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post #1 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Greetings!

I'm not a high tech guy but have been contemplating a new CD player but I already have so much music on my PC. Having heard a lot about audio streaming and only today I noticed a letter in the Doctor section of MaximumPC Magazine, page 22 to be exact, in which a reader asks for recommendations to connect his PC to his stereo amp. The Doctor didn't hesitate to recommend Aperion Audio's Zona Home Audio Link ($150) and my first reaction was, WOW! That might be jjst what I'm looking for. Therefore my questions:

1. Does anyone here own/operate this system, and if so any recommendations? Or are there better units out there?

2. What quality output could I expect from this type system?

I called Aperion's customer service and they said the output/send unit simply plugs into the USB of your computer and the input/receive unit jacks into your L/R RCA inputs as another device on your AVR. Range is about 150' but I only need it to stream about 25' through one interior sheet rock/stud wall.

Thanks you.
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 01:47 PM
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You can use any networked media player with Wi-Fi. One of the best on the market s Squezeebox Touch. It is one of few with its own touch screen interface.
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post #3 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 01:55 PM
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What format and what software do you use for all your stored music, now? iTunes? WMP? foobar?

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 04:25 PM
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From the photos of the aperion site, you would need 2 units ($300) one to connect to the PC/laptop and to the Amplifier.

Look for a wireless DAC like this.. cant find any price yet

http://nadelectronics.com/products/d...ogue-Converter
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post #5 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 05:16 PM
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Hi Batuche,
Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post

From the photos of the aperion site, you would need 2 units ($300) one to connect to the PC/laptop and to the Amplifier.

Yeah, that's what I thought at first, but when I looked at places that sell it, they make it clear that you get one transmitter and one receiver for $150. The NAD is twice the price, but appears to be higher-end. I wouldn't know if it is $150 higher-end though . . .

But both of those units are very similar, as opposed to the Sqeezebox that ap1 mentioned. They both transmit uncompressed audio, up to 16-bit/48kHz, over the 2.4 gHz band over 100 feet. That means that you would need to be running the music-player software on your PC, with the music coming out of your stereo. It may be inconvenient if you need to run back to the PC to control it. You could possibly control it remotely from a smart-phone or tablet.

I, personally, prefer the media-player approach, as ap1 mentioned, where the music-player is with the stereo, and simply fetches the music files from the PC over WiFi. The Sqeezebox products are good, and they have their own display. But if you have a TV with your stereo, and don't mind having it on to browse your music, there are a lot more options that use the TV for display. These are video-centric players, however, and don't handle music as well as a music-centric player like the Sqeezebox or Sonos.

As far as sound-quality, unless you have a good stereo system, I don't think you will loose any quality with any of the options discussed so far.
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post #6 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great feedback. I didn't know about the NAD offering.

The only difference that I can see between the NAD (I think they price a tad high) and the Aperion unit is that NAD touts a Burr-Brown TI PCM1781 Digital-to-Analogue Converter, which means what in terms of a benefit? And the SNR for the two are: NAD=>-80dB, Aperion=91dB.

Yes, the Aperion comes with both send and receive units for $150 plus six different cables and two USB power adapters.

Shoot, I think I'd favor the Aperion based on the above but then I haven't considered the Squeezebox Touch that ap1 mentioned at all and now I need to study up on that. Maybe I should simply get another computer and move this one next to the AVR as the Mobo has an HDMI out and I could simply jack it directly into the AVR, correct?
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I neglected to reply.

The only place we currently store music is on our home PC. We don't own an "i" anything or portable anything else. We only listen to music through our AVR which has a very old but still functioning CD player attached to it. We were using our Blu-Ray player for CD's but like the sound through the CD player better.
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Regardless of whether we choose to go with a wireless audio device such as the Aperion/NAD types or a Squeezebox, would there be a recommended preference of one format/software type over another? We're currently ripping our CDs using Windows Media Player and WMA Lossless now but slowly discovering that perhaps non-proprietary forms may be better, such as Foobar2000 and FLAC???

We have a modest collection of CD's and from what I have been able to find out, dbpoweramp free or reference sounds like about the best in combination with Foobar2000 since (I just today learned this) Windows Media Player doesn't play, rip or burn FLAC files, is that correct?

Which leads to another question. If CD's and CD players are going away, where/how will folks purchase new music 'albums' with quality encoding? For example, Amazon only downloads MP3 encoded music, right?

Sorry for all the questions but we're audio troglodytes squinting into the 21st century.
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 09:46 PM
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You mentioned PC, does the connection need to be wireless ?

I use a Netbook and run a 5 meter USB cable to a $29 USB DAC (Behringer UCA-202) and I am happy with the results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by batuche View Post

Sorry, I neglected to reply.

