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post #181 of 298 Old 01-14-2007, 03:01 PM
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This is my mini-Transporter review from the SlimDevices forum, updated to today:
I thought I'd throw my $.02 in here. I have just installed the TP this week in my system. I am looking to replace the redbook capability of my modded tubed Modwright Denon 3910 (likely keep it for hirez, though) with something that gives me all the obvious advantages of hd-based playback (convenience, clutter-reduction, etc.). However, it is imperative that this step is a step forward, sonically. I am eval'ing the TP becaue I know that, in my system, the accompanying SB3 stock will not cut it in the sonically-equivalent department, but might be a candidate for Boulder or RedWine's soldering gun and upgraded PS's if the TP doesn't come through for me.

My system is very highly resolving, but with a tendency to get to strident if I don't watch out. My Krell KSA-100 is the original (read: highly-regarded, not the later cold, analytical ones) version of that Class A beast and is, IMO, difficult to fault in some favorite areas (iron-gripped bass control, dynamics, quietness). But it's tendency toward midrange ice requires me to feed it vacuum tubes. My front end is a tubed universal and analog vinyl fed into a Modwright tubed SWL 9.0 SE linestage. As an aside, when I recently eval'd the vaunted Moscode 401HR it's warmth and midrange bloom was too much for my front-end, so I'm happy with the balance right now. My main speakers are RSA's new Sason mega-monitors, and the lowest registers are augmented by a Paradigm Servo 15 room EQ'd by the Velodyne SMS-1. The Sason's are electron microscopes into the soundstage, and I like that. Enter the TP. I'm using FLAC album sized files with cue sheets, and sending FLAC across the wireless network. No dropouts yet, although I'm completely open to going wired if needed.

To paraphrase the latest 6 Moons review about computer audio, the insertion of the TP was one of remarkable clarity, unsurpassed levels of information, powerful bass, reference level dynamic performance and excellent transparency. This TP does very many things very very well!! Most of this is likely due to the superiority of the AKM dacs and the supposed superiority of the lower jitter due to hard-disc playback. The main criticism I have is there is some major stridency in the upper midrange and treble, and that on lesser recordings it's quite problematic. I'm not sure how much of this will "break-out" of the system as it breaks-in (I am a firm believer in break-in of components, although I've read very little discussion about the evolution of the TP break-in process here or anywhere). My modded 3910 is no slouch, and to compare it's near-SOTA vacuum-based midrange buttery smoothness (even though it's not a tube rec'd power supply yet) to the TP is looking/listening in only one aspect of the solution...but an important one. Update: after about two weeks of listening and constant burn-in, it still just doesn;t sound musical. it's way too analytical and bereft of midrange weight and necessary air and bloom. It's great food without the right spices.

I am going to do a few things over the next few weeks (during my 30 day eval period). I am going to let the TP break-in, I am going to do more a/b with the Modwright, and I'm also going to set up my to-be-sold ATC active 150's and run balanced outs from the TP direct into the 150's (ala CliveB at Slim forum)

Here are my long-term options:
a) stock TP once it breaks-in and shows me good midrange bloom (update: it just isn't getting any warmer; it's not really musical in my system and is going back to Slim Devices within the 30 day trial)
b) Anthony modded TP to "install" sonics such as better midrange
c) mod the SB3 digitally (with good linear PS) and go outboard DAC, such as APLHiFi's upcoming tubed NWO DAC (see update beow)
d) stay computer-based but go the USB/I2S route with tube-based DACs such as Wavelength, etc.
e) stay disc-based and get Dans's new tubed-rectified PS for the 3910. This is least favorite in that I'm hooked on the convenience and power of computer-based audio.

In any regard I am going to go with Dan''s new LS36.5 linestage which is tube-rectified and slightly warmer than his current linestage. I'll ping back in when things change.

Update: I bought a slightly used RedWineAudio modded SB3 this weekend and expect it Tues or so. I'll post my comparisons to the stock Transporter when I can. Tonight I'll see what a balanced TP -> active ATC 150's pure-and-simple system (no addtl pre or amps) sounds like (the ATC's are behemoths and will take some time to set up again). I'm not exactly sure what I'll do if I like the setup cuz I'm very satisfied with the sound of my Sason's. Oh well, it's all about synergy, right?

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post #182 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 10:27 AM
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c) mod the SB3 digitally (with good linear PS) and go outboard DAC, such as APLHiFi's upcoming tubed NWO DAC (see update beow)

Thank you for the informative review. I am using a stock SB3 through Toslink to a Wadia DAC. I have not experimented with alternative configurations (exept for the SB3 analog outs which are inadequate) but I am getting very good sound...possibly better using the SB3 than with the Wadia transport.

