Media soup

Part I - About
Part II - Components
Part III - Hardware
Part IV - System
Part V - Server
Part VI - Client
Part VII - Miscellaneous
Part X - Examples

Part VII - Miscellaneous

1. Miscellaneous
2. Ports
3. MP3
4. Quality
5. MediaMonkey

 


1. Miscellanous
 

This page deals with media related stuff that did not fit in elsewhere. I might shuffle, cut and paste things later, be aware, and as such this page will be more or less permanent under construction...

There's definitely some assembly required.


2. Ports
 

A little table of typical network ports and some remapping options to avoid conflicts.
 

Application Type Default port Example setup Note
------------------------------ ---------- -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------------------------
TinyWeb TCP 80 default webpage aka 'intranet'
TinyWeb / BubbleUPnP TCP 1900
TVersity - uPNP (?) ? 2869 DLNA / uPNP perhaps?
TVersity - uPNP (?) ? 2900 DLNA / uPNP perhaps?
SqueezeServer TCP UDP 3483
iPerf TCP 5001
Calibre TCP 8080
SqueezeServer TCP 8000
XBMC HTTP TCP 8080 8090 browser GUI, conflict with Calibre
Serviio ? 8895
SqueezeServer TCP 9000 browser GUI, conflict with Calibre
SqueezeServer TCP 9001 to 9010
SqueezeServer - CLI TCP 9090 9091 conflicting with XBMC JSON
XBMC - JSON ? 9090 conflicting with SqueezeServer CLI
SqueezeServer TCP 9100
XBMC - event server ? 9777
ServeToMe ? 9969
SqueezeServer TCP 10000
TVersity TCP 41952 browser GUI
BubbleUpPnP TCP 58050 add-on for BubbleUPnP http
BubbleUpPnP TCP 58051 add-on for BubbleUPnP https
ImageBank ? ? 17011
VNC ? ? ?

Note to self: need to update and complete this table one of these days...


3. MP3
 

If you're not into Apple you typically deal with three audio file types:

  • WAV
  • WMA
  • MP3
  • FLAC
For all formats: the higher the bitrate, the better the quality.

WAV is the (old) standard Windows audio file format. It's rarely used for music. Just convert it as fast as you can :-) It comes in many sample sizes and bit rates.

WMA is the newer standard and may contain DRM. Unless you have DRM'ed music I see little need to use it. Convert to either FLAC or MP3.

FLAC is a lossless format, which results in large files, but with probably the best quality possible. Be prepared to invest in harddisk space.

MP3 again comes in many flavours. MP3 is a lossy file format, ie. music converted to MP3 is loosing some information. How much information is lost depends on the compression.

MP3 comes in two flavours: CBR and VBR. CBR stands for 'constant bit rate', VBR for 'variable bit rate'. In principle, a VBR file can be smaller than a CBR file with the same quality. Note that some (older) MP3 kit has troubles playing (certain) MP3 VBR files. All modern hardware should be fine.


4. Quality
 

Bitrate

Each person is different, and thus the acceptable level of compression differs from person to person. As a rule of thumb, the higher te bitrate, the better the sound quality. I have been using the following bitrates myself:

  • FLAC - direct CD rips, that should sound better than CBR320 (though I rarely can hear the difference, to be honest)
  • CBR320 - direct CD rips (if there's no FLAC then this is my next format of choice)
  • VBR190 - as above, I have not been able to hear much, if any, difference between VBR190 and CBR320
  • VBR160 - more than enough for most small MP3 players
Don't shoot the messenger, I'm not the expert!
 

Algoritm

There are different encoders around, and they seem to result in different sound quality. I'm not an expert in these matters, me myself I haven't investigated, so I dunno' :-)
 

Encoding level

Some encoders offer different encoding levels, ie. although the resulting file has a specific bitrate, the sound quality of that file can still differ from one encoded with a better (or worse) algoritm. Many encoders have settings, like 0 for best to 9 for worst, or the other way around. Check such options carefully.

If you're ripping CD's I suggest to use whatever is the best algoritm, especially when using CBR320 or VBR190. Ripping is (hopefully) a one time event, so why not do it right the first time? I could hear the difference between some low quality and high quality conversions of the same source material.


5. MediaMonkey
 

Update. I now use a tool of my own making. Perhaps one day I'll make that public.

As an alternative you can use MusicBee, which is free and easier to setup.

You don't need MediaMonkey. In fact, I can think of quite a few good reasons not to use it.

However there's one thing it does quite well: sync your music to other devices and convert it on the fly. If your original music library contains FLAC and your MP3 player can only handle MP3's then MediaMonkey converts your files on the fly. In other words: they are copied / converted without first having to convert from FLAC to MP3 (thus you ending up with multiple different versions of the same song) followed by manually copying to the external device.

Unfortunately, MediaMonkey isn't free, and it isn't 100% stable...
 

Setting up an external device

You can mess up MediaMonkey by setting up or removing a device. If that happens you have to uninstall MediaMonkey, and then delete any remainders manually, otherwise the 'bad' setup will show up again.

I found it easier to set things up manually before plugging in the device. When identifying devices you might want to give each device its own unique name. Unfortunately I've run into USB sticks with the same 'unique' ID thus confusing MediaMonkey, so now I relabel / rename my sticks to something like MP3_ONE, MP3_TWO etcetera.

Here's how I set up a 32GB USB stick called MP3_ONE for my car. I've limited things to MP3 CBR256 / VBR190, and want to convert anything higher or incompatible to VBR190. I also want to grab a random subset of my whole music collection and copy it to the USB stick whenever I request a 'sync' (using MediaMonkey 4.0.6.1501):

  1. exit MediaMonkey
  2. insert USB stick
  3. wipe it and rename it to MP3_ONE
  4. launch MediaMonkey
  5. Tools / Options / Portable Devices
  6. select MP3_ONE then Configure
  7. go to tab Summary, then disable all options (scanning and autosync takes too much time)
  8. go to tab Auto-Sync list
  9. tick Music
  10. tick Sync random subset
  11. tick Reserve free space and set it to 2048 (32 GB 2048, 16 GB 1024, 8 GB 1024, 4 GB 512)
  12. go to tab Options
  13. go to Auto sync, tick Delete Files and Confirm Deletion
  14. go to Auto conversion (here you can set the conversion rules etcetera)
  15. Set Formats, add file format MP3, audio format MP3, all sample rates, 2 channels, Ok, Ok
  16. add auto conversion rule, turn incompatible into MP3 VBR190
  17. add auto conversion rule, turn any audio with bitrate higher than 256 into MP3 VBR190
  18. go to Destination, modify paths as required, I use \mediamonkey\$Replace(<folder>,MEDIA4\music\flac,)\<filename>
  19. you're done, hit Ok
  20. you might want to exit and restart MediaMonkey now so you won't loose any settings in case it crashes
  21. in the main window, in the Media Tree (if it isn't visible check the View menu) select MP3_ONE and start Auto-Sync
  22. sit back, relax, drink some tea, this is going to take some time with 32 GB...