Author Topic: Audio Server /Headless Audio Player/ (now with Tidal HiFidelity Streaming)  (Read 48569 times)

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Offline jambam

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Updated the title ...



Latest update is on Page 4



My Apologies for the typos and misses due to a long Post .

I intend to document my project and maybe some people may want to do the same. or have a similar need . I am not a seasoned writer so some of it maybe vague and would need further explanations . This is not a step by step thing but rather a rough guide , as you have a lot of options ,

Anyway I wanted to setup a multi room audio source and client for a long time now but it has always been set aside due to other priorities .

It is strange that I have a setup to serve my movies within my home as I have wired lan throughtout the house and have a 20TB server for my video content , and I use HTPC's and NMT's as clients to the Home theater , sala and bedrooms..
But none for pure audio since , one major block was  I did not like to have an interface that involves turning on  a TV/Monitor or projector just to play audio ,

My Requirements were

1. Single source for all my audio files.
2. Multi room
3. Flac and some mp3
4. Easy way to rip and archive
5. Stream to my HT , audio sala , bedroom , Pipe in music , smartphones and tablets
6. Higher quality output and up gradable thru DAC changes
7 Must meet my priorities and budget.

Today there are a number of solutions , like Olive , Cocktail Audio among the few  .. but they cost a lot.

For a long time now I was reading about the Logitech Squeezebox  (formerly Slim devices), I thought of buying the "Squeezebox Classic"  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeezebox_(network_music_player)#Squeezebox_Classic_.28SB3.29_.28November_2005.29  model maybe 6 to 7 years ago , It was available locally at Datacore computers and some of the TPC sellers for around 13K . Logitech  has released several models since then , the last one being the "touch" model in 2010 , and  but discontinued last year. And unfortunately I never got around to buying as HT has been my focus. Also now that it has been discontinued , a number of squeezebox replacement projects have come to light



Typical Squeezbox connection diagram


Having more time now since being Jobless since May , I started this last Jan

A.) We have a number of smartphones and Tablets in the household and looking thru the Apps for IOS and
android , I found a number of apps that would primarily be a squeezebox controller , but if you buy an in-app plugin you could also use it as a client and play your music through it .


Here are IOS apps for Squeezebox.

I downloaded LMS ( Logitech media server) http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download
into my server pc and it was easy to configure to serve my audio files. As I already had a lot of my music files residing in my PC.

With the apps in my tablet and LMS in my pc , I have a great interface and system to play my music .. I could use the line out thru the ipad/iphone connector or headphone out .. I used a 1st gen Ipad , as my kids and wife migrated to the 2nd Gen one .. Now you could purchase used 1st Gen Ipad for 8k if you so wish to follow this path .

It sounded ok , but I know it would be better if I had an outboard dac for better quality .
To connect a usb DAC to an Ipad you would have to use the Camera connection Kit , I already have one from CDRking so it was easy to try it , There was also the usb connection cable .



I tried both solutions and indeed you can get an external dac to work , I tried our Behringer UCA-202 , the Encore EMMAB , cdrking's usb audio dongle .. But the interface would time out and the music will suddenly revert  to the speaker out of the IPAD.

I thought of buying an original one but based on the internet post it seems that I even the Apple CCC has problems ..

So what we have is a remote music solution that ties up the Ipad and does not allow an outboard DAC. 

I used this for a week or 2 with an iphone/ipad feeding a headphone amp to a senn HD650

B.) Last year My son who just graduated from college  told me he was buying a raspberry pi micro-controller to experiment with . He has to, as he was purchasing thru his credit card for an internet order . and I would see it .. But It took 4 to 5 months before he was able to get it , ordered in July , arrived Nov .. Although it should be easier today, Due to the long time before it arrived I think he only played with it for a week or so and then put it aside , as now had a job .


Raspberry Pi housed in a makeshift iphone case

I saw it here in PDVD about Raspberry PI and XBMC and got curious .This one needs a psu and a 4gb SD card (class 10 would be best) and I tried out squeezeplug
http://www.squeezeplug.eu/
With squeezeplug you can have a squeezbox server and or a client . But for me I just wanted a client and choose squeezelite (still in beta at that time). It would help to have a little linux knowledge in setting up .. I really struggled in the setup , as my programming skills were really rusty.


