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Newbie question about a good CD player vs playing ...
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Thanks for your kind words. You're most welcome. Let me know if you have more questions. Otherwise, give my best to John and the rest of the A-VCOA family. Cheers.
 
David,
Thank you very much for such detailed information! I'm blown away at your generous help. Are you *sure* you don't want to move back to the Atlanta area? ;-)

I'm checking out the CD ripping software and the Minix mini PC now. I wanted a mini computer but thought that only Apple made them as I had never heard of other companies doing this. I wanted something small as I can set it on my audio rack, instead of having my desktop PC in my listening room. 

I didn't know that upsampling was lossy. So, I'll keep the archives in the original format as you recommend.

So much to learn; but it is *definitely* fun learning.

Thanks again,
Michael
 
Hi Michael,

Great question and a topic that's one of my favorite to discuss. I'll answer in-line below.


Quoted Text


Situation
Currently, I *only* stream music from my PC (Tidal & Pandora) to my system. I have a handful of CDs and have thought about getting more. I have a Sony Blu-Ray player that I can use but it's not been hooked up since the last time I moved my system (2 months ago?). So, not a priority at the moment.

A TIDAL subscription (especially HiFi) is a great way to revisit old favorites and explore recommendations from fellow audiophiles and music lovers. Sadly, the"What's New" and "TIDAL Rising" features rarely surface anything that is to my tastes, but I can usually find something enjoyable to play by searching for my favorite artists by name (more about searching later). One downside to using TIDAL instead of collecting CDs is that there's no guarantee that your favorite albums will always be available. As licensing are renewed or changed, albums appear and disappear somewhat randomly. Another issue is that I occasionally find tracks that contain audible defects on TIDAL. I usually report these when I find them, but I'm not sure if they are ever fixed.

Therefore, while TIDAL is wonderful for exploring your favorite artists and enjoying recommendations from friends, it's not an ideal substitute for collecting physical media and/or building your own collection of digital music.


Question
Is there a way the PC will be able to record these CDs to either a local or NAS drive that will sound as good as if I purchased a quality CD player?

Not only is there no "generation loss" when (properly) extracting digital audio from a standard compact disc, the results can sometimes be better than real-time playback via CD player. The reason for this is that the computer has all of the time in the world to extract the bits from the CD. It can re-read the same track multiple times at different speeds, re-try to rip individual frames, etc. Better CD recording software (called CD ripping software) also calculates checksums from the extracted audio and compares these with values that other people got when ripping their copy of the same CD. If two different people with different computer hardware ripping different copies of the same tracks get the same checksums, it's extremely unlikely that there were any errors in the process (except of course for mastering errors common to all copies of the same CD). The probability of an undetected/unreported error is virtually zero from such software.

This is important since ripping hundreds or thousands of CDs takes a lot of time. You only ever want to do it once...so you want to have 100% confidence in your process. You either want to know for certain that the digital archive of your CDs is completely free of errors...or, worst case, if there are errors, you'd like to know which tracks and albums are affected. You can then decide if you wish to re-purchase those albums or re-try the ripping process after carefully cleaning the disc or by using different computer hardware (sometimes, a different optical drive will work better).

The best software that I've found for this sort of thing is dBpoweramp. There are other applications that make use of the same AccurateRip database. You can find a list here: http://accuraterip.com/software.htm

dBpoweramp will let you rip to a number of different file formats; however, FLAC is almost universally considered the best archival format. It uses lossless compression, resulting in a music library that is about 60% or less of the original uncompressed PCM. It has the best support for embedded metadata, including album art. Being an open standard that is not associated with any single commercial entity, it's highly likely to still be around twenty years from now. It can also be converted in a bit-perfect way to other uncompressed or lossless format with...no losses in data, although it is possible that some metadata will not transfer perfectly, depending on the destination format's metadata capabilities.

Some folks will recommend ripping with upsampling, but I do not. Your ripping process should be a perfect archive of the physical media. With that archive created, if you find that you prefer the sound of upsampled files, create a copy of your library from the archive with upsampling if you like and play from that. Just keep your archive as a perfect copy of your discs in case you change your mind about which playback format you prefer later.

It's important to realize that upsampling is a lossy process! This may sound counterintuitive, but it's true. You can't upsample and then "downsample" back to exactly the same bits that were on the CD. Please keep your archive pristine. You'll thank me later!

Concerns
1) As much as I'd like to have something like the Oppo 203, spending $550 on a great unit with so few CDs doesn't seem worth it.
2) I'd  probably tend to download hi-res files over buying CDs so the local/NAS drive seems to be a better fit.

Here's a link to a sample system that I recommend for ripping CDs (details at the bottom) and also for playback for someone just getting started with computer audio. While you likely won't need everything that I have listed, the parts list will hopefully give you some ideas to help you get started. Don't hesitate to ping me (dsnyder0cnn@gmail.com) if I can be of further help. Cheers!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/166jkZAFogGj_VOtWj0zsqy5F-C78aFZxBVbzKSVRv4E/pubhtml?gid=0&single=true

-- David
   678-231-0568


Thanks!

 

Situation
Currently, I *only* stream music from my PC (Tidal & Pandora) to my system. I have a handful of CDs and have thought about getting more. I have a Sony Blu-Ray player that I can use but it's not been hooked up since the last time I moved my system (2 months ago?). So, not a priority at the moment.

Question
Is there a way the PC will be able to record these CDs to either a local or NAS drive that will sound as good as if I purchased a quality CD player?

Concerns
1) As much as I'd like to have something like the Oppo 203, spending $550 on a great unit with so few CDs doesn't seem worth it.
2) I'd  probably tend to download hi-res files over buying CDs so the local/NAS drive seems to be a better fit.

Thanks!

 
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