A post from 6.5 years ago (holy crap!) has come back to haunt me. In the post, I was lamenting how I had taken a week to rip my entire CD collection to a lossless format, but then I didn’t have enough space to store it on my Zune. I faintly remember the day I took the drastic step and deleted it all, keeping my standard-quality MP3 rips.
I’ve had a renewed interest in music again, and I was thinking about re-ripping my CDs. Some of my rips have to be ancient, using imperfect encoding algorithms. I’ve read a lot of advice lately and some of it I initially ignored, but now it’s starting to sink in. I realize that I wasn’t thinking ahead before I started that forever-ago ripping process, and I wasn’t thinking ahead after the ripping either.
The first piece of advice that I shrugged off as dumb is proving to be the most important: Always rip to a lossless format. Yeah, I did that. It gave me a library too large to sync. Dumbass, you transcode lower-bitrate versions for your portable devices from the lossless versions. Well, that’s stupid, then I have two copies on my hard drive taking up space. No you don’t. The low-bitrate versions only exist on your portable device.
(Insert lightbulb moment here)
In fact, the Zune software will do this for me completely automatically. I just never gave it any consideration. My thoughts were that I should have the highest resolution copies that the Zune could support on my hard drive. Why would I ever need more if the device couldn’t handle it? It’s a damn computer. That’s the device that will. Why, for any reason, should I limit my desktop to anything but the highest possible quality? Now most people will rip lossless copies, then store or dispose of the physical media, but for many reasons, I won’t be doing that.
I’ve always told myself: I always have the physical versions, so I can re-rip them whenever I need a higher-quality version. But, not thinking ahead, if I rip them at the highest quality possible, then make lower-quality versions as needed, I never have to rip again.
So, it looks like I’m going to have to start another round of lossless ripping, including a full round of metadata cleanup. But it’s not so bad. Encoding has become way more accurate, drive space has become plentiful, and CPU power has gotten insanely fast. Over six years ago!
Oh, and also, I did decide to get a new hard drive for my old Zune 30. It will be getting a 120gb replacement drive, so I should be able to hold my full collection at a better bitrate than what I currently have, even if it turns out to not be lossless.