27 votes

I'm downsizing my digital life. Do you listen to a lot of music? How do you archive it?

I'm downsizing my digital life. I deleted my account on reddit, on another phpbb forum and i don't have instagram/facebook apps anymore.

This subject got me thinking about my music.

I grab/buy albums in mp3 and i have so many that it's impossible to listen to everything. I don't pay for any service like spotify because i don't like. I prefer to download and/or buy in places like bandcamp where i can download the album.

I started reading about other codecs like flac and opus. The availability of albums in flac are way less than mp3 and it's a lossless format. If i focus on it i will be forced to downsize my music library.

The problem is disk space in my smartphone. I'm not an audiophile so i'm not able to hear the difference between flac and 320kpbs mp3. This is where opus enters. This codec gives half the size with better quality than mp3. Soundcloud uses it. A 96kbps opus is the same quality as 320kbps mp3.

Now that Android can play opus i don't see a reason to keep using mp3. The downside is converting flac files every time i want to put on my phone.

I could just convert flac to opus and just live with opus everywhere, freeing a lot of space. But i think keeping flac files is better for archiving because it's lossless. If opus for some reason disappears, i'll have a lossy format and would have convert to another one losing more quality.

How do you deal with music?

39 comments

  1. [2]
    esrever (edited ) Link
    Most smartphones aren't going to have a very great DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to begin with. There are a few exceptions (LG's V-series is a great example), but for most phones, you're...

    The problem is disk space in my smartphone. I'm not an audiophile so i'm not able to hear the difference between flac and 320kpbs mp3. This is where opus enters. This codec gives half the size with better quality than mp3. Soundcloud uses it. A 96kbps opus is the same quality as 320kbps mp3.

    Most smartphones aren't going to have a very great DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to begin with. There are a few exceptions (LG's V-series is a great example), but for most phones, you're already at a disadvantage here at how much of a benefit you're going to achieve from using lossless codecs over lossy ones. Opus and MP3 encode music quite differently, and while it is true that lower bitrate Opus gives better results than MP3 in many areas, I'm not really sold that music is one of them in all cases.

    MP3 V0 VBR or better is probably fine if you've already built up a library. The thing here is to be sure you're not transcoding. That is to say, you're always making sure you go from lossless > lossy, and never lossy > lossy.

    If you do wind up with lossless formats like FLAC/ALAC/AIFF/WAV/etc., either Opus or LC-AAC at 128kbps or above is likely a good point for you if you're listening to music from your phone. While Opus is great, you will probably run into more scenarios of software not offering support for it out of thee box than using AAC. I don't foresee a situation in where Opus would ever "go away", but it may fall out of fashion in later years as technology advances and something better comes along.

    Storage is relatively cheap these days, so if archival of lossless formats are important to you, maybe look into buying a hard drive if your library is large enough to warrant it. Encode into Opus or LC-AAC for your devices where the ability to discern differences in quality between that and lossless is extremely small or close to none.

    12 votes
    1. Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      Android has opus support. Some apps don't index .opus files, but if you give them .ogg extension it will work fine. I made two shell scripts to convert to opus or mp3 when needed, but i will keep...

      Android has opus support. Some apps don't index .opus files, but if you give them .ogg extension it will work fine.

      I made two shell scripts to convert to opus or mp3 when needed, but i will keep my music in flac on the desktop.

      4 votes
  2. [5]
    Tlon_Uqbar Link
    I'm like you, I prefer to download and store files rather than streaming subscriptions. I usually don't bother with transcoding. If I can find it in FLAC, I'll grab that. Storage is cheap. But if...

    I'm like you, I prefer to download and store files rather than streaming subscriptions.

    I usually don't bother with transcoding. If I can find it in FLAC, I'll grab that. Storage is cheap. But if it's .mp3 or something else, I'll just leave it in that. The difference is so small, imo, it's not worth the effort. (Obviously not talking about shitty low-bit-rate .mp3s).

    As for the phone storage issue, you should looking into setting up a streaming server via Plex, Subsonic, or something like those. For just music, the free version of Plex is perfectly adequate (you might have to pay for the phone app, though.) Then you don't really have to worry about storage.

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      I listen to music on the phone while i'm out. Do you mean streaming from a server via the internet? I live in Brazil and internet service for phones are really expensive and the data cap is small.

      I listen to music on the phone while i'm out. Do you mean streaming from a server via the internet?

      I live in Brazil and internet service for phones are really expensive and the data cap is small.

      3 votes
      1. Tlon_Uqbar Link Parent
        Ah, yeah it would be over the internet unfortunately. I also rotate out different albums on my phone instead of trying to put everything on it all at once. That's the best I got.

        Ah, yeah it would be over the internet unfortunately.

