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  1. #1
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    Transition to Vortexbox - hoping to do it 'right' from the start

    hi all,
    Having thought about it, I've decided to move my LMS from the family PC, and rescan the CDs to FLAC. I'm going to use a vortexbox. This was one of my options, and the final choice was driven by getting one at a reasonable price on ebay recently.

    So, I'll probably have to update the VB software for a start, and I can see that there are other decisions to be made such as how to rip (using the VB appliance's or the PC and dbpoweramp?); which FLAC quality; how to get the tags right from the outset; how best to keep the mp3s for the ipods; etc. Any views on all of these will certainly be appreciated.

    For the moment though, the first question I have - and maybe not even the most important - is how to manage the transition? I have x hundred CDs to re-rip, and that's not going to happen in a great hurry. Should I disable LMS on the VB until I have the ripping finished (continuing to use the PC and my current LMS setup) or do it differently somehow? If I was doing it 'piecemeal' or incrementally, presumably I'd have to go along deleting mp3 versions of CDs as and when I managed to get them into FLAC format?

    I'm probably also going to have to add a network or LAN switch to facilitate this, so lots more new stuff to learn.

    Any thougts or comments from anyone who's been through this or something similar would be appreciated.

    many thanks

    Donald
    SB user since 2000...
    3 x Touch; 2 x Boom ; 4 x Classic; 1 x Controller
    Controlled by iPad using 'Squeezepad'
    Vortexbox/Nova appliance running LMS version 7.9

  2. #2
    Senior Member w3wilkes's Avatar
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    A comment on ripping to FLAC. All FLAC is the same quality - LOSSLESS. The difference is the amount of compression. I believe the default is 5. The higher the compression the more processor will be required to compress it. On the decoding side I'm under the impression that this is fairly CPU efficient regardless of the compression level specified when ripping. So as far as "quality" goes compression level 0 and compression level 8 will both render the same "quality" which is lossless.

    On the transition. You mention that you'll keep the MP3's for your iPods, etc. so based on that you should be keeping a MP3 copy AND a FLAC copy. If you use DBPowerAmp on a PC to do your ripping (DBPowerAmp is probably the BEST ripper out there) you can create both the FLAC and MP3's on the same rip of the CD (more later on why you may want to also create new MP3 of your current library). You can do a phased transition with a approach something like this. On the VB do a directory structure like;

    SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>
    SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>

    MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>

    On LMS you would set your music folder to "SQ/". Initially you would copy your full library to SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> and then SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> would be empty. As you do your rips you would place the new FLAC rips in the SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> directory and move the corresponding SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> to MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> and then do the scan. This way you won't have duplicate albums showing up in LMS. If you're really using iThings you'll probable do the MP3's on either a MAC or a Win box where you can have iTunes to manage the content of the iDevice.

    Don't know what quality your current MP3's are so that may be a consideration as you're re-ripping your CD's. Unlike FLAC, the bitrate selected for your MP3's DOES affect quality. The highest bitrate MP3's are generally the best quality. My personal preference is VBR (Variable Bit Rate) using -v0 which is the highest quality. The thing I like about VBR is that things like silence / simple will be compressed to almost nothing as far as required bits to contain the music goes where the most complex parts of the music will use the highest bit rate to store the music. So you get the quality of a CBR 320 using less space where it is appropriate.

    Have fun over the next few months as you go through the transition and make sure you pay close attention to your tagging! The tags are the most important things in having a well organized library.
    Main system - Rock Solid with LMS 7.9.1 Official on WHS 2011 - 2 Duets and Squeeseslave
    Cabin system - Rock solid with LMS 7.9.1 Official on Win10 Pro - 1 RPi 3 Model B/Hifiberry DAC+ Pro/PiCorePlayer and Squeezeslave
    Headphones and car - Android phone/Bluetooth w/full library on MicroSD card - PowerAmp music player app (similar to Material Skin)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Apesbrain's Avatar
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    If I were taking on this task, while re-ripping CDs to the Vortexbox I'd leave my existing configuration alone so I (and my family) could continue to enjoy it. (The last thing I'd want to be doing is a lot of tech support during this process!) Vortexbox as a ripper will automatically fetch tags and can be configured to mirror your FLACs to MP3 as you create them. All your Vortexbox needs is access to power and your network. It doesn't really matter if you have LMS running on the Vortexbox; your Squeezeboxes will stay connected to your old server until such time as you force that change. When you've completed your re-rips, terminate/uninstall the old server, shut everything down (1. Squeezeboxes, 2. servers, 3. router, 4. cable modem), wire the Vortexbox to your router, and bring everything back up in the reverse order.

