Which computer for digitizing and streaming?

Hi All,

After five foot surgeries, I'm moving to digitize my LP collection. I will be buying a new computer which will be used exclusively as a music streamer. My question: does the computer matter other than the size of the hard drive? I could get a mini mac or a PC laptop; I'm not wedded to either format. Other than size of the hard drive, what, if any, other specs should I be on the lookout for?

Any advice recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Ag insider logo xs@2xrustler
Ihave been streaming Tidal and classics online over WiFi. With a Lenova PC I had nothing but trouble. With a Mac Pro everything works perfect. If you are going to connect your router to the streaming device with an eithrtnet cable both should work ok.Alan
How many LPs are you considering digitizing? Also, what is your phono setup?
You can start digitizing you best LP into Mac Mini($500+) with Amarra, Stream Tidal with Sonos ($500)and all control by Ipad ($500).
System software upgrade / update easily and free, all you have to do is push one button and music will sound better every time.
I suspect that the most significant factor affecting the sonic quality you will end up obtaining is the quality of the A/D (analog-to-digital) converter that is used. And although I have no directly relevant experience, I would be skeptical of the sonic quality of the A/D converter that is built into laptops or Mac Minis.

Also, what might be a good alternative to purchasing an expensive stand-alone audiophile-oriented ADC is to purchase a professional digital recorder that records to flash memory cards. You would then transfer the digitized files to whatever computer you use for playback. Such devices are made by, among others, Tascam, Marantz Pro, and at higher price points Sound Devices and Nagra. B&H Photo Video (bhphotovideo.com) carries many such products.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
I'll be using the PS Audio Phono converter unit with a Rega P-25 fitted with a Benz Micro Gilder, all of which have been professionally calibrated and tuned up. Looking to convert between 500 and 600 LPs over the next year.

Thanks so far; I look forward to more feedback.
Transferring vinyl to digital is a time consuming process. Count on each album taking at least 2x the playing time to convert. Realistically you will average 2 or 3 records per day.

Your setup should work fine. Things to consider are your recording sample rate, recording/editing software, whether you will use a software declicker, do you need sample rate conversion, are you recording as an album side or are you going to break down to individual songs and file format. Just be sure to back up all your files daily.
All appreciated Onhwy61 (great name). I've heard Vinyl Engine is good; any other recommendations?
Keep recording separate from playback in your requirements. Once you have "ripped" your vinyl, go Mac if you want direct connected asynch USB DAC or get a Synology or QNAP NAS if you want to stream music via UPNP to something like an Auralic Aries.
Alot of users try to shut down or turn off non-essential progras running in the back ground of the computer. While I agree that any nonsese shouldn't even be installed (or remove when you buy it), so it doesn't even start up, I have found that a large number of users have puter problems they aren't even aware of (windows OS system issues), which greatly hinder performance (and eventually brick their rigs). I strongly suggest getting (you need to pay for them as the free ones identify but dont eridicate) a really good anti virus program AND separate malware program. Keep away from the popular commercial brands (mcafee/norton) and no one program is as good a 2 separate ones and sepnd a few hundred bucks on each (life time; cheapest thing you will ever buy for your rig) I like Panda - hey, being we get hacked by china...
Puget Custom Computer built mine. I use a 5-year old Serenity from them (a core i7 running Windows 7 with all solid state drives). It's a very quite machine with little heat and has has proved to be very reliable--no hardware changes at all and no failures in very heavy usage for music and everything else daily all this time. And if I have a question, they talk to me on the phone, all these years later. PCC is great and I will buy from them again.
Hi, I'm getting started on pc audio, and still not sure what software is best for a retiree and an idiot on computing, but one thing for sure is the standard windows media has worked for me so far. I have however noticed differences in sound from different computers. I have 3 different laptops that I use with my main gig and they all sounded different.
I believe what "rgs92" is right about getting a dedicated computer for the best result.
I'd go with a Mac Mini. Matter of fact, I did. 

You could go with a Windows-based platform, but I think you'd spend a lot of time trying to squeeze performance out of it, and to figure out what went wrong. A dedicated Mac is just much easier and less prone to issues, IME.

Get a Mac Mini, set it up with an old monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Then put it on your rack to run headless, controlling from an iOS device such as your phone or iPad using Apple Remote, or from any other Mac in the house via Share Screen. (You'll need WiFi, of course.)  Lots of info on the internet about how to do this, and optimization is easy.

For the Mac Mini, get one with an internal SSD drive to reduce mechanical noise. Use the SSD only for critical software and OS X. Then get an external HDD hooked up via Firewire 800 or better, or if you're feeling more ambitious, an NAS. Benjamin at Mojo Audio does a good job of using an AV drive in an OWC case with modifications.

After you've established your library -- in iTunes, most likely -- you'll want to use iTunes only for library management, as it's less than optimal for sound. I use PureMusic and love it; Channel D also has Pure Vinyl which includes PureMusic but is more geared toward vinyl reproduction. You could also use Amarra or Audirvana, but the thing to remember is that you want software to pull the files out of iTunes and handle them properly.  BitPerfect is a clean and inexpensive option as well.

All in all, this is all about setting up a dedicated system to do one or two things well, and then tuning it to just do the basics.  It's easy; it's a one-time thing, and the results are fantastic when done correctly. And you won't have to get up and down for each album side!

PM if you need more info.
For software on a PC or Mac, you should look at Vinyl Studio. It takes a little getting used to, but the tutorials are quite good. It allows you to record, split into tracks (including looking up album information and track timings), cleanup (hum and hiss removal, click removal, repair of bad flaws), normalization and outputting to various formats. The trial version is free and the cost is only $29 - a real steal. As I said, it takes a little getting used to, as do all programs, but the results can be outstanding. I would definitely give it a try. I am up to about 200 albums using it. I can easily do 5 or more albums in a day with VS, assuming the records are relatively clean.

If you are getting significantly different results with 3 different computers, you need to look at the process you are using and what else is running on the computer. The output of the PC Audio is a digital bitstream which should be handled very well by most computers. The output of the PC should be to an asynchronous DAC. What DAC are you using? And what protocol are you using - WASAPI, Asio, DIrect Sound? For player software, JRIver Media Center is a good option. Before buying a dedicated system, I would try to figure out why you are hearing such different sounds on 3 systems. A well set up PC should not have that problem. There can be differences, but they should not be as dramatic as you seem to indicate.
Or...a Sony HAP for a simple one box wifi app solution and be up and rolling immediately.