Dune Player for streaming Music - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-03-2013, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Pure Hi-Fi music streamers are costly devices ( > 500/600 $/€) and somehow disappointing as missing a nice user interface.
Using a media player and entering the Hi-Fi either directly (analogue interface) or digitally (SPDIF or HDMI) is an alternative way for some folks. I feel we are a niche (also noting the little attention media player producers pay to us), but something worth to share experience.

Dune might be well positioned.

Let me try to introduce with the basic features a media player should have for being also suitable for music:
  1. Gap-less: Same user experience of listening to CD tracks. Played without gaps with the choice of selecting a single one.
  2. Codec and digital support: Rich variety of audio codec support and digital interfaces (SPDIF, HDMI)
  3. Quietness: Typically fan less. Also eventual disc noise should enter in the sound budget. Generally taking I would say that the ideal situation would be use of NAS or similar acoustically isolated.
  4. Jukebox: A support for organizing and playing you music collection.
  5. Remote User Interface: I don't want to switch on the TV yo play music. An IoS or Android device, or a PC should allow for full control.

And here what I have collected so far:
  1. Gap-less: As I see from fw release documentation (http://dune-hd.com/firmware/hdmax/) cue cue sheet (.cue, as for embedded cue sheet for format allowing it, as FLAC and Ape)are supported. This means starting from a whole file and having visibility of track (that from a streaming look less difficult than making separate tracks as continuous). I use Foobar2000 and I can easily convert track albums in single file. Only a matter of time (I can batch during the night) and disk space (if you don't erase the original tracks). Another way is mentioned at http://www.avforums.com/forums/18935912-post10.html, i.e. to put a photo media play in a directory and plays as media. What I don't know for both, is how it works playing from a Jukebox UI.
  2. Codec and digital support: Quite rich support. About interfaces not all model support coax SPDIF (not sure it is a real problem). I wonder whether SPDIF has its own settings for allowing a controlled down sampling to the DAC characteristics.
  3. Quietness: DUNE HD TV 303D is fan-less (I expect the same on all compact series). Same for Smart Series (B1, H1, D1). Base 3D (i.e. Premium series) instead has fans. I have read quite noisy.
  4. Jukebox: To tell that the best ones I have seen is the NeoTV 550 one. You can hierarchically combine selections on Album, Artist, Genre, Date, decade, and, very useful folder. By folder you can separate different kinds of music. It misses Composer as selection key (This shows the scarce attention to classical music fans). I see that Zappiti looks quite basic: not more than 2 level of deepness and selection on genres, alarm and artist. To report that a promise of improvement is present in the French manual.
  5. Remote User Interface: I don't want to switch on the TV you play music. An IoS or Android device, or a PC should allow for full control.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-03-2013, 03:26 PM
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Hi Ebr,

I have both a NeoTV-550 and a Dune Smart-D1 (among other media-players). I have tied pretty hard to use the Dune for music, and can safely say that the Dune sucks at music.

The first problem is that the Dune has no concept of metadata. The only information exposed to you through the Dune would be the filename and the folder names that contain the file. It's worse then browsing on a PC.

Then, there is the problem that jukeboxes for the Dune are built from a static folder structure. That means that there can be no "search" capability. Zappiti, as an example, builds a giant folder structure with all of the possible (pre-defined) search results statically built into an index. That is why the search choices are so limited. It also means that you need to rebuild that index whenever you add, remove or change anything.

The NeoTV, on the other hand, has full support for metadata and has a "live" search capability. It also has rudimentary gapless capability, although it's a little buggy (the Dune has absolutely no gapless capability).

Some will say that the Dune will do gapless if you create your albums as a single FLAC file and use CUE sheets. But can you really say that the Dune is supporting gapless when there are no gaps to begin with? I consider that a stretch. Another problem is that the Dune has no support for CUE sheets, so the individual tracks within those album files are inaccessible. Even using a jukebox like Zappiti can not solve that problem, as there is no way for it to access a portion of a FLAC.

Then there are the bugs, which don't get fixed because nobody uses the Dune for music. The only one I can attest to, however, is that upon power-up the Dune will not play a FLAC file (it just plays silence) until I first play an MP3 file.

Now, since Zappiti is offering a music jukebox for the Zappiti player, they may be working on fixing some of these issues. But I doubt that any fixes will be rolled back into the older Dunes. But it might be worth checking out the Zappiti player.

