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Thread: Classical downloads: how to

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    Default Classical downloads: how to

    OK guys I am a bit of a CD dinosaur. I am thinking I should start moving into downloaded music. But the problem is - I have no idea where to get started.

    I have no intention of using iTunes or any Apple product. And please don't try to convince me otherwise.

    Does anybody have any recommendations for sites where I can purchase downloaded music?

    And does anybody have recommendations for software to organize the music which doesn't suck? The last time I looked, the software was horrible. It kept wanting to create seperate folders for BACH JS, BACH J.S., J.S. BACH, BACH JOHANN S, Johann Sebastian BACH, etc etc. Or worse, a compilation of music recorded by Horowitz would be broken up and filed under various composers.

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    You don't organize music in folders. It's organized within the player in a database structure so it can be sorted any way you want. Where the file is on the hard drive doesn't matter.

    If you try to use digital files as if they are CDs on a shelf, you're not going to like it. It's a totally different model, and you have to embrace it and use it for its own strengths.

    I have LPs and CDs. I resisted going to a digital file format for a long time too. But once I got past the learning curve of iTunes, I realized how powerful it is if you use it. I now have multiple iTunes libraries, each with a different genre of music, and I can quickly assemble playlists that collect a specific composer, musician or style of music... Or randomly play me things I haven't listened to in a long time, or my favorites... I can quickly assemble the same piece by ten different performers for comparison, or sort chronologically to see the development over time. All of this is easy with iTunes, but would take a lot of time digging through stacks of CDs.

    Go with the flow or stick to what you've got.

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, I do want to listen to my albums as if they are CD's on my shelves. If I have a copy of Bach's St Matthews Passion, I want to listen to it from start to finish. I have no need to break it up into "songs" to be played in any other manner other than sequentially.

    I have 3,000 CD's. Maybe more. I don't want a giant listing where I can see every track. It will take me forever to scroll from Alkan to Xenakis.

    So ... thanks for your contribution, but do you have any suggestions other than iTunes?
    Last edited by Amfibius; Apr-02-2012 at 20:32.

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    By the way, here is an example of what iTunes has done to my music library.

    This album comes on two CD's. I ripped both using iTunes. Notice how iTunes has interspersed track 1 of the first CD with track 1 of the second CD? It is impossible to listen to Brandenburg concerto No.1 from start to finish without being rudely dragged into Concerto No.5 (which was track 1 of the other CD). There is no obvious way for me to reorganize it, and that's how it was left on my iPod.

    Clipboard01.jpg

    Needless to say ... very frustrating.
    Last edited by Amfibius; Apr-02-2012 at 20:05.

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Just a tip for future organisation to avoid the above case:
    When you import an album with multiple CDs, just make sure you go to the 'get info' option of the disc before you import and fill in the relevant 'disc number'. Once imported, ITunes will then have Disc 2 after Disc 1 etc...
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfibius View Post
    Unfortunately, I do want to listen to my albums as if they are CD's on my shelves.
    The best way to do that is with CDs on your shelves! Don't do files at all.

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    Amfibius, i feel your pain. iTunes is crap. Get a real player like foobar2k. It looks kinda primitive at first, but you can quickly customize it however you want; it has a very fast interface and powerful features.

    About tagging, i used to spend literally hours organizing my audio files until i finally decided to simply organize them by folder structure... I use TagScanner when needed, but i don't keep any particular standard for tagging anymore; it fetches the info from the internet and i don't really worry about it.

    The only thing i need to organize are my folders. Very simple: Genre/Artist/Album. That way i can browse my music as if it were sitting on a shelf. Additionally, foobar has a quick search function that finds anything i want within milliseconds.

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    Thank you Philip ... I will download it later when I get home! I just realized I need a new HDD if I am going to fit 3,000 CD's in there. What format do you recommend?

    Also - where do people go to buy music?

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    It will take an incredible amount of time and effort to rip 3,000 CDs If you do it yourself, perhaps something like EAC would be appropriate, tagging/renaming them with TagScanner as mentioned above.

