I’ve previously blogged about my migration from Windows to OSX. A problem I have found, is that OSX is not really the best environment for how I prefer to organise my music collection. It seems that the software just isn’t quite right, however, first, an explanation of my setup.
To keep my music safe, and to save on my desktop hard drive space, all my music is copied from my CDs to my storage server (which runs Solaris). This is because Solaris has ZFS, which is an absolutely brilliant filesystem. Nothing else offered is as easy, nor as mature as the ZFS filesystem. For example, I had recently needed to upgrade my storage.
Normally something like this would involve backing the data somewhere else, installing the new drives, and copying the data back again. This approach has always been a little problematic, especially with larger and larger harddrives. However, with ZFS upgrading harddrives becomes an easy and safe operation.
Since I was more interested in keeping my data secure, I decided to go with a four drive mirrored zpool: Two 1GB drives, and two 500GB drives, for a total of 1.5TB. Such a configuration is not really about maximising drive space, since you only get half the actual space of the drives. However, it allows me to survive two drive failures (as long as both drives that fail aren’t the paired ones), and also means that if I want to upgrade the space, I need only replace two drives.
So, I needed to upgrade my storage, so how did I do this with ZFS? Basically I bought two 2GB drives, and first replaced one of the 500GB drives and booted. Then all I had to do was run the ‘zpool replace’ command (with the correct arguments of course), wait for the drive to re-silver, shutdown, replace the other 500GB hard drive, again ‘zpool replace’.
Once the re-silver there has finished, it’s a matter of ‘zpool autoexpand=on storage’ and I now have 3TB of storage space. The advantage of a mirrored ZFS config like this, means it’s much easier to expand in the future. No mucking about copying data from one place to the other (while also worrying that it may get corrupted in the transfer).
First off, I use dbPowerAmp for ripping my CDs, since this is a very nice ripper, I don’t plan on changing it any time soon. So I will still have to boot into Windows to use it.
I organise my music files in a particular way, just because I find it easier to keep track of them. There is never one true way, but this is how I do it:
Music/Artist/Album/Disc <disc>/<track> - <track name>.m4a
Music that is only on one disc skips creating a “Disc 1″ directory.
Now this isn’t all done by hand, what I actually do (ensuring that anything I rip has the correct tag information) is use the best player on Windows (actually the best player on any operating system) Foobar. With the file operations module installed (an option when you install it), you can write a little bit of code so it will correctly move/copy files based off the tag information.
The one I currently use is:
$if(%tracknumber%,$if2($trim(%album artist%),Unknown Artist)/$if(%album%,$ifgreater(%totaldiscs%,1,$trim(%album%/Disc %discnumber%),$trim(%album%)),Unknown Album)/$trim(%tracknumber% - %title%),%album artist%/%title%)
However, I still need to refine it.
Next, I need to make sure that I have album art, and soundcheck data for the tracks. Now iTunes will calculate soundcheck data for tracks, however it’s all based on a per-track basis, which really sounds horrible if you’re listening to a continuous mix album. What you really need, is album level replaygain.
Again, foobar to the rescue, the replaygain functions of foobar will allow you to calculate the album replaygain. Unfortunately, iTunes doesn’t support replaygain, so I have to use mp3tag to convert the album replaygain data into iTunes soundcheck format.
This is further complicated by the fact that soundcheck data is stored differently if it’s a MP3 file, or an AAC/ALAC file. Luckly you just need to create an action, and add the two following rules:
Format value: COMMENT ITUNNORM
Format value: ITUNNORM
Into dance music? Then check out the website of Australia’s leading pedantic key mixer. He’s just setup a new site http://www.bouncintigger.com/ which he’ll be uploading all his mixes. One I’m listening to right now is his tribute to Northern Exposure. If you’re into the progressive genre it’s brilliant.