Okay, so as I’ve commented before (enough times, I’m sure), back when I originally ripped the media in our house a variety of encoders were used. The archaic Risc PC encoder (ooh, the pain), LAME on Linux (a early 2000’s version), various PC encoders… It depended on the OS I was using at the time.
Some files were encoded by others at various bitrates (128kbps….*shudder*)*. Most of the more recent stuff was done at high bit rate using VBR… But over the last few weeks I’ve been making slow-and-erratic progress on re-ripping stuff and setting up the new media system….
So for anyone interested, here’s the hardware and software involved:
The server’s a Generic PC (Athlon X2/2 Gig Ram, I think) running Ubuntu 11.x. It’s configured with a Samba Share and will be set up with a specific music access user account. It’s also running MediaTomb (although I’m hoping to stop running that as Viewsonic box plays ‘most everything I care about) and Squeezebox Server (although I don’t yet have a squeezebox :( ). This also allows me to rip music and video on the Mac Laptop. Being as the Mac Laptop is not a brand-spanking-new MacBook and has no Blu-Ray drive, and also because last time I did this I killed many CD-Burners (for that’s what they were), the data is mainly ripped using a generic mac compatible slim-line blu-ray USB device. Occasionally it hits a disk it can’t read and then I’ll break out the Mac’s internal drive.
Data’s being ripped using Max – configured to use the built in MP3/FLAC encoders. Mostly this is fine, but I have a lot of ‘obscure’ disks (although disks which don’t hit the MusicBrainz database are many and varied, and frustratingly even some things I thought sold reasonably well aren’t in there. Also frustratingly, and I continue to think this is poor management on their part, the clients can’t upload data, so even though I’ve input data for two Wintermitts CDs, and Elastica’s excellent second album, you can’t share the joy). DVD’s are ripped using Handbrake. And the MKV’s using MakeMKV. Bliss is my go-to app to get the cover art right at the moment – it’s a bit slow and quite ugly but it’s given me the most success, and isn’t tied in to iTunes**, which I’m not using at all for this.
iphone The iPhone runs AcePlayer (although I’m toying with mediaconnect). This allows access to both the UPnP servers and the Samba Server. Most delightful is that using the iPhone to Valve Radio (Bush VHF61) connector to play Best of Bootie. So wrong.
Android Tablet The cheap Android tablet runs a something ad supported, I think. BubbleUp? I’m sure there are better ones, but getting anything to install on the android tablet is a nightmare. It still astonishes me that it has a decentish sound output hidden in there.
The Macs Mostly I just use the Samba server and play stuff using VLC or *spit* iTunes, which had the old MP3 database in it, and will have the new library when I’ve finished ripping everything.
The Viewsonic VMP74 This is the box that plays most of the video media – and is remarkably capable and adequate for it’s price. It can play stuff over Samba or via Mediatomb. Mediatomb allows me to make the server transcode files I downloaded years ago in FLV format into something it can play, but for the most part I don’t really give a monkeys about those files.
The network is provided as a wired connection (CAT5e / 100baseT) between the server and the Viewsonic box. Everything else connects wirelessly (although there are spare points around). 100baseT is quick enough for playing Bluray quality rips, which is about the fastest I need to transfer data. It also means that the combined total cost for the networking kit in the house is pretty small (faceplates, Cat5e cable, a wiring tool). The router / ‘switch’ (ha, Lauren would laugh), and Wireless extender are all friends-retired-items.
The most tedious of jobs, however, is fixing cover art. Finding matching art for obscure albums (like the Bootleg Are Friends Elastic (Elastica Live and In session) CD). Although I suspect gutting the boxes when all the inserts go into storage may make searching for covers seem oddly appealing***.
* I’ve even got a few 64kbps files. Yes. I know.
** Irritatingly, I forgot about doing cover art for the last batch of ripped files, so will have to go back and fix that :(
*** The plan is to strip the CD boxes of their artwork and then freecycle the CD boxes. The CDs will, as I used to stick to doing, be stored in DJ cases. The artwork in a box ready for us to ship it. Then, one day, I might unpack the whole lot into a Peelesque music library.