    One minor quibble with suggestion above regarding VBR -V0 for MP3: presumably you are maintaining MP3 copies so that you can copy them to your portable devices. These devices typically have limited storage space and are used in listening situations where ultimate fidelity is less of a concern. Using VBR -V2 (~190kbps) or even -V4 (~165kbps) will allow more content to be stored on your portables with little if any perceptual quality loss.

    More information:
    http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=LAME

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by w3wilkes View Post
    A comment on ripping to FLAC. All FLAC is the same quality - LOSSLESS. The difference is the amount of compression. I believe the default is 5. The higher the compression the more processor will be required to compress it. On the decoding side I'm under the impression that this is fairly CPU efficient regardless of the compression level specified when ripping. So as far as "quality" goes compression level 0 and compression level 8 will both render the same "quality" which is lossless.
    I haven't looked at this in any detail yet, but the issue must be the storage memory used and the bandwidth needed to play larger 'uncompressed' files? Less compression = more memory and more network traffic?

    Quote Originally Posted by w3wilkes View Post
    On the transition. You mention that you'll keep the MP3's for your iPods, etc. so based on that you should be keeping a MP3 copy AND a FLAC copy. If you use DBPowerAmp on a PC to do your ripping (DBPowerAmp is probably the BEST ripper out there) you can create both the FLAC and MP3's on the same rip of the CD (more later on why you may want to also create new MP3 of your current library).
    There are three reasons why I was thinking about this: 1) (discussed elsewhere here) is to have a 'standalone' platform for LMS and the SB players, independent of family PC and it different users and tasks 2) to have a lossless version of the music and 3) because the tags are a bit of a mess. LMS doesn't seem very forgiving of tag discrepancies in the way that other programmes are. (but then I assume that, at heart, it's a 'server' rather than 'database' programme? I think this means I'll probably do as you suggest, and re-rip the MP3s.

    Quote Originally Posted by w3wilkes View Post
    You can do a phased transition with a approach something like this. On the VB do a directory structure like;

    SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>
    SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>

    MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks>

    On LMS you would set your music folder to "SQ/". Initially you would copy your full library to SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> and then SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> would be empty. As you do your rips you would place the new FLAC rips in the SQ/FLAC/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> directory and move the corresponding SQ/MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> to MP3/<artist>/<album>/<tracks> and then do the scan. This way you won't have duplicate albums showing up in LMS.
    I think I'm being a bit dense - not sure I follow that completely. Would 'SQ' = the Vortexbox appliance?

    Quote Originally Posted by w3wilkes View Post
    If you're really using iThings you'll probable do the MP3's on either a MAC or a Win box where you can have iTunes to manage the content of the iDevice.

    Don't know what quality your current MP3's are so that may be a consideration as you're re-ripping your CD's. Unlike FLAC, the bitrate selected for your MP3's DOES affect quality. The highest bitrate MP3's are generally the best quality. My personal preference is VBR (Variable Bit Rate) using -v0 which is the highest quality. The thing I like about VBR is that things like silence / simple will be compressed to almost nothing as far as required bits to contain the music goes where the most complex parts of the music will use the highest bit rate to store the music. So you get the quality of a CBR 320 using less space where it is appropriate.
    I do use iThings! One in the car permanently, and hard-wired into the radio via the co-ax cable (It's a very 'old tech' car - in fact it's a 'no tech' car!) and a couple of others between myself and the kids. I use Mediamonkey to manage these as I just couldn't get along with iTunes at all. For the initial rips, I used EAC and LAME, and I think I set it to VBR, but it looks like it either didn't 'stick' over time, or the required bitrate for some of my music didn't need that level?? Maybe a misunderstanding on my part of how that works. It seems a few of them are 220kbps.

    Quote Originally Posted by w3wilkes View Post
    Have fun over the next few months as you go through the transition and make sure you pay close attention to your tagging! The tags are the most important things in having a well organized library.
    Yup. It's the tags alright. LMS seems picky on caps vs non-caps, and does things with album art I don't understand - the wrong picture showing up for a dozen or more different artists for example. This way, I feel like I'm addressing several issues with one workstream.

