Improve my streaming - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Improve my streaming

I've been upgrading my system over the last year and one area I want to improve on is my music experience.

My equipment is in my signature. This post refers to System 1.

I just use a Chromecast HDMI to the AVR with my Android phone, just like I would for YouTube. I currently source my music from my NAS using the BubbleUPNP app and some from Google Play Music. My issues with this are:

  1. The Chromecast skips the first 1-2 seconds of a newly selected audio track (never an issue with video)
  2. No gapless playback

I would enjoy my system more if I could solve these problems.

My new AVR has HEOS, so I gave that a try. It can connect to Pandora, TuneIn, Deezer, iHeartRADIO, Soundcloud, Spotify, Amazon Music, Napster, SiriusXM, Tidal, and local music on my network. I don't have any of these services so I just tried my NAS. It solves problem 1 as tracks start smoothly. I haven't tested gapless. However it creates another problem in that if using HEOS to play tracks from a NAS, you can not use forward/rewind. You can only pause, skip to the beginning, or the next track. Very frustrating. So let's call that problem 3.

What should I be looking at to eliminate all of these issues? Any of these internet services would bypass the Chromecast so that should solve issues 1 and 2. But then there's the iffy compatibility with my local tracks. I suppose I would be ok with going all-online if they had my tracks. That means they need to have my movie and video game scores and I'm not confident that they do.

System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
System 2: Laptop | NAD T758 v3 | PSB Imagine B
System 3: PC | Micca OriGen G2 | Mackie MR624
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 01:09 AM
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For music just use bluetooth of your smartphone. Play audio files from smartphone because there is a lot of apps better than avr. Connect phone to avr via bluetooth.
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soyhakan View Post
For music just use bluetooth of your smartphone. Play audio files from smartphone because there is a lot of apps better than avr. Connect phone to avr via bluetooth.
I would prefer to not stream audio or video from my phone. You leave that going with a long playlist and the battery will be dead before long.
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post #4 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 07:50 AM
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For playing local network music, HiFi Cast is a good Android app for casting gapless.
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 08:03 AM
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I know Sonos and Bluesound both support scrubbing (FF/REW inside a track) for local files. I'm surprised by that limitation in HEOS. I haven't used Bluesound but Sonos lets you make playlists that are a mix of local and streamed files which is really cool. Like you I also have a lot of music that will never be on streaming services so local file playback is important to me.


edit: One of the most interesting things about streaming is that the user interface is one of the most important things, the actual sound quality is similar/identical between all the platforms so ease of use and if it suits the way you listen are the most important. This is how Roon has been successful.
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post
For playing local network music, HiFi Cast is a good Android app for casting gapless.
It's a good app but it has the same limitation as BubbleUPNP, that is to say the limitation isn't with the app but with the Chromecast. It just can't do gapless from the network.

If you want gapless playback, you need to stream the file from your network to your phone, then from your phone to the Chromecast. I'd rather avoid that kind of heavy usage of the phone battery.

System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 01:06 PM
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Consider a dedicated streamer

Assuming you don't mind a little tinkering and setup, you might consider a dedicated DLNA/UPnP streamer (stream renderer) that would work with BubbleUPnP.

I have often recommended the Allo DigiOne Player, which does a great job at a low price. It has an SPDIF output, which I would hope your Denon can accommodate. Allo also makes players with analog output, if you prefer. They are all based on small computers, such as Raspberry Pi and similar. I do like the Volumio operating system that you can choose as an option, as you can do the setup without ever attaching a keyboard or monitor.

Now that Allo supplies complete players, the amount of fiddling is a lot less than it used to be, and in my experience, the sound from the Allo DigiOne fed into a decent DAC is excellent.

Gapless will not be a problem with any of the Allo solutions.

Hope that helps!

P.S. I use both BubbleUPnP and HiFiCast, and I think they both are very good. The gapless problem, though, does not lie with the control-point app. Either will do gapless if the renderer supports it correctly.
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Last edited by Mike in NC; 06-22-2020 at 01:10 PM.
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
It's a good app but it has the same limitation as BubbleUPNP, that is to say the limitation isn't with the app but with the Chromecast. It just can't do gapless from the network.

If you want gapless playback, you need to stream the file from your network to your phone, then from your phone to the Chromecast. I'd rather avoid that kind of heavy usage of the phone battery.

