Music Server challenges - Box Sets

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ArmyOfQuad

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I've for a long time struggled with digital music storage. From the first days of discovering mp3s and discovering just how tiny that 1.2GB hard drive that I would "never fill up" is, to dumping data to large hard drive to large hard drive, to losing data to hard drive failures, to building in various redundancy and/or backup solutions, to building a dedicated file storage server, it just keeps growing.

I structure my folders like I'd have things on shelves, a dedicated folder for Blu-Rays, a folder for DVD-A, a folder for SACD that contains iso images, as converting those to flac would be a digital conversion and not a bit for bit copy and expanding to dsd files would greatly increase the size, a folder for CDs with letter folders within that as that is my biggest collection of digital music, a folder for DTS CDs, a folder for boots, a folder for music video materials, a folder for conversions and needledrops, a folder for Box Sets.

Of course, organizing my digital music library into folders is nice for computer browsing, but does little good when it comes to media server software. But, that's no problem - media server software sucks big time anyways. I've yet to find any way to build an easy to navigate way to tie in the server to my receivers. Roku sticks are cheap pieces of garbage that are locked down. Fire sticks are awful devices that are unpredictable. Plex won't deal with multi-channel all that well - it might pass through dolby digital stuff. Kodi - a nightmare to get to work on fire stick devices, their devs tried to assist, they threw their hands up in the air and gave up. Ultimately, the bottom line is, I keep wanting something that acts like a computer. So, my receivers have computers. Put a wireless mouse and keyboard on the coffee table, take an hdmi out to an hdmi in, boom, easy navigation, tons of software at your fingertips. It's not elegant, but it's functional. Firesticks are good for youtube videos to fall asleep to, and not much else.

But, that's not the topic to discuss.

The boxset - how to archive it.

I remember when the In The Court Of The Crimson King 40th Anniversary Box seemed over the top. Although I suppose it wasn't that much over the top since there were no marbles or coasters. A rather simple humble deluxe box by today's standards, only 6 discs, book, promo photos, cover artwork, and a few pins. And now that box set is over 10 years old, and an even more ridiculously over the top box has come up that puts it to shame, the complete 1969 recordings.

I used to grumble a little bit at ripping discs and having the overlap of materials between the CDs and hi-res discs. Doubling up on space. But, my music server is a dump truck, not a series of tubes - so I just kept piling it all on. But disecting this 1969 box, and it's like - where do I draw the line? And then how to deal with the overlapping materials between the 2 boxes? And, how many stereo mixes of an album do I need - am I really going to listen to them all? When do I ever go to sit down and think "hmmm.....today feels like a 2009 stereo remix today" or "you know....I'm getting that 2002 remastering of the original mix vibe today". Which, ok, having the best available digital copy of the original mix is probably a good idea, but the 40th anniversary box had that in hi-res on the dvd-a. The new box only has it in CD quality.

So I find myself making folder structures of the disks in the box, but then if better audio exists, I grab that - so I grab a copy of the 2002 master edition from my ripping of the 40th anniversary set, and throw a copy of that into the Disk 8 folder I've made for this box. But - now I have 2 copies of the same audio? Maybe I remove that from the 40th box? Maybe when I'm done sorting out the complete box, any leftovers in the 40th box that weren't in there, I move into that folder? Make a master box set on my hard drive? (note - after this rambling, I found the 2002 master edition is included on the 2019 blu-ray. Not the most logical place, but, I suppose that's where there was room).

Although, it really doesn't matter all that much - as if I'm ever like, I want the original mix, I'll probably take the opportunity to grab the original vinyl copy I have, I'm probably just filling up space with data that will never be used.

But, I'm probably one of the lucky ones. As much as I like King Crimson, they're not one of my top favorites. Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoy King Crimson, bought my vinyl copy of In The Court when I was in college - never bought any other King Crimson vinyl though. Never bought any King Crimson CDs actually. I didn't start picking up any other King Crimson until the 5.1 issues started coming out. But was never one of those fans that picked up live recordings they were releasing, so I'm kind of the perfect target audience for these boxes, I haven't bought all this material multiple times already. I'm not just buying it for the atmos mix.

