whole house media server/htpc build (music,photos,movies,TV) Suggestions appreciatedm - AVS Forum
Home Theater Computers > whole house media server/htpc build (music,photos,movies,TV) Suggestions appreciatedm
capaill's Avatar capaill 06:10 PM 01-26-2011
I'm planning my media server/HTPC build for 2-3 zones around the house and would appreciate your advice and any feedback if you've used any of the platforms mentioned below. The results of which I'd be happy to summarize for everyone at the end.

My goals/needs are as follows, in order of importance,

1. Backups;
a) Automatic Laptop backups at home with duplication (so possibly WHS such as EX490/495)

2. Use one software interface around the house such as Windows Media center, Jriver, Sage etc for music, movies, photos, and possibly TV (or at least one for music via ipad/Android/iphone and one for TV-viewed content)

3. Music;
a) Use a primary HTPC/server combo or the server ONLY to contain and serve up all music around the house. What are the pros and cons of each?
b) Possible Sound-output device options; Airport expresses (cheap), squeeze box (but probably too expensive), multi channel sound card such as http://www.maudio.com/products/en_us/Delta1010LT.html, or a CasaTunes sound card.
c) I would like to be able to select which songs get played in which zones, preferably simultaneously and use an iphone/ipad/android app to do so. I don't want to turn on the TV to select music, but the option is desirable.
d) I would like to be able control the receiver for on/off/source/volume with the app.
e) Playback options; itunes, mediamonkey, Jriver, windows media center7
f) I would use a laptop to rip to the server or HTPC and manage tags/artwork.

4. Movies and Photos;
Serve up a small ripped movie collection around the house, so I will either build htpc's, or use extenders such as the xbox (if using WMC7) or WD live/ popcorn with their interface
5. Bit torrents;
Download via htpc/laptop and transfer to the server for future playback via a htpc/xbox/wd live/ popcorn.

6. TV, 3 options;
1. If I keep my DirecTV DVR, do I still need to build a primary HTPC for music or can the server do everything and just use extenders for movies and photo serving and the use a Laptop to rip CD's to the server.
2. Cut cable and build a HTPC to view online content. Based on a core i3 Sandybridge system
3. Build my own DVR using WMC or SageTV, with Ceton/Silicon Dust tuners + a HDPVR as I want to record subscription channels (FoxSportsPlus), and in which case I need to make sure to record the programs that will be watched in zone 1 on the HTPC in Zone 1 (due to copy once restrictions), but the content could be moved to the server for storage, or use an Xbox if the recording HTPC is in another zone?

Some initial Q's
1. Would appleTV2 work any better than airport expresses WRT controls via ipad/iphone/android?
2. There seems to be an iphone app that can control a 2011 networked Denon Receiver to control its functions, anybody have an experience with this?
3. Any issues with installing a music playback software(itunes/media monkey) directly onto a WHS?
4. Are the HP Mediasmart Servers still worth buying, and is a ex490 sufficient.
5. For Movies, photos and Tv content, is the best option still using a Universal remote, any ipad/iphone/android options?


Maybe I'm asking too much, and I've also posted in other sections as I think it crosses categories
Capaill

jeffkro's Avatar jeffkro 06:23 PM 01-26-2011
wow, that's a lot to tackle. I'm pretty sure direct tv has a program where you can watch what was recorded on the directv dvr on any computer in your network. So what if you had directv on your primary tv/movie viewing room and two HTPC's running in the other two rooms, one of which would double as a NAS? Wait, you couldn't stream back to your primary room unless you were to use a media extender there. Either way I think you want to use your directv dvr to record premium content, remember you cant copy off the dvr but you can stream to other computers.

You could go fairly cheap on the HTPC's if you aren't using them to playback 3d blue rays. I think it might be possible to build amd e350 systems for around $300 minus the OS.

