Looking for advice re digitizing CD collection

I finally got a little headphone station going and Qobuz seems to be working fine.

My dilemma is what to do with my cd collection. I could just ignore it, leave it where it is in storage and just use Qobuz. But there are always things that Qobuz will be missing.

This of course leads to ripping the cds. I have been a software developer for a long time so I can get deeply technical - but I don’t want this to become a major project. The equipment is supposed to serve me, not the other way around.

I don’t want to have to be a network admin and ‘manage’ things. We all know how this goes. The more things you put online the more there is to break and maintain.

Seems like just hanging a disk off the network (a NAS essentially) and saving the rips there might get the job done.

I’m currently demoing JRiver and I’m leaning toward keeping that. I can send all Windows sound to it and have the capability for EQ, VST etc. Yes, I know this adds the complexity I’m complaining about but it’s also the reason I don’t want to make it worse.

I haven’t researched all the options yet but I thought some of you might have been down this path and could give some direction to a simple-ish solution.

Thanks!

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Ripping the CDs to FLAC is a relatively straightforward process. With a good drive it’s a couple of minutes at most per disc. Though obviously if you have a lot of discs this can get very time consuming.

There are lots of software options to do this with (I use the dBPowerAmp ripper for single-disc sessions*) … many of which permit verification that the rip is accurate (no errors).

Most ripper applications do a decent job of metadata and artwork retrieval as well, though invariably some level of manual editing/correction winds up being required.

But, yes, ripping to FLAC and then storing the files on a NAS device or a dedicated server is a pretty common way to go. And that approach will work fine with JRiver.

Fancier solutions include things like DLNA/UPnP servers (often available on dedicated NAS boxes) or Roon. But if you just want to do the replay on a PC then a network mounted disc is the easiest way to go.


*For my main CD library, which is thousands of discs, I bought one of those CD-duplicating auto-loading, multi-drive, robots, wrote some software to have it rip, rather than burn, and then stuck 250-disc piles of CDs on it and let it go. In addition to using a low-level read technique (similar to EAC), my software ripped each disc once in each of three drives, compared the outputs (which rarely weren’t bit-identical), and if necessary voted out the bad data (today I’d do that with a simple checksum calculation and lookup via AccurateRip on a single rip of the disc and only re-rip if it didn’t match).

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I had a similar issue although I am a Mac dweller so most of my CD rips have been Alac. I did FLAC prior to owning Mac which was slightly more involved. Between CD’s and DVD’s, I had far too much room taken up by physical media and wanted to get everything loaded onto a NAS.

It took about 6 months to get all of my music and movies ripped but I have been much happier without looking at several full walls of media. I suggest purchasing a NAS. I don’t use Room or JRiver but streaming from the NAS works great with Audirvana and Plex. Every internet connected device I own has full access at any time to a fairly extensive 6TB of media.

As Torq said, the easiest option is likely a large attached hard drive. Just be prepared to spend some extra time with MP3 Tagger to solve some flaky metadata issues.

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Thanks, Torq.

I remember EAC from the old days. Now with AccurateRip it should hopefully be a one-pass deal.

Good point about being limited to playback on a PC. I think current iOS can get at network shares but it’s not a deal-breaker for me.

If I go the simple NAS route it won’t preclude getting fancier if my needs change later. I might be able to put something together with parts hanging around and give it a test.

As a software developer this won’t be news to you but I’m posting this for others who might run the risk of making my rookie mistake:

Avoid using cheap, usb CD/DVD drives to digitize your CD collection. I used the dBPowerAmp ripper, as torq recommends above, which enabled me to detect an unacceptably high number of errors from rips by my external drive. I wasted $30 and a few days persevering fruitlessly.

I have a 2012 MacBook Pro, which works perfectly, and I suspect some (perhaps many) of those older, built-in drives are much better than some of the new, external ones today.

Edit: for clarity

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Thanks - It’s looking like a NAS could be the answer.

Being older and having built my pc’s for a long time I have some sata DVD readers in the parts bin. Might have to replace them if they are no longer in good shape so thanks for the heads-up on USB drives.

