Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Music from PC, iPOD, MP3 etc
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Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby WHIPPET » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:47 am

I have been too busy having kids and working my fingers to the bone in the last 10 years :lol: to notice that many people seem to be using computers iphones - mac minis etc etc itunes to feed their hi fi and all that time I have been faithfully buying cd's from Amazon stacking them on the shelf and playing the same one 20 times then moving on to another old favourite etc.

The time has come to feed by a pair of lush piano black 50's, C4 and SCA 2 with some more update signals but naturally I am cautious about sound quality. What I read here suggests that there is no loss in sound - but then I read on and I see people banging on about lossless audio and htz rates and my eyes glaze over :| and I order another cd as I know it works.

I've read all the mags and see there is a mind boggling array - a naim thing for £2000 - people use Iphones (got one of those and not a single song on it yet) some of you guys speak about mac minis? what about this brenan thing - any good? If you are using a mac mini (what is that btw?? a hard drive??) would any of you buy a Naim thing for £2000 or is that a mac mini in an expensive box?

The problem:

complete ATC system end to end apart from the cd player (AVI lab series)


About 2000 cds which I want to store and play off some gizmo with "no loss in quality" and add more to
I want to continue to buy cds (wise?)


if you had my system what would you buy to do make it happen?


All answers gratefully read - no need to try and teach me about loss less audio and bit rates :?: - just tell me what to buy and how to plug it in? :?

Whippet

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby Shadorne » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:45 pm

I would move everything to a PC or MAC and eventually get a good jitter immune DAC with the kind of sound you like - if you like neutral sound then Benchmark DAC1 is a good quality DAC at a reasonable price.

First you will need to burn all your CD's to a hard drive. You can use iTunes or other software - all you need to do is to ensure your settings are for full lossless files. (Apple lossless is fine, so is FLAC lossless) It will take several months to burn all those CD's and ensure you have correct cover art and track listings. You'll need about a minimum of 500 GB of drive space and you should ensure you have a backup (complete copy of everything in case the hard drive dies)

The reason I suggest this route is that you are not dependent on anyone's hardware or system. If you choose something like iTunes you have the advantage of easy transfer of music to your iPhone and it is unlikely that Apple support for this software will be dropped anytime soon (besides you can convert your Apple lossless files to another format if you wish)

I have a mixture of Apple Lossless at 44.1KHZ CD quality files and some files which I downloaded from HD tracks at higher resolutions like 96 KHz 24 bit - all stored on a RAID system. I do not use CD's anymore although I have kept all the originals and still buy CD's as I refuse to buy lossy music from iTunes or other sources as these are very often audibly degraded - for me it is CD quality as a minimum or greater.

One thing I do not like about iTunes is the way it stores cover art in a separate file. I usually embed the artwork in the individual audio files themselves - which is an extra step. The bane of digital music is keeping the cover art together with the audio files because if you ever switch software or switch from MAC to PC or vice versa you may find that a lot of artwork is lost and sometimes a compilation is split up due to the different way programs manage the artwork and database.
"ATC. Always The Champion. I will not record without them. The best studio monitors. Period." ~ Lenny Kravitz

Benchmark DAC3, 2 x ATC SCM EL150ASL, 1 ATC SCM 0.1/15, 2 x Genelec 8020, Roland TD-30 Drums, Pearl Ref Acoustic Kit, Ludwig brass & Pearl Ref snares, Gibson LP Supreme, Fender Precision Bass

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby WHIPPET » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:03 am

Excellent thanks - I remember a friend transferring all his cd's to hard drive and then binning them and (wait for it) then getting burgled! If he had told me he could have kept them at my place! But seriously I wont have the time - but I guess I will just have to make it - time to go shopping.

Plugged in my new C4 sub yesterday for daughters birthday party - :lol: incredible - how would any normal person need anything bigger .

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby WHIPPET » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:13 am

Sorry another question - I have a Meridian DAC already - would that do instead of the bench mark?

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby Shadorne » Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:31 pm

WHIPPET wrote:Sorry another question - I have a Meridian DAC already - would that do instead of the bench mark?

Whippet


The problem is that your PC and optical cable will introduce jitter. This aspect is unavoidable - so you need something downstream that rejects this jitter.

Meridian have a great reputation but you may want to read up on the jitter rejection capability of your particular model.

