Whole-house music via Ethernet - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I want to be able to manage a single music library from either my living room or bedroom PC with the ability to play the music in either room or both rooms at the same time. Can this be done over a network with software running on the computers? I'd rather not use multi-zone amplifiers because the network is already in place and I don't want to purchase extra hardware or run audio cable between the rooms. I can't imagine I'm the only one who has ever thought of something like this and I have searched and searched but cannot find anything.

Oh, and the ability to control it all from a PDA would be great.
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post #2 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 05:43 PM
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You can use Digilinx from netstreams but you need an amp on each pair of speakers (that's what drives the speakers). Digilinx can be controlled through any computer,pda or tablet that's connected to the network.
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post #3 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 06:33 PM
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And all it takes it $$$.

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post #4 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I was hoping that going with an Ehternet solution, if there is one, instead of a hardware solution would only take $ instead of $$$.
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post #5 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 07:10 PM
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Quote:


would only take $ instead of $$$.

Does that mean 0 to 9 dollars? :-)

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post #6 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 08:05 PM
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I've not done it, but many folks have commented on the difficulty of synchronized audio playback when managing multiple locations via PCs...

Perhaps you'll have better luck.

the sticky is about my crappy blues pickin'...
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post #7 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 08:47 PM
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I think that the only practical way to do it is to have the playback at the head end and use a matrix switcher, so that you are literally pushing one signal to all the zones that want to hear a particular stream. But of course that does away with the ethernet based distribution.

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post #8 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 09:08 PM
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Ok, I'll chime in. I don't know if this is exactly what your looking to do but I'll tell you what I did and it's relatively inexpensive. First off download the latest itunes from the apple site (it's free). Install it on all computers that you want to control your music from (only need the songs installed on one computer but need the itunes on all of them). Now you have to buy an "AirPort Express Base Station with AirTunes" from apple. It's about $100. The base station allows you to play iTunes music over your wireless network to your home stereo or powered speakers. I actually went ahead and used an existing cat5 cable instead of using it's wireless features. Anyway the base station has many uses but i have it plugged into my stereo that drives my whole house speakers. Itunes takes a little work to get setup but basically you enable sharing of your music data base through itunes and keep itunes running in the system with the music. Then if your on another computer/laptop ect from within itunes you can select the database from the "main" computer. You also must select wether you want itunes to output the audio through the pc's sound card or out to the Airport base station. THis works very well and other than a few cables only costs $100 to achieve provided you have a stereo ect. Hope this helps.

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post #9 of 35 Old 01-22-2007, 09:13 PM
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I re-read your post and can't tell if you already have whole house speakers/wires in place or if that is the main quesiton but I'll offer one more solution incase that's what your looking for. I'm actually using this combined with the airtunes I posted above. Just go to http://www.a-bus.com/ and check out their system. They essentially sell a system where you install volume controls in the wall. From there you run speaker wires to the ceiling speakers. From your stereo and their distribution panel you run cat5 cables to each wall plate/volume control. The volume control acts as the amplifier. hope this helps.
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post #10 of 35 Old 01-23-2007, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmicken View Post

I want to be able to manage a single music library from either my living room or bedroom PC with the ability to play the music in either room or both rooms at the same time. Can this be done over a network with software running on the computers? I'd rather not use multi-zone amplifiers because the network is already in place and I don't want to purchase extra hardware or run audio cable between the rooms. I can't imagine I'm the only one who has ever thought of something like this and I have searched and searched but cannot find anything.

Oh, and the ability to control it all from a PDA would be great.

Slim Devices' has your answer.
You don't really have to purchase a Squeezebox(s), I reccomend it though.
The free SlimServer should meet your needs. It is feature rich and largly platform independent.
There is a Java SoftSqueeze player component that would work from your PCs. (sync'ing the Java player has been an issue in the past).
There are many skins for the server interface but the Nokia 770 skin could meet your PDA control scheme.

Higly reccomend this hardware/software solution.

