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Newbie question--How does one best store and play hi-rez downloaded music?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi, I am just trying to get started with HD Tracks and perhaps other sources of hi-rez music. Since it seems like any significant amount of downloaded hi-rez music is going to take up a lot of storage space, I am not sure the best way to store, organize, and play it.

My Toshiba laptop has a 500GB hard drive, with 388GB currently free. I have no idea how quickly the hard drive would be filled up. At this point, my assumption is that most of my downloads will be flac. I just put Media Monkey on the laptop, and downloaded a couple tracks as a test, and it does play them.

My bigger interest is in playing the music on my Onkyo 809 receiver, which I am told will play flac files. So, would I be correct in thinking I could just drag and drop flac files from the laptop onto a thumb drive, and then insert the thumb drive into the Onkyo and play the flac files? And, how big of a thumb drive should I get, and and are there any certain performance specs the thumb drive has to meet in order to do this? Also, one concern with storing the music on the thumb drive is how small and easy to lose they are. Is there a better way to store and play the flac files on the Onkyo?

Thanks so much for any tips and education!
post #2 of 33
You have several options depending on your budget.
1. thumb drive plugged into your AVR or BD player. as you've mentioned. Any of them will be fast enough for either audio or video.
2. external USB hard drive plugged into your AVR or BD player. Probably formatted FAT32: NTFS usually isn't supported by hifi equipment. Many hard drives need more power than a home entertainment device can provide through a USB port, so you'll need to provide an alternative power source. Also, you need a backup strategy: a full hard drive represents a substantial investment in time and effort.
3. network streaming from a computer, using DLNA or whatever other network options are provided by your hifi equipment.
4. HDMI or other audio/video connection from your PC to your AVR. (This option can be considered an HTPC.)

With the latter two options, you again have to decide where to store the files.
A. internal disk
B. external disk
C. RAID file server

Using an external disk formatted with FAT32 and backed up regularly provides the most flexibility. It'll minimize the amount of effort when you replace your existing computer, for example.
post #3 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

Hi, I am just trying to get started with HD Tracks and perhaps other sources of hi-rez music. Since it seems like any significant amount of downloaded hi-rez music is going to take up a lot of storage space, I am not sure the best way to store, organize, and play it.
My Toshiba laptop has a 500GB hard drive, with 388GB currently free. I have no idea how quickly the hard drive would be filled up. At this point, my assumption is that most of my downloads will be flac. I just put Media Monkey on the laptop, and downloaded a couple tracks as a test, and it does play them.
My bigger interest is in playing the music on my Onkyo 809 receiver, which I am told will play flac files. So, would I be correct in thinking I could just drag and drop flac files from the laptop onto a thumb drive, and then insert the thumb drive into the Onkyo and play the flac files? And, how big of a thumb drive should I get, and and are there any certain performance specs the thumb drive has to meet in order to do this? Also, one concern with storing the music on the thumb drive is how small and easy to lose they are. Is there a better way to store and play the flac files on the Onkyo?
Thanks so much for any tips and education!

Your receiver will not play anything above 96khz and only 2 channel not surround via the usb port. If you want surround and/or 176.4 or 192khz playback, you will need to get a streamer to attach between your storage location and your reciever. If that is the case, you may want to look into squeezebox touch if you are only interested in high res music but no video or surround sound. If you want either video or surround sound as well, you should look into a device made by Dune Player, Popcorn Hour, or the Netgear NeoTV500.

Some laptops have hdmi out with audio and video both over it and with that you could output high-res audio, video and surround sound directly into your receiver over hdmi from your laptop. Good luck to you.
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I like the HDMI output idea, and this Toshiba does have HDMI output, but I don't really like the idea of a HDMI cable draped across the room, but I may give it a try.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
OK, well I got a HDMI cable and, despite all efforts, cannot get my Toshiba laptop to sync up via HDMI. Maybe the video card on this computer will not output 1080i. Nor can I get the laptop to detect a second monitor. I guess the question is, in order to connect and play flac music files from a pc laptop to my Onkyo 809 receiver, does the laptop have to have 1920 X 1080 as one of its output options? The highest resolution option I can find on the computer is 1366 X 768. I would have thought if I was dealing with a second monitor, it would let me choose a higher resolution.
post #6 of 33
My (perhaps mistaken) understanding is that the highest bitrate multichannel audio does require the highest video resolution as a side effect of them being sent over the same wires.

Have you tried connecting the laptop directly to the display using HDMI?
Sometimes the EDID information isn't passed through correctly. Sometimes displays provide incorrect EDID information, too. Some people have resorted to using switches which let you set at least some of the EDID information manually.

Have you tried using the "output to projector" option in the Windows display resolution menu?
Selecting "projector only", disabling the laptop's internal display, might let you select a higher resolution. That's probably a catch-22, though, if you can't see it on the external display to begin with.

