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Need help choosing a good quality Music Server to rip my 400 CD's

BlackH20

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#1
OK, in my sixties, have loved audio since my teens when the small independent stores used to let me sit in their various rooms and compare and dream about one day owning. Now, I have several systems in different rooms but my main system consisted of a Sony ES 400 CD player, which died, I bought another, loaded it, died again. The belts and parts on these aren't that great and even though retired, I can't go through loading one of these again. Been through Albums, Cassettes, CDs, and guess I got to make another change, though I am perfectly happy with the sound of CD's I don't like going through a case of 400 to find one to play.
I need a good recommendation for a music player that I can ripp these 400 CDs to at a high bit rate (my ears are still great). Would like to keep my cost under $2-3K. Got to be honest, not familiar with a lot of the new technology when researching these, but learned at an early age, by good equipment used and don't by fancy cables.
Will buy new now, since technology is advancing so fast these days. Would like to have a decent display of what is playing on the front of the unit. Have an Accuphase Amp, Mcintosh PreAmp (had to upgrade for that remote control), some B&W 803 speakers. Not too worried about streaming, but if that ability comes with the unit, fine.
 

Kal Rubinson

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#2
There is no magic involved in ripping CDs and, imho, they should be ripped at native resolution, not "at a high bit rate." You can always upsample them post hoc or during playback. As a result, the hardware is inconsequential but you should be using software like EAC or dbPowerAmp which will insure, as much as possible, that the ripped copy is bit perfect.
 
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#3
I can recommend the following: download exact audio copy (Windows). It has an integrated song identification system using public databases. Then choose a nice naming structure for groups, albums and songs and then rip the 400 cds on a standard computer using FLAC as output while you drink the wine you bought for the 2k USD.

I am doing this here while I am working (homeoffice and IT, multiple computers on the table....). The FLAC files are then pushed to a Raspberry Pi 4 with a bigger SSD (1 TB is more than enough for 400 cds), and the pi is connected via USB to the amp (Cambridge Audio CXA61).

If you prefer analog instead of digital data pushed to the amp, just buy a nice DAC and plug it into the chain between Pi and amp.

Concerning display: I am using my mobile phone to steer the player (Moode audio), but I also could attach a touchscreen to the pi, or a simple monitor for displaying info while streaming audio. because the pi only draws some watts, I just leave it running all the time.

Setting it up is easy using a SD card, you might need some hints how to move the system to a SSD, but actually it is not too hard if you have some computer knowledge.

Estimated costs:
pi4 2GB - 40-50 USD
passive cooled metal case and psu -15-20 usd
SSD and external case: 100-150 USD
Usb cable: 5 usd
sd card: 10 usd
external wifi dongle (due to the metal case acting as shield): 10-20 usd.
 
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Dialectic

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#4
Does your current setup include a DAC? That will affect what hardware you need.

Do you listen to a lot of classical music? If so, you will have issues with metadata (probably worth a separate thread).

Some thoughts on hardware:
  • If you are looking only for a purpose-designed media server, I understand, but in most setups, there is no need to use a purpose-designed server. Any quiet PC or Mac will do and probably will be end up being easier to use, more reliable and more budget-friendly than the media servers sold by high-end audio stores, which are dressed-up PCs. With a home network and Roon (see below), the computer that serves your music can be in a separate room.
  • You'll need a CD-ROM drive, of course. Practically any USB optical drive will do. I have an LG DVD-RW drive with which I have ripped probably >8,000 CDs. Still working fine after 12 years.
  • If you want absolute mechanical silence, you'll need an SSD to hold your music. Incredibly, a 2TB SSD (which should fit 400 CDs compressed losslessly with FLAC) now costs less than $300, but you'll pay a fortune to get one in a brand new Mac, for example. If a low level of mechanical noise will not bother you, you can use a hard drive.
Thoughts on software:
  • For ripping, I also endorse EAC for Windows, although it is not the most user friendly application. If you prefer using a Mac, I recommend X Lossless Decoder. As mentioned by Kal above, DBPowerAmp is also fine, but unlike EAC and XLD, it costs money. All of these programs will check your rips against a database using checksums to confirm that your rips are accurate. You'll probably need to work through a quick tutorial on using any one of these applications to rip to FLAC, and after that, you will be on your way.
  • For playback, you will probably end up using Roon (lifetime membership is a few hundred bucks), although there are lighter-weight, more lightly featured alternatives available for free. Roon will provide a lovely interface either on the screen of your server computer OR on your iPad or smartphone, which can connect to your server via WiFi.
  • If your playback computer is a separate room, you'll need a Roon endpoint next to your stereo; it will receive music sent via your home network from the other room. Setup might seem intimidating, but by most accounts, Roon makes it easy.
 