Here is my digital audio source or networked player , it's what they would call a "headless" Squeezebox.  Headless since there is no local display interface , my interface/control resided as an app either on my smartphone or my tablet. Or I could control it thru my PC ... song selection , playlist selection . which a great search function.

Connection is Power , Ethernet and analog output from the DAC.  Wired into my audio setup . And controls on my Iphone . This is really very convenient  .

I would only need to build more of these and I could have a lot of players where I want to stream my music.


Controls as shown on an Ipad running the app "squeezepad"


Here is the control running in an iphone , an ipad and on Android (nexus 7 tablet).

Granted that we have a lot of gadgets already , what make it great is I spent additional  , emphasis on the additional  , only $5 to $8 on  apps as I was using free/demo and P180 for the cdrking usb . To get to this point.

After I had this working for a week I purchased another Raspberry PI , and now had 2 clients.

This is only the 1st part , still to follow is making it wireless , setting up another server which would rip , convert to flac , tag and download cover art automatically , and my current client.
« Last Edit: Sep 23, 2017 at 11:17 AM by jambam »

Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #1 on: Apr 13, 2013 at 04:15 PM »
Making my RPi (Raspberry Pi) wireless..

I had trouble making it wireless using "Squeezeplug" for Raspberry PI , even though there was a menu setup that would walk you thru the process , either I was using incompatible hardware and lack the skills to dwell deeper into Linux ..

I found another alternative package (software)  . This was piCorePlayer = Squeezelite on Microcore linux. .An embedded OS in RAM on Raspberry.

With piCoreplayer I was able to make my Rpi Wireless . And with it I learned how to name my Squeezebox clients individually . Setting up is not user friendly at all ,as you need to work thru a terminal emulator and ediit using a very old style editor .   You have to hardcode the name of your router (SSid) and password  too. But it was a great learning experience and challenge .



Headphone setup ...

Actually you can also do a mobile setup for Headphones thru

Mobile Power Bank to power the RPi and a USB dac w/ headphone amp e.g. Fiio E17  . This allows you to have access to your complete music library within your home

Now with the info from the above you can set this up ..


Modern House Audio Setup and Control over Ethernet


A. Cat 6 ethernet wire connects all wiredstations, wired sqeezeboxes and wireless access points.
B. Desktop computers store family member'smusic files.
C. A wireless squeezebox hooked up withlow-end powered speakers provides music just about anywhere it's wanted, and can be controlled on location with the remote or with a laptop.
D. One of the desktops (or it could bea laptop) runs the web server which controls all the squeezeboxes. Any computer on the network can access this server and play music to any squeezebox.
E. Wireless access points provide wirelesssignal.
F. A wired squeezebox with good poweredspeakers can deliver surprisingly good quality audio.
G. A laptop that can connect to the housenetwork can control the music either by accessing the squeezebox server software with any browser. Or a smartphone/tablet  with the appropriate  remote control app
H. For the highest quality sound, feed the high-end receiver/preamp  with the digital out from the squeezebox.


For a squeezebox replacement you can use ..

 1. A Smartphone/Tablet  w/ a squeezebox client app ( Squeezecast for IOS $0.99) , (Squeezeplayer for Android $4.99)

The Line out from an Ipod touch /Iphone /Ipad using a dock or a 30 pin to rca connector pictured below
is quite good quality


This would be a good recylcing idea for old gen IOS devices just like waht I did for my 1st gen Ipad.  You can consider buying older gen IOS devices as a cost effective squeezebox alternative

2. For higher SQ the RPi alternative w/ a good DAC would be the way to go . Cost for the Rpi, Case , Power Supply and SD card  would be in the P4K range . That excludes the Dac .  The USB Dac would be the biggest cost variable .
« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2013 at 12:39 AM by jambam »

Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #2 on: Apr 13, 2013 at 04:16 PM »
Now that I have a working setup ..based on LMS (logitech Media Server) , I search the internet for server alternatives , and there was a lot ,

1. Add on to existing pc
2 Install on a supported NAS
3 A raspberry pi with squeezeplug connected to a usb Harddisk as an always on very low power server...
4. Various Linux implementations.

