seeking feedback on music streaming, and perhaps server, devices - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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seeking feedback on music streaming, and perhaps server, devices

The forum doesn't seem to have a category that fits questions related to music servers/streaming devices, which is presumably how an increasing number of folks are getting their content. I mulled putting this in the CD player category, but ultimately decided to post it here.

I'm looking for a device to stream Pandora and Amazon Prime music through my mid-fi system (Denon AVR feeding Focal towers and a pretty musical sub). I don't mind if it also serves as a music server from which I can play my Apple lossless-encoded music, but I have an old iPod Classic that's still covering that for me for now. I was using my iPhone, but I don't want my phone tied up delivering music, and Pandora limits phones to a measly 64kbps. I have used a Kindle Fire, but it has sporadic issues with electrical interference, and Pandora limits it to 128k I believe (depends whether it's classified as a mobile device). Why Pandora limits non-computers to 128k I don't get. I think there are ways to play Flash content on a Kindle or an iPad so that you can get the full 196k Pandora quality, but they're workarounds that seem to have issues, since their not supported.

I'm starting to think I need to designate a computer for this function, perhaps outputting via USB to a separate DAC, since the headphone port sound quality isn't likely to be great. I'm not sure whether a Chromebook might be an inexpensive, effective solution, though not with regard to playing local files. Or perhaps a Windows-based tablet or one of those convertible tablet/laptop hybrids? Or just a desktop computer. I've historically been a PC user, and it's what I use at work, but every PC I've ever used developed BSODs after a few years, and I'm tired of dealing with that, so my next laptop will probably be a Macbook (but not a fan of the keyboards--spoiled by years of ThinkPads--oh well, always a trade-off, I guess). But I don't think I want that laptop to be tied up as a music server.

So this is really a question about what I should be considering as music streaming and perhaps server options. Maybe the answer is something like a Mac Mini and monitor? That's spendier than I'd like, but I'm at least open to considering it. Are there other options, either at lesser or similar price ranges, that should be on my radar. I feel like we're in a period of flux in terms of music delivery, and while there are various options, everything seems to involve some trade-offs.

Input appreciated!

Benq W1070 projector w/ Chief RSM mount with custom interface bracket
119" Da-Lite Cinema Contour with High-Contrast (gray) Da-Mat screen
Denon X2000 receiver fed by Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Bluray player
Focal Chorus 700-series towers and center, JMLab Tantal 500-series bookshelf rears
Rythmik FV15HP sub
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post #2 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 01:05 PM
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Something like a Roku might work. That will do Amazon Prime music and Pandora as well as a heck of a lot more. Amazon Fire TV is probably another option.
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post #3 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by John Sully View Post
Something like a Roku might work. That will do Amazon Prime music and Pandora as well as a heck of a lot more. Amazon Fire TV is probably another option.
My Denon AVR has the same functionality as the Roku--so one thing I've considered is splitting the HDMI output, and putting a small/cheap TV on the wall above the stereo rack, so I don't have to fire up the projector to browse music--but sadly (inexplicably) Pandora limits both to 128k.

Here's Pandora's current setup: "Pandora on the Web plays 64k AAC+ for free listeners and 192kbps for Pandora One subscribers. All in-home devices play 128kbps audio, and mobile devices receive a variety of different rates depending on the capability of the device and the network they are on, but never more than 64k AAC+."

Benq W1070 projector w/ Chief RSM mount with custom interface bracket
119" Da-Lite Cinema Contour with High-Contrast (gray) Da-Mat screen
Denon X2000 receiver fed by Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Bluray player
Focal Chorus 700-series towers and center, JMLab Tantal 500-series bookshelf rears
Rythmik FV15HP sub
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post #4 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 07:32 PM
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The Roku has considerably more functionality than your Denon. But it seems that what you really want is a way to stream w/o having to fire up your projector. For Pandora you have the solution right now in the Denon Remote App, which will let you run your receiver w/o a video interface. With a DLNA interface you can stream from a computer or NAS w/o using the video interface -- your Denon will stream ALAC up to 24/96. One problem with living in the Apple-o-sphere is that the Denon will only do gapless playback with FLAC (AirPlay works fine). I've been using a small Synology NAS for those duties for more than a year and am quite happy with it. Amazon Prime music is a different beast and I really can't think of a solution for that other than a Roku (or Amazon Fire TV) which can be done w/o a video interface at this time. There are phone apps for Prime music which you may be able to use with a Bluetooth receiver like the one from Audioengine:

http://audioengineusa.com/Store/B1-B...Music-Receiver
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post #5 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 09:23 PM
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FWIW, I've recently moved from Pandora to Spotify. Partly due to the 128K bitrate, and also its small music library. Spotify premium (paid) is 320K ogg vorbis. The free version is 160K. Spotify has ~ 20M tracks Vs Pandoras ~ 1M. Spotify Connect (you need a supported AVR) streams directly to the AVR without the need of a display device. You use your mobile device or tablet as the "remote control"

Just thought I'd toss that out there.
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post #6 of 7 Unread Today, 02:48 AM - Thread Starter
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The Denon Remote App is great! Works for Pandora, albeit at 128k, and includes Spotify also. The Denon AVR includes Amazon Prime I believe, odd that it's not in the app, perhaps it'll be added. But I think Spotify will probably meet my needs regardless. Glad I posted this!
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post #7 of 7 Unread Today, 05:30 AM
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Not sure exactly what you have, but be aware, a Spotify "app" and Spotify Connect are not (nearly) the same.
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