DLNA DAC .. USB DAC.. Is the DLNA DAC the future? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-24-2011, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Is there any sonic difference between the two mechanisms for getting FLAC data to a DAC? Is one the interface of the future?

USB DACs have evolved over time so that the current State of the art is an asynchronous implementation that cuts down on Jitter.

Audio unpacking of FLAC is performed on the PC and your media player controls this process. This is not a processor intensive process and the USB interface is fast enough for all of the high res audio data. The limitations of a USB interface is that USB cabling is limited to 15 feet and asynch DACS are pricey right now. Your media player (PC running JRiver) must be close by.. (Noisy fan in some cases).

A DLNA DAC such as the Oppo 95, exists on your home network, and takes the data over an ethernet type cable or wireless and delivers it to a buffer. The data streams to the player. The Flac data is unpacked by the chip in the DLNA client player and then passed to the DAC. The critical timing information must be controlled by the clock on the DAC... Players like the OPPO can take data from shiny discs, and Flac or wav data from usb or E sata drives. The latest versions will handle high resolution files.

I think your media controller (either the attached PC or a hand held device running the atttached PC via gizmo or a NAS Drive with DLNA server software) will spool out the content you want.

Are the two interfaces equal and sound quality will depend on other factors,
Are there jitter measurements of both that are meaningful?
Is the DLNA interface the future of high res audio?
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-24-2011, 09:58 PM
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Your high level message is right but the details not . FLAC is not a supported format for DLNA. Indeed, the only mandatory format (unless something has changed recently) is LPCM (uncompressed). The "server" software running on the PC will decode the FLAC stream then and send it out as uncompressed to your player.

You are very correct that the process is now asynchronus. The PC/Server is a "data pump" and the DAC clock a master which means nothing the PC will do will impact jitter. As always, this doesn't mean jitter goes away, it only means that your only problem is in the player, not how the source acts.

As to whether it is as good as USB bridges, the above factor comes into play. A USB bridge doesn't have much software in it. So in theory, can produce a more accurate clock. DLNA requires boatload of networking software to run so requires a high-speed processor, and fair amount of local activity. Such a system can be designed to have low jitter but all else being equal, it is a more challenging job than the simple USB Bridge.

I have not seen jitter measurements of Oppo streaming DLNA content. Perhaps it is good. Seeing the measurements is necessary to establish whether it is as good or superior.

The other consideration with DLNA is that your player becomes your user interface. That usually means a less well executed interface than say, an iPad scrolling through your music library on the PC. Of course, similar software can be written but historically, the bar has been lower.

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post #3 of 14 Old 05-24-2011, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Your high level message is right but the details not . FLAC is not a supported format for DLNA. Indeed, the only mandatory format (unless something has changed recently) is LPCM (uncompressed). The "server" software running on the PC will decode the FLAC stream then and send it out as uncompressed to your player.

Yes... the DLNA standards won't do Flac but the latest generation of Oppo's claim to do this. (thus my question)

Seeing the measurements is necessary to establish whether it is as good or superior.
Certainly... the bottom line will measure the full implementation.

The other consideration with DLNA is that your player becomes your user interface


This is a fundamental issue. I use Jriver Media Center now though a bridge to a Dac etc. I love the PC interface. They claim and have quite a number of users streaming to DLNA using Jriver...directly or though a controller... Gizmo running on android hand helds. Otherwise you are attached to the PC or some monitor you have running concurrently. I believe the JRiver implementaton will work... but nothing in this game is standard...
DLNA standards do not help matters.

Your post notes that the network interface is much more complicated then a bridge and the decoding will take some processor power but this should be pretty doable in 2011.

This network problem should not be a problem.. Large buffers ought to be cheap!!!

Re processing... I have read that the 95 has an on board fan. but I haven't seen the noise measurement of that.

The reviews of the 95 are superb... but nobody seems to test the DLNA interface and compare it to CD or through the USB ports.

