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Gapless FLAC playback under $500

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to build a centralized FLAC library with the following requirements:

* Self-built back end (NAS, Vortexbox, computer, whatever, RAID1, I can manage this)
* Gapless FLAC playback client outputting bit-correct FLAC decodes 16/44.1, 24/48, and 24/96 digital streams (any digital format including USB is OK)
* Configurable browsing experience, sortable by any tags I choose to maintain in the FLAC library
* Controllable without a TV Screen or monitor
* Clients should not be over $500

I don't care about:

* Any other file formats
* Transcoding
* Photo display or Video playback
* Server type (DLNA/uPNP, a little worried about LMS because it's not getting updated)

I've created a small library of 10 FLAC albums to test. It includes lots of 'problems' for buggy software to deal with, like gapless tracks, classical with lots of extra tags on the FLAC, multiple CD that should appear as a single album, relevant ARTISTALBUM tags (where the artist varies within an album), etc.


The bottleneck seems to be in the gapless FLAC playback devices under $500. I really don't know of many - right now, I have only identified two ways to do it (in my price range):
1. Logitech Squeezebox v3 or touch
2. Computer with a capable media player (JRiver on a CAPS v3 server or something similar, iPhone/iPad remote)

Are there any others?

Once I select a client, I would get a back end that works best with it.

I am maintaining a completely separate iTunes library with compressed music for phone sync and casual listening and this effort is specifically geared towards lossless playback, allowing me to store a decent part of my CD collection away.

For back end, I have experimented with Plex Media Server, a VortexBox, and JRiver's DLNA server and I'm not super happy with any of them. Plex groups albums improperly and requires a lot of messing with tags just to get my albums organized the way I want, and then a rescan can blow things up on you. Vortexbox's DLNA outputs lots of junk - an album with 7 different artists on it appears as 7 albums in the 'album' folder, for example, but seems to look good on the , and JRiver's DLNA server seems configurable enough but isn't the focus of their product and seems like a lot of overhead to serve out DLNA. I do have a Squeezebox on the way to test. Asset uPNP looks like a strong contender though if DLNA is the serving method. But, again, I don't think this is important to finalize until I select the perfect client.
post #2 of 2
Check out Cambridge Audio NP30. Slightly above your price at $599 but maybe slightly less if you shop around.
Link: Cambridge Audio NP30

I have the big brother Stream Magic 6 on order. They have the same interface/database system though. It's been frustrating not being able to see how the interface works ahead of buying though.

This one has a free app that can be run from iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet with album art, play lists, search by, etc. Also will play internet services like Pandora and internet radio stations. They say gapless, so I'm counting on that.

There are lots others, but most well above $500.
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