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Question for those running iTunes on a WHS (or other server that can run iTunes)

Discussion in 'Apple Products & Services' started by Matt_C, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Matt_C

    Matt_C Active Member

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    I see a lot of people here mention having a WHS (or other server) and running iTunes from it, turning on Library Sharing so that all devices can access it's library (iPhones/Pads/Pods), MacBooks, AppleTV etc etc. Seems like a great idea, and something I'd probably like to do in the future.

    Question is, how is the library maintained?

    In my set up, iTunes is run from my MBP, and the actual content sits on my NAS, but all the controlling is done from the MBP (ie, adding new music, deleting old, changing metadata, etc). I can either drag new music as I rip it on the MBP into iTunes (or rip with iTunes of course) or drag a folder of AAC/MP3 files into iTunes, or the Automatically Add To iTunes folder for it to add to the iTunes library (the actual files are written to the default iTunes Media Folder which is on my NAS, and if I want to move/delete etc I can do it from the iTunes interface on the MBP, as that's the "master library" if you like)

    So how do you do it when iTunes, the "master library", is running on a WHS or other server?
  2. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    So far, I'm doing it exactly the same way as I did when iTunes was on my iMac with the library on a USB HDD. I manually move all the ripped files to a drive on my WHS server, because I don't use iTunes for ripping, and point iTunes to that location.

    Since the server is "headless", I administer it from my iMac, using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection software. This opens a window on the iMac which is just like being logged onto a screen connected to the server (but with a little lag).

    It's all working perfectly, Airplay to two Airport Expresses, and my Denon 3312, controlled using the iPad Remote app.
    The only thing I haven't figured out is how to get the copy of iTunes on the server to play out to the iMac. I guess the iMac would have to be set up as an Airplay device so that the server's iTunes could see it. Not sure if that's possible. I may have to settle for running another instance of iTunes locally on the iMac, but sharing the same library on the server.

    The really weird thing is that Airplay to the Denon is a lot more stable now that iTunes is on the Windows box!
  3. Matt_C

    Matt_C Active Member

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    I see. I was thinking it might be something like that (remote desktop or something) or having an alias folder for the "automatically add to iTunes" sitting on my
    Mac and drag items into it to to populate the server iTunes.

    I would want to be able to have a mirror iTunes running on a MacBook without having to have a manual library on it, if you follow me. I'd also want to be able to sync iPhone/iPod with the MacBook. So it's the sharing that's confusing me...
  4. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    Sounds pretty much like what I'm going to end up with. It's my intention to have the files sitting on the server, and linking 2 copies of iTunes to that drive. That should allow me to have 2 separate iTunes libraries, but only one set of physical files.

    The server library will be used for my Airplay devices, the iMac library will be used for my iPod, and for playing locally on the iMac.

    To make things easier (I hope!) I'll do the ripping from the iMac, saving them on the server HDD, and set the server copy of iTunes to automatically import new files to it's library. That's the theory, and I'll be testing it soon. I'm currently re-ripping all my CDs to Apple lossless format for use on the server.
  5. instigator

    instigator Member

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    Can't you just sync the iTunes library file thingy? From the computer that you rip on etc just regularly or automatically replace the iTunes library file on the server?
  6. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    Can you sync two iTunes libraries? I think ripping to a remote drive, and adding to the local library at the same time will work, but ripping to the local drive and syncing to the remote might be an alternative.

    I'm having to re-rip because I've only got wav and 320k mp3 presently. Most of my stuff was ripped for use with Winamp and my car CDP. I'm now using a couple of Airport Expresses, and want the best quality, but with tags.
  7. instigator

    instigator Member

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    I'm pretty sure I've tagged wav files... Or aiff files... I export audio out of logic pro as aiff I think... So you could tag these files....

    Or are you going to go for apple lossless format to save some space?

    If you rip local and then sync you'll have 2 files...

    If you have files on server then ripping on local iTunes and putting files on server still doesn't update server iTunes...

    If you regularly replace the iTunes server bases library file with your local iTunes library file it will point to all the same items on the server...
  8. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    The tracks on the server will be going to 3 Airplay devices. I read somewhere the other day that iTunes converts all music to Apple Lossless before passing it to the Airplay device, which then converts it to audio. If this really is the case, then it makes sense to start off with the files in Apple Lossless format - saves on-the-fly encoding on the server.

    Tags are pretty much vital if the iPad Remote app is going to work properly, and it seems to work better with tags that iTunes has created by default, rather than the tags I created when I previously ripped files using CDEx or whatever.
    Straight wav files don't have tags. At least, not as standard. I guess there may be a way of doing it when the files are ripped from the CD, but I think adding them to a previously-ripped file would have to be done manually.

    My intention is to keep all the actual files on the server, as that will centralise everything and make backups easier. I currently have several different devices, all with their own media playing software and local copies of the files. It's a nightmare keeping it up to date.

    If I use the iMac for the actual ripping, but store the files on the server, I should be able to update the iMac's copy of iTunes as I go. The final stage - adding the new files to the server's copy of iTunes - is the bit that I need to think about. If I can just copy the library file from the iMac to the Server, that will probably be the easiest.
    Failing that, I can just delete the server's library file and create a new one.
  9. instigator

    instigator Member

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    Without reading the rest of your questions... This first bit, no. ITunes does not convert your files to play via anything... So really bad misinformation there...
  10. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    I thought it sounded a bit odd, but in a way it made sense, as the Airplay device would only need one codec.
    So, Airplay devices receive the original file, whatever format it's in?
  11. instigator

    instigator Member

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    Yes...

