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Music Servers?

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
I'm a guy with what you might call light audiophilic tendencies - I used to be sort of into the scene but I haven't dabbled in it for years but I have some decent gear. Probably the kind of stuff the serious audiophiles around here will deride as shit but oh well, I'm not interested in replacing it, so there. Just for the giggles, I have:

Meridian G07 CD
Plinius 8100 Integrated Amp
B&W Nautilus 805 Speakers
Transparent interconnects and speaker cable

Anyways, that's sort of besides the point, but I note it for your reference, as I am interested in some kind of music server system, but I have no idea how/where to start looking, or even whether it's a search worth undertaking. I thought some of the folks on here might have some good advice.

I'm liking the idea of a big music server that I could access with some kind of remote (or iPad or something?) and use to play back over my existing audiophile-lite grade system, with better fidelity than an iPod. There must be something that can kick out a CD-quality digital signal that I can run through a decent d/a and then through my amp and speakers. Presto! Playlists, no more changing disks, etc.

Multi-room functionality would be nice, too... what's the best way to wire something like this? Cat-5?

I presume I could contact an expensive expert to do this for me, but I'm wondering if it's possible to do something like this on a DIY basis.
post #2 of 85
I'd get a Synology NAS, or some other NAS that can run the Squeezebox server, a Logitech Squeezebox, and use wireless networking (you need an extra dongle for some NASes for this). Attach as high-end a DAC as you like to the Squeezebox and enjoy. Synology exports itself as an iTunes server, too, so you can organize your library that way. The Squeeze server then imports everything in from the iTunes information.

To control it from an iOS device, you can use iPeng ($10) or the newly released Squeezebox remote control from Logitech (free).

--Andre
post #3 of 85
I second the slimserver/Squeezebox suggestion. Working well for both my brother (serious enough audiophile that he makes his own speakers and mods amps/power supplies) and myself, a not remotely audiophile guy who just likes the supreme convenience of the Squeezebox set-up. I have an old SB3 (replaced in their current line-up by the Touch), a Duet and a Squeezebox Boom (replaced in their current line-up by the Squeezebox Radio).

http://www.logitech.com/en-us/speake...-music-systems

Convert your CD's to FLAC on a hard-drive or NAS, point your Squeezeserver to the library and away you go.
post #4 of 85
I'd get a Mac Mini which works great as a music server. It is what I use. You can control with an inexpensive Apple remote or go fancy and control it with an iPad. Does your Meridian have a digital input? Then you can use it as a DAC. You may need a USB to SPDIF converter but Musical Fidelity makes a great one for $170.
post #5 of 85
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies, guys. Unfortunately, it appears I am WAY behind the times. What is a NAS? It appears to be a file storage device of some sort - why wouldn't I just use a hard drive attached to my computer for this as opposed to a NAS? I looked at the specs for the Synology thing AY linked - it doesn't state a capacity. Do I have to put my own hard drives in it? I'm sorry for the total n00b questions. I presume the Squeezebox touch is the device that "gets" the music off the network and I have to plug it into my DAC directly... meaning I need one squeezebox device for each stereo I wish to hook up?
post #6 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
Thanks for the replies, guys.

Unfortunately, it appears I am WAY behind the times. What is a NAS? It appears to be a file storage device of some sort - why wouldn't I just use a hard drive attached to my computer for this as opposed to a NAS? I looked at the specs for the Synology thing AY linked - it doesn't state a capacity. Do I have to put my own hard drives in it?

I'm sorry for the total n00b questions.

I presume the Squeezebox touch is the device that "gets" the music off the network and I have to plug it into my DAC directly... meaning I need one squeezebox device for each stereo I wish to hook up?

A NAS is a networked storage device. I have never used one; I just use a massive 2T hard drive attached to a laptop that I leave on all the time. I suspect the NAS solution is probably more energy efficient, but not sure.

Yes, you will need a separate squeezebox device (a Touch, Radio, or Duet) for each separate stereo set-up that you have within range of your router. I use a Squeezebox Boom (it's like the Radio, so it has its own speakers) in the kitchen, a Duet hooked up to a portable stereo in the dining room and the old SB3 hooked up to my main stereo/TV in the family room. All three run off the same Squeezebox Server on the laptop -- you can "sync" them all to play the same songs simultaneously or have all three playing different playlists simultaneously.

In addition to the little remotes that come with the various Squeezebox players you can also control any networked music device from any computer using the same router -- so I can operate any of these devices from my desktop, laptop, Blackberry Playbook and so on. My brother uses an iPod Touch to control his.

http://www.logitech.com/en-us/speake...-music-systems
post #7 of 85
The Synology is empty, so you will need to put your own drives in it. I suggested a NAS because it's probably easier to administrate and maintain than a full-blown computer, but either one will work fine.