I plan to upgrade to a linear supply on the SB3 probably with the Welbourne Labs SB power supply.

I think that your option c) with FLAC is by far the best. You will be able to get (near-)bit-perfect digital images from your server accurately clocked into the DAC of your choice. The DAC is the final element in this chain and it really is important that it synergize with the rest of your system. Having the flexibility of choice in this last element is very important as I believe you are finding out by experience.
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post #183 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 10:28 AM
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You are correct in that the Transporter is highly analytical. This does not bother me. However, since I have the Audio Aero CApitole which is known for the warmer musical touch that you are after, I do run the feed from the Transporter through the AA's DAC. This allows me to bi-amp from the Transporter, using separate volume controls into another room using the Transporter's analog outputs that feed a less high-end system that otherwise meet the standards of my main system. I am running everything with wires; no wireless interphases.
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post #184 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 10:58 AM
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Well, Jetlag's comments are definitely worth heeding. It seems easier, albeit perhaps a bit more expensive, to just buy the discs and send them to a good ripping service.

I looked at Music Giant, too, and there is no way I would subscribe to this. First, the music I am interested in is $15/album at MG. I already purchased much of it at less than $10/album (e.g. the reissued RCA classical hybrids) so it's too expensive. They also don't make it clear which mastering of an album they are selling and it can make a difference.

Secondly, I (fairly) use my music on four different sources--Squeezebox, audiophile portable (OGG, 300 kbps), gym portable (MP3, 128 kbps), and round-the-world travel player (MP3, 192 kbps) (obsessive, I know). Each of these players requires different levels of compression and my understanding is that MG's DRM would not allow me to make these transfers since it requires Windoze Media Player. (I am not sure that it is even possible to play directly through SqueezeBox although apparently there is software that can strip out the DRM...Does anybody know this for sure?...Surely a violation of their EULA in any event).

Thirdly, I customise my Tags so that I can find the music easily given the limited search capabilities of these digital players. This is where much of my time is spent in getting an album into my archive and so getting them already ripped is not so much a saving.

Fourthly, the intrusiveness of their inventory system is beyond what I am willing to tolerate in violation of privacy and of potential compromise to the security of my computer and network (Don't know much about this. Just paranoid).

Too bad...It could be a convenient source for filling in a library.
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post #185 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclejeff View Post

You are correct in that the Transporter is highly analytical. This does not bother me. However, since I have the Audio Aero CApitole which is known for the warmer musical touch that you are after, I do run the feed from the Transporter through the AA's DAC. This allows me to bi-amp from the Transporter, using separate volume controls into another room using the Transporter's analog outputs that feed a less high-end system that otherwise meet the standards of my main system. I am running everything with wires; no wireless interphases.

Thanks. Yeah, as you and smokester point out, the DAC (and it's ever important analog stage after the conversion) is the varaible I plan on using to get proper synergy back into my Slim Devices-driven signal path. I'm finding more and more that as one's system becomes increasingly resolving, it becomes equally more important to read and understand reviews that are done in an environment similar to ones own. It's kinda like expensive clothes (or any clothes for that matter, but I am in the ultra hi-end forum after all); you may look great in an Armani suit, but for me it looks too (fill in blank). Doesn't mean Armani is not a good label. The variables involved in highly resolving systems make in-home demos absolutely necessary. Conversely, if a review doesn't like the warmth or bloominess of a component, it could simply be that their system interactions are warm to begin with....I need to read with a different perspective from now on.

The Transporter is too expensive for me to justify as a digital-only transport, however. Anxious to hear the modded Sb3. Just realized USPS is off today.

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post #186 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 03:24 PM
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Has anyone seen that Linn is selling Master Tape quality downloads here? Anyone tried them?

http://www.linnrecords.com/artists-classical.aspx
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post #187 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by The_smokester View Post

Has anyone seen that Linn is selling Master Tape quality downloads here? Anyone tried them?

http://www.linnrecords.com/artists-classical.aspx

Interesting stuff. I'm trying to understand what kind of WMA lossless file would give Linn ( who is no slouch; usually knows what it's talking about) the right to say it's quality is identical to the SACD. Is it WMA 24/192, if such an animal exists? It certainly is a large file; the compressed WMA lossless of the Vivaldi cantatas is still 1.3gig.

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post #188 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 04:18 PM
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I'm trying to understand what kind of WMA lossless file...

From their web site:

"The quality is identical to that of an SACD. The format will be dependent on the actual recording method we used originally. No DSD files are offered as it is not possible to play them back on a PC so an equivalent PCM format is offered:

I am downloading some as we speak but it is taking a while.
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post #189 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Do let us know. I think it's safe to say that a clean 24/176.4kHz conversion of DSD would be "effectively" lossless. Who knows, maybe the PCM master they drew from comes before DSD conversion in their SACD chain.

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post #190 of 298 Old 01-15-2007, 10:08 PM
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The Lizt Piano Grand Etudes (track 4) was downloaded as a Studio Master (WMA lossless). It's properties info says it is a 24/88 WMA 9.1 lossless 2 channel, VBR 100 quality, and runs at 2.27mps.

I can't exactly say 24/88 is SACD quality, but there are a few DVD-Audio discs that pawn themselves as hi-rez and only sport a 24/48 resolution for their stereo mix. It sounds great so far, on pc speakers, but this exercise was more about what kind of resolution was available. This 4:45 track took 80gig of hd space.

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post #191 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 08:13 AM
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ted_b,

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The Lizt Piano Grand Etudes (track 4) was downloaded as a Studio Master (WMA lossless).

H did it sound? Also, how does one get the Squeezebox v3 to play play this? The other "seedee quality" downloads I got from the Linn site had to be converted to FLAC first since Slimserver, etc does not support lossless WMA.

How does one get "Studio Masters" to play (at full resolution)?
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post #192 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 08:42 AM
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Smokester,
I don't know the sound quality except through WMP and my pc speakers right now (sounds fine, but that means nothing). I only downloaded it (a big $2.75 investment) to find out the resolution. Although WMA files are supported formats in Slimserver 6.5.x I'm not sure it can support this type (i.e lossless 24/88). Also, a weird thing happened during download. I lost the internet connection for a moment, and when I restarted it downloaded an 80 gig ASPX file. WMP read it ok, but it doesn't present itself to other players as a WMA file!!! I tried to re-downlaod but Linn doesn't allow it. I may email them.

Ted

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post #193 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 09:01 AM
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Ted,
I had a glitch in my ordering process with Liin (ordered a physical seedee by mistake). I emailed them and they quickly refunded the money. Seems like a class act all around.
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post #194 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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ted_b, since the WMA files that Linn sells do not have DRM, they can be converted without loss to another format that is compatible with your player. Linn recommends some software on their web site that can do those kinds of conversions, though I don't know if that software works with their 24-bit files.

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post #195 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 01:43 PM
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Slimserver plays it fine on the Transporter and Squeezebox3, but only when I told Slimserver to convert WMA -> FLAC or WAV (not WMA built in). The players show it as a WMA file, playing at 22.7khz with a bitrate of a high 2283kbps VBR, but I'm not so sure that's not info coming off the tag, not what the network is seeing. I'll eval the sound quality tonight, while I a/b the TP and the modded SB3. Last night's initial foray into hearing the RWA SB3 "off the grid" (battery power) was very very promising. Black backgrounds, a frickin boatload of bass information (much more than the TP) and a wonderful musicality. Evrr so slightly rolled off at the top.

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post #196 of 298 Old 01-17-2007, 02:48 PM
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I just downloaded an entire album; Barb Jungr - Walking in the Sun;
I'm on Mac iTunes; Had no problem playing the file in QT Pro using the flip4mac wma plug-in; and then converting to AIFF which imported to iTunes Apple Lossless; All worked as advertised;

On Meridian dsp system - sounds as good as any other average master reference file I have... Significantly better than CD of course...
After that, it's studio recording dependent and hard to tell since I've never heard this particular album before...

good album too...!

ken
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post #197 of 298 Old 01-18-2007, 10:53 PM
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hi everyone, just joined the thread and thought i could get some opinions and questions answered. first of all, i just bought an olive music server that i use with a dedicated dac. unfortunately, the ui is clumsy... constant freezing, repeat function doesn't work properly, all in all, its not for me. in any case, i am interested in either the SB3 or the TP. note that i want it only to be a transport. so, (i am always up for mods),
1.) which would you all recommend me get (best transport only)?
2.) tell me if this would work. i would like to get a NAS, a SB3/TP and a nokia tablet pc/pda. thats it, NO computer in the house. can it be done, since the pda will have interent connectivity (and sort of act like a pc)?
3.) do i need a wireless router (i have a hardwire one right now that distributes to all rooms of my house). does the SB3/TP act as the central point or does the PDA do this?

any help is appreciated. thanks.

