Originally Posted by Aja1
Phil, I'm going to use this opportunity to ask tyou about HD Tracks, because I'm interested in hearing the new Fagen album in higher resolution (and beginning to consider moving to lossless digital cataloging of my music). Would you be willing to give me an HD Tracks 101 lesson? Like:
-Once an album is purchased how much control over the files to I have?
-How do I play them at home (I've got an Oppo DVD player as well, BDP-95)? How about portably?
-what connectibility do I need to listen?
-Can they be burned onto a regular CD?
HDtracks' files have no digital rights management on them, so you can do whatever you want with them. They come in many flavors, from a 192KHz sampling rate with a 24 bit sample size ("192/24") down to standard Redbook CD at 44.1 KHz 16 bit ("44/16"). In-between formats are everything from 44/24 and 88/24 to 176/24. All are either stereo or mono, depending on what the source is. You can choose from a number of compressed formats ranging from mp3 to FLAC.
The Oppo Blu-ray players can play any of them, including over a LAN. If you want to make DVD-A disks, get Cirlinca HD Audio Solo Ultra, which can also make Blu-rays and CDs as well as DVD-Audio and standard DVD-Video disks. It's not cheap (about $60 or so) but very flexible, though not designed for beginners, though you do run it through a GUI - since there are so many configuration settings you can fiddle with. It can also do format conversions. Tip: you can use the Upscale dialog to Downscale - just pick a lower output resolution than the input resolution!
Stereo (or mono) 48/24 and 96/24 flacs (but not 44, 88, or 176!) can be burned directly to DVD-V disks that will play in any DVD player (though cheaper ones may play them at 44/16) by dropping a folder of the files directly onto the desktop icon created by a piece of freeware called Lplex, which will write an ISO that can then be burned to disk by another piece of freeware called ImgBurn. Lplex can be grabbed at SourceForge.net. ImgBurn has its own website, ImgBurn.com.
The only knock on HDtracks is that they don't put leading zeros on the filenames on albums of over 9 tracks, which can result in many players playing them 1, 10, 2, 3 - so also grab MP3Tag, which can bulk rename the files in a folder (if you highlight them all with Ctrl-A) to two-digit zero-padded numbers followed by the track name - both grabbed from the track tags. Do that so that the Oppo plays them in the right order, as it does not follow the track tags for that purpose. That will also insure that Lplex puts the tracks in the right order in the DVD-V ISO it writes if you drop the whole folder onto its icon. MP3Tag can also let you browse among various front cover graphics scraped from Amazon, to load into their track tags for the Oppo to display while playing them.
Despite its name, MP3 tag works on flacs and other audio filetypes as well, as long as they allow tagging.
To make CDs from files at higher resolution than standard CD, go to ConverterLite.com and grab that piece of freeware, which can downsample the high-rez tracks to make CD resolution versions - just make sure they're written to a different folder than the originals! You can then use Winamp to burn them to a normal CD for your car.
Don't overlook HDtrack's competitor, iTrax.com, which sells downloads of 5.1 96/24 flacs from its parent site, AIX records, which does its own original recording sessions and has worked its way up to doing 3D Blu-rays of music performances with hi-rez surround sound. iTrax sells downloads of the music from those disks in your choice of numerous formats - and mixing perspective, from stereo to 5.1 audience perspective (using the surrounds for ambience) to "stage perspective" which puts the musicians all around you - my favorite. Those play on the Oppo over the network as well. For a disk you can use Cirlinca to make multichannel DVD-A or Blu-ray disks - and it can also make a standard CD from them.
Now that I can play the higher resolution and multichannel flacs over the network with the Oppo, CDs tend to be the only disks tend to make from them, so I can play them in my car!