EDIT:
Ok, I should not have said that the Dune has no support for CUE sheets - it has support that is similar to "chapters" on a DVD or Blu-Ray. But I find this useless, since you need to use the remote to access particular tracks after starting the album file, and you can't add individual tracks to playlists. Playlists can only contain entire albums with this approach.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-03-2013, 04:51 PM
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Olive is coming out with their ONE in September. I think it will be $499. Not the cheapest, but one of the cheapest options for a pure music streamer. Fanless, digital out, analog out, networked, option for internal HD, but will play from NAS. UI remains to be seen, but it is designed for music and Olive has been at it for awhile, so it will probably be ok. There are some shots on their website. I believe it plays gapless. It will start with iPhone/iPad app for control and they are adding Android after release. Also has a touch screen on the unit if you have it within reach.

There are also many apps for streaming from a source (e.g., NAS, computer) to a renderer (e.g., music streamer). They connect to the network over wifi from your phone/tablet. I don't think there is jukebox, but they take UPnP/DLNA info from the source, so the jukebox function is performed at the source rather at the player. I don't know if the Dune can be used as a renderer or not. I have a Dune and will try it tonight (I use the Dune for video and have a dedicated music streamer).

The app I am using is BubbleUPnP for Android. I don't know what is good on iOS.

It also just allows for browsing the files and playing from the folder structure. You can also create playlists from this mode. I like using folders as I am a child of the 60's and used to browsing through albums, so it's natural for me! tongue.gif

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post #4 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Then, there is the problem that jukeboxes for the Dune are built from a static folder structure. That means that there can be no "search" capability. Zappiti, as an example, builds a giant folder structure
I thought Zappiti for music use tags mad.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

The NeoTV, on the other hand, has full support for metadata and has a "live" search capability. It also has rudimentary gapless capability, although it's a little buggy (the Dune has absolutely no gapless capability).
To tell the true up to 2 cued albums is pretty perfect. The only thing that disappoints me us is that gapless playing of an album requires to switch on of my TV.
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Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Then there are the bugs, which don't get fixed because nobody uses the Dune for music. The only one I can attest to, however, is that upon power-up the Dune will not play a FLAC file (it just plays silence) until I first play an MP3 file.
I fully agree with you: e.g. A400 cuts since long the first 5 seconds of music and, even recognized as bug, no fix has appeared yet.
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Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Now, since Zappiti is offering a music jukebox for the Zappiti player, they may be working on fixing some of these issues. But I doubt that any fixes will be rolled back into the older Dunes. But it might be worth checking out the Zappiti player.
EDIT:
Ok, I should not have said that the Dune has no support for CUE sheets - it has support that is similar to "chapters" on a DVD or Blu-Ray. But I find this useless, since you need to use the remote to access particular tracks after starting the album file, and you can't add individual tracks to playlists. Playlists can only contain entire albums with this approach.
Embedded cue includes full meta data description. A jukebox a la NTV 550 (that I love as e.g. thanks to my tagging I can list all the Beethoven concertos I have) should be able to use for building them for its DB. But I understand it is not Zappiti case and I doubt they will ever change their architecture for music fans mad.gif
On the other hand you are right: as far as II can see m3u format does not allow to build playlist from .cue files. But in principle this feature might be made available through a proprietary format.
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 11:53 AM
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As a current Dune player owner, I am particularly discouraged by the use of third-party jukeboxes made for Dune. Each and every one has a particular bug that I cannot seem to get around. I've been looking at Mede8er a lot closer, and even though their integrated movie scraper is taking off in its new firmware, and their TV series support is far from perfect, their music collection system seems to be more legit, over Dune's. I am particularly discouraged that Zappiti media software does not support music jukebox capability, for its Dune predecessors.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 12:24 PM
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You should look at devices that can run XBMC it takes care of 1,2,4,5.

However the options are limited at the moment, the Pivos XIOS DS is HDMI output only but fanless however it doesn't like to run headless at least for boot up I think, after that it might be okay and it's a tiny arm device so it can be left running 24/7. That said I'd check with aasoror here or on the Pivos forums about running headless just to be safe.

There are some generic Android TV devices that have SPDIF and analogue audio output but unfortunately Pivos do not sell these variants.

XBMC nets you Airplay, UPNP/DLNA playback targets and on top of that full jukebox represented in tablet/phone apps, Music Pump is an Android XBMC remote dedicated to music.

Lastly not sure on the status of gapless playback that can change between platforms when it comes to XBMC, I'd check with aasoror again, the Pivos XIOS has two firmwares one that runs Android and XBMC as an app, the other firmware is just XBMC running on a micro linux OS nothing more (basically like any off the shelf media player).

