Computer or streamer/NAS for mainly music? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-16-2012, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to determine a "streaming" solution for mainly music (apple lossles).

I initially wanted to find something that doesn't require to have a computer on (the black box streamers or a NAS) and or could access my music via the AVR interface. However using the AVR interface to sift through 100's of folders etc..is a bit much. Additionally, since most of my stuff hase been converted to apple lossles, the AVR can't directly play those (although there is supposed to be a firmware update to address this, e.g. ALAC).

Anyway, I have a second computer (win7 x64) and was thinking to use this as a HTPC (again mainly music). It would be on a wired network and could be hooked up to my panny plasma (via HDMI) and would pick up a wireless keyboard etc... However, it only has a stock sound card (on mother board) and was thinking to purchase a sound card that has optical out so I could run directly to the AVR.

Sound qulaity is of most importance. I have a 5.1 system with a Marantz 6006 AVR

I'm still open to a NAS or black box and although the computer in question is ready to go and has all my files etc..it would be another computer system to maintain.

Would the computer and new sound card be the way to go (most economical)? If so, thoughts on what sound card?

Budget < $100 for sound card < $250 for NAS / streamer

Any other suggestions / thoughts welcome.
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-16-2012, 05:34 PM
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Get a Squeezebox Touch while they're still available. Run Logitech Media Server on the computer and attach the Touch to your AVR via digital.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-20-2012, 07:24 AM
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You could use the PC and run one of the following pieces of software for music playback
1) Foobar
2) squeezeslave
3) squeezeplay
4) JRiver Music not free
All 3 can be controlled by your android and maybe iphone device.

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post #4 of 14 Old 09-22-2012, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for both responses. I have considered the squeezebox, but from some brief reading it seems ALAC (.m4a) is pretty iffy. I believe it actually has to transcode from ALAC to FLAC or something on the computer running squeeze server and not the touch. That just seems like problems, could be wrong though.

I sure wish manufactures would sate what bitrate of .m4a they support, instead of just listing “.m4a” e.g. 256 or lossless, arghhh.

Cburbs - After some more reading it would appear that instead of getting a dedicated sound card, to get a new video card that has the HD audio with HDMI output -Is that the case nowadays?

The other thing is space – I beginning to not like the idea of have a tower sitting in the living room

I’m now considering a Synology ds112j. Move all my data onto this (music, word files, pics etc..) install one of their several integrated OS “apps” which appears to be able to do most of what I want. I believe it is also possible to use the unit’s USB port and hook directly up to my AVR (to use for the audio output)?. So I could have the unit placed next to the AVR (for the USB) and still be on the GB network for my other computes to access files and use say a ipod touch to control the Synology apps (no need for TV to be on)?

I now wish I would have just ripped everything to 320 mp3 bitrate. But I had to use #!@# iTunes.
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-22-2012, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratamacue View Post

Cburbs - After some more reading it would appear that instead of getting a dedicated sound card, to get a new video card that has the HD audio with HDMI output -Is that the case nowadays?
The other thing is space – I beginning to not like the idea of have a tower sitting in the living room

This is what I do. depends on if you want to use the receivers dacs/internal audio dacs of PC soundcard etc.

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post #6 of 14 Old 09-22-2012, 08:20 PM
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You could look for one of the old Apple Tv's, the one with the 160 hard drive, on EBay.It would play all your music and would function as a NAS of sorts since it would sync with Itunes. You could control it with a remote app and your computer does not have to be on. Hook up to your AVR by either hdmi or optical.
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-22-2012, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cburbs View Post

This is what I do. depends on if you want to use the receivers dacs/internal audio dacs of PC soundcard etc.

I'm pretty certain I would want the AVR to decode. That being said, would it make sense to get a basic sound card verses a "$150" video card with audio?
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-22-2012, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acebreathe View Post

You could look for one of the old Apple Tv's, the one with the 160 hard drive, on EBay.It would play all your music and would function as a NAS of sorts since it would sync with Itunes. You could control it with a remote app and your computer does not have to be on. Hook up to your AVR by either hdmi or optical.

Hmm, I wasn't aware the old ones had a HD. This is certainly a possibility, although 160gb hd isn't much. I suppose one could add ext storage but then the cost to add that starts to make it not worth it. I'll have to look into this a bit. Thanks
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-23-2012, 05:46 AM
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Not sure why you don't use the second windows PC as an iTunes server as it's a near perfect solution. Set your BIOS settings to Wake on LAN and the PC will sleep unless you're streaming and will wake from packets sent from your local network. Use an Airport Express or the new Apple TV as your streamer ($99) located at the AVR and connect either via HDMI or TosLink. Forget the AVRs interface. Instead is an iPhone, iTouch, or iPad as your user interface and remote. You won't ever have to turn on a display except for maintenance. The Remote App for the interface is excellent and can easily access anything from your iTunes library. Also, apps such as Pandora, LastFM, and others can be streamed directly without the PC.
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-23-2012, 08:41 AM
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This is the card I use in my HTPC - no reason to spend $150 -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150567

