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Questions on making server for FLAC playback

Discussion in 'PCs & Music Servers' started by Moon_Man, Nov 12, 2016.

  1. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,031
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    I have the Synology D145+ NAS with 4-2TB Samsung SSDD's in it. The first two are active drives for storage, the second two are there to back up the first two.

    Solid gear, easy to set up, reliable, no issues whatsoever. The NAS feeds my music server via ethernet (they are on the same hardwired network) and the music server feeds the DAC via USB. Those are good electronic connections and none of that setup relies on any sound cards. It's just pure digital files to the DAC.
     

     

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  2. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    My thought was to put the NAS in the basement hardwired to the router, and locate an old laptop at my main system with connection to the Maverick TubeMagic DAC. That way I can download/upload music from online sites via FTP, and also be able to access the music files wirelessly via my network.
     
  3. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,031
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    I tried a wireless streaming solution a while ago and was not happy with the results. Lots of buffering and dropout issues. So I have my system totally hardwired. Your wireless network may be OK, depending on what size files you will be playing, the speed of the network and other network uses; but mine wasn't which is why mine is hardwired.
     
    Bill Ferris likes this.
  4. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    New thoughts. I am using Amazon Prime now and will be streaming music at my main system via possibly a chromebook. My main laptop will remain at my desk as it will be casting video to the tv using chromecast. Looks like I will be storing my music on a 4 TB external drive that can go at either station where it will FTP files in and out and used along with the chromebook to feed the DAC. If I do one day go the NAS route it will be a major reconfiguring of the computer network and it's interface with the sound systems.

    The chromebook or cheap laptop will need to be long on memory and processor, short on hardware.
     
  5. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Well I've arrived at what is working out to be a good solution for now. Main laptop on my desk with a 4TB My Book connected, storing the music files. Wife's Chromebook at the main system (3 rooms away), connected to the Maverick Tube Magic D1+ (with tube and op-amp upgrades) via USB. I've made everything discoverable via Windows 10. Tweaked the power management scheme on Chromebook to keep it awake - It's still got like 13 hours of battery life so no big deal. Now I can stream Amazon Prime Music when I just want some background jazz, or I can stream FLAC files from the My Book on my desk with no degradation of sound quality. This is pretty much all I need.

    While I originally scoffed at Chromebooks, I have completely changed my mind. My wife needed a small machine for email and writing reports for work, and it needed to be very portable, have long battery life and to be short on hassles. I found an ASUS with 4 GB ram, 32 GB storage, Windows 10 and a whopping 2.2 lbs for under $200 (just). What a nice little machine. I was going to have an old laptop dressed down and reformatted (it's full of bugs and I can't get it to restore or reformat myself) but that feels like throwing good money after bad and I still would have an old machine without USB 3.0, etc. You can actually find chromebooks (or their namesakes) for $150 - $175 bucks that would be a fine little music processor and lightweight machine for light use, leaving my main laptop for FTP file service and day-to-day use.

    I've also become a fan of Amazon Prime. In the last couple weeks I've bought the external hard drive, chromebook, a couple mouses, some cable, a router extender, and some miscellaneous stuff all with free shipping. And the music service is actually pretty good. When I consider the gas I'm not spending and the time I'm not wasting, plus the variety of music that easy access, the $8.33 per month is a no brainer. Looks like I'll need a Fire Stick with Kobi now too.....

    Don't get me started on Chromecast 1st Gen. What a troublesome POS.
     
  6. bryans12v

    bryans12v Marantz Junkie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,353
    Location:
    Hudson Valley, NY
    What would be really nice is if there is a way to accomplish this without having a pc or laptop involved. Maybe some type of server that can pull the files from a solid state hard drive.
     

     

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  7. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Well, that's why I went with a Chromebook. It's super light, super efficient battery-wise, and sounds very good. Plus I can use it for more. No rotating equipment, which has major benefits.
     
