clever piece of software does it for you.
DBPoweramp is a doddle to install and use and it takes perfect copies of your CD’s and stores them in a highly organised library on the QNAP. Versions exist for both PC and MAC.
One by one you place your discs into the CD tray on your computer. The software will interrogate the disc and then look for all relevant data for the disc. It will then rip or extract all the data and add it to your music storage. It takes between 5 and 7 minutes to do this and then it will spit the disc out and ask for another. Of course you can access your library at any time. You don’t have to wait until all your CD’s are ripped. We recommend doing ten a day or something like that.
DbPoweramp extracts all the data from the disc. Damaged discs can take longer (because it will make repeated passes over the disc to try and recover damaged or lost data) and very badly damaged CD’s can be failed. If you look after your CD’s you will have no problem at all. Clean damaged CD’s first if you are concerned. In our store we have only come across a small number of discs that have been failed.
New music can be bought on CD and copied (ripped) to yourlibrary or downloaded in lossless files from dedicated music websites. At the moment because of the decline in CD sales, CD is the cheapest way to buy music and it is likely that CD prices will continue to fall. You can of course also buy them used from shops or from AMAZON marketplace.
Some of the classic albums from the history of music are now available in remarkable studio master quality. This is substantially better sounding than the CD because the files contain up to 50% more data. That’s MORE MUSIC.
Higher definition music sounds remarkable and you’ll get plenty of chance to hear it if you call into our shop. These albums are downloaded from a number of websites. They are priced a little higher than a conventional album but offer huge advantages in performance. Most of us tend to buy our favourites because of the improvements in quality to be found. Availability of HD music is on the increase and the price generally has a tendency to fall.
Check here to see a site that provides HD music
We do not suggest getting rid of your CD’s once you have ripped them. Put them in boxes and pack them away safely in case you ever need them again. It is unlikely but it is best to be safe. It is also worth noting that keeping your CD’s is a way of proving that you own the music you are storing in your music library. In these days of changing legislation and digital rights we think that is worth something.
We also suggest taking a back up of your music library from time to time. An inexpensive USB storage device is the cheapest and best way of doing this.
We base these on our ten years of experience in streaming. There are other QNAPS and there is other ripping software but we recommend these because we know they work reliably and we know them inside out. That means that when customers do experience set-up issues or problems of any kind we can quickly help them in the simplest way. Our experience is also fraught with people who have followed the advice of “techies” and come unstuck. We work in layman’s terms and opt for belt and braces products and software.
Do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance.