Monday, July 14, 2008

Music Filing: CDs or MP3s?

Saturday morning was devoted to filing. And since I've been on the road or otherwise occupied the past few weekends, it was more horrendous than usual. The CDs pile up in the den, and eventually the piles become so obtrusive that I have to deal with them. And so I turn into a cataloguing fiend, shuffling between several rooms in the house, on three different floors, all in a vain attempt to provide order to my universe. All those CDs have to be stored, in alphabetical order. That's the only way I'll ever be able to find anything. But it's more and more of a pain.

There are the usual filing dilemmas (Jethro Tull: J or T?). But beyond that, there's the sheer, numbing mathematical need to figure out how to make the best use of the storage space. This involves counting. I hate counting. There are the big bookshelves in the den. There are smaller shelves upstairs. There are the forty or so big plastic bins in the basement. All of them are more or less full of music, and the CDs have to be moved around from floor to floor, from shelf to bin, or bin to shelf, in order to accommodate the batch of new arrivals. And so I count. Shift four CDs from Bin 17 to Bin 18 to make room for the four new "L" CDs. But then Bin 18 is too full, so shift CDs from Bin 18 to Bin 19. Except Bin 18 needs to accommodate several new arrivals as well. Etc. Etc. You can see how jolly of a time this is.

Kate's solution: Throw a bunch of music away. Get rid of it, at least what you don't like. And she's right. The time has come, although it grieves me.

In the meantime, I spent several more leisurely hours (thank God I can read when I do this) burning CDs to iTunes, and then transferring files to the new 160 GB iPod. The iPod is tiny. It takes up hardly any space at all. But it still takes forever to burn those CDs to iTunes. I've been at it, in fits and starts, for more than a month, ever since I got the new iPod. I'm still on the Ds, and I still have months to go if I stay disciplined. And I don't know if it's worth staying disciplined. The music still sounds tinny, regardless of whether it's played through those stinking earbuds or the Altec-Lansing iPod Player. Only my big honkin' KEF speakers sound good. And I can only played LPs or CDs through them. And the LPs and CDs take up way too much room.

I love music. I hate music.

5 comments:

Mark said...

Andy... there is an option which will give you the best of both worlds... RIP your music in some loseless form such as FLAC or ALAC and play those. Then you can box up all your CDs and put them in the basement.

A $2 cable from your iPod to your NAD's aux input will give you sound quality which should equal your CD player and let you listen using your speakers. The downside is that your ipod can only hold a small bit of your collection. There are several digital audio USB units which could connect your iMac to your stereo letting you use your full iTunes collection on your stereo with good audio quality. I didn't explore this option in great detail... but there should be something decent in the $75-150 range. There are also several wireless boxes which let you bridge between your computer and stereo. We have been using a Squeezebox 3 for several years and feel that it has been very much worth the $300 price for easy access to all our music at a good audio quality.

Yes... RIPPING all the CDs was a pain, but it was pretty mindless. Whenever I had a bit of time I would feed in a CD. One before my shower, another on the way to breakfast, another before I went out the door to work, etc. I also took several weekends where I was a bit more focused. I sat down next to the computer with a stack of CDs and worked my way through them. Meanwhile I would read a fun but light book, watch TV, or engage in some activity that wouldn't suffer too much from periodic the interruptions of feeding CDs into a drive. The benefit is that all our music is now easily findable and playable. I really like listening to "random" tracks because I rediscover things that I forgot I have. Of course random sometimes drives Libby crazy because sometimes it will jump from Judy Collins to the Sex Pistols or play a track from John Zorn's Naked City.

I wrote up some notes about driving a stereo from a computer.

Oh... you might also consider trying some different ear buds. While not cheap, I found that ear buds from etymotic didn't make me grind my teeth like I did using the Apple provided ear buds

mg said...

i feel your pain and have been there myself. only i'm sure my collection is probably 1/100th the size of yours. i made the switch to digital format a year ago and never looked back. although i miss the packaging (and filing to some extent), cds do take up a lot of space...

good luck.

Gar said...

you should sell your discards online. might make more money that way, though then you have to go to the post office.....

just a thought. I am having the same dilemma right now as well. Just feels like it's time to lessen the cd load....

best of luck on that one.

Grant Wentzel said...

I just carefully packed up my CDs for the trip to Sioux Falls. I had to make sure they were properly organized and stowed as they might not make it back on the shelf. Weird to think that something I spent so much time amassing is growing out of date.

nancy (aka money coach) said...

lol. 3 words re: burning cds to iTunes: Hire A Student.
Give yourself a break, already :)