But even then, is there a perfect target audience? I mean - that these box sets are still focused on the CD as the primary format shows that they're not exactly targeting an audience that's "with it" as far as todays standards go. But....those that are "with it" don't even care about owning their own copy of anything, let alone physical copies - just sign up for spotify, and who needs to manage a file collection or lug around archaic discs? But certainly they're targeting beyond the outdated crowd that still buys CDs with the inclusion of the blu ray discs - but then they include dvds that double up on the stuff on the blu rays? It's rather comical what a compromised product they have to put together when putting these boxes together - packing in the latest and greatest technology has to offer with hi-res dolby atmos 3d mixes, with 20 CDs which are about as relevant as 8-tracks were in the 90s.

Is there any point to this post? No, not really. Just a random rambling of random thoughts that needed someplace to go as I try and make sense of this box set. I haven't been keeping up with the boxes, and realized - crap, I ought to pick up a Sailors Tales box to fill the gap between the 1969 box and starless box. And of course it's out of print. So, it's like - grab a used copy while you can before it goes up to ridiculous prices. But, it's like, damn....maybe you should listen to some of the boxes you've bought over the past 10 or so years that are looking really pretty on your shelves, but haven't been fully listened to yet, and then pick up the next one.

Anyways, I suppose that's enough wasted time rambling a bunch of nonsense for now, gotta get back to the disc ripping.
 
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LuvMyQuad

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Fire sticks are awful devices that are unpredictable. Kodi - a nightmare to get to work on fire stick devices, their devs tried to assist, they threw their hands up in the air and gave up. Put a wireless mouse and keyboard on the coffee table, take an hdmi out to an hdmi in, boom, easy navigation, tons of software at your fingertips. It's not elegant, but it's functional. Firesticks are good for youtube videos to fall asleep to, and not much else.
I'm not sure what your Firestick issues were, but I have been running one using Kodi on my bedroom system for years now. I would not say it was difficult to install at all. Get a copy of "Downloader" from the Google APP store, use it to sideload Kodi onto the Firestick, set your music sources, and you're in business. All thats left is to choose and setup your skin of choice. Where did you run into a problem?

In my main system, I also run Kodi on a dedicated HTPC using a wireless Logitech keyboard for control. Both Kodi versions operate identically and reliably. I actually prefer the control aspect of the Firestick. That Firestick remote is all one needs to control all aspects of Kodi. The Logi keyboard is more cumbersome, but also more capable for doing other tasks on the HTPC. The only downside I can see to running a media player off of an Android device like the Firestick is you can't use an audio driver like WASAPI that bypasses the built in audio mixer software of the OS.
 

LuvMyQuad

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I used to grumble a little bit at ripping discs and having the overlap of materials between the CDs and hi-res discs. Doubling up on space. But, my music server is a dump truck, not a series of tubes - so I just kept piling it all on. But disecting this 1969 box, and it's like - where do I draw the line? And then how to deal with the overlapping materials between the 2 boxes? And, how many stereo mixes of an album do I need - am I really going to listen to them all? When do I ever go to sit down and think "hmmm.....today feels like a 2009 stereo remix today" or "you know....I'm getting that 2002 remastering of the original mix vibe today". Which, ok, having the best available digital copy of the original mix is probably a good idea, but the 40th anniversary box had that in hi-res on the dvd-a. The new box only has it in CD quality.

So I find myself making folder structures of the disks in the box, but then if better audio exists, I grab that - so I grab a copy of the 2002 master edition from my ripping of the 40th anniversary set, and throw a copy of that into the Disk 8 folder I've made for this box. But - now I have 2 copies of the same audio? Maybe I remove that from the 40th box? Maybe when I'm done sorting out the complete box, any leftovers in the 40th box that weren't in there, I move into that folder? Make a master box set on my hard drive? (note - after this rambling, I found the 2002 master edition is included on the 2019 blu-ray. Not the most logical place, but, I suppose that's where there was room).

I guess I use a simpler ripping structure. I dont rip everything in the set unless its warranted for some reason.