    Thanks for the reply!
    SB user since 2000...
    3 x Touch; 2 x Boom ; 4 x Classic; 1 x Controller
    Controlled by iPad using 'Squeezepad'
    Vortexbox/Nova appliance running LMS version 7.9

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
    If I were taking on this task, while re-ripping CDs to the Vortexbox I'd leave my existing configuration alone so I (and my family) could continue to enjoy it. (The last thing I'd want to be doing is a lot of tech support during this process!)
    that is what I was initially thinking. To be honest, no-one really engages with LMS and the SBs apart from me, but as the kids get older, that's likely to change - but if I do anything drastic, I'm as likely to be looking for tech support via this forum as anyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
    Vortexbox as a ripper will automatically fetch tags and can be configured to mirror your FLACs to MP3 as you create them. All your Vortexbox needs is access to power and your network. It doesn't really matter if you have LMS running on the Vortexbox; your Squeezeboxes will stay connected to your old server until such time as you force that change. When you've completed your re-rips, terminate/uninstall the old server, shut everything down (1. Squeezeboxes, 2. servers, 3. router, 4. cable modem), wire the Vortexbox to your router, and bring everything back up in the reverse order.
    Just a little confused by this: if the VB needs power and network access (presumably to the internet for database/album art etc) then wouldn't it have to be connected to the router the whole time? Probably I'm reading what you've written too literally..? But apart from that, it makes sense to me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
    One minor quibble with suggestion above regarding VBR -V0 for MP3: presumably you are maintaining MP3 copies so that you can copy them to your portable devices. These devices typically have limited storage space and are used in listening situations where ultimate fidelity is less of a concern. Using VBR -V2 (~190kbps) or even -V4 (~165kbps) will allow more content to be stored on your portables with little if any perceptual quality loss.

    More information:
    http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=LAME
    As I mentioned above, I think I'm already using VBR. The portable devices are all ipods, 8Gb, 30Gb I think. I have had to be a little selective in what goes on and what stays off, but it hasn't really been a big issue. However, I had been using VBR on the basis that these were my only copies of the music, and were being streamed to the SBs - now that 'restriction' will be lifted, I realise that I would be able to keep lesser bitrate MP3s and get more onto the devices.

    Thanks

    D
    SB user since 2000...
    3 x Touch; 2 x Boom ; 4 x Classic; 1 x Controller
    Controlled by iPad using 'Squeezepad'
    Vortexbox/Nova appliance running LMS version 7.9

  6. #6
    Senior Member Apesbrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    Just a little confused by this: if the VB needs power and network access (presumably to the internet for database/album art etc) then wouldn't it have to be connected to the router the whole time?
    While you're ripping the Vortexbox needs internet access but it can be wireless if that is more convenient for you. When you make it your "production" server, however, it needs to be wired to your router.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
    While you're ripping the Vortexbox needs internet access but it can be wireless if that is more convenient for you. When you make it your "production" server, however, it needs to be wired to your router.
    Of course! Homer Simpson moment there....Doh!

    Thanks

    D
    SB user since 2000...
    3 x Touch; 2 x Boom ; 4 x Classic; 1 x Controller
    Controlled by iPad using 'Squeezepad'
    Vortexbox/Nova appliance running LMS version 7.9

  8. #8
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    once using the vortexbox, and ripping to FLAC (I use compression = 5), you can also create an mp3 mirror of your flac files automatically on the vortexbox with a couple of mouse clicks on the VB GUI. I use mp3 for my portables and use lame -V2 (~192kbs) for my mp3 files. The VB is best connected via ethernet cable (either to the router or a switch that is connected to the router with ethernet. But your SB players can all be WIFI.
    Home: VBA 4TB (2.5)>LMS 7.9.2>Transporter, Touch, Boom, Radio (all ethernet)
    Cottage: VBA 3TB (2.4)>LMS 7.9.1>Touch>Benchmark DAC I, Boom, Radio w/Battery (ethernet, Radio WIFI)
    Office: Win10(64)>LMS 7.9.2>Squeezelite
    The Wild (no internet): PiCorePlayer 4.0 on rPi 3B+, hifiberry Dac+Pro, 4TB USB (LMS & Squeezelite)
    Controllers: iPhone6 & iPadAir2 (iPeng), CONTROLLER, or SqueezePlay 7.8 on Win10(64) laptop
    Files: ripping: dbpa > FLAC; post-rip: mp3tag, PerfectTunes; Streaming: Spotify

  9. #9
    Senior Member w3wilkes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    I haven't looked at this in any detail yet, but the issue must be the storage memory used and the bandwidth needed to play larger 'uncompressed' files? Less compression = more memory and more network traffic?
    That's it.