  8. ldatlof

    ldatlof We are all steak Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,826
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    You could use a NAS or you could plug a HDD directly into a router via USB if your router has that capability. A Raspberry Pi is a PC and is the size of a deck of cards. You could use it a server and/or player.
     
    cpt_paranoia likes this.
  9. avguytx

    avguytx AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,998
    Location:
    Central AR
    Where did you find a Chromebook pre-loaded with Windows 10? Or did someone change it over before you bought it? I know it can be done on some models (not all) but didn't think they were available for sale.
     
  10. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Amazon. $199 Asus. My wife loves it for her consulting job and I love it for streaming.
     
  11. whell

    whell AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,486
    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    Just saw this, so a bit late to the party. I went as cheap as possible on the computer / networking stuff so I could invest a bit more into the DAC. The results are really nice, I think.

    Went with a NAS that plugs directly into the router. Using this one, I can also access my music when I'm on the road via either iPhone or tablet I've got a second, older 3 TB hard drive that I use for backing up the music library.

    I use an old, beater laptop to control playback: an HP Pavilion DV2000, circa 2006, but it has more than enough computing muscle to act as a music server. I've got MX-16 Linux installed on it, and use the MPD program to manage the music library and serve up the music. The nice thing about MX-16 is that it has the Liquorix kernel available for easy installation.

    USB output from the laptop to the digital audio converter, which is a Zodiac Antelope. The DAC then inputs to my preamp.
     

     

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  12. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Central NJ
    I do Foobar on a cheap laptop. If I'm going into my HTR, I go direct HDMI. If I'm on the road with it I have a USB converter. I got an ASUS xonarU7 a while back and it works well. Capable of multichannel, a variety of outs including digital and 7.1 analog (2 main stereo are gold RCA, rest are mini jacks) and it does 24/192. I never recommend to anyone that you listen to analog from a laptop or PC motherboard, but you can get a pretty competent DAC for $100. The key for me was the earlier mentioned WASAPI component for Foobar. Without it I felt that somehow the laptop didn't quite match up to a physical disc player, I guess that was jitter. Since I installed it, my laptop sounds as good as any player in the house, and I have a couple of decent DVD players that do SACD (not bottom feeders), one Oppo and 2 Sony's.

    One other thing that helped some was using Audioquest cables for DAC and external HD. Maybe it's because the components I have are both powered by the USB, but I definitely noticed an improvement over the cheap stock cables. I went with the Forest line (or Evergreen, I forget), let's say, the green ones. I also use the green Audioquests for my turntable (RCA interconnects) and they were noticeably quieter than stock ProJect cables in terms of noise/hum.

    WASAPI driver is free, so no brainer. The cables run about $30/35 each and I needed 2 for my laptop/server but I'll say they made a tangeable difference to me. One thing I have learned so far is that good source material is only good if its gets through the system in tact, so you don't want any really weak links in the chain or the whole thing gets hurt so for a few extra bucks you just do it. I'm pretty sure no external hard drive comes with a cable worth using, but possibly some DACs do.
     
  13. jfair2

    jfair2 New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Realizing I'm late to this thread, I thought I'd go ahead and add the approach I took, since my starting point was so similar to the original poster's questions.

    1) I simply wanted to move a large legacy CD library into a FLAC-based music library on a PC.
    2) I wanted the best sound my wallet could stand

    My solution:

    1) JRiver Mediacenter software ($50)
    2) HP all-in-one PC (new) 1-TB internal, 4GB RAM, USB 2.0/3.0, bluetooth HDMI etc. ($300 new)
    3) DAC-Aracam IRDAC-II, USB, Bluetooth, coax, TOSLINK, integrated unity-gain output amp., remote control (important to me) ($800 new)
    4) Power Amp: Carver m-400 ("Cube") 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms. ($200 used)
    5) Speakers: JBL 4311 ($450 used)

    Total: $1800 (a number I could live with)

    Since I already knew the Carver/JBL 4311 combination sounded great (for my taste) the biggest challenge was in choosing the DAC. As there are SO MANY options this was tough for a newcomer. Ultimately I chose the ARCAM because I found some reviews that convinced me the sound quality would be good enough and it has the built in, remote control of volume output, and Bluetooth input. The DAC volume control is especially nice for me because I wanted the most direct possible path with the minimal number of components. Bluetooth is surprisingly nice for those occasions when you want to play (for example) a stream from your i-phone or when you're ripping a bunch of CD's and want to have the PC somewhere remote from the audio system (like the dinner table with CD stacked all over etc.) - although the sound quality via Bluetooth is noticeably inferior to the USB interface.

