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FLAC Music Device?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've been doing a lot of searching and am struggling to find the right device. I currently have a Denon 3808ci that I directly connect a HDD to via USB. All my music is stored as FLAC. The Denon's interface is very clunky and slow, so I'm looking to see what alternatives are out there.

I don't need or want a streaming device since I don't want to leave a PC on. I'm looking for a device that has a decent interface and will display album art, etc. on my TV. The simpler, the better since my wife would be the one primarily using it.
post #2 of 20
I got a Netgear NeoTV 550 for this very reason. The fact that it plays Blu-ray rips is just a nice added benefit for me. It was only $95 and plays both stereo and multi-channel FLAC (up to 24-bit/192kHz 7.1 channel) bit perfectly and gaplessly. I have mine connected to a USB HDD so no streaming necessary, and when I want to add new albums I just put them on a USB flash drive and transfer them via the 550 to the HDD. I think the user interface is pretty good. I usually browse by album art but you have several options (genre, artist, year, etc.)

I did initially consider a Squeezebox but I wanted multi-channel and hi-resolution at all sample rates without decimation.

There's only one more firmware update scheduled but it suits all of my needs as is so that wasn't a deal-breaker for me.
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tokerblue View Post

. . . All my music is stored as FLAC. . . I don't want to leave a PC on. I'm looking for a device that has a decent interface and will display album art, etc. on my TV.

The better music-centric players (Sonos, Squeezbox, . . .) have there own interfaces and won't work with the TV, so you need a video-centric player. The NeoTV 550, as Slosh suggested, is the only device I would consider. It is what I use with one of my stereos (the one by the TV).

It is the only video-centric media-player that plays without inserting gaps between files (very annoying with classical CDs, live albums and Pink Floyd). It handles all bit-rates and multi-channel formats. It works with my vinyl-copies and my iTunes files, as well as my CD rips. It has the browse features that many video-players lack, and works with cover art. You can output through HDMI, optical or analog.

In general, I'm happy with it. Many people complain of bugs (it is buggy), but I don't encounter the bugs, as I use it only to play music and to watch DVDs and BDs. It is also one of the least expensive options, $95 at Amazon.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Much thanks for the suggestion! That looks like the solution that I was looking for. eSATA support looks even more appealing since my external HDD supports that.

One quick question. If the Netgear scans the network and finds other music files, is there a way to exclude certain computers? There are some members in the household who do not have the same music tastes as I do and I wouldn't want to stream their library.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tokerblue View Post

. . . If the Netgear scans the network and finds other music files, is there a way to exclude certain computers?

Hi Tokerblue,

Under the "Settings" menu there is a "Media Locations" menu. Under this menu, you will find a list of your shares (SMB, NFS and devices), each with a 'select' check-box next to it. By default, they will all be unchecked (nothing will be scanned). You select the shares that you want scanned prior to scanning. In that list will also be your attached storage devices. If you have an eSata drive hooked-up with your music on it, then you will want to select that as well.

The music that is found, from all selected locations, is then available together on your music wall.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of your help!
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
I purchased the NTV550 and received it today. Setup took about 10 minutes, not including the 30 minutes I to dust and clean up my HT.

So far, everything is working as well as I had hoped. After an initial scan and setup, music listening has been very enjoyable. The interface is light years faster and more intuitive than the simple Denon 3808ci interface. FLAC sound quality sounds identical.

I do have a few gripes, but it's really just quirky things.
- The songs are listed in alphabetical order if you click OK on the album art. The only way to play the songs in order seems to be by clicking Play.
- I can't find a way to stay in "Cover Flow" mode. I have to click 16:9 every time.
- When switching from one artist to another, OK and Play doesn't always work if I click on the album art. It just goes back to the current song.
- A few random freezes when jumping around too much.
- Youtube doesn't seem to work.

I'll have to spend a little more time trying out videos and photos. I'm not sure how quick the scaling is, so I may try a few photos at their native resolution and crop others to a horizontal resolution of 1080p and see how fast they load.
post #8 of 20
If you press OK on the album cover, as you know, the songs are presented in alphabetical order. If you then press the "aA" key, (there is a message to this affect in the lower right quadrant of the screen) the order switches to album order. It seems to remain the selection until the next time you use the Neo. I wish it was a "sticky" menu choice, but it isn't. You'll probably mostly press play at the album cover, but this is another way once you press OK.
post #9 of 20
You should just press play when you select an album (cover). This will play it sequentially and gaplessly (assuming you enabled gapless playback in the set-up menu). When you click OK on the album cover what you're really doing is opening the folder, which is really only useful if you're looking for a specific track.
post #10 of 20
I'm looking for a media player that can primarily play my FLAC music files as well. Is the NeoTV 550 the one I want? Or can any of the newer models do the same?
post #11 of 20
Hi Valnar,

As far as I know, nothing new has supplanted the Neo for playing music. But there are a few new players coming to market, so improvements may be on the way (but I wouldn't count on it). In particular, Dune has an Intel-based player in the works, and it may be able to play gapless music (the Neo is still the only one of the video-centric players that does, I believe).

But the Neo is now officially at end-of-life, so it may be hard to find, and there won't be any further updates. That hasn't deterred me.

