SSD music players

PeterLanky

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I am of a belief that the way forward in HiFi is with components that don't spin. Having been using a CD-less car audio for 4 years now, I'm surprised that CDs exist at all in car audio. Anyway, back to my point. The long term continuing fall in price per MB of solid state drives suggests to me that it can't be long before hi-fi components will routinely contain a SSD and only have a CD drive for the purpose of transferring data to it. In fact on investigating the Internet recently, it was seem that the future is almost with us, but not quite. I have discovered that there is a range of components from Naim that are getting close, but the SSD hasn't quite taken over yet as it still requires a remote component to store the music files, and the items are somewhat on the expensive side. My CD collection would probably take up around 250-300GB of space. Now my CD player is 15 years old, (Pink Triangle Numeral played through Exposure XVII/SuperXVIII and Monitor Audio 703PMC), and may yet last many years, but could also die tomorrow. With technology as it stands, I don't really one to replace it with another CD player, but want to wait for SSD players to be more readily available and less expensive. So my questions are: 1) Are there other components on the market or due for release that fit my ideal? 2) Should my CD player die tomorrow, what would be the best interim solution rather than buying a direct replacement. 3) How do these players cope with continuous music? I would not want the situation as it is with MP3s where a gap is created, often at an inappropriate moment. This is particularly noticeable on live albums. For me, sound quality is the most important, but at the same time, I don't want my living room to look like a computer geeks workshop. At the moment, because my CD player is a single box, I don't fully understand the relationship between transport and DAC as separate components.
 

MajorFubar

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PeterLanky said:
Having been using a CD-less car audio for 4 years now, I'm surprised that CDs exist at all in car audio.
There's an old adage which says "if it ain't broke don't fix it". It even took years for in-car CDPs to become standard across the board because there was absoloutely nothing wrong with decent in-car radio-cassettes (not that many cars got really good ones as standard, but there were always aftermarket stormers by the likes of Blaupunkt and Nakamichi).

IMO there's more chance of an SSD failing and loosing all your audio than a CDP dying. Besides, if a CDP dies, you can buy another without having lost all your music.

Think I'd rather stick to proven technology than jump on whatever today's particular bandwagon is.
 

tino

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Your CD could give up the ghost tomorrow, and you might (hopefully not) get hit by a bus. I wouldn't fret too much about SSDs at this moment in time!

I'm not sure whether many hifi manufacturers are into throwing the mass storage into the same box as the media player. They would rather keep the two separate so that storage / servers etc. can be changed independently of the actual player as and when technology / price permits. It's a shame that manufacturers of servers and mass storage devices don't make stuff that's more aestheticsally pleasing than the usual beige or black computer box.

PS Keep an eye on the Pathos Musiteca ... not sure if it has an SSD (unlikely given the size and price), but that would be my ideal all in one box (minus amp) solution.

PPS What have you been listening to music in your car with ... an iPod with Flash (i.e. solid state) memory? You could always use that plus a digital transport if your CD packs in.
 

moon

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well it won't be long before the iPad has that kind of storage. It's already an incredible music streamer, media device. Of all the media clients and streamers available it offers so much. There are docks which already allow you to add a DAC of your choise to " improve " the sound quality, but honestly the headphone out is brilliant.

I think these tablets can make a great replacent for the cd player. they are quiet, long battery life, large interactive screen, album art....the works. Makes a CD player look archaic.
 

moon

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bigboss said:
SSD media players are not yet in the market due to the very cost of SSDs. There's no problem with current hard drive players & will serve you well for a few years.
yes they are, they are everywhere. .............
 

PeterLanky

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bigboss said:
SSD media players are not yet in the market due to the very cost of SSDs. There's no problem with current hard drive players & will serve you well for a few years.
The thing is that today's expensive SSD will be tomorrow's common product. 1TB SSD are available, and will eventually become affordable. The simple fact is that hard drives spin and therefore make a noise. I'm happy to wait for SSD but I want to be prepared, and glean as much knowledge from other people in the meantime.

MajorFubar said:
IMO there's more chance of an SSD failing and loosing all your audio than a CDP dying. Besides, if a CDP dies, you can buy another without having lost all your music.

Think I'd rather stick to proven technology than jump on whatever today's particular bandwagon is.
There's no chance of losing all my music as all my CDs would be carefully stored away (at the same time creating lots of extra space in our living room). I don't consider SSD as a bandwagon, though buying one immediately they come available could be considered as being so.

CDs were treated with great suspicion when they were first produced, but now they are the norm except for a few die-hards. I couldn't even imagine going back to the days of having to turn an LP over every 20 minutes and cope with the vast amount of living space a large LP collection would take up. I'm convinced the initial main objection to CDs was that they replaced what was a beautifully engineered and often attractive turntable with a black box.

