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crhudy1985
May 30, 2010, 02:46 PM
I hope this is unique enough to start a new thread...

My dad is a bit of an audiophile and currently has about 1500 CDs that he is ready to turn into a digital collection. However, he has a few unique stipulations and I was hoping those who are more familiar with this could give me some advice to share with him.

* He wants to play the music directly through his stereo system without a monitor but still being able to control what is played.

* He doesn't like to keep music on his laptop. So he would like an external HD of some sort to store the music. He also needs fairly large storage because he likes to keep his music files in the highest quality format which also means the largest format.

* He does have a wireless network and his home is networked if that is necessary.

* He also does not like to use the auxiliary jack to transmit music. He would prefer to use an optical out or something similar. (please keep in mind... I may be using the wrong word usage as I am not an audiophile and I only play music on my computer and iphone)

I hope someone can give me some advice as the applestore and best buy helpers were not very knowledgeable. Also, I should mention that he would prefer to keep the price below $1,000.00. Any questions are welcome; however, I can't promise I will have the answers. Thanks for any help provided.



Matthew Yohe
May 30, 2010, 02:52 PM
* He wants to play the music directly through his stereo system without a monitor but still being able to control what is played.


Mac Mini + iPod Touch with Apple Remote App (http://www.apple.com/itunes/remote/) (free).


* He doesn't like to keep music on his laptop. So he would like an external HD of some sort to store the music. He also needs fairly large storage because he likes to keep his music files in the highest quality format which also means the largest format.


External USB, 1TB? 2TB? etc... Encode files in Apple Lossless.


* He does have a wireless network and his home is networked if that is necessary.


Mac Mini has wireless too.


* He also does not like to use the auxiliary jack to transmit music. He would prefer to use an optical out or something similar. (please keep in mind... I may be using the wrong word usage as I am not an audiophile and I only play music on my computer and iphone)


Mac Mini audio out is analog and digital (optical).



Also, I should mention that he would prefer to keep the price below $1,000.00.


Easy.

crhudy1985
May 30, 2010, 02:55 PM
^ That is what I recommended. Can he hook his laptop up to the mac mini to control it when he is importing his music?

Matthew Yohe
May 30, 2010, 02:58 PM
^ That is what I recommended. Can he hook his laptop up to the mac mini to control it when he is importing his music?

Does he have a Mac Laptop? If so, you can setup screen sharing in System Preferences.

If not, you have to turn on VNC (also in System Preferences) and connect to it via a VNC client on the other machine.

crhudy1985
May 30, 2010, 03:02 PM
Does he have a Mac Laptop? If so, you can setup screen sharing in System Preferences.

If not, you have to turn on VNC (also in System Preferences) and connect to it via a VNC client on the other machine.

I have been trying to talk him into a Macbook Pro for a while. Maybe if he starts with a Mac Mini then he will be convinced of the apple lifestyle. I will look into the VNC. Thanks for your help.

ipedro
May 30, 2010, 05:03 PM
There's no reason to get a MacMini when an AppleTV will work just as well or better at a third of the price.

1 - iTunes runs on his laptop (Windows or OSX).
2 - Set the iTunes library to be stored on an external HDD
3 - Sync the library to AppleTV
4 - Use iPod/iPhone Remote App to control the music

AppleTV has optical audio out. The iTunes library HDD can be stored safely off site as a backup. If he runs out of HDD space on the AppleTV, it's not really that complex to upgrade the hard drive or he can jail break it very easily and plug in an external HDD.

Avatar74
May 31, 2010, 04:39 PM
* He wants to play the music directly through his stereo system without a monitor but still being able to control what is played.

AppleTV... If he has a home theater setup, he can use the onscreen menu on his HDTV. But he doesn't have to...

He doesn't like to keep music on his laptop. So he would like an external HD of some sort to store the music. He also needs fairly large storage because he likes to keep his music files in the highest quality format which also means the largest format.

Best solution I've found so far, because iTunes doesn't play well with NAS, is syncing AppleTV to another computer on the network with a large internal or external drive attached via firewire or USB 2.0.

He does have a wireless network and his home is networked if that is necessary.

An 802.11g network will run audio and SD video nicely. An 802.11n network will run all that plus 720p HD (in case he cares) without a hitch.

He also does not like to use the auxiliary jack to transmit music. He would prefer to use an optical out or something similar.

AppleTV has optical out. But be advised... it doesn't appear to support anything higher than 16-bit Linear PCM. All audio formats recognized by AppleTV, except for Dolby Digital (A52, a.k.a. AC-3), get upconverted/downconverted to 16-bit LPCM before optical transmission. However, I don't suspect this will be a problem for him since his entire library only consists of 16-bit LPCM (CD Digital Audio). I just want to make sure you are/he is aware of the limitation.... the only case it might be relevant is if he does professional 24-bit multitrack recording as I do.

