AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
169 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey People,

I am very new to HTPC...I am wondering if anyone uses their HTPC as a music hub...I want to d/l all my cd's into a hard drive & use it as a jukebox...I suspect you can do this, what type of software do most people use for this? Also this would be a way to get my wife into having a full blown HTPC with HD video capabities at a later date...The reason for this now is that I was looking into buying 1 of those 400 disk changers & then I thought what about a "music server", the wife seemed ok with this so far...& was hoping it might be alot cheaper....I know I would need a huge hard drive but besides that what would give me "audiophile" grade sound from the PC....

Really any help would sure be appreciated


Thanks


Joe
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,031 Posts
The type of program for these functions is called "jukebox"... just like the "word processor" type and the "spreadsheet" type include multiple different programs by different authors/companies, so are there multiple jukeboxes. Download.com is one quick way to see names, featurs, and reviews of a bunch, and often download free temporary trial versions for while you're deciding which to buy (if none are permanently usable and free).


You'll also need to make sure of your hardware. Assuming you already have a stereo system, you'll need an output from your computer that can talk to an input on your stereo, which is likely to require no more than a converter you can get at Radio Shack for a few dollars. If you don't, you'll need speakers and amps. In EITHER case, you'll need a hard disk big enough to hold your music, which isn't really a big problem given how compact MP3 format is and how much data some hard disks can hold, but it might require replacement of your current hard disk if it is in the 0-40 GB range and you have dozens of CDs to dump in it, or if much of a percentage of a bigger hard disk is already taken up with other stuff.


Also, think in terms of backups. If you'd like to reduce the number of physical CD disks you have to keep around in case of something happening to the computer, writing MP3s on blanks would allow you to replace the originals with fewer disks. But for that, you'll need a CD-RW drive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,227 Posts
Depending on how important the audio quality is to you consider APE lossless encoding for no audiable compression.


You can use Media Centre 9 from J River with Music Lobby very well for a visual jukebox application.


Budget quality soundcards like the M-Audio Revo are pretty popular with some users buying sup[erior hardware in lines from RME / Lynx / etc..


Lots of reading if you start to search... Personally I am sold on the PC v multi changer setup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
800 Posts
I just sold my 200cd changer and went HTPC. Much easier to use and the sound quality with a decent card (like the Revo or 2496) is far superior to the DACs in most changers(I'm assuming you're going to be using the analog outputs).


J. River, as mentioned, is very good. I personally use 4am Music Console with Winamp(and ASIO plugin) - the interface is more wife-friendly than J. River, and it's free.


Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
First decide ... "Where is the digital analog converter (DAC)?" If you have a modern amplifier or receiver, then it may already have the DAC (as well as surround sound decoders) ... and all you need is the S/PDIF output ... which is available on the cheapest of audio cards and most motherboards.


If, on the other hand, you have older receiver or amp, the the DAC needs to be on the audio card, the surround decoders need to be in software, and you may want to investigate the better alternatives (see other threads).


I concur with Media Center 9 being a very good jukebox and library organizer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
I'm doing this now.


I went though three stages of evolution.


First, I had a Sony 200 disc changer connected to a PC via a device called a S-Linke. It took the Sony SLINK signal and converted it to serial so you could control a CD changer ffrom your PC.


Second, I bought an Audiotron. It's a device made by Turtle Beach that plays MP3's from your hard drive, but is a stereo rack component.


Finally, I ditched all of that and went pure HTPC. It is by FAR the best way! Better control, software and sound quality than any other method. No more need for the physical CD's.



There are a few considerations to doing this right. I'll sumarize some of them here, but do some searches and reading on this forum before you buy anything.


PC Hardware: The PC itself doesn't really matter too much for this purpose. Just about anything you buy will be fast and powerful enough to play MP3's. Your real consideration is if you will expand to video later or not. The quietness of the PC is considered important by many. Aluminium cases with large slow fans, or large heatsinks that replace fans produce the least noise for quiet audio listening.


PC Soundcard: There is a lot of controversy over this one. I'm not looking to re-hash any of it here. I'll just sumazrize what I think the general consesus seems to be on this forum:


A: Generally, built in motherboard sound is not the best.