DVDdoug

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#5
If you use an application that supports AccurateRip (such as EAC) it will compare your data to an online database insuring that you have a bit-perfect copy of the data. (I use EAC and CUERipper.)

CUETools (related to CUERipper) can actually repair some errors, but I've never actually used that feature.

EAC is pretty good at reporting errors even if the CD isn't in the AccurateRip database. And I've never had an audible error where EAC didn't report a read-error even in cases where AccurateRip didn't find a match the data doesn't match.

I agree that FLAC (or ALAC for Apple) is the "best" format. Tagging (metadata) for WAV files is poorly standardized and not widely supported. FLAC is lossless and the files are about half the size of WAVs. All of the compressed formats (lossy and lossless) are better with metadata than WAV.

Your ripping software will tag the files (as long as they are in the database). If not, your player software can usually edit tags, or I use MP3Tag (it works with most formats, not just MP3). Or, I'll often make some edits with MP3Tag just for format consistency.

Your player software uses metadata for organization so the physical file/folder structure isn't critical.
 

Wes

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#6
If you have a mac with a disc reader then you are all set.

for Windows, use one of the above rippers/players, and I suggest an outboard DAC
 

Gorganzola

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#7
OK, in my sixties, have loved audio since my teens when the small independent stores used to let me sit in their various rooms and compare and dream about one day owning. Now, I have several systems in different rooms but my main system consisted of a Sony ES 400 CD player, which died, I bought another, loaded it, died again. The belts and parts on these aren't that great and even though retired, I can't go through loading one of these again. Been through Albums, Cassettes, CDs, and guess I got to make another change, though I am perfectly happy with the sound of CD's I don't like going through a case of 400 to find one to play.
I need a good recommendation for a music player that I can ripp these 400 CDs to at a high bit rate (my ears are still great). Would like to keep my cost under $2-3K. Got to be honest, not familiar with a lot of the new technology when researching these, but learned at an early age, by good equipment used and don't by fancy cables.
Will buy new now, since technology is advancing so fast these days. Would like to have a decent display of what is playing on the front of the unit. Have an Accuphase Amp, Mcintosh PreAmp (had to upgrade for that remote control), some B&W 803 speakers. Not too worried about streaming, but if that ability comes with the unit, fine.
By "high bit rate" I assume you mean the full, lossless bit rate inherent on CDs. That's the way to go. Rip files to FLAC, a free, open standard for lossless files that also allows metadata, a.k.a. tags, to be store on the file itself; (which the WAV format can't do).

For years I have used the Windows program, dBpoweramp, to rip my CDs. It does this efficiently and accurate; also it will attempt to retrieve metadata from various public databases, (since CDs themselves don't have it). dBpoweramp can rip to many formats but stick with FLAC.

As for playback, all said & done IMO, nothing beats a computer. I use Windows 10 mini PC; these are pretty cheap, i.e. under $300, and will do the job perfectly well with all the inherent flexibility of a PC. Personally I like Foobar2000 for my music player. Foobar has been around for years but is regularly upgraded and permits many, many add-ins for a multitude of purposes. It has a bit of a learning curve to fully exploit it, but once master permits arguably more flexibility that virtually any other program.
 
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#8
OK, in my sixties, have loved audio since my teens when the small independent stores used to let me sit in their various rooms and compare and dream about one day owning. Now, I have several systems in different rooms but my main system consisted of a Sony ES 400 CD player, which died, I bought another, loaded it, died again. The belts and parts on these aren't that great and even though retired, I can't go through loading one of these again. Been through Albums, Cassettes, CDs, and guess I got to make another change, though I am perfectly happy with the sound of CD's I don't like going through a case of 400 to find one to play.
I need a good recommendation for a music player that I can ripp these 400 CDs to at a high bit rate (my ears are still great). Would like to keep my cost under $2-3K. Got to be honest, not familiar with a lot of the new technology when researching these, but learned at an early age, by good equipment used and don't by fancy cables.
Will buy new now, since technology is advancing so fast these days. Would like to have a decent display of what is playing on the front of the unit. Have an Accuphase Amp, Mcintosh PreAmp (had to upgrade for that remote control), some B&W 803 speakers. Not too worried about streaming, but if that ability comes with the unit, fine.
During last two months I ripped my collection of 300 CDs. Properly set EAC did excellent job, all CDs are now stored as FLAC on NAS (Synology). Moode Audio on Rabsperry PI 4 is my network player, Gustard X16 DAC. DAC is connected by XLR to power amplifier. Sound of well recorded CDs after up-sampling by DAC include more details. But it is disaster for poorly recorded CDs.
Now I´m slowly collecting HiRes files and thinking to sell out LPs because sound of the HiRes in my audio is on same level as turntable output.
 