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post #11 of 14 Old 09-23-2012, 08:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post

Not sure why you don't use the second windows PC as an iTunes server as it's a near perfect solution. Set your BIOS settings to Wake on LAN and the PC will sleep unless you're streaming and will wake from packets sent from your local network. Use an Airport Express or the new Apple TV as your streamer ($99) located at the AVR and connect either via HDMI or TosLink. Forget the AVRs interface. Instead is an iPhone, iTouch, or iPad as your user interface and remote. You won't ever have to turn on a display except for maintenance. The Remote App for the interface is excellent and can easily access anything from your iTunes library. Also, apps such as Pandora, LastFM, and others can be streamed directly without the PC.

The whole sleep / wake on lan was kinda the reason. However, I tried the apple "remote" app today on a iTouch and seemed to work well. However, that is after about God knows how many hrs I spent trying to get the airplay icon to appear / work. Searching, reading link after link and nothing, messed with the firewall....Finally, I updated iTunes to the latest, updated both iTouch's (which still didn't fix it) etc..Seriously frustrating. Well then the icon finally appears! in itunes which I assume is why it appeared thereafter on the iTouch. Ooy. Then at some point, when using the itouch, I receive an "error" that says it cannot play and to check itunes library I rebooted a couple times and eventually it started to work again.. I lost count at what I did to "fix" it.

So then I played music via the itouch and that seemed to work pretty decent. Next I put the computer to sleep (without closing itunes) to see if it would wake up from the itouch. I selected the remote app from the itouch and the computer woke up! Sweet, I thought. But then I looked for the airplay icon on the itouch but it was gone. Logged into the computer to look in itunes and no airplay icon there either. WTF. Rebooted and airplay was magically back. I had enough at that point.

I'm not an apple guru and certainly my problems today could be my inexperience with apple stuff. I only use it because of my kids and car audio etc...but I friggin despise itunes (and not from today's issues) lol. But I digress.

Anyway, a couple questions.
1. Is the sound quality using airplay (the way I did) "less" then say using the PC via sound card, NAS, ipod classic directly hooked up to AVR etc?
2. What's the purpose / benefit of using an airport express / apple TV over the setup I tried today?

Thanks
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-23-2012, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cburbs View Post

This is the card I use in my HTPC - no reason to spend $150 -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150567
Cool, I'll keep this in mind.
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-24-2012, 06:06 AM
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When streaming content stored in an iTunes library, quality is as good, if not better than any internal sound card. Networked audio has the advantage of sending only data....no noise, no word clock errors.....just packets of data.

The airports and ATVs allow for a networked solution so the host computer doesn't need direct connection to anything. Each airport or ATV should show up under the AirPlay Icon when touched. When tapping the icon on my iPad, six seperate devices/zones appear and I can access any or all of them with iTunes content. Now the ATV has a distinct feature in that it can playback content independently of the AirPlay system, so different zones can access different content. Using the ATV this way would require a connected display though. As an added bonus, the iTouch or iPad can then be used as a remote for operating the ATV.
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-25-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post

When streaming content stored in an iTunes library, quality is as good, if not better than any internal sound card. Networked audio has the advantage of sending only data....no noise, no word clock errors.....just packets of data.
The airports and ATVs allow for a networked solution so the host computer doesn't need direct connection to anything. Each airport or ATV should show up under the AirPlay Icon when touched. When tapping the icon on my iPad, six seperate devices/zones appear and I can access any or all of them with iTunes content. Now the ATV has a distinct feature in that it can playback content independently of the AirPlay system, so different zones can access different content. Using the ATV this way would require a connected display though. As an added bonus, the iTouch or iPad can then be used as a remote for operating the ATV.

Hmm, this sounds interesting, thanks for the insight. Between the airport and ATV, seems like a no brainer to get the ATV. However, I am still not seeing (forgive me) the ATV's purpose for just streaming music, other than the obvious functionality it brings (e.g. netflix, hulu, diff zones as you pointed out etc..)? Meaning, is there a difference between these two for music access?

Example 1:
PC with iTunes > itouch (remote control purpose) > streams through AVR.

Example 2:
PC with iTunes > ATV > itouch (remote control purpose) > streams through AVR. With this scenario, does the ATV have a potentially better audio output (e.g. ATV internal DAC for example)? I'm definitely a stickler when it comes to SQ so that is a top priority.

I'm wondering now if it would make sense to get something like a synology ds112j to host all my data and use an ATV to grab the music from the synology and use the ATV for the added functionality? Although I'm not too sure if these entry type of NAS''s are too underpowered.

I guess the bottom line is the ATV does offer quite a bit for $99, but (nothing ground breaking here) with an itouch and the remote app to stream from my itunes on the PC, it appears to work alright (other than the stupid Airplay icon going MIA from wake on lan).
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