B: Many think that a sound card that supports bit perfect playback is best. Do a search on "kmixer steaming" and read the M-Audio Kernel streaming FAQ thread. If you want to avoid Windows messing with your sound, this is the only option. This rules out all Creative Labs sound cards.

C: People are split over making a Digital COAX or Digital OPTICAL connection between their PC and their receiver. COAX has less conversions and should be slightly better. OPTICAL makes no electrical connection between the PC and the receiver. Some (including me) fear the possibility of a surge from the PC or sound card coudl travel to your expensive audio receiver or preamp. Some sound cards are very cheap and don't instill confidencein this regard!


Audio ripping method:

This arguably could be your most important consideration. First your CD is ripped to the hard drive as a WAV file. Exact Audio copy is considered best by just about everyone. There are then 3 ways you could save the data on the HD permanently. You could leave them as WAV's which would take around 600MB per CD. You could save them in a lossless format such as Monkey Audio's .APE format, which cuts them down 1/2 size. This has the advantage of letting you put them back as exact WAV files later, but still takes a TON of hard drive space. Third are lossy formats such as MP3, which do discard some audio data. They roughly are 15% of the size of the original CD, so a typical album saves to the hard drive as 90ish MB. If you do make MP3's the encoder that converts them from WAV to MP3 is important. LAME 3.90.2 is considered the best here by just about everyone.


Here's what I do, and I am quite happy with my setup:


I have an Intel 875PBZ 2.6GHz P4system with no built in sound card.

I installed a Delta Dio 2496 sound card, with optical/coax digital in and out, connected to my receiver via TOSLINK digial optical cable.

I run Exact Audio copy to rip CD's to WAV files.

I compress them to MP3 with LAME 3.90.2. I do not keep the WAVs.

I play them with FOOBAR with kernel streaming bit perfect playback.


Perhaps some of these steps are overkill, and you can read the "discussions" on this forum and decide for yourself.


Hope this helps,


Andy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
No problem, if after you do some reading, you have any specific questions, post away. If I can possibly answer, I will.


I gave you the run-down of what I do, if you're really lazy, you can just replicate that. :)


All the software I told you about is legally free, and the sound card cost under $200. Any PC will do.


Good luck!


Andy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,047 Posts
FWIW, we have three main functionalties for our HTPC:


1) HDTV, via MyHD card;

2) MP3 server, and way to access MP3's thorugh the home stereo;

3) remote control-type functionality, via Girder.nl.


Of these three, #1 will go away as soon as the DirecTV HD Tivo unit comes out next year (it's my stop gap measure). #2 is great -- I have the SliMP3 server running on the HTPC to serve up music around the house ( www.slimdevices.com ), and also use Windows Media Player to play MP3's on the stereo to which the HTPC is connected. #3 is also very nice -- I'm planning on doing neat things like, when the doorbell rings, the plasma TV will turn on and tune to the webcam that points at the front door.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,011 Posts
Thought I'd throw my $.o2 in on this one as well...


I'm using the following to do this:


1) EAC to rip my cds


2) Monkeys Audio to compress the resulting WAV files (I could I know go right to APE from EAC but I since I'm *still* playing catch up I prefer to rip 20 - 50 cds then batch process them to APE overnite)


3) J.Rivers Media Center as the main organizational feature


4) MusicLobby as the alternative PC based front-end


5) MusicLobby PPC and Netremote as PPC based front-ends


I'm really pretty happy with it this way. Ideally I'd like to have a touchscreen LCD setup in the family room as the main interface for everyone, but atm the budget doesn't allow it.


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,011 Posts
Quote:
What's the average size of a ripped CD?
About 350ishmb, and btw, I'd recommend using no higher a compression setting than "high" and "normal" is probably fine. I used "extra-high" and continue to do so because I'm anal, but there's really an almost negligible difference between "high" and "extra-high."

Quote:
How many do you have, and how much HD space does this take up?
I think I've ripped about 250ish thus far which, as close as I can recall, is 80-90gb. I'm using a shuttle XPC as my HTPC and I've got 1 120gb drive in there atm. I have another PC that I store dvds on and I really only need about 5gb of space for program/system files, and another 10gb or so to move the occasional dvd over for playback. So I'm about 25 or so gb away from needing to come up w/more space.

