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Saturday, April 30, 2011

A great sound card

I am posting this mainly for my own reference but also for others who want a good sound card to use with a media server running Media Monkey. I have heard the results and will be getting one of my own as soon as I can afford it. Here is the link at NewEgg for the Asus card that I like:

ASUS Xonar D2X 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Express x1 Interface Sound Card

It uses a PCI express X1 slot so make sure you have one.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Olive Opus Goodbye for good !!!

The next two paragraphs of this entry are background. If you just want to learn how to get audio files off the Olive Opus version 4, you can skip to paragraph four.

A few years ago, a good friend bought an Olive Opus version 4 with a 1 TB hard drive. His intention was to rip his entire CD collection. This seemed good until he realized how tedious the process would be with the Opus and once accomplished, how terrible the user interface would be. After investing a lot of time he finally gave up and gave me the unit. We put together a system based on Media Monkey and a high quality sound card that works flawlessly. Other entries on this blog cover some of this but I do need to cover this some more.

I also wasted a bunch of time ripping CDs to the Opus assuming that I could deal with the interface and other issues as I do not listen to CDs as much as Richard. Once I was done, I soon realized that the interface options are so horrible that I would never use the system. I tried to find a way to get all of my files off the Opus and contacted support for their help. They had no solutions other than one suggestion that was a total waste of time for reasons I won't bother with here. Typical well meaning but useless support. So, the rest of this entry covers how to get your audio files off the Opus when you decide to give it the hefty heave.

The Olive Opus version 4 (and probably other versions, so please let me know if you have a newer or older version and if these methods work for you ) runs under Linux and uses Linux partitions on the internal hard drive. If you are a Linux person, you will have an easier time getting your files from the drive but for Windows people, it is also possible.

The Opus is a UPnP compliant device and can be accessed through a network for access to the files but as far as I can tell, there is not utility for accessing folders of files in a way that will allow you to download thousands of files all with names such as track 1 track 2 etc, while keeping them from overwriting each other. I could write such a utility but have other things to do. Therefore, it is necessary to temporarily disconnect the internal hard drive and connect it to another computer in order to copy the files. This is also much much faster than UPnP access.

The Opus hard drive is SATA (serial ATA) so you will need a computer that has a SATA drive interface. You can physically remove the drive and temporarily install it as an additional drive in a desktop computer that has a SATA controller. You can also connect it via USB with a suitable adapter or you can use an E-SATA connector. If you use E-SATA you will also need to provide power to the drive so it is best to buy an adapter that does this. Another option is to use an external hard drive that you probably already own and have outgrown to provide the interface. This is what I did because I could not find my other adapters. I had an old 250 gig external drive with USB 2 which I now use as an interface. Before you hack apart an old external drive, check to be sure it uses SATA internally. The universal USB, E-SATA,firewire interfaces that come with power supplies are pretty cheap and useful so it probably makes sense to just buy one of these and try to not loose it. I have two of them somewhere.

If you have a Linux computer, all you have to do is connect the drive and access the relevant partitions. The Opus drive has 7 partitions with the OS and other stuff you will not need on the first 6 of them. It is the 7th partition (may be called partition 6 if a utility is calling the first partition number 0) contains your ripped files. These will be in a folder called "Library" if I remember correctly. I have the Opus back together so I can not verify this but it is the largest folder in partition 7 if you have more than a few CDs ripped. Within this folder are individual folders for each ripped CD. These are named as CD_ and a unique number that was generated by the Opus. Look in any or these folders and you will see a file for each track in the format you ripped to such as MP3 or Flac. These are the files you need to copy. I have not been able to find where the Opus stores its database because of silly computer problems. Since I had all Flac files with metadata within I did not bother to look further and try to find the database. There was one large file named blahblah.dat that looked like a candidate but I could not copy it (silly reasons for this so go ahead and try it if you have WAV files and need to get the metadata some other way) that is probably an Sqlite database or some other accessible format.

If you do not have a Linux computer, fear not. There is a wonderful utility that allows you to "mount" Linux partitions on a Windows computer and copy the files within them. This is "Extsfsd" and is available at There are other utilities also available but this is the first one that I got to work so I know it is a good choice. Unfortunately it did not work on my Win 7 64 bit computer so I had to use an old XP machine. I have Win7 pro and have virtual XP but I have never been able to get USB support for hard drives to work so I did not even try the program in virtual XP. Others may have better luck. Some of the other Linux to Windows PC tools might work under Win 7. If anyone finds one that does, please let me know.

So now, you have an XP machine with either a SATA drive controller and the Opus hard drive connected to it or an external adapter such as a USB to SATA adapter. All you have to do is install Ext2Fsd and give a few waves of your magic wand and you can copy your files to the Windows hard drive. There is a help file that explains all you need to do to access Linux partitions and also a web site with faqs in case the following is not clear enough.

After installing Ext2Fsd and running it you wil be presented with a screen that shows all the attached volumes. Hopefully your Opus hard drive will be shown with all the volumes it contains. Select the largest of the Linux partitions (number 6 or 7 depending on how you like to count) and select "mountpoint management" from the "tools" menu. An "add a drive letter" box will appear. Choose an appropriate drive letter and other options if you wish but in general, the default choices will work fine. If you now check your windows explorer you will fine a newly listed drive letter. Be sure to refresh the "my computer" window if it was already opened. If you double click this letter, Windows will probably tell you that it is not formatted. If this is the case, it is because the "management service" is not running. If you see your folders under the drive letter, all is well, if not, you need to start the "management service". Choose "service management" from the "tools" menu and click the "start" button. If you do not fiddle with default settings, the service will be started each time you run Ext2Fsd. If at any time Windows does not recognize the partition, check to make sure it has an unambiguous drive letter assigned and that the "management service" is running.

Once you have access to the files from the windows browser, you can copy them anywhere you want. For some unknown reason I had copy errors when copying my 6500 tracks. The windows copy system is unforgiving and stops at the first error leaving you to figure out what was and what wasn't copied on your own. I therefore use "Beyond Compare" to do all but the most trivial copying. This is probably the best Windows program ever written. If you don't have it, get it and thank me for recommending it. Get it at

Be sure to read my blog entries on using Media Monkey and Team Viewer for remote audio file serving. I really should add some more on this and will in time.