Looking for a Hard Disc Player to Store and Play my CDs.

I have a few thousand cds that I have downloaded onto my laptop, and I’ve done this several times, as I’ve had to replace laptops. To avoid this, I’ve been looking for a music player that has capacity to rip(?) all my cds. I’ve only found two or three such players (e.g., the Brennan B2). The problem is that some of them are pricey ($1,000 or more). The Brennan B2 is about $700, but it’s the only one in that price range. Are there other options? Or maybe there’s another approach I could take? For example, maybe I could download my cds onto a hard drive and connect that drive to something that will play the music. ? If you guys have any ideas, let me know.

12 thoughts on “Looking for a Hard Disc Player to Store and Play my CDs.

  1. For those prices you’re better off setting up a laptop or (better) a desktop to serve as sort of your multimedia server. You have good wifi, so streaming from the laptop to whatever device you’re listening on (or better, to a networked set of speakers in your house), should be easy. I was told ten years ago iTunes is especially well-suited for this, ‘though I imagine all music players are equipped for this now.

    You can always store your digital media on an external hard drive, plugged into your server, and let iTunes keep your library there. Then whenever you need a new machine, you just export your library, then import it to the new machine but keep all the actual files on the external drive.

    Hard storage is very inexpensive these days. I know you haunt a few music-lover forums — you will probably get much better advice for an affordable, flexible setup from there.

  2. You can always store your digital media on an external hard drive, plugged into your server, and let iTunes keep your library there. Then whenever you need a new machine, you just export your library, then import it to the new machine but keep all the actual files on the external drive.

    Do you think I could do this using a chromebook, or something similar as the server? If so, I think this might be the best plan.

    You have good wifi, so streaming from the laptop to whatever device you’re listening on (or better, to a networked set of speakers in your house), should be easy.

    The problem is my current receiver doesn’t have wireless capability. I did have a HDMI port that may have allowed for a bluetooth connection, but I think my kids broke it.

    And if I have to buy a new laptop, I guess that would be better than spending on something like a Brennan B2.

    By the way, for what it’s worth, after reading this description of creating a audio sound system, just buying a new laptop and an external hard drive sounds way more appealing.

  3. Do you think I could do this using a chromebook, or something similar as the server? If so, I think this might be the best plan.

    I honestly don’t know. When my friends were setting up their iTunes on a home desktop for playing from any device in the house, Chromebooks weren’t really a thing, and Chromebooks aren’t really designed for this kind of application. I suggest you keep looking for info online about home audio setups using a Chromebook.

    Wait, you already have a home stereo? Your stereo receiver may not be Bluetooth-enabled, but what would be wrong with setting it up wired? You could play things through your home system wired from your computer, and if you want to listen through your cans you can just plug those into the stereo.

    Also, if you already have a home setup, couldn’t you add an MP3 player as a component? I didn’t click your Brennan links, so maybe that’s what those are. I wasn’t really clear from your description.

  4. Your stereo receiver may not be Bluetooth-enabled, but what would be wrong with setting it up wired? You could play things through your home system wired from your computer, and if you want to listen through your cans you can just plug those into the stereo.

    My computer is wired up to the receiver, and I can listen to music that way. Here’s what’s wrong with that–I can only partially control the music when I sit in the lounge chair in the back of the living room–and I sit in the lounge chair most of the time when I’m in the living room now. I have an app on my ipod touch that allows me control of the itunes on my laptop, but it’s limited. I can play my music that is stored on the laptop, but I have trouble playing music on apple music. (If you want to know more details about the trouble, let me know, and I’ll explain it.)

    The other problem is that I have to mainly shut off my laptop, which can be a hassle. (If I don’t do this, my screen will be on for a long time. I had to create a long delay for the laptop to go on sleep to avoid other problems.)

    Also, if you already have a home setup, couldn’t you add an MP3 player as a component?

    There is a dedicated HDMI port (Edit: It’s a USB port) for the MP3, but my kids splashed water on it once, and it’s never worked since that time. What I wanted to do was put in a bluetooth link there and use my ipod touch. I’m not sure if that would have worked, but since the port seems broken, it definitely won’t work now.

    I didn’t click your Brennan links, so maybe that’s what those are. I wasn’t really clear from your description.

    The second link gives a description of setting up a streaming audio system. It’s more than just linking an mp3 player to a receiver. The system they describe gets away from relying on desktop/laptop as storage for the cds, but it’s more complicated and costly (although once you have things set up, it’s kinda cool).