Jitter are errors in timing caused by many many things. In fact, jitter is UNAVOIDABLE as it is inherent in the AES/EBU digital interface standards. See this article for a whole shopping list of jitter problems with digital audio signals http://www.stereophile.com/features/396bits/index.html

There are basically two approaches to solve the problem:

1. PLL or Phase Locked Loop is the usual approach to jitter rejection but this approach is very tricky as it requires a filter. Think of PLL like a car suspension that tries to smooth out bumps so that passengers do not feel the "jitter" - intuitively you can see how the performance can be good at very high frequencies but poor at low frequencies. Many older PLL designs are not very good at rejecting jitter below 5 KHz. Recent designs are probably better. Fundamentally the problem with the PLL approach is that the road is permanently in contact with car through the suspension. The PLL approach is rather ineffective for low frequencies (1 Khz and below) but we know that low frequency jitter can be audible. Each designer still using the PLL approach usually claim that they have eliminated this problem - for example, Weiss claim to use a double PLL system that "virtually" eliminates jitter.

2. Asynchronous sample rate converters (ASRC). This technique is employed by Benchmark in their DAC1. They claim, "The Benchmark DAC1 and ADC1 converters have enough jitter attenuation to ensure jitter that measures less than +/- 7 psec (+/- 7 trillionth of a second) under all input conditions. These products maintain jitter-induced distortion at levels that are at least 130 dB below the peak level of the music. This distortion is well below the threshold of hearing (at any reasonable playback level). The Benchmark DAC1 and ADC1 converters will not add audible jitter artifacts under any operating conditions. With these converters, jitter is so far below audibility that these devices can essentially be considered “jitter free”."

I have read most of the engineering notes and stuff on Benchmark and their method looks solid - no doubt there are now other manufacturers who use it too. Until someone discovers a problem (nothing identified so far in 10 years) with this approach. ASRC seems (IMHO) the best way to eliminate input jitter. Ultimately ASRC means that you don't care how bumpy the road is or what is the frequency of bumps along the road because you are no longer in contact with the road at all.

Of course this discussion is restricted to jitter rejection because that really is the major concern with going to a PC based source - I can almost guarantee you that any PC-based system will be jittery.

Benchmark does a great job of input jitter rejection but there may be valid reasons for preferring something else, as input jitter rejection is NOT the be all and end all of the DAC - it may ensure you don't have any issues in that area but it is of no use if you don't like the analog sound of the output!!!!
"ATC. Always The Champion. I will not record without them. The best studio monitors. Period." ~ Lenny Kravitz

Benchmark DAC3, 2 x ATC SCM EL150ASL, 1 ATC SCM 0.1/15, 2 x Genelec 8020, Roland TD-30 Drums, Pearl Ref Acoustic Kit, Ludwig brass & Pearl Ref snares, Gibson LP Supreme, Fender Precision Bass

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby emgee » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:11 pm

Get an Olive hd
cheers
Mark

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby Shadorne » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:03 pm

You did not ask but there are various alternatives to a PC. Mark mentions the Olive. I think this is an excellent solutions if you find the idea of setting up iTunes daunting. As I mentioned, iTunes is not without some manual overhead as albums do not always all import with correct cover art and album information. However, my guess is that other solutions suffer the same issues - most of them access a database called Gracenote. If your CD that you are burning is rare and does not happen to be in Gracenote then you have some typing to do! I have also noticed that classical CD's tend to be more problematic.

http://www.gracenote.com/about/

On a technical note. iTunes stores album art in a different location from the music files and has some kind of cross referncing. The music files can have artwork embedded in them also. When iTunes finds art work for a CD it simply puts that in this separate artwork file. If you want the artwork to embed in the music file then

1) You need to ensure you are using a file format that allows artwork to be embedded - like Apple lossless MP4a
2) You need to use the "Get Info" function on the particular file in question and paste the artwork into the cover art box in the track information window. You can do multiple tracks or an entire album in one go.

There are some script programs to do this for you

https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/688/~/automatically-embed-itunes-album-art-on-a-pc

I would recommend you keep cover art embedded in the track files as this will help ensure cover art never gets lost or disassociated. It means you can change your music management setup at any time and allow you to keep cover art.
"ATC. Always The Champion. I will not record without them. The best studio monitors. Period." ~ Lenny Kravitz

Benchmark DAC3, 2 x ATC SCM EL150ASL, 1 ATC SCM 0.1/15, 2 x Genelec 8020, Roland TD-30 Drums, Pearl Ref Acoustic Kit, Ludwig brass & Pearl Ref snares, Gibson LP Supreme, Fender Precision Bass

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby superbit » Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:10 am

Further to Shadorne's excellent post on jitter and DACs, he suggested that I mention the jitter performance of the Anedio D2 DAC which I use and introduced to the forum members on a separate thread:

http://atcforums.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=4286

The jitter results really speak for themselves (FFT spectrum of 11.025KHz, 0 dBFS Signal, 24-Bit 44.1KHz Sample):

Image

For the record, I suspect that anything under about 100dB would be completely inaudible in all practical listening scenarios though of course, this is just my opinion.

