I’m not a techno-dunce, but am admittedly somewhat behind current equipment. I have questions, my friends, about whether or not it’s possible to reconfigure my setup or whether or not the equipment even exists yet to do what I want.
What I have: A tuner-amp, a tape deck (which almost never gets used), three carousel CD players (total capacity 700 CDs, rapidly approaching critical mass), a turntable and a CD burner.
What I want: Something to replace all the CD carousels, such as a unit with a hard drive to store all that music, but still be able to play on my home stereo (not on my computer). It would seem logical that such a thing exists, but a cursory search of the 'net yielded nothing.
a) Convert all CDs to hi-bitrate MP3’s and store on a cheap and/or used computer. Or an iPod or equivalent
b) They make nice quality cables that are stereo minijack on one end and dual RCA ports on the other. Get one and attach to computer or iPod or whatever. Then run a standard paired dual RCA cable from those ports to the left and right “Auxiliary” ports on your tuner-amp. Continue to use your regular kick-ass speakers and whatnot.
The solution you want is most likely a networked media player (there’s dozens of them out there last time I checked) which are a box that connect to your computer via wired or wireless networking and allow you to select music with the remote and play it while the music itself is stored on your computer. This way you can a) burn mixes easily from the computer b) have all of your music in one place and have it accessible via iPod or somesuch as well c) it’s probably cheaper than a HD based solution.
A standalone MP3 player component sounds like what you want. It connects to your stereo system like any other component; it contains a 17 GB hard drive that can store 6,400 songs at the standard 128 KBPS sample rate. Bit pricey, though. I’m sure there are less-expensive models available–I use this as an example.
Seriously. About three years ago, the best thing I ever did was rip my entire CD collection (about 500 of the little buggers) to high-rate MP3 (IIRC, I used 192k) and let iTunes do the heavy lifting of ripping, cataloging, indexing, sorting and all that.
My computer to stereo connection is a device called a Squeezebox. It’s a network device (wired or WiFi) and its setup is dead easy. Out of the box, you give it a network address or enter the WiFi info, and then in my case, I simply tell it to use the iTunes catalog, which not only does the obvious thing of letting it at my music, but it also enables use of my existing iTunes playlists.
You do need to have a computer running at all times that you want to listen to music, but as it’s a network device, the Squeezebox lets you have the computer elsewhere in the house, if the main issue is simply not wanting a computer in the living room.
As a rough idea of disk space you’ll need, my entire 500-CD collection fits on a 40 GB iPod, with plenty of room to spare, so it’s not like you’'ll be needing terabytes of disk space to hold your collection.
IMO spending a bundle on a standalone recorder and navigating through all those recordings on a limited display and organization system is really doing it the hard way. Not to mention entering CD information manually.
With a Mac or PC/MP3 player combo (iPod, etc.) all you need to hook your player into your stereo is an adapter and maybe an extension. You can hold your hard drive with all your CDs in the palm of your hand.
I echo this sentiment, although for historical reasons I prefer Winamp to iTunes. I mucked around a lot with bitrates and formats. 192 or 256k MP3 is fine for most stuff (go as high as your patience will allow, especially if it’s going to be played back through decent kit), but I’ve used FLAC (a lossless format) for all my classical music. Disk space is cheap as chips, and I may go back and encode everything in FLAC. Key to it all is to make sure stuff is tagged properly. Now, if only I could get my vinyl sorted…
FLAC . The files are fairly big but sound great on my system. Tags are just metadata embedded in your sound file. ID3 is the current standard. Usual usage is to record track name, artist, album name. You can also store genre information, the album art etc. iTunes allows you to edit these. Tags really help with organising your collection.