The value of libraries

January 19, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

The value of a library can easily be measured with only two metrics: its quality content and easy access. If you have 1,000 treasured record albums but cannot figure out where any of the best titles are located it has a lot less value than an organized version.

As we work on our upcoming music server, Octave, one of the keys to its success will be its metadata and what we do with it. A massive stored and streaming music library approaching 1 million tracks isn’t of interest if you cannot easily and joyfully find and play what you’re looking for.

Equally important is how that media sounds. Even the best maintained library isn’t of much value if its content isn’t what you’re interested in or the playback isn’t as good or better than what’s on your discs or vinyl LPs.

Ultimately the value of a library is the same as what attracts us to a great restaurant: easy access to the best there is.

We’re getting closer by the day to launching Octave but don’t hold your breath. While we’re still on for 2019 I predict the days will need to get a lot warmer before she peeks her gorgeous head out into the world.

Can’t wait.

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31 comments on “The value of libraries”

      1. Roon is a program requiring a computer and that’s not what we’re aiming for. Certainly if one wants to have a computer in the room or the equipment mix then buying a Nuc or Mac Mini and putting Roon on it (and a monitor and keyboard and mouse) is a good way to go.

        I have never been a fan of how Roon sounds. Its interface is a real joy to use and that’s what it has going for it.

        We hope to have an equally joyful interface but eliminate the need for a computer and fix the sound quality issues Roon has.

        1. I use HQ Player with Roon. HQ is the audio engine, Roon is the front end. Sounds significantly better. I don’t do any upsampling, it just sounds better (although I gather most HQ users upsample.) Also, using LInux instead of Windows is a vast upgrade.

          Also, Roon has its issues with cover art — it misses a significant fraction of the art, which can be seen when the same library is viewed in JRiver.

    1. Roger Waters writes “there is no dark side in the moon, really?
      As a matter of fact, it’s all dark”

      A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in syzygy), with Earth between the other two. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth completely blocks direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. (wiki)

  1. My first server/streamer was noisy with rubbish software, my second was quiet with OK software (they both ripped CDs), my third one was truly excellent with quality reclocking, although occasionally needed to be rebooted. My current one is the baby brother of the previous one and acts as a network server and streamer. The current price new is £450 ($550), but it was £350 ($350) when first released. Like others, I’ve added an external psu (£200) and put a 1TB SSD drive inside it. As Paul indicates, it is all about software, not just proprietary file management, but also being able to run streaming platforms onboard and be able to update them. Then you need good server software. Every system I’ve used has some weakness. The dCS Bridge does not have Qobuz on board, nor does my Devialet Core Infinity streamer card, although it is promised. Auralic Lightning/Server only has an iOS app. Linn’s OSX platform for years did not have a search engine. One thing seems to be universal is that beta testing and updates are a never-ending and often painful process. The good ones now spread the cost by sharing the same platform over a range of products (e.g. Bluesound, Naim, Auralic), whether it is a desktop player or a state of the art streamer. Devialet went very wrong on this and are currently rebuilding a single operating system and streaming platform for all their products. Owners wait in hope.

  2. I just had a PC made for me by my good friend who makes his own line of stereo equipment. I was using a MacBook Pro & Mac Mini. It stomps my MacBook or Mac Mini (running any of the 5 playing softwares I have loaded on my Mac) by a wide margin. He had me order specific parts, some from Newegg and some from ElFidelity (China on eBay). He has learned a lot through experimentation, and has the background of improving each individual part over time. It’s a never ending journey as tech improvements are happening at a rapid pace. I plan on keeping up with his “latest build” as it evolves. The music server is the only component I will not buy from an audio company, due to the pace of technological advance and flexibility to changing software/hardware to take advantage of it.

    1. The only audiophile servers I know are Melco, a brand of Buffalo, Inc, so they are coming from the computing hardware business. Most people here use QNAP or Synology. Auralic Lightning Server software turns a regular usb drive into a server. The drive has to be connected to one of their streamers by usb or can be slotted into the base of the Aries Mini. The fact that it is (a) free (b) idiot-proof (c) works perfectly (d) cable-free and (e) is transparent with their streaming software (e.g. drop in a file, it will update the index automatically and immediately) makes it a no-brainier. I have a QNAP at home, but prefer to use an Aries Mini Lightning Server.

