Many customers of ReadyToPlay plan to put their digitally ripped music on a PC or Mac in their home. Some plan to use a USB drive connected to their computer to serve the files. Others want to use the internal drives on their PC or Mac to host the files, but they don’t take into account the storage requirements to hold all their CDs digitally (350MB per CD for lossless encoding, 150MB per CD for Mp3 320). So for a 500 CD collection in lossless, you’re talking about 177GB or in Mp3, 75GB!
The primary caveat to answer before you consider storage is: ‘How do you plan to play your digital files in the home?”. There are several alternatives most consider around where you store the music files:
- If you are planning to use a PC or Mac to serve the files to your system then understand
- That PC or Mac has to be ‘on’ all the time
- That you have to have enough storage to put the files on that machine (disc drive space)
- That it is best if it is Ethernet connected to your network
- That this is best implementation for loading iPods or serving music to an Apple TV
- Remember, hanging a USB drive off the PC or Mac will draw more power and have an additional ‘hop’ from USB to PC and then Ethernet to playback device!
- If you answered a ‘no’ to any of the above you should consider a NAS.
Read more about NAS devices in my next blog!
Wi-fi is always touted as the solution to all your problems. The good news is that for those of us who have split level homes, brick or steel reinforced construction and other heavy infrastructure, wireless will cut costs instead of pulling wire through impossible walls. By wire, I mean ethernet wiring from device to device to connect your network together. However, with heavy construction you may encounter wireless issues. As you may know, wireless communication sends packets of data (music or otherwise) – wirelessly through the air from a signal source to a receiver. Anything that breaks up this signal will cause devices to not work properly. Lack of connectivity will impact the ability of your home audio system to do the same. SO before you go any further with whole house audio, make sure you consider the realities of your home and plan for necessary wi-fi repeaters or boosters. But as with all things wi-fi: if you can wire devices directly to your network, do so, it will operate as advertised all the time.
When should you always ‘go wired’? For example, if your router is in the basement and you have 2 floors above that – and you can’t figure out why your network connection is failing on the 3rd floor. Or you’ve got your router placed behind a brick wall and can’t receive data a mere 6 feet away on the other side of the wall. Hard walls, height and distance contribute to wireless issues.
Deciding on how you want to use your music to be in your home and combining that with the realities of the house situation will lead you to choose the right products. Visit Ready To Play to see what products are available for your home audio.
When clients first call ReadyToPlay most start with “I want to get my music ripped” or “I want to put my music on an iPod”. This is a starting point and converting CDs to lossless format is a service that ReadyToPlay provides, but we always steer customers into a bigger discussion about how to use digital music on portable devices (which is a given) AND in the home. So the question now becomes: “How do I play digital music in my home?”
Deploying digital music in your home depends on your home and your vision for music in your home. Everyone should start with the following considerations when deciding to take digital music throughout the house:
- How large is your house? Do you have multi-story, multi room house or are you in a two bedroom apartment in New York City? This translates into the difference between a multi-zone installation or a single zone installation.
- If you have a ‘larger house’ is it built of brick, split level, on a beach or hillside? Why does this matter? Because we all know that certain architectures and constructions have an easier or harder time transmitting wi-fi signals consistently throughout the home.
- Do you have a dedicated listening room to play your music? If so, you are what I’d call an audiophile, and have a different level of expectation in terms of sound quality and stereo implementation than your average listener.
- Do you share music with a TV in one room as the primary ‘entertainment center’? This would lead us to how can I see and play my music in conjunction with the TV.
- Do you already have a whole house audio system? If so, do you have touch panels in each room or a programmed tablet to control or a central rack for AV equipment? If so, then you need to discuss how digital products will compliment or replace existing installations.
As you can see, it is a given that you can get your music on a portable device like an iPod but for the whole home, it takes a bit more thought on what to do. Converting CDs to MP3 format is the first step to enjoying digital and lossless music, knowing how to seamlessly play digital music throughout your home is the next step; See part two in this series for what happens next once you’ve thought about your house configuration.