    3,000 CDs would weigh in at around 1TB of storage (lossless), which isn't actually that much by today's HDD standards.

    This essentially becomes an archiving job, so i would choose a lossless format like FLAC. However, if you do choose a lossy format (~300GB), i'd go with Nero AAC or LAME MP3.

    Someone else will have to guide you on where to download music, since most of my classical collection is also from physical CDs. The big ones are iTunes, Amazon for anything mainstream (lossy). I know some labels specialize in hi-res downloads.

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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    I would agree that iTunes sucks in my opinion. I don't like anything that creates a library for you actually. I think songbird is cute but I can't get into the library thing. I organize folders on my actual hard drive and just use winamp, a rather primitive player, to open up the directory and choose a file. I tag through winamp or use Mp3Tag. I like doing mine manually, but there is also a database search on there as well. I wonder what TagScanner is like. I could never switch from winamp, as I have the sound fine tuned with extra plugins to where I want it. Listening to music in other ways sounds so foreign to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnote11 View Post
    I would agree that iTunes sucks in my opinion. I don't like anything that creates a library for you actually. I think songbird is cute but I can't get into the library thing. I organize folders on my actual hard drive and just use winamp, a rather primitive player, to open up the directory and choose a file. I tag through winamp or use Mp3Tag. I like doing mine manually, but there is also a database search on there as well. I wonder what TagScanner is like. I could never switch from winamp, as I have the sound fine tuned with extra plugins to where I want it. Listening to music in other ways sounds so foreign to me.
    I've used Winamp before, for many years. I tried foobar, didn't like it, went back to Winamp. Eventually i got tired of the frequent updates, always having to choose the "free" version, the slow-ish interface (still way better than iTunes), the size of the software itself, unwanted extras, etc. All pretty minor gripes... but when i finally figured out how to make the foobar GUI similar enough to Winamp, i never looked back.

    I don't remember Winamp being able to display by folder structure, but foobar did it out-of-the-box; that's when i stopped wasting my time endlessly tagging to whatever arbitrary format for no actual reason other than being able to display my files in my player.

    Mp3tag is basically equivalent to TagScanner, i think.

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    Philip I thought that it would be an incredible amount of time and effort to rip 1,000 CD's ... back when my collection was only 1,000 CD's large! But then I realize that my CD collection is like my age. I'm not going to get any younger, just like my CD collection is not going to get any smaller. I better do it now otherwise my collection will hit 6,000 and I still won't have any of them ripped

    I like the idea of organizing the folders myself in directories, and using foobar to navigate. That way, my HDD will be organized the way I like it.

    Another question, if I may - does foobar or EAC automatically recognize the disc, label the tracks, and download album art for it?

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    These responses make me very pessimistic that any of the products described can meet any of Amfibius's basic needs. From what I've seen, the problem lies with Bigshot's observation: "[The music] is organized within the player in a database structure". Maybe, but the database structure is wrong/inadequate. I know from my experience in IT that getting the data analysis wrong means it is then impossible to handle data in the ways that are needed. Clearly, the industry is run by people ignorant and uncaring of classical music who think that all CDs consist of nothing more than a sequence of "songs".

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    EAC can fetch info from freedb or read CD-text from the disc if your CD-Drive is capable of reading it. TagScanner (or Mp3tag) may do a better job, though, it can also get album art from Amazon i think.

    I usually do album art myself by downloading it (or scan), then rename the file to "folder.jpg" and place it in the directory, instead of embedding the picture to every single file.

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    Senior Member tgtr0660's Avatar
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    There is a program much better than iTunes and much better than any other at keeping your music perfectly catalogued and in order and ready to use. It's called "Get out of your chair and organize all your cds once and for all". You get better audio quality (unless you're paying for 96/24, and even in that case I've read different opinions), you get more of a true collection (at least I hate files on a hard drive) and you get to do some work.

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