I choose a linux implementation that could run an a not too old PC with the ff requirements . A pentium 3 will work .. So I chose vortexbox


 " Cut and paste from the website"

About VortexBox
VortexBox is a free, open source (GPL v3), quick-install ISO that turns your unused computer into an easy-to-use music server/jukebox. Once VortexBox has been loaded on an unused PC, it will automatically rip CDs to FLAC and MP3 files, ID3 tag the files , and download the cover art. Vortexbox will then serve the files to network media players such as Logitech Squeezebox, Sonos, or Linn. The music files can also be streamed to a Windows or Mac OSX system.

Features

Automatic ripping of CDs and DVDs
Based on Fedora so it’s easy to modify.
Automatically tags all files from online music database.
Automatically downloads the cover art.
Automatic sharing of file to SMB (Microsoft) file shares.
Automatic re-indexing Squeezebox Server after every CD is ripped.
AppleTalk – for OSX or Bonjour for Windows.
NFS – For Linux boxes and almost anything else, Solaris etc.
DLNA support – Play music and video DLNA enabled players, XBOX 360,PS3, Windows 7 etc.
Easy installation of mplayer for AlienBBC support.
Good support for Sonos.
Works well as a back end server for XBMC (XBOX Media Center) running on XBOX, Windows, OSX, AppleTV, or Linux.



My vortexbox server ..  IT's actually a resurrected 10 to 11 year old pc , athon XP single core processor ,still having an IDE interface for drives  .. I just had the thing cleaned and installled a cheap PCI to SATA interface so I could use modern drives , and  I have a nice looking media server that can automatically RIP , TAG and get album ART for my CD's

I only installed the monitor once to installl the software and now it's running with just a Lan cable attached . It can also be a player ,using your smartphone as a controller .

If you take time to checkout the vortexbox website , you can see some serious implemetations by 3rd party vendors .

Example is http://shop.smallgreencomputer.com/SOtM_c6.htm   $2.7K but you can build one for a lot ,lot less.

Here is a review    Digital Playback - VortexBox vs CMP Cplay vs Sonos ZP90
http://2channelaudio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/digital-playback-vortexbox-vs-cmp-cplay.html


If you read the website you might see the VAMP , which I also built ..


The Pink thing is a pogoplug device w/c I converted to a headless squeezebox client , connected via lan cable to my vortexbox , control is remote via smartphone or tablet .. USB dac is an emotiva xda-1.
This is a more cost effective solution than a raspberry pi

« Last Edit: Apr 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM by jambam »

Offline timber715

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #3 on: Apr 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM »
Might be better if this goes to the gallery since it highlights your system.

Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #4 on: Apr 14, 2013 at 05:59 PM »
Might be better if this goes to the gallery since it highlights your system.
Thanks but I would leave that to the mods , an end result of this is I would need help in making this sound as good as practical and would need assistance later from members with much better ears than I have .

Questions I hope we can answer for this particular setup would be

1. Sound quality effect on wireless vs wired network connection
2. Dac recommendation
3. Is this a good enough alternative , for us to disconnect our cd players , I know for me it is but maybe not for others.
4 etc ...
« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2013 at 12:50 AM by jambam »

Offline JoeyGS

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #5 on: Apr 27, 2013 at 02:22 PM »
Am using a vortex box system and can safely say that its SQ is at par with good CD players. Fan less system with power filtering is the way to go if you want good SQ. But if you only need background music, you can dispense with it.

A good USB Dac is the simplest way to go due to its USB connectivity to computer devices.  Recommended low price usb dacs that i have encountered are hrt streamer, Superpro, Wyred4sound udac, Musiland 01US & 03US and upcoming Hiface dac.

Now I am ready to put my CD player at the sidelines.



Thanks but I would leave that to the mods , an end result of this is I would need help in making this sound as good as practical and would need assistance later from members with much better ears than I have .

Questions I hope we can answer for this particular setup would be

1. Sound quality effect on wireless vs wired network connection
2. Dac recommendation
3. Is this a good enough alternative , for us to disconnect our cd players , I know for me it is but maybe not for others.
4 etc ...

Offline timber715

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #6 on: Apr 27, 2013 at 10:22 PM »
Am using a vortex box system and can safely say that its SQ is at par with good CD players. Fan less system with power filtering is the way to go if you want good SQ. But if you only need background music, you can dispense with it.

A good USB Dac is the simplest way to go due to its USB connectivity to computer devices.  Recommended low price usb dacs that i have encountered are hrt streamer, Superpro, Wyred4sound udac, Musiland 01US & 03US and upcoming Hiface dac.

