Ripped, Burned and Loaded Part 1

Ripped, Burned and Loaded Part I
Music stored on a computer is pretty straight forward for most of us, even for the technically impaired. iTunes from Apple is the most popular platform on which most people purchase and store their music. For the most part it’s pretty simple and works, but as with most Apple products, it doesn’t play well with other platforms and limits flexibility. These limitations often become frustrating when we want to share, move and store music on other computers, portable devices and other non-Apple products. It’s the Apple way and its business strategy is to keep you buying Apple gear (it’s made them billions so who am I to judge!). What I would like to share with you are ways to not only improve the quality but also the efficiency and flexibility of your music collection.

Let me start out by saying I’m not much of a “Cloud” fan and particularly find it frustrating, especially when it comes to Apple’s services. We’re an Apple family when it comes to iPhones and iPads and the sharing concepts that Apple provides are far from being easy to understand and navigate. I, like most people, trust my Apple masters and update whenever suggested, but with the introduction of “cloud” services, somehow my warm and fuzzy relationship with the Apple magic started to wane. Files, contacts, music and other media would mystically disappear and reappear. Data would randomly appear on devices meant for another family member. Simple tasks of playing a song could be thwarted by error messages saying the file is nowhere to be found. Harnessing the magic of the “cloud” sounds appealing, but for now, no thank you!

I didn’t want to make this an Apple bashing. I appreciate Apple’s innovations and for the most part, their reliability, I just know there are other ways to make the storing, accessing and sharing of music much more predictable and user friendly. From a hardware standpoint, I recommend the use of a NAS (Network Area Storage) as the centerpiece for a home network. Properly set up, a NAS can store a large amount of files and provide a much needed back up configuration to protect your valuable files in the event of hard drive failure ( by nature, all hard drives eventually die). Other important features allow files and large folders to be stored off of your main computer. The benefit of this is to keep the hard drive on your computer uncluttered of large amounts of data which usually translates to better performance and a faster operating system. Most important, as it relates to this article, is the ability to store music in any format and share that music via any music software platform you prefer. In addition, most NAS’s allow remote access to music files to be accessible online anywhere you may want them.

Synology NASOnce the NAS is in place, the next step is to get the music onto it. Some NAS’s have iTunes built in and allow multiple accounts to load and share their libraries. The biggest benefit to this is the ability to access your iTunes library without having a computer on and iTunes open (which is the typical protocol to get any device to play music from an iTunes library). This is all well and good for people with existing libraries of purchased music from iTunes, but for me, if I can have a library of uncompressed music, I’m going to do whatever it takes (even if I have to start over) to achieve the best sound quality. I recommend two software platforms that have all the requirements needed to store and playback music in the best quality format possible. To be continued….