I keep 4 main root directories: Stereo. Multichannel, Atmos, and Video. Within each of them are Artist folders and in each artist folder are the album folders. Different sources like SACD or Blueray or Q8 transfers are specified in the album folder name and album tag name along with the true channel count. Redbook CDs are the default. So if there is nothing signifying any other source in the title if is a CD.

So the following might apply:

Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side of the Moon (2.0 SACD)
Dark Side of the Moon (5.1 SACD)
Dark Side of the Moon (5.1 BRD)
Dark Side of the Moon (4.0 BRD)
Dark Side of the Moon (4.1 AP mix)

or even
The Wall
The Wall (2.0 MoFi)
The Wall (5.1 Penteo UM)
The Wall (4.0 Specweb UM)

Anything that makes sense can go in the parenthesis.

Sometimes I do duplicate material to audition it. So if my old CD copy of something sounds better than a newly released high res but badly compressed version, I compare them and keep only the one I want. The disks are always still available if I miss something or want to re-visit it. But that rarely happens.
 

ArmyOfQuad

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I had kodi working at one point on one of my devices. But I bought a fire cube on sale, and whatever generation it is, it passes raw data differently. Spent some hours in an irc channel with some of the kodi devs, they built some different versions for me. I probably can't speak to the details adequately, but they were basically trying to find different ways to trick the fire cube into passing the data the way they wanted it to.

Also, those that do work....I'm not entirely convinced they work that great. The way that the devs basically had to find different way to send the data to try and trick the device into working, I'm not entirely convinced you can rely on it doing what you think it's doing. Who knows what the darn thing is doing to my data, might be transcoding everything without telling me it is.

And I find as time passes, the fire stick in my bedroom is slower, and slower, and slower to respond. I eventually reformatted it and started over, it seems to have helped, but it's not a speedy device.

Sure, they're hackable and customizable. But they're not intended to be. They're intended to be a cheap piece of plastic to allow an easy way to sign up for pay streaming services. I did like the simplicity of the roku sticks when I had those, they weren't as slow as the fire sticks. But, not customizable at all. And then the twitch app stopped working. And it seems that, since amazon owns twitch, they decided to stop supporting non fire devices like roku sticks to be able to stream twitch. Which is the type of anti competitive bullshit that ought to be illegal.

I tried to do what I could with the cheap stick devices. Yeah, you can make them do some things. And if you're lucky, kodi may do some great things - although if I had a nickel for every time I was able to make kodi freeze or crash..... but at the end of the day, they're cheap pieces of plastic that weren't build with quality or audiophiles in mind, that are probably sold at a loss, to get people to sign up for streaming services.
 

ArmyOfQuad

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Yes. I had a 4k stick on the system, but then I "upgraded" it to a 4k cube. Which stutters on twitch streams, and never worked right with kodi. Although I did get tidal atmos streaming to work with it, but that took an amount of effort. But I stopped caring about trying to get it to do things it won't do long ago, I wasted enough of my valuable spare time fighting the thing. At some point I had a choice to make, I could spend my weekends fighting with these gadgets, or I could just setup a PC and actually enjoy my time. I finally opted for the sane option.
 

LuvMyQuad

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I don't know what twitch is. Never used a cube. everything I stream from the firestick is FLAC. I am very glad i didn't run into the problems you did.

There is no question that a dedicated PC makes for the most reliable and straightforward media player.
 

ArmyOfQuad

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I thought the cube would just be an upgraded stick, it had better specs listed. But basically it's a fire device with an alexa built in. On the one hand, now I can argue with my AI over turning my TV on and off, and maybe it will without having to shuffle the remote controls around. On the other, now I have a microphone in my living room that amazon can listen to. I probably wouldn't have bought it if I knew it was just a firestick alexa 2 in 1 device.
 

jimfisheye

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I remember keeping separate folders per format back when you needed to avoid any sample rate conversion on the fly - even upsampling. That drove that. I consolidated that and keep a single archive now. I'll normally keep the system set to 96k and anything less gets upsampled. Apogee DACs. (I downsample any 192k music I end up with to 96k to save space.)