Now I am ready to put my CD player at the sidelines.
Joey, pa pm naman magkano nga kuha mo nung vortex box... Hehehe
As for cd player, sold mine almost a year ago na...

Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #7 on: Apr 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM »
Joey , Tama ba your vortexbox is also your player . 

On mine I use it only as a server , yun players ko are squeezebox replacements ..




Offline JoeyGS

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #8 on: Apr 28, 2013 at 12:28 AM »
The vortexbox comes with the Logitech Squeezebox server when installed.  The player can be run remotely via computer or laptop.  I also use squeezepad app for my iPad to control the player.

Joey , Tama ba your vortexbox is also your player . 

On mine I use it only as a server , yun players ko are squeezebox replacements ..





Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #9 on: Apr 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM »
My Squeezebox clients / Players have arrived






No choice sa colors ...




2 USB dacs  with ES9023  Sabre Dac chip + Tenoe TE7022L usb reciever  (hifiME) same  chipset witn nwavguys's  ODAC  ... Difference one is usb powered while  the other one  requires  a  separate power supply .

http://www.head-fi.org/products/hifimediy-sabre-usb-dac

 I am almost certain I wont be able to differentiate the difference in sound between the 2 . But certainly others can.. Out of curiousity and future experiments I bought both versions  .. Also both of them can be used as converters (usb to spdif /coax). For use with other dacs that dont have usb input.

Using 2 to 4 players syncronized and level matched feeding an analog preamp  should allow an objective comparison of dacs . A setup to compare The 2 versions of sabre dacs would make it possible to determine the benefit of a separate psu for usb  dacs .


And  finally got wireless working last night for the pogoplug so setup na lang , I will post completed setups once done maybe that should go sa gallery nga 
« Last Edit: Apr 28, 2013 at 03:05 PM by jambam »

Offline audi

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #10 on: Apr 28, 2013 at 01:14 PM »
Very nice sir Ed. Congrats.

Offline JoeyGS

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #11 on: Apr 28, 2013 at 11:41 PM »
Where did you source the pogoplug?

Offline jambam

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #12 on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:02 AM »
Where did you source the pogoplug?

In the US thru my brother .. There are a number of hardware revisions of the pogoplug , you need to find the E02 version otherwise you can't convert  to a headless squeezebox clients/ player.
« Last Edit: Apr 29, 2013 at 05:54 AM by jambam »

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013 at 04:27 PM »
Here's a diagram of my Multi room Audio Setup




My Brother has a spotify account (a commercial streaming service) and it works very well with squeezebox , I can have access to his account as long as only one person is using it at any time .


Acessing Spotify's Top 100 R&B tracks , while playing my own playlist

« Last Edit: May 02, 2013 at 05:26 PM by jambam »

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013 at 05:00 PM »
Thanks for posting Sir, very informative, I'm planning to setup my audio steaming gears as well (by using the apple airport express naman), and just convert all my cd's to flac or lossless format. This will make it more convienient as all controls would be wireless na. :) very nice setup and more power.

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013 at 06:58 PM »
Thanks for posting Sir, very informative, I'm planning to setup my audio steaming gears as well (by using the apple airport express naman), and just convert all my cd's to flac or lossless format. This will make it more convienient as all controls would be wireless na. :) very nice setup and more power.

Thank you also ... I think the Apple route maybe more user friendly but native support of flac is not implemented although there are workarounds for it . Also I wanted to minimize my cost for my setup and be able to dictate the dac I would use via usb hence my decision to follow this route .

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2013 at 04:09 PM »
Is your sala and home theater set-up wired into your vortexbox?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013 at 04:26 PM by JoeyGS »

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2013 at 06:21 PM »
Is your sala and home theater set-up wired into your vortexbox?


Yes they are, my vortexbox is primarily the  audio server ,My music collection is stored only on the vortex box ,  of course i can also use it as a player   but its located with my other PC's  ..

You should use your vortex box too ,  to connect other clients like squeezebox to play your music in other locations in your home , actually puwede rin nya I serve yun music mo kahit saan ka may internet , at a friends house for example if parehong excellent internet connection nyo (e.g.) PLDT Fber
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013 at 07:11 PM by jambam »

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2013 at 08:52 PM »
So i can use my iphone on a dock connected to a stereo system to use the music files on the vortex box via wifi?