        I also rotate out different albums on my phone instead of trying to put everything on it all at once. That's the best I got.

        2 votes
      2. [2]
        Parliament Link Parent
        You could potentially look into apps with a sync feature. You have the files stored on a home server then can sync certain albums to your phone while you're still on wifi. That would allow you to...

        You could potentially look into apps with a sync feature. You have the files stored on a home server then can sync certain albums to your phone while you're still on wifi. That would allow you to keep your data usage down because you're using files already synced locally. I do this with Plex. Not sure if that downsizes or further complicates your digital life though!

        1. Grand0rbiter Link Parent
          I'll look into it, but setting up a server for this i think it's a little too much. Might as well just plug the cord.

          I'll look into it, but setting up a server for this i think it's a little too much. Might as well just plug the cord.

  3. cadadr Link
    I stream, and I am happy. Spotify helps me explore more and listen to a more diverse set of music than when I downloaded hundreds of songs and had to keep them somewhere and sync them to phone and...

    I stream, and I am happy. Spotify helps me explore more and listen to a more diverse set of music than when I downloaded hundreds of songs and had to keep them somewhere and sync them to phone and back. My entire digital footprint is around a dozen gigabytes, I can do weekly full backups, and I don't have to bother with tagging and making playlists and looking for duplicates and syncing and whatnot.

    My favourite pieces/musicians I have them in my mind: if I didn't, and I am not into music professionally, that would mean the piece/musician is just not that important to me. I learnt to let go.

    7 votes
  4. s3rvant Link
    As others have said PC storage is cheap. Download FLAC when able, convert everything to your desired phone format (Opus or otherwise) and keep both versions. Grab a large external hard drive and...

    As others have said PC storage is cheap. Download FLAC when able, convert everything to your desired phone format (Opus or otherwise) and keep both versions. Grab a large external hard drive and keep a backup of your music there, ideally taken away from the house in case of disaster (I keep mine at work).

    As for phone there are several programs that support a random sample of your overall collection or playlist. iTunes for example allows a "smart" playlist where you can set the file size limit of the overall playlist as well as what source playlist to pull the music from. That way each time you sync the phone with PC you get a random sample of your overall collection. Depending on how you like to listen you could just have 1 massive playlist that you pull random bits from or you could have several where some you always sync and others you pull from randomly.

    2 votes
  5. [3]
    Randomacts (edited ) Link
    Another option you could consider if you have a desktop that you leave on at home is throwing them all on a plex server. Now this will use data and hard drive space for your desktop but HDDs are...

    Another option you could consider if you have a desktop that you leave on at home is throwing them all on a plex server. Now this will use data and hard drive space for your desktop but HDDs are cheap unlike phone storage.

    http://plex.tv/

    I personally use plex for all of my media from anime to movies and music. The only thing it really lacks I believe but that I could be wrong is stuff like audiobook and epub support but someday I'm sure that they will add support for that.

    Edit: This also would allow you to leave your stuff as FLAC without converting them if you wish and the plex server will convert on the fly to what your phone is set to.

    Edit 2: Oh I see that someone else has mentioned plex already. I missed that post in my first read through. It also seems that Plex isn't a great option for you as I can say that the sync thing is too buggy to bother with. I mean you could try and it would work but I can't suggest it any longer in your current situation.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Kielyr Link Parent
      Does the free subscription to Plex hold your files online? Say, if I have a music/movie library on my computer, and I want to access it through my phone, does my computer need to be turned on and...

      Does the free subscription to Plex hold your files online? Say, if I have a music/movie library on my computer, and I want to access it through my phone, does my computer need to be turned on and connected to the internet? Also, when you access the files through Plex, do you need to play them through Plex? Or can Plex pass them on to a music/movie player?

      1. esrever (edited ) Link Parent
        The Plex subscription doesn't provide anything aside of additional features in the software (and music through TIDAL). You have to self-host the server software, and so this would mean you'd need...

        The Plex subscription doesn't provide anything aside of additional features in the software (and music through TIDAL). You have to self-host the server software, and so this would mean you'd need to have an always-on and connected device if you wanted to always have access remotely from a client.

        If you wanted to have files media files accessible over the internet that you could play in any player of your choice, then you'd need something other than Plex, unless you're tunneling your traffic through your home network, in which case you can use DLNA/UPnP.

        2 votes
  6. Happy_Shredder Link
    I download flac when I can, mp3 otherwise, all onto a big hard drive. The only streaming I do is Bandcamp. I have a little Sandisk mp3 player (8gb internal+32gb sd card) afk. It does play flac,...

    I download flac when I can, mp3 otherwise, all onto a big hard drive. The only streaming I do is Bandcamp. I have a little Sandisk mp3 player (8gb internal+32gb sd card) afk. It does play flac, but I tend to just compress anyway to put more on it.