In this day and age... the DAC chips are balanced by the full interface and the amplification. Basically it comes down to value.... for 850 can you get a async USB DAC and a run of the mill blue ray player that does better then the 93 streaming though DLNA or the 95 with higher end audio output stage.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tcatman View Post

Is there any sonic difference between the two mechanisms for getting FLAC data to a DAC? Is one the interface of the future?

USB DACs have evolved over time so that the current State of the art is an asynchronous implementation that cuts down on Jitter.

Even today asynch USB DACs are a tiny minority of all DACs, and many manufacturers are obtaining acceptable performance without this level of complexity.

Quote:


A DLNA DAC such as the Oppo 95, exists on your home network, and takes the data over an ethernet type cable or wireless and delivers it to a buffer. The data streams to the player. The Flac data is unpacked by the chip in the DLNA client player and then passed to the DAC. The critical timing information must be controlled by the clock on the DAC... Players like the OPPO can take data from shiny discs, and Flac or wav data from usb or E sata drives. The latest versions will handle high resolution files.

There are a goodly number of DLNA DACs being sold in the form of new Blu Ray players. Prices start around $100. I am unaware of any reliable testing that shows that they cause reliably audible degradation of the audio signal.

The individual costs of the various components of a Blu Ray player are each becoming low enough that mainstream manufacturers seem to be questioning the need to separate out the player's component parts.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tcatman View Post

Your high level message is right but the details not . FLAC is not a supported format for DLNA. Indeed, the only mandatory format (unless something has changed recently) is LPCM (uncompressed). The "server" software running on the PC will decode the FLAC stream then and send it out as uncompressed to your player.

Yes... the DLNA standards won't do Flac but the latest generation of Oppo's claim to do this. (thus my question)

Seeing the measurements is necessary to establish whether it is as good or superior.
Certainly... the bottom line will measure the full implementation.

The other consideration with DLNA is that your player becomes your user interface


This is a fundamental issue. I use Jriver Media Center now though a bridge to a Dac etc. I love the PC interface. They claim and have quite a number of users streaming to DLNA using Jriver...directly or though a controller... Gizmo running on android hand helds. Otherwise you are attached to the PC or some monitor you have running concurrently. I believe the JRiver implementaton will work... but nothing in this game is standard...
DLNA standards do not help matters.


Seems that I did not understand the difference between a DLNA player and a DLNA renderer which is a player that responds to controls.

So, a minimal requirement then is... Will the box function as a DNLA renderer so that it will play music and respond to the controls of a DLNA controller of my choice and play files from a DLNA server.

DLNA players use their on board hardware to navigate and select music files to play.

I found one report that the OPPO 95 did not show up on the network as a DLNA renderer. This would mean that you would have to use the navigation software built into the OPPO Player to get the files you want to play from a DLNA server.

Do I have this sorted out now?

Are there any bluray players that are DLNA renderers?
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 05:00 PM
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I tried foobar2000 using foo_upnp and set up my HTPC as a renderer, controlling it from a laptop set up as a controller (also using foo_upnp). Everything worked great except I could not get gapless playback, which is a deal-breaker for me.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock_bottom View Post

I tried foobar2000 using foo_upnp and set up my HTPC as a renderer, controlling it from a laptop set up as a controller (also using foo_upnp). Everything worked great except I could not get gapless playback, which is a deal-breaker for me.

Just joined this thread...most discussions on digital audio seem to center on eliminating jitter, how best to stream and the nuisance of having one' PC near/in the listening room. I've been ripping and storing audio on tons of individual USB HDDs only to have to manage files accross several drives and eventually experience platter and power supply failures. Next started to data rescues and migration process...

Finally I simply plunked down for a Synology NAS server and PS Audio's Perfectwave DAC/media server. All problems solved. Best 2-channel sound you can imagine and all digital streaming goodness protected by RAID 5 redundancy. Robust low jitter solution. Rip you files with dbpower amp first for reference accuracy. My $.02
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tcatman View Post

Your post notes that the network interface is much more complicated then a bridge and the decoding will take some processor power but this should be pretty doable in 2011.