With regard to storing and playing back an audio collection, iTunes does seem to be the de-facto standard and supports playback of tagged lossless files however it has one major weakness; if your collection contains a mixture of different sampling rates i.e. CD rips at 44.1KHz, Digital downloads at 48 or 96KHz, DVD-A/Blu-ray rips etc. It cannot change the configured USB interface rate (on a Mac - not sure about a PC). The solution I use is Channel D's Pure Music. It can change the USB interface sample rate per track and also allows you to use audio files in FLAC format. It also takes over playback capabilities from iTunes while retaining the user interface and even works with iTunes Remote. It also provides other advantages such as up-sampling, allowing DSP plugins to be applied, a dithered volume control and more. Details can be found here:

http://www.channld.com/puremusic/
iTunes -> JackOSX -> AULab on Mac Mini -> PrismSound Orpheus
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2 channels -> ATC SPA2-150 -> ATC SCM11 (Office)
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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby WHIPPET » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:35 am

Many thanks for all this amazing feedback and here is another (daft?) question?

Does any one know of service where I could send off all my cd's and get them copied on to a hard drive - in fact I was wondering if I bought a mac book pro whether that would be a sensible thing to do? The I can go out and buy a Benchmark and would that be job done?

Realistically I am simply never going to have the time in the evenings and weekends to down load and itemise all my stuff.

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby bralk » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:35 am

WHIPPET wrote:Many thanks for all this amazing feedback and here is another (daft?) question?

Does any one know of service where I could send off all my cd's and get them copied on to a hard drive - in fact I was wondering if I bought a mac book pro whether that would be a sensible thing to do? The I can go out and buy a Benchmark and would that be job done?

Realistically I am simply never going to have the time in the evenings and weekends to down load and itemise all my stuff.

Whippet


Benchmark + active ATCs ? - I can vouch for that combination.

Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, MacMini ? - they will all do the job with no difference in SQ.
I have tried them all and use 2 old Macbooks for playback/ripping and a newer Macbook Pro for live recording
Playback with remote control from iPhone and iPad

All files ripped in AIFF format on external discs

Main disk: 3TB WD (fanless near silent model)
Local backup: 3 TB WD (in locked gun cubboard)
Remote Backup: 3 TB WD (at friend´s house)

cheers

Tom

PS: Have you considered paying nephews or nieces for doing the ripping ?
ATC SCM 100 ASL, ATC SCM 11, Genelec 8020, Genelec 6010

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby Shadorne » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:37 pm

WHIPPET wrote:Many thanks for all this amazing feedback and here is another (daft?) question?

Does any one know of service where I could send off all my cd's and get them copied on to a hard drive - in fact I was wondering if I bought a mac book pro whether that would be a sensible thing to do? The I can go out and buy a Benchmark and would that be job done?

Realistically I am simply never going to have the time in the evenings and weekends to down load and itemise all my stuff.

Whippet


More comments about iTunes - since I am familiar with it (I don't necessarily think it is the best but it is at least widely used and likely to remain well supported with good forward compatibility for Video - for example many downloadable iTunes tracks come now with video which is the future)

Ripping is fairly painless with iTunes as once you have the settings correctly set then all you do is stick the CD's in one after the other. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes per CD.

The only difficulty comes from having to keep an eye on it and keep removing/feeding new discs. This can be done while surfing the web or listening to music. But 2,000 CD's will take you several months if you do it during spare time in the evenings - 20 CD's per night is about three months - less time if you can get more ripping done on weekends.

The worst part comes from keeping artwork and other information accurate - for example, compilations with various artists sometimes require an extra step to "group" them. I have about 100 CD's that simply do not exist in any online database - it was a PITA to enter those tracks by hand and to scan the album covers.

The good news is you may re-discover stuff that you have not listened to in a while.

