Clueless in Norman... Music Server?

Discussion in 'PCs & Music Servers' started by musichal, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    I want to rip all my CDs to lossless, and play them using an integrated amp that I have yet to select, but it will be a somewhat upscale model.


    Forget CD ripping. Scroll down to Post #7.



    I use a laptop, but have not delved into FLAC or whatever other lossless formats which may exist. Every time I consider trying out FLAC I get stuck in a foreign realm in which I don't understand the language, nor which software I need. Then I read about products that include a CD drive for ripping, storing and playing, but soon become confused with all the tech.

    So I decided a music server may be the way to go, and read reviews by users complaining about a unit such as the Marantz NA6005. Does it do what I want? I'm not really sure, but I think so. Then I read what users are saying, and find this:

    "Many times I read bad reviews and think "well that won't be me",
    but in this instance, I have to echo some of the other negative reviews
    regarding this specific product. While the sound quality is great (when it's working)
    the firmware is awful. As previously reviewed here - it's very buggy
    (others have plenty of similar reviews). It's been a crapshoot each time i turned it on
    as to whether it would function properly. Most of the time it was fine,
    but way too frequently, especially for a Marantz, it was not.
    I had to perform various degrees of restarts too many times,
    from "turn off, turn back on" to "total system reboot" to get things
    back on track. Regardless, that level of performance was unacceptable
    to me for this product and to date, Marantz has not seemed to recognize
    that a firmware upgrade is required..."
    and several more complaining of the same issues. Sounds like me, except this guy knows a lot more than I do. Do I rule out the Marantz? If it were only this one guy... but it isn't. Quite a few complained about this. I really want to rid myself of three huge, slow, clunky, slow Sony megadisc players - did I mention they are slow? - but I become mired in tech-speak I don't understand, and can't figure out how to even begin the transformation.

    And network attached storage? Does that work in conjunction with a server? What do I need to rip to FLAC and play via Wi-Fi? I own no smart-phone, have no android service, so what tablet, if any, do I need for access and control? What do I need to remotely access the files? The more I read, the less I understand how to get there from here.

    Maybe I should just stick with slow and clunky.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  2. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    If you have a laptop that has an optical drive for the CD, you are half way there. There are several good media player options that will "rip" (convert your CD to FLAC) including Fubar and JRiver which I use. You would likely want a DAC, and I know nothing about the wireless options. The "Network Attached Storage" or NAS drive is simply a remote stand alone hard drive with an operating system built in that links to your computer over a network (I run mine with an ethernet cable. You don't need one if you have storage enough on your laptop but it probably is a good idea especially if you have a large library you wouldn't want music to hog all the space.

    This really isn't as hard as you might think.. Just get a good media player software and go for it! We're here to help!
     
  3. abpeep

    abpeep OU Sucks!! Subscriber

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    My first thought when I saw the title was "Well, of course" - Hook 'Em.

    Seriously, this is what I have:

    JRiver (30-day free trial, then $49.98) loaded to the PC.
    2T external USB HD (not NAS).

    JRiver is set up for ripping CDs placed in the optical drive to flac (or other of your choice) and saving it on the USB HD. JRiver is very versatile and I don't use it it to the full extent - if you can't figure out how to configure, they have their own forum or there are plenty here who can help out. From JRiver, you can play it through:

    The Audio Out to your amp;
    or through a USB DAC to your amp.

    Some laptops/PCs have better internal DACs than others - you'll need to determine whether you like the SQ from the laptop. I used the Audio Out from my PC for a long time with an EMU 0202 USB instead of the PC's sound card. I now use a FiiO E10K DAC/Headphone amp ($75.99) from a USB port. SQ is noticeably better to the amp and the headphone amp sounds much better than the headphone out on my preamp. There are plenty of DACs to choose from out there.

    If you want to control the JRiver remotely, JRiver has a free app called Gizmo. Get you a used/refurbished smart phone or tablet and load Gizmo. I use a Galaxy tablet that I bought refurbished and can sit in my chair across the room from the PC and control my music through wifi.

    As Alobar said, there's any number of ways to implement this - various media player options, DACs, with or without NAS, on and on...

    I would say go ahead and download JRiver, Foobar, or another server package and poke around in it.
     
    nmillerrider and WobblySam like this.
  4. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    I am already using a USB DAC, see my sig below.



    "As Alobar said, there's any number of ways to implement this - various media player options, DACs, with or without NAS, on and on..."

    And there you have it, so many options that it is difficult to determine which works with what and which would suit my needs best.

    What I'd like, I think, is a NAS located in my old computer room, where my router lives. Load all my CDs losslessly into it, set up a home network (very fuzzy on this, but it is apparently more than just my router), buy a tablet to control it from another room, and acquire whatever devices I need to send the music to each system in the house that I want. I simply can't figure out what I need to do it.

