Has iTunes, etc. impacted your listening habits?

Long before there was MP3, or at least long before I knew about it, my only real choice for music was to pick a disc out of the collection, throw it into my player of choice at that moment, and press play. Want to hear something else? Take the old disc out, put in the new one, etc.

But since I've burned my entire collection (minus non-hybrid SACDs) into my computer, I find it's just so damned EASY to press play and hear it through the mediocre desktop system. No changing discs, file through every range of song, artist, genre, etc.

Now, I don't have those lovely audiophile listening sessions on the big rig quite as often. And when I do, I'm listening to those non-hybrid SACDs that aren't on the computer.

Solution? Upgrades, baby! Get that main system back to where it's just so thoroughly compelling that the little ol' Dell just won't cut it any more.

I suppose I could have invested in wireless solutions to beam those wireless tracks to the big rig, but somehow I'm not covinced that it's a fully matured tachnology/too expensive right now/limited capability/I can't totally give up the 5 1/4" discs/whatever the hell else I'm worried about.

Has anyone else had their listening habits impacted by the MP3/iTunes revolution?

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I've never listened to as much music in my life as I do now with my computer system. it's changed everything. I can never go back.

What format did you rip the cds in? If you ripped in a lossless format you shouldn't have to decide between the 'big rig' and your computer. Use your computer as a cdp and get an external dac and you're set.

Right now I have a MacBook Pro with an external G-tech hard drive full of 700 cds connected to an Airport extreme for wireless connection. My computer has just one USB cable that goes to my Empirical Off Ramp Turbo (I2S) into my Empirical Audio modified Benchmark Dac-1 into a Cary 300SEI integrated to Sennheiser 60s and I'm in heaven. So simple. No cds all over the floor. I'm happy.

I'm not a technophobe either. I build my own computers and have a nice setup for computer audio.

I just can't see spending money on low resolution audio. Even if I was interested in playing audio on my computer, I would buy the CD and rip it to flac. If an LP is available, I will go for that first.
My question to all who have so called ripped your cds to a pc system, are you getting rid of your software after you have performed this ritual,or are you holding on to your cds in case of lost files because of a possible crash.
schipo, i'm holding onto the cds in case of who know what...but as far as a computer crash, not worried about it. I have a spare hard drive back up. hard drives are cheap these days. i keep other stuff backed up on it as well
And the sound quality would you say it was up to par compared to your existing cd and sacd players,or is it just a convienance?
I listen to a lot more music at the gym, travel, etc, because it's so easy to rip cds with iTunes and sync to my iPod. I still don't use it at home though. But, this may be temporary.

I just came from the Head-Fi convention in San Jose, and what I saw there (in addition to trying out the best new in-ear cans!) lead me to believe that computer-based music is the future. Lot's of energy is going into high quality external DAC's and means to get the bits out of iTunes into that DAC.

Then I went to the Apple Store and low and behold, there is the new Apple TV capturing music and movies wirelessly from a computer to a a TV....

Like the initiator of this thread suggests - it is so damn easy to change albums, build playlists, etc... It's a revolution.

The next medium for music is the hard disk.

It's most definitely affected my listening habits. I listen to a greater variety of music, more often. Having over 700 CD's at my fingertips is a no-brainer. I've also got into the habit of using the "PartyShuffle" feature of iTunes--mostly for casual listening. I've found that feature often will remind me of forgotten music that I very much enjoy. As Kublakhan states; if you've ripped to a lossless format and have a decent way to feed your big rig with the info, there is absolutely no reason to listen any other way that I can imagine, unless you prefer the sound of vinyl. I cannot hear the difference between the silver discs and hard-drive based music, on my rig. At least not a difference that would cause me to consistently choose one over the other based on sonics. I'm going through a Waveterminal U24 to a Muse 2+ DAC. Comparing that to a Modwright Sony 9000ES playing my discs. Have also fed the same DAC from the player and compared that to a hard-drive feed. No profound differences, and at times I'd swear the hard-drive was a bit better at PRAT. I don't do downloaded music. I do keep my software, except for the stuff I would not miss if it were gone for good. Besides being required by copyright laws, it also is an added piece of mind in the unlikely event of double failure of main and backup files.

Schipo, i agree with jax2. I used this setup with devore gibbon super 8
speakers and the sound was amazing. I don't think there's any difference in
sound quality between a hard drive system and an expensive cd transport.
Gordon Rankin of wavelength audio (who sells amps that cost tens of
thousands of dollars) has stated a properly set up computer system rivals
$10k cd transports. i'm not saying his word is the final say, but he's an
expert who has a reputation to worry about and he's a believer. It's the DAC
that becomes an issue once you set up your computer.

don't pay any attention to people who haven't heard both setups. it's a knee
jerk reaction to say a computer-as-transport sounds like crap.

