A few bits of advice needed from all you streaming experts please !

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Dear all,

I hope you've all had a Merry Christmas :cheers: and are enjoying the gadgets/music you've no doubt received/bought yourselves this year !

I've recently treated myself to a Sonos ZP90, and whilst I'm impressed with it's ease of use, iPhone app etc, the SQ leaves a lot to be desired when compared to my Rega Jupiter CD player, which doesn't altogether surprise me. So, obviously it's time for a DAC to improve matters (I was hoping to be auditioning both the Rega DAC and the Audiolab M-Dac, if there are any still left of the latter ??).

That leaves the issue of re-ripping my CD collection, as all my music is currently stored on iTunes in varying states of quality - when I first got an iPod years ago, I didn't really realise/care that you could load them at different rates and formats, so my existing library is varied to say the least - some at 256kbps, some at 128, some at 320 and more recently, Apple Lossless.

So, I want to rip everything at top quality and store it all on a NAS, to get the most from the new DAC etc, but am aware that if everything is ripped at Lossless, there's no way everything will still fit on my iPod.

So, I have a few questions ;

1) Can I rip everything to the NAS at top quality and point the Sonos at the NAS, whilst still keeping all my existing files on iTunes on the iMac (for my iPod needs) ? Basically can I keep my iTunes exactly as it is, on the iMac....or does the iTunes need to be on the NAS for Sonos to pick up the files ? I'd rather be able to store everything on the NAS and keep iTunes out of it if poss.

2) Having discovered that my existing library is in a variety of formats (due to my general igorance and numptiness), I'm guessing it's bedt to have everything in the same format. So, bearing in mind I'm after best sound quality and am not worried about how much space they'll take up on the NAS, what's the best format to rip them in ? Apple Lossless ?

3) Is there another (better) bit of software that's better for ripping CDs than iTunes (I'm sure there is, but have no idea what it might be) ?

3) Can anyone recommend a good NAS ? I reckon 2TB will be easily enough, or maybe even 1TB (I have around 1200 CDs and counting at the mo)

Thanks for your patience, and for any help/advice you may be able to give me !

Baz
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
In your situation, you are probably best sticking with Apple lossless.

I would recommend trying dbPoweramp too, because there is a plugin available that will rip a CD to 2 formats at once, and of course each can be configured to be saved whereever. So maybe a 190 kbps for portable use, and the lossless for your NAS?

As for NAS, I personally have a Netgear ReadyNAS ultra 2. It has 2 drivebays. The best (imo) configuration is the default which creates a RAID mirror, which provides protection against drive failure. ie you put 2x2TB disks in it, and you only access 2TB...the data is duplicated on each disk.

It is an x86 based NAS, (1.6 netbook processor I think), so it is very fast for a NAS.

I am not certain if it's the best for you, as I'm a Squeezebox user, but it is very nice. I picked mine up for around £170 with no disks.

As for DAC, you should always consider Beresford. Much cheaper due to the way he sells them, and extremely good sound. The difference it made to my Squeezebox duet was astounding. I still use it, even though I have ADM9.1T speakers, as I like the physical volume knob, and I can't tell it apart from the DAC in the speakers.
 

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Thanks Sniv, man you're quick.

I'll take a look at the NAS for sure, and also at the Beresford DACs...I've heard of them, but not that much about them...time for some investigation I think. Thanks also for the advice on the lossless question.

Another question - is it possible for the music files to be picked up by the streamer (in this case Sonos) without the need for iTunes, or does it need the iTunes to be able to locate/recognise the files ? i.e. can they just be stored on the NAS without the need for any other software to read them ?

Thanks again
 

TnA200

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Jan 31, 2011
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baz,

Not knowing your computer system here are a few quick answers with a Mac biased.

1. Not sure. Others have more experience on this subject.

2. I use Apple Lossless and find it great. I have also downloaded FLAC24 & FLAC16 files.

3. X Lossless Decoder for Mac is good for ripping.

Songbird so far has been a good alternative playback software to iTunes, esp as iTunes does not handle FLAC.

Audirvana is a good playback software too, which I use quite often for FLAC.

4. Somebody on these forums spoke highly of Synology DiskStation 2-Bay version and it seems highly rated on Amazon too. So something worth looking into independently.

Hope this helps. Regards, TnA.
 

rs6mra

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Jan 12, 2009
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The Sonos can playback in various formats and therefore does not need to be ripped by or managed by iTunes.
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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And you can just point Sonos at the NAS share and leave it ignorant of the Mac without any trouble.
 
A

Anonymous

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baz said:
Thanks Sniv, man you're quick.

