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I copied all my CDs to my PC using Windows Media Player 9 in wma format. My PC is connected to the whole house system via audio cables. It works really well. I'm thinking about adding Tivo in a couple rooms with the home network option. Do I need to convert all these wma files to mp3 to be able to stream to Tivo, Audiotron or other music server device? If so, what's the best way to convert wma to mp3. What are the pros and cons of having your music collection in wma vs mp3 format?


Thanks,


Dan
 

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I'll answer what I can:


"Do I need to convert all these wma files to mp3 to be able to stream to Tivo, Audiotron or other music server device?"


Many music servers support only the playback of MP3s and not WMA. Tivo;s Home Media Option is that way and will not support WMA. Audiotron, however, does support WMA. You'll need to check the specifications of each unit you may be interested in to see what file formats they support playback of. For units that support MP3 only then yes, you would have to convert all the files to MP3.


"If so, what's the best way to convert wma to mp3."


There are many conversion programs available on the net. Just do a google search for something like "WMA to MP3 conversion". The problem is that you're taking an already compressed format (WMA) and converting to another compression scheme (MP3) so quality may suffer as a result of the conversion. The best way to retain sound quality would be to re-rip your CDs to MP3. Certainly this is more cumbersome, but that choice is up to you.


"What are the pros and cons of having your music collection in wma vs mp3 format?"


Well, from the above, you can see that MP3 has more acceptibility than WMA. So, having a collection in WMA may limit your choices when trying to do something like choose a music server. ON teh other hand, most people would agree that at equivalent bit rates, WMA sounds a bit better than MP3. As a result, you can save space with WMA. Certainly, these are not the only 2 formats you can rip to, but they are the most widely supported.


Hope this helps.


Jeff
 

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Dan,


Unfortunately, I haven't used one of these gefore. I fooled around a bit with WMA a while back but wound up sticking with MP3 as the portable unit I had didn't support WMA. Realistically, a web search may turn up not only results for such programs but user comments about them (I usually see these type of results coming from BB forums like this one). You could always try one out and do A-B comparisons of a few songs. Good luck.


Jeff
 

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Transcoding. Beware that transcoding lossy compressed files tends to magnify audio problems created by the lossy compression. I.e., a 160 kb mp3 file created by transcoding a 160 kb wma file will sound worse, all other things being equal, that a 160 kb mp3 file created from a CD source. Although for a couple of rather obvious reasons, this problem will be less severe and possibly undetectable if you are transcoding from a sufficiently high bitrate file into a substantially lower bitrate file.

Bitrate limits. A limitation of the wma format is that they cannot be encoded with bitrates above 192 without a form of digital rights verification. On the other hand, mp3 files can be generated all the way up to 320 bits using freeware utilities such as LAME. Given that hard drive space is so cheap these days (e.g. $79 for 120 GB HDD in a recent Sunday circular for a local B&M store) and with plentiful options among HDD-based portable mp3-players, one must ask one's self why it is worth the time creating anything smaller than 320 bits.


I know it sounds like a pain, but if I were in your position I'd re-rip everything from CD again with EAC + LAME using one of the high-end presets or straight 320 bit CBR, just to be safe, rather than mess with the siren's song of bulk transcoding. You went through the trouble + expense of installing a nice whole-house music delivery system: why take a shortcut on the encoding of the music you plan to distribute with it?
 

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I would agree that re-ripping your collection will produce the best-sounding results, but you can do this in a phased approach -- first convert all your WMA's to MP3's at once, and then re-rip selected CDs as you see fit, say, your favorites first and least-listened-to one last.


As far as converting the files, I would wholeheartedly recommend dbPowerAmp (www,dbpoweramp,com). Through a select & right-click menu option, it will let you convert easily between a plethora of audio formats. You just have to download the respective codecs from their "Codec Central" page. It includes LAME mp3 codec with the original download, and the WM9 codec is available. I've been using it for years. Recently I wanted to use LAME's new version 3.93 with custom command line options, and I downloaded & tried the "create your own CLI" (command line interface) codec/plug-in, and it works as advertised. Very flexible & powerful freeware!


-- StevenO
 

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You could also check out Media Jukebox by JRiver:

Media Jukebox


It has a plethora of features, and plug ins that cover many encoders:


Ogg, MP3 Plus, LAME, WMA, and some lossless encoders like Monkey's Audio....


..which is what I am currently using to re-rip my music collection. Figured, this time around, I would opt to "back up" my collection using lossless compression, and later, be able to rip to MP3, WMA, MP3Plus or any other lossy format I choose. At least I wouldn't have to re-rip later (short of a hard disk failure- I am imaging the drive with the APE files).


The problem with the APE format is: its not a supported format by the Audiotron, and a few other hardware compressed music players..

Media Jukebox DOES support the playing and ripping of APE format files, and has an excellent database for your collection as well.


There is a FREE version of Media Jukebox, and a "Plus" version for $24.95.


Well written and integrated program. After having used Audiograbber and EAC for many years, I am completely satisfied with Media Jukebox.


jock
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mp3jockey
You could also check out Media Jukebox by JRiver:

Media Jukebox


It has a plethora of features, and plug ins that cover many encoders:


Ogg, MP3 Plus, LAME, WMA, and some lossless encoders like Monkey's Audio....
Media Center 9.1 supports TiVo HMO and can convert on-the-fly from WMA or APE to MP3.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rgbyhkr
most people would agree that at equivalent bit rates, WMA sounds a bit better than MP3. As a result, you can save space with WMA.
How much space?

Have I been doing this wrong?

I've started to copy my CDs to WMA format at 64kb -- because I've read that the quality was equivalent to MP3 at 128kb. Is this not true?

Could you enlighten me on this?

My plans are to get the flash player iRiver IFP-395T that has 512MB memory.


Thank you.
 
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