Bob
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post #11 of 35 Old 01-23-2007, 07:27 AM
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I'd assume you're looking for the music to be sync'd, or there wouldn't even be a discussion, right? That's not possible without extra equipment.

As for control, you can look into many apps for PPC, such as NetRemote and RemoteAmp.
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post #12 of 35 Old 01-23-2007, 08:38 AM
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xlobby or something similar might fit the bill too.

it has the ability to sync playback on multiple computers over the network.
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post #13 of 35 Old 01-23-2007, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmicken View Post

I was hoping that going with an Ehternet solution, if there is one, instead of a hardware solution would only take $ instead of $$$.

Well I was specifically speaking about the digilinx system. Very pricey...but then again, most new technology is when it first comes out. Hopefully prices will fall over the long run.

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post #14 of 35 Old 01-24-2007, 11:57 PM
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I second the recommendation for Slim Devices Squeezebox and SlimServer.

Outstanding sound quality and functionality, pretty much unrivaled by other solutions. I've also used the Roku Soundbridge, which is a cheap toy by comparison.
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post #15 of 35 Old 03-06-2007, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmicken View Post

I want to be able to manage a single music library from either my living room or bedroom PC with the ability to play the music in either room or both rooms at the same time. Can this be done over a network with software running on the computers? I'd rather not use multi-zone amplifiers because the network is already in place and I don't want to purchase extra hardware or run audio cable between the rooms. I can't imagine I'm the only one who has ever thought of something like this and I have searched and searched but cannot find anything.

Oh, and the ability to control it all from a PDA would be great.

I can't believe nobody's mentioned this yet, but if you're target playback devices are PCs, then J River Media Center is the way to go.

You just install JRMC on the "server" enable the Library Server option, and then install JRMC on the "clients" and set them to "Search for Media Server".

IMO, it's by far the most powerful/robust/overall best solution for networked music if you're using PCs as the playback devices.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #16 of 35 Old 03-06-2007, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morsel View Post

I second the recommendation for Slim Devices Squeezebox and SlimServer.

Outstanding sound quality and functionality, pretty much unrivaled by other solutions. I've also used the Roku Soundbridge, which is a cheap toy by comparison.

morsel,

What's the difference between them? I'm looking at a network music player, and have gravitated toward those two. What makes the Squeezebox worth ~2x the Soundbridge?

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #17 of 35 Old 03-06-2007, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

morsel,

What's the difference between them? I'm looking at a network music player, and have gravitated toward those two. What makes the Squeezebox worth ~2x the Soundbridge?

Just do a quick Google on the Roku and SlimDevices. You will find support docs from Roku that tell you get better codec (and I believe product and server) support from SlimDevice's Slimserver. I believe the answer is better hardware and flexible feature set.

Bob
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post #18 of 35 Old 03-06-2007, 03:42 PM
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I posted something similar to this on the JRMC forums, but I'll post a more generic version here.

I came across this tread because (after seeing a good price on the M1001 in an add last week) I've had renewed interest in DMRs. Some useless background:

I use SageTV for all my video needs, it streams recordings, DVDs, etc to my two TVs (HTPC driving my HT system and MVP/Extender driving my "normal" HDTV). I love it, can't imagine living without it.

Similarly for music, I run J River Media Center, I have it's Media Server running on my server and I use JRMC "clients" on my HTPC, desktop, and stream music to work (on the fly transcoding is sweet!). For a long time I thought I wanted JRMC integrated into SageTV (my two favorite media apps in one, what could be better). But after actually thinking about how I listen to music and such, I came to the realization that I use them very differently, if I've got a TV on, I'm watching video of some sort (not music). And if I'm listenning to music, I don't have a TV on (thus no way to browse music via Sage or a Sage-like interface).

What I really need is a DMR or two (or three). Something I can just have hooked up to speakers so I can listen to music either in places without a TV, or without the TV/display on.