...but frankly, even if the sound were a bit worse on a computer based
system, there's no way (even as an audiophile) i would ever go back to
spinning cds.

That said, i still haven't heard a digital system that beat an excellent vinyl rig
for true sonic bliss...although SACD rigs come very close. That's the only real
downfall to computer based systems...you can't rip sacd's...yet.
Has anyone else had their listening habits impacted by the MP3/iTunes revolution?

No impact here at all.
Huge impact.

I quit seriously listening to music in the 70s. Since getting into iTunes, I have tripled my CD collection over the past three years - now I pick and choose from 1,500 CDs. Obviously ease of access is unbelievable. But there are other perhaps lerss tangible benefits too: for instance I no longer have to dedicate entire walls of my room to storing the CDs, I now have one library that supports multiple rooms instead of having CDs scattered all over the house, and I can also support my iPod which means my entire library is available on my trips, my boat etc

I believe (and perception is everything) that I am having an equivalent or perhaps superior audiophile experience for less money with greater convenience. What's not to like???

Think about it - what was the alternative? A CD changer or a CD jukebox? Totally inferior in every regard and a technological dead end.

This is a train that has already left the station and is rolling down the tracks at full speed. I am mindful and respectful of the fact that many readers and posters are not terribly computer literate, and that it is difficult for them to deal with this new technology. I also understand that a very small percentage - those with Wadia and better gear are legitimately concerned about maintaing the quality they have spent so much to achieve.

But what everyone else is hanging on to is frankly a mystery to me. It's not the second coming - it's just an easier way to get a superior result.
1800+ CD's ripped in lossless and counting. I have an external DAC hooked up to my PC (near silent} which drives a pair of mono's and some ERA Design4 speakers with a small subwoofer. I do 90% of my listening at the computer these days. When I get the urge to listen on the big rig it's through a Bolder modified Squeezebox2 with the ultimate power supply. The SB2 is sooo good that I dumped my reference SACD/CD player. I use a WiFi PDA to control the SB2 and select tracks/CD's. Also, I can carry the PDA with me when I'm listening through the whole house system.

It's so convenient to have you entire collection at your finger tips. You find yourself listening to things that you normally wouldn't. And, it's great to put it in shuffle mode when working around the house. I'll never go back to a single CD player.

Yes, I do keep the CD's as a backup.
I have listened to music on a decent-to-good rig for as long as I can remember, save about 10 years when my kids were young, money was short and I had very little time. So, iTunes / computer-based servers hasn't changed the fact that I listen a lot, but it definitely has changed the way I listen.

I love the spontaneity of a song just "coming on", and putting a music server on random play does just that. It is easy to filter the possible songs down to the mood of the moment. It's also easy to find a specific album or artist. I haven't taken it this far, yet, but all the talk of liner notes on albums always makes me think about all the information that can be linked to the music - cover art, reviews, descriptions, song listings - basically anything you could want to know. Put it up on a TV, a computer monitor, a handheld remote.

I believe it is pretty easy to set up, and I think there are few, if any, sonic penalties to such a setup, assuming an excellent DAC. As others have said, you get rid of walls of CD racks, which you may or may not find desirable.

I still have racks of CDs, but don't keep anywhere near my whole collection "on display". I have CD binders of CDs I would likely never listen to standalone. As somebody else said, HD space is cheap, so when I buy one 500Gb HD, I buy two, and always keep a backup.

It is cheaper, more functional and more flexible. If I'm giving up a smidgeon of absolute sound quality, and I'm not convinced I am, it is easily worth it.
yes thats why you need to invest in a music server such as the cambridge audio. has an audiophile cd playre uses wolfson dacs and is a great choice when you cant get you ass off the couch
iTunes in combination with an AirPort Express definitely made things easy to enjoy my computer music collection. It made things so easy that I upgraded to a Squeezebox 3 and purchased a DAC for my Squeezebox and CD-Transport. I actually listen to my computer music collection on my 500GB HD about 75% of the time.

Serious listening of course is through my CEC transport but the computer certainly makes things easy to assemble a playlist and enjoy..