    I don't want to use my laptop for storing all those files, and if this JRiver thing streamlines converting my CDs to FLAC, making that easier, then I'm all ears.


    "Well, of course" - Hook 'Em

    I admit I don't know the allusion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  5. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    JRiver cost a little money, $50 while foobar is free I think. I chose JRiver when I was disappointed in the limits of iTunes and never looked back. A few people on here get very overwhelmed by the complexities of JRiver but I believe that isn't really necessary for the the novice to enjoy it right out of the box. It is pretty easy to get started, but powerful enough to get you into problems too.

    As for me I believe there are 2 types of software, complex and powerful and simple and easy. I like software that is fairly robust, and I can do about anything with. Simple and easy seems to have limitations attached.

    As for the hardware, I use a Raspberry pi which is a billfold sized computer which has a copy of JRiver on it. I stream my music from my Windows machine to the Raspberry via a NAS. This setup works well for me and normally I would recommend it to you except for I don't think it works on wifi so needs a ethernet cable and you specified wireless. I don't have any direct experience with wireless music servers.
     
    yockmyer likes this.
  6. LesE

    LesE 110284 Subscriber

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    Here is a high level view of my setup. I'm running Plex media server on a Raspberry Pi3 using the Open Media Vault OS which also turns the Pi into a NAS. Three Chromecast Audio devices provides the wireless connections for streaming FLAC files up to 24/96.

    Les
     

    Attached Files:

  7. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    New question.

    Forget ripping to lossless. Just stream. Tidal?

    What do I need to stream Tidal to two different systems, without having to use my laptop?

    Streamers under consideration:

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=ACALTAIR

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CACXN

    The Altair specifically mentions Tidal, the CXN does not.

    I think the best way forward for me is to get a streamer working, for Tidal. I don't spin vinyl, I want to eliminate CD. This will be my primary source for music and I want it to be high quality sound. I'm not afraid to spend a bit to get there, less would be nice... however, as my primary source, if the Altair is superior, well, so be it.

    What kind of tablet for controlling the Altair?
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  8. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

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    Well, abpeep summed it up nicely. A basic laptop with some external storage running Jriver. No network required and nothing confusing about the connection. You can get a laptop for $300 if you shop around and 1TB portable USB drives are around $50. This is less than most of the dedicated network players like the Marantz. Plus the laptop gives you a much better screen to view for music selection than the dinky screens on those music "appliances".

    Now, if you want to pay for Tidal, then you'll still need some type of "device" to connect to your router and run the Tidal app. I don't know if you can stream two different playlists at the same time - if that's what you want to do. Perhaps a Tidal user with some experience can help you with that.
     
    JoeESP9 likes this.
  9. Raynald

    Raynald AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, there are many ways to do what your original post asks about. I wanted it very simple and here is how I did it.

    Computer: I used our existing main desktop. There is no need to buy new hardware there.

    Storage: I added two cheap external hard drives. One for the music, another as back up.

    Software for ripping: I did a lot of reading and chose dbpoweramp. It costs under $50 and does a great job. Apparently Exact Audio Copy is a very good free one.

    Getting the signal around the house: If you have a router you are good to go.

    Receiving the signal around the house: I went with Squeezebox. I added a few of their Touch to existing systems using the digital out into DACs or AVRs with good DACs. They sound pretty good alone as well. I then filled in the kitchen and bedroom with stand alone Radio and Boom devices from them. SB is a very easy way to go and can be found used for not much money.

    Controlling the system remotely: I had started with the older SB that used the Controller remotes, I kept a couple because I like them. I then added free software so our Galaxy Tab could be used as a remote and then did same for my phone.

    The system sounds great, is easy to use and has brought music all over our house with full control at our fingertips. My wife loves it and she hates fussing with gear. This will work for just streaming as well if you want to skip the ripping.

    Another good streaming option a lot of AKers seem to love is Chromecast Audio that costs a whole $35. Might be worth checking out to get your feet wet.

    I think that audio companies take advantage of the fact that many audiophiles are uncomfortable with the new technology and will just turn to brands they know so they sell them multi thousand dollar solutions that can be equaled for a few hundred dollars elsewhere.
     
    ldatlof likes this.
  10. LesE

    LesE 110284 Subscriber

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    I've never used the Tidal mobile app before but it does appear to support Chromecast Audio. So, I believe you could load the Tidal app on your phone or tablet and then stream to one or both of your two systems equipped with Chromecast Audio via wifi. This would be done without the involvement of your PC/laptop.

    Les.
     
    ldatlof likes this.
  11. abpeep

    abpeep OU Sucks!! Subscriber

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    College rivalry reference - UT vs OU. UT fans believe that those in Norman are missing a few teeth, date their sister and cook meth out in the garage (current company excepted).