Does your laptop have a VGA output and does your display have a VGA input?
Most laptops have graphics chipsets which allow two displays to be active simultaneously. Many graphics chipsets will let you select two external connections (e.g. VGA & HDMI) while disabling the laptop's internal display. (Mine does.) Connecting by way of VGA might make it possible for you to select the external display's actual resolution without being limited by the resolution of the laptop's internal display. (I intentionally purchased a laptop wiith an FHD 1920x1080 display in order to avoid these kinds of problems, so many of these suggestions aren't coming from personal experience.)
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

My (perhaps mistaken) understanding is that the highest bitrate multichannel audio does require the highest video resolution as a side effect of them being sent over the same wires.
Have you tried connecting the laptop directly to the display using HDMI?
Sometimes the EDID information isn't passed through correctly. Sometimes displays provide incorrect EDID information, too. Some people have resorted to using switches which let you set at least some of the EDID information manually.
Have you tried using the "output to projector" option in the Windows display resolution menu?
Selecting "projector only", disabling the laptop's internal display, might let you select a higher resolution. That's probably a catch-22, though, if you can't see it on the external display to begin with.
Does your laptop have a VGA output and does your display have a VGA input?
Most laptops have graphics chipsets which allow two displays to be active simultaneously. Many graphics chipsets will let you select two external connections (e.g. VGA & HDMI) while disabling the laptop's internal display. (Mine does.) Connecting by way of VGA might make it possible for you to select the external display's actual resolution without being limited by the resolution of the laptop's internal display. (I intentionally purchased a laptop wiith an FHD 1920x1080 display in order to avoid these kinds of problems, so many of these suggestions aren't coming from personal experience.)

Thanks. OK, I tried connect to a projector, and it works. I can see my desktop on the TV, at 1080I resolution. However, when I play a sample of a track from HDTracks, I get no audio from the receiver. At least I am farther along the process.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Doh. It might have helped if my amp was turned on! I am now playing a 96K file I downloaded from 2L music website. However when I hit the "display" button on my Onkyo 809 receiver, it says on "input", HDMI 4, PCM-48kHz. I was hoping to see 96kHz.
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
OK, I also downloaded from HDTracks a 96k track, and when I play it, the Onkyo displays 48kHz. I have gone into all the settings I can find in Windows on my laptop, but I cannot find how to send the higher sample rates to the receiver. Any ideas?
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

OK, I also downloaded from HDTracks a 96k track, and when I play it, the Onkyo displays 48kHz. I have gone into all the settings I can find in Windows on my laptop, but I cannot find how to send the
higher sample rates to the receiver. Any ideas?

Now you need to configure player and audio settings in windows. Standard Windows audio stack works only at 48kHz. Try download foobar 2000 player software and configure it to use ASIO as output mode. Then find options in Windows audio settings that setup pass-trough mode for audio. This all sounds complicated, but this is a nature of computer audio, when you need enengineering kknowledge to set everything properly. If you do not want to deal with it, get one of media players recommended above. For stereo music only Squezeebox is the best bad easiest solution.
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 View Post

Now you need to configure player and audio settings in windows. Standard Windows audio stack works only at 48kHz. Try download foobar 2000 player software and configure it to use ASIO as output mode. Then find options in Windows audio settings that setup pass-trough mode for audio. This all sounds complicated, but this is a nature of computer audio, when you need enengineering kknowledge to set everything properly. If you do not want to deal with it, get one of media players recommended above. For stereo music only Squezeebox is the best bad easiest solution.

Thanks, I found out that my laptop will not send anything higher than 48kHz over HDMI. So, I returned the HDMI cable and ordered a toslink cable instead. I found the place in the control panel for supported formats(for S/PDIF) and checked the boxes for the sample rates all the way up to 192kHz. When I receive the new cable, I will try again.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
OK, so I got the toslink cable and I can now play 96kHz flac audio files on the Onkyo 809 receiver. Sounds noticeably better than the 48kHz that I was limited to when using the HDMI cable. I played the 96kHz Stevie Wonder/Innervisions/All is Fair in Love track I downloaded from HDTracks.

Somehow, I thought I had read that the Onkyo could play 192 kHz tracks from the optical input, but it turns out I was wrong, 96kHz is the limit.

So this leaves me with a quandary. I can settle for 96kHz quality and play them to the receiver via either playing directly from the laptop or put them on a usb jump drive. OR, if I want 192kHz quality, I will have to purchase DVDs and take the time to burn the tracks to dvd, and then play them on my Oppo BDB-83 universal player. I am assuming this will work, right? Any tips? Thanks!
post #13 of 33
You won't be able to burn a music DVD because, unfortunately, there is no such format. I've been unable to burn any kind of audio only DVD.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by CouchPotato69 View Post

You won't be able to burn a music DVD because, unfortunately, there is no such format. I've been unable to burn any kind of audio only DVD.