True, it does require the phone to cast the stream as opposed to traditional casting direct from the source, but it works quite well and battery consumption has not been a big issue for me.


A FireTV stick with KODI installed is a decent gapless direct play from network solution.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 03:01 PM
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Don't you people use your phone as a .. phone? If I'm streaming from my iPhone and a call comes in, or I get some kind of notice, the music gets ruined.
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
Don't you people use your phone as a .. phone? If I'm streaming from my iPhone and a call comes in, or I get some kind of notice, the music gets ruined.

Phone can be used just as a control or to start a cast. Its not like using headphones or a bluetooth speaker where calls will interrupt.
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post #11 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 03:30 PM
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get a Huawei Matebook D14 with the Ryzen 3500U processor, 12Gb RAM and 500 GB SSD and use that for a dedicated media center. That is my plan. Do it with a wire. If you use Audirvana you can get their remote app to run your streams and local library. Not sure how that works for Tidal natively as I almost always use Audirvana to stream Tidal.
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post #12 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike in NC View Post
Assuming you don't mind a little tinkering and setup, you might consider a dedicated DLNA/UPnP streamer (stream renderer) that would work with BubbleUPnP.

I have often recommended the Allo DigiOne Player, which does a great job at a low price. It has an SPDIF output, which I would hope your Denon can accommodate. Allo also makes players with analog output, if you prefer. They are all based on small computers, such as Raspberry Pi and similar. I do like the Volumio operating system that you can choose as an option, as you can do the setup without ever attaching a keyboard or monitor.

Now that Allo supplies complete players, the amount of fiddling is a lot less than it used to be, and in my experience, the sound from the Allo DigiOne fed into a decent DAC is excellent.

Gapless will not be a problem with any of the Allo solutions.

Hope that helps!

P.S. I use both BubbleUPnP and HiFiCast, and I think they both are very good. The gapless problem, though, does not lie with the control-point app. Either will do gapless if the renderer supports it correctly.
Thanks, I will do some research on this!

System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
System 2: Laptop | NAD T758 v3 | PSB Imagine B
System 3: PC | Micca OriGen G2 | Mackie MR624
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-22-2020, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wassup View Post
get a Huawei Matebook D14 with the Ryzen 3500U processor, 12Gb RAM and 500 GB SSD and use that for a dedicated media center. That is my plan. Do it with a wire. If you use Audirvana you can get their remote app to run your streams and local library. Not sure how that works for Tidal natively as I almost always use Audirvana to stream Tidal.
There is always the laptop option, but a lot bulkier and more trouble to use than just getting in your recliner, whipping out your touch screen phone, and opening an app. Call me lazy but I've been doing that for nearly 10 years and I ain't goin' back!*

*except for really compelling reasons
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System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-23-2020, 07:07 AM
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yea mate I understand the convenience factor
you can control the laptop via your phone or if you get a TEAC NT-505 you can also control the streams with the Lumin app on your phone.
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-24-2020, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Played around some with Hi-Fi Cast. I've had it on my phone forever but I always favored BubbleUPNP. I think it's been updated quite a bit because I'm liking it more than I remember. It glitches less when selecting a new track with the Chromecast, which is welcome in combating Problem 1.

I can make inroads on Problem 2 (gapless) if playing to the AVR directly via UPNP, but this has the same behavior as using HEOS: it's much snappier when skipping through tracks and there's no hiccup at the beginning of the track, but again you can not fast forward or rewind. Anyway, gapless almost works. There is a tiny gap, much much less than with the Chromecast, but there's a little audio chhhhh when it advances which is not ideal. But, this gapless mode via UPNP does not use my phone for encoding - I tested by turning off my phone's WiFi and everything kept playing. These are steps in the right direction.

So overall using an app (HEOS, Hi-Fi Cast, BubbleUPNP) to play direct to the AVR via UPNP from my DLNA NAS (whew, that's a lot of acronyms) is the better experience, save for the no seeking which really irks me. Interestingly, the AVR thinks all of them are "HEOS Music" and the remote control buttons work for play/pause, skip, but not seek.

So that's it for the free solutions. Next, I'll see if there is a way I can improve my NAS before looking at $ streaming devices.