    Maybe the best approach would be to replace my receiver (although I don’t really want to do that) and get an external hard drive and link it my laptop. Could I link the external hard drive and the laptop wirelessly? If not, that would be a problem.

    One other problem. I don’t have my cds on the apple cloud–so I can’t play music that I own that is also not available on apple music. So I can’t just rely on the ipod touch.

  5. The video below gives a simple overview of audio signal path–i.e., the flow of information starting from the audio source and ending in the speakers (or, actually, one’s ears). I think it helps me think about solutions to the problem I’m having.

    Currently the audio signal path at my house is like this:

    computer (itunes)–>receiver–>speakers.

    Simple, and I like that. I assume the computer has a DAC. And the computer and/or the receiver has the pre-amp. I assume the receiver has a power amp.

    The simplest solution is just buying a new computer (laptop), but here are some of the problems with that:

    1. I’d have to download (rip?) my cds onto the computer, which would take a while. What I don’t like is that within 5+ years, I’d have to do this again. I’m looking for a way to just download/rip my cds one time and that’s it.

    2. If I connect my computer to an external hard drive, which contained ripped versions of my cds, moving my laptop around would be cumbersome. I mostly sit in the lounge chair at the back of the living room when I’m on my computer.

    But maybe downloading them onto my computer is a small price to pay–compared to the other options.

  6. Mitchell (or Don),

    One of the issues I have with my current laptop is that it’s old, and I’m having trouble updating the operating system. Is there a way that I could install another system (Linux?) and just play itunes off the computer–and do so in a way that my computer would be subjected to hacks, etc.? I wouldn’t mind going this route, if so.

    1. Yes it’s very doable. I have never done it, but I’ve always wanted to. If the laptop is old and you were going to get a new one anyway, you should make a project of it and see what you learn.

      However, you’d only be able to play the MP3s you ripped or purchased from iTunes in the non-DRM years, as there is no iTunes player for Linux. Unless the DRM-protected MP3s have been released by Apple, which is entirely possible.

    2. as there is no iTunes player for Linux.

      Oh, that’s a bummer and big drawback, as I also use apple music currently.

      What is DRM?

      Is there another system that would allow me to play itunes? Or can I just play itunes and not update the system? Or is there another solution I’m not thinking of?

      1. Yes there are music players for Linux. I don’t know what they are but they’re out there. I’m pretty sure Mozilla has one. Oops. I just looked it up and it’s been discontinued, but there’s enough evidence from a quick search to see there are several options.

        DRM is digital rights management. In the first several years of iTunes, if you bought a song on iTunes and downloaded it to your computer, you couldn’t just pass the mp3 to someone else to play on theirs. It was protected to play only on devices you were signed in on. Similarly, you can’t read a Kindle book on just any device, or at least you couldn’t for some time. You might be able to now.

        For some time, iTunes purchases are DRM-free. But I had already switched to other vendors by this time, so when I purchase mp3s, I get them elsewhere. DRM-free.

        Anyway. If most of your music is DRM-free I wouldn’t worry tooooo much about what you can’t play. Just repurchase the protected stuff. Or stick to iTunes.

        I still say the simplest solution is a desktop or laptop with a large-capacity external drive for your music. Then some kind of wifi- or Bluetooth-enabled sound system to connect it to, or to run wires to. If you’re going to use it pretty much just for that, I don’t think you need to update your OS or your iTunes.

  7. Yes there are music players for Linux.

    But what about another Linux distro that plays itunes? That’s what I was asking about. Actually, in doing some research, I see that you can play itunes on a Linux distro, but it requires another app…Really, the primary reason I would consider switching to a Linux OS is my current laptop and OS has been having trouble updating. Can I safely play itunes (including apple music) if I’m not updating my OS? If so, than I wouldn’t seriously consider switching OSes.

    I still say the simplest solution is a desktop or laptop with a large-capacity external drive for your music.

    Is there a way to wirelessly link my laptop (with itunes) and the external drive (containing the music files)?

    Then some kind of wifi- or Bluetooth-enabled sound system to connect it to, or to run wires to.

    The problem is that I can’t wirelessly link my computer to my current receiver (or I don’t know of a way to do it. If I linked my receiver to the router, via ethernet wire, could I wirelessly link my laptop to the receiver?)

    I could run wires, but then I wouldn’t be able to take my laptop to the back of the living room (or other places in the house).