    2 votes
  7. Easlye Link
    I personally use Musicbee to archive my music, although I've barely used it as most of my library can be found on Spotify, which receives a ton of usage.

    I personally use Musicbee to archive my music, although I've barely used it as most of my library can be found on Spotify, which receives a ton of usage.

    1 vote
  8. [2]
    MrEprize Link
    I have tried a few different times to go all .opus on Android. I always have mixed success. If you use a app that does its own indexing and supports .opus it seems to work ok. The native OS does...

    I have tried a few different times to go all .opus on Android. I always have mixed success. If you use a app that does its own indexing and supports .opus it seems to work ok. The native OS does not often recognize .opus. An option is to rename them to .ogg, it works sometimes.

    If you have a PC, buy an external HDD and keep your originals there and just transcode what you want to keep on your phone and transfer it there.

    Tools:
    Foobar2000
    dBpoweramp
    TagScanner

    1 vote
    1. Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      Renaming to ogg works fine. VLC is the best player for opus files that i found on Android.

      Renaming to ogg works fine. VLC is the best player for opus files that i found on Android.

      1 vote
  9. [16]
    HanakoIsBestGirl Link
    For downloading music off youtube, I use youtube-dl with ffmpeg and have it run nightly. I then use syncthing to move it onto my phone automatically. If you are worried about disk space, use...

    For downloading music off youtube, I use youtube-dl with ffmpeg and have it run nightly.

    I then use syncthing to move it onto my phone automatically.

    If you are worried about disk space, use syncthings .stignore file to not sync what you dont want.

    Reply if you want to know the exact settings I use.

    1 vote
    1. [7]
      Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      Just fyi since you are dowloading things from youtube, soulseek is still alive. If you're not familiar with it, try.

      Just fyi since you are dowloading things from youtube, soulseek is still alive.

      If you're not familiar with it, try.

      5 votes
      1. [5]
        Kielyr Link Parent
        What advantages does it have over downloading stuff from YouTube? I'm guessing it's like just finding torrents for albums?

        soulseek is still alive.

        What advantages does it have over downloading stuff from YouTube?

        I'm guessing it's like just finding torrents for albums?

        1. [4]
          Grand0rbiter Link Parent
          Plenty? Downloading entire albums in flac and/or high quality mp3 with the right tags, cover, etc. It's a p2p network so you can find a lot of things like books, videos, comics, anything really....

          Plenty? Downloading entire albums in flac and/or high quality mp3 with the right tags, cover, etc.

          It's a p2p network so you can find a lot of things like books, videos, comics, anything really. There's chat rooms too if you are into it. But if you don't share things most users will ban you from downloading from them.

          It's way easier to find music in soulseek than torrent because it doesn't depend on popularity. You are grabbing the files from one person.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            Kielyr Link Parent
            I'm guessing it's not enough to download stuff from other people and then seed that? But rather you have to bring your own material into it?

            But if you don't share things most users will ban you from downloading from them.

            I'm guessing it's not enough to download stuff from other people and then seed that? But rather you have to bring your own material into it?

            1. [2]
              Grand0rbiter Link Parent
              Not exactly. Do you have a folder where you put your music? Just put that folder in your shares. Even if you buy a fresh pc and connect without anything to share, it's not an automatic ban. Most...

              Not exactly. Do you have a folder where you put your music? Just put that folder in your shares.

              Even if you buy a fresh pc and connect without anything to share, it's not an automatic ban. Most people will not scan your files to see if you share anything, but some people will do to see if you have anything interesting and if it is empty they will think you are a leecher.

              When i bought a new hd and didn't have anything i just talked to the guy who banned me and he understood. But even if one person ban you, there's a lot of other users with the same thing you want to download. You won't be banned from the entire network, you will be banned from getting files from that person.

              Try the app and it will make sense.

              1. Kielyr Link Parent
                I see. I'll check it out, thank you.

                I see. I'll check it out, thank you.

    2. [7]
      Octofox Link Parent
      Youtube is the worst source for music. Its usually in terrible quality and includes weird intro sounds as well as sound effects from the music video.

      Youtube is the worst source for music. Its usually in terrible quality and includes weird intro sounds as well as sound effects from the music video.

      5 votes
      1. Kielyr Link Parent
        I honest to God can't notice the difference between 120 MB FLAC files and 8 MB mp3s. Neither can I notice much of a difference between cheap earphones and 300$ NC ones. And, honestly, I don't...

        I honest to God can't notice the difference between 120 MB FLAC files and 8 MB mp3s. Neither can I notice much of a difference between cheap earphones and 300$ NC ones.

        And, honestly, I don't think I'd want to even if I could. Getting used to higher quality standards means you're a lot harder to please, and have to invest a lot more time and work into getting the files the way you like them.