    I have not really gotten into any streaming or whole house distribution - my PC is located in close proximity to the stereo system. If I want music outside or in my shop, I have systems out there and can plug the tablet or phone in and listen through JRiver. I also have a couple SanDisk players I use in my truck and about two thousand songs loaded on the tablet. I use the tablet with a pretty good Bluetooth speaker as well.

    I do have a ChromeCast Audio which has not been opened yet, though. I'm thinking it will be hooked to the AVR in the living room.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  12. +48V

    +48V hi-fi or die

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    Controller
    Tablet -- iPad mini or Android tab ... $99
    [​IMG]

    Streamer X 2.....$70

    [​IMG]

    Try the Chromecast Audio and tablet combo with your DAC and see what you think first. Dead simple to set up and the SQ along with your Modi is pretty amazing.

    Savings vs. the ACALTAIR(s)... $2,830. That should buy a very decent amp and/or upgrade your present DAC. Not mention offsetting many years of Tidal Hi-Fi service. :)
     
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  13. abpeep

    abpeep OU Sucks!! Subscriber

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    Also, neither of the streamers that you are looking at preclude you from ripping your CDs to storage that you can attach to streamer. Both of those look very nice for your purpose.

    As far as a tablet, I have a refurbished Galaxy Tab S that I picked up on Amazon for about $150. Screen is 8.4 inches and I find it a better size than my smartphone.
     
    musichal likes this.
  14. barefootbrew

    barefootbrew AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  15. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    From AA's Auralic Mini page you linked:

    "AURALiC Lightning DS is the official control software for all Lightning series hardware. The app is currently available for iPad iOS 8.0 and above systems only."

    Does this mean an android tablet would not control it?

    How about the expensive auralic Altair I linked above? Is it primarily meant to work with an iPad?
     
  16. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    Yeah, Texas. I thought Hook 'em Horns but still didn't get it; you simply meant I am dumb as an Okie. I'm from Mississippi so I may be even dumber than you think, but still deny Okiedom. My mind just didn't go there, missed the reference, but I do pull for TX vs OU, so I can only be so stupid. Although, of late, that may be stupid, we'll see Oct 14.

    My goal now is to choose a streamer, set it up in my main system, where Tidal becomes my best source, so I can enjoy now, while I figure out what/whether to do about FLAC files or home networking.

    Baby steps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  17. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    Now we're talkin'. E-Stat recommends something similar he's willing to talk me through, if needed. But you guys only saved me about $1400 or thereabouts, the Altair is $1519 at AA. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  18. abpeep

    abpeep OU Sucks!! Subscriber

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    Now, I worked with some guys from Mississippi so you may have a problem there.:biggrin: But any one who roots for the Horns is okay.

    You'll work through this - I've managed to get things set up somehow that works for me and most of the time didn't know for sure what I was doing.

    Alan
     
  19. +48V

    +48V hi-fi or die

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    Indeed. Aside from the tremendous savings, that's why I recommended trying the CCA+tablet. Before you go whole hog, get your feet wet and experience and evaluate the functionality & SQ with Tidal and a CCA in yer chain. There's no money or time wasted as the CCA and the iPad are universal multi-tasker devices that can be used anywhere should you eventually move up the ladder for you main rig. The CCA route may well scratch yer itch from the get go and time to come.

    I'm guessing he's offering to guide you down the Raspberry Pi road. They are great little devices with tremendous versatility for a myriad of computing tasks including audio distribution! But they can be somewhat daunting/fussy to setup initially for the network/computer phobic/novice type. Based on your posts, that's why I tilt you toward a more "plug n' play" option to get up and running quick and easy out of the gate.

    Baby steps with potentially huge un-experienced rewards. In other words, I'm simply suggesting you don't necessarily need to take a "Ferrari" (Altair) around the block when first learning to drive. :)

    PS. My $2,800+ savings math against the CCAs was based upon you having to purchase two AURALiC ALTAIRs in order to stream to two separate/remote systems. I didn't see where the Altair had some sort of "node" option that would allow you to kill two birds with one stone for less outlay.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
    musichal likes this.
  20. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    I signed up for free trial Tidal today (with the intent to keep it) to check out SQ. I've been having fun listening to all kinds of music, and the sound via my Modi/Magni USB DAC/headphone amp combo passes muster, either via the Hifiman planars or the Khorns.

    So my intent to make Tidal my main source remains, but Christine thinks it expensive to rent rather than own recordings. I remember thinking the same way a few years ago, so I understand her concern. Explained the advantages of a huge library, plus ease of use, but her thinking is still mired in the twentieth century. However, so is mine on many fronts, but I'm not yet so old a dog that I can't learn a couple new tricks. Not many, but a couple.


    LATER EDIT: I began to read info on setting up a Raspberry Pi implementation, and did find it daunting. I'm not sure I want to test E-Stat's patience with my tech-tardedness, which I fear would be poor reward on his kind offer to help with questions. I ordered a chromecast, and soon will a tablet when I figure out which - I have a few days. Probably a good call, +48V.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017

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