I'll take a look at the NAS for sure, and also at the Beresford DACs...I've heard of them, but not that much about them...time for some investigation I think. Thanks also for the advice on the lossless question.

Another question - is it possible for the music files to be picked up by the streamer (in this case Sonos) without the need for iTunes, or does it need the iTunes to be able to locate/recognise the files ? i.e. can they just be stored on the NAS without the need for any other software to read them ?

Thanks again
Ok. I am not sure much help I'll be on this as I don't use (or like) iTunes. But I know they come ready to run with iTunes compatibility, I just have that unchecked.

By the way, when you copy and paste, click on the HTML button, and change the "font-size 75%" thing to 100%. For some reason it always defaults to 75 when you paste in...??
 

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Tna, thanks for your recommendations, I'll check out X Lossless Decoder and Songbird etc. My computer is an iMac, totally untampered with. The rest of my hi-fi is a pre-TAG Audiolab 8000S biamped with an 8000P driving Monitor Audio Silver RS8s, not that it will make a difference to my questions, but just in case anyobe was interested.

Rs6, thanks for confirming that too.

Already the fog is clearing !
 

tino

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Sep 29, 2011
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If ripping all your CDs all over again sounds like too much hard work I believe that you can use iTunes Match to at least improve the quality of your 128kbps files and upgrade them automatically to 256kbps for about £25. I don't know much about iMatch (anyone else?) and whether this is convenient for you - but it depends on how much music you have stored in 128k format and whether doing this ties you into using iTunes forever?
 

spockfish

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Jan 18, 2011
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2) Personally I would go for FLAC as it is an open standard and the 'defacto' standard for lossless audio compression. Keep in mind that ripping a CD to the highest possible standard (often referred to as a 'secure rip') means that you must not use the standard software available but something more like EAC or dbPowerAmp. And then you should configure it correctly. There are many articles to be found on the internet how to do that.

3) see above. I prefer EAC. Not the best user interface, but it's ripping technology is among (if not) the best.

4) take a Synology or either a QNAP. I've got a Synology, and it's a great piece of hardware with excellent support. Take at least a '2-bay' model, so you can use a RAID1 configuration for safely storing your precious music.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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spockfish said:
2) Personally I would go for FLAC as it is an open standard and the 'defacto' standard for lossless audio compression. Keep in mind that ripping a CD to the highest possible standard (often referred to as a 'secure rip') means that you must not use the standard software available but something more like EAC or dbPowerAmp. And then you should configure it correctly. There are many articles to be found on the internet how to do that.

3) see above. I prefer EAC. Not the best user interface, but it's ripping technology is among (if not) the best.

4) take a Synology or either a QNAP. I've got a Synology, and it's a great piece of hardware with excellent support. Take at least a '2-bay' model, so you can use a RAID1 configuration for safely storing your precious music.
That would be my advice as well.....though I use dbPoweramp.
 

BillDay66

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Nov 30, 2010
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As an apple user youre better off sticking to Apple Lossless rather than FLAC, and for your ipod just tick the box to compress large files to 128aac in itunes, so no need for 2 libraries.

+1 for DB Poweramp, works just great and can convert between various formats with out any loss.
 

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Thanks again for the advice.

Following the disappearance of my raging NYE hangover I bought a Beresford 7510 with uprated power supply for £80 from a well-known auction site - I figured at £80 I can't go too wrong given the write-ups, and considering I was thinking about splashing £5-600 on the Rega/Audiolab DACs, it could well be a bargain first DAC. Thanks Sniv for your recommendation there, you've indirectly saved me a few hundred quid and a guaranteed weapons-grade inquisition from my wife.

I will be checking out dbpoweramp and the audio players today (Fidelia, Songbird, Audirvana) later - do they actually have noticeably improved sound quality over iTunes, or is it more that they are better/easier to use ?

Also, will the the Sonos be playing the music through whichever one I choose, or does it just point itself at the music files ? As I don't really play all that much music actually sitting at my Mac, an audio player may be a waste of time if it doesn't actually play through the Sonos/DAC/amp set up ?

Sorry for all the questions guys, I'm getting there, I promise.
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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baz said:
Also, will the the Sonos be playing the music through whichever one I choose, or does it just point itself at the music files ? As I don't really play all that much music actually sitting at my Mac, an audio player may be a waste of time if it doesn't actually play through the Sonos/DAC/amp set up ?
Yes it will be a waste of time, Sonos will be completely ignorant of any music playing software on the Mac and does all the work itself, all it requires, is a standard SMB share (which the Mac may struggle with, depending on exactly which version of OSX you have installed).
 
