Thursday, October 11, 2007



Michael, I'm afraid you are making this too difficult for yourself.

I'm managing and more importantly enjoying a ~500GB collection of music. My suggestions to you are:
First off, quit buying anything with DRM and consider that you've learned a foolish expensive lesson on previous purchases. Something not available without DRM you say; hogwash, buy the CD and rip it! You are using the LAME encoder, right!?!?

Second, put all of your CDs together in large plastic bins, then put them in the garage or somewhere out of the weather, but not in living areas. You need that Billy Joel CD, you know where the CD bins are and can have the song ripped in a minute or two (once you find the correct bin). I have way over a thousand CDs, but I know where all the bins are in the loft if I'm missing anything.

Third, standardize on the mp3 format; it's the defacto standard, don't fight it. MP3 formatted files play on all devices worth using. Add all devices that can't play mp3s into the same e-waste bins that your Sony MD players went into.

Fix your network server disk format or get a proper one that can talk to Macs and PCs. Most SOHO NAS devices can do this and are O/S agnostic. Centrally store your music collection; hard drives very cheap and managing a large distributed collection is too painful.

Don't ever use iTunes for a music server with a large music collection. It's designed for a casual music listener with a meager music collection. You have the right idea with the Sonos system (I prefer SlimDevices, but 6 to 1, half dozen to another). Sonos (and Slim) do not need iTunes. The only purpose for iTunes is to change the content on an iPod!

Alphabetize your collection on your server. My root folder has "By Artist" for the main music collection, then separate categories for "Comedy", "Spoken Word", "Classical", and "Chinese". Inside "By Artist" is A-Z, plus "V/A" and "0..9". To use your example, I'd simply be able to find your wife's request in "By Artist -> J -> Joel, Billy" where I could simply hit play (and sort) for hours of music, or go further into the specific Billy Joel album folder with "Piano Man". I can play or transfer to a portable device from here. Your Sonos box should make this selection even easier.

Last, but most important, back-ups!!! Back-ups, back-ups, back-ups; can't say it enough. Use an external USB/FW/eSATA drive and backup your music collection. I personally use robocopy (wintel CLI app) to quickly find and copy any changes made in the music drive to the external drive, then once complete, it gets unplugged and goes into my data/fire safe.

Finally, amen to everything else you've stated in your rant. Viva la Revolution!

Alex Tolley

I concur with Dave. I don't have a large music collection, but I pretty much do as he says, except that I treat the original and burned CDs as the master backups. I also keep them safe and warm in a large box indoors in a closet.

I'm just waiting for the day I can do the same with my very extensive DVD collection.

Kurt Brown

Ditto Ditto Ditto.

After suffering thru all the crap, I have no problems with the following setup:

Squeezebox/Slimserver as my player/server combo. Single, central, OS agnostic streaming to anything.

All my music stored on a NAS RAID box.

Everything converted/ripped to high quality MP3 (find a teenager and pay or barter them to do this for you, you will get higher quality results than the "mailaway" services).

Itunes purely to manage/synch my little Apple objects.

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