WOW! Great job David. You have managed, through sheer determination and lots tedious work, to turn a sow's ear (iTunes, at least when it comes to classical music) into a silk purse. If I didn't see it for myself I would have never believed it was possible.
I too have a large collection of music residing on a dedicated music server (over 12,000 “albums” with 99.9% of them ripped to flac, with over half of my music classified as jazz) which I access via one of my several Squeezbox devices.
Here's a step by step run down of how a CD gets into my computer based music library and how I listen to the files:
1) All my music is stored on fully backed up external hard drives with the following directory structure: drive letter:/Music/Genre (split by letter, e.g. Jazz A)/Artist - Album (year)
2) CD is ripped into separate flac files on a separate computer which I use for “creating” music files (meaning individual tracks as opposed to a single flac file and a cue sheet) using dbPowerAmp. Multi-disc sets are stored in one directory with track numbers corresponding to disc number, e.g. 101, 201, 301, etc. Track numbers for single discs have only two digits.
3) Original CD cover is scanned into a cover.jpg file which is placed in the same folder with the flac files. Most of my scanned cover art is around 900X900 and under 1MB. I only scan the cover and not the entire booklet or back.
4) mp3tag and renamer are used to “clean” up file names and file tags. My file tagging is very basic with only the artist, album, track title, track number, year and genre fields being used throughout.
5) The completed flac files are copied to the external hard drives, both the main drive and the mirrored back-up drive.
6) Squeezebox Server runs a rescan to find and catalog the newly ripped CDs.
7) Music is listened to on one of the many stereos located in my house via one of several Squeezebox devices.
When listening to music on the stereo located in the same room with my computer I use the "Moose" front end to display and select music. I also use foobar to audition some music before adding it to the Squeezebox Server music library.
I find that Squeezebox server does a fairly good job in cataloging the music and finding and selecting something to listen to is relatively straight forward, although nowhere near as detailed as your system. For example I cannot search for an artist as a sideman, which is a very nice touch!
A few questions:
How do you handle multi-disc sets?
Do you scan everything: cover, back, tray, booklet, etc.?
Is there any way that your system can make use of hyperlinks, in other words, say your listening to Keith Jarrett's European trio and you want to hear something else by Jan Garbarek is there an easy way to this from within the track currently playing or do you have to “back out” to the artist selection screen?
I'm sure I will have many more questions, however it's good to see that someone not only recognizes the limitations of most current computer based music library management systems but is taking the bull by the horns and doing something to vastly improve and customize the system. I am in awe of your dedication and resourcefulness!