    Anyway. If most of your music is DRM-free I wouldn’t worry tooooo much about what you can’t play.

    Most of my music (on digital files) are from my CDs. Is that DRM free?

    1. Sorry. All this time I thought you were asking about like a standalone system, or a component for your existing system. I didn’t think you were thinking of just keeping everything on the laptop you use and work with, which would simply be a problem of connecting your existing computer to your existing sound system. This sounds like a completely different concept from whatever that component was you linked (sorry; I still haven’t looked at it).

      What do you want out of your sound system? Like what do you want it to be and what do you want to do with it? That’s probably a better place to start.

      Do you want something containing your complete collection that you can plug into whatever changes you make to your sound system? That’s what I thought you were looking for because it sounded like you were tired of exporting/importing your collection every time you switched to a new computer.

      Do you want something you keep with you wherever you take your laptop, but will also plug into a sound system and not just your cans?

      Do you want something accessible for the whole family, wherever the family members are in the house, like a family sound system with a family music library? I kinda thought you were leaning toward this too, but now I see what a silly thought that was. 🙂

      Sorry; I don’t know what “Linux distro” means. Do you mean different versions of Linux, like Red Hat vs. Ubuntu (I’m out of touch; I don’t even know if Red Hat and Ubuntu still exist).

      Is there a way to wirelessly link my laptop (with itunes) and the external drive (containing the music files)?

      As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a wireless external drive. Since I originally thought you were trying to set up something standalone, I was suggesting a dedicated laptop or desktop to use as a server (desktop because you typically get more bang for your buck and it’s easier to plug more stuff into and out of), with an external drive because I thought part of the original problem was you hated having to copy your entire library out of your outgoing laptops and into your new laptops. With an external drive you wouldn’t have to spend all that time copying the mp3 files out of the old and into the new.

      However, if you have your whole music collection on a computer running iTunes, and a home network (like via wifi), I’m almost certain you can access it from another computer or other devices on your home network, which I referred to in my first response. So if you have an external drive plugged into computer A, and you’re working on computer B, you can play songs through iTunes on computer B from computer A through your home network. I had a friend who did this, but it was a long time ago and I don’t know if iTunes still does this. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t.

      The problem is that I can’t wirelessly link my computer to my current receiver (or I don’t know of a way to do it. If I linked my receiver to the router, via ethernet wire, could I wirelessly link my laptop to the receiver?)

      Sorry. I thought since you were considering purchasing some kind of mp3 storage device I still haven’t looked at, you were willing to spend some money on some Bluetooth or wifi speakers if it meant spending less money. Also I didn’t know when I suggested it that you have an existing sound system.

      There’s a solution involving your existing system; I’m sure. Just need to think about it.

      Most of my music (on digital files) are from my CDs. Is that DRM free?

      Yeah, unless you went way out of your way to encode some kind of protection against yourself on your own music. You own legal digital copies of your own ripped CDs — external sources such as Apple or Amazon can’t add protections to the files you created. That would be nefarious.

    2. Sorry. All this time I thought you were asking about like a standalone system, or a component for your existing system.

      No, you had the right impression. That’s where I started. But as we talked, I began to think more about just using a laptop (and an external drive, perhaps) and connecting it to my existing system.

      Do you want something containing your complete collection that you can plug into whatever changes you make to your sound system? That’s what I thought you were looking for because it sounded like you were tired of exporting/importing your collection every time you switched to a new computer.

      Yes, that’s something I’d want. (But here’s something I’m just realizing. A large percentage of the music from my CDs might be available on Apple Music, or another streaming service. If that’s the case, I might only need to store a few ripped CDs.)

      Do you want something you keep with you wherever you take your laptop, but will also plug into a sound system and not just your cans?

      Yeah, I think so. If I take my laptop to my lounge chair, or on the floor of the living room, or at the dinner table, I’d like to be able to control my music via the laptop.

      Do you want something accessible for the whole family, wherever the family members are in the house, like a family sound system with a family music library? I kinda thought you were leaning toward this too, but now I see what a silly thought that was. 🙂

      Silly because I’m struggling to do something much simpler? If so, yeah I agree. I like the idea of a system where family members could store and organize their music and have access to it, but that sounds too ambitious, and it’s ultimately a secondary or tertiary goal.

      Sorry; I don’t know what “Linux distro” means. Do you mean different versions of Linux, like Red Hat vs. Ubuntu

      Yes.

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