JamesPianoman said:
Streaming content is another option to avoid storing music locally on either CD or SSD...
It's not really the route I want to go along, though I wouldn't dismiss it completely.

tino said:
PPS What have you been listening to music in your car with ... an iPod with Flash (i.e. solid state) memory? You could always use that plus a digital transport if your CD packs in.
I use a Blaupunkt Melbourne player. No CD. The music is stored on a SD card, which slots into the front but is limited to 2GB as that was the standard at the time, but can still hold around 25-30 CDs using WMA @ 192kbps. It's so simple, so neat and tidy and to me is the obvious choice for in-car audio. I can't understand why all car audio is not like this, and with 32GB cards now quite inexpensive, the entire music collection of most people could be stored in their car on an appropriate flash card.

Back to the point, there is no way this wold be of any use to me if my CD player bites the dust.
 
PeterLanky said:
bigboss said:
SSD media players are not yet in the market due to the very cost of SSDs. There's no problem with current hard drive players & will serve you well for a few years.
The thing is that today's expensive SSD will be tomorrow's common product. 1TB SSD are available, and will eventually become affordable. The simple fact is that hard drives spin and therefore make a noise. I'm happy to wait for SSD but I want to be prepared, and glean as much knowledge from other people in the meantime.
But aren't current iPods flash drive based, and therefore do not have any moving parts already? I've never heard any "spinning noise" from my iPod Touch.
 

MajorFubar

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PeterLanky said:
I'm convinced the initial main objection to CDs was that they replaced what was a beautifully engineered and often attractive turntable with a black box.
That mght have been part of it, but the other reason is the first batch of CDs and CDPs sounded bl**dy awful, which partly turned out to be because of the comparatively-primative equipment the record labels were using to transfer analogue masters to CD.

There are a number of cars out there, such as the Fiat 500, which have a slot for a USB stick, linked to the car's ICE. I suppose it's very likely that will get more and more common.

PeterLanky said:
I use a Blaupunkt Melbourne player. No CD. The music is stored on a SD card, which slots into the front but is limited to 2GB as that was the standard at the time, but can still hold around 25-30 CDs using WMA @ 192kbps. It's so simple, so neat and tidy and to me is the obvious choice for in-car audio. I can't understand why all car audio is not like this
I'll give you one very good reason: there are millions of people out there for which that set-up would be absolutely useless because they have neither the means, the knowledge nor the desire to transfer their music to SD cards or USB sticks. Pop some CDs into their multiplayer and they're happy.
 

tino

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PeterLanky said:
tino said:
PPS What have you been listening to music in your car with ... an iPod with Flash (i.e. solid state) memory? You could always use that plus a digital transport if your CD packs in.
I use a Blaupunkt Melbourne player. No CD. The music is stored on a SD card, which slots into the front but is limited to 2GB as that was the standard at the time, but can still hold around 25-30 CDs using WMA @ 192kbps. It's so simple, so neat and tidy and to me is the obvious choice for in-car audio. I can't understand why all car audio is not like this, and with 32GB cards now quite inexpensive, the entire music collection of most people could be stored in their car on an appropriate flash card.

Back to the point, there is no way this wold be of any use to me if my CD player bites the dust.
Then you could get yourself a Logitech Squeexbox Touch (bargain at £135). This has a SD card slot. It also has USB for linking to external mass storage and can run its own Squeezebox server software. It is however best used with the server hosted on another device ... but that other device could be something as small and discrete as an Excito B3 which can be had with normal hard disk or SSD drive.

You might, if you haven't already started, spend some time ripping and archiving your entire CD collection (into lossless format), so that in the event your CD player does expire, you have your music ready to go.
 
A

Anonymous

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if you want to play high quality music via solid state may i suggest any mac running Pure Music software. this allows you the benefits of cheap hard disk storage but playlists are pre-loaded into the computers ram so the hard disk is shut down during playback.

Pure music sounds incredible IMHO (i urge everyone to try the free trial). plus if you go this route you will have a very nice computer and easy synching with a mobile player. i dont understand why someone would buy a dedicated streamer which makes syncing to anything else so much more hassle...
 

PeterLanky

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bigboss said:
PeterLanky said:
bigboss said:
SSD media players are not yet in the market due to the very cost of SSDs. There's no problem with current hard drive players & will serve you well for a few years.
The thing is that today's expensive SSD will be tomorrow's common product. 1TB SSD are available, and will eventually become affordable. The simple fact is that hard drives spin and therefore make a noise. I'm happy to wait for SSD but I want to be prepared, and glean as much knowledge from other people in the meantime.
But aren't current iPods flash drive based, and therefore do not have any moving parts already? I've never heard any "spinning noise" from my iPod Touch.
I'm not sure where the connection is between an MP3 player and my home hi-fi. For starters, I want something permanent rather than having to move a piece of equipment round every timne I want to use it in a different place, and secondly, as far as I'm aware, mp3 players only go up to 64GB, so would be far short of the storage required for my CD collection.
 
