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View Full Version : Dual Library Support Needs Improved




MagnusVonMagnum
Jul 12, 2008, 02:06 PM
I don't know what most other people do with iTunes, but I keep two libraries which are duplicate of each other. One is stored in Apple Lossless and it's a combination restorable backup of my real 375+ CD library and the highest sound quality I can get from them to use in my whole house audio system. It takes up over 120GB of space (I use two 500GB hard drives; one as a backup mirror). The other library is a 256kbit conversion of the main library and I made and use this so I could fit more songs on my iPod Touch (which can only hold 16 GB before formatting, etc.).

So the 256kbit version of my library lets me squeeze more songs onto my iPod, but it's also a bit of a pain to use. Not only did I have to convert the entire library (which took some time with that much data), but even once it's done, it's then a pain to add NEW music because I have to add them to both libraries! So it's either insert CD and import twice (having to switch both libraries and the directories where the files are put first; I have to use a 'buffer' in-between change empty library there as well before changing the directory or iTunes starts screwing things up) OR I have to import once and then do a copy/convert. Both are a pain in the butt to maintain.

Now when I want to use my iPod, I have to remember to swap libraries again (quit and restart iTunes holding down the ALT key) or otherwise the device not only gets confused (since it was synced with a different library) but I'd be staring at lossless files anyway. Of course, once you have your music on it and just want to update apps, that can still create problems if you forget because iTunes can still get confused since it was synced with a different library).

Now it seems to me, ALL this extra bother and frustration could have been avoided IF Apple simply had an option to convert songs being transferred to an external limited device like an iPod to your favorite compressed setting on the fly. "Sync to 256kbit" for example would be a nice option. Then I could use ONE Lossless library and still have compressed music on my iPod. This might take a bit of extra time to sync, but given how SLOW iPod Touch syncs are already, I'm guessing it wouldn't add that much at all (but would drain CPU cycles during the sync).

OR Apple could provide easier dual library functions. For example, it could offer to automatically create and keep a 2nd compressed 'portables' library and automatically convert new songs added to that library at the same time or shortly after creating the primary (lossless) library. It would then be set to sync from the portables library so-to-speak not the main one.

Now even IF Apple couldn't be bothered to add THAT kind of support, they could STILL have better support for existing libraries. In other words, I don't add new music THAT often. I already have both libraries set up so it'd be nice if I could at least access that 'portables' library I made without having to 'switch' libraries. If they'd simply offer a secondary library in the panel like they do 'shared libraries' and let me make playlists from that to then sync to my iPod, I'd be all set. I'd never have to screw around with changing libraries and settings just to sync my iPod.

Really, most of this seems like a no-brainer to me given Apple knows iPods cannot hold many people's large lossless libraries. True, not everyone uses lossless libraries and I'm sure Apple would prefer you buy AAC files instead of CDs to make lossless libraries, but they DO have lossless support and that does create the above problem and they COULD easily solve most of the 'pain in the butt' issues in an update.



Blue Velvet
Jul 12, 2008, 02:13 PM
I completely agree with you and this is a feature I've wanted for some time, but it appears that Apple consider users like me to be on the fringe of things. Perhaps that's understandable when many people are quite happy with 128AACs. It's a real shame they didn't extend this feature to all iPods, rather than just the Shuffle.

However, Doug's Applescripts for iTunes (http://dougscripts.com/itunes/) (Mac only) offers some library management features for those who want this sort of feature. The one linked to below is very popular.

http://dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=losslessaccworkflow

drlunanerd
Jul 12, 2008, 02:46 PM
Save yourself all the aggro and data storage and backup issues and just have one library ripped to, shock horror, a compressed audio format! ;)

Seriously, in blind testing unless you have the hearing of a hybrid bat and a sperm whale can you really truthfully notice the difference most of the time?
I know it's subjective but my main hi-fi is high-end (speakers actually came from Abbey Road studios in London) and I can't tell the difference most of the time with the shoddy production of most music these days.
Perhaps as a compromise keep your well-produced stuff, e.g. classical, in Apple Lossless?

MagnusVonMagnum
Jul 12, 2008, 03:06 PM
Save yourself all the aggro and data storage and backup issues and just have one library ripped to, shock horror, a compressed audio format! ;)

Seriously, in blind testing unless you have the hearing of a hybrid bat and a sperm whale can you really truthfully notice the difference most of the time?
I know it's subjective but my main hi-fi is high-end (speakers actually came from Abbey Road studios in London) and I can't tell the difference most of the time with the shoddy production of most music these days.
Perhaps as a compromise keep your well-produced stuff, e.g. classical, in Apple Lossless?

Even if I agreed with you on perceptual audio (I mostly do), I still want an archive of my CDs in case they ever get lost, scratched, stuck in an car's CD player, etc. and I prefer to not 'restore' a lost CD from a compressed library. It's not identical and if I ever had 'restore' back from THAT CD, I'd end up with multiple compression applications to the same audio stream which is definitely not good. Besides, hard drive space is cheap and so there's no reason I can't have a Lossless library. If Apple would at least offer the ability to add a 2nd library in the left panel like it can add shared libraries and let you sync from that (which I don't think you can do from shared ones), that would solve the biggest bottleneck of the system.

Like everything else with Apple, though, what can be done and what you can get them to do are two different things. I don't think they listen to suggestions very much. I posted very real bugs about AppleTV both to their site and sent a bug report and along comes 2.1 and the same easy to address bugs are still there and I'm talking about a bug that makes you pull the power cord and reboot (i.e. freeze frame a photo to view and if the screensaver kicks in while you're still looking at it or otherwise have it paused, you're hosed and have to pull the power plug to reboot as it becomes non-responsive). That should be a simple thing to fix. They either didn't get to it or just tossed the bug report in the trash. Take your pick, but it's not fixed and probably won't be any time soon, if ever.

KelchM
Jul 12, 2008, 03:33 PM
I've tried a lot of different methods of digitizing my CD library.

The current method I am using is as follows:

1. Rip on windows PC/Server with DB Power Amp CD Ripper (Secure ripper like EAC and makes use of AccurateRip DB.) DBPA also grabs tagging data from several excellent sources including AMG. (I love the AMG Styles information)
2. DBPA does two encodes... One in FLAC and one in quality V2 lame MP3 (I highly recommend using lame instead of AAC).
3. Log file reporting if rip details and AccurateRip result is written to the FLAC directory.
4. I use EAC to create a CUE sheet for the CD and store this in the FLAC directory.
5. I use a program called cuetools to automatically fix any file name discrepancies between the cue file and the actual files.
6. I import the MP3 files into itunes via a shared folder on the network.

I am fairly happy with this method in that it gives me an exact digital copy of all of my cds while still allowing me the ease of use of lossy files in iTunes.

The V2 lame files are indistinguishable from the source files for me. Still it took me some time to convince myself I wasn't missing out in any way by doing this...

If you have any questions about my method please just ask!

That said... it is almost inexcusable that apple has not implemented on the fly transcoding.

Matek
Jul 13, 2008, 04:41 AM
Could I suggest using Max? It's an audio ripper/encoder, it does a much better job (in terms of quality) than iTunes. You can tell it to encode the ripped music to several formats simultanousely, which means you could rip your CD and have it encoded to 2 different locations on the hard drive, one version lossless, one version lossy.

Since the lossless version is only used for safety of original CDs and the lossy one is the one being actively used, you could simply always have the lossy library active. Max will automatically add the files to your library after you're done and voila! You have a process that's nearly as simple as only ripping to one library and you still have a lossless backup.

http://sbooth.org/Max/