Ripped, Burned and Loaded Part II

In Part I, I talked about the pros and cons of iTunes as the music storage platform most people use today. Portability is definitely a major factor in why it’s popular as it works with all of Apple’s products for people on the go. In addition, Airplay, Apple’s proprietary wireless format, provides a unique way to connect Apple devices that directs music wirelessly from one device to another (most people don’t even know they have this capability). Ultimately, iTunes is not a bad way to store and manage music, but it doesn’t play nice outside the Apple realm and this is where our story continues.

I left off on the benefits of investing in a NAS (Network Area Storage) to store, manage and protect music files. Hard drives continue dropping in price and increasing in storage capacity so NAS’s can be sized to manage even the largest of music libraries. What that ultimately means is that you no longer need to be concerned about saving space with compressed music formats. The conversation on compressed and non-compressed digital music becomes a whole other topic which we can explore later, but for now let’s just say that there is a huge difference between compressed and non-compressed. So different, that even to an untrained ear, the listening experience and quality of sound is obvious.

There are two software providers I recommend that focus on managing a music library with an emphasis on high bitrate recordings. They both allow the flexibility to download any format, but each has its own feature set that will appeal to certain people who want to experience better sound from their computer. This capability provides the freedom to share music across a multitude of platforms including iTunes.

JRiver Media Center is a software suite that provides comprehensive tools to allow the user to choose output formats with a multitude of sample rates and bit depth. A user friendly on-screen display gives a variety of way to organize and access music. If you need to manipulate the sound, you can use JRiver to modify playback. Up-mixing, down-mixing, bit-depth, speaker control, equalization and effects are available if you want to experiment. Because the audio path is fully 64 bit, any adjustments to volume, bitdepth and sample-rate are mathematically lossless. There is a rich DSP environment to take your tweaking to another level with room correction, bass management and even surround. In addition to ripping your own CD’s, JRiver has online services and plug-ins to give you access to high quality download sites.

Channel D’s Pure Music is another software provider with similar features, but as a Mac only software, it automatically docks with iTunes as a database, playlist organizer and interface. So it looks like iTunes to the end user but uses a powerful audio engine to enhance the quality of music. Another feature that I really like is the Pure Vinyl software that allows you to record vinyl into the digital domain. It’s packed with a dizzying amount of features to make recording vinyl easy and accurate. Both JRiver and Pure Music have apps available to play and manage you’re library from a portable device via WiFi within your home. We have both available at our showroom, so if you want to take a test drive, stop on by. Both also have free trial downloads.