The only place we currently store music is on our home PC. We don't own an "i" anything or portable anything else. We only listen to music through our AVR which has a very old but still functioning CD player attached to it. We were using our Blu-Ray player for CD's but like the sound through the CD player better.

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post #10 of 20 Old 03-09-2012, 10:27 PM
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Anyone ever been kicked in the NADS?
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-10-2012, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batuche View Post

Regardless of whether we choose to go with a wireless audio device such as the Aperion/NAD types or a Squeezebox, would there be a recommended preference of one format/software type over another? We're currently ripping our CDs using Windows Media Player and WMA Lossless now but slowly discovering that perhaps non-proprietary forms may be better, such as Foobar2000 and FLAC???

We have a modest collection of CD's and from what I have been able to find out, dbpoweramp free or reference sounds like about the best in combination with Foobar2000 since (I just today learned this) Windows Media Player doesn't play, rip or burn FLAC files, is that correct?

WMA-Lossless is an almost useless format for anything other than playback on a Windows PC, so you're correct to be looking at FLAC. There are many ways to get to FLAC, and they all use the same open-source encoder.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-10-2012, 07:19 AM
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Congratulations! Whatever you choose, you're going to enjoy your music collection SO much more!

I've been doing this for years, starting out with a little Roku box and then graduating up to the original Logitech Squeezebox, which I love. This is my recommendation. Logitech is widely supported, super easy to use, and you get so much more than just your music collection. Spotify, MOG, Slacker, Pandora, last.fm... the list goes on. Furthermore Logitech supports a wide range of audio formats. I don't think you would want to be locked into 16/44.1. Also, there are very good smartphone apps on either Android or the ithing for remote control. Get the squeezebox, you'll love it.

As for formats, break down and purchase dbpoweramp for $38. It's a great, powerful utility for both ripping CDs and converting music formats. As rdgrimes states, WMA lossless is fine for playback (on any device - not just PC), the biggest problem is WMA's lack of ability to embed metadata (title, artist, song, genre, etc.) with the song. If you can't appropriately organize your music collection your enjoyment goes downhill quickly. FLAC is the best format, it too is lossless, is widely supported and supports metadata. When I ripped my collection (900 or so CD's) with dbpoweramp I chose uncompressed FLAC (for home streaming), MP3 240k (for my smartphone), and WMA (I have no idea why, just to be safe I presume), all in one pass. If I remember correctly out of my entire collection, dbpoweramp converted all but 16 tracks due to bad CDs.

There are a lot of options out there, it does get confusing!

Good luck whatever you decide.

Edit: Oops, forgot to answer your other question. If you're locked into Windows Media Player (there are better - foobar, mediamonkey, winamp is what I use) it does support FLAC but you need to install the codec. Use 'the google', you should find it easily.

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post #13 of 20 Old 03-10-2012, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for all the very helpful input. This is totally new for us and very, very confusing. As with everything else in life, it's easy once you know how.

First, no, we're not locked onto or otherwise committed to Windows Media Player and/or WMA Lossless. We started with Windows Media Player because it was there free on the computer and WMA Lossless because we learned somewhere to rip CD's in Lossless formats because they were at least as good as CD quality vs. MP3. That's virtually all we knew up until last week. So far we only have about 100 or so CD's ripped onto the hard drive of one computer which we run through an old Pioneer amp pushing two Polk RTi4's hanging on the wall above the computer in our bedroom.

Second, at this time wireless is our only choice from computer to AVR since they are located in different rooms but not so far that wireless won't work. We had three computers but the ancient Sony laptop crapped out and we're down to two, both Windows; an older XP unit and a getting older home built Vista unit. It would be nice if our living arrangement allowed the computer to be close to the AVR because the Vista s motherboard has an HDMI output.

Only within the past year have we purchased a new AVR with decent front three speakers to enjoy 5.1 with our 50 Panasonic plasma in a small living room. Our system is modest but then so have been our needs. Since we both work and have a 5 year old who occupies the TV/DVD/AVR mostly, we parents do very much enjoy watching a grown up movie and listening to good music in between!!! Presently we drop CD's into the player for music and that's just fine but it would be slick if we could conveniently tap the computer hard drive instead, although I'm still not sure how the sound from the optical drive on a computer compares with that from a dedicated CD player.