These days, it'd probably be more appropriate to record high resolution music on Blu-ray.

The DVD video standard explicitly includes optional support for stereo 24/96 audio discs, which are also called DAD discs. (I have some.) Stand-alone Sony Blu-ray players don't support it, presumably because it competes with SACD. Stand-alone players from many other manufacturers, including Oppo, support it, but I don't know if any computer DVD drives can write it.

DVD-Audio format is another which provides higher resolution audio recording, up to 24/192. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-Audio

Unfortunately, the DVD-Audio format has never been very popular and only a few disc players (including Oppo) support it.
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by CouchPotato69 View Post

You won't be able to burn a music DVD because, unfortunately, there is no such format. I've been unable to burn any kind of audio only DVD.

Not true. I have a Mac and I use Burn for OSx. Its an open source program that is free to download. It burns DVD-audio. There are quite a few universal players that support the format. Denon, Yamaha, Oppo, Cambridge Audio, etc. I buy flac files from hd tracks and Burn will burn the flac to DVD audio. They play great on my Oppo. It is possible I've read to also burn audio files to a dvd-video disc, thus not requiring a univeral player. I haven't tried it. Google is your friend.
post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford View Post

Not true. I have a Mac and I use Burn for OSx. Its an open source program that is free to download. It burns DVD-audio. There are quite a few universal players that support the format. Denon, Yamaha, Oppo, Cambridge Audio, etc. I buy flac files from hd tracks and Burn will burn the flac to DVD audio. They play great on my Oppo. It is possible I've read to also burn audio files to a dvd-video disc, thus not requiring a univeral player. I haven't tried it. Google is your friend.

OK, thanks. I have an Oppo BDP-83, so I do have the ability to play DVD-Audio discs. I just have no idea if this Toshiba A505-S6965 laptop will burn a 192/24 flac file to a DVD-Audio disc in the disc drive, or how to do it!

Here is the section on the disk drive from the Detailed Product Specification on the Toshiba:

Fixed Optical Disk Drive7
• DVD SuperMulti drive with Labelflash® supporting 11 formats
o Maximum speed and compatibility: CD-ROM (24x), CD-R (24x),
CD-RW (24x), DVD-ROM (8x), DVD-R (Single Layer, (8x)),
DVD-R (Double Layer, (6x)), DVD-RW (6x), DVD+R (Single
Layer, (8x)), DVD+R (Double Layer, (6x)), DVD+RW (8x), DVDRAM
(5x)
o Use Labelflash® media to burn high quality labels directly to disc
o Slot-loading

Here is the Software section:

Software C1 16
• Toshiba Software and Utilities
o Electronic User’s Guide
o Bluetooth Stack for Windows by Toshiba
o TOSHIBA Resources page
o TOSHIBA Recovery Disc Creator
o TOSHIBA ConfigFree®
o TOSHIBA Disc Creator
o TOSHIBA DVD Player
o TOSHIBA Hard Drive Impact Sensor (3D sensor)
o TOSHIBA Power-Saving Eco Utility
o TOSHIBA Face Recognition
o TOSHIBA PC Health Monitor
o Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Recovery
• Third-party Software
o Microsoft® Windows Media Player
o Microsoft® Works
o Google™ Toolbar
o Google™ Picasa™
o Sun® Java™ 2 Runtime Environment
o Adobe® Acrobat® Reader
o Corel® DVD MovieFactory® for TOSHIBA
o PowerCinema for TOSHIBA
o WildTangent® Orb™ Game Console

Anybody know what to make of this?
post #17 of 33
Without a Mac, or a *NIX box, you can't burn a playable DVD Audio disc. There's NO WINDOWS SOFTWARE to do it with. Even burning audio tracks to a video disc works, but for some reason isn't playable. Google is my friend and I tried for DAYS when I got my '06 Lexus a few months ago. It won't play mp3 CD's, so I needed another solution. I ended up buying a Vais VML for $260+.

If I were you, I'd be satisfied with 96k. The human ear can't hear improvement (if there is any) between 96k and a higher rate on TOSLINK or S/PDIF. In fact, 148k starts to distort a bit. I use 96k because it sounds the cleanest.
post #18 of 33
The DVD compatibility list refers primarily to different types of physical media.

You'll have to read through the manual for "Corel® DVD MovieFactory® for TOSHIBA" to find out what on-disc audio file formats are supported by the software you have. DVD-Audio isn't explicitly mentioned on the Web page describing the software, but the information there is vague. See http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod3430136&cid=catalog20038&segid=896&storeKey=us&languageCode=en
post #19 of 33
Try googling DVD audio authoring SW. One of them that comes up is

http://www.minnetonkaaudio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=93&lang=en

They have a version for a pc. Doesn't do flac, you have to convert to wav, but that's not a big deal. (XLD for conversion) The program is downloadable for a free trial, but after the trial period its around 90-100 bucks. I tried it on the mac, and never got it to work. They admitted it had a pc to intel chip 'endian' problem that was unresolved, then I found Burn and forgot about it.

