I've got a traxdata mStation. This is a lower end machine. It sits in a drive bay of my PC and I use RealAudio to copy my CDs to its (10gb) hard disc in MP3. It then slides out and slides into a bay in the boot of my car.
It allows selection by album/author/or pre-defined playlist generated from realplayer.
Just like the imerge. Cost me £250. Theres a home version for a similar price but I think it only does single room.
The hard disk can be any size. I just picked the one with the smallest hdd on the assumtion that when I'd filled it the hdd to replace it would be a lot cheaper. You can now get 250Gb for just over £300.
I've compressed at 192kbs and have got 2289 tracks with just under 1gb free.
For £1,500 this is good unit. I would assume Imerge would offer lossless compression (that reduces the file size for around 60% of original without any sound deterioration).
Imerge is in a fact a dedicated Music PC with an embedded operating system. The ultimate sound quality is (assuming lossless compression) dependant on the quality of sound card they are using. So get some more info on that. Modern PC professional soundcards produce quality way beyond any consumer hardware below £2,000. My RME DIGI96/8 has a better 2-channel analogue audio quality then Lexicon MC-12B and SPDIF audio quality that closely approached Theta David DVD transport (and cost less then £300).
Other alternative is to build or by a Music PC yourself and operate it as CD JukeBox (that is what I am doing).
I managed to do a good comparison of the Imerge with the Linn Kivor HDD system. I'm sure Gordon's done the same.
The best way to improve the Imerge was to use the Linn's Oktal DAC, which made a huge difference. If you do get an Imerge, which is very good, use the digital output to your amp or an off board DAC, makes a huge difference.
I have a load of mp3s on my PC, what I want to do is copy them onto CD and load them onto the Yamaha. Can I keep them in mp3 format or do I need to put them onto CD in WAV format as if I was burning a normal CD?
Can you organise the tracks on the Yamaha into categories and create playlists?
Hmmm, I like the idea of the Yamaha, but it would be handier if I could just take my MP3s from my PC and load them on without converting them. An uncompressed tune is a large file size, it wouldnt take long to fill the disk. MP3s at 192kb/sec is enough quality for what I want.
Arent there any other Hard-Disk MP3 players out there apart from portable/car ones? The Imerge unit looks perfect but I cant see why a unit like this has to cost £1500. It would be cheaper to get a laptop with winamp, trouble is I am not sure about the quality of soundcards in laptops.
Re mini-itx it appears that the onboard spdif output is only capable of outputting at 48khz so anything you record 'lossless' is going to be upsampled (and badly according to reports) to 48khz at the output stage.
Does anyone know what is used to do the ripping in these integrated boxes? On the PC it seems generally acknowledged that there are _many_ apps that can rip CDs but only a couple produce truly 'lossless' rips and that's dependant on your CDROM drive and the number of times it 're-reads' which usually reduces times from about 10x to 4x (with EAC generally being held as 'the best'). The same for MP3 encoders, where LAME is favoured by those after quality.
Due to the nature of CD Audio, getting the exact data off the CD isn't exactly trivial, so it would be interesting to know how accurate the solutions are (ie by doing byte comparisons of separate rips of the same CD).
Just got myself an audiotron so I'll be doing some a/b comparisons with different CD players next month when I get the a/v installed after a room redecoration.....