Chrispy

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#9
Is the interest in a separate device for ripping because your computer doesn't have at least a cd capable drive? Or simply one box utility?
 
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#10
I use a Mac and ripped my collection to lossless using XLD and Blu-ray drive. EAC sounds like the Windows program of choice.

Music lives on my Mac as my master copy, but I do mirror it to a Raspberry Pi + SSD for streaming around the house. Regardless of if you want a more expensive steamer, I would recommend ripping on a computer and storing it all on an SSD. Ripping will likely be faster and you can tag it all easier.
 

DuxServit

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#12
@BlackH20 The computer used to rip the CDs can be a different computer for the server.

I use a cheap Windows PC computer, and dbPowerAmp Ripper that saves automatically into FLAC files. The computer just has a small disk drive (1TBytes). Cost around $300.

https://www.dbpoweramp.com/cd-ripper.htm

Then I move/copy the FLAC files to my music server, using a simple USB dongle (32G).

For my music server, I use a 2011 MacMini computer with an attached External Hard Drive (8TB drive). Cost of MacMini was around $500.

For the server software, I use Roon because it supports multiple rooms, each with different audio setup (bedroom, office, living room, etc). Cost of Roon is around $500 (Lifetime license). Roon has a feature called Bridge that permits this kind of setup.
 
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Jim Matthews

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#13
I need a good recommendation for a music player that I can ripp these 400 CDs to at a high bit rate (my ears are still great). Would like to keep my cost under $2-3K. Got to be honest, not familiar with a lot of the new technology when researching these, but learned at an early age, by good equipment used and don't by fancy cables.
I'm happy with my Bluesound Vault 2. It does require a hardwired Ethernet connection to the internet (no WiFi in my version).

The companion App runs on my Android tablet and/or phone.
 

bloodshoteyed

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#14
been using dbpoweramp since R12 i think, when the cd ripper came along as a separate app , works flawlessly, also with tags...plus i couldn't live without the file explorer righ-click integration for easy conversion
 
OP
BlackH20

BlackH20

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Thread Starter #15
Does your current setup include a DAC? That will affect what hardware you need.

Do you listen to a lot of classical music? If so, you will have issues with metadata (probably worth a separate thread).

Some thoughts on hardware:
  • If you are looking only for a purpose-designed media server, I understand, but in most setups, there is no need to use a purpose-designed server. Any quiet PC or Mac will do and probably will be end up being easier to use, more reliable and more budget-friendly than the media servers sold by high-end audio stores, which are dressed-up PCs. With a home network and Roon (see below), the computer that serves your music can be in a separate room.
  • You'll need a CD-ROM drive, of course. Practically any USB optical drive will do. I have an LG DVD-RW drive with which I have ripped probably >8,000 CDs. Still working fine after 12 years.
  • If you want absolute mechanical silence, you'll need an SSD to hold your music. Incredibly, a 2TB SSD (which should fit 400 CDs compressed losslessly with FLAC) now costs less than $300, but you'll pay a fortune to get one in a brand new Mac, for example. If a low level of mechanical noise will not bother you, you can use a hard drive.
Thoughts on software:
  • For ripping, I also endorse EAC for Windows, although it is not the most user friendly application. If you prefer using a Mac, I recommend X Lossless Decoder. As mentioned by Kal above, DBPowerAmp is also fine, but unlike EAC and XLD, it costs money. All of these programs will check your rips against a database using checksums to confirm that your rips are accurate. You'll probably need to work through a quick tutorial on using any one of these applications to rip to FLAC, and after that, you will be on your way.
  • For playback, you will probably end up using Roon (lifetime membership is a few hundred bucks), although there are lighter-weight, more lightly featured alternatives available for free. Roon will provide a lovely interface either on the screen of your server computer OR on your iPad or smartphone, which can connect to your server via WiFi.
  • If your playback computer is a separate room, you'll need a Roon endpoint next to your stereo; it will receive music sent via your home network from the other room. Setup might seem intimidating, but by most accounts, Roon makes it easy.
Roon is looking good, with a DAC, I know I could work around their hardware but would like to make it simple. The Nucleus, and the $1500 price tag is not a big deal and loading my 400 CD's into a hard disk then add the DAC and a streaming service that should last me to my expiration date. Retired, in the last quarter of life boys, so take my advice and get comfortable in a nice chair and just listen to what you like as often as you can. Good sounding, comfortable headphones is a good equalizer for the spouse also.
 
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