Upsampling on the fly (and even other conversions) is transparent now with modern algorithms. The issues with some of the old apps and older rogue devices (AVRs with conversions all over the place) are mostly long gone aside from some Best Buy or Amazon products. It's simply a music archive and I collect for the best available copies when there's a choice. Looks like around 10TB now. Backup runs every day.
 

fcormier

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I keep everything but tag everything accordingly. Yes, In the Court Of the Crimson King is a big one (I have 3 versions). I don't keep different resolutions of the same material though (16/44 vs 24/96). Even if I have only one copy of an album, if it's remastered, I tag it to say it is.

In the Court Of the Crimson King [1999 Remaster] -> CD
In the Court Of the Crimson King [2009 Mix]
In the Court Of the Crimson King [2004 Remaster] [2009 Mix] -> 2004 remaster from the 2009 disc
In the Court Of the Crimson King [2019 Mix]
In the Court Of the Crimson King [2004 Remaster] [2019 Mix] -> 2004 remaster from the 2019 disc

Add to that the instrumentals, alternate album, additional material, and this is only for stereo.

This is a screen capture from Winamp (yes, I still use Winamp). I noticed I have a typo to correct.
1652463762645.png
 

ArmyOfQuad

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This box certainly requires certain thought to try and archive and tag in a way that makes sense.

At some point I need to go back and redo some things. Although, given that I've given up on media solutions that utilize the tags for organization, it's a low priority. But early on, I was ripping dvd-a discs, and give the stereo version and 5.1 version the same album name, as they are the same album. And then if I tried to use something like kodi or plex, that causes confusion. Because you now have 2 of each track with the same artist and album tags. I did often add to the comments tag if it is 5.1 or stereo, but that doesn't help much. Add to that, if I have a CD of the same album, I have 3 of each track.

Point is, now I make a point to give album names that are also descriptive.

And then the album name tag becomes a problem point in multi disc sets. I always found it clunky to find that sets were tagged with disc 1 or disc 2 in the album tag field. But when it comes to 2 or 3 disc sets, that's simple enough - just increase the track numbers and make it one large album. But when you have a 20+ disc set, that becomes a bit unwieldy. But if you have multiple discs with the same album name, that can get confusing, because take away the folder structure and rely on tags, you have 20+ track 1s for the same album. Sure, there's a disc number tag. But I've found not everything acknowledges that. I ripped a box set, gave it all the album title of the box set, made sure my disc number tags were correct, grabbed a set of the files for one of my portable players, and found that it wanted to play each track 1 back to back, then each track 2 back to back - couldn't get it to utilize the disc number tag to properly sort it.

So the disc number in the album field is the simple solution.

Although I prefer to break things out into separate folders/albums with logic - sometimes the individual discs aren't logical. Like, I recently picked up the Zappa Mothers 1971 box. I separated them into folders based on the concerts, a folder for each concert. So I have to rip the discs, massage the data a bit with mp3tag (which works on flacs as well), and make my own more logical chunks of the box rather than the disc changes.

With the King Crimson 1969 set, I find most of the discs are logically split up. So I've been keeping to the disc order, and then replacing CD audio with Blu-Ray audio where applicable, to reduce doubling up, and keeping things in a logical order. For example, Disc 21 is a blu-ray that consists of all the sessions materials that are on CDs 13-18. So I created a single folder called Disk 13-18 - Sessions (Disk 21 Blu-Ray). Kinda keeps things in the spirit of the original box, without doubling up, without splitting things up into more folders than necessary. And then the album tag I basically make "The Complete 1969 Recordings - (additional info)"

Of course, this means if I do manage to use a media software of some sort to playback things based on tags, now a single box will show up as 10 or more separate albums instead as of one single package. But - who listens to 25 discs back to back? Functionally speaking, that probably makes more sense.

When it comes to file tags and systems that use it, I feel like a system was designed that is 80-90 percent there, with that 10 percent of problems things that most don't care about, or one has to acquire tools and devote time to managing to get it all perfect. And even then, I haven't gotten it all perfect. Not even close.

