Question New to streaming. Backing up CDs and FLAC, wanting lossless but confused by options - help!

Ratfink

Well-known Member
Hey folks,

I have a ton of CDs that are currently sitting in boxes due to various moving situations. What I'd like to do is back them all up, with artwork, in a lossless format that is flexible, easy to stream, and recognised by most streamers.

At the moment I've been uploading them to ALAC in itunes, simply as it's always been my media player of choice and I have an (old school) ipod. However, I've discovered my downloaded FLAC music doesn't convert in itunes, so I had to use Audacity first. I tried converting my FLAC to Wav files and found myself confused by options as there's 16, 24, and 32 bit options. I converted to 32 bit and it lost the metadata!

It all seems long, ardous and confusing and I'm hoping for a simple solution for me to a) backup all my CDs to my HD and b) be able to add all my FLAC files the same. At some point I hope to have all this ready to stream to a home stereo set-up or media streamer, so quality is important.

I'm no audiophile, so don't know much about lossless files outside of what I've read. I'd be very grateful for some advice, please.
 

jamieu

Active Member
Pretty much all streamers now support lossless FLAC — and if it doesn't you probably want to use a different streamer / player.

DBPoweramp CD Ripper is probably the easiest route to ripping a CD collection. No point ripping normal CDs above 16 bit / 44.1Hz as that is all they will have been mastered too. So 16 bit / 44.1Hz Lossless FLAC will be what you want to go for. You also want to make sure your embedding metadata and cover art as you go.

Then if you're using a PC or Mac to listen to music you can use something like Audirvana which will play back any format or if budget stretches and you want something a bit fancier then you might want to look at Roon.

If you want to take the PC out of the picture there's a whole world of options, which all depend on budget and needs. Almost all will nowadays playback FLAC files — iTunes is the last holdout — either on an external drive or from a network attached server like a NAS or always on PC/Mac. The NAS route starts to make more sense if you have multiple devices all needing to access the same music files.
 
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Ratfink

Well-known Member
Thanks,

So, essentially ditch itunes? The DBPoweramp looks useful, but at £37 still seems pricey - and would PerfectTUNES be necessary?

Are there no free or budget options, as of course itunes just rips CDs hassle free and supplies art (it's just pesky with FLAC.)

I'd consider losing the PC down the line. I have considered a NAS, just not yet.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
I'd concur, other than iTunes FLAC is a pretty universal lossless format and would be my choice.

For converting between formats I'd suggest using software that lets you go directly to the format you choose, foobar2000 and Dbpoweramp both can do this. In the case of foobar it actually creates a temporary WAV file and preserves the metadata (metadata isn't part of the WAV standard hence losing it when converting to WAV)

Personally when I've ripped stuff in the past I've kept both FLAC and MP3 (at a decent bitrate) the MP3 version can then be used for loading on an iPod or a USB stick for the car but these days I either stream on my phone or just use the FLAC version, I've not got anywhere near filling the 128GB on my phone, never mind the 128GB expansion card
 

jamieu

Active Member
So, essentially ditch itunes? The DBPoweramp looks useful, but at £37 still seems pricey - and would PerfectTUNES be necessary?
I think that's the route I'd go down and did go down myself long ago. Especially if you're planning to move to a dedicated network streamer in the medium term — either a one box all-in-one streamer like a Node 2i with an external USB drive attached, or a more NAS based approach. All will handle FLAC files and storage space is so cheap nowadays that other than iTunes there really isn't any point or argument for not ripping to 16 bit / 44.1Hz Lossless FLAC. It's become pretty much the de-facto standard now.

I think if you still have the original CDs and the time :) I'd just re-rip everything to lossless FLAC to ensure you have everything in the same format with the most up to date metadata/artwork.

As Jamie says you can always get dbPoweramp to rip two versions (a lossless FLAC and a 320kbs MP3) if you still want to use iTunes in the short term. But if you do that keep them in separate top level trees/folder structures ie. /music/mp3s and /music/flacs so that you can then just select the relevant top level folder by format and avoid the risk of duplicate entries being loaded.

Are there no free or budget options, as of course itunes just rips CDs hassle free and supplies art (it's just pesky with FLAC.)
Exact Audio Copy / EAC (PC) and X Lossless Decoder XLD (Mac/OSX) are the other good/reliable free options, but both are more complex to setup and configure.

Whatever route you go down make sure you do a few trial runs first and check the metadata looks ok as you don't want to spend hours ripping all your CD's only to find out you weren't capturing the correct metadata or something.

I haven't used PerfectTUNES I think it's more for adding metadata to existing collections, If your existing files all have good metadata already there's no need for it and even if not, there are free options like MusicBrainz Picard which will do the same thing for free. Wherever you do, keep a backup of your existing files before running any metadata cleanup software on them, as it's a surefire way of messing up a music collection if you get it wrong and don't have a backup!
 
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RayP

Well-known Member
I agree with others that dbPoweramp is good software and you have the licence for life. I ripped all my CDs to FLAC a few years ago and stored them on a Synology DS212J NAS box. RAID1 so even if a drive fails you don’t lose anything. Plus it holds my PC backups too.

