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We currently find ourselves in the middle of an age of transition. Gone are the dominant, universal formats which once ruled the entertainment landscape. The unquestioned reign of the compact disc began in the mid-eighties, fell from favour in the late nineties, and is now just another face in a line-up of usual suspects. Today, we’ll be looking at solutions to eliminate the confusion and chaos that comes with maintaining a multi-format media collection.
In my home, I have several shelves of vinyl that I simply cannot part with. Records produce a wonderful and warm tone, and I occasionally hook up an old tube amp so I can enjoy them in the fashion that they were originally intended. However, these marvels of mechanical ingenuity are bound by the limitations of their own physical format – making them prone to scratches, wear, and a dozen other types of damage. Nowadays, a selection of high quality USB turntables makes it simple to convert their audio into an easily accessible digital format.
I’d recommend the Denon USB Turntable because of its onboard MP3-encoding functionality. You don’t even need a computer to create digital copies of your records – just plug in a USB drive, and the Denon will handle the rest. It only takes a single gigabyte to store nearly 30 LPs of audio, allowing you to place your entire record collection in a single pocket. Transfer your MP3s to your computer, and Denon’s audio waveform recognition software will scan your new files, then automatically retrieve their associated metadata. Consumers seeking a lower cost alternative should check out the Ion Profile Pro LP USB Turntable. A solid device that can also double as a regular record player, it doesn't even require a pre-amp to crank out tunes through your stereo system. Ion also manufactures the intuitive Tape 2 PC Cassette Conversion System – a sure fire way to ensure that you'll never again be horrified by a faulty tape deck, as it makes an afternoon snack out of your favourite mix tape (for the record, Rap Traxx 2 changed my life).
If you already own a laptop or desktop computer you’d be willing to use as a dedicated media hub, there are several fantastic apps out there which can help you organize all your media. Many users give the Plex app a huge thumbs up. A client-based server, this software bears a noticable resemblance to the GUI behind the Boxee Box, and it works quite well on both Macs and PCs. Its built-in support for a huge variety of picture, movie, and music formats can really compliment a dedicated media box like the Sony Internet Player with Google TV.
Alternatively, there’s always Windows Media Player – and after decades of constant improvements, it currently enjoys a well-earned reputation based on the software’s stability, durability, and ease of use. If this is your media manager of choice, consider accessing Microsoft’s amazing online resource – where you’ll find a great selection of tips and tricks, as well as the software's newest updates.