An absolute beginner's guide to seting up computer audio on Apple OS X, Part II
Well done on your blog, which I thought was concise and easy to follow. I've recently completed an iTunes instruction guide for friends and have included a couple of items below that you may or may not think are worth including in your blog. It would be nice if we could have all this in one place so please feel free to cut and paste as you see fit.
USING AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE TO STORE YOUR MUSIC
Many Laptops (and some older desktops) have a small hard drive (e.g. a 128 SSD drive). To avoid filling it up with music you can store your music files externally by connecting an external hard drive using an USB port. Purchase an external hard drive (recommend 2TB) and make a new folder called MUSIC, which will allow you to use the drive for other things such as movies & photos etc.
Click on "iTunes" in the Menu > Preferences > Advanced Preferences > Change and and nominate the folder marked MUSIC and then un-click “Copy files to iTunes Media Library" …. need to do this otherwise your music will fill up your internal hard drive instead of just making the links to where any new ripped CD's now preside.
If you choose to connect your DAC via USB then many believe it is best to connect your spinning external hard drive using the thunderbolt port and a USB adaptor. This isolates the DAC and hard drive from each other and thereby minimises the potential for any interference.
Transfer your music files, located in the iTunes Media folder, to the external MUSIC folder using iTunes > Export Library. Alternatively simply copy the actual files across and then delete the old links and the old files from within iTunes (but only after you have moved them all safely). Then click on File > Add to Library > MUSIC ... note you will only be adding the "links" to your music, not the actual files.
It is imperative when copying (ripping) your CDs that you make an exact copy and don't loose any data. You do this by selecting lossless quality via the menu - iTunes > Preferences > General Preferences > Import Settings > AIFF > Automatic > and click on "error correction' tab.. this is really important to ensure a bit perfect copy.
Should you wish to play your music on your iPhone then iTunes allows you to reduce the file size to about 20% of the original size by simply connecting the iDevice to iTunes and on the front page select 256kb. The sound will still be more than acceptable for travelling and in ear listening but remember to ALWAYS choose AIFF (or Apple Lossless) with error correction on to make your original copy.
HOW TO VIEW YOUR MUSIC
This is obviously subject to personal preference, however, there is certain information that helps you conveniently play your music and maintain your music database.
Inside iTunes firstly click on the "Music" tab at the top / LHS followed by the "Playlists" tab at the top / middle of your iTunes screen.
Firstly set up an overview of all your music by selecting View and ensuring the column browser is open. Then check on Genre, Groupings, Artists, Albums. This will set up how the top of your iTunes screen will appear.
Secondly, choose the information you want to see with regard to individual songs by placing your mouse's arrow on the heading half way down the screen (above the songs) and then right click and check the following items and un tick the others. Rearrange their order by dragging and dropping so that you have the following column headings:
TRACK # NAME ALBUM ARTIST YEAR TIME BIT RATE SAMPLE RATE GROUPING
You can choose other headings as you become more familiar with what it is that you as an individual feels important.
Thirdly, select a song you like and right click and check "get info” and then select the RHS tag File, which will show you the quality of the file - i.e. whether it is compressed (AAC or mp3 e.g. 320kps or 256kps etc) or CD quality (16 bit with 44.1khz sampling rate) or hi-res being (24 bit with either, 44.1k, 48k, 96k or 192k sampling rate). Note that the info I deem to be important is already selected in my column headings above, however, bit size (16 or 24) is not available and you need to use "get info" to determine this.
GROUPING YOUR MUSIC FOR SPECIAL OCCASSIONS
You can better control how you listen to your music by creating "Smart Playlists", by grouping together similar types of music for different occasions e.g. Blues, Cruising, Party, Relaxing, etc. IMO the easiest and best way to do this is by using “Grouping” as the variable to be changed.
Click on the + sign at the bottom / LHS of the iTunes screen and selected New Smart Playlist. Click on Artists and then select Grouping and then the rule "is" and then in the RH box put the name of the type of music. Use the same name as the title of the Smart Playlist.
You can then group certain songs that correspond to this name using either "get info" or by simply typing into the grouping column in your song view of iTunes.
iTunes speeds up this process by guessing the name as you start typing so it makes sense to choose a different first letter for your playlists to avoid having to type the whole name.
Your various playlists will appear in two different locations - in the LHS sidebar and under the "Grouping" column in the overview at the top of the screen.
PLAYING HI-RES MUSIC (24/96 AND ABOVE)
Should you wish to play "bit perfect" hi res music files with different sample rates you will need to either manually change in the Audio Midi application or purchase a specialist audio player such as Audirvana, which will not only provide better quality playback it will also automatically changing the sample rate. You can set it up so that it uses iTunes continues as the database and it simply operates as the player.
Audirvana Plus | The Sound of your Dreams
I hope this is of some assistance.