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Music Servers?

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Douglas, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. eg1

    eg1 Senior member

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    Nice -- I have a fairly recent Onkyo from before the wireless features came available. In the basement I have an old, old Yamaha integrated amplifier (A-500) which was, and remains, bulletproof. :)
     
  2. Thor

    Thor Senior member

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    ^ Funny...my new Yamaha replaced my old A-500...a workhorse indeed...it still cranks but it was just time to upgrade the inputs and step into the 21st century...HDMI is pretty much a necessity and it just makes sense that a receiver should be able to connect to a network...

    I do not have an iPod- ripped my entire music collection (1500+ Cds) into FLAC stored on a PC...For several years, I could only listen to most of my music on my PC...and was waiting for SqueezeBox to finally be able to play at 24/96 (which it apparently does now)- But as mentioned, the new AVR eliminates the need for SQB ...and now I put it on random play and hear music I haven't heard in years...

    Well worth the $$
     
  3. lastgoodbye

    lastgoodbye New Member

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    Sound like you have some great gear. The B&W 805 series is absolutely outstanding. I have the 805 Matrix edition from the 90s and love it. Wonderful speakers. I don't currently run a music server but have researched them a great deal. Check out http://www.computeraudiophile.com
    They have some great information over there for DIY servers as well as a server that you would be able to purchase.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    I'm bumping this thread to see if the state of the art has changed at all.

    I ended up going with a cheap solution before - I simply stream through AirPlay to an AirPort Express that is hooked into my hifi with a Musical Fidelity VDAC Mk. 2. All my media is played through iTunes and the library is hosted directly on my iMac.

    95% of my music is still on CD. The iMac is very buggy and slow and I don't love it. The thing frequently fails to pair with the iMac, I'm not sure why. The sound quality is pretty meh; it doesn't touch the sound quality I get out of my Meridian G07 with a CD source. I'm not sure what the weak link is.

    I'd like to up the ante a bit now. I have been thinking about another zone, maybe even 2, and I can't support that with what I have. I could go the NAS route - but I have absolutely no idea how to set that up. I'd sort of like to do that at some point anyway, for all my media (photos, files, etc) so that is appealing, but I'd need to know how to get a truly audiophile quality stream playing. And I'm pretty nervous that I'm not going to know how to do that anyway. Is Squeezebox still a good source?

    A simpler solution looks like the BlueSound system, or Sonos. How do these two compare?

    In a perfect world, I'd get a Meridian Sooloos, but I ain't got that kind of splash.
     
  5. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Sonos kind of seems like the Bose of the streaming world.

    Their software seems solid though...so maybe using the device that connects to an existing stereo is a good option. But for the integrated-speaker devices that 95% of their customers are buying, it really seems like the modern version of a bose wave radio.
     
  6. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    I have not gone to actually listen to a Sonos system yet but the interface, the number of speakers you can have, and the stand alone nature of each speaker installation is attractive. I was tempted to just buy one speaker and test it out but that would just be money wasted as my final interior work is probably 18-24 months away, i.e. at least one generation of equipment.

    I know someone that is a fairly discerning person and says Sonos delivers for him. He just spent a crap ton of money renovating a place into his dream home and has Sonos speakers everywhere. His one beef is no equipment rated for outdoor exposure. That's going to be an issue for me too if they don't come out with one as I plan to have several speakers outside.
     
  7. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Could always put one of the non speaker units somewhere protected and have it connected to outdoor rated speakers.
     
  8. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    Probably will end up doing something like that. With the free standing speakers there's still the need for AC power so some kind of wire has to be there. Powering that Sonos amp somewhere sheltered outside is probably how I'll go...if I go Sonos and we don't have some new technology by the time comes.
     
  9. iamacyborg

    iamacyborg Senior member

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    Get a Synology NAS, a usb wifi dongle and an HRT Music Streamer series DAC (good USB compatibility).

    The Synology NAS has remote access, either in the form of a dedicated music app for your phone, remote desktop for your pc or a dedicated Synology remote.

    One of these would be ideal: http://www.synology.com/en-uk/products/overview/DS214play

    And: http://highresolutiontechnologies.com/music-streamer-ii


    Demo for the remote desktop function here: http://www.synology.com/en-uk/products/dsm_livedemo

    Phone app: http://www.synology.com/en-uk/dsm/home_mobile_support_ds_audio
     
  10. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Still think those Sonos units are just Bose in a fancy new package (I know. I know, bose has released their own sonos competitor)

    standalone wireless speakers in small packages...

    wireless is fine now since you can send it all digitally (not some crappy 900mhz feed like old wireless stuff), but you've still got to come up against the laws of physics. Those sonos boxes are small and plastic. They put nice speakers in them, but drivers that small just can't replicate sounds like dedicated speakers. They will push the mids and warm them up like bose did...so someone who doesn't know what they are missing will think it sounds 10x better than their old boombox.
     
  11. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    I don't disagree with this but the thing is sometimes that's just fine. I mean if you're outside in your spa with the jets going it's not a situation that lends itself to dedicated listening.
     
  12. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    I'm really starting to think that the BlueSound Vault is looking like a pretty solid option for me.

    http://www.bluesound.com/products/vault

    Looks like it's a Sonos competitor, but with some salient differentiators that play into my particular needs. For someone who a) has some more audiophile leanings (I want to stream music to my existing hifi) and b) doesn't have a NAS setup yet, it's a pretty idiotproof solution. The Vault is like the base station, you can rip your CDs directly into it and it holds 1TB of storage. It's like a NAS and ripper and player in one, which is an advantage over Sonos if you're more interested in your own collection than internet radio or music services. And the digital output supported is much better - up to 24/192. Like Sonos, it does have an internal DAC but with the higher bit depth and sampling rates I'd imagine it's a better analog output signal than the Sonos. But with that digital output, I can hook up whatever DAC I want and run everything through my existing hifi.

    So I save myself having to set up a NAS, the sky is the limit in terms of sound quality, and then I can expand the system, as other components in their line can stream to other rooms (with or without built-in speakers, or amps) from the Vault base station. I can go as audiophile or not in other rooms in the house after setting up the library, which is pretty idiotproof given that all I have to do is spend a few days feeding CDs into the slot.

    I'm not sure how the software will stack up to other organizers, but it looks competent.

    The small lineup of compatible music services is a drawback for some, but not for me.

    Given its NAD heritage (it's made by NAD and designed by NAD's parent company) and the decent price point when weighed against the fact that I'd have to buy a NAS and go through the effort of setting it up, plus a streaming device, the $1000 price point is also attractive.

    And if I want to add a NAS later, the Vault can interface with it.

    I'm a little confused by exactly what the Olive One is - it looks like something very competitive with the BlueSound lineup, but I'm also unclear if it's available, or ever will be.
     
  13. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    Doug, that looks like a pretty slick all in one solution there. I like the fact it has a USB port too as I'd go spend the $75 or so bucks on one of those external TB drives and back up your files. Speaking of which, if that internal drive fails, can you swap it out? Looks like a pretty good solution there all in all.
     
  14. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    Yeah, backing it up looks like a very straightforward deal. I would hope the drives would be swappable, can't imagine how they wouldn't be, but I haven't seen anything explicitly mentioned.
     
  15. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    So, I bought the Vault on Crutchfield. Could have bought it locally but would have paid sales tax. With the free next-day shipping it will be here just as fast as I could have gotten to the store anyways.

    I'll post my thoughts on here when it arrives and I've had some time to play with it.

    One downside is the relatively high cost of the other components. Just a Node alone (streamer without amp or speaker) is $450 - $100 more than a Sonos connect. And the Bluesound speaker is $700, vs. much cheaper options from Sonos. This will be much more expensive to expand.
     
  16. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    BTW, not off to a good start with the BlueSound. A Crutchfield rep called me to ask how I would be using the system and then all but tried to talk me out of it if I were using it in a non-hard-wired application, threatening "dropouts" over wifi, particularly if hi-rez sampling rates were used.

    I'm not sophisticated enough to understand all of it, but he mentioned that Sonos' method for networking (which he said was akin to 2.4GHz wireless phone?) was superior to wifi. A lot of my salesman BS alarm bells were going on but I have to think they must have had some complaints with BlueSound. I asked if certain zones or devices could be set to only use the lower resolutions and he said that was a global setting, not a local one.

    Fortunately, I am hardwired to most places in the house where I would want to set up a zone, and my primary use for this thing at the moment is as a NAS/Streamer for one location, not a base station.
     
  17. iamacyborg

    iamacyborg Senior member

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  18. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    Sonos uses their own protocol over the same frequencies as WiFi. It's what lets them make it easy to use and reliable compared to products using WiFi. Not that WiFi is unreliable, but I'd do some more research if the Crutchfield guy is warning you about it. Sonos is really in their own league when it comes to ease of use and setup.
     
  19. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    Y, do you have any experience with or knowledge of the BlueSound products? I was hoping you might have piped up at some point. :)

    It's hard to come by much knowledge about BS, as they're so new. There's just not a lot of chatter out there about them. I'm definitely an early adopter, though for the money, I think it will probably do what I need it to do anyways, even if I end up going in a different direction later and using some different equipment.

    Also - it looks like a drawback of the BS is that you can't rewind or FF within a track? That seems really screwed up to me. Seems like something the app might be able to fix in a later revision, unless... is there some reason that hi-rez streaming would be hard to RW or FF based on the sample rate, clocking, etc? (can you tell I don't really understand jitter?)
     
  20. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    I'm not a big streaming guy, and I had never heard of BlueSound until this thread, so not much help here.

    I use an old Logitech streamer as well as a 1st gen AppleTV hooked up through S/PDIF into my main system. The Apple controls are great through an iDevice, and the Logitech is OK once you buy a 3rd party app for your iDevice. I use iPeng. No hi-res for me, and the Logitech is useful for listening to radio stations as I find its server too fiddly.

    Not being able to rewind or FF a track seems lame. I wouldn't ever give that up. Hi-res audio isn't much more complex to handle, from a digital POV, than CD-rate audio, so I don't know why there would be issues doing rewind and FF on it. More likely, it's still the early stages of this stuff, and the programmers probably weren't born yet when CDs were popular, so they have no idea what a playback device is supposed to do. This sounds cynical, but it's all too common.
     

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