HD Audio-To-Go: Its Toast-A-Riffic!

I recently discovered a handy solution to a longstanding high-res audio challenge I've faced. Tucked away on my computer I realized was a program that could deliver a simple solution to greatly increase the usefulness of my high definition (HD) digital music collection. 

AR-toastIconMusicNotes225.jpgOne of the physical problems I've had with HD audio is that it's not very portable - the files are large. Up until now my HD music has been strapped to my office computer, which connects to my secondary stereo via an Audioengine D1 DAC in order for me to enjoy them. I want to play my HD music on my living room home theater system... on the other side of my apartment. Easier said than done... more on that in a bit...

The lightbulb-over-my-head solution appeared when I was recently using Roxio's Toast and discovered a no-brainer fix I'd amazingly enough never considered: burn the HD albums to audio-only DVDs

I should have figured this out long ago. Heck... poking around on the HD Tracks website in the FAQ they even recommend: "To really get the most benefit of an HDtracks music file you could burn a CD-R and play it on your home Hi-Fi system." 

Take note of the phrase: "...the most benefit..."

I sure missed a significant tip! Guess it pays to read the fine print... but... well... I didn't. And, I suspect that perhaps some of you out there in audiophile-land might not have either. Thus, I decided to write up this article...

AR-GratefulRamones225.jpgDepending on the file size and album length, you can put multiple albums on a single DVD and it can even shuffle the album tracks. This is particularly appealing for certain types of music such as that of The Grateful Dead where you might want to create a snapshot of a particular period of the band. For example, I made a 1973-75 disc containing the albums from those years, something of a set from an important and transitional point in the band's career: Wake of the Flood, Mars Hotel and Blues For Allah.

I plan to make a high resolution "mixtape" type disc soon. 

Thanks to Toast, suddenly, my high-resolution music collection seems a whole lot more fun and appealing. Now my HD Tracks collection can be easily enjoyed on my living room home theater system. And I can easily store the music with my other music CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, not stuck on a hard drive in a virtual file folder...

Now, I know that some of you might be sitting there reading this calling out other "obvious" solutions I should consider before this. But I have my reasons for steering clear of them. 

AR-BowieHD225.jpgFor example, I could invest in a robust home server set-up, wiring my apartment with costly cables that could easily enable large high-resolution file sharing. That is all fine and good but I really don't want to hassle with yet another technology cluttering my urban life space. I've run out of outlets to power additional devices. And then there is the issue of budget... That approach just isn't a reality for me.

How about flash drives? Yeah, I could do that, but that would be one more digital "thing" for me to manage and then navigate on the TV screen to play via the remote on my AVR or my Oppo Universal player or the Apple TV or the Western Digital streaming boxes I own, depending on which USB port I decided to use. Either way, using one of those little remotes to navigate files is not my favorite thing in the world to do. I am trying to minimize the amount of file management I have to do - digital music processes I find decidedly un-fun. 

I want this music useable in a form factor that is as dumb-simple to play as a CD...

AR-ToastIcon225.jpgAnd, no... I don't want to put my music on the cloud... for me, that is more of a hassle. The HD files would eat up gigabytes of space in a heartbeat and I suspect that the bandwidth it would eat up while uploading them would generate additional charges from my ISP at the end of the month. 

Maybe someday Apple TV will handle high resolution audio for easy distribution wirelessly around the home. But for now, this poor man's work-around is more than adequate and in some ways it is much more desirable...

Borrowing a line from an old Ren & Stimpy cartoon: Its Toast-A-Riffic!

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