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Discussion Starter #1
Such as

Compaq Ipaq


Dell and Gateway also make similar units but I cant them them on their websites.


Steve
 

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I have an ipaq, but my mp3 player is an old toshiba laptop. Very low noise and low power usage. Why would you want to use the ipaq for that? Unless you added external storage you could only fit a couple songs on it
 

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Okay, all of you can see my error. When you said Ipaq I autmatically assumed you meant the handheld devices. Ive put some mp3s on my ipaq for listening. It seems that you could get better performace for less using a laptop as i did. What if my source isnt a cd? This device only lets you copy cds at the moment.
 

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I have a HTPC and have never liked MP3s. My wife's PC had an unused RAID controller on the motherboard. I went to http://www.pricewatch.com/ and found a pair of 80GB disk drives for $145.00 (They are even cheaper now.) I installed these drives on my wife's PC using RAID and ended up with 152GB of free disk space after installing the file system.


I then transferred about 300 of my favorite CDs to the RAID volume using the full 16 bit 44.1KHz .wav file format. No compression. I still have about 20 GB free on the disks at the moment. I use MusicMatch to manage all of the files and play lists.


The HTPC has a Creative Soundblaster Live! card and I use the S/PDIF output to feed my Denon receiver. I plan to add a Perpetual Technology P1/P3 combo in the future. The system works fine and sounds great. No lossy compression to bother with. I could play MP3s, but why? Disk space is getting cheaper by the day.
 

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Like showard, I use my HTPC as an music jukebox and have chosen to store my music as uncompressed wav files. I use Exact Audio Copy to rip and Musicmatch Jukebox to play. With PCs on a network, its an easy way to distribute whole-house audio and to take advantage of additional storage capacity of other computers on the network.


Questions for Mr. Howard -- what is your impression in sound quality of .wavs played from your PC through your Denon? Distinguishable from CDs played on a separate player? Would the Perpetual Technologies DAC improve the sound considerably from wavs, or would you use it only with a separate CD transport?

Finally, have you attempted to do multi-channel equalization in the PC, instead of using an outboard equalizer like the Rane, TACT TCS, AudioControl DiVA, etc.?


All are questions I'm confronting when designing my HT with a HTPC at its heart.


- Ken
 

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Ken,


I can not tell a difference between the HTPC and my CD jukebox. They sound the same to me. I would say that using my DVD player as the transport is inferior to the jukebox and PC for some reason. Keep in mind that jukebox is NOT a high end transport.


I do not own the PT upsampler/DAC yet so I have no conclusive proof of what it will or will not do. I'm making the assumption that pushing a .wav file through a computer S/PDIF connector is very similiar to the S/PDIF output of a stand alone transport. This may not be true for my current SB Live! card since it may be upsampling the signal to 48KHz. I might have to look at a different audio card.


I have not attempted any eq yet. I'm pondering the SOCS software for the PT gear instead. I have not made up my mind which to try first at this point. If you have any pointers for PC software, let me know and I'll see if I can get some time to play with it.
 

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I have tied 80 gigs worth of my computers hard drive into my HT. It works very well if I'm working around the house and want several hours of music without commercials. I can't say I can sit in the room and listen to MP3 files for hours on end though, even at very high sampling rates I can still detect something odd in the music when dealing with MP3's. I understand there is a new file format that will replace MP3 in the works. We will see if that is a little better regarding playback quality.
 

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showard, et al.:


Using the HTPC as a .wav jukebox is a great idea, but it's just the tip of iceberg in terms of what can be done on the music side of the equation with the HTPC, IMO. It often seems that mostl of the focus in the HTPC forum is on the video side of the equation and the sound quality issues are forgotten.


One big topic there, however, is the possibility of using the HTPC as a pre/pro with analog outputs directly to the amps. This idea is intriguing because it would give you complete control over the music reproduction in the digital domain with PC software, rather than relying on what the pre/pro manufacturer has decided. The current state-of-the-art is not that great, though -- perhaps the M-Audio Delta Theater card will advance things -- but it still will handle the D/A conversion inside the computer case, which may introduce unwanted noise and interference. In theory, however, the PC could become an excellent pre/pro, especially if it offered multi-channel parametric equalization, unlimited selection of crossover points (and slopes) for each channel, and upgradeable decoding for future surround-sound formats. WinDVD and PowerDVD, afaik, offer Dolby Digital, DTS, and perhaps DPLII in the software.


My research into available software equalization tools has led me into the scary world of MIDI and music composition tools. One promising application is Graphic Equalizer Studio Version 2.0 . I haven't had time to experiment with it yet, but it looks promising.


Another cool thing that can be done with HTPC is to project visualations on your big screen during music playback. Great for parties and background music.


Finally, the HTPC can be used as a diagnostic tool to discover problems with your in-room frequency reponse. There are several real time analysis tools for the PC that, when combined with a good microphone, can generate a frequency-response graph of your system that graphically shows your room modes and other problems. Ones I've found include EFT 5 Room Analyzer and SpectraPlus .


I plan to keep experimenting with these tools as time allows, and I'll keep folks posted. Please do the same!


- Ken


P.S. - showard -- like your website. :)
 

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Thanks for the input. Right now I use Winamp on my PC and I only have 150MP3s (all downloaded via you know where). Once I find another quality program I will get more and I figured this would be a great way to organize them and free up hardrive space. Iv burned most of the songs onto CDs but I like them on my PC for quick access, I used to download them streight to a CD-RW (I packet write alot) by my burner is really slow at 4x.


Steve
 

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Has anyone tried configuring a HTPC audio server with ability to do multizone multisource? I would like to have the ability to play one song in one room and one in another at the same time.