I have invested & stored my music in a NAS drive & listen to music anywhere in the house through Sonos. I'm quite happy with its performance. Because its a NAS drive that's kept away from any of the listening areas, I never hear the NAS drive's disc spinning. Current drives are proven performers & should last a few years. When large capacity SSD arrives at a sensible price, I will simply have to copy into it from my NAS drive.
 

PeterLanky

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moon said:
well it won't be long before the iPad has that kind of storage. It's already an incredible music streamer, media device. Of all the media clients and streamers available it offers so much. There are docks which already allow you to add a DAC of your choise to " improve " the sound quality, but honestly the headphone out is brilliant.

I think these tablets can make a great replacent for the cd player. they are quiet, long battery life, large interactive screen, album art....the works. Makes a CD player look archaic.
The tablet seems like a good interim option, though I would never, never, buy an Apple product. A little research tells me that these are still only around 64GB capacity though, so well short of my target to store my entire CD collection on. I also suspect that capacity of portable items might not increase as fast as technology will allow, because high storage is probably not needed on such items. For example, my mp3 player which is 2 years old is 32gb, so in that time the capacity of portable devices has only increased by one level, though in general technology has increased far more in this time. Also, I can't imagine what other use I would have for a tablet when it's purpose as an interim solution is over.

As I said on my OP, I don't fully understand the relationship between music source and DAC. Am I right to assume that any SSD driven source will provide the same quality gigital output, and that the final quality of the music is completely dependent on the DAC? If so, it would be sensible to buy a good DAC and find an interim solution to the source? My Pink Triangle doesn't have a digital input so would be no use purely as a DAC.
 

PeterLanky

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bigboss said:
I have invested & stored my music in a NAS drive & listen to music anywhere in the house through Sonos. I'm quite happy with its performance. Because its a NAS drive that's kept away from any of the listening areas, I never hear the NAS drive's disc spinning. Current drives are proven performers & should last a few years. When large capacity SSD arrives at a sensible price, I will simply have to copy into it from my NAS drive.
How does a NAS work in practice? What I don't want is a house full of wires. I'm not really interested in a totally intgrated system throughout the house, preferring to have one high quality HiFi in the main room, and other more mainstream standalone items elsewhere, unless of course some technology is presented to me that is too good to ignore.
 

tino

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PeterLanky said:
The tablet seems like a good interim option, though I would never, never, buy an Apple product. A little research tells me that these are still only around 64GB capacity though, so well short of my target to store my entire CD collection on. I also suspect that capacity of portable items might not increase as fast as technology will allow, because high storage is probably not needed on such items. For example, my mp3 player which is 2 years old is 32gb, so in that time the capacity of portable devices has only increased by one level, though in general technology has increased far more in this time. Also, I can't imagine what other use I would have for a tablet when it's purpose as an interim solution is over.

As I said on my OP, I don't fully understand the relationship between music source and DAC. Am I right to assume that any SSD driven source will provide the same quality gigital output, and that the final quality of the music is completely dependent on the DAC? If so, it would be sensible to buy a good DAC and find an interim solution to the source? My Pink Triangle doesn't have a digital input so would be no use purely as a DAC.
I fear spending circa £300-£400 on an "interim" tablet option might be money not well spent unless you have other uses for it, like surfing the web, email etc. I have a tablet and a Squezebox Touch, and I almost invariably use the latter. I have used the tablet as a remote control for the Touch and that is a nice facility to have ... but the cheap IR remote is the most convenient and the battery lasts for ages.

If you do buy a tablet, then most of them will allow you to control most media players out there, so you could always use it as a control device in the future, but then your tablet will probably be outdated as well!

Have you thought about using a simple media streamer with internal hard disk ... you can pick these up for about £100 with 1TB hard disk. You may need to link these to a small monitor or your TV, and you may need a cheap DAC to improve sound quality, but you could put all that together for what you less than you would pay for a tablet.

... I won't go into the discussion about the relative merits of DACs and whether allegedly "bit perfect" digital sources all sound the same. There are plenty of other threads that can answer that question / stoke that debate for you.

If you do go down the "high-end" route, then most higher end media players have a good DAC, so unless you have need for linking in additonal sources, a DAC may not be required.
 

Overdose

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A NAS (Network Attached Storage) is simply a data bank that is accessible over a network. It can be used as a primary source of music files, or as a general use storage or back up system and be accessed by anyone on the network, so the whole house could be accessing various files at any one time.