You could even drop a $30-40 radeon 5450 into any computer around 2-3yrs old and make a decent htpc
dm's Avatar dm 09:48 PM 01-26-2011
I cannot offer a solution for all of that....but using jriver Media Center 15 (http://www.jriver.com) with their new GIZMO Andrioid tablet application is pretty cool and gets you alot of bang. They also have a new DLNA music appliance called the Id that is pretty cool for playing music where you don't have a PC handy.
capaill's Avatar capaill 01:57 PM 01-27-2011
HI jeffkro,
Thanks..thats an interesting fuction of Directv, not listed on their site but will look into it, I see they also now do multi-room HD DVR's as well, so I will look into that option. I have to way up this option vs cutting Cable.
Thaanks
capaill's Avatar capaill 02:04 PM 01-27-2011
Thanks dm
Has anyone exprience using Jriver vs other platforms, I hear its pretty good for music. I did some research on that Id device, seems a bit disjointed in the descriptions and its not their device. Not sure yet if it does synced multi-room. I've also found an article that describes an app called Air UPnP from dbpoweramp/illustrate that hooks Jriver to apple expresses using DLNA, so must review that..anybody else using this?
frankspin's Avatar frankspin 02:27 PM 01-27-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

HI jeffkro,
Thanks..thats an interesting fuction of Directv, not listed on their site but will look into it, I see they also now do multi-room HD DVR's as well, so I will look into that option. I have to way up this option vs cutting Cable.
Thaanks

Here is the link: http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/conten...ogy/directv2pc
capaill's Avatar capaill 03:45 PM 01-27-2011
thanks frankspin,
interesting, surprising they allow that, instead of forcing you to get their HD receivers.
capaill
dj4monie's Avatar dj4monie 10:29 PM 01-27-2011
You could use TVersity Pro ($39.99) and that's what is - A Media Server, it also handles trans coding. http://tversity.com/

All your devices should access it, including DirecTV DVR's as long as you have Ethernet and Media Serve enabled.

What is your main concern? You wanna access your media from anywhere in the house? You can access TVersity from anywhere you can bring up the URL...

I think TVersity will cover that. As for automatic backup, can't you do that in W7 using its automatic backup feature?

To access DirecTV files directly from DVR on your PC, DirecTV2PC is basically your only choice.

Finally TVersity Pro has access to several streaming web sites
Servicetech571's Avatar Servicetech571 06:44 AM 01-28-2011
Start small.
Build ONE HTPC and build up from there, don't try to do everythign at once.
dbalkunjr's Avatar dbalkunjr 07:17 AM 01-28-2011
I am using J River MC15 with an HP EX485 and a HTPC.
I use it for all video, audio and photos. It works really well and version 15 has really excelled at working with zones. I have 6 zones(4 audio and 2 video) set up in my house and all are able to play different material simultaneously or play the same thing in sync. I am using an M-Audio Delta 410 soundcard to 4 of the zones. The Gizmo Android app to control all of the zones has worked flawlessly for me over WiFi and 3g. The only thing I am disappointed in is that as far as I know Gizmo is not able to combine zones to sync. This has to be done from a PC. The team at J. River is continuously updating the software and the app so hopefully this will be added in future releases. I love being able to control my media using JRMC from any connected client with the software installed as well as gizmo installed on any Android device. Gizmo also works to stream your music and photos to your Android device for playback. Video playback is planned for the future. It is not possible to control power of your AVR from within the app at this time. There have been requests made on the JRMC Forum for this feature.
As far as Itunes and Airport Express.been there done that.returned the T-shirt. Itunes is slow and clunky with large libraries. I have over 15000 audio files, 20000 images and 600 movies in my JRMC database and it is lightning fast. The team continues to tweak it and speed things up. It really is a joy to use. I do not see Itunes ever fitting into ANY system I ever build. But I do not want to turn this into a debate as to which is better or worse. All I can say is that JRMC is the choice for me. I know that XBMC can do a lot but, JRMC has not let me down yet. The evolution of JRMC from v15.001 to v15.173 is really amazing. I see great things in the future. My system is similar to what you are looking to do and I will tell you that many of the issues or shortcomings of my system by MY OWN DESIGN have been remedied by the this evolution in JRMC over the last 11 months. I did not have to look for work arounds or alternate methods to do certain tasks. The software updates kept adding new features and tweaking old features making me look forward to each release.