That wasn't my point. Yes, the code is more complicated but complication by itself doesn't cause any audibility problems. One can license DLNA software stacks and build the box you are envisioning as PS Audio has done with a two-box solution. Assuming you get a reliable implementation (a significant concern), the reason that there may be more fidelity issues is that you need a more sophisticated digital subsystem to run the TCP/IP/HTTP/DLNA. This faster processor will create more potential problems for keeping the DAC clock absolutely clean. Reports I have seen from PS Audio Bridge users points anecdotally to a performance degradation when being used in DLNA streaming mode vs local playback. And to the earlier point, reliability is also a challenge. This data is a couple of months old so maybe they have improved things.

Quote:


This network problem should not be a problem.. Large buffers ought to be cheap!!!

Large buffers do nothing here. If you run out of buffer, playback stops. Having it lets you keep up with LAN latency but doesn't do anything to lower clock jitter.

Quote:


In this day and age... the DAC chips are balanced by the full interface and the amplification. Basically it comes down to value.... for 850 can you get a async USB DAC and a run of the mill blue ray player that does better then the 93 streaming though DLNA or the 95 with higher end audio output stage.

Right now, I would put my money on local playback using a USB bridge. These devices are usually driver free (for < 96 Khz on Windows) and pretty much plug and play with your favorite interface. While I very much like to see a high-quality streaming solution, I think it will be a while before a reliable and performant one shows up .

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-25-2011, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

That wasn't my point. Yes, the code is more complicated but complication by itself doesn't cause any audibility problems. One can license DLNA software stacks and build the box you are envisioning as PS Audio has done with a two-box solution. Assuming you get a reliable implementation (a significant concern), the reason that there may be more fidelity issues is that you need a more sophisticated digital subsystem to run the TCP/IP/HTTP/DLNA. This faster processor will create more potential problems for keeping the DAC clock absolutely clean. Reports I have seen from PS Audio Bridge users points anecdotally to a performance degradation when being used in DLNA streaming mode vs local playback. And to the earlier point, reliability is also a challenge. This data is a couple of months old so maybe they have improved things.


Large buffers do nothing here. If you run out of buffer, playback stops. Having it lets you keep up with LAN latency but doesn't do anything to lower clock jitter.


Right now, I would put my money on local playback using a USB bridge. These devices are usually driver free (for < 96 Khz on Windows) and pretty much plug and play with your favorite interface. While I very much like to see a high-quality streaming solution, I think it will be a while before a reliable and performant one shows up .

Thanks all....Learned quite a bit....
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-26-2011, 01:32 AM
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Large buffers do nothing here. If you run out of buffer, playback stops. Having it lets you keep up with LAN latency but doesn't do anything to lower clock jitter.

True as far as it goes, but is it not the whole answer.

When you attach a music player to a music server via a LAN, it is presumed that the server and the LAN will stream data at any reasonable rate that is requested by the music player.

IOW, the LAN, the server and the data path and buffers that it naturally implies provide a truly asynchronous connection that is able to easily provide data at whatever rate is desired by the listener.

The difference between a DLNA client and any other kind of LAN-attached music player is in the details, not the basic technology or the basic strategy, or the general functional units, or the general implementation.

The DAC clock in a LAN-attached music player calls the shots, sets the tempo, and dictates the rate at which everything else runs. DLNA is just another computer protocol for building a file server/client network.
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-26-2011, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Tcatman View Post

Are there any bluray players that are DLNA renderers?

Yes. The ones that I am familiar with are made by Sony and Samsung.

I have hands-on experience with DLNA operation with a friend's Samsung Blu Ray player.

The story is that my friend had bought a higher-end Blu Ray player used, but as we were setting it up for a Hi Fi club meeting, we found that the player on hand was not operating reliably.

So being on a very short timetable, we did some quick research on the web and found that we could buy a Samsung Blu Ray player at the local Target store, which we did. I think the out-the door price was about $225 including the proprietary USB wireless LAN adapter.

