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Tom Blake
2006-03-14, 11:35
Hi All,

My first post here and I just ordered a SB3 and am looking for some setup advice. I am a Mac user (iMac G5) and after doing some research I'd like to rip all my CDs to FLAC with a copy to 160k AAC for iTunes use with my iPod. I already have a pretty big library of AAC files in iTunes. I am an audiophile, however, and want to rerip all my CDs to a lossless format to use the SB3 with my main audio system. It seems like FLAC is a better choice than Apple Lossless based on the way the SB3 works. I plan to use Max for ripping/encoding. I've played with it a bit and am comfortable using it. Would I get the best interface with the SB3 by using SlimServer to serve my library of FLAC files, and only use iTunes with the compressed AAC files for iPod usage? Are there any recommended plugins or additional applications I should use with SlimServer on the Mac to get iTunes-like functionality (playlists, star ratings, etc.)? I'm running an Airport Extreme network and will connect the SB3 via 802.11g. Thanks so much for any help you can provide!

Tom

mikerob
2006-03-14, 13:19
You should take a look at MusicIP at www.musicip.com (previously called Music Magic Mixer)

It is really for generating playlists but recent releases have added more iTunes-like functionality.

Siduhe
2006-03-14, 13:28
One thing to consider is the (current) lack of bulk tagging software for FLAC and MAC. Though that looks as if it may be about to change (see thread below):

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=22046&highlight=mac+flac

Tom Blake
2006-03-14, 16:09
Thanks for the replies! I'll take a look at MusicIP and Tag. Aside from the FLAC tagging issue with Macs, I guess my main question is does it make sense to use FLAC with SlimServer to serve my lossless collection via SB3 to my audio system, and only use iTunes for AAC files to be used on my iPod? It would probably be easier and more elegant to use Apple Lossless and iTunes to interface with the SB3. However, the native support within SB3 for FLAC files and open nature of that format prompts me to go in that direction. I'd use Max to rip to FLAC and AAC, for those CD'S I don't already have in iTunes. Thanks!

Tom

axiomatic
2006-03-14, 22:18
As someone who's doing exactly what you're proposing, I'd say yes.

Part of the question may be how attached you are to iTunes. My answer is "Not at all." Some people will find it awkward to use Max + Tag + MusicIP Mixer + Finder to do a bunch of things they could otherwise do within iTunes itself.

Some people want a receiver; I prefer separates.

Different strokes.

Tom Blake
2006-03-14, 22:35
Axiomatic,

I prefer (and use) separates also :-)

I certainly like the convenience of iTunes. However, if I'm going to go the trouble of ripping my 1000+ CD collection I want it to be the best quality possible. There seems to some definite advantages to using FLAC files with the SB3, so I have no problem relegating iTunes to iPod usage only. Thanks for confirming my plan made sense.

One quick question about using Max. Since the current release crashes when an Enhanced CD is loaded, what is a good backup FLAC ripper/encoder to use in these cases?

Thanks!

Tom

MartinP
2006-03-15, 06:19
If you rip to Apple Lossless, Slimserver can convert the files to FLAC before streaming them to the SB. You'll have the benefits of being able to see and manipulate (e.g. tag) the ALAC files in iTunes, and also the benefits of the native decoding of FLAC in the firmware.

Tom Blake
2006-03-15, 10:50
Thanks for pointing that out. I see the option now in the SlimServer settings. How much overhead does the conversion from Apple Lossless to FLAC place on the server or network? I guess I'll try it both ways and see if there's any performance penalty. It would certainly be easier to stick with iTunes and rip everything in Apple Lossless. The only issue I'd have then is juggling 2 iTunes libraries (1 uncompressed and 1 compressed). Looks like that can be dealt with pretty easily via Libra or multiple user accounts.

Tom

ceejay
2006-03-15, 12:42
If you rip to Apple Lossless, Slimserver can convert the files to FLAC before streaming them to the SB. You'll have the benefits of being able to see and manipulate (e.g. tag) the ALAC files in iTunes, and also the benefits of the native decoding of FLAC in the firmware.

... but not the ability to fast forward or rewind, which can't currently be done when you are transcoding on the server.

Ceejay

Tom Blake
2006-03-15, 13:12
... but not the ability to fast forward or rewind, which can't currently be done when you are transcoding on the server.

Ceejay

That's good to know, as I'd like the ability to FF/REW within a track. With that in mind, it does seem like my best bet is to rip to FLAC using Max and then transcode to AAC for iTunes/iPod usage. I get my SB3 today so will be doing experiments over the weekend to make sure this all works before beginning the task of losslessly ripping my entire collection. If anyone has any additional tips/advice on doing what I'm proposing on a Mac I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks everybody!

Tom

Tom Blake
2006-03-18, 13:43
Just to close the loop on this... I received my SB3 and effortlessly added it to my Airport Extreme network. This product is unbelievably cool! The sound quality is excellent on my main audio system. Directly serving the FLAC files ripped via Max using SlimServer seems to be working very well. I don't think I'll have any problems not using iTunes to manage the lossless library. I'll continue to use iTunes with my MP3 or AAC files for iPod usage. Now to get down to the task of ripping my large CD library. That will take a while! I'm looking into an extrenal RAID disc to house the collection. I'll probably need around 500-600 GB. The external FW 400/800 RAID discs offered by www.macsales.com seem like a good bargain. Any other suggestions? Not sure yet if I'll go for a striped or mirrored RAID setup. It would be nice to have the redundancy of the mirrored solution but I'd need a 1 TB disc, which ain't cheap. Thanks for all the help everybody!

Tom

cepheid
2006-03-20, 01:00
I'm a user in a similar situation - fairly new to the SB3 and just beginning to rip my 450+ CD collection. I do like the convenience of iTunes and I don't really mind the loss of FF/REW, so I think going with ALAC would be the best option for me... though if I change my mind, transcoding to FLAC using Max seems like it would be quite easy to do.

However, I've run into a major snag, which is that the SB3 isn't playing any of my ripped ALAC files! I've posted all the details over in thread #22272, so any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.