  3. Hey Paul..
    Getting any closer on Vinyl database program?
    I seem to remember you guys were working on a Program to catalog all your vinyl and be able to search it?
    Thanks for all you do..
    Ken Redmond The Dog

        1. As with all software I am sure it’s not perfect, but the company provides regular updates, communicates well what they are trying to do and what updates attempt to accomplish (hmmm, that sounds a lot like PS Audio’s mindset as well!!). I am not sure what their database source is, but, when I first got the trial I purposefully input some of my most obscure albums, even a local LP release from my old home town advertising a bank branch opening, and it populated the data even with the cover art! I was sold at that point. My collection is just shy of 1,700 LPs as reference.

          1. Okay Larry, I’m sold! I definitely need this software as my LP and CD collection is getting overwhelming after forty years of collecting. I’m hoping Paul et al include CD ripping capability too as in the New Aurrender NCS 10 Unit. Very tempted to purchase but waiting to see what PS Audio will offer to compliment my Direct Stream components.

              1. To be clear, Octave will not natively RIP CDs because it won’t have a disc player/ripper internal to it. That’ll be the job of the new DMP.

                However, Octave server will have a USB port and easy setup to accept an external USB DVD drive (cheap) and from there you can rip away.

  4. Paul- how would I rip my 300+ SACD collection onto your server hard drive ? Do I have to play each disc right through on my Oppo 205 to download? Will I need a backup external hard drive? Also, will the server have an HDMI input like my DAC to receive the PCM / DSD signal?

    1. You could rip from your computer, but if you want to do it from the Octave Server directly, we will make a USB port available so you can attach a USB disc reader and do it that way.

      The ultimate way to do it, the way I will do it, is through the upcoming new Memory Player. That will have a killer ripping engine inside and if you have the pair (Memory Player and Octave server) it will be automatic.

  5. Library of Music?

    Ubuntu Linux makes this so very easy. It provides a “search” function on your database. Then Audacious is a small-footprint and open source software package to play the selected tracks. It uses 1% of the resources of the computer. Pretty efficient with an ALSA plug-in.

    Sure it doesn’t have a ton of features, nor does it come with a huge price tag… But it works flawlessly on a RasPi endpoint with a SPDIF transport feeding the Sprout100 with a Toslink.

    I have tried complex, and I have tried expensive…and in the end, I have chosen cheap and easy.

  6. Except for the hard drive in the Octave server, Bridge III will be Octave based, use the same interface, and serve the same function inside the DAC. All you need is external storage like a NAS or simply stream from Qobuz or Tidal.

  7. I am so happy to hear about the future music server, Octave. I am in the market for a music server and I was either going to pair it with my Marantz AV7703 Pre Amp or a separate DAC. I will now wait till the Octave is available.
    I do not know how I will use the server. I will need it to have analogue out, digital out, usb out, and Ethernet in and out. I hope It will not come with a DAC, but have adequate storage capabilities, 1 tb or more.
    I will want to use it with the DAC in the 7703, which is quite good, or go through a separate DAC. If I choose the additional DAC, I will choose between The Directstream DAC or the DirectStream Junior DAC. I do not know how I will be able to decide. I will select based on which one sounds best but I do not know how to make this decision.
    Any Ideas?

      1. Paul,
        Thanks for the reply. I knew that the DS would be better, based on reviews. I have average ears for someone my age, 70, and I wonder if these ears (I do not hear above 12000) can tell the difference. I think you and I were born in the same year, 1948, but your ears or your brain has been trained to hear the difference. I also know that no one can actually say what I can or can not hear; only I can. What can I do to ascertain that I could actually notice the difference , without actually purchasing the 2 DACs to compare, since no one in Oklahoma sells your equipment? Is there a way to train my listening acuity?

        1. I suppose there must be but at the end of the day if you don’t hear the differences I am not clear if it would be of value to spend the extra money.

          Much depends on the system, in my experience. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you came here and we did the demo you’d hear the difference. It’s plain to even untrained ears.

          If you do get the itch contact us and take a DS home for a month and see. We make it pretty easy directly from here. We pay shipping costs both ways and give you 100% of the original retail for your older equipment should that wind up working for you.

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