I have thought about multiple sound cards with multiple instances of Winamp running, but haven't actually tried it. Trying to sync them would be even more of a headache, I would think.


Paul
 

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I personally agree that mp3s are not so great when listened to on a quality sound system. I can EASILY tell you when an mp3 is playing. I personally also have some wav files and mp3s. I


I have pkzipped each on of my songs individually and set up a batch file to play them. I select the songs i want, press enter and they are unzipped to a directory and added to a playlist. With a fast processor this can be usable. For those that dont want the trouble Ive also found that creating a seperate volume for the wavs and enabling disc compression helps. The speed of access is not reduced (especially with a fast processer) and no additional software is needed. Disk compression is easy to activate under xp or 2000


I use a mylex 3 channel array controller with 128 megs ram and 6 quantam atlas 10kII


Extracting the wav files from your cd digitally and storing them uncompressed, then playing them through a digital sound card to the receiver can result in quality that aproaches or exceeds even the most high end cd players.
 

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I have 60gigs of MP3's compiled over the last 3 years of college (Just graduated). I play them on my main system through the digital out on my SB Live to an external d/a. This is done mostly for background listening and streaming digital radio stations ( www.somafm.com is great). Also, when I have guests over I let them control the playlist without messing with my equipment or CDs. I can tell the difference in quality, but my guests usually cannot.


MP3s in my HT system definatley serve a purpose.
 

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ciper:


Interesing approach, but I have some questions.

Quote:
For those that dont want the trouble Ive also found that creating a seperate volume for the wavs and enabling disc compression helps. The speed of access is not reduced (especially with a fast processer) and no additional software is needed. Disk compression is easy to activate under xp or 2000
Can you explain in more detail how you have arranged your system? I understand how to create a separate drive partion and how to activate compression on it, but what is a 3-channel array controller?

Quote:
use a mylex 3 channel array controller with 128 megs ram and 6 quantam atlas 10kII
Forgive my ignorance, but are you referring to a RAID array?


I'd be interested in trying something similar on my system using a fast SCSI drive (see my sig). Should I create the partition on the SCSI drive, which is currently dedicated to the OS and apps, or on the 60 gig data drive?


Would you be willing to share the batch file you used to unzip the .wav files? Would it be just as efficient to convert MP3s on the fly?


Full of curiosity . . .


- Ken
 

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I have a three channel array controller for my system. I have the drives seperated as follows.


2 atlas 10k on channel b

2 atlas 10k on channel c


these are the "storage" drive. Raid 0 with total space of 73 gig


1 cheetah 16meg 10k 18 gig channel a

1 cheetah 16meg 10k 18 gig channel b

1 cheetah 16meg 10k 18 gig channel c


these are the applications and os raid 5 for a total of 36 gigs.


Id recoemend using the fastest drives in the system for the os and applications. The mp3s and wavs need space more than speed, especially since most players actaully "stream" the data from the disc rather than load it into memory first.


What I did was to make the default command when running a zip file was to point to the batch file. The batch file extracts the files to a directory that is deleted on bootup. The files are then "run" which automatically adds them to the playlist in winamp. I just wish that windows let you specify the level of compression, I would rather sacrifice speed then have to purchase additional drives.
 

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You dont necessarily need the hardware like I have, caching isnt really necessary and multiple channels only give a small improvement. Spreading the drives in an array to different channels help especially with burst read/write. These drives have very large cache so the scsi interface can EASILY be saturated with a couple drives. Splitting them out gives each its own full bandwith. Also each drive has a seperate processor to issue commands to the drive.


My cd writer cdrom tape drive and dvd rom are on a seperate two channel adaptec 39160 . Im able to burn at 16x from cd to cdr while playing games/listening to mp3s/defraging the hard disk etc... Most scsi devices that arent hard drives are single ended and run at slow speeds so splitting them out helps.


If on the cheap you could do pretty well with a couple 100gig drives and use the software raid that windows 2000/xp has installed. This wouldnt be the fastest drives but still decent.


All of this is running on a pentium 3 550. And for real world apps its WAY faster than any of these 1.x ghz machines that everyone think are so great. A great example is how my post screen takes longer than WINDOWS BOOTING!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ciper
I personally agree that mp3s are not so great when listened to on a quality sound system. I can EASILY tell you when an mp3 is playing.
Well, I sure can't. I don't know how good my ears are, but I'm sure my system is good enough to tell the difference, if any system would be. What compression ratio are you using for MP3's? I've used both highest quality VBR (I think it goes up to 320kbps), and 320kbs, and I can't tell the difference, nor can anyone I've done a db test with, including some musician types with what they claimed were good ears.


I guess ignorance is bliss, because I love the convenience of using an MP3 jukebox, vs playing CD's.


BTW, I just came across this . It's a sampling of .wav files that are useful to test different MP3 codecs. I haven't checked them out, but they are supposedly sounds that MP3 has trouble with, and are good for showing differences bet. different codecs.


- Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #18
As long as the bitrate is 160K or above, most of the time I cant tell if the song is MP3 or CDA. Most of my music is 128K though, since Im on a 56K connection it would take forever @ 160kbitrate. I love MP3, but as I said earlier I only have 150 songs.


Steve
 

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 AAC will be the next step up over MP3 format.

Sony just release a firmware upgrade for their TA-E9000ES

Pre-pro with the AAC support.


Check out the spec's over standard MP3 format.


Also take a look at the news area and see what big players are buying into this format.. MP3 will not be top dog in compression long.

This is a great move for all. IMO
 

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AAC is Dolby Digital 2.0 with some minor improvments. IMHO

The vendors like it because its a name brand and they already do business with Dolby. Also with disk prices falling like a brick, why does anyone want lossy compressed audio files?

Unless of course you are snagging music from the Internet without paying for it. :)
 
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