Kinda makes me think of how Futurama went about depicting the future. A lot of science fiction things depict a world with future technology that is perfect - doors automatically open and close for you as you walk through. While in futurama, the automatic doors close on you. Yeah, there will be future tech that does cool things - but it will still suck and have it's problems.
 
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par4ken

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You bring up points that many of us face.

With CD sets I like to put them in one folder increasing the tag numbers like you said. When the CD or set contains multiple separate albums I like sort them as separate albums. If a CD contains the original album plus bonus tracks I like to put the bonus tracks in a separate folder either under the same album or as a completely separate folder under the same artist. Two channel and matrix encoded albums are placed together on one hard drive. When I have an encoded album I don't always bother with the plain stereo version but their are exceptions, especially if the stereo version is higher resolution. I tag all my files with dbpoweramp's tag editor and/or Mp3tag.

I like to place all my discrete surround files on a separate drive. I used to convert all 5.1 files to 4.0 for compatibility with my (4.0) sound card now I don't have to do that. Still I prefer that quad files contain only four tracks. Keeping multi and stereo files separate helps prevent multiple files showing up.

With Windows 7 I had no problem sharing my audio files from any drive on any computer to any others. Windows 10 made that more difficult. Getting an Oppo BDP-103 I was able to play files over the network but found that I need Media Player enabled! I then found that Media Player was adding hidden image files to my music folders. Often the image file would get changed as well! I switched to JR River and it seemed to be working at first then it started adding the image files as well, a situation that I do not want.. Connecting a USB drive directly works well. I've given up on the networking for now.

Some time ago I lost my "Music" drive but still had much of the music backed up on another drive. I didn't back up many of my CD rips though and am still in the process of adding those files back in. In one way losing that music drive was a good thing as it was becoming cluttered with CD, DVDA, SACD and sometimes vinyl rips of the same title. It's best to keep just the highest resolution files that you can. Determining the best file can sometimes be challenging. A high resolution file that is brickwalled sounds worse than a lower resolution file that is less compressed. Now I check the DR with Foobar and add the rating to the folder title, usually keeping only the best ones deleting those low DR folders.

What to do with those compilations is yet another question. Do you need ten copies of track X because it's found on so many different releases. For now I've been doing just that but it would be more efficient to save just one copy of each track? Then how do you sort them?

This reminds me that I had better back up the new music files on my computer or risk losing them yet again!
 

albertop

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This is how I organise files and folders when ripping box sets. The KC's box sets have proven to be particularly challenging on this regards :)
Some screenshots below.

Left: Folder structure and naming on Dropbox. There is a Boxset folder with subfolders for each CD and Hi-res album of the Blu-ray discs.

Middle and Right: How the files are tagged for Kodi. The CDs are grouped in a single album called "The Complete 1969 Recordings [ALAC]". Each CD is a disc (1/10, 2/10, etc.)
Hi-res content is tagged differently, each album on its own. I generally add the file format, with bit depth and sample rate at the end of the title, because many mobile apps do not allow me to see that information during playback. I simply write FLAC or ALAC when it's 16/44.1, but also add the sample rate/bit depth when different than standard CD resolution.

1652494929694.png
IMG_0405.jpeg
IMG_0406.jpeg


I keep the Box Set CDs in a single album because it works well with iTunes and mobile listening. See screenshot below where the name of the concert (or album type/mix) is added to the title of the song. So, all non hi-res content ends up in a single album, but different folders, though.

1652496479920.png


Surround content is tagged as follows: ALBUM NAME (MIX TYPE) [FORMAT BIT DEPTH/SAMPLE RATE].
One folder for each mix/album.