    Wav, aiff... Apple lossless... Mp3... Doesn't matter...

    It's the machine that is playing the file that is un-encoding it by the way... It's just feeding the output to the device...
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  12. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    This wiki post seems to suggest that Airplay uses Apple Lossless: Apple Lossless - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    (in the "history" paragraph): The Apple Lossless Encoder (the software for encoding into ALAC files) was introduced into the Mac OS X Core Audio framework on April 28, 2004 together with the QuickTime 6.5.1 update, and thus available in iTunes as of version 4.5 and above. The codec is also used in the AirPort Express's AirPlay implementation.
  13. instigator

    instigator Member

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    I think your making a huge leap of an assumption...

    It can passthrough certain file type to be decoded by your avr receiver via optical port...

    This does not mean it is decoding and playing mp3 files or wav files... Or that itunes is converting an mp3 to apple lossless format to be decoded by the airport express... Etc...
  14. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    The two Airport Expresses that I'm using are connected to basic stereo amps, via RCA, so the AE is doing the decoding. Currently, I feed them a range of files that I've ripped over the years - wav, mp3 and ALAC.

    Found this thread on AVS: Better audio quality: Airplay receiver or Airport Express? [Text View] - AVS Forum

    From the second post:
    The airplay protocol encodes outgoing audio into Apple lossless audio codec format, which it then sends over the network to the remote airplay device, which then decodes it losslessly. Audiophile magazine did testing on the original airport express and found that it produced bit- perfect digital output when compared to the original data. I have not heard that Apple has changed the protocol after adding video but do not think they would degrade it to be lossy on the audio side.
  15. instigator

    instigator Member

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    Yes. You are right and I am wrong.
  16. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    I'm actually sorry to hear that, as it means that Airplay possibly isn't the perfect local streaming solution for the audiophile. I know that ALAC is a lossless format, and it shouldn't make any difference, but it'll put off those that swear that FLAC is better.
  17. instigator

    instigator Member

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    Yes, it's so shocking isn't it?

    I can't believe so many people are misinformed...
  18. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    I really was hoping that you'd disprove what I'd read.
  19. dee320i

    dee320i Member

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    Hi,
    My curent setup is as follows:
    Linux box running windows XP virtual machine via Virtualbox.
    WinXP virtual machine used solely as an iTunes server for rest of network (iMac, macbook, iPhones and iPad)
    apple tv in living room for music, pictures and videos, airport express in kitchen-diner for music.

    All my music was originally on the iMac, I've copied the complete iTunes library onto the linux server and pointed the winXP iTunes virtual machine to the right location. iTunes is in win95 startup folder to ensure it starts on rebooting
    Most importantly, all machines in the house have iTunes home sharing turned on using the same apple id (including apple tv, iPhones and iPad)
    New cds imported into iTunes on macbook/imac, tagged and cover art added.
    I access the winXP machine using remote desktop connection on iMac/macbook.
    iMac library appears under shared libraries on win95 iTunes
    New files copied WITHIN ITUNES on win95 machine by dragging from the "shared library" to "Library"
    Music is now available across whole network even if iMac is off

    On selecting a shared library from iTunes on the winXP machine, there is an option to show "Items not in my Library" to make selecting the right files easier. There is also an option to copy new iTunes store purchases across automatically (rarely used as I prefer to buy CDs and rip myself).

    Once music is on the server, I can delete it from the imac unless i want to sync the music with the idevices.

    If i ever want the music back on the iMac I just drag the file from "shared windows XP library" to "library" within iTunes on the iMac and I'm back in business.
    iTunes makes the whole system transparent allowing me to copy music and video between different iTunes libraries easily
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  20. clockworks

    clockworks Member

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    "Shared Libraries" - I'd not spotted that one. Sounds like the way forward for me!
  21. dejongj

    dejongj Well-Known Member

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    I've taken a similar but slightly different approach a while back.

    My key requirement was that I wanted to leave certain bits of the metadata unique to the individuals. For example most play lists I use are smart playlists. So say my daughter likes lady gaga and rates it at 5 stars I don't want it to appear in my library as 5 stars something I've build up over many years. Yet I don't want to deny my daughters, nor my wife, to rate and mark their music. As such my machine is generally the primary for ripping. From there I synchronise using a tools which name usefully I cannot remember at the moment :( my music with the central source. The source is a headless mac mini server with connections to an solaris iscsi san for limitless expansion :) My wife and daughters Macs in turn synchronise their music with that source. Thus allowing them to maintain their own local sync to iPhone/ipad/android/car etc...The key there is that elements like rating, play count don't go back to the centre.

    For the videos I use a slightly different approach. I don't keep them locally, I just drag them to the 'Add to iTunes' folder which I have shared on the Mac Mini (but is actually stored on the Solaris based iSCSI SAN in a tank), primarily as they take up a lot of storage. That way when around the house everyone can stream on their devices, or use one of the apple tvs that are linked to the mini server to watch on there. If anyone goes on the road, it is simple to drag a local copy from the Movies folder which is also shared out. And for syncing to iPad etc use place the shortcuts (option drag the movie) in the local iTunes so that the file remains where it is, yet it can sync to other devices.

    Works for us :)

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