When we started looking for a new CD player, whoah! Everything we read was about streaming and getting rid of the dedicated CD hardware, therefore our questions here. Since we do have a tight home entertainment budget we want to maximize our outlay toward the future - which with the advent of streaming doesn't seem to favor a new CD player. My concern is the sound quality. I simply want to end up with sound as least as good as that coming out of our CD player.
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post #14 of 20 Old 03-10-2012, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I downloaded dBpoweramp and Foobar today to begin the process of ripping my CD's to FLAC. On a dBpoweramp page it said that Windows Media Lossless files could be converted to FLAC files just fine. So since I already have many of our CD's ripped to WM Lossless, this would be as good a choice as re-ripping CD's directly to FLAC? Also, haven't spent enough time with it yet, does Foobar2000 show album art like Media Player?
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-10-2012, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batuche View Post

. . . since I already have many of our CD's ripped to WM Lossless, this would be as good a choice as re-ripping CD's directly to FLAC?

Hi Batuche,

The only concern I would have is with the tags. How well did WMP tag your music when you first ripped it? If your music is well tagged already, then yes, I would just re-encode what you have. If WMP did not tag well, them I would consider re-ripping, as dbPowerAmp will tag well.

As far as album art, I use a media player, so I use Foobar just for manageing my library, along with MP3Tag. But I was curious, so I just got foobar to do this:

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post #16 of 20 Old 03-11-2012, 07:34 AM
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I'm not sure and not at home to verify, but you could do an experimental conversion of one CD. Like the ripper, the converter may go online and retrieve tags for you (which are editable).

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post #17 of 20 Old 03-11-2012, 07:36 AM
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Oops, not very clear - do an experimental conversion of one of your WMA files to FLAC. It's hard to think at ihop

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post #18 of 20 Old 03-11-2012, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Hi Batuche,

The only concern I would have is with the tags. How well did WMP tag your music when you first ripped it? If your music is well tagged already, then yes, I would just re-encode what you have. If WMP did not tag well, them I would consider re-ripping, as dbPowerAmp will tag well.

As far as album art, I use a media player, so I use Foobar just for manageing my library, along with MP3Tag. But I was curious, so I just got foobar to do this:




WOW! I've been dinking around with Foobar2000 for a couple hours, well, also ripping disks to FLAC, but from your screen shot obviously you're much more talented with a computer than I am (but then almost everyone is!) although I did learn how to divide up the screen and put a square in the lower left corner with displays the album art. My home screen is really basic and it's obvious to me that the learning curve for this software will be a very steep one to make this look better. How did you create the tab for ART?

Question: Would I needlessly be filling up my hard drive if both Foobar2000 and Windows Media Player coexisted with one storing FLAC files and the other WM Lossless files? I'm thinking I'd be better off space wise if I just kept Foobar alive and removed all the Windows Media files, yes?

While looking around the internet for "how to" sites on Foobar2000 I have seen some very handsome screen shots of what some very talented users have made but even if I could come close to something looking like Media Player I'd be in high clover.

Is album art the only reason you continue to use Media Player?
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post #19 of 20 Old 03-11-2012, 08:46 PM
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There are certainly more friendly music platforms than foobar2000. Give Winamp a try, once you get into the nuts and bolts its pretty powerful.

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post #20 of 20 Old 03-11-2012, 11:02 PM
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Hi Batuche,
Quote:
Originally Posted by batuche View Post

. . . How did you create the tab for ART?

You had to ask . . . I was fiddling around, and got it to happen, but didn't pay attention to how I got there. So I had to try over again to reproduce it. Here is how I got it the second time:

After starting Foobar, I went into the menu to enable layout editing mode: View-> Layout -> Enable layout editing mode

I then right-clicked on the tab-area, just to the right of the last tab. A popup context-menu opened, and one of the options was "Add New Tab". I selected it, and an empty window was created under that new tab.

I then right-clicked in the new tab's empty window space, and another context-menu popped-up. I then clicked "Add New UI Element..." from that menu.

A dialog box opened, and from within it I selected "Album Art Viewer" and then pressed "OK". I now had the album art showing in that window.

But the new tab was showing "New Tab". So I then right-clicked on the tab, and selected "Rename 'New Tab' Tab", and then typed in the name "Art".

Quote:
Question: Would I needlessly be filling up my hard drive if both Foobar2000 and Windows Media Player coexisted with one storing FLAC files and the other WM Lossless files? I'm thinking I'd be better off space wise if I just kept Foobar alive and removed all the Windows Media files, yes?

I would keep the WMP files until you feel comfortable deleting them. Storage is cheap. I keep everything as FLAC, but also have high-bitrate MP3 copies for my Audiotrons (they can't play FLAC). Once I retire the Audiotrons (no time soon), I will delete the MP3s.

Quote:
Is album art the only reason you continue to use Media Player?

I haven't used Windows Media Player since Win95. I use separate media players to play through my stereos (AudioTrons and NeoTV 550). The NeoTV does cover-art well, but needs a TV hooked-up. The Audiotrons don't do cover-art at all. My music is stored on a NAS, so I don't need a PC running to play music.
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