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Digital Audio Storage Requirements

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The cheapest and most efficient way to acquire and store uncompressed digital audio is to buy it on a CD… and leave it there. For each CD you buy, you are basically buying a 650MB (give or take) disk preloaded with digital audio, so you end up with an unlimited amount of non-volatile digital audio storage. Get it?

If I want to copy all of my digital audio from CDs to, say, a big hard drive, how much space will I need? I'll assume each CD averages 650MB of digital audio, so 350 CDs contain about 288GB of data. If I use a lossless-compression file format for storage, and I assume that I achieve an average compression rate of 2:1, then I could compress 350 CD's worth of data down to 114GB, and still maintain bit-perfect audio quality.

For comparison, the import settings I'm using in iTunes (256Kb/s minimum VBR mp3, lossy-compression) achieves about a 7:1 compression ratio. That setting requires about 42GB of storage to hold 350 CD's worth of digital audio data.

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