The Ouya Android console might be another option but again it's HDMI only and has a fan in it too.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 02:24 PM
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Hi Ebr,

My understanding is that, although the Zappiti music jukebox is a decent attempt, it is only available on the Zappiti-branded version of the Dune (the Zappiti Player). Keeping that in mind:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebr9999 View Post

I thought Zappiti for music use tags mad.gif
Actually, it does, but only when building the index. The Zappiti PC program will use tags to build the static index, and it is that index that allows you to navigate with tags in the Dune. So, in effect, Zappiti is adding tag capability to the Dune by creating "pre-built search results". So no multi-level searches.

Quote:
Embedded cue includes full meta data description. A jukebox a la NTV 550 (that I love as e.g. thanks to my tagging I can list all the Beethoven concertos I have) should be able to use for building them for its DB. But I understand it is not Zappiti case and I doubt they will ever change their architecture for music fans mad.gif
Yes, programs like Foobar actually play the CUE sheet, and use it to reference into the FLAC file. The Dune does it backwards: It plays the FLAC, and then references the CUE sheet to delineate the different tracks. That architecture is a direct copy of the way chapters work in DVDs and Blu-Rays, so it was easy for them to implement. So I also think it will never change.


The Dune also doesn't work well with photos, so it is clear that they are only interested in video. But it does do that very well.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Hi Ebr,


Then there are the bugs, which don't get fixed because nobody uses the Dune for music. The only one I can attest to, however, is that upon power-up the Dune will not play a FLAC file (it just plays silence) until I first play an MP3 file.

I just tried playing a Flac file from start up and there was no problem with my D1. My D1 has an internal
HD and all I did was power it up go to my music folder chose a flac file and hit enter and it played with no problems.
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 03:11 PM
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If you are looking for music and are willing to spend the money get a cocktail or something. None of the current mediaplayers support music/audio functions in a decent manner, While pch has a jukebox that is dynamic for music as you found there cutting off of songs, the flac issues from places like hd tracks either never get fixed or they are last on the list because 98% of the people dont use them for music. while the x10 cocktail is expensive it gets the job done for music. And I can tell you from being around and talking to people most people with a media player own a second system for music. I know a lot of people in the media player world also own sonos systems and squeeze boxes. So a lot of people just found alternatives for audio needs.
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-06-2013, 03:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebr9999 View Post

Pure Hi-Fi music streamers are costly devices ( > 500/600 $/€) and somehow disappointing as missing a nice user interface.
No, most mainstream stereo Hi-Fi seperate streamers / network audio players have street prices that are much less than 400/500/600 £/€/$ new, such as those made by Denon, Marantz, Pioneer and Cambridge Audio. The Denon DNP-720AE is available for ~$300, for example. Even the highly rated Pioneer N-50 is obtainable at less than the price you've mentioned and only its main rival, the Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 is the one that stands out pricewise in this class, retailing at ~$1000. You may have been thinking about the very high end music streamers, such as those made by Naim, Primare & Linn, costing well over $1500.

As to these Hi-Fi music streamers being disappointing missing a nice user interface, depends what you mean by 'nice'. They do not have the typical video outputs for a tv that standard all media players have for displaying the user interface. I believe most people who just want to select and play music via their stereo amplifier or av receiver don't want the hassle of having to switch the tv on and using the mediaplayer's remote to navigate on it with. All of the network audio players come with their own Android / iOS app to control the device with, apart from being able to use the built in screen and remote control. Since they are all UPnP/DLNA compliant, you also have the large choice of third party DLNA control points that can run on a pad/tablet/phone or a computer/laptop, to select and play the music. I've never heard anyone mention that the popular controller app, BubbleUPnP, or even the JRiver application for Mac/Windows, have not got a decent user interfaces!
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post #11 of 16 Old 07-06-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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No, most mainstream stereo Hi-Fi seperate streamers / network audio players have street prices that are much less than 400/500/600 £/€/$ new, such as those made by Denon, Marantz, Pioneer and Cambridge Audio.

As to these Hi-Fi music streamers being disappointing missing a nice user interface, depends what you mean by 'nice'. They do not have the typical video outputs for a tv that standard all media players have for displaying the user interface.
Prices were there only for spotting that music streamers have a starting price higher than media players with anyhow fewer features (surely they don't play movies smile.gif). The topic is if an all in one box can also be a decent music streamer. Of course looking to what really implemented and not only to specs. About what I mean for a nice UI, I have not made my point clear enough: for nice UI I mean any mean of a full control of rich jukebox capabilities (and I agree with you without the need to switch on a TV set). These devices are nice from a audio perspective but they only play directories. There are some other ones that do better (i.e. they create a Jukebox), as Olive and Sonos (plus some other ones I have seen > 5000€).
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Since they are all UPnP/DLNA compliant, you also have the large choice of third party DLNA control points that can run on a pad/tablet/phone or a computer/laptop, to select and play the music.
I see your point. On this I wonder whether the gap-less features are kept with a DLNA rendering. Further its is pretty clear you need at least a DLNA server (my personal assumption for my music system is being PC less, even if I have to confess that after 6 months I have bought my NeoTV 550 for 120 € I make my disk music seen only through my portable)
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post #12 of 16 Old 07-06-2013, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebr9999 View Post