OK, useless background out of the way, I need to pick a DMR. Like I said, I love JRMC and am completely addicted to it's smartlist feature. For those who don't know, Smartlists appear in JRMC just like a normal playlist, however unlike normal playlists, with a static list of tracks, you define a Smartlist by criteria (eg Genre, Rating, last played, etc, etc). Then when you select a Smartlist, JRMC automatically generates a playlist based on the Smartlist's criteria.

While I don't have a huge collection, I don't like having to pick individual tracks (though I like the ability to), nor do I like picking playlists, 99% of the time, I use the Smartlist. I've got them setup for my favorite genres, stuff I haven't heard in a long time, etc.

That brings me to my requirements for a DMR:

1) Needs to integrate with JRMC: JRMC supports UPnP serving, and presents smartlists to the UPnP client.

2) Needs to support lossless audio: My entire collection is lossless, WMAL at the moment, but I'm not married to it. Unfortunately JRMC can't transcode to PCM/WAV so I need a DMR that supports lossless codecs (other than WAV) natively.

3) I'd also like an alarm function, so that I can use it as an alarm clock radio.

FWIW, I really don't like the Slimserver/player interface, or more correctly, it appears to have nothing like Smartlists, and I just can't live without something like that. Maybe I'm missing something though.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #19 of 35 Old 03-07-2007, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

But after actually thinking about how I listen to music and such, I came to the realization that I use them very differently, if I've got a TV on, I'm watching video of some sort (not music). And if I'm listenning to music, I don't have a TV on (thus no way to browse music via Sage or a Sage-like interface).

Me too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

What I really need is a DMR or two (or three). Something I can just have hooked up to speakers so I can listen to music either in places without a TV, or without the TV/display on.

Or have all your Squeezeboxes sync'd together playing the same thing, or have them all playing seperate tracks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Like I said, I love JRMC and am completely addicted to it's smartlist feature. For those who don't know, Smartlists appear in JRMC just like a normal playlist, however unlike normal playlists, with a static list of tracks, you define a Smartlist by criteria (eg Genre, Rating, last played, etc, etc). Then when you select a Smartlist, JRMC automatically generates a playlist based on the Smartlist's criteria.

Playlists can be created by a variety of methods on the fly and updated to add tracks. Music can be sorted by grenre, artist, alblum, etc...
This can all be modified as well with plug-ins.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

That brings me to my requirements for a DMR:

1) Needs to integrate with JRMC: JRMC supports UPnP serving, and presents smartlists to the UPnP client.

No sure

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

2) Needs to support lossless audio: My entire collection is lossless, WMAL at the moment, but I'm not married to it. Unfortunately JRMC can't transcode to PCM/WAV so I need a DMR that supports lossless codecs (other than WAV) natively.

Supports multiple codecs (i.e. flac).

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

3) I'd also like an alarm function, so that I can use it as an alarm clock radio.

Slimserver alarm rocks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

FWIW, I really don't like the Slimserver/player interface, or more correctly, it appears to have nothing like Smartlists, and I just can't live without something like that. Maybe I'm missing something though.

See answer above. Sorry you don't like the interface it is fast and flexible.

Bob
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post #20 of 35 Old 03-07-2007, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobharp View Post

Playlists can be created by a variety of methods on the fly and updated to add tracks. Music can be sorted by grenre, artist, alblum, etc...

Yeah, but that's not enough, everything can do that. But...

Quote:


This can all be modified as well with plug-ins.

The SQL Playlist plugin looks like exactly what I'm looking for, playlists dynamically created based on multiple criteria.

Thanks for the link, I'll have to play with it some more (via softsqueeze) before I decide.

Quote:


See answer above. Sorry you don't like the interface it is fast and flexible.

I shouldn't say I don't like the "inteface", that's not really correct, it was/is more of a case of it lacking some functionality that I would really miss, but I think SQL Playlist will fill that gap.

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post #21 of 35 Old 03-07-2007, 09:51 AM
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Don't let Softsqueeze affect your descision. The players have a 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee. Pick one up to see if it fits your needs.