Here is one that's even cheaper. It has free trials as well. Both are for PC.

http://www.cirlinca.com/products.htm
post #20 of 33
Better yet, just listen to your current set-up at 96k. You're all set and you and everyone in this thread trying to help you burn DVD-Audio (a waste of time and effort) don't even realize it.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by CouchPotato69 View Post

Better yet, just listen to your current set-up at 96k. You're all set and you and everyone in this thread trying to help you burn DVD-Audio (a waste of time and effort) don't even realize it.


I wouldn't call it a total waste of time. I like having a backup that is physical media. It was kind of fun just figuring it out. I have a 3311ci like you and for the most part I just plug into the USB port with a 32gb drive with my downloads. At 96 kHz it does just fine. I don't even cut the oppo on. I also then use xld and convert my HD tracks downloads to apple lossless then burn an audio cd for the car ( 44.1/16)
post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks, all, for the the replies. Yes, I think I will just be happy with 96kHz files, as I can either play them from the laptop to the Onkyo via toslink, or put the flac files on a thumb drive and plug that into the Onkyo. Besides, it will save at least a bit of money on HDTracks to download 96k files vs 192k files.

BTW, do I need to get any kind of special thumb drive?
post #23 of 33
No. Just has to be formatted in FAT32, but that's the way they come anyway.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

You have several options depending on your budget.
1. thumb drive plugged into your AVR or BD player. as you've mentioned. Any of them will be fast enough for either audio or video.
2. external USB hard drive plugged into your AVR or BD player. Probably formatted FAT32: NTFS usually isn't supported by hifi equipment. Many hard drives need more power than a home entertainment device can provide through a USB port, so you'll need to provide an alternative power source. Also, you need a backup strategy: a full hard drive represents a substantial investment in time and effort.
3. network streaming from a computer, using DLNA or whatever other network options are provided by your hifi equipment.
4. HDMI or other audio/video connection from your PC to your AVR. (This option can be considered an HTPC.)
With the latter two options, you again have to decide where to store the files.
A. internal disk
B. external disk
C. RAID file server
Using an external disk formatted with FAT32 and backed up regularly provides the most flexibility. It'll minimize the amount of effort when you replace your existing computer, for example.

Well, it has taken me a while to figure this out, but I am now able to stream 96/24 flac files over my router from my laptop pc. I am using Media Monkey and set it to be able to act as a server. The Onkyo is displaying, "FLAC 96/24". So, I have now bought a both a HDMI cable and a Toslink cable I guess I don't need.

So, assuming this will produce audio quality just as good as connecting the laptop directly to the receiver via Toslink, I am thinking of returning the Toslink cable and doing everything over the network. Any experience on this, or tips?
post #25 of 33
It's good to know you got things working.

The sound you hear should be identical. The optical cable is superfluous.

An HDMI connection can provide more options than network streaming can, but it can be less convenient. I suggest keeping that cable.
post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

It's good to know you got things working.
The sound you hear should be identical. The optical cable is superfluous.
An HDMI connection can provide more options than network streaming can, but it can be less convenient. I suggest keeping that cable.

Thanks, I already returned the HDMI cable, as the highest I could get through it is 48kHz. I guess I will also return the optical cable.
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

Thanks, I already returned the HDMI cable, as the highest I could get through it is 48kHz. I guess I will also return the optical cable.

DON'T!!

Unless your thoroughly happy with the built-in music player in your receiver. I use Winamp and you'll have to pry it from my cold dead body.
post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CouchPotato69 View Post

DON'T!!
Unless your thoroughly happy with the built-in music player in your receiver. I use Winamp and you'll have to pry it from my cold dead body.

Thanks, but confused here. I didn't think I was using a "music player" in my receiver. I thought the receiver was just streaming the flac file from the laptop.

Regarding Winamp, wouldn't that be a program running on the laptop? And, what do you really like about Winamp?
post #29 of 33
Yes. Winamp is (arguably) the BEST Windows-based music player available. It is widely regarded as such because of its flexibility, options and performance, not to mention user-friendliness.

As for what I like about it, well, JUST EVERYTHING! It's more than a player. It also rips (to any format), burns, converts (to and from any to any) has 1000's of available plugins, I could go on and on, just d/l it and use the "Classic" skin.

I guarantee you'll love it or I'll kiss your ass.tongue.gif
post #30 of 33
Any limitation in bitrate through HDMI is determined by the player software you use in your computer.

For more information, it'd probably be best to post your questions in the HTPC forum.
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