Prices were there only for spotting that music streamers have a starting price higher than media players with anyhow fewer features (surely they don't play movies smile.gif). The topic is if an all in one box can also be a decent music streamer.
The starting price is higher because of the build quality and the quality of the internal components, especially the power supply and DAC. So it's arguably unfair to just do a straight comparison on price unless you make an allowance for providing an external DAC and may be improving the power supply of the all in one box - if you want to achieve a similar level of sound quality, that is.


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These devices are nice from a audio perspective but they only play directories. There are some other ones that do better (i.e. they create a Jukebox), as Olive and Sonos (plus some other ones I have seen > 5000€).
No, they cannot access network shared directories directly and the irony is that some owners would like to have this as a fallback in case they have problems with the UPnP/DLNA server or simply don't want to use one. They display the 'jukebox' structure exactly as defined by the UPnP/DLNA server. So if the server has been configured with musical categories of album, artist, genre, etc and some playlists - even may be exposing a network shared folder as well, then the music streamer will display exactly that hierarchy structure. Hence the nature of the jukebox is entirely down to the UPnP/DLNA server used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebr9999 View Post

I see your point. On this I wonder whether the gap-less features are kept with a DLNA rendering. Further its is pretty clear you need at least a DLNA server (my personal assumption for my music system is being PC less, even if I have to confess that after 6 months I have bought my NeoTV 550 for 120 € I make my disk music seen only through my portable)
It is true, most of the mainstream network audio players don't support gapless when used with a DLNA control point , which is as you say DLNA rendering. However, all the music streamers support gapless when they are played directly, pulling the music files from the UPnP/DLNA server (ie their jukebox). Also, the latest music streamers are starting to support gapless as renderers (eg the Denon DNP-F109 ~300€).

Yes, they cannot access network music files without the UPnP/DLNA server. However, the server does not have to run on a pc/laptop. It can be run on a NAS or even on some routers.
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post #13 of 16 Old 07-07-2013, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cebolla View Post

No, the irony is that they cannot access network shared directories directly. They display the 'jukebox' structure exactly as defined by the UPnP/DLNA server. So if the server has been configured with musical categories of album, artist, genre, etc and some playlists - even may be exposing a network shared folder as well, then the music streamer will display exactly that hierarchy structure. Hence the nature of the jukebox is entirely down to the UPnP/DLNA server used.
It is true, most of the mainstream network audio players don't support gapless when used with a DLNA control point , which is as you say DLNA rendering. However, all the music streamers support gapless when they are played directly, pulling the music files from the UPnP/DLNA server (ie their jukebox). Also, the latest music streamers are starting to support gapless as renderers (eg the Denon DNP-F109 ~300€).

Yes, they cannot access network music files without the UPnP/DLNA server. However, the server does not have to run on a pc/laptop. It can be run on a NAS or even on some routers.
Some of them can access directly a network directory (e.g. SONOS Connect). Thanks for having spotted that Denon requires a server (from the manual) with Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service and Windows Media DRM10. I do hope they support gap-less on the top of that! PS: do you mean DNP-720AE? Little more expansive in my country maybe due to higher taxes mad.gif.

Anyhow it looks that also the pure media streamer path might give some surprises when inter-working with network attached devices.

The path I had in mind was entering my wifi through SPDIF to a good DAC (or HDMI to an home theatre amplifier) and using a good quality media streamer also for music content management. Dune does not look suitable. PCH looks having some flaws in the sw still to be solved. Maybe I am looking for a level of synergy nobody looks interested to commit.
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post #14 of 16 Old 07-07-2013, 01:00 PM
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I'm probably going to get flamed here, but some would not consider the Sonos in the same category as a mainstream hi-fi seperate stereo network audio player. The (subjective) guide for these types of streamers is build quality, components and therefore hopefully sound quality. You could actually consider these devices as a modern replacement for the high quality CD player, in the traditional hi-fi seperates/components stack. I believe the Sonos serves a different purpose - ease of use, connectivity & multi-zone ability. Popular (<£700) examples of these hi-fi streamers include:
Denon's DNP-720AE & DNP-F109
The Marantz NA-7004
Cambridge Audio's NP30 & Stream Magic 6
Pioneer's N-30 & N-50

Like I said before, the manufacturers of these network audio players have gone the UPnP/DLNA route for network music file access, so the file presentation, eg 'jukebox', is governed entirely by the UPnP/DLNA server (though I would agree with some owners that at least the option for network shared folder access would be beneficial in some circumstances & hopefully they will consider this in future models & in firmware updates for current models).