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post #198 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony A. View Post

1.) which would you all recommend me get (best transport only)?

The Transporter is a better transport than the stock SB3. If you are into mods, there are companies that offer mods to the SB3 that can get it pretty close (and in some cases better) to the Transporter for what would amount to be a couple hundred dollars less.

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2.) tell me if this would work. i would like to get a NAS, a SB3/TP and a nokia tablet pc/pda. thats it, NO computer in the house. can it be done, since the pda will have interent connectivity (and sort of act like a pc)?

Yes, this should work. In fact, Slimserver has a "Nokia 770" interface available. The only question is how would you get your music onto the NAS? You would still need a computer to rip your music to the hard drive...if your tablet PC/pda could handle that, then you're set.

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3.) do i need a wireless router (i have a hardwire one right now that distributes to all rooms of my house). does the SB3/TP act as the central point or does the PDA do this?

You do not need a wireless router if you have ethernet available. Not sure what you mean by "central point", but Slimserver would run on your NAS and would be accessible by any Slim Devices product (SB or TP) in your house. You could control everything from the Nokia (even multiple room SD setups). Otherwise, your SB3/TP can be controlled via the included remote control very easily.

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post #199 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 07:33 AM
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sweet. thanks a lot phil, you always seem to be able to answer my questions. yes, i have a laptop that i will use to rip the music, but since i leave it at work most of the time, that is why i want the system to not rely on a computer (sooi don't have to bring it home every night). i think im going to bite the bullet and go this route. the olive is not my cup of tea, too much freezing irritates me, and the ui is not as good as i had hoped. so in relation to the transport, what would you suggest is the best "money well spent"? go with a stock TP for digital out (i can use aes connection which is good, but is it true balanced design) or i can get a fully modded SB3 (which i assume the digital output and ps will be superior???, but can only use spdif (rca). what would you do in my case phil?

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I'm not sure that Slimserver will run off the Nokia Tablet. What operating system does it use?
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post #201 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony A. View Post

sweet. thanks a lot phil, you always seem to be able to answer my questions. yes, i have a laptop that i will use to rip the music, but since i leave it at work most of the time, that is why i want the system to not rely on a computer (sooi don't have to bring it home every night). i think im going to bite the bullet and go this route. the olive is not my cup of tea, too much freezing irritates me, and the ui is not as good as i had hoped. so in relation to the transport, what would you suggest is the best "money well spent"? go with a stock TP for digital out (i can use aes connection which is good, but is it true balanced design) or i can get a fully modded SB3 (which i assume the digital output and ps will be superior???, but can only use spdif (rca). what would you do in my case phil?

I think a lot of what you pay for with the Transporter is the DACs. I recommend the SB3 with digital only Modification. This should definitely cost less than half of what the Transporter costs.
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Anthony...There are a few good SB3 modders with great reputations, and I've been a customer of modding companies in the past. I've heard the Boulder mods to the SB3, and I think it gets you close enough to the Transporter's performance that the few hundred bucks saved is probably worth going that route. However, I've personally gotten to a point that I generally prefer the non-modding route, so I am using the Transporter in my main rig.

Jermmd...he can run SlimServer on the NAS (not the tablet PC). Slim Devices has a relationship with Infrant and comes bundled on some versions of ReadyNAS...

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post #203 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:02 AM
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I cannot see the justification for using the TP for digital only. Slim Devices spent a lot of time and $$ in the DAC and analog sections, in the balanced outs, etc. My RWA-SB3 outperforms, in my system, the TP, in analog mode. I'd buy an SB3 and then any one of the linear PS's up to the grandaddy Ultimate PS II. You'd still have nearly $1k left to invest in a DAC or whatever. What DAC are you using currently that you feel confident you only need a digital transport?

Finally, I'm not sure where you'd configure the web interface (all the album art, etc) if you don't have a pc (I ask this truly out of ignorance; maybe the programming, art tagging, etc is easily done from the tablet)? And if you aren't going to develop a nice web gui then why get a Nokia tablet if you' re just gonna use the standard web interface/skin; just use their remote.

In any case. Good luck. You'll be happy with Slim Devices.

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post #204 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ted_b View Post

I And if you aren't going to develop a nice web gui then why get a Nokia tablet if you' re just gonna use the standard web interface/skin.

He can use the Nokia 770 skin...