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I ripped a big chunk of my CDs on a drive that I’d previously liked and was not a cheap drive. It turned out to be skippy with CDs and the output files were pretty mediocre. I was spotting errors long after finishing. Get a good drive and test it before committing.

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After doing a quick read about AccurateRip it seems like it should identify errors when the rip is complete. In theory I should know soon if the drive is not up to the task and then replace it with a new quality drive.

I’ve used EZ CD Audio Converter for my rips and converts. Works well but I’m just putting it out there as an option; I have no comps against much else as it’s been the tool I’ve used for a while now and I’ve had no real reason to change to something else.

Agree, NAS is the easiest place. That’s where I store mine and let things like Roon, Plex, PC read from there.

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I’ll check out EZ CD Audio Converter, thanks.

The slow bit is dealing with metadata for CDs that aren’t present in the online databases. This is much more time consuming than the actual ripping, in my experience. A few years ago I used EAC to rip several hundred CDs to FLACs which I stuck on a networked PC. I used Plex and Subsonic to stream them, or I could listen to them at full quality locally. However, the ones without online metadata were so much slower to do that I still have a box of about 300 obscure CDs to rip. If you have more than one CD drive in your computer, or more than one computer, you can rip several discs simultaneously, but it doesn’t speed up typing in the track and artist names.

I ended up digging out my old CD player and plugging it into my new DAC instead. That’s how I listen to the obscure CDs, until I feel freshly motivated.

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ez cd audio converter. I also use ez meta tag editor that uses GD3 database.

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I completely agree. Or sometimes the metadata is there but inconsistent between different CDs by the same artist, especially things like Genre (e.g. ‘Rock’ vs ‘Pop & Rock’ vs ‘Power Pop’. Or with Classical music, I try to standardize the track names (Composer: work - movement). I standardize the metadata after I’ve ripped every CD. Time consuming up front, but I find it helps later on, when I’m searching or sorting, and I’m experienced enough that it’s a lot quicker now than when I first started.

I have thousands of CDs, dating back to the 80s, and having ripped them into AAC for iTunes, when I first got my iPod, it is frustrating to have to do it a second time for FLAC. But I also try to listen to them after I’ve ripped them, and I’ve found it’s a good way to re-listen to stuff that otherwise would have sat ignored on the shelf.

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I’ve a habit of redundancy when I rip CD’s. I rip to Wave, Flac and Mp3 in separate passes. Then I do any corrective work on the Meta Data. I’ve got external storage on 2 pc’s, my laptop and the media server. With the various types of files separated out when needed.

The light gaming PC in the Master Bedroom has a very good Blue-Ray drive that I use for ripping questionable CD’s, otherwise I use an external drive on the spare laptop.

Mark Gosdin

Good point. I probably would have been caught up in just getting accurate rips and not thinking all the way to how they would be used with potentially thousands of tracks in the library.

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When ripping my CDs, I tried to do it in batches by the same artists, it helped with metatagging in groups to speed things up a bit.

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Yes, I do the same thing. And if I’m doing a bunch of different artists, I try to make sure they all start with the same letter of the alphabet, because it makes it easier to put the CDs back on the shelves. :grinning:

I’m sure everyone has their favorite software, but if I’m manually updating metadata, I like mp3tag, which is freeware, although I like to send him money every few months, because he’s always rolling out enhancements. One of the recent enhancements that I didn’t realize I’d appreciate until I was using it, was the ability to paste artwork onto a bunch of tracks and adjust the size of that artwork (e.g. getting a 1500 x 1500 picture off the web and adjusting down to 500 x 500), all in a couple of clicks.

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Yes, I really like mp3tag also, I honestly can’t remember what I used before it, it was that long ago!

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For those of you looking for inspiration when it comes to manually updating the genres of your music, here are an artist’s suggestions: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/scott-reeder-new-kinds-of-music-3. They’re good for a laugh.

“Gray metal” might be my favorite. Or “speed ambient.”

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