Also gapless is supported by all these devices (admittedly following several firmware updates, for some), if you use the remote control or the control app made for the device to select and play music. If you use a third party UPnP/DLNA controller (such as the BubbleUPnP app), so you are using the streamer as a UPnP/DLNA renderer, then currently only the newer Denon DNP-F109 supports gapless in this price bracket.

Nobody who takes their music UPnP/DLNA server seriously would use the 'default' Microsoft one, eg via WMP/WMS, since it does not support some of the standard music file formats, it is not very configurable and it is unreliable. More decent ones to use for music include Minimserver, JRiver, Mezzmo, Twonky, Mediatomb, Serviio & Foobar2000 player with the foo_UPnP plugin. Potential network 'surprises' may be that some of the streamers would work better with some than with others (eg pause might not work for particular model/server combo), however all the above are free to try (some entirely free) and support for the ones listed is good.

The DNP-F109 is Denon's latest streamer, designed for their new F109 mini series, but it is available for purchase seperately. It's price is ~£250, here in the UK (hence my rough conversion to ~300€, as you were talking mostly in euros). So no, I did not mean the Denon DNP-720AE, which is actually one of the oldest, but cheapest players, available in the UK for ~£185 (specifically from Sevenoaks Sound & Vision, a very popular av outlet in the UK).

Considering your path I would strongly recommend replacing the 'all' streamer's original power supply too, with a more stable one, if possible. Most of these streamer manufacturers have saved on costs by supplying a cheap, poor quality power supply. Interference from the power supply is one of the major (and relatively easily avoidable & fixable) causes of poor sound quality. It's quite possible someone has gone down this route before, so it would be worthwhile researching this topic further as there could well be recommended replacement power supplies available for the streamers you are thinking of using. If you are considering not using a DAC, then you have to be sure that you (personally) are happy enough with the sound quality of the AV amp's own internal DAC for stereo.
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post #15 of 16 Old 07-08-2013, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Cebolla,
you have spotted some interesting points. Let me comment:
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I'm probably going to get flamed here, but some would not consider the Sonos in the same category as a mainstream hi-fi seperate stereo network audio player.
Anyhow it does look not so bad by inserting a DAC in the chain (see http://forums.sonos.com/showpost.php?p=196500&postcount=2).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cebolla View Post

Like I said before, the manufacturers of these network audio players have gone the UPnP/DLNA route for network music file access, so the file presentation, eg 'jukebox', is governed entirely by the UPnP/DLNA server ..... Also gapless is supported by all these devices (admittedly following several firmware updates, for some), if you use the remote control or the control app made for the device to select and play music. If you use a third party UPnP/DLNA controller (such as the BubbleUPnP app), so you are using the streamer as a UPnP/DLNA renderer, then currently only the newer Denon DNP-F109 supports gapless in this price bracket.
The piece of info about DNP-F109 is interesting: where have you you found it ?
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Considering your path I would strongly recommend replacing the 'all' streamer's original power supply too, with a more stable one, if possible.
Many thanks for the suggestion. I currently have a neoTV550 and I enter my wifi through a Cambridge DAC. Comparing CD and NeoTV on the same album (I have an old ADCOM) I have noted very little differences. Hence it appears that NeoTV as basic music streamer looks performing well without power boost. Anyhow I agree: something to keep an eye on!

My view:
I confess I feel discouraged about the idea of an "all streamer box". But the music player path does not attract me so much. I recognize it should provide audio quality (it eliminates the weak point of the SPDIF auto generated clock), but I have gotten acquainted with NeoTV to easy connection to network share and its capabilities to flexible access to my music data base. To say on this last point (i.e. jukebox) I have not investigate SONOS (I suspect I have to post a request in its forum) and Olive which has to come in September and various DLNA media server existing on the market.
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-08-2013, 11:38 AM
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The development guys at JRiver testing gapless under UPnP/DLNA have reported it so, take a look at this topic from at the JRiver forum:
http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=79773.0
JRiver have been at the forefront producing working solutions to the sometimes muddy official UPnP/DLNA spec, in colaboration with some device manufacturers.

Certainly the new Olive looks a good prospect, so should be worth the wait and I suspect Sonos will soon follow with something new too, to at least be able to stream the higher resolution file formats, as they are currently restricted to just CD resolution.
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