Audio ReQuest Music Servers

The ReQuest Music Server is an incredible piece of equipment. It not only has the ability to play music in a variety of system designs (single-room, multi-room, etc.) and display data as to song information, it can also stream music over a local network - different users can listen to different music at the same time on their computers.

There are a few things, however, that tend to get overlooked when one of these units is installed. I have some experience with these servers, and have found a few things that may make their use a little easier. Following is a list of some of those items along with possible solutions / suggestions.

DISCLAIMER: Make sure that you know enough about these steps before doing anything - we don't want to be (and aren't) responsible for any problems you might encounter. If this seems to be too much work, or you aren't comfortable with it, please make arrangements to hire someone to do this for you.

Some of the Issues:

This item uses a Hard Drive to store files / songs. Hard drives can crash.

While this will tie in to other suggestions later, the main point is that hard drives can (and do) crash. This is by no means a negative reflection on the hardware ReQuest uses for its music servers (which I have seen to include Maxtor drives - the same I use for my PC). It is more a thought about what position you might be in if your server decides to stop functioning. If you have a single server unit (usually a "Pro" model), and have spent countless hours loading music, or perhaps have paid a fee for someone else to load the music, the last thing you want to see is the unit having issues during playback.


On-line Databases used for CD look-ups are not always accurate.

This comment is true for most databases that are user-input based. There aren't real standards set for how music data is submitted / entered into a database. Artist names ("The Eagles" versus "Eagles"; "aerosmith" versus "Aerosmith" - all make a difference in how files are viewed on a system connected to a music server. What about a song that has a main artist, but features a second? If you select an album by "Joe Schmoe", but there happens to have been one song on that album entered into the database as "Joe Schmoe and Buddy" as the artist, then that particular song will not be included into the list created when you want to listen to all of your "Joe Schmoe" music.

Then there are items related to album names. Selecting the name "Greatest Hits" will result in all albums with that name being part of the playlist, which may not be what was intended.


Loading / Ripping directly through the ReQuest CD drive has limitations.

When you drop a CD into the ReQuest tray and begin an auto-rip session, you are going to have information about that CD inserted as it was entered into the lookup database. The downside of this is that the information entered is not easily checked until the rip has been completed. If anything is incorrect, you will need to edit the information after the fact. There are also some speed variations during ripping - your PC will most likely do a faster job of it.



Some Suggestions:

Start with a CD Ripping Program ...

If you don't already have it, purchase (via download: here) the latest version of MusicMatch ®  Jukebox. For what it does, this software is dirt-cheap! This application has the ability to rip CD's down to MP3, do online database look-ups, etc. You can edit the 'tags' used to identify songs and also set up an account to purchase and download songs if you wish. You can also set up MusicMatch ®  Jukebox as the player for music streamed from your server. They also offer special pricing on all future releases of MusicMatch ® Jukebox.

Once you have this application, experiment to learn the basics of how it works, which is pretty easy after a little time with it. For a more detailed look at set-up and use, please check here.

Set up MusicMatch ®  Jukebox to rip CD's at the highest quality setting you can afford (space-wise) on your ReQuest server. I always attempt to rip at 320 when I can. (To get an idea of how much can be stored on the ReQuest units, check here). The destination folder for ripped music will probably be "My Music" on your PC. You may wish to make a shortcut of the "My Music" folder on your desktop.


Purchase a Back-Up Hard Drive ...

Before starting any type of music loading to your ReQuest server, plan on using an external hard drive unit as a backup. This hard drive should be the fastest type of interface available for your computer that you have access to (Firewire, USB2, etc.), and the capacity of this drive should exceed that of your ReQuest unit. External Firewire/USB drives with a 120GB capacity can be purchased for $200 or less - just make sure that it is from a quality manufacturer. Most external drives are plug and play - you simply have to do a copy / paste or drag to transfer files to them. This drive should be used exclusively for music file backup.

Once you have the new hard drive and are able to access it with your PC, add folders such as "Loaded_Music", "Ready_To_Load", "To_Be_Checked", etc. This allows you to keep track as to the status of the various files. Just remember to move files to the appropriate folders after they have been transferred to the server.

