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DTMark

Organising A Music Library

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I posted something like this a fair while back, but I'm still puzzled.

Back in the old days, I bought everything on vinyl. I have hundreds of 12" singles in the shed. Planning on getting a new turntable but haven't got around to it yet. I do mean to transfer some of the rare vinyl that you can't get anywhere on the net at some point but the sound quality loss going from vinyl to digital is astronomical so I'll be keeping the vinyl.

I also have thousands of digital music files on my PC with a fair number that don't have the properties set correctly (artist, title etc) so they're all "Unknown Artist" (that's the biggest list by far)

In the meantime we bought a new TV which has a music player thing and communicates with my PC which has all the digital music on it. So I can put anything on downstairs that's on the PC in the office upstairs. Sounds good. Though I have an iPhone and I'd quite like the music on that.

The playlists in Windows Media don't work in iTunes. So you might think "create iTunes playlists". I don't use the bloatware that is PC iTunes for anything much, the interface is crap. it's really slow (even on this quick PC). I just buy the music with it and still find myself wondering how it ever became popular. Plus the TV won't pick up iTunes playlists. The phone will, however.

The TV music centre software isn't great. The two main problems with it are that when the music library changes, it appears you need to open Windows Media Player or Windows Media Centre on the PC and rescan the library for the DLNA server part to detect anything new (e.g. anything you bought from iTunes - this "sort of" works as long as the iTunes folder is a subfolder of the Music parent folder). OK, it's a free built in player on a smart TV, it's not meant to be superb.

Even then you seem to need to either reboot the TV or the PC for it to pick up changes sometimes. You can't for instance browse on the iPhone, buy something, and then two minutes later watch it appear in the library on the TV.

The browse features on the TV are crap - for instance there's no "sort" option and worse it doesn't really put the tunes in any identifiable order - it's more or less random. So "searching" for a tune you want to hear isn't really an option when the list is in the thousands of tunes (made worse by the files not having the correct properties, though I know I'll have to go through them all at some point and sort them out manually).

You can bring up Windows Media playlists on the TV, but not iTunes playlists. Apple stuff only seems to work with.. Apple stuff (and people criticised Microsoft, and still do... but that's another issue)

Everything I buy new is either from iTunes or Juno Downloads. (mostly dance music, which iTunes isn't great for - only has the chart stuff, anything obscure is beyond it). I did briefly flirt with Spotify but their attitude to user security and serious breaches of user privacy (the tie in with Facebook) led to me abandoning that.

When you download something on iTunes, it resides only on the PC. Unless I plug in my iPhone via USB it won't ever get onto that (there is a background WiFi sync service on the PC but it's disabled as it's buggy and uses up half the PC processor every time the iPhone comes into range). If I buy something on the iPhone it never reaches the PC either unless I plug it in. Which I don't do very often.

None of this works together.

Is there any sort of packaged solution that "does it all"? Like those Bose TV adverts for their kit - is that what I should be looking at?

I might replace the iPhone with a Windows phone at some point as it's nearly knackered as it's old, if that helps.

At least if I bought the CDs rather than the digital files, I'd have a physical "thing" I could take with me and I could put it in the car too. It would work everywhere. I must be missing something here :)

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It has taken me a long time to work out what I want, and start putting it all together. Consequently, I would say you'll need to spend some time researching things, based on your specific requirements.

However, one wireless system I really like is the Sonos system. You can buy various bits of (expensive) kit, to tie everything together.

As for your mp3/ digital audio files, there is a great article on lifehacker on the subject of getting your music collection in shape, with various tools for updating id3 tags, and embedding cover artwork. I worked through mine, it took weeks, but was worth it to ease my OCD. :-)

Personally I stay clear of iTunes, as I find them difficult to get along with. I have since uploaded all my music to the Google music cloud. Now, Google isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it offered me a solution for backing up my music for free, and having it available from the cloud, so it's been good for me.

Edit: lifehacker link - http://lifehacker.com/230105/alpha-geek-whip-your-mp3-library-into-shape-part-i-+-level-the-volume

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... I have hundreds of 12" singles in the shed.

Don't do this unless you have no wish to ever play them again (or sell them on.) the damp will destroy them sooner or later (unless its some fancy heated shed)

Same thing with storing in an attic

The reason so much vinyl is becoming rare & collectable is that so many people make mistakes in storing it badly.

As for organising things, I don't really have a good suggestion - all the options seem to involve spending a huge amount of time tinkering

I tried a Sonos system but wasn't impressed.

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Don't do this unless you have no wish to ever play them again (or sell them on.) the damp will destroy them sooner or later (unless its some fancy heated shed)

Same thing with storing in an attic

The reason so much vinyl is becoming rare & collectable is that so many people make mistakes in storing it badly.

As for organising things, I don't really have a good suggestion - all the options seem to involve spending a huge amount of time tinkering

I tried a Sonos system but wasn't impressed.

All my vinyl is in the house! Mr DTMark should go on EBay and get a good used turntable! :blink:

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You seem to have a lot of issues there all going on at the same time, not sure I can help with them all!

I've always been a fan of Winamp for music and it has a handy little feature for tidying up the tags:

http://blog.winamp.com/2009/08/03/clean-up-your-media-files-with-winamp/

I cleaned up my library with this and now run any new downloads through it before moving to the central location. It's not infallible so you have to keep an eye on it and I wouldn't do massive batches at the same time.

Only other thing I could recommend is moving your library off your main PC and onto a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive which sits on your network, makes things easier for multiple users accessing files from different locations. Prices vary from £70+ as far as I can remember but it's worth it for future use.

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I use mediamonkey. Amazing program. Will clean up tags, rename and automove files around, pull tag data off the internet to make everything all nice and consistent.

I only use it with mp3s that I've ripped myself over many years. I don't know how well it works with DRM restricted stuff from amazon/apple/etc.

Anyway, the software is free, so it's well worth trying.

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Thanks for all the tips - the tag software will be very useful and should save hours.

In the meantime a picture speaks more than a full page of ramblings so I've done a quick and crude mockup

homediagram_zps1b7aa0e7.png

The music is stored on an external HDD and backed up periodically to another one.

Because we have a 3G internet connection - even though it's quick enough (20 Meg down, 4 Meg up - just had a rather nice upgrade) we only get 30GB/mo so storing everything "in the cloud" is probably not an option.

Would help if I specified what I want:

- Download music on either the phone or the PC

- That music to appear in a library visible to all devices everywhere immediately

- Play on PC, in living room, on phone(s), in car

So far as "in car" goes, if I can get the music onto the phone then I can plug that in when I'm in the car - the stereo has a jack socket for external devices.

That relies on playlists, so I need playlists that work everywhere.

What can change:

- iTunes - don't have to use that, open to any options for buying music but not Spotify

- iPhone - could change to Windows phone (but not Andoid)

What I want:

- In the "Living Room" box I need a device to browse the music and play it so there's a device missing in the diagram, the features on the TV don't quite cut it. I'm actually not desperately bothered about sound quality since this is only digital not vinyl - I'm assuming the interface for such a box comes up on the TV...? which needs to be able to play all kinds of files including iTunes, MP3, Windows Media etc. including DRM protected files, and recognise playlists created on the PC which also work on the iPhone

If I was still 20 years old I'd have had it all worked out and priced by now, know all the model numbers, how many stars they got in reviews and so on :)

I have a feeling that the above is impossible, we're just nowhere near this level of interoperability yet. Is this all too ambitious?

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A bit OT but who's your 3G with? And how much do you pay?

I'm with 3 and we hit the 15gb cap from time to time.

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A bit OT but who's your 3G with? And how much do you pay?

I'm with 3 and we hit the 15gb cap from time to time.

It's with Three.

We have 3 x 10GB "rolling monthly contract" SIM cards.

Credit limit on the account is set at nil.

So when one "runs out" I put another one in.

Not ideal, but the best we can get here.

2833395941.png

Edit to add - sorry, I missed one of your questions. It's £15/mo for each card so £45/mo. We don't have a phone line so we do "save" £15 a month or whatever it is these days for one of those.

The account cap guarantees that we don't carry on using it after the allowance has been used up, so £45/mo is both the minimum and maximum amount we pay.

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I use mediamonkey. Amazing program. Will clean up tags, rename and automove files around, pull tag data off the internet to make everything all nice and consistent.

Is there something that does that sort of organisation of photos?

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I'm initially thinking this...

http://www.sonos.com/shop/products/connect

...depending on your connections with your home cinema...you can also get Sonos controllers for your Windows machine, as well as for your iphone...Go into either a big Currys or an independent such as Sevenoaks, who should have one setup for you to try...

There's 2 types of speakers, the Play 3 & 5 (3 / 5 speaker drivers), a wireless sub, and the Playbar, which acts as a soundbar that can also allow you stream music wirelessly to it..Its also itues & NAS compatible...

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I'm initially thinking this...

http://www.sonos.com...roducts/connect

...depending on your connections with your home cinema...you can also get Sonos controllers for your Windows machine, as well as for your iphone...Go into either a big Currys or an independent such as Sevenoaks, who should have one setup for you to try...

There's 2 types of speakers, the Play 3 & 5 (3 / 5 speaker drivers), a wireless sub, and the Playbar, which acts as a soundbar that can also allow you stream music wirelessly to it..Its also itues & NAS compatible...