Not a iTunes guy, but Pc audio in general has impacted my listening for the better! Others have already stated why..no need to go there. Sound wise ..unless the setup isn't ideal. It's hard for me to understand why anyone would think HD music would be inferior to spinning a disc..I simply do not hear it..if anything HD music sounds better IME. I like that fact you can change the sound on the fly with equalization or just by changing dacs.
To the original poster -- the answer isn't upgrades to "the big rig". It's connecting your computer to the big rig. Look at the squeezebox, for example. And start ripping in a lossless format, if you aren't already!
Yep, the iTunes thing has affected me. We have one iMac at work that has over 12,000 songs on it in every genre except classical. We have it connected to a network shared with everyone in the Fine Arts visual arts dept. at the university where I work. We all trade & share music and turn each other on to new stuff. Everyone has had their musical horizons expanded. We all agree that we tend to purchase more, not less, music as a result of this new exposure. At home, no, I still listen the same way I always did. I'm very resistant to the trend of turning music into a short attention span activity. I do find myself getting up and changing discs a bit more frequently though. With discs running 60-80 minutes long, it's a bigger dose of an artist than it was during the time lp's were dominating the market. I find that the 20 minutes a lp side is limited to is the right amount of a given artist often.
iTunes or more to the point Computers have made a difference in the way I listen to music. It started with an old Gateway and the Boston Acoustics cube speakers that came with it. Darn thing sounded pretty good. The computer was set-up in a home office and was 20 feet away from my dedicated (Den, LOL) listen room. I found myself spending more time surfing the web and listening to music in the office. At one time I was down to only an hour or two in the music room a week.

That was 3 years ago. Since than, I’ve switched to Mac computers. A Mac Mini music server sit’s next to my turntable. There is a MacBook laptop sitting on my lap while I type this and Mozart is playing on the server.

Now I spend an hour or two a day, either surfing the web or reading a book, but always with music playing through the big rig.

I am keeping all my ripped music. I have spent 17 years and a boatload of money collecting them.
I seems that most prefer an external hard drive for storing music. Is this a preferance over just adding more memory to your Apple Computer?
Brian...Looks like you are a candidate for a Squeezebox and a wireless router...I did this about 2 years ago;ditched by cd player and never looked back.
My listening habbits had been so long b4 the itunes established that I can't find anything new whatever I hunger to listen for but would realy love to burn my LPs to digits so I woun't "ride" them so often
I seems that most prefer an external hard drive for storing music. Is this a preferance over just adding more memory to your Apple Computer?

You wouldn't be adding "memory", but you'd need to add more storage space (a larger hard drive). There is no room in a laptop (nor a MacMini) to add an additional drive. If you are using a tower, sure you can add a larger additional hard drive internal to the tower. Folks use external drives because they are portable and can be moved from one computer to another, are relatively cheap, and do not interfere with the operating system running smoothly by clogging up that drive with additional information. With the current operating systems, at least where Mac OSX is concerned, it is better to give the boot drive plenty of free space for the operating system to run (I try to keep at least 1/3 of my disc empty). You have a faster happier computer that way. A moderate CD collection can easily fill up a hard drive in lossless or especially uncompressed formats (300mb/CD in Apple Lossless and 600mb/CD in WAV). I can take my entire music library to share listening while visiting a friend, or while traveling, simply by packing my external hard drive which is about the size of a small hardcover book. If I stored the music in an internal drive in my tower computer I would not have that option unless I wanted to tote my entire computer along. My collection currently fills a 300GB external drive in a mix of WAV and Apple Lossless files.

It completely changed me. I listen to more of my collection than I ever have before. Having my whole collection at my fingertips gets me deep into stuff I never would had gone for if I had to shuufle through jewel cases or pages of CD binders. I love this way of interacting with my digital music and will likely never go back.
Itunes has impacted my listening quite a bit, since I work more than I am home. I have a pretty nice setup at work, Quad Intel MacPro/30" Monitor connected to project headamp/sennheiser 600's and a panasonic xr50/b&w 602. I can listen all day at work to my lossless files, and the sound is really good. When I get home, I listen to my main system but end up missing the ease of selecting music vs. digging through my 8 224 cd binders finding the disc I want. The random function allows me to revisit cd's I have not listened to in a long time. My next step is to add a iTV to my main system.
I am listening to my Squeezebox now and have been all day. My Transport is sitting there powered up but I am sitting on the couch with my laptop in my lap jamming away..

Not mine but every other person in my house. Wife and two daughters listen almost exclusively to ipod (some through speaker system) or car stereo.
One of these days I'll get one as they laugh at me if when we travel and I carry my discman.
Moral victory: for the first time in eight years, I actually started a thread that people thought was worth responding to. I'm one of those guys who thinks only *other* people's threads will turn out to be popular. :-)
A couple of points of clarification for anyone who hasn't explored the option of putting your music on a hard drive.

iTunes and mp3's don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. iTunes is an application that runs on either a PC or a Mac and is used to organize and play music files. Those files can be in any of several formats, including AIFF, the same files that are on your CD's. You can also manage mp3's or several other file formats but the choice of quality and file size is entirely up to you.

In the same way, the iPod and mp3's don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. It's possible to store and listen to many different file formats on the iPod, from uncompressed files identical to the originals on your CD's to highly compressed mp3's. Again, it's your choice, based on what kind of fidelity you require and how much music you want to store in a given space.