        Also, I like YouTube for discovering new music. I've tried Spotify several times before but I don't like it. Also, it's much more easier and consistent to block ads on YouTube compared to Spotify.

        and includes weird intro sounds
        as well as sound effects from the music video.

        Depends on what you listen to.

        1 vote
      2. esrever (edited ) Link Parent
        100% this. Okay, maybe not the worst, but it is certainly one of the worst. Moreover, if you're going this route in piracy, you are better off using DeezLoader and maintain some semblance of...

        100% this. Okay, maybe not the worst, but it is certainly one of the worst. Moreover, if you're going this route in piracy, you are better off using DeezLoader and maintain some semblance of quality control or find yourself a private tracker.

      3. HanakoIsBestGirl Link Parent
        I dont use channels with music videos / intro sounds. And as for the audio quality, my headphones are shitty so its fine for me.

        I dont use channels with music videos / intro sounds.

        And as for the audio quality, my headphones are shitty so its fine for me.

      4. [3]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        Not an issue I've had with YouTube. I guess I don't download much off it – rare things I can't find elsewhere – and the things I do, I edit to fit my preferences.

        Its usually in terrible quality

        Not an issue I've had with YouTube.

        I guess I don't download much off it – rare things I can't find elsewhere – and the things I do, I edit to fit my preferences.

        1. [2]
          Octofox Link Parent
          Its one of those things were you don't notice how bad it is until you hear the alternative. Any audio uploaded to youtube that isn't an official song upload in the last ~4 years is in horrendous...

          Not an issue I've had with YouTube.

          Its one of those things were you don't notice how bad it is until you hear the alternative. Any audio uploaded to youtube that isn't an official song upload in the last ~4 years is in horrendous quality. And not audiophile placebo bad, its super noticeable.

          If you are looking for rare stuff, redacted or soulseek are the places to look. They have far more things than spotify and youtube have and its all in superb lossless quality.

          1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            I know the difference between FLAC and MP3@192kbit/s. It's audible, though not something you can easily put your finger on without knowing what contributes to audio quality. I haven't had issues...

            I know the difference between FLAC and MP3@192kbit/s. It's audible, though not something you can easily put your finger on without knowing what contributes to audio quality.

            I haven't had issues with YouTube audio quality so far. All the songs I'd downloaded from YouTube lately (via YouTube-DLG) are of decent bitrate – 240kbit/s+ – and sound good.

            The worst issue for me so far is that I have to edit some songs afterwards.

  10. [7]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    Music is something from which I've decided to spare as much space as it needs. I have ~10GB of assorted tracks on my 128GB SSD, and maybe 30GB on my external HDD. One of the things I do is delete...

    Music is something from which I've decided to spare as much space as it needs. I have ~10GB of assorted tracks on my 128GB SSD, and maybe 30GB on my external HDD.

    One of the things I do is delete songs that start rubbing me the wrong way. I may have liked them when I first got them, but now I don't want them; and if I do – if it pops into my head after a year or two, and I'd like to hear it again – I'll find it, 'cause my memory is good on those things.

    Thanks for bringing Opus to my attention! Currently converting the assorted library MP3 → Opus for experimentation.

    EDIT: huh. My "about 10 gigabytes" became a tilde of its own. That's funny.

    1 vote
    1. [6]
      Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      It's not recommended to convert from one lossy format to another, but opus is so good that probably won't make any difference in sound. The smaller size is really good.

      It's not recommended to convert from one lossy format to another, but opus is so good that probably won't make any difference in sound. The smaller size is really good.

      1. [5]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        It's done. The size difference is about half for the test folder: 2.18GB → 1.18GB. Sounds about the same so far.

        It's done. The size difference is about half for the test folder: 2.18GB → 1.18GB. Sounds about the same so far.

        1. [4]
          Grand0rbiter Link Parent
          Wow. What quality did you encode? I mostly use 128kbps to be safe, but they say 96kbps is enough.

          Wow. What quality did you encode? I mostly use 128kbps to be safe, but they say 96kbps is enough.

          1. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            The preset I used (in the AIMP Audio Converter) said "~128kbps". The actual bitrate varies per track: I've glanced over values of 138kbps a few times.

            The preset I used (in the AIMP Audio Converter) said "~128kbps". The actual bitrate varies per track: I've glanced over values of 138kbps a few times.

            1. [2]
              Grand0rbiter Link Parent
              Yes, it's VBR 128kbps. VBR = Variable bitrate. It changes depending on the section of the audio, since some sections does not need that much.

              Yes, it's VBR 128kbps. VBR = Variable bitrate. It changes depending on the section of the audio, since some sections does not need that much.

              1 vote
              1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
                Huh. I learn something new every day.

                Huh. I learn something new every day.