HTPC FOR MUSIC ONLY (for now) ?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Joe Thompson, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Joe Thompson

    Joe Thompson Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey People,
    I am very new to HTPC...I am wondering if anyone uses their HTPC as a music hub...I want to d/l all my cd's into a hard drive & use it as a jukebox...I suspect you can do this, what type of software do most people use for this? Also this would be a way to get my wife into having a full blown HTPC with HD video capabities at a later date...The reason for this now is that I was looking into buying 1 of those 400 disk changers & then I thought what about a "music server", the wife seemed ok with this so far...& was hoping it might be alot cheaper....I know I would need a huge hard drive but besides that what would give me "audiophile" grade sound from the PC....
    Really any help would sure be appreciated

    Thanks

    Joe
     
  2. Mathew Shelby

    Mathew Shelby Second Unit

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    If you want "audiophile" grade sound, then you will probably need a large hard drive and a good sound card. I use the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 (as do many on this forum) and I am very pleased with the results. I am not an audiophile, and have ripped all my CDs into MP3 format using EAC (Exact Audio Copy) and LAME and it is more than sufficient for my needs. I would suggest starting with like 120gb hard drive (can be had around $70-$80 with all the rebates) and load all your songs onto that. Later when you decide to go with a fullblown HTPC then you can just remove the drive from your current PC and put it in the new one. FYI: Sony is coming out with a new model 985V SACD 400 disc DVD changer for around $300. For a front end check out myhtpc or mainlobby.
     
  3. BenSC

    BenSC Stunt Coordinator

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    There is a post going on in the... DIY Forum I think. It's a guide on how a member here used a good mic and some EQ software to get a nearly flat response curve in room. I would take a look at that as well.
     
  4. Joe Thompson

    Joe Thompson Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys.....I guess I have a bit of reading & research to do...


    Joe
     
  5. Andy Mack

    Andy Mack Auditioning

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    Hey Joe, I said where you goin with that....no really, have you ever done any ripping/encoding before? I recently caught the HTPC bug myself, but have been archiving my CD collection for some time now. I've tried a lot of different methods and used a lot of different software, and so far the easiest and most intuitive program I've come along is Audiograbber. The encoding process, depending on quality level, can be quite time consuming. This of course all depends on your machines capabilities of course. More power is definitely a good thing here. A better solution, if you don't mind taking up a LOT of hard drive space, is not encoding it at all and just ripping it to wav files. You don't lose any sound quality this way like you can with some compression methods, but the biggest benefit is that it's very fast. This wouldn't matter if you're only interested in ripping the occasional cd, but if you plan on archiving a large collection encoding can take up quite a bit of time. The downside, as mentioned, is the space wavs take up. Your typical cd ripped to wav will take up around 500 megs, where the same cd ripped to mp3 could be around 40 megs. If you intend to backup your collection to cdr or dvd then you'd of course want to compress them. I think backups are a good idea, depending on how you look at things. With your collection backed up you can always burn yourself a copy of a cd that gets lost or damaged. Another thing to consider is hard drive failure. I recently had a drive in a raid array fail, and do to the fact these drives were configured in raid 0 all the data was lost. This can be quite a heart breaker when you've got years worth of time invested in cd ripping and downloading of whatever it is you may download. So as you can see, as with anything else you have tons of options and things to consider. The best thing to do is just get to ripping and find what you like best. As far as sound cards go, as long as you're not going to be gaming on this machine the M-Audio cards are the way to go, as Mathew mentioned. M-Audio cards are geared more towards to the pro side of audio, where your mainstream stuff like the Soundblaster cards are intended more for gaming and general use stuff. Hope this helps. Have fun with it!
     
  6. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Are there any limitations if I back up my CD collection via Windows Media Player and in the form of WMP files?

    Right now, I have all my CD's backed up this way, both on my HTPC and on my laptop, and I think this works perfect for me...

    I encode at the highest bitrate possible w/ WMP - and I have plenty of room to add more discs in the future on my 80GB WD hard Drive w/ 8 MB Cache...

    I'm not an audiophile per say, but everything I have played back on my HTPC sounds pretty darn good.

    So, give Windows Media Player a try if you haven't already.

    I have mine set up to start copying CD's automatically upon insertion into my HTPC. WMP even gets all the artist/album/song info off the internet automatically and downloads the cover art for each album as well. Then it places it in a folder for each artist...so if you have multiple albums from the same artist, all of them can be found in the same folder...

    Or am I missing out on something by using WMP versus another program?
     
  7. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    I don't think a computer-based solution will be cheaper than a CD changer, if you have to buy a regular computer and dedicate it to this purpose.

    A computer solution will be a lot more flexible and convenient to use (in terms of finding specific albums / artists / songs, making playlists, etc.), as long as you've got the computer turned on.

    The most flexible (but most costly) solution would be a computer, one of the iPods with the "docking base", and a spare dock. One dock hooks to the PC/Mac (for loading song files), the other to the stereo. The "jukebox" (iPod) itself moves around easily for use in the home theater room, computer room, car, or shirt pocket.

    Unfortunately, while the iPod can play WAVs, miniature HDs are not yet large enough to store 400 full-length CD albums as WAVs. You'd have to encode most albums as MP3 or AAC files.
     
  8. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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    You may also try one of the lossless programs like Monkeys or FLAC. Either of these will compress your files by between 40% and 60% depending on the music. I'm archiving a 1,000 disk cd collection onto two hard drives and it really isn't taking that long. What I do is, I rip to my hard drive using CDEX. CDEX can connect to CDDB for song info and can also read from the cdplayer.ini. Each CD takes about 2 minutes to rip. I usualy do about 40 per night. I then drag the ripped files onto FLAC, go to sleep for the night, and the next morning the FLAC files have replaced the wave files. Hard disk space nowadays is quite cheap (I bought 400 gigs of space for $300 - almost as cheap as a cd jukebox, but with way more capacity) and of course I still have the CD's as back up in the event of a catastrophic failure. Yeah, I wasted some time on the rips it that ever occurs, but if you're afraid of that you can always backup to 2 addtional hard drives.
     

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