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post #205 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:11 AM
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to answer your question ted, i have a laptop that i do all my "stuff" on, but since i usually leave it at work, i want something at home that will enable me to play the music without bringing home my computer. i realize that infrant nas has the slim sooftware built into it, but i was wondering if anyone knows if i can actually use the nokia or any pda/tablet pc to run the software. this way, if i buy a cheaper nas device that doesn't have the slim software built it, it would still work. does anyone know if this is possible?

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post #206 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony A. View Post

to answer your question ted, i have a laptop that i do all my "stuff" on, but since i usually leave it at work, i want something at home that will enable me to play the music without bringing home my computer. i realize that infrant nas has the slim sooftware built into it, but i was wondering if anyone knows if i can actually use the nokia or any pda/tablet pc to run the software. this way, if i buy a cheaper nas device that doesn't have the slim software built it, it would still work. does anyone know if this is possible?

As long as the tablet was running one of the supported OS (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc), and you could fix the IP address of the tablet, I don't see why not. The only question is whether or not your music library must be attached directly to the tablet or not...if you can specify a network location for your music library, it should be fine (slimserver allows you to configure a location for your music, but I don't know if you can enter a network location rather than a hard drive attached to the computer running slimserver).

I'll find out...

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post #207 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by PhilNYC View Post

He can use the Nokia 770 skin...

I know, that's why I said he'd use the skin in my post. My point wasn't what skin he'd use, but was why go to the trouble of using an expensive remote device if you have no glitz and customizations (like album art, liner notes, etc.) but a simple Nokia 770 skin (which in its raw state does little more than the standard remote control). Later posts establish that he will use a laptop to do the programming, and would like to use the Nokia as his music server. I'd think the tablet would be a peformance bottleneck for the system, but I really don't know. A cheap old pc would do the trick.

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post #208 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 08:48 AM
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Regarding specifying a network address for your music library with Slimserver, here's the answer I found on the SlimDevices website:

"If you are running on Windows NT, 2000 or XP, SlimServer is running as Windows service. Windows services do not have permission to use networked drives by default. The only way that can work is if you set the service to have the capability to interact with the desktop, which can sometimes cause some undesirable behavior, and is known to not work properly in many cases.

Therefore it's recommended to use UNC-style path to specify your music library in the Server Settings page. Instead of X:\\path for a mounted volume, use \\\\SERVER\\path\\ style (e.g. \\\\192.168.1.105\\Files\\Music\\) addressing. This may work for some servers where direct volume letter mapping does not. You may have to use the IP address of the machine sharing the network drive, instead of using the name of it, though. Please note that in order for this to work, the network share must not require authentication (a username or password)."

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post #209 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Anthony A. View Post

sweet. thanks a lot phil, you always seem to be able to answer my questions. yes, i have a laptop that i will use to rip the music, but since i leave it at work most of the time, that is why i want the system to not rely on a computer (sooi don't have to bring it home every night). i think im going to bite the bullet and go this route. the olive is not my cup of tea, too much freezing irritates me, and the ui is not as good as i had hoped. so in relation to the transport, what would you suggest is the best "money well spent"? go with a stock TP for digital out (i can use aes connection which is good, but is it true balanced design) or i can get a fully modded SB3 (which i assume the digital output and ps will be superior???, but can only use spdif (rca). what would you do in my case phil?

Anthony,

I just wanted to offer an alternate opinion. Go with the stock Transporter, which offers features that cannot be added to a modded SB3.

The Transporter has both AES/EBU balanced digital outputs and a Word Clock Input. When you connect it to a High End outboard DAC, you will want to utilize both AES/EBU and re-clock it from your DAC's master clock. This will minimize jitter.

For now, you can use the Transporter's built in DAC's and analog outputs, which are already good quality. Later, when you purchase a high end DAC, by owning the Transporter you are already future proofed.
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post #210 of 298 Old 01-19-2007, 10:04 AM
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yeah, i thought about it that way also. "it's good to have", but ultimately i truly believe that the ps is the most important part in any component, and having an sb3 modded with separate ps will offer the best signal delivery from that particular unit. i could always mod the transporters ps, but thats more money and if in the end the reult is the same, well.....

so the main advantage i see of the transporter is that yes, it has aes which i can use, as well as rca if i ever need it in the future. the re-clock i have no idea how to make use of it, if any one could clarify this for me that would be great. as i understand it, only a select few dacs have this feature (emm, dcs, etc). so if im not using a dac that takes advantage of the re-clock is it useless for me?

also, is the aes digital output on the tp a true balanced design with 110 ohm impedance?

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