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Music Lovers Freeware: #2 audiophile music server October 19, 2006

Posted by oktyabr in audio, listen to this, software, tutorials.

Audiophile quality personal music server


Yeah, someone actually said that to me once. Facts:

1) Personal/Family/SOHO servers are popping up more and more. The day isn’t far away where a private file/print server will be as common as any other appliance of convenience.

2) Hard drive space is cheap as dirt and getting cheaper. Why even bother with lossy formats like .mp3 any more? What about a lossless format that is great to play and can still be encoded into CDaudio or even mp3 for that custom mix disc for the ride to work?

If any of that makes any sense then this post is for YOU!

Basically what we want to do is take that 100+ CD collection of yours, convert them one by one to digital files, store them on a server, and maybe even stream them out to a LAN or even your own personal internet radio station!

Here we go:

CD ripping and encoding:

SImple Mpeg audio (MP3) PLayer and Encoder/decoder (SIMPLE)

I’ve been pimping this one for a long time. For some bizarre reason he still hosts his files at Geocities and once in awhile his bandwidth limit gets him cut off. Download this when you can and stick it away someplace for safe keeping! He doesn’t have any link for Paypal donations or anything but if anyone deserved a free Pizza or 12 pack of beer, it’s this guy (I’ve emailed him a few times and would send him a donation if he’d answer!?!) Simple is simply the best CD ripper and encoder you can have for ZERO money. Not fancy, not complicated, but does exactly as advertised, every time.

Out of the box it will do lots of neat tricks including wav, ogg, and mp3 using your choice of three different encoders. Nice! But we want LOSSLES S compression!


FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec)

If encoders were gemstones this one would be a freakin diamond, no doubt about it! I’m talking LOSSLESS here now, so if you are planning on trying this out with that old 2 GB you salvaged out of some rotting 486… forget about it! Lossless formats like FLAC will produce variable bitrate files typically 2 to 10 times the size of a similar “high quality” MP3! I’ve seen six minute songs encode to over 50MB in size which means that a full CD will typically run around 400-500MB or more.

Why even bother? MP3s, OGGs, WMAs, etc. are all “lossy” formats meaning that some of the sound data is lost in encoding due to the used compression method. The codec itself is supposed to be “smart” in what to trim out and usually you end up with a nicely compact file that for all intents and purposes will sound just great! Lossless formats, on the other hand, squish the sound data as much as possible *without* sacrificing anything! You should end up with file that sounds *exactly* as the source it was encoded from (CD in this case). It’s still compressed so it DOES save some room over raw .wavs, has the added benefit of being able to store IDx tags (artist, song title, etc.), something .wav does not, and can still be re-encoded to whip up that mix CD or collection of mp3s for your portable, just as if you used the original source.

FLAC has the added benefit of being “free”, not only in price but in licensing too! No one will ever try to make you choke up some change for every file you have that was made with it, like another licensee (that shall remain nameless) did once, and no hardware or software manufacturer can justifiably charge you more money for their product just because it contains a FLAC encoder in it, at least not due to any license costs anyway.

Oh, the windows installer also includes:

The fantastic FLAC plugins for Nero5/Nero6, Winamp2/Winamp5 and Foobar2000 plus the legendary FLAC Frontend

Ok, so you have it downloaded and installed yet?!!?!?

Music Server software (if you don’t have anything already):

Slim Server

Why would you need this? If you have a seperate computer to store all your music on AND/OR you want to share it over a LAN with one or more machines. If you only have one box (so far!) bookmark that link anyway and then you can skip the rest of this part, for now. Grin

Slimserver is open source, free, and cross platform. I run it at my home on a linux powered file/print server and all my other machines, including the windoze ones, can access this music server seamlessly via a secured web interface (http://yourserver:9000 by default for the interface, http://yourserver:9000/stream.mp3 for winamp, xmms, whatever) And hey, you have a few extra bucks to throw around? Look at the company that spawned this product! http://www.slimdevices.com/

Get all three (or just the first two if you are still running one box) and then check back for my post on how to make the most of these nifty new toys Grin


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