And, it isn't necessary to have an iPod to use iTunes. iTunes is the tool you to load music to an iPod but it works wonderfully well on it's own to play music through any of the devices recommended in the posts above.
I find myself listening to far more of my collection, than I used to. I love setting iTunes to random, and letting the computer do the driving. I am constantly exposed to selections I wouldn't neccessarily reach for.
I have about 2500 discs (and counting) ripped losslessly to two LaCie 500Gb hard drives, and use a MacBook-Wavelength Brick-DK Design VS1 Mk2/Gallo sub amp-Gallo Reference 3's.
I am seriously considering boxing up all of my discs, and using iTunes full time.
Good post, Sfar! I'll add a bit more for those who might want to understand a something more about the various formats. As Sfar points out, you can have a verbatim copy of the information on the shiny silver discs placed upon your hard drive in AIFF or WAV file formats. You can also use a lossless compression format like Apple Lossless which takes up half as much space yet (arguably) does not loose/alter a single binary digit of information from the full file version.

When you choose to rip your files in a smaller, compressed format, such as mp3 in its various manifestations, you are compressing the information into a smaller file with fewer bits of information to describe the same passage of music. What this means, in laypersons terms (and anyone feel free to correct or modify this explanation); given a specific passage of time in a piece of music, for instance, lets say three seconds of a piano sonata--that passage of time is defined to the computer, and later converted to information passed on to the DAC, in so many zeros and ones, or bits of information. Those very bits of information, those zeros and ones provide all the information to convey through the remainder of your system every little nuance, tonal shift and timing cue in those very three seconds of that piece of music. If the original file on your shiny silver CD has, and I'm entirely making up this number, two thousand bits of information that define those three seconds, then a compressed version of that very same three seconds may, instead, contain only 300 bits of information to define all the same nuance, tone and timing. How does the computer come up with 2000 bits of information worth of music, given only 300 bits to work with? It makes an educated guess in uncompressing that information, those 300 bits, in just what might be missing. Though it may do an OK job at it, keep in mind that over time those three seconds are multiplied out over minutes and hours of music that you are choosing to listen to an ongoing 'educated guess' at all that missing information. It's not just the notes of music, it's the PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing), or everything that goes into that, which is contained in that information. To some the resulting sound is degraded enough to choose larger, denser formats and just spring for more storage space, while others find the 'educated guess' version to be acceptable, and may not hear and or care about the differences. Personally, I do hear and care very much about the differences, so choose to use lossless file formats.

More loosely you can think of it, in the example I've made up, as a 2000 word essay, edited down to 300 words and interpreted back to its original length. How accurate can that interpretation really be? That's an exaggerated metaphor, but it does give you an idea of whats going on here, in case you might be computer-phobic.

The best way to determine which format is right for you is to rip the same few familiar CD's in the various formats you are considering. Listen to both, at length...if possible, do this with several CD's and give it a long listening session in each of the formats. If you can't tell a difference then rip to the more compressed format and save space. On the other hand, storage space is very cheap and I actually don't see much of a reason for this unless you do the ipod thing, or like to send songs via email. A 500GB external drive can be purchased for under $200 right now - that'd hold about 1700 CD's in Apple Lossless format!. The reason to really make sure you want to compress, if you are attracted to that route for whatever reason, is that ripping the CD's to your hard drive (getting the information from the CD onto your hard drive) is a time-consuming project no matter which format you choose. It's not something you'll want to do more than once with a large collection of CD's, so it's best to err on the high-resolution side. You can always reduce a lossless file to a more compressed version, but you can never go the opposite direction.

Hope that helps others considering making the leap.

04-22-07: Thedautch
Moral victory: for the first time in eight years, I actually started a thread that people thought was worth responding to. I'm one of those guys who thinks only *other* people's threads will turn out to be popular. :-)

Congrats Brian, your *Big Thread* carrying card is in the mail. You've finally made it. ;~}
Copy your files to two external drives (one for back up). Plug a emu 1616m into your laptop, place laptop on a small computer stand near your listening chair. Use EMU's DACs or your DAC of choice and there you go!

Instant highend PC :)

Yes, in a big way, and a good way. My CD players are largely unused. In the house it all goes through my Squeezebox coded in FLAC. On the road it is all coded in MP3, mostly at 320 kbps. I can't wait for someone to produce a player with 200 GBs of storage that plays FLAC.

It is a lot of work upfront, but the results make it all worth it. I have my laptop next to my listening spot and program anything I want on impulse. And no more fumbling and damaging CDs in the car.

Actually, I don't use iTunes. I don't like it at all. To me it is purely a product for those who don't want to take control of their music. Too automated and inflexible.
Wavelength Audio Cosecant owner and it has forever changed the way I listen to my collection...And it sounds better than the G08 I auditioned next to it for two full weeks-in every single way. It made me a believer it computer audio and tubes.

I will never look at a CD for anything other than ripping ever again.