As far as the server goes, I have an HP EX485 running WHS and that is where all my media is stored. I thought about installing JRMC on it but I run a dedicated HTPC using WIN7 Pro which then in turn outputs HDMI to a 4x4 Matrix Switch for distribution to the TV's in the house. Up until now I have not had a need for any more media extenders, but it is on the horizon. I will probably go for another HTPC so I can use JRMC's interface for simplicity. The server does the automatic back up of all the PC's in the house. This just works.
I just picked up an HD Homerun and am just starting to play around with it. It is for OTA only and I am on the fence as whether I will be using JRMC's TV interface or WMC for playback and DVR functionality. I think this is the one area where WMC beats JRMC at the moment. I just need to work out how I am going to implement this with my Harmony remotes so one button will take you to WMC Live TV on activity start and then back to JRMC Theater View when done watching TV. Not hard to do, just need time to implement.
investmentcar's Avatar investmentcar 08:17 AM 01-28-2011
> backups - Windows Backup with a sync software like skydrive.
> use Airfoil by Rogue Ameoba to select output. I have used Oremote for Onkyo receivers with success. Use Remote App by apple to select songs.
> torrents - map a drive on your laptop that would allow you to start torrents that would store on an htpc.
I don't see the point in building a dedicated server, just use 7200rpm drives, 10/100/1000, extra ram in whichever htpc and use it as an htpc and server.
> I really like my Logitech Harmony 900, but it's weakest area is htpc. It just can't replace a mini keyboard/mouse/touchpad. speaking of... - I use Synergy+ to share my keyoard and touchpad from my laptop to control my htpc.
balky's Avatar balky 10:40 PM 01-28-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 View Post

Start small.
Build ONE HTPC and build up from there, don't try to do everythign at once.

This is the most valuable advice so far...

If you have some experience in project management, you might want to use it in this situation...

It is already a good thing that you know what you want, you just need to carefully determine what comes first before the other.
capaill's Avatar capaill 10:17 AM 02-01-2011
Thanks a lot for the suggestions.
Jrmc looks interesting if they can work with the airport expresses efficiently since it also does photos movies
I ve also read up on casatunes xli 6 zone sound card which has Apple and Android apps and is also an web based UI. This does everything fairly cheaply. Cheaper than apples ARE for 6 zones but dosen't integrate well into WMC.
I've also decided to forget about tunes. So either cut the cord or stick with DTV as fox sports plus in only via satellite at the moment and I expect the HDPVR is possibly unreliable and/or expensive

So it basically comes down to finding a platform that will do multizone audio via touchscreen that possibly integrates withal mediacenter software..so far that seems Apple jrmc casatunes.

Anyone have and experience using Apple TV v2 to display non itunes bought content. I don't buy itunes content. Any format restrictions if ripping dvds so as to use ATV2 to playback. Could use the ATV2 TV viewed content and AE for zone audio.
dj4monie's Avatar dj4monie 01:05 PM 02-01-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

Anyone have and experience using Apple TV v2 to display non itunes bought content. I don't buy itunes content. Any format restrictions if ripping dvds so as to use ATV2 to playback. Could use the ATV2 TV viewed content and AE for zone audio.

Not big on any Apple products but have you considered XMBC? You can use it to access your network files and play ripped content through it.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/20/x...-new-apple-tv/
Somewhatlost's Avatar Somewhatlost 01:18 PM 02-01-2011
my personal choice would be to just run sage on the WHS and then put HD300's at each TV and call it a day...