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2013 at 09:53 PM »

bookmarking.
˙ ˙ ˙ ɯɐp - ıp - ɯɐp - ıp - ɯɐp

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2013 at 11:04 PM »
So i can use my iphone on a dock connected to a stereo system to use the music files on the vortex box via wifi?

Connect your vortexbox to your router thru the lan (ethernet) cable  , and then

Download the app "squeezecast" $0.99 on your iphone ,  squeezecast should discover your vortexbox and play your files thru your iphone. just make sure your're connected to the same router via wireless

Alternatively you can get the app "Ipeng " $10 which is really a much better remote app and do an in app purchase of the playback option (another $5)

You now have a squeezebox player ......streaming music from your vortexbox .

Its the same deal for Ipad .. For android get the "squezzer" app .

We have a sony clock radio w/ a dock connector . And sometimes connect an ipod touch or iphone , but the music comes from the vortexbox.

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2013 at 05:08 AM »
Great! Thanks.

Connect your vortexbox to your router thru the lan (ethernet) cable  , and then

Download the app "squeezecast" $0.99 on your iphone ,  squeezecast should discover your vortexbox and play your files thru your iphone. just make sure your're connected to the same router via wireless

Alternatively you can get the app "Ipeng " $10 which is really a much better remote app and do an in app purchase of the playback option (another $5)

You now have a squeezebox player ......streaming music from your vortexbox .

Its the same deal for Ipad .. For android get the "squezzer" app .

We have a sony clock radio w/ a dock connector . And sometimes connect an ipod touch or iphone , but the music comes from the vortexbox.

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2013 at 05:09 AM »
When you are ready, let's set it up!

bookmarking.

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2013 at 09:43 AM »
Update guys, just finished setting up my apple airport express using airtunes software (got the 1st gen, read about the newer ver. having a lot of problems disconnecting after a few songs) last weekend works great, now all I have to do is rip my cd's, since I'm forced to use I tunes I'll be saving my files as wave files. :) I haven't tried the remote app for our Ipad yet just finished downloading the software.

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2013 at 12:22 PM »
Chart updated for clarity





Controller Screen



« Last Edit: May 09, 2013 at 03:03 PM by jambam »

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2013 at 08:55 PM »
When you are ready, let's set it up!


got that, will definitely consult.  will not get into much audiophile complications though.  can manage with 320kbps compression.  should be good enough for me.

will let you know bro joey!  thanks very mucho!

thank you too to bro jambam for starting this thread.  long overdue...
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013 at 08:55 PM by ǝʞɐɾ ʎzzɐɾ »
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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2013 at 05:13 PM »
Hi Jake If you plan to use LMS/ Squeezebox , baka may kakilala ka na may Spotify ( internet music streaming) account , kung mayroon suggest ko na i setup mo at integrate with your system .. You will be glad you did

Offline ǝʞɐɾ ʎzzɐɾ

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2013 at 06:44 AM »

am getting really excited with this.  thanks very much chief!
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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2013 at 07:19 AM »
Jambam, are your video and audio sources powered on 24/7? I have a crude set up using a shuttle XPC as source using itunes as my streaming software via twonky.  Clients are Denon S32s scattered around the house via wired connections and Ethernet over Power cables.  What streaming software are you using?

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Re: My journey to my multi room audio setup
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM »
Jambam, are your video and audio sources powered on 24/7? I have a crude set up using a shuttle XPC as source using itunes as my streaming software via twonky.  Clients are Denon S32s scattered around the house via wired connections and Ethernet over Power cables.  What streaming software are you using?

Not 24/7 , I shutdown when  i know there is going to be significant time no one will be using it .  But a lot more on than off.

Your xpc is similar to mine , but yours maybe newer , the one i use is more than 15 yrs old and was already kept in storage maybe 4 yrs . The only update i did to recycle it was to add a pci to sata card , so that i can  use  modern drives with higher storage  capacity . And this is more than adequate to meet its purpose . The nice aluminum case is a bonus .

Wow denon s32 clients ..... My total system incremental cost is less than one of these ..

I use logitech media server ( squeezebox server) for. My music files ..As itis just a service running in the vortexbox . The files are accessible by any number of clients , lms just organizes access .

Rgds ..
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM by jambam »