Bob
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post #22 of 35 Old 03-09-2007, 12:03 PM
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Perhaps someone here has some good advice on this:

I have several squeezeboxes in my house, connected to a PC at my media center location (actually a former Meda Bravo (RIP) box converted back to a Windows XP machine). It is connected to my home LAN.

The squeezebox at the media center routes audio through a Xantech MRC44 to other rooms in the house.

I generally manage the SlimServer from my home office from the Web interface. This is OK, but DREADFULLY slow when trying to create or edit a playlist, since it takes about a minute to refresh every time I make a single change (I have about 4500 tracks on the server).

It appears that neither iTunes nor MusicMatch Jukebox will allow me to edit the files on the server from my office desktop- they will only access files on my office PC. If I create playlists on this machine, they are not correctly referenced to their file locations on the Meda PC.

Does anyone know of a good M3U editor that can manage files on a network drive? I've tried quite a few, and they never seem to create playlists that SlimServer will recognize!

Interestingly, I have no trouble editing the individual MP3 files remotely with Tag&Rename, etc, but I can't manage playlists . . .

Thanks!

Orrin

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post #23 of 35 Old 03-09-2007, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orrinc View Post

Perhaps someone here has some good advice on this:

I generally manage the SlimServer from my home office from the Web interface. This is OK, but DREADFULLY slow when trying to create or edit a playlist, since it takes about a minute to refresh every time I make a single change (I have about 4500 tracks on the server).

It appears that neither iTunes nor MusicMatch Jukebox will allow me to edit the files on the server from my office desktop- they will only access files on my office PC. If I create playlists on this machine, they are not correctly referenced to their file locations on the Meda PC.

Does anyone know of a good M3U editor that can manage files on a network drive? I've tried quite a few, and they never seem to create playlists that SlimServer will recognize!

Interestingly, I have no trouble editing the individual MP3 files remotely with Tag&Rename, etc, but I can't manage playlists . . .

Thanks!

Orrin

Orrin,
Odd that your web performance is slow. 4500 tracks, while commendable, is not big enough to slow down your server. I have no issues running under Linux.
Here is a link to Slim Devices Forums that talks about some options.

What version of Slimserver are you running? Wired or wireless?

Good luck.

Bob
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post #24 of 35 Old 03-09-2007, 01:20 PM
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Thanks!

I don't know if the music server is slow, or if it's just slow to refresh commands from its Web interface . . .

I have 2 Squeezeboxes- one is wired (at the media center) and one is wireless (in my office). I use the wireless one just to view the current song information- it's synched, but I'm not streaming audio from it (although there seems to be no way to disable that feature, if that would speed things up).

However, from the Web interface, every time I add or delete a single track, I have to wait for a full screen refresh before the server will take another command, so editing a complex playlist is nearly impossible!

I can access the drive with the music on it remotely via Windows Explorer just as if it were a local drive, but neither iTunes nor MusicMatch on my local drive will open the remote drive, although they open the music folder on my local drive without problems. If I click on a playlist on the remote drive in Windows Explorer, it tries to open it with MMJB, but when MMJB opens, it only shows the local files . . .

I think I've done everything on the Slim Devices Forum to optimize my setup, and I'm running the latest (6.51) version of SlimServer.

Orrin

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post #25 of 35 Old 03-09-2007, 01:30 PM
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I tripped across a post that said 6.3's web interface was faster than 6.5x's.

Have you tried unc (no drive letter mapping) to your XP media server and just using WinAmp to manage your playlists? I have sampled my Slimserver playlists in this manner before. You just need to make sure you can write to your playlist directory.

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post #26 of 35 Old 03-09-2007, 02:01 PM
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Thanks, Bob!

Those Slim Devices forum references sound promising!

Sorry- what's "UNC"?

I haven't tried WinAmp- I suppose that's an obvious route to try . . .