A small form factor PC/Mac can provide enough storage for your music as several models exist with 500GB drives, not in SSD technology though. There are several quiet, or even silent designs. A Pc has an advantage over a dedicated streamer, as it is far more flexible in its use. Pcs/Macs can also be configured for remote control and none do it better than Apple, with very well integrated devices. The latest generation of 'mini' computers are very samll indeed and make excellent music servers/players, although most people add a dedicated DAC of some description, rather than rely on the internal DAC of the computer.

A DAC simply converts a digital signal to an analogue one, ready for amplification.

When SSDs come down to a price that is more acceptable, simply replace the drive in whatever Pc/Mac solution you have chosen, although I don't know if there are any merits sond quality wise, but definitely power consumption.
 
PeterLanky said:
bigboss said:
I have invested & stored my music in a NAS drive & listen to music anywhere in the house through Sonos. I'm quite happy with its performance. Because its a NAS drive that's kept away from any of the listening areas, I never hear the NAS drive's disc spinning. Current drives are proven performers & should last a few years. When large capacity SSD arrives at a sensible price, I will simply have to copy into it from my NAS drive.
How does a NAS work in practice? What I don't want is a house full of wires. I'm not really interested in a totally intgrated system throughout the house, preferring to have one high quality HiFi in the main room, and other more mainstream standalone items elsewhere, unless of course some technology is presented to me that is too good to ignore.
The NAS drive is connected by an Ethernet cable to my wireless router. I can now access music wirelessly from anywhere in the house. That's the purpose of the Sonos: enabling you to listen to your music wirelessly.

If you're not bothered about music throughout the house, your PC or Mac as suggested is sufficient. But keep a backup of all your music in an external drive.
 

PeterLanky

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Another few questions now come to mind. Is it normal to save CDs as .wav files, or is there a recognised better lossless format to save as? With the software I have at the moment, my only options are .wav, wma lossless and real audio lossless. I assume the latter is of little use other than with real player. My guess is there are better options, and of course I would want only the best. I would then need to know which software is required to perform the lossles ripping.

Finally, how do various methods of ripping deal with continuous play CDs? When I have ripped to .wma or ,mp3 in the past, the ripping splits the CD into portions with gaps, which sound terrible on playback. It is essential that any ripping method I use does not create gaps where there are none.
 
Since lossless data compression excludes the possibility of the introduction of padding, all lossless audio file formats are inherently gapless.

FLAC is one of the more popular lossless formats. You can download a free software online to convert your music to FLAC.
 
A

Anonymous

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PeterLanky said:
Is it normal to save CDs as .wav files, or is there a recognised better lossless format to save as? With the software I have at the moment, my only options are .wav, wma lossless and real audio lossless
Both WMA and RA are not widely supported, and WAV has only limited support for tagging. FLAC is the preferred format. As for 'better': in what way? They will all sound the same...

Finally, how do various methods of ripping deal with continuous play CDs? When I have ripped to .wma or ,mp3 in the past, the ripping splits the CD into portions with gaps, which sound terrible on playback. It is essential that any ripping method I use does not create gaps where there are none.
The rip itself should never introduce gaps, since most software simply takes the digital audio stream and diverts it to files. No processing occurs here. Gaps can be introduced at two places:

- in the format. For example, MP3 does not support gapless playback because the files have a fixed-length lead-in. LAME used a hack to create gapless MP3s anyway, and most players understand that too, but it's not an official part of the MP3 standard. This is never a problem with lossless formats, do not know about AAC or Vorbis.

- in the player. Many players have an internal buffer for playing audio and will not keep this filled: they will wait until the song is finished (buffer empty) before loading the next file. If the load time for files is large (as might be the case with streaming), this too will lead to a noticable gap. You'd think this is an old and solved problem, but it is surprising how many players (also software programs) still get this wrong.
 

MajorFubar

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tremon said:
but it is surprising how many players (also software programs) still get this wrong.
Yeah like Spotify which doesn't have the sense to start buffering the next song to enable gapless playback
 

PeterLanky

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tremon said:
PeterLanky said:
Is it normal to save CDs as .wav files, or is there a recognised better lossless format to save as? With the software I have at the moment, my only options are .wav, wma lossless and real audio lossless
Both WMA and RA are not widely supported, and WAV has only limited support for tagging. FLAC is the preferred format. As for 'better': in what way? They will all sound the same...
I didn't know that they all sound the same, hence me asking the question. I have never used lossless files before. By better, I suppose I mean that the format will be recognised on the majority of players rather than limited to s single manufacturer, and also that it will be more efficient with file sizes. I assume then, that flac will save a similar amount of non-music data as an mp3 or wma?

To get round the gap issue, I can always save the album as a single file, but at the same time I'm interested to know the theory behind it.
 

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