What to do with all those cds?

Over the last week I have had an interesting conversation with a friend from my university days. We both love our music, he is a dedicated collector: 20,000 cds. I kid you not.
He has recently discovered streaming, tidal, etc. He is now conflicted, does he:

  1. Keep buying cds (several a week)?
  2. Buy full streaming subscription?
  3. Keep all those Cds?
  4. Rip the ones he loves?

All views welcome …
I offered to rip some for him while he goes on holiday but …

If you rip the CDs then you likely have a legal obligation to keep them. If you really do decide that you aren’t going to spin them again (at least until such time as you do decide to play them again, or need to re-rip) then best store them away somewhere safe. If you want to minimise the space they take up then buy CD envelopes and place the CD and booklet into each one.

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Assume that an album contains 1 hour of music … 20.000 albums means 20.000 hours of music … even when playing music for 24 hours a day, you need more than 18 years before you have to play an album twice … :thinking::flushed:

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  1. FFS, STOP!!!
  2. Try it, they all have free trial periods, try some and decide for yourself.
  3. Unless you are a vampire, you cannot possibly have listened to all of them, and decided you like them enough to listen to the again. Start culling them.
  4. That’s what I’d do.

1+2 - Demo the streaming services available for sound quality and catalogue choice - if he has so many CDs he may have acquired most back catalogue stuff he wants and will primarily be interested in new releases. Streaming is a great tool for discovery, and if he intends to continue purchasing it may prevent bad purchases, and for some services there will be the option of purchasing hi-res too. Personally, I tend to only buy CDs these days if not available on streaming or much cheaper for a physical copy and I want a digital copy for the NAS - don’t forget the rights holders can potentially remove items from a streaming service’s catalogue at any time including prior digital purchases - not likely to be a massive issue but could for some recordings. Also he may find gaps in coverage - not all of an artist’s back catalogue is necessarily available, especially if they’ve switched labels.

3 - If planning to rip, definitely keep them (morally and potentially legally). A cull might be wise as others have said.

4 - Yes, but this can be quite time consuming for many discs, and it can occasionally be tedious getting all the metadata/artwork correct if you’re fussy about that kind of thing (suspect most of us are). If he does rip loads of discs, remind him to keep a backup or two as you don’t want to have to repeat the process for hundreds or thousands of discs if copies in use become corrupted/unplayable.

If he chooses to get rid of a load, they probably won’t be that valuable individually unless there are rarities - see the Music Magpie thread in Music Room - discs are often worth pennies only these days. (Though 20,000 even at 10p each would net £2000 I suppose!)

Good advice - thanks

He is going through those trial periods but can’t decide …

I would go for 3 and 4. Keep the cds and rip them for easy access to the collection. And don’t forget the backup storage should the main one goes wrong.

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I just built a ripper with six Drives, I used DBpoweramp and batch ripper. I managed to rip 600 CD’s in three evenings. Don’t underestimate how long 20K would take.

That’s pretty good going! It’s the metadata editing that would need a lot of time and patience, though, depending on how fussy you are about it. With 20000 CDs, I imagine you would need to be quite fussy.

The DBpoweramp batch ripper got it right 99% of the time. All I had to do was load CD’s and it automatically pulled the meta data, ripped them and then ejected them.

I guess it depends on what genre of music you listen to and how you browse it (as well as your level of OCD.) With 20000 CDs, you may find that ability to search by genre, or other categories, rather than just artist or album, is crucial, and these are tags that you would almost certainly need to edit carefully.

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With such a collection I would not actually rip the CDs.
I would get the best CD player I can find and enjoy playing them.

Assuming that each CD is 600 MB, and ripping to WAV / AIFF, one would need a drive of 12TB to house the collection… Or set up several NAS on the network.

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20,000 is more music than you can realistically listen to. Certainly you can’t binge on an artist and spin the same disc all week. But then we all have different habits and get our kicks differently.

At 20k, I’d rip on demand before listening and slowly move boxes of ripped discs to storage.

If it was under 2000 discs I’d say pay a neighbour’s kid to do it. But 20k… holy cow. Respect!

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Richard, that is interesting. I think you will find under current recent UK/EU legislation it’s unlawful to currently copy or rip a CD at all.
Perhaps the old UK gov position you referred to, that was successfully recently challenged under EU law, will be reintroduced once the UK leaves the EU, but I suspect there will be other legislation priorities.

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I seem to recall that it was the High Court that overruled the government’s attempt to relax the copying restriction, so I’m not sure leaving the EU will make any difference.

Oh dear!

I thought for a minute we had identified the first genuine reason for wanting to leave the EU.


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Indeed, Simon…

There is something about being a ‘collector’ that would not be satisfied with digital replicas, much in the same way that the routine (?ritual) of listening to an album is a very different experience on LP than even on CD. There is something about flipping through 12" spines, gazing at the covers, smelling the paper and vinyl, handling the album, perusing it for surface dust, gently laying it down on the platter and then gently lowering the stylus that can never be recreated by tapping at icons on a screen. This rich experience is somewhat lost on CD, and entirely lost in an electronic database.

Asking a rabid collector to digitize his collection and stowing away the physical media is like having a stamp collector simply scan his/her collection and thinking that the near perfect visual reproduction can substitute for the loss of other sensory interactions.

If I had 20,000 CDs I would take a month off, and spend most of the day actually listening to what I have, rather than try to supplement the collection. This would also be a great time to snap up a CD555, which can be had rather inexpensively these days, and leave streaming for less formal listening (and maybe even set it on ‘random’ as a way of rediscovering what is already there).

The physical act of doing 20,000 error free rips is also a daunting task, especially if it is close to 1:1 time.

If I wanted to write something deeply personal and introspective (which is sort of what listening to your favorite music can be), I would use a high quality fountain pen that has a certain permanence and part of the writers soul in the letters. But for a technical paper I would use a keyboard anyday.

And the ability to change songs, artists and albums instantaneously somehow remove the solemnity of the selection process and the need to listen to the passage all the way through. In the days when I had listening sessions with an equally impassioned listener we would put an album on from the start, and listen all the way through, without even exchanging a word, as what we had to say paled in comparison to what Miles Davis may have had to give. The times when I have shared streamed music we seldom listened to more than one track per album.

I however do not think that CDs will be a current format in 50 years, as they get discontinued in favor of streamers, and once maybe 80% of music is purchased as downloads, there will be little incentive to release new titles, unless there is a vinyl-like resurgence. But CD players do not have the longevity or easy serviceability as turntables (nor do they have the golden age audiophile mystique), so when the final one is made, there format will become extinct in a decade. And by then conventional hard drives will have gone the way of floppy disks.