Started streaming using my Oppo 203 but it’s not really cut out as a streamer so invested in the Bluesound Node 2i which is brilliant.

If you’re going to listen to music in one room only like me via a hi-fi system then buying Roon is not needed.
 

jamieu

Active Member
If you’re going to listen to music in one room only like me via a hi-fi system then buying Roon is not needed.
Plenty of things in life, and especially in hi-fi, that you don't need ;-)

(but I agree it's probably overkill for most people with a one room setup and in the OP's case it's certainly an unnecessary luxury. I was really just throwing it out there to show the range of software options. I'd also argue that it's multi-room capabilities are only one reason for choosing it and there are plenty of people using it with a single room setup. It's UX, discovery and library management features are the main reasons I personally chose it over the competition. But that's getting off topic...!)
 
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RayP

Well-known Member
Plenty of things in life, and especially in hi-fi, that you don't need ;-)
Agreed. People buy all sorts of things they want rather than need. Ladies and shoes springs to mind. :D

I suppose if you have multiple devices you use to listen to music and / or there are several people in your house it could be a suitable solution. But it’s the jaw-dropping prices that could put lots of people off.
 

Ratfink

Well-known Member
You've all been brilliant, thank you so much. I forgot to say I'm a PC user.

I'll look into dbPoweramp and foobar - whatever's easiest. I see there's a free trial so will give that a shot. I'm not adverse to buying software, just want to make sure it's for me before forking out. I'l check out the free options too.

Thank you for the advice on ripping both FLACS and MP3s, which is likely what I'd do.
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Eac will rip and encode, and get tags. Think it does artwork too not sure.

It's free
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
If you’re going to listen to music in one room only like me via a hi-fi system then buying Roon is not needed.
The main feature of Roon for many people is it UI and the way it presents your library and metadata and that you can control it from many different devices (including PC/Mac where many only provide control apps for iOS/Android).

Whether that is valuable enough to justify the asking price is something each has to decide for themselves. Need? No. Desirable? Quite possibly.

When I first setup Roon, it was for a single room. I stuck it on the NAS I already had and used a dragonfly red DAC that I already had. That was enough for me to decide I liked its UI and control apps enough and in particular that I didn't need to stick it on my PC or mac and could instead host it on my QNAP NAS, thus making it something that is always on (unlike my PCs and mac), which in turn kind of makes it a permanent fixture of my hifi with all the convenience that goes with that.

It was only later that having invested in it, I started to add other rooms via various different devices. I have since given it its own dedicate intel nuc computer as well along with a new dedicated DAC, so mine now runs off Roon's own ROCK platform (which includes a CD ripper).

This I guess bring in another part of its appeal - you can get it a bit at a time once you have the software. Start with it on a PC or whatever, or ideally run it on your NAS of the NAS is upto it while it plays audio through your mac or PC (or phones, or chromecast, or airplay etc) until you have a suitable DAC for standalone use (if you don't already). For cheap endpoints, raspberry PI + USB DAC is a good option and there are an increasing number of streamers that can function as Roon network endpoints (bluesound, pro-ject, NAD, NAIM etc), or you can just plug a USB DAC directly into whatever you are hosting it on (ideally a DAC for which the host platform has drivers if you want the make the most of the DAC).
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Although arguably all of those benefits are applicable to my personal preference of Logitech Media Server, especially the latest version with the material skin and music information plugins enabled.

I have control and playback ability on my PC, Phone etc etc. I can stream to Chromecast. Airplay and DLNA devices. Think of it as a slightly less fancy but free alternative and you wouldn't be far wrong.
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Although arguably all of those benefits are applicable to my personal preference of Logitech Media Server, especially the latest version with the material skin and music information plugins enabled.

I have control and playback ability on my PC, Phone etc etc. I can stream to Chromecast. Airplay and DLNA devices. Think of it as a slightly less fancy but free alternative and you wouldn't be far wrong.
Yeah I can't see appeal of room either , pay monthly to use my music, and just multi platform front end? Nah.

Lms on my Synology Nas, I can control it from phone, tablet, ir remote, vfd/touch, computer.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
I can definitely understand the appeal it's just the value (to me) I struggle with.

You could argue if I add up my own time I've probably spent a load on LMS
 

jamieu

Active Member
Although arguably all of those benefits are applicable to my personal preference of Logitech Media Server, especially the latest version with the material skin and music information plugins enabled.

I have control and playback ability on my PC, Phone etc etc. I can stream to Chromecast. Airplay and DLNA devices. Think of it as a slightly less fancy but free alternative and you wouldn't be far wrong.
I'd agree, many of the same positive arguments/benefits apply to both platforms. Or more specifically, the architecture of both systems is very similar and hence share the same benefits ie. keep your music cataloging/indexing software separate from a particular audio vendors hardware.

That way you don't have to go though all the painstaking effort of fixing metadata issues, re-creating playlists, bookmarks, ratings etc. if you upgrade/change your audio hardware down the line or run the software on another platform.

The fact that so many have stayed loyal to LMS for so long (that's not a backhand comment, I still use it for podcasts/mixes and if you're looking for free it still the best option for this kind of client/server setup) is a testament to this approach. In fact it still offers a bunch of other features that you won't find in Roon like remote music access.

