March 12th, 2008

Moose Music

BNL, CD-Rs and USB HDs

As if I didn't already have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done, I've spent the better part of my spare time the last four days on a new project: I'm using iTunes to fully catalog and organize my Barenaked Ladies collection. This is no small feat -- my collection includes (rough count) 30 concert recordings (both legal downloads and bootlegs) and numerous single tracks they've contributed to radio station charity CDs, movie soundtracks and other types of compilations. I'm somewhere between one-half and two-thirds of the way through getting everything ripped into MP3s, and so far the collection is taking up nearly 6GB of hard drive space.

Although this isn't the most effective use of my time right now, as the process has continued I've become more glad I'm finally doing this after having it on my "would like to do" list for years. Initially, the greatest joy was finding some gems on the bootlegs I haven't listened to in years. However, as I've been ripping some over the older bootlegs (which have been on CD-Rs for 7 years or longer) I've been experiencing first hand just how unstable the burned ink is on some of them. My own collection is proof that if you want to properly archive and store something, don't rely on CD-Rs. Thankfully, iTunes hasn't choked on a disc yet, but it has actually dropped below 1x speed (the lowest I've seen is 0.7x) when trying to import a CD-R where the ink isn't stable. I've already purchased a new external USB hard drive, and as I'm ripping I'm also transferring. I'll continue to hold on to the CD-Rs once the project is finished, but I'm not going to rely on them in any fashion as a reliable backup.

If I had the spare money, I would love nothing more than to then place the entire collection onto an iPod -- one of the new 8GB Nanos would work nicely (assuming the collection isn't bigger than that) -- and just pull that out whenever I find myself in the mood to listen to either one of those concert recordings or a special playlist I intend to make that includes all sorts of wonderful rarities such as a live cover they did of Lionel's Ritchie's "Say You Say Me" back in 1993. But for now, just having everything properly organized and archived will be satisfaction enough.

Edit to add, 10:37 PM: I spoke too soon about choking on a disc. Just as I posted this entry, iTunes choked on the second disc of the very same concert that "Say You Say Me" appeared in. It's very possible that I will have lost some material due to the aging of CD-Rs. Damn.