I use a Windows Home Server to run the slimserver to serve music to an SB3 and a Boom. The iOS controller software on an iPad and the iPhone can control either one. The slimserver can run on many different OSes, including Windows, OS X, and Linux, as well as a bunch of NASes.

The Squeeze devices can output digital to a DAC, and they have their own analog outputs, too, but looking at your system, you probably won't be too happy with the SB's native analog outputs.

BTW, what AF suggests is hooking a computer directly up to your computer system. That can work well, too, especially if you have quiet computer like a Mac Mini. If you want to serve multiple rooms, then you'd set up something like the Squeezebox systems, and use the Mac Mini to serve music to the Squeeze devices in the other rooms.

The downside is administrating that computer: you need to have a display of some sort hooked up to it, in addition to a keyboard and mouse. You can use things like remote desktop or VNC to remotely control that computer, but you may not want to deal with that hassle.

--Andre
post #8 of 85
Just filled up my first 4tb wd network drive with music and video and working on the second. Not sure what else you require other then devices to access it. I used "popcorn" hours thruout my home though there are probably newer and better devices now. When I am out working one of the cars or fishing behind the house I use the wifi on my blackberry to access it.
post #9 of 85
You could also take a look at Sonos, they make multi-room systems. The Mac Mini suggestion is good as well, and you can always add an Airport Express to stream music to other rooms.
post #10 of 85
If you like good quality sonics and judging from your prior mentioned gear you do, then I would suggest you leave yourself open for at least 24/96khz hirez material. There is a lot of good stuff out there from Paul Simon to Paul McCartney to The Beatles to almost the entire Neil Young catalog. Harvest sounds breathtaking in hirez.
post #11 of 85
Also, if you want easiest to most complex, then the road map looks like this: Easiest: HRT Music Streamer (get the mid-level or the Pro) to existing stereo. Easy: Squeezebox Touch (although storage can be an issue). Medium: Laptop or Mac Mini to Musical Fidelity V-Link to outboard DAC like DacMagic or better yet Benchmark DAC1 that I use to your stereo. Complex: NAS options In terms of sound quality, the DAC will play a major role. Spend the money there.
post #12 of 85
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artisan Fan View Post
If you like good quality sonics and judging from your prior mentioned gear you do, then I would suggest you leave yourself open for at least 24/96khz hirez material. There is a lot of good stuff out there from Paul Simon to Paul McCartney to The Beatles to almost the entire Neil Young catalog. Harvest sounds breathtaking in hirez.

What does this mean? How do I "leave myself open" to it?
post #13 of 85
The higher the res the more storage space you'll need. Also, not all DAC's can run 24/96 so I think that's Fran's way of pushing you in that direction.
post #14 of 85
Douglas, excellent thread. Guys, excellent answers.

So I'm going to piggie back.

I have a huge music library of ripped and purchased music in the Apple format on a big Netgear NAS. Those are built around a little linux server. Is there a way to stream that through the net to my iPad or netbook when I'm not hooking up to my home LAN?
post #15 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artisan Fan View Post
Easiest: HRT Music Streamer (get the mid-level or the Pro) to existing stereo.

I'm not sure I understand this. The HRT devices are basically just USB soundcards. You may use them if you want to improve your computer's sound quality, but it doesn't let you stream music throughout the house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
What does this mean? How do I "leave myself open" to it?

Basically, make sure whatever streaming system you commit to has an upgrade path to play back sample rates greater than 44.1 kHz and bit depths greater than 16-bits. This would eliminate all the Apple devices since they can't go above 48 kHz. The Squeezebox Touch can do 96/24. I'm not sure what Sonos can do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
I have a huge music library of ripped and purchased music in the Apple format on a big Netgear NAS. Those are built around a little linux server. Is there a way to stream that through the net to my iPad or netbook when I'm not hooking up to my home LAN?

One way to do it is to use the NAT option on your router to open a port to your NAS --- you're opening a port outside your router that will direct messages directly to your NAS. However, this is a big security risk since most NASes have pretty limited security and authentication. If you have a fancier, enterprise-grade router, you could use VPN to make your devices outside your home network feel like they're inside your home network, but this usually requires a pretty beefy router or something relatively complex if you DIY with a Linux box. And there will still be security issues, though they aren't as bad as NAT. To do either of these options you should have a static IP address from your ISP, too. Cable modem ISPs generally don't give you this for home accounts.

Another option that's pretty inconvenient is to sync your library to a cloud service like Dropbox, and then listen to them from there. However, if you have a large library, this can be pretty expensive, and the initial transfer can take forever.

With high-capacity, small hard drives cheaply available, one thing I've taken to doing is copying my entire library to a portable, bus-powered (like USB), external drive that I carry around and hook up to different computers to listen to. When I get new music into the home library, I take the drive home, and use rsync, or any regular backup utility, to synchronize the new files. This will work for your netbook, but not the iPad.

--Andre
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