    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    There are three reasons why I was thinking about this: 1) (discussed elsewhere here) is to have a 'standalone' platform for LMS and the SB players, independent of family PC and it different users and tasks 2) to have a lossless version of the music and 3) because the tags are a bit of a mess. LMS doesn't seem very forgiving of tag discrepancies in the way that other programmes are. (but then I assume that, at heart, it's a 'server' rather than 'database' programme? I think this means I'll probably do as you suggest, and re-rip the MP3s.
    1. I also prefer an independent platform for the LMS server that is separate from the day to day use PC's. In my case I use a Windows Home Server box that also does backups of mine and my wife's daily use PC's (both are Win7 x64 laptops). However I also keep a full copy of the music library on both mine and my wife's PC along with workable LMS servers in the event my WHS fails and requires downtime for repairs. I also never want to have to rip my 1,300+ albums again!

    2. I intentionally chose MP3 VBR -v0 rather than FLAC. This was after much ringing of hands. In my own informal testing with friends and family no one I know has been able to tell the difference between FLAC and the highest bitrate MP3 ripped from the same source CD's. I also use MixMeister to maintain the BPM tag in all my files, I'm not aware of a program that does BPM analysis on non-MP3 files. I then have some "action" things in MP3Tag to round the BPM to whole integers so that LMS will scan this tag to the LMS database. I can then build SQL Playlists using the Erland pluggin to create playlists that also will filter on BPM. I have not found a platform that does not support playing MP3 where that is not the case with FLAC. This part is kind of like discussing religion and/or politics so I'll just leave it at that.

    3. Regardless of the format you use or the server software you use, the better the tags are the better your library is to use and manage.

    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    I think I'm being a bit dense - not sure I follow that completely. Would 'SQ' = the Vortexbox appliance?
    SQ is just the high level directory you would point LMS at for your library, it's short for Squeeze in my example. The separate MP3/<artist>... without the SQ/ prefix would be the final resting place for your MP3's after you've created the corresponding FLAC's. This directory would be unknown to LMS.

    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    I do use iThings! One in the car permanently, and hard-wired into the radio via the co-ax cable (It's a very 'old tech' car - in fact it's a 'no tech' car!) and a couple of others between myself and the kids. I use Mediamonkey to manage these as I just couldn't get along with iTunes at all. For the initial rips, I used EAC and LAME, and I think I set it to VBR, but it looks like it either didn't 'stick' over time, or the required bitrate for some of my music didn't need that level?? Maybe a misunderstanding on my part of how that works. It seems a few of them are 220kbps.
    It sounds like your VBR MP3 are ripped at a pretty high bitrate, probably -v2 or -v3. 220kbps is pretty high bit rate for VBR. For instance at -v0 for Led Zeppelin 1 I have bitrates between 250 and 280kbps. I was not aware that you could manage a iThing with anything other than iTunes, my wife has a CL Zen (which I think is Linux based), we both have Android phones and one Android tablet. Never had a iThing. EAC is probably the 2nd best ripper out there. Both EAC and DBP support Accurate rip so you know right off if your rip is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by donmacn View Post
    Yup. It's the tags alright. LMS seems picky on caps vs non-caps, and does things with album art I don't understand - the wrong picture showing up for a dozen or more different artists for example. This way, I feel like I'm addressing several issues with one workstream.
    Yes it is! If you get the tags right for LMS, it should take you to any future server with no trouble!
    Main system - Rock Solid with LMS 7.9.1 Official on WHS 2011 - 2 Duets and Squeeseslave
    Cabin system - Rock solid with LMS 7.9.1 Official on Win10 Pro - 1 RPi 3 Model B/Hifiberry DAC+ Pro/PiCorePlayer and Squeezeslave
    Headphones and car - Android phone/Bluetooth w/full library on MicroSD card - PowerAmp music player app (similar to Material Skin)

  10. #10
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    Guess I'd prefer to use LMS on the vortexbox as soon as possible instead of doing the switch after all CDs have been re-ripped. So I'd use the folder structure as suggested above and copy the old mp3 files into it. You could turn off the old LMS (but not uninstalling yet) and get used to the vortexbox.

    Each time you have done the re-ripping of a few CDs to flac & mp3 AND have manually fixed/updated tags & cover art, you can delete the old mp3s and use the new flacs and copy the new mp3s to the folder not known to LMS. I would use new mp3 files to have the same (main) tag data on flac and mp3.

    If you do the re-ripping on the vortexbox you should have a look to the /etc/ripit/config file, because you might want to adapt a few settings to your liking, e.g. 'dirtemplate' for the folder structure and 'tracktemplate' and 'underscore' for the file names.

    For the important manual 'post-process' step you need to decide, for example, whether you want to browse for artist by 'lastname, firstname' (needs additional ARTISTSORT tag) or simply use the artist name as it is. And if you want to make use of multiple artist names, you should check out the related threads here in the forum.

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