Originally Posted by mcnarus
There's nothing remotely as easy and functional for the beginner, which you are right now.
I beg to disagree - iTunes is all easy at first, when you're just ripping your CDs. But it doesn't support FLAC, and with Apple's lossless format, you're stuck with - Apple.
Why is that bad?
Because of the way Apple handles your Music Library. Data is only partially kept in the Tags inside the Audio file. The rest, important things like Ratings are stored in a ****** proprietary data file that Apple keeps changing around as it pleases. Album art won't stay associated with the Music files either, should you move to some other playback option.
So, what looks easy at first, becomes a major headache later. Ever upgrade your computer or want to use your music on an external device that Apple doesn't approve of? Tough luck, unless you have LOTS and LOTS of time to spend hacking your way through Apple's lock-in roadblocks.
External music devices like those Audio Video playback streaming devices? NAS boxes? Android Phones? Its possible but only by doing a lot of work over and over.
I recommend you get a good FLAC ripper and store the stuff your own way on the hard drive. Its not hard if you understand how to make folders on your drive. At least not nearly as hard as dealing with Apple's stuff, unless you want to be a 100% Apple and-nothing-but Apple household. Any Playback software can scan through your directory tree to automatically add your music, so it won't be a problem to find the music later, so you can sort it any way you prefer on the hard drive. There's Mediamonkey and Songbird and Winamp and several dozen more to choose from.
From the FLAC files, you can make as many MP3 or M4A or AAC files as you wish for portable players, but the FLAC files are what you safe-keep, with secondary hard drive backup, in case one breaks one day.