I still have the "AV surround system" thread saved for when I get around to it. Might have been able to this month were it not for a £1k dentists bill :(

So at the moment the TV is 2 channel only via an old amplifier and some Eltax speakers. There's a queue of "things to buy" building up here.

That Sonos thing does look like it's the "missing device in the living room box" on the diagram, looks really impressive.

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Is there something that does that sort of organisation of photos?

I'll probably be back to ask that at some point :)

I had some free software that came with a printer once that was quite good - HP Mediasmart or something like that.

Though having a very quick look at "Windows Live Photo Gallery" that seems to do much of the same thing - tagging, display by date, by tag, so you can categorise etc.

Though it does seem insistent on having a Windows Live login - I cancelled the prompt when I opened it, but I suspect it might qualify as "nagware" if it keeps on coming up with that prompt when you try to do things.

If you want the photos on the TV - our TV has a thing built in called "Vierra Tools" or something like that so you click "Photos" and it then connects to the PC(s) on the network in the same group where you've elected to share your photos, and then you can browse folders and see slideshows etc. - I guess most smart TVs have something similar.

Though, a bit like the music browsing and playing options, it's fairly basic.

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I ripped all my CDs to FLAC as I can't stand the loss in quality with MP3.

3,500 CD's took about 2 years to do (ripping a few on and off most nights) and takes up almost 1Tb of storage.

Also ripped some old vinyl to WAV that I then converted to FLAC.

I have a few MP3s of songs that for whatever reason I don't have at full quality and the only thing that i've found will play all formats is the ROKU Soundbridge

I have a cheap and cheerful "media pc" that I got cheap from Maplins and attached is a USB disk with all this music hanging off that.

The pc runs "Bonjour" and that streams the music over wi-fi to the Soundbridge. The soundbridge then plugs into the "Aux In" of whatever stereo device you choose to use to amplify it.

The interface isn't the greatest in the world as searching & browsing is text based on a small-ish screen but you can setup playlists from the comfort of your laptop and I have loads to suit whatever mood i'm in or you can just get it to play EVERYTHING randomly (didn't even realise I had Gill Scott-Heron in my collection until I tried this one day!).

The thing I like about the Soundbridge is that you can have up to 10 devices connected so I have them all over the house and they can all be playing different music simultaneously.

Only problem is that they don't make them anymore :( so i'm stuffed if they ever start failing or will be forced to look for used replacements on ebay....

Sorry, that doesn't help you with the organising of your existing library but I thought a shout out to FLAC and the Soundbridge might spawn other ideas.

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That Sonos thing does look like it's the "missing device in the living room box" on the diagram, looks really impressive.

Yep, I am going to get something like this when I have some spare cash. The issue you have is the dispersed media library you have. I think you'll struggle to be able to navigate through all your media seamlessly, if it is stored on multiple devices. So perhaps you have 2 missing boxes (given your limitation for using cloud storage), the Sonos-like products, and dedicated media storage that you can automate sync to - I don't know what out of the box solutions there are for this, if any.

I have a server at home that sits under the TV, plugs into my amp and runs XBMC, that more or less handles everything. The advantage of this kind of solution is that you can do all the downloading on that box, and can probably set up sync from PCs and so on. You can map network drives to it I guess, and configure the library to look in different places on the LAN (but you might struggle with your iPhone. I've then built pretty much everything else out from that.

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Yep, I am going to get something like this when I have some spare cash. The issue you have is the dispersed media library you have. I think you'll struggle to be able to navigate through all your media seamlessly, if it is stored on multiple devices. So perhaps you have 2 missing boxes (given your limitation for using cloud storage), the Sonos-like products, and dedicated media storage that you can automate sync to - I don't know what out of the box solutions there are for this, if any.

I have a server at home that sits under the TV, plugs into my amp and runs XBMC, that more or less handles everything. The advantage of this kind of solution is that you can do all the downloading on that box, and can probably set up sync from PCs and so on. You can map network drives to it I guess, and configure the library to look in different places on the LAN (but you might struggle with your iPhone. I've then built pretty much everything else out from that.

I'm highly dubious of physical hard drives...been there, done that...I'm ripped hundreds of gigs worth of music on two separate HDs (not cheap ones either), and both of them have corrupted on me...I'd personally go with cloud storage...

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I'm highly dubious of physical hard drives...been there, done that...I'm ripped hundreds of gigs worth of music on two separate HDs (not cheap ones either), and both of them have corrupted on me...I'd personally go with cloud storage...

Which is what I do, but DTMark can't...

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Right then

Including the AV amp and speakers, and new turntable (and a new 3G/4G router I have planned) this is how it looks now:

homediagram2_zps71bcc7ef.png

Bit pricey to do in one go..