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post #27 of 35 Old 03-10-2007, 07:13 AM
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Sorry,
Universal Naming Convention (UNC)
Share
\\\\orrins_media_pc\\music_share

My UNC name is
\\\\OPUS\\data

My Slimserver Music folder is
/data/music

My Slimserver Playlist folder is
/data/music

You need to map the drive
Windows Explorer -Tools| Map Network Drive
In the drive letter drop down box choose none
In the Folder box Type in your UNC

The trick will be getting your playlist folder name to be the same the one on the Slimserver.

My problem when creating playlists (I usually cue up songs from my Squeezebox) is naming the collection from the SlimServer web page. I usually just type in the date I created it.

Good luck,

Bob
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post #28 of 35 Old 03-10-2007, 05:41 PM
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Thanks, Bob, but I'm still confused!

My Music Server hard drive is partitioned into 2 drives- C: and D:.

SlimServer runs on C:

All music is in D:\\BravoMusic

Playlists are in D:\\BravoDrive\\Playlists

(I discovered that if Playlists are within the Music folder, and I choose "Play All", then my playlist will play playlists, which makes a big mess!)

D:\\BravoMusic is mapped to my office PC as M:\\

If I open MusicMatch Jukebox on my office PC, it only sees C:\\MyDocuments\\MyMusic on that PC- even if I double-click on a M3U Playlist file on \\\\BravoDive on MyBravo\\Playlists\\.m3u. It won't open any playlists on the networked drive . . .

So what do I need to do?

Thanks!

Orrin

PS: it's easiest when creating playlists with a Squeezebox remote to just give it a random name, like "AA", and then change the name later from a PC!

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post #29 of 35 Old 03-11-2007, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orrinc View Post

Thanks, Bob, but I'm still confused!

My Music Server hard drive is partitioned into 2 drives- C: and D:.

SlimServer runs on C:

All music is in D:\\BravoMusic

Playlists are in D:\\BravoDrive\\Playlists

(I discovered that if Playlists are within the Music folder, and I choose "Play All", then my playlist will play playlists, which makes a big mess!)

D:\\BravoMusic is mapped to my office PC as M:\\

If I open MusicMatch Jukebox on my office PC, it only sees C:\\MyDocuments\\MyMusic on that PC- even if I double-click on a M3U Playlist file on \\\\BravoDive on MyBravo\\Playlists\\.m3u. It won't open any playlists on the networked drive . . .

So what do I need to do?

Thanks!

Orrin

PS: it's easiest when creating playlists with a Squeezebox remote to just give it a random name, like "AA", and then change the name later from a PC!

Orrin,

See if you can open your 'D' drive share without a drive letter. The drive letter is what is screwing up your M3U files. Slimserver usually wants a relative path
/data/music/Annie Lennox/Medusa/04 Don't Let It Bring You Down.flac instead of
D:\\music/Annie Lennox/Medusa/04 Don't Let It Bring You Down.flac

Try mapping your media PC's 'D' drive as I instructed before but use
\\\\orrins_media_pc\\d$
In the drive letter drop down box choose none.

The d$ is the administrative share on the drive. You will need to input the administrators user name and password to connect. There are a number of ways to share these files and directories. This should be documented in the Windows Help files.

Not sure about music match but you should be able to edit the M3U files from WinAmp or a text editor for that matter.

Good luck,

Bob
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post #30 of 35 Old 03-11-2007, 01:17 PM
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The big issue is that any media server is likely to run as a service in the background. They are logged in usually as the SYSTEM account. Shared drive letters are purely specific to a particular logged on user account, so the services aren't going to know about your mapped drive letters, and they won't even exist when you are not logged in.

So UNC names provide a way for those services to access network based files without using drive letters, and they provide a way for any players on a given machine (to whom the media server passes out a path to a piece of media you've selected to play) a way to access them without every machine having to have an identical shared drive letter to access the files through.

So it's just a lot more convenient all around. If it weren't for massive backwards compatibiltiy requirements for so many applications, I'm sure that the MS would have long ago dropped drive letters and just used UNC names since they are much more general purpose and there's no limit to how many of them you can have, and so forth.

Dean Roddey
Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd

www.charmedquark.com

 

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