Background Principles to Creating a Good Digital Music Management System

So, in summary, what is a good combination for a good Digital Music Management System (DMMS)?

  1. Conversion of all music sources (CDs, DVDs, tapes and vinyl) to MP3s at a minimum of 192kbps min using CDex, taking special care to ensure the correct ID3 information is added at the time of ripping.
  2. Storage of all MP3s in a basic Windows folder hierarchy under a single MUSIC folder on a designated server PC in a networked environment.
  3. Use of iTunes as the main jukebox application on each of the networked PCs for independent music playback as required.
  4. Use of networked digital music players (e.g. Roku Soundbridge) to access the central music library through a hi-fi system without requiring a local PC
  5. Use of iPods for music on the move; mainly the Shuffle model for putting about 12 hours of music in my shirt pocket, or a larger capacity MP3 player (40GB iPod in my case) for those longer business or holiday trips.

The advantage of this DMMS is that it can be initially built from your existing music collection with little or no additional cost outlay, assuming you already have a decent PC with sufficient storage space on your hard drive. Another advantage is that it can be developed gradually as needs expand or funds permit. A typical project plan might be something like this:

Base System:

  • Convert existing music collection to MP3 files using CDex
  • Use iTunes on PC to organise and play music
    • Cost = zero.

Expansion possibilities:

  • Add iTunes to each PC on the network (if applicable) to enable all PCs to independently access the central music library as required
    • Cost = zero.
  • Add a networked digital music player for Hi-Fi playback without local PC
    • Cost = at time of writing, about £150 for Roku Soundbridge M1000
    • Other networked players are available (wired or wi-fi) for less
  • Add mobile capability using iPod or similar digital music player
    • Cost = at time of writing from about £59 for iPod Shuffle
    • Many other MP3 players available

As noted earlier in this article, I’m not claiming that the DMMS described here is the only possible scheme for creating, managing and listening to your digital music collection, but it has passed the test of time for me and my family; it’s easy, it’s open and, most importantly, it works. Happy listening!

About the author

This article was written by PCTechGuide forum member and regular contributor, FlyFisher. He has worked in the computing and electronics industry for over 25 years and has designed hardware, written software, served as technical consultant on multi-million pound IT projects, managed product development groups, been appointed Chief Engineer and, most recently, the European Managing Director of a NASDAQ-listed technology company. His professional career involvement with multimedia technologies has fed his current interest in digital video techniques and he never ceases to be amazed that he can now edit high quality digital video on a home PC with over 1TB of HDD storage, considering his first ‘PC’ was an Apple II microcomputer with a compact cassette recorder for program storage because a floppy disk drive was far too expensive at the time! As well as having an enduring interest in all things technological, the author is also an active sailor, a qualified scuba diver and, of course, an avid fly-fisherman.

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