Quote:
Do you feel it's worth it over MP3s?
I don't think my ear, some folks argue no ones ear, can hear the difference between mp3 or ogg encoded, but my brain can't live w/out knowing that I'm listening to lossless audio. Additionally all my cds end up out of sight and out of mind, and the few cds I've managed to scratch or otherwise ruin, I can happily reproduce from my APE copies. So, for me, lossless is the only way to go.

Quote:
What sound card do you use?
I'm actually in between receivers right now, so since I'm using a crappy receiver I use the line out from the onboard audio, but will soon switch to the spdif out.


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
Thanks for the reply!


My only problem is that I have about 1000 CD's and that would translate to about 350GB of drive space APE wise.


I'm not sure I want to store/afford that much space for music!


Right now my music collection is 82GB for 1000 CD's.


I agree with what you've said though, I would love to be able to recreate perfect WAV CD's on demand.


Perhaps as hard drives get bigger and cheaper I'll migrate to APEs.

www.pricewatch.com shows 320GB IDE for under $300 now. I still think that THAT hard drive wouldn't hold my music as APE.


I really don't want to go over one hard drive in the machine for sound/heat/power considerations.


Andy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,011 Posts
Well many folks (who have a bit more $$$ than I) are simply building a PC to stick in a closet somewhere and dropping in a few very large drives and connecting them to the HTPC by 802 (b or g). No need for monitor/kb/mouse/vid or audio (just use cheapie on board stuff), very barebones...just need mb/cpu/mem/case/hds


Food for thought...


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
Yea that's a good idea, except that I have the unfortunate trait of wanting to back up my music as well.


I put too much work into it to lose it to a HD bearing.


So I'm really talking about needing 700GB, not 350GB :(


Unless I'm adpoted by the majority stockholder in Maxtor, I'll probablly have to stick with MP3s.


Also, my music aquisition addicition is by no means over. My 1000 album collection is bound to grow by a few here and there.


I'm running a 200GB 7200RPM 8GB Maxtor right now, I have my eye on the 250GB SATA drives. My MD has SATA built in. I'm just waiting so I don't have to pay a big premuim for SATA or 250GB in general.


The 320GB 5200RPM 2GB IDE drives would be great for that music server in the closet though.


Andy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,011 Posts
Well I solve the bad bearing problem by burning my APE files onto DVD-Rs that I keep in a big ol' 300 CD/DVD carrying case thingy. That way I manage to condense my discs needed from 1 per album to 1 per 10-15 albums.


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
Yea I can see that's the cheapest way to do it.


DVD-R is around .12 per gig, and HD space is .70 to .90 per gig.


You can't get over using a loss format for your WAV compression, I can't get over the work/hassle or expense involved in APEs. I guess we both have our own personal mental blocks :)


One day with large enough cheap HD's we can have it both ways.


Andy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
I am just in the process of setting up a cd jukebox pc that will store uncompressed wav files and hold a 650 cd collection (less repeats and songs I don't want). Sound card is a RME Digi96/8 and the frontend will be a Matrix Orbital with five key input and a touchscreen 15" kiosk style crt. Software will be MusicMatch with Zapstream remote, XP, and Exact Audio Copy. The pc is starting with a pair of 120G hard drives and there's room for four more drives in the Antec Sonato case. The Sonato will be in it's own closet out of sight, with an external ATX power button and vfd display added to the AV-Rak. The touchscreen crt will be mounted in a wall in the theater. This will be the latest jukebox player after a string of MP3 players including a very nice route66 (Linux) setup and a Dos based setup using a 2x20 vfd and laptop keypad with MPXF and MPXplay that is currently in a car belonging to a friend of my son. If you don't rip on the computer, a P133 with a good size hard drive is adequate. Can't get much cheaper then this and MPXF and MPXPlay are free off of the internet. I suspect most people have a suitable older pc collecting dust in a closet. Soundcard was a SB Awe64 Gold with stereo RCA jacks. Might be all you need to start...
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top