IMG_0407.jpeg
 

barfle

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There is no question that a dedicated PC makes for the most reliable and straightforward media player.
I use a drobo 5N as my media source i stead of a PC. It plays through my Marantz pre-pro, my OPPO 105, and through both Rokus. The only drawback is that it won’t play Microsoft playlists, which can be overcome by simply copying the files to a separate folder.
 

fcormier

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Other examples:
Someone Here Is Missing and All The Wars are CDs with bonus tracks. I tag them so they are separate because sometimes I only want to listen to the album or the bonus tracks (and both are remastered editions)
Where We Stood is a Blu-ray with four albums on it:
- Where We Stood itself
- Your Wilderness
- The acoustic album of Your Wilderness (included on some versions of the CD)
- 8 Years later (bonus disc on some versions of the Your Wilderness CD)
1652579525918.png
 

AYanguas

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I've for a long time struggled with digital music storage. From the first days of discovering mp3s and discovering just how tiny that 1.2GB hard drive that I would "never fill up" is, to dumping data to large hard drive to large hard drive, to losing data to hard drive failures, to building in various redundancy and/or backup solutions, to building a dedicated file storage server, it just keeps growing.

I think many of us have follow this route. And we have learn about it.

I structure my folders like I'd have things on shelves, a dedicated folder for Blu-Rays, a folder for DVD-A, a folder for SACD that contains iso images, as converting those to flac would be a digital conversion and not a bit for bit copy and expanding to dsd files would greatly increase the size, a folder for CDs with letter folders within that as that is my biggest collection of digital music, a folder for DTS CDs, a folder for boots, a folder for music video materials, a folder for conversions and needledrops, a folder for Box Sets.

After several years looking for strategies like that and changing from time to time I have decided what is best for one Objective: LISTEN TO ONE PARTICULAR ARTIST. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC.

So the MAIN atriubute (Folder) to clasify everything is the Artist Name.

- Have Everything in a big HDD disk, to easy navigate from PC. Of course have an adequate Backup/Contingency Plan, alternate disk in another PC/Location everything replicated.
- Easy to Navigate and find from a PC Browsing.
- Adapt to this criteria, when looking for Media Players. Best for Folders Navigation: DUNE (in my case). Second one: Oppo with jailbreak.


I started clasifying by genres but that was Not good. Looking for a particular artist , dont find it just because I decided to file it under another genre.

I have not yet reached the point of locating everything in one place. Now, I have the following only Three "genres", that "separate" my mood or current listening taste:

Classical - Classical Music, even Modern Concerts such as John Williams Film Music.
Jazz - Including old and modern Jazz and also Blues.
Rock - ALL the rest, modern music, even if it is not rock. If in Doubt (Free jazz, Jazz rock). Put it Here.

Inside each Folder I have ALL albums clasified by Artist.

Then I look for an artist, Say King Crimson

Then look for an album: All Albums are sorted by its year at the beginning of the Album Folder Name.

If You have, say, just some Albums (CDs) from That Artist, Thats fine enough.

BUT, when you have more formats (and Box sets) that make it complicate, I use subfolders, within the Artist name, to clasify what would be relevant, but only if needed for the big amount of discs.

Artist Name
---Albums (Only individual Editions)
------Year - Album Title [FORMAT] (You may have several formats/folders for a single Album: CD, DVD-A, SACD, BluRay, Vinil Rip, etc...)
---Box Sets
------Year - BOX Set Name
----------Disk 1
----------Disk 2 .... All Discs from a Box Set are here. Even if it is just Original Album CD, put it here, Not in the Albums Folder
---Other Folders (If apropriate if too much discs, such as Compilations, Live, or whatever needed to clasify. For instance "ProjeKcts" or "The Elements Tour Boxes" for King Crimson)

Thus, the EntryPoint to look for an album is the ARTIST NAME. Then navigate trough Albums (or subfolders), to find all the Formats you have.


As the needed HDD disk to hold everything is not big enough, I have separated VIDEO CONCERTS (Blurays/DVDs mainly) in a Different HDD disc.

Currently I have:
14TB Music HDD (92% Full)
18TB Concerts HDD (64% full)

Both replicated in another Two in another PC in the Summer House (Backup and Contingency).

If a Box Set contains a VIDEO Concert..... Where to file it? Welll. Initially Under Music/Rock/Artitst/Box Sets/YYYY-Box Setname, to get All the Box Set together.

But Sometime I doubt. What a nightmare in this First World Problem.

Apart of all this, then it comes the Films/Series, but that is another story.
 
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