He may want to wait because Apple appears to be possibly announcing a new AppleTV offering for $99 that blows away the hardware they're currently offering at $299. I'm not sure if they're announcing it this coming week at WWDC or later, though.

He doesn't really need to store his music in a large format like AIFF or Lossless... but unless he's open to hearing the technical arguments as to why I'll save that for another debate. But, that said, his data requirements are going to be about six times greater as a result.

That said, a CD storing a maximum of 74 minutes of audio, if he were to encode all 1500 CDs at the highest possible data rate (1.411 Mbps AIFF) he would need about 1.1 terabytes of storage. So a 2 terabyte drive would leave him plenty of overhead, or extra space for other data backups.

I have an older G4 tower running iTunes, connected to a 2TB firewire external drive with another 750MB of internal drives. This is connected via wired gigabit ethernet to my router, which talks to the AppleTV over 802.11n wifi.

I use the iPhone's Remote application for graphic interface control of AppleTV... and it's absolutely brilliant, and far cheaper than buying some of the touchscreen remotes out there that you'd have to manually program to work with AppleTV.

This setup is one I've evolved since AppleTV first came out... I've done professional multitrack recording, engineering and mastering on and off and Ive been streaming audio to my sound system since the first Airport Express came out. I'm more than glad to answer any questions he might have via private message or email (PM me for my email addr).

reomi
May 31, 2010, 06:40 PM
Is it a requirement that you involve a laptop/mac mini/apple tv?

I ask b/c there are several op-amp based designs that are ridiculously good sounding.

I've built such system. Currently it has 3TB of storage for all of my wav files and the sound quality is fantastic. Enough that I've sold my tube amps, cd transport, and DA converter. The total price is well under $700

This does require a bit of tinkering, but nothing outrageous. So if your dad is handy and technologically inclined, I'd strongly suggest pointing him in this direction. I'm glad to provide additional info if desired.

waw74
May 31, 2010, 06:49 PM
airport express also has optical out, as long as he doesn't mind his laptop being on and iTunes running when he wants to listen to music.

you can use the remote program on an iphone/ipod touch, or the apple remote to control it.

Just get a NAS plugged into the existing network to store the music on, there are versions with an itunes server or you can just use simple file sharing.

One trick i've learned that helps when you have your music on a network share, is to replace the default folder where itunes stores music "~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media" ("iTunes Media" might be "iTunes Music" depending on what version of iTunes you use) with an alias to the network share, without doing this if iTunes can't see the network folder when it starts it tries to make all your music be stored locally which can cause problems.
Set up like this, the worst you'll get is a little exclamation point in the song list, and iTunes won't try to play the music, once you are connected you can manually play the track, or if it has "lost" a bunch of tracks, just restart iTunes and it will reset itself.
I've been a network share this way for quite a while with no problems. I can also remove the network drive and plug it in locally, and just replace the alias with one that points to the local location, and my music will play just find, which is nice for when i travel.


from the wiki page on airport (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPort)
An often overlooked feature of the AirPort Express is that its 3.5mm stereo mini-jack connection also functions as a TOSLINK optical digital connector when used with an appropriate adaptor, allowing connection to an external DAC or amplifier with internal DAC. This allows CDs ripped in iTunes in Apple Lossless format to stream to the AirPort Express which will in turn output a bitstream which is bit-for-bit identical to the original CD (provided volume adjustments, Sound Check and Sound Enhancer are switched off for playback in iTunes). DTS-encoded CDs ripped to Apple Lossless audio files which decode as digital noise in iTunes will play back correctly when the AirPort Express is connected via TOSLINK to a DTS-compatible amplifier–decoder.

Capt Underpants
May 31, 2010, 06:56 PM
Is it a requirement that you involve a laptop/mac mini/apple tv?

I ask b/c there are several op-amp based designs that are ridiculously good sounding.

I've built such system. Currently it has 3TB of storage for all of my wav files and the sound quality is fantastic. Enough that I've sold my tube amps, cd transport, and DA converter. The total price is well under $700

This does require a bit of tinkering, but nothing outrageous. So if your dad is handy and technologically inclined, I'd strongly suggest pointing him in this direction. I'm glad to provide additional info if desired.

I'd like to know more. Could you point me in the right direction to read more about this?

crhudy'sdad
Jun 1, 2010, 07:33 PM
Thanks for all the replies. It looks as though the Airport Express with a networked hard drive is the simplest, most cost effective way to go. It may end up being an experiment on a road to higher ends.
waw74's advice should come in handy.
The advice from Reomi sounds intrigueing also.