Modem/router £250

Turntable £500 (if new, just an idea of budget - or, have my old Thorens one reconditioned but it may be beyond redemption)

AV System £500-ish

Sonos Connect system £230

NAS HDD £150

Plus there's a thing called "Sonos dock" for the iPhone which costs extra.

And I'll need another powerplug, the one I have has only one ethernet port. Can't use WiFi for streaming here, walls are just too thick.

I think this would more or less do it.

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I'm highly dubious of physical hard drives...been there, done that...I'm ripped hundreds of gigs worth of music on two separate HDs (not cheap ones either), and both of them have corrupted on me...I'd personally go with cloud storage...

You should stop buying Maxtor hard disk drives :)

Mind you I think they're called Seagate now and they seem OK.

Everything I have is always backed up - I'm a developer and I've learned the hard way before ;)

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<snip>

Plus there's a thing called "Sonos dock" for the iPhone which costs extra.

And I'll need another powerplug, the one I have has only one ethernet port. Can't use WiFi for streaming here, walls are just too thick.

<snip>

That is the beauty of the Sonos system, you can buy loads of different bits that plug into various devices. Maybe you will get a single library, but I would think your media is still spread around the place, and you have to play stuff from the device it is stored from. If you have some kind of GUI you connect to via a browser or something, that might make it a lot neater.

Something to consider with regards to your wireless issue... we have the same problem in our place (a number of extensions dotted around the place, so a lot of the internal walls are cavity walls!), and whilst I am going to chase ethernet into the walls, I will also install some APs:

http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/ShopDetail.asp?ProductID=16080

I've not looked into these much yet, they appear to be what I want (including PoE), but these "cluster" together, extending your wireless range by working as a bridge.

You could also go with a basic range extender:

http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/ShopDetail.asp?ProductID=13650

I mention these, as a lot of the Sonos type gear these days works wirelessly, and you can plug in the bridge to send your music to various rooms around the house.

I'm more of a network geek, than a media geek, so this is the kind of thing that interests me.

Food for thought, if nothing else.

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Thanks for all the tips - the tag software will be very useful and should save hours.

In the meantime a picture speaks more than a full page of ramblings so I've done a quick and crude mockup

homediagram_zps1b7aa0e7.png

The music is stored on an external HDD and backed up periodically to another one.

Because we have a 3G internet connection - even though it's quick enough (20 Meg down, 4 Meg up - just had a rather nice upgrade) we only get 30GB/mo so storing everything "in the cloud" is probably not an option.

Would help if I specified what I want:

- Download music on either the phone or the PC

- That music to appear in a library visible to all devices everywhere immediately

- Play on PC, in living room, on phone(s), in car

So far as "in car" goes, if I can get the music onto the phone then I can plug that in when I'm in the car - the stereo has a jack socket for external devices.

That relies on playlists, so I need playlists that work everywhere.

What can change:

- iTunes - don't have to use that, open to any options for buying music but not Spotify

- iPhone - could change to Windows phone (but not Andoid)

What I want:

- In the "Living Room" box I need a device to browse the music and play it so there's a device missing in the diagram, the features on the TV don't quite cut it. I'm actually not desperately bothered about sound quality since this is only digital not vinyl - I'm assuming the interface for such a box comes up on the TV...? which needs to be able to play all kinds of files including iTunes, MP3, Windows Media etc. including DRM protected files, and recognise playlists created on the PC which also work on the iPhone

If I was still 20 years old I'd have had it all worked out and priced by now, know all the model numbers, how many stars they got in reviews and so on :)

I have a feeling that the above is impossible, we're just nowhere near this level of interoperability yet. Is this all too ambitious?

You have a very similar set-up to what I currently have, the differences being:

ADSL instead of 3G

Router is with TV and I homeplug to PC upstairs

I have a NAS drive instead of external HDD

I have an original XBOX running XBMC with the TV as the front end

I've seen you're other post but here were my thoughts prior to that.

You should get a NAS drive but you already seem to have decided that.

You need some way of reading the library at the TV and, as you have found (and I found as well!), most of the built in GUIs are turd. To give you flexibility I would have advised going with a NETOP PC such as the Acer Revo on which you could install whatever software you like, rather than a manufactured box and be stuck with that. I'd recommend XBMC for video files but I'm not a fan of the audio player on that, although it is manageable.

One thing which you could use, I think for both a NAS and HTPC, would be the HP Proliant Microserver which are regularly on offer. You might have to throw a few more £££ at them to get them configured how you want but if you're looking for a little project it could be the way to go.

Finally, one thing I eventually had to invest in, which I'd never needed before, was a switch to sit upstairs on the desktop (just after the homeplug) so that the PC and the NAS could both access the network at the same time. They're cheap as chips:

http://www.ebuyer.com/store/Networking/cat/Switches

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  • 244 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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