As music files are saved and then transferred to the back-up drive, leave the formatting as it is from MusicMatch ®  Jukebox. This will include a main folder with the Artist's name, and then subfolders with the album name. The actual song files will be within those subfolders. As you begin to add more albums from the same artist, you can verify that all of the tags for those songs use the same artist information using MusicMatch ®  Jukebox (that the spelling, etc., are the same).


Do the initial ReQuest Music Server setup ...

Make sure that your ReQuest server has been set up with an IP address. This is a standard portion of the install when the server is connected to a network. You can type this IP address into your browser and see a built-in web interface from the server. (More on this later).

In Windows XP, use the "Start / Run" command and enter "//" and the IP address initially set up for the ReQuest unit on your network. A window should open with the following folders: "MP3s", "Themes", "Themes Backup" and "Upload". Make a shortcut of the "Upload" folder onto your desktop.

Extra steps to take when setting up the ReQuest server include making sure that the latest firmware has been loaded. There are various methods in doing this - check the ReQuest site for latest updates and info. You can also download the latest JavaScript Remote, which will allow you to control the ReQuest functions from your computer (it has a nice visual interface, feedback from the unit and complete remote control functions).


Start Ripping your CDs ...

Open MusicMatch ®  Jukebox. Insert a CD into your PC, and allow MusicMatch to do an online lookup of the CD.

Once the information has been accessed, use the CD's information from the sleeve / case to verify that the data from the online database is correct. Check that the Artist, Album Name and Track/Song Titles are correct.  Click on the "Record" button (and stop the CD from playing in the main window - you can't record and play at the same time). If any of the information from the database is incorrect, you can click on and highlight that item and make corrections from within the "Record" window in MusicMatch. You should experiment until you feel comfortable with this process (it's usually very easy).

You may also decide to wait until you have done all or a portion of your recording to verify and change information, which can be done easily in MusicMatch ®. Just make sure that at least the artist and album names are close to being correct and that you will have access to the CD case when you are ready to start the clean-up process.


To allow easier use in a music system, you may wish to consider the following:

Change any artist's name that contains "the" to only the main portion of the name (instead of "The Eagles", use "Eagles"). This will allow for easier searches. Also, when there are album names that involve "Greatest Hit", "The Best Of", etc., change the album name to "Greatest Hits / Eagles", "The Best Of / Eagles" and so forth. The only exception I can think of is the group "The The". You may wish to leave that one alone.

Use of any characters with accent marks is not allowed, since this will cause transfer errors. An example would be "España" - change it to "Espana". This is true for all information (Artist, Album, Track Titles, etc.).

Record the CD by clicking the "Record" button. You should see the status of the recording process on a track-per-track basis (percentage completed, etc.).

After the recording has completed, you can verify / test your changes to any of the Artist / Track information. Click on the "Clear" button within MusicMatch ®. Then, open the "My Music" folder to where the music should have been recorded. Click on and drag and artist's folder to the "player" window in MusicMatch ®. You should see all of the information (along with any changes you've made) in the MusicMatch ® window.

Make changes or adjustments to ripped music ...

If, after opening ripped music files in MusicMatch ®, you notice that there are any problems or changes you wish to make, you can do so within the program. If desired, you can do batch changes to items like artist name, album name, etc.


Transfer files that have been "Cleaned Up" ...

Transfer files that have been checked as OK for loading from your "My Music" folder on your PC to the appropriate folder on the back-up drive.


Transfer files to your ReQuest server  ...

Open both the folder on your back-up drive that contains the music ready for loading and the "Upload" folder you previously saved to your desktop. Simply drag the files to the upload window. Don't worry about them sitting there for any amount of time - after they have loaded to the ReQuest unit they will disappear from the upload folder.

You can open the built-in web server on the ReQuest unit by typing its IP address into your browser. Some browsers may not open the page correctly. If you have any problems, try using Internet Explorer. Make sure that you click on the colored circle at the top of the page to update the latest files. You can scroll through the files listed to check for mistakes, duplicates, etc.


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