It is true that the music playback interface offered as a default in the networked media tank is quite unacceptable. There is no gapless playback, you cannot browse your music library while one song is playing, etc.
However, there are a number of user-developed applications that make all of this possible.
- Music Player Daemon or MPD: This daemon offers gapless playback, shuffle, playlists, etc., with a suitable client. The client can be loaded on your Windows or Linux PC, as an add-on for Firefox. You can also use a client on an iPhone or iPod Touch.
- Music Jukebox: A very nice application that goes through your music and classifies it by creating htm files for the various albums. You can then browse these htm files on your TV, using the NMT remote control.
In the default mode, any time you select an album or song to play, control is handed over to the default playback mechanism of the NMT. This means that when a song is playing, you cannot browse your music, or add more songs to the playlist, etc.
- MPDMOD: This is a skin for the Music Jukebox application. It modifies the music jukebox htm files so that control of playback is passed to the music player daemon (MPD) instead of the default playback mechanism of the NMT. What this means is that you can browse your music library while the songs are playing - something you could not do with the default playback mechanism of the NMT. Gapless playback is achieved, and there is developing support for playlists and other features.
In summary, use MPD as the guts of the playback. Music Jukebox with the MPDMOD skin can be used if you want to view the jukebox on the TV and use the NMT remote control.
If you do not want to use the TV, control MPD from your iPhone or iPod touch or from a suitable client on your laptop or other PC.
Pretty flexible, don't you think?
This works quite well for me - I use the digital co-axial output on my NMT to feed an external DAC, and then to my stereo. Music is ripped in WAV, and compressed (in size only) and tagged using FLAC.
I am not quite sure how multi-channel audio is handled, or how much support MPD has for playback via HDMI.
If you are interested in high-definition audio (24 bits, up to 192kHz in stereo), the NMT can do it.
If I am not mistaken, there is still an issue with WDTV if the source sampling rate is higher than 48kHz. This may have changed in recent firmware releases, I am not sure.
Is the setup an "audiophile" setup? Who knows? I certainly do not worry about it since I am happy with the way it sounds in my stereo.
Of course, it is not a plug-n-play solution, and a lot of tweaking is necessary to get it to work right, but it is possible.
The NMT forum www dot networkedmediatank dot com has a lot more information.