If you can forgo using a TV for the user interface, then the audio-centric players from Sonos, Logitec, Apple and others may work better for you, although they are more expensive than the Neo.
post #12 of 20
The Dune could always play gapless music. There are 2 ways to do so:

1. Put any .jpg file in the directory and tell the dune to play all media files in that directory.
2. Rip the album as a single .flac with an associated .cue file and play the .cue file.
post #13 of 20
Hmm. How is the music/flac interface in the Dune? Album covers?
post #14 of 20
Hi Mlknez,
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

The Dune could always play gapless music. . .

1. Put any .jpg file in the directory and tell the dune to play all media files in that directory.
Hey! That's a new one that I had not heard before! That would be great if that works! Thanks for that.

I knew about the "convert to one FLAC file" solution, but I wasn't about to convert thousands of of MP3s. I already have the album-art as "folder.jpg" in each album's folder for the Neo, so I will try out the Dune later today. I've never used the Dune for music before, as the Neo is the player attached to my stereo and it has a better jukebox.


LATER:

Well, that didn't work for me. But it might work for others.

The first problem is that the Dune does not support metadata, so the tracks are played in alphabetical order instead of the original CD's track order. So tracks that run together, where you want gapless, are not even connected anymore. Now, if you're files are all named beginning with the track number, then it isn't an issue, but only a handful of my older CD rips are done that way.

I was able to try with an old Leonard Cohen album that did have track-numbers in the filename, but there was still a 3 second gap between songs. Could this be an issue with some setup option? Or maybe an SMB issue? I will copy that album to the local flash drive later and try again.

If I have time later, I will also give Misucnizer a try.


UPDATE:

It must be an SMB issue, because when I copied that album to the local flash drive, the music appeared to play gapless. But that album already has silence between songs, so I was only going by the timer in the "info" window. But the count seemed to not miss a beat.

So I then deleted the "folder.jpg" file to see if gaps returned, and it was pretty hard to tell. If there were gaps, they were much smaller then when using SMB, maybe one second or less.

I will try to make a test-folder later, using side 2 of Pink Floyd's "Wall", which has no silence between songs.


FURTHER UPDATE:

I cannot get the Dune to play gapless at all. The gaps are large (about 3 seconds) with SMB, but still exist at about 1 second, sometimes a little less, when using the local flash-drive. But no matter what, they are clearly audible (and often annoying). It also doesn't seem to matter whether there is a JPG file present or not, so maybe I don't have the correct configuration, or maybe the wrong firmware (latest beta: d1_121018_0846).
Edited by MarkHotchkiss - 2/2/13 at 9:56pm
post #15 of 20
Hi Valnar,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valnar View Post

Hmm. How is the music/flac interface in the Dune? Album covers?
No, nothing that comes built in to the Dune, but that is the way the Dune is designed. It allows for third-party jukebox software, and there is music-jukebox software in the works. Musicnizer is something you can try now. I haven't tried it, but last I heard it was a work-in-progress.
post #16 of 20
I updated post 14 above with my Dune testing. The bottom-line is that I couldn't get my Dune to play gapless.

But I also spent way too much time trying to get Musicnizer to work. It was a total bust, as I could find no way to get that software to see my music on my NAS. For that matter, I couldn't get it to look for music anywhere.

There were other things that bothered me about Musicnizer:

First, it is not free ($40), and you don't find this out until after you install it and start it for the first time. The evaluation version that starts-up is pretty limited, which didn't matter much as it also didn't work.

Then, when you go to the page to order it, they ask for too much personal information. Besides email, they also require you to provide your home address and telephone number. You are expected to provide this information to a company that provides no address or phone number themselves, and leaves no clue as to where in the world they reside. To make matters worse, they have no privacy policy describing to who they plan to sell your information.

Despite the fact that the software doesn't work, it hasn't been updated in over half a year. Maybe it's been abandoned?

So it seems like a scam to me.
post #17 of 20
I am looking to do exactly the same thing. Does anyone know, on the Netgear, if more than one video output can be used simultaneously? The reason I ask, is this is going into my hometheater, and I have a projector as my display. I would like to be able to listen to music without having to turn on my projector each time. I currently have a small TV in my component rack, to the side of me. I put it there for this exact reason with my Roku box. It is hooked up to the hometheater through HDMI, for most things, but if I just want to listen to Pandora, I can just turn on the small TV, and my audio system, and browse without turning on the projector.

So I guess I would do HDMI to my hometheater for audio (or video, for times when I already have my projector on), and a simple video out to the small TV, for times when I don't want to turn on my projector.
post #18 of 20
Hi Redskin,

By "simple video out", do you mean the Neo's composite video output (yellow connector) or its component video output (red, green and blue connectors)? I just tested with the composite video output, and what was being played over HDMI was simultaneously played over composite, although squeezed from 16:9 down to 4:3 aspect ratio. I believe all Sigma-based players behave this way.
post #19 of 20
Thanks for checking Mark...composite, was what I meant. That is perfect. My small tv off to the side is an older 4:3 set anyway with a composite video input, so this might be just what I am looking for.
post #20 of 20
I'm still looking for a device to play my FLAC album files with CUE and cover art support. While I initially dismissed the Boxee, I see now from the Wiki that it should support my needs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxee#Audio_playback_in_detail

Can anyone with a Boxee confirm?
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