I have lost 400GB of music stored on an external hard drive connected to a PC. I used iTunes to rip my CD’s but only half were ripped using apple lossless. This has ‘niggled’ me for some time and as a result I am not too upset about the situation. I use Sonos to access the stored music. I have 2x S5’s and a CONNECT (ZP90) connected to my hi-fi set up.
I am about to start ripping my CD’s again but need some advice on what format to use. I know that iTunes offers AAC, AIFF, lossless, MP3 and WAV. I am also aware that some devices such as AVA Rip-N-Play offer FLAC and ALAC. What are the advantages of each format? I am looking for the highest resolution and best sound and assume lossless is the best option in terms iTunes but don’t know much about FLAC and ALAC.
I am also looking to overhaul my hi-fi in the following order:
1. Network Storage (1TB)
4. CD player
The Naim UniLite (enjoyed the Naim sound in the past) seems to tick a lot of the boxes but my immediate need is network storage with three possibilities:
a) The AVA rip-n-play appears perfect for my needs but a little expensive at £800. Would the UniLite be able to access the AVA? Could I connect the SONOS CONNECT to the UniLite? Are there similar Units to the AVA but cheaper?
b) A cheaper solution would be to use my laptop to rip the CD’s and store them on a NAS e.g. Synology. Can anyone recommend a NAS
c) Use some sort of internet based ‘cloud type’ service. Does anyone have any experience of these?
I've no idea about the UnitiLite but, assuming it has local storage I wouldn't see the point of buying one to use with Sonos, it'll just be a VERY expensive NAS. Sonos doesn't need anything special, just standard network shares. The Sonos WILL work with the AVA (it's "made for Sonos" although this is largely meaningless to be honest) though, although as you mention it's quite pricey but does take care of the ripping as well.
For Sonos, almost anything will work as it requires no special software to run on the NAS.
I don't think any of these will give you lossless audio.
I admire your fortitude - I'd have been a bit upset at losing 400Gb knowing how much ripping effort that entails. Having said that I did invest a lot of time recently re-ripping all my collection to ensure they were in the best possible condition; sort of an investment for the future. Which sounds where you are.
Firstly have a look at the article by Chris Connaker on Computer Audiophile abour disc ripping - it's long and takes a bit of reading but is well worth it.
In terms of which format there are two considerations, sound quality and what music player you use. On the former it should definitely be lossless, which means WAV, AIFF, FLAC or ALAC, the latter two being losslessly compressed. If you're using iTunes (as I do) I'd go with ALAC; it takes up less space than WAV or AIFF, and iTunes doesn't do FLAC natively. Some will argue there are differences in sound quality between these four options; I can't tell any, and I've evaluated it to satisfy myself. Bear in mind you can always convert between formats using something like dbPoweramp (which is good for ripping as well, you might want to consider it - not too dear at all).
I use a Synology NAS, which seems popular in this community, as does QNAP. I'd go for 2Tb drives as you get through storage very quickly and they are only about £20 more than 1tb ones. Also bear in mind if half of your 400gb is made up of MP3 rips then that half will take about 3 times as much space in Apple Lossless. (ALAC CD = 300mb, 256k MP3 CD = 100mb, approx). Sounds like you need 800gb already (even if the assumptions are wrong you get the point)
So two drives for the NAS and at least one for backup. I'd get two and have an offsite backup; this would still total under £500 and give you very resilient data storage. My Synology handles all the backup automatically, which is really handy.
Hope that helps, I'll leave others to argue over which hi-fi you should get!
ALAC is Apple Lossless Audio Coding = you've already been using it!
If you have anything above budget hi-fi kit I would always rip in Apple Lossless or FLAC - you will notice the difference. You may also consider AIFF (Apple version of WAV) or WAV but I have heard some people complain about the difficulty of getting all the metadata attached to WAV files - though there are software helps here such as the Squeezeserver software.
FLAC is more widely recognised by mid-to-high-end music servers and would probably be more usefull - some also say it sounds better. I would use a NAS of some sort then you don't have to have the PC on all the time, but you don't need to spend a fortune on this.
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