How Big is Your Music Library?

AR-library2.jpgI have, during the last fifty years, collected a lot of recorded music. I have approximately 2500 LPs (down from more than 4000), 3000 CDs, and hundreds of DATs, cassettes, CDRs, PCM-F1 video cassettes, two-track reel-to-reel tapes, laser discs, and even a couple of wire-reel recordings. If I tried to listen to everything in my collection, back-to-back, I'd be dead before I got halfway through it.

Perhaps it's about time to have less rather than MORE music in my library...

I also have about 1.5 TB of digital music files on my main computer, but only 600 GB are from commercial tracks; the rest are my own recordings and the live concerts I recorded with J. Gordon Holt. When I got the Sony HAP Z-1ES to review I didn't even try to load ALL my digital files onto it - I only loaded about 700 GB. Why? Because I don't need to have instant access to all my music files - only to the ones I will want to play during the next couple of years or so...

AR-library3dd.jpgFor many audiophiles the size of their music collections is a direct reflection of their commitment to music. The bigger the collection the more of a music lover the owner must be. Really? I do agree that someone with even a modest collection is probably more of a music fan than someone who plays the same ten albums in their smartphone over and over again, but after the first 1000 albums I think all bets are off. A collector with 1500 albums is just as big a fan as someone with 15,000. The rest is just the size of your, ahem, collection...

From the time I got my first copy of iTunes up and running on my Performa 6400 Mac I realized that ripping every CD in my collection into my computer audio system was a bad idea. Back in those days it was a bad idea because of storage limitations. But I still don't have plans to rip every CD I own into my computer even though storage space is no longer an issue because I realize that some CDs are never going to get any airtime. And the only aspect of my computer audio system that still has limitations is me and my own finite amount of time on earth.

AR-librqry4.jpgI've read a number of postings from audiophiles who have been frustrated that a particular computer music system or media player was either too slow or too limited in its ability to acquire, store, and play their entire digital music collection. The collections, in all cases, were well over one TB. My reaction to what I feel is a self-imposed problem is, "Use a little bit of judgment. Do you really need every piece of recorded music you've ever owned in your media player?" Consider the plight of a poor analog LP collector - they actually have to physically locate, clean, and then play each disc they want to hear one by one. How inconvenient...

Hey, if you really, really, need your entire music collection duplicated in one player's ecosystem, nowadays you certainly have the means to do so. But I can't help but wonder whether the problems that come from trying to make a large digital music library accessible from EVERY digital music playback/storage device in your home is worth the effort.

AR-library9.jpgObviously, many audiophiles do require ONE computer system that can store and play every digital music file that they own. But when you add additional streaming devices or players with their own separate storage capabilities deciding to limit your library to music that you are more likely to listen to during the next couple of years makes life much easier.

Trust me on this - no one, even someone as snooty as me, will think any less of you because your music library is "only" 500 GB or think more of you because your library is so big it takes up more than 5 TBs...you can still only listen to one tune at a time...

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