T

the record spot

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EAC and WAV files for me. Nice and easy to use when you get used to the interface. Choice of artwork and CD info databases too (I use freedb within EAC).
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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the record spot said:
EAC and WAV files for me. Nice and easy to use when you get used to the interface. Choice of artwork and CD info databases too (I use freedb within EAC).
That won't look too good with Sonos though as the WAV files contain minimal meta-data (tags), so you'll just be using the filenames. As the OP is an Apple user, if he really wants uncompressed files then AIFF would be a better choice as it supports tagging far better than WAV.
 
T

the record spot

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Yep, depends on how important tags are - no biggie for me but I know others are keen on having them.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I have 4 versions of ripped files, lossless for the hifi, and compressed using iTunes for the mobile phone.

- First using EAC I rip to WMA format. Using Windows Media Player I then tidy up the library, tags and artwork etc.

- The reason I chose WMA rather than FLAC is that I can then drag and drop the directories into iTunes, which will then convert the lossless files to 128kps m4a files for my Android phone.

- The WMA library is then converted using Foobar2000 to FLAC (for my laptop running Squeezebox server for the SB Touch) and mp3 which sits on my 2TB LinkStation NAS, so I can stream to my Roberts Radio in the bedroom

Its a bit tricky keeping all the libraries and copies of each in sync. I use a utlity called ViceVersa to compare copies of libraries in order to make updates, and to copy over new music files onto my phone etc.
 

Lee H

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Oct 7, 2010
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baz said:
I bought a Beresford 7510 with uprated power supply for £80 from a well-known auction site - I figured at £80 I can't go too wrong given the write-ups, and considering I was thinking about splashing £5-600 on the Rega/Audiolab DACs, it could well be a bargain first DAC.
baz, how has this worked for you? I'm just curious as I'm considering going down the DAC route into my Sonos too.
 

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Hello Lee and everyone else,

Well - to be honest I'm a bit underwhelmed with the results from the Beresford 7510.

Received it a couple of days ago, and also got a couple of cables direct from Stan at Beresford....hooked it all up and have been listening ever since, but in all honesty I can't say I can tell all that much difference between the Sonos running through the DAC through to the amp, and the Sonos connected directly to the amp via the analogue outputs. Same with my Sky HD box.

To be fair, lossless files through the Sonos analogue outputs don't sound all that bad - not amazing, but really not all that bad - but the results through the DAC really are minimal. Basically, switching from either output on the Sonos/7510 to my Rega Jupiter shows just how good the CD player is in comparison.

I shouldn't be expecting too much I guess, since I only paid 80 quid for it and it's a few years old and isn't exactly high-end kit, but I've heard a lot of good things about it, but I was expecting to see quite a bit more difference in sound quality. Maybe I'm just completely cloth-eared ??

All this means is....I'm going to have to go out and audition the Rega Audiolab DACs now (and any other recommenations people might have).....I think I'll take along the Beresford too, so I can see the difference back to back, or even better, try and get a home loan/demo and try them with my set-up.
 

Dan Turner

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Jul 9, 2007
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Make sure any volume control and eq settings are turned off for the Sonos zoneplayer that you are connecting to the DAC - otherwise the digital output you are taking will not be bit-perfect.

Also if you're flicking quickly between the 2 sources playing the same thing, and micro-analysing fine details then you should also try listening to whole tracks at a time on one then the other and see if taking a more holistic listen to the music yields any differences.

Bottom line is if you have a good CD Player, then in order to equal it you are going to need to spend almost as much on a DAC for your computer/streaming source and to better it you'll need to spend more again. One of the great myths about streaming audio is that you can get CD-beating results on a shoe-string - you just can't. All you can do is replicate the function of a CD transport just as effectively with very little outlay - after that you are playing the same game whether it's CD or streaming that you're using as your source.
 

baz

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Aug 27, 2011
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Dan,

You're absolutely right - as I realised the quality of the Rega was that much better than the Sonos/Beresford, I chuckled and wondered what on earth I was thinking, expecting an £80 second-hand piece of kit to outshine a CD player that cost £800-odd in it's day (if I remember) and is a cracking piece of kit. Absolutely ridiculous, somehow I managed to rid my head of all logic and was just excited to try a DAC out.

Don't get me wrong, the Beresford does sound good and I'm really not knocking it, I was just surprised that it didn't/doesn't make that much difference at all when compared to the analogue out on the Sonos. I wasn't flipping quickly between sources though, I did manage to give it half a song at least !

Will have a look at the eq settings etc on the Sonos too
 

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