Need Advice for Entertainment Computer software - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been given the task to build a computer for the audio/visuals of a restaurant. At the restaurant we play music and videos, but separate from each other. Currently we have music playing through a music device and DVDs playing from a separate dvd player. We want to combine them into one computer that can handle it all.

We will be getting a computer with a large hard drive to store the music and video libraries. It will need a good deal of RAM as well as a good sound card and video card. The video card will need a component output so we can plug it right into our existing set up.

The part I need help with is what software to use. We will have the music playing in one program (possibly something as simple as itunes) but we will need another program to play the videos to the component output so that the TVs in the store will only see the video and none of the other stuff on the computer. I would also like the video program to be capable of a seamless video playlist; we will probably have a library of video clips of different subjects and I would like to be able to drag and drop them into a playlist that will play seamlessly.

Any suggestions on the software to use for the videos ? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 03:39 PM
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Quote:


It will need a good deal of RAM as well as a good sound card and video card.

A couple of random thoughts that probably won't help...
Shouldn't need much RAM at all - 4gb is more than enough to do almost anything in regard to sound and video. "Good" video and sound cards are probably not needed at all as almost everything out there will also be more than enough for what you're doing. (If a $29 video card will do full 1080p BD video, I can't imagine you'd anything else). Any onboard audio will also be up to the task.
I think where you're going to run into issues is trying to run two different AV applications simultaneously. You might be better off using an extender for the video portion of things and then iTunes for audio.
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post #3 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 07:50 PM
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Should work with most any off-the-self computer today. Use any media playback software that you like for audio playlists - even windows media player. I use Creative mediasource player that came with an older mp3 player. For the videos, you will want software that allows you to mute the audio output from the software, not the entire machine - and something that let's you set up video playlists. I've not done the video side of this, but somebody has got to have an idea..
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post #4 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSqueaks View Post

The video card will need a component output so we can plug it right into our existing set up.

This is actually what's sounding problematic. Never had much luck with getting component out from PC (not to mention with HDMI being standard nowadays, it might be difficult to find a video card with component output).

As for the software part, I think J.River Media Center might be up to the task.
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post #5 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 07:02 AM
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Component video could be an issue although I'd bet an external converter box (VGA to component, or HDMI to component) may accomplish that... or it may be his video distribution/switch may have capabilities he's unaware of.

Audio could be another issue using dual audio... clearly one sound port would not handle this although adding a second sound card, even a cheapie may not be the answer. I do wonder if it's be possible to assign a front-end to use a dedicated audio output that is not the default (PC) audio output thus leaving the default as the one the audio player uses. BTW, if he can get HDMI to component (above) and stereo sound then I wonder if he could configure "speakers" as the default audio device and HDMI Audio for his video's sound path?
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post #6 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 09:31 AM
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Some sound cards allow you to have a multi-room set up. So, the typical 7.1 sound will be stereo but in 3-4 different locations.

OP will have to assign itunes to the "front" speakers, and Media player to the "rear" speakers.

Also, there are sitll video cards with S-Video, not really a component, but closer and easier to convert to component than trying to convert VGA or HDMI to component.

Also, the hardware requirements for this operation as so minimal, that OP can use a PC or PC components from few years ago, that may actually have built in component outputs.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #7 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 09:36 AM
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Quote:


Also, there are sitll video cards with S-Video, not really a component, but closer and easier to convert to component than trying to convert VGA or HDMI to component.

You may actually mean component as what people often call "S-Video" is often really a (six pin) component connection requiring a breakout cable. S-Video is 4 pin...
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post #8 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 11:00 AM
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You should be able to do this from one piece of software - JRiver Media Center.

You can play 5.1 videos using SPDIF in one "zone" that you assign in the software, and then also play up to 4 other stereo zones using a 7.1 card. All this can be controlled by any computer on the network using a browser, or any smartphone.
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post #9 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your advice. As for the component input, I have someone else building the computer so I will talk with him to see what we will need to do; if we need a converter or if he can find a card with a component out.

I have heard of JRiver before but haven't had a chance to test it out. Will it be able to seamlessly play a video playlist? And will it be able to mute its output so it doesn't interfere with the audio from itunes? And the biggest question, will I be able to scroll around on the computer while the TVs in the dining room ONLY see the video being played?
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post #10 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSqueaks View Post

Thank you all for your advice. As for the component input, I have someone else building the computer so I will talk with him to see what we will need to do; if we need a converter or if he can find a card with a component out.

I have heard of JRiver before but haven't had a chance to test it out. Will it be able to seamlessly play a video playlist? And will it be able to mute its output so it doesn't interfere with the audio from itunes? And the biggest question, will I be able to scroll around on the computer while the TVs in the dining room ONLY see the video being played?

What do you mean by seamlessly play a video playlist? It can play video playlists just fine, and the gap between one file and the next is quite short.

As for iTunes, well, you wouldn't need iTunes since JRiver will play all audio formats iTunes does and more. You'd just send the audio from iTunes to a different zone, and you can mute any zone(s) you like.

Yes, in extended desktop mode, you can tell JRiver to play video on any attached monitor and you may therefore continue to use your PC as usual. Of course this all depends on a sufficiently powerful PC, e.g. if you want to play two different 1080p movies in different zones that should be ok with a decent i5/7 CPU, but more than that might get troublesome without GPU acceleration. If you want to send the same video feed to many TVs, you should invest in a splitter (component, HDMI etc. as appropriate), and create a video zone for the splitter.
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post #11 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitbrit View Post

You should be able to do this from one piece of software - JRiver Media Center.

You can play 5.1 videos using SPDIF in one "zone" that you assign in the software, and then also play up to 4 other stereo zones using a 7.1 card. All this can be controlled by any computer on the network using a browser, or any smartphone.

I tried out JRiver, and it was terribly unreliable for me (crashed frequently). Obviously the OP will want something as reliable as possible. It's quite possible that my experience was the exception though, so I'm curious how reliable Jriver has been for you guys.
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post #12 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

I tried out JRiver, and it was terribly unreliable for me (crashed frequently). Obviously the OP will want something as reliable as possible. It's quite possible that my experience was the exception though, so I'm curious how reliable Jriver has been for you guys.

When my HTPC was unreliable, so was JRiver. When I built a new one and installed just what I needed, it's been pretty robust. Also, now with no need to install any codecs yourself (JRiver downloads, installs and configures them for you), it's a much better user experience than in the past.
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post #13 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 08:57 PM
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MrSqueaks: If you don't mind, I've opened a thread on the JRiver forum asking the users there to confirm whether JRiver Media Center could be used for all your needs, or to suggest alternatives in case I was mistaken somehow.
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post #14 of 14 Old 02-02-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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Looking through this, everyone is totally off point. What you need, is something like a Popcorn hour media server, or a server, that you can store media on, and send out to something, that you can view or listen to the media on. Big catch is, you will need a sizable amount of storage for the media, a plan in action to store offsite, and also have to secure the various licenses to be able to have that media in storage.

So again, what is your question, and do you have a plan, or just doing this for a friend on a whim.
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