The Big Rip Part 1

25 Aug 2007|Lee Shupp

I am beginning the Big Rip. That’s right, I’m ripping all of my CD’s and selling them. All of them. I love the convenience that digital media offers, and I’m tired of the clutter and confusion of CDs. As a musician and dedicated music fan, I literally have thousands of CDs scattered all over my house. I have CDs in my living room, bedroom, studio, car, and all points in between. I have no idea how many CDs I own. I’m tired of digging thru stacks of CDs in diffferent locations to find that obscure Hound Dog CD that I’m suddenly in the mood for. I realized that what I have is a big database problem, and that I can pretty easily have all of my music available wherever and whenever I want it.

Before you laugh at this megageek project, think about the big database problem that you have, or will have soon…

Your PC’s hard drive, which was SO big when you bought it, is rapidly filling up as you add digital media. All those mp3s, photos, and YouTube videos are slowly, insidiously consuming your hard drive capacity. To make matters even messier, I’ll bet you have more than one PC by now, and your stuff is getting spread around on multiple PCs. It’s getting harder to find the stuff you want, isn’t it?

To add an extra element of danger, most people don’t back up their PCs, so all those hours of ripping and scanning can be lost in an instant. When was the last time you backed up your media? Hard to do with it spread all over the place, isn’t it? Now do you see the problem?

The first step was figuring out the best infrastructure to meet my goals. I first thought I’d get a media server, but I didn’t find anything ready for prime time. All of the options I checked out were expensive and complex. I was looking for simplicity, not rocket science. So I finally decided to add a network hard drive, which could store all of my media and make it available to any PC on my network. I bought a 500 Gig LaCie, and another 500 Gig Fantom hard drive to back up the LaCie. Then I upgraded my network to Wireless N, which gave me bandwidth to send audio around my house. The Wireless N worked flawlessly as I tested it, playing Princely funk on a laptop upstairs as the audio streamed wirelessly from the network hard drive downstairs. I had infrastructure in place and was ready to go.

Now I’m starting the Big Rip. I made a difficult decision at the outset, which was to re-rip everything to 256 Kbps mp3 format. This is mainly due to the fact that I’m supporting multiple mp3 players: an iPod, a Zune, a Zen, and a Dell Digital DJ. (You can laugh at the Dell DJ, because I’m one of 3 people in the country who bought one, but that tough little brick has outlasted 3 iPods.) I currently have two (almost) parallel libraries, one in 128 Kbps wma, and one in 128 Kbps acc format. It’s silly to have two libraries at low resolution, so I’m building a third one that works across formats. I’ll start by ripping new stuff, then eventually re-rip the stuff that matters that currently exists at low res. Short term pain for long term gain. And yes, I can hear a (minute but nuanced) difference between 128 and 256 Kbps. If you’re not a musician you’re not likely to notice a difference, so your 128 Kbps mp3s are just fine.

This is probably evidence that I am certifiably insane, but I care a lot about music and want my entire library online. My plan is to start with the roots music that I work with as a musician, then rip the catalog rock stuff, then the world music, then the jazz, and last the vocal and dance music that my wife likes. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes, so that if you undertake anything this crazy you can learn from my mistakes.

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