One the Samsung player was working well as a music/video player we attached it to the local wireless LAN, I grabbed a laptop, downloaded the DLNA server software, loaded it, and set the wireless-attached laptop up as a DLNA music server on the wireless LAN. It worked.

Elapsed time about 2 hours including the trip to the Target store.

BTW here is Samsung's list of supported formats:

Compatible files: DLNA-supported file types and extensions are listed below.
Music - MP3 (.mp3)
Photos - JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg)
Video - MPEG1 (.mpg, .mpeg) MPEG2 (.mpg, .mpeg, .trp, .ts, .tp) DIVX (.mpg, .mpeg, .avi) MPEG4 AVC (.mpg, .mpeg)

Source: http://www.samsung.com/us/pdf/dlna_guide.pdf
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-26-2011, 06:11 AM
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And your Samsung does not support either Flac or PCM. They are not on your list.
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-26-2011, 06:22 AM
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And your Samsung does not support either Flac or PCM. They are not on your list.

Interesting comment. According to the DLNA association web site, PCM audio support is manditory.

Why Samsung doesn't list it is a question. I'm trying to think what file typies I tested at my friend's house and it seems to me that I did test some .wav files as well as the obvious MP3s.

http://www.dlna.org/industry/why_dln.../media_format/

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Table 1. DLNA Media formats for Home Devices
Media Formats Required Formats Set Optional Formats Set
Imaging JPEG GIF, TIFF, PNG
Audio LPCM (2 channel) MP3, WMA9, AC-3, AAC, ATRAC3plus
Video MPEG2 MPEG1, MPEG4, WMV9

Table 2. DLNA Media formats for Mobile/Handheld Devices
Media Formats Required Formats Set Optional Formats Set
Imaging JPEG GIF, TIFF, PNG
Audio MP3 and MPEG4 AAC LC MPEG4 (HE AAC, AAC LTP, BSAC), AMR, ATRAC3plus, G.726, WMA, LPCM
Video MPEG4 AVC (AAC LC Assoc Audio) VC1, H.263, MPEG4 part 2, MPEG2, MPEG4 AVC (BSAC or other for Assoc. Audio)

I only know what I read and do, and both can get a little fuzzy - sorry.

I heartily agree with you that AFAIK there is no documented DLNA FLAC support at this time.

While FLAC is technically PCM, it isn't the same as .wav in most people's eyes when it comes to file types.
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-26-2011, 09:59 AM
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True as far as it goes, but is it not the whole answer.

There is indeed more to the story than the bit I mentioned. You probably don't know that my previous employer, Microsoft, was a founding member of DLNA and I had the dubious job of negotiating the charter structure and formats for DLNA for executives from the other companies. I say dubious because despite my best attempt, I failed to get the support of the other two core members to agree to anything but MPEG-2 for video and uncompressed PCM for audio. Here we are, creating a format for the age of Internet and folks want the server to decompress a 128kbps MP3 and ship it at 1.4 mbit/sec over a home network. And don't realize the emergence of more advanced formats such as MPEG-4 which had a fraction of royalties of MPEG-2.

After much pushing, some of these other formats were allowed as optional. Of course, there is nothing more of an oxymoron than an "optional standard." Instead of letting consumers enjoy the technology by just having it work, we force them now to learn the obscure language of formats and codes. And the result is this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I only know what I read and do, and both can get a little fuzzy - sorry.

So here we are with OP and you guessing as to what is supported and what is not. The right architecture would allow the server and client to fully negotiate any format they both understand and just play the darn file.

Even worse is lack of quality control in implementation.

We went on to support DLNA server in the Windows Media Player since it was becoming a checklist item (started in Japan). So we did our thing to help out but when you start with a broken foundation, it is had to create the right solution end-to-end.

Is there any wonder that Apple is eating everyone else's lunch here?

As to your comments further in that post, you just paraphrased what I already said. So not sure what other thing you were answering that I had not in fewer words. But if it made you feel good to post it, why not?

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