System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
System 2: Laptop | NAD T758 v3 | PSB Imagine B
System 3: PC | Micca OriGen G2 | Mackie MR624

Last edited by Soulburner; 06-24-2020 at 09:28 PM.
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-25-2020, 03:41 PM
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You might consider getting a cheap obsolete phone with a large battery, and adding an external case with another battery, then use that as your play source/controller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
I would prefer to not stream audio or video from my phone. You leave that going with a long playlist and the battery will be dead before long.
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post #17 of 21 Old 06-25-2020, 04:44 PM
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Just a quick reference. Here is a link to HiFi Cast -

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...c.app.upnpcast

And here is a link to general "cast" apps for Android -

https://play.google.com/store/search...=apps&hl=en_US

Bubble UPNP for DLNA is another popular one -

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...oid.bubbleupnp

Media Monkey is another -

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...id.mediamonkey

I think, but am willing to be corrected, that Bubble UPNP and Media Monkey have both DLNA Server Software and Smart Phone Control Apps.

Broadcasting through your Phone, as you would with Bluetooth, is not the best. Your Phone should be the Control App to Search, Browse, and start the Stream of Music. But once the Stream is started it is completely between the Network/Media Server and the Receiving Device.

In the case of Network Streaming, think of you Phone as simply a Remote Control.

If you have a pile of money to spend, ROON has both hardware and software solutions for Streaming.

https://roonlabs.com/

I'm sure others with more experience in Network Streaming, can expand the list.

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post #18 of 21 Old 06-26-2020, 09:40 AM
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The cheapest outboard stand-alone solution (meaning you wouldn't need your phone as a middleman) would be Volumio running on a Raspberry Pi, this can be done for $100-200 but is mostly tuned for local network playback over streaming services. Being open source and free they have an optional subscription service that integrates with Tidal, Spotfiy and others. Next up in price is the Sonos Port at $450 (or you could try to find a post-2015 Sonos Connect). Sonos isn't cheap but it's the best I've seen at integrating local and streaming music. Then moving upmarket further there's Bluesound Node that runs BluOS which is largely similar to Sonos. You may be able to find a used older model node and use that if you don't need the latest high res or Apple Airplay.
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post #19 of 21 Old 06-27-2020, 02:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I wrote up my findings earlier after a bunch more testing and then an accidental refresh wiped my whole post...

I installed MinimServer on my Synology NAS. Long story short, it performs about the same as the default media server, except it handles album art much better. The images are higher in resolution and load much faster, so I'll be sticking with it.

But the thing that made some progress on my issues was playing directly to the X4500H via UPNP (like HEOS does) instead of the Chromecast. Songs start quicker, yet smoother and without glitches, and gapless works 95%. There is a tiny gap, but that's much better than the 2-5 seconds the CC takes.

However what I give up is the ability to seek. So when I'm doing testing and comparisons, I'll need to use the CC to go back and replay the same passage. I know this is going to frustrate me, so I'll see how long until I break down and buy a dedicated device. For now, this is pretty good for "free".

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions as to what my options are. I really like the look of the Yamaha WXC-50. I'd like to add one that I just found: Audioengine B-Fi Multiroom Music Streamer.

I'm also reminded that I have a Chromecast Audio laying around that I was going to use for another system. Wonder how that would do if hooked up with optical.

System 1: Samsung Plasma | Denon X4500H | Hypex Ncore NC252MP | Buchardt S400 | Polk LSiM 702 F/X | Heights TBD | Subs TBD Rythmik
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System 3: PC | Micca OriGen G2 | Mackie MR624

Last edited by Soulburner; 06-27-2020 at 02:11 AM.
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post #20 of 21 Old 06-27-2020, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post

I'm also reminded that I have a Chromecast Audio laying around that I was going to use for another system. Wonder how that would do if hooked up with optical.

CCAs sound great and are very convenient, but still have the same gapless playback challenges as the regular Chromecast. CCA's biggest feature is multi-room audio, which evidently newer Chromecasts support as well.
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post #21 of 21 Old 06-28-2020, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions as to what my options are. I really like the look of the Yamaha WXC-50. I'd like to add one that I just found: Audioengine B-Fi Multiroom Music Streamer.
Yeah that’s brand new, the hardware looks decent and the price is great but no clue how capable the app is.
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