~$50 for Sage server, $150 per zone

no cablecard support though, so if you insist on keeping cable you would need one or more HDPVR's... but since you are not handicapped with crappy Cablecard DRM that doesn't seem to be of any value to us end users you wouldn't need to worry about what was recorded where... just record anything once and watch it anywhere...
mayhem13's Avatar mayhem13 01:30 PM 02-01-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

Anyone have and experience using Apple TV v2 to display non itunes bought content. I don't buy itunes content. Any format restrictions if ripping dvds so as to use ATV2 to playback. Could use the ATV2 TV viewed content and AE for zone audio.

Right now, the ATV2 will only play iTunes formatted video content.....it's been jailbroken but nothing ready for prime-time.

As to DVD playback, i'm half way through encoding my DVD library to iTunes format using AnyDVD and Handbrake. Really simple and does a great job. Time consuming though.

The Apple TV has 2 outputs....one HDMI for digital audio and video and one Optical for digital audio only. It's one solution for both audio and video. Dedicated zones that won't be using video can use the Airport Express instead.

After reading your thread, i tried all of my zones playing different content of both audio and video simulotaneously(4 zones now!) and it worked flawlessly. Walked around with the iTouch changing songs and movies as i went. At my last stop i even gave Airplay a try with all zones running and streamed Pandora directly from the touch to an Airport. Pretty not bad for an all Apple, inexpensive streaming solution......IMO of course!
capaill's Avatar capaill 01:56 PM 02-01-2011
thanks mayhem 13,
so you basically rip and encode them to .mp4, correct?
I was leaning towards casa tunes for multizone audio, seems a great product with good support, but getting the AE's and ATV working all in interface could be a good solution.

Any knowledge of XBMC working on ATV?
capaill's Avatar capaill 01:58 PM 02-01-2011
thanks Somewhatlost
I have to stick with a satellite provider for foxsport plus, in my case DTV so that rules out cable and sageTV for no cable card support. But the HD300's do seem a great option for non premium Tv and not WMC
thanks
Somewhatlost's Avatar Somewhatlost 02:34 PM 02-01-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

thanks Somewhatlost
I have to stick with a satellite provider for foxsport plus, in my case DTV so that rules out cable and sageTV for no cable card support. But the HD300's do seem a great option for non premium Tv and not WMC
thanks

satellite doesn't use cable cable card? only cable uses cable card, and only then when they have too...
for satellite (or cable) just use a HDPVR, or better yet the new and improved version that should be out sooner or later... no DRM, no restrictions, use the content you paid for however you want...

the HDx00's are also good with Pictures, DVD's, Blurays, HDDVD's (ripped as MKV's maybe some other formats are supported too?), some web content, other web content with the addition of Playon, music (kinda sorta... it works, plays my flac files just fine, but my Sonos setup has a much better UI for music)
auto commercial skipping DVR usage (OTA with tuner, FTA with tuner, any SAT/Cable premium, PPV, anything really with HDPVR/capture device)
mayhem13's Avatar mayhem13 02:49 PM 02-01-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

thanks mayhem 13,
so you basically rip and encode them to .mp4, correct?
I was leaning towards casa tunes for multizone audio, seems a great product with good support, but getting the AE's and ATV working all in interface could be a good solution.

Any knowledge of XBMC working on ATV?

Worked well on the 1g ATV, but nothin yet on the 2g. The horsepower and memory are there, more so than the 1g. It's just gonna take some time. Truthfully i like the ATV2 factory GUI enough to not wanna sacrifice relaibility long term but that's just me.

Will be rippin some Blue Rays this weekend so i'll let you know how it goes. Others have had good success so far.

The nice thing about the adio side is there's no TV/Display needed for operation, just the iTouch,Pad,Phone. I HEAR that the new iPhone and upcoming iOS will allow airplay streaming of videos and pics captured on the phone. That's gonna be a real game changer for a lot of folks. Imagine the Amateur porn possibilites?
ntaylor's Avatar ntaylor 03:16 PM 02-05-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by capaill View Post

Any knowledge of XBMC working on ATV?

http://xbmc.org/theuni/2011/01/20/yo...-ipad-iphone4/
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