But LMS isn't trivial to setup for most non-technical users. Sure you or I could probably get LMS up and running and configured nicely on a NAS in under hour now. But I remember when I started it was defiantly a bit of learning curve. For someone new to all this Roon does offers a much simpler setup path, a far nicer user interface and professional support (although I'd agree the LMS community is lovely / helpful) and many are happy to pay for that.

People on here happily pay out similar sums of money (to a Roon lifetime subscription) on audio hardware with far more questionably benefits and no one butts an eyelid, but mention a software package that runs into three figures and people freak out :) Others will happily pay extra for a music system that is known for ease of setup & general use — particularly if others in the house need to use the system to play music. TBH arguing about where people spend their money and what is important to them at times feels like the whole Apple/PC or Android/iOS debate all over again....yawn

FWIW I think both are great and the preferred architecture if you're serious about maintaining a local music collection. The fact that LMS is free is an obvious bonus, but nothing I have used beats Roon user interface/discovery features and that is something I am happy to pay extra for.
 
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Khazul

Well-known Member
but nothing I have used beats Roon user interface/discovery features and that is something I am happy to pay extra for.
Indeed, a lot of the music I now have in my library is what Roon 'found' for me, and I would probably never have found otherwise at the time. That said, streaming services apps are also getting better at helping on the discovery side as well, but last time I checked, I cant run tidal or qobuz with a decent PC, mac and iOS based control UIs on my NAS, or some little Linux box etc :)
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Lms takes about 15 minutes to setup if that. Install, set music path, set audio options per streamer. Let it scan about 2 hours
 

Fredde

Standard Member
Hey folks,

I have a ton of CDs that are currently sitting in boxes due to various moving situations. What I'd like to do is back them all up, with artwork, in a lossless format that is flexible, easy to stream, and recognised by most streamers.

At the moment I've been uploading them to ALAC in itunes, simply as it's always been my media player of choice and I have an (old school) ipod. However, I've discovered my downloaded FLAC music doesn't convert in itunes, so I had to use Audacity first. I tried converting my FLAC to Wav files and found myself confused by options as there's 16, 24, and 32 bit options. I converted to 32 bit and it lost the metadata!

It all seems long, ardous and confusing and I'm hoping for a simple solution for me to a) backup all my CDs to my HD and b) be able to add all my FLAC files the same. At some point I hope to have all this ready to stream to a home stereo set-up or media streamer, so quality is important.

I'm no audiophile, so don't know much about lossless files outside of what I've read. I'd be very grateful for some advice, please.
Well, I only converted my CD’s to FLAC on pc, never apple. But I do have an advice:
Never recode them to another bitrange than the original, it will not improve the quality.

On CD’s, the bottleneck is always the recording quality and what studio that was contracted.

From a tech point of view, a 24-bit range has a better potential, but if the contracted studio is not of high quality from recording point of view, a 16-bit sound can still sound better, if a better contractor.

In this case, if the original code is 16-bit, you will not get the same effect in dynamics if converting it to 24-bit with a software. You can do it, but it will not sound better and it will only consume more disc space.
 

Ratfink

Well-known Member
So, I decided to go with a trial of dbpoweramp. Set up two paths (FLAC and MP3) and currently ripping my first CD. However... it's slow. Real slow! I'm 12 and a half minutes in and just about finishing track 2! This is painful.

I have an LG external drive and copying to another USB 3 external drive. I think the drive is fine as I can rip my movies in no time and itunes burns quickly. I'm sure even two paths (MP3 and FLAC) shouldn't slow it that much, surely?

I'm on a Win 10 laptop.

EDIT: I tried ripping a CD in itunes (same drive to external) and it was speedy. Went back to DPPoweramp at it seems to have woken up...

EDIT: It's burned the tracks as FILES with no metadata? What the hell?

Seemed to read okay... metadata showing and everything...

1590228017968.png


But this is what I get after ripping ...

1590228041152.png

A google is proving fruitless..
 
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phil t

Well-known Member
I can't help, as I've never used, but suspect it's something in the settings?

You Tube may have a tutorial?

As for slow, eac is to, but it reads and checks, rather than just reading. This is supposed to give a better rip.
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Exactly if you use emo it reads mega fast but not accurate

Doesn't help using laptop drive either.

I use eac.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
@Ratfink , you haven't selected the Naming option. Here's how I have mine setup just for producing FLACs.
 

Attachments

RayP

Well-known Member
Also make sure the USB port you're using has Power Management disabled.

Control Panel - Device Manager - Universal Serial Bus Controllers. Right-click each USB entry and ensure that on the Power Management tab "Allow the computer to turn off this device" is deselected.

No problems here but I have a CD drive inbuilt on a Windows 7 i5 desktop computer. Things will be slower via external USB devices but make sure you use a USB3 port. They have a blue surround.
 

larkone

Member
No problems here but I have a CD drive inbuilt on a Windows 7 i5 desktop computer.
and stop using Windows 7 as it is now unsupported so drivers will not be kept up to date.
 

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