I also download Hi-Rez music from HD tracks and this can be a bit painful for iTunes as you need to convert the files from FLAC to MP4A or AIFF - there are several software applications to do that but it means an extra step prior to loading the files into your iTunes database with some mouse clicking to get the cover art and tracks.
"ATC. Always The Champion. I will not record without them. The best studio monitors. Period." ~ Lenny Kravitz

Benchmark DAC3, 2 x ATC SCM EL150ASL, 1 ATC SCM 0.1/15, 2 x Genelec 8020, Roland TD-30 Drums, Pearl Ref Acoustic Kit, Ludwig brass & Pearl Ref snares, Gibson LP Supreme, Fender Precision Bass

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby tw99 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:07 am

I had a smaller problem than you when I bought a streamer, with only 400-500 CDs. I gritted my teeth and sat down and ripped them (windows PC, into iTunes ALAC) over a couple of weeks of evenings and longer days last Christmas when I was off work.

Are your kids old enough to be asked to help do it for pocket money ? If not, just get a pile of CDs next to your PC and feed them in in the background while you're doing whatever else you're doing. It'll get done eventually.

In my case the investment has been hugely worthwhile as I've listened so much more in the last year through just having everything so easily accessible. If you do your most-listened discs first you'll get the benefit very quickly.
NACD3.5 | SBT / DSpeaker anti-mode 2.0 / SIA2-150 / SCM40 + C1

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby stunta » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:10 am

dbpoweramp with AccurateRip is a very good way to get proper rips. The program will re-read frames when needed and do a checksum validation against a database whose entries are contributed by others who have ripped the same CD. If you have CDs with errors (scratches etc.) this is the best way to get an "accurate" rip.

It takes a while to rip a large collection but I just did it over a couple of months while listening to music :)

As for the DAC, I use a Classe CP-800. It is also a preamp. Good bang for the buck. If you read the white paper, you will know why I bought it. Very well designed and sounds great. Mac mini + external drive and its a neat setup.

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby Shadorne » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:39 pm

stunta wrote:dbpoweramp with AccurateRip is a very good way to get proper rips. The program will re-read frames when needed and do a checksum validation against a database whose entries are contributed by others who have ripped the same CD. If you have CDs with errors (scratches etc.) this is the best way to get an "accurate" rip.

It takes a while to rip a large collection but I just did it over a couple of months while listening to music :)

As for the DAC, I use a Classe CP-800. It is also a preamp. Good bang for the buck. If you read the white paper, you will know why I bought it. Very well designed and sounds great. Mac mini + external drive and its a neat setup.



Awesome! There is no going back after ripping to lossless...no more feeding the CD tray :lol: :lol: :lol:

I miss the jewel cases a bit but not nearly as much as Vinyl artwork! Ah well, I should not complain because it is definitely progress.
"ATC. Always The Champion. I will not record without them. The best studio monitors. Period." ~ Lenny Kravitz

Benchmark DAC3, 2 x ATC SCM EL150ASL, 1 ATC SCM 0.1/15, 2 x Genelec 8020, Roland TD-30 Drums, Pearl Ref Acoustic Kit, Ludwig brass & Pearl Ref snares, Gibson LP Supreme, Fender Precision Bass

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Re: Plea for help - how to move from CD to PC?

Postby paul_riordan » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:52 pm

Another vote here for dbPoweramp...

I made the decision to put all my cds on a server about 4-5 years ago, mainly because of the space that they take up. I now have around 60,000 tracks on a Windows server and use a Linn music streamer controlled by an ipad/Ipod touch. I bought a disc loader (which I have now got rid of!!) to load the cds 75 at a time, it took me a couple of weeks to rip them all and it worked out cheaper than sending them off to a ripping service (I had around 4500 cds). There are ripping services out there such as ripcaster.co.uk (in the UK), I have not used their service for ripping but have dealt with them for other things and they are pretty good. There are several other services out there as well, probably worth checking what software they use for loading (many use dbPoweramp). Using a PC and a DAC should be just as effective as using something like the Linn. I now have four Linn streamers around the house from the same server (stored in the study), I also sometime stream radio via the Linns. As said in the previous posts you just need to make sure you rip into a lossless format such as FLAC or ALAC (Apple's equivalent). If you put the music on a server of some kind (PC, Mac or NAS) then you can also stream to smart tvs etc. etc. If you need more help then I recommend using http://www.computeraudiophile.com and forums.linn.co.uk, lots of very helpful people on those sites, obviously the Linn one is aligned to their kit but alot of the posts on there would also apply more generally. As said above the Benchmark DACs are very good, also DACs from Mytek and as well as others.
Source: Auralic Aries Mini + Mytek DAC 192
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