    Of course the bottom line is how good does all this stuff work together? Answer: REALLY WELL Since starting, I also added a 1TB external drive ($50) that I simply plug in to the PC and it automatically backs up the entire library (for safety) because I have a LOT of time invested in ripping those CDs to FLAC! I think JRIver is really nice and very much in my swim lane since I'm a bit of a "techy" and like to have ability to get under the hood at times ... JRiver let's you tinker a lot if needed and makes creating and maintaining your library very easy.

    The sound of this system is simply terrific. I was a musician in the 1970's-80's and grew up with the 4311's and just always liked the way they sounded. The Carver m-400 is (for my money) an amazing little amp and the power ratio for the 4311's is just right. So for me, the marriage of the old and new tech really worked out well.
     
  14. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,019
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Update: Since my last post I've given up on my problematic Toshiba laptop and bought a Lenovo netbook with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro, ($219 cheap,fast) to use as my main computer. Now I'm adding a Synology RT 1900 AC router that will take my 4TB MyBook external drive as a NAS-type unit. It includes a built-in VPN and the ability to be used as an FTP server. This will make my music downloads from friends with other FTP servers faster, and wireless streaming to my Lenovo when connected to my Maverick DAC much easier (no second laptop needed for the 4TB drive access). There are not a lot of wireless routers that will take a 4TB drive and no other routers that I've found that will act like an FTP. It's available right now on Amazon for an unbelievable $122.

    This will complete my transition to a completely network storage system at home. I will be backing up my non-music files to another 1TB network storage drive. My only single contingency issue is no back up for the 4TB music storage. I guess I'm going to have to find the money for a real NAS server some day.

    Once I have the new router and network storage set up, I will report back on how it's working for wireless streaming to the netbook and Maverick TubeMagic D1+, and how it sounds.
     
  15. whell

    whell AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,486
    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    Backup storage is, IMHO, a critical piece of a home music server set up. I can't imagine the nightmare that would result from losing almost 4 GB of FLAC music files due to a failed hard drive. I've got two drives connected to my router: one as a primary playback source and the other for backup. Cheaper than a "cloud" backup at this point, and it lets me sleep at night.
     
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  16. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    Messages:
    25,773
    Location:
    Athens, TN
    "Keep calm and run FreeNAS" says KT.
     

     

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  17. KrisM

    KrisM Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    10,342
    I'm assuming you meant 4 TB, but yeah, losing that would make a grown man cry.

    I know it's more cumbersome than a 'proper' NAS, but I do a backup to external drives every month, and store those off the grid(so to speak).
     
  18. KrisM

    KrisM Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    10,342
    See above.
    I'd say don't worry about money for a 'real' NAS right now, but do grab a 4TB external drive and back that music up.:thumbsup:
    I know people who have lost un-backed-up music and photos in hard drive crashes. It sucks.
     
  19. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,335
    Location:
    PODUNC USA......
    They are still dedicated PC's there is no way around using one.

    I use - DAPHILE (on an mini PC) - SMSL M8 DAC - to my stereo. I can stream from any computer as Daphile uses LMS (Logitech Media Server). Daphile is a headless system that is based on Linux but you use a web browser to configure it - don't need to understand Linux at all. It is also small. I use an Android pad to control the Daphile thru wireless. It just works.

    I have 4 backups of all my music currently (that doesn't include the hardcopies).
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    ldatlof and bryans12v like this.
  20. KrisM

    KrisM Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    10,342
    I do what Idatlof mentioned above with the HD into the router thing, except without using a Raspberry. I use iphones, pads, pods, and a tablet to playback files.
    Except for the ripping, tagging/editing, and moving onto the music hard drive stuff, no PCs or laptops are involved.
     
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