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Another Computer Audiophile story in progress

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Well,, I have been lurking on this site for a while and thought that I, like others here, would share my story of the path to whole home audio.


I have a passion for the tech toys that are available and have started to put together a ongoing project to have computer based audio files available in all rooms that have a speaker setup of some kind (even if that means currently through a TV) and would like to hear what others may think as I walk on down this fun journey.


Current setup is 5 rooms in the house that have different ways to access files that I am currently ripping from my small CD collection (approx 350 discs) using DB Poweramp to accomplish this and storing them on a Windows 7 HTPC that I built from a fun shopping day at Fry's electronics.


Two of the rooms have a home theater setup (TV, Receiver, Speakers) another room is home office with receiver and speakers along with Squeezebox Touch access to music, and the other two rooms have TV and Directv receivers which allow access to music files via their Mediashare program with output currently to the TV speakers only.


I just finished a project to have all the rooms wired with a robust Gigabit ethernet setup and all of this is connected together with a Netgear router and various Netgear switches to accomodate the growing equipment list (currently 18 devices with ethernet connectivity). So moving files around to the various devices is a snap and no wireless headaches or dropouts experienced yet.


Still experimenting with JRiver Media Center to the man cave setup (on the PC that stores all the music files) and it seems to be working to meet my needs (esp their generic DLNA setup that connected great with my OPPO 93 network player setup) but I am not sure what else I can do with this program so I am taking baby steps with it so far. Having this setup functional meant I could take the Squeezebox Touch to my office and give that setup the opportunity to play computer based music as well.. Still not sure how to hook that up to the receiver in that room to get the best music ,,hoping others here would have a thought on this subject (I can hook it up anyway it allows since the receiver there has all the ports needed).


The other rooms have other purposes to serve, but what the heck, if I can make them players in the music process, why not?

However their current access is really controlled by the very limited Directv access so far.. Not sure I want to keep it that way, but plenty of other stuff to experiment with first..


So, there it is, my little project to date.. but thinking about many other things to come.. DAC's or network players, powered speakers for the office PC ( yeah I have too much stuff) and headphones for those quiet times..


and the journey ( and hopefully my writing and your responses, ideas, etc ) will continue



an audiophile in training

Don J

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So, it's been several days since I last wrote and I have been continuing the research and experimenting to see what works and what doesn't.. My experience with DbPoweramp and J. River Media Center makes me think that I have those two choices done correctly.. although the diversity and magnitude of the options, settings and information of the two products is a full time job to get up to speed with .. I have read the reviews and comments, but I have always found, for me, that the best way is to just "do it" as the Nike ad said.




I am debating (apparently to myself since no one has joined in on this journey with me..lol) whether to replace the PC I have put together for the files that I ripped and to be a player thru Media Center when needed.. the noise level is a lot more than I anticipated and my thoughts have been to move it to another room and serve up the music from there or replace it with some smaller PC that is quieter (I still like the idea of a PC in the mancave room..whenever I want to do some research or whatever I have that capability right there with that PC)




I am not sure what other alternatives I have.. not really familiar with the Mac PC's that many folks here seem to use and like, but I guess it will be on my short list of options




When the day is done ( that is I take a rest from all the configuration and purchasing and installing tasks) it still amazes me how cool all this stuff is and how far along the industries involved (PC, music, Video, etc) have moved the bar in order to get all this equipment and software to function at all.. and I thank all of you on this website for talking about and debating how to make it even better.. because in the end, for me it's all about just sitting there and enjoying that music I have collected for so long

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The system at my home is evolving this way:




A dedicated music server stashed in the equipment closet. This machine is running the Vortexbox distribution, and has some local disk space, a USB connection, and connections to network attached disk space.




It is connected to a consumer grade network (Apple Airport Extreme) which is bridged to remote locations using Apple Airport Express units. At remote locations with more than one device, a small gigabit ethernet switch is connected to the Airport Express.




The music player currently installed in our main system is the player that was originally designated for our bedroom - a Logitech Touch. It is connected to an external DAC and thenceforth to the main system.




This makes absolutely gorgeous music. The upgrade path starts at the Sonore and SoTM players, which produce even better music.




Now, the fun part, how I add a CD to the system. I open my laptop which happens to be a Mac with XLD. It could be a PC with dbPowerAmp quite as easily. I mount the shared filesystem from the Vortexbox on my desktop, point the ripping software to the files/music/flac folder on that shared drive, and rip away.




Once ripped, I log into the Logitech Media Server control panel (which is running on the vortexbox) and tell it to rescan for new or changed music. That's it. Doesn't matter if it is high-res, CD, MP3, AAC, or TBD, the music is not available. (I have landed on ripping to ALAC with this setup.)




When I play the music, say an album ripped to ALAC, the LMS software on the big noisy server, hidden away in an equipment closet, converts the ALAC to uncompressed PCM data on the fly, and sends it to one or more Touch devices, a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC running Squeezeslave or Squeezeplay, my iPad, or any combination of the above.




As a side bonus, the music folder is mounted on the PC running JRiver Media Center, which tracks and imports, as well as plays the music from there.




My iTunes libraries are mostly pointed to the same shared network location as the media folder. That works nicely too.




Even my AppleTV and WD HD Live see the shared disk space on the Vortexbox and play movies from it.




It is evolving into a really nice integrated setup that I am quite pleased with. Still some more work to do. Consumer grade networking has to be fiddled with a bit to get the best performance from, and I need to find an acceptable substitude for the SAN/NAS storage I am using now, but it is pretty clear where it is evolving to.




I think something like that might work well for you too. Might want to consider it. It is a heck of a lot simpler than some of the alternatives. :)




Hope that gives you some thoughts to move forward with. I'm not intending to hijack your thread, I just wanted to give you some things to think about. A Mac is a good choice, but not the only alternative. Much as it pains me to say it, it is sometimes not the best alternative either. :)







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Wow.. Paul.. you seem to have a lot going on with your "journey" as well.. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and installation.. and I never intended to write this without others joining in... but happy that you are one of the first since I enjoy reading your comments elsewhere on the site




Nice to know that you find the Touch such a nice part of the equation for better music, but what DAC did you decide upon to link up with that to make it even better.. I thought that the DAC in the Touch was well spoken of.. what did you find in your research that made you purchase another piece of equipment to add to the chain??




Another question.. what NAS device have you found or are looking at to provide the file sharing??




Thanks again and I am sure I will have more questions as the "journey" continues




Don J

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So... it's been a while since I have "blogged" here.. and I thought an update and some "off the top of the head" thoughts were in order (at least order for me)


I have continued on the never ending journey to rip my CD collection (even as small as it is) and the utility of using a program like DB poweramp keeps on bringing home the benefit of "paying" for a computer program.. ripping has become second nature.. just pull out a stack of CDs and rip away (using FLAC only at this time)


I have also ventured somewhat gingerly into the world of JRiver Media Center.. again... wow.. lots of stuff to learn,but my voyage here is going just swell, especially since I found GIZMO (program being used on my 10" Toshiba Thrive Android tablet) and the world of playback has never seemed easier...


Will start experimenting with the creation(s) of playlist(s), but just now enjoying the random playback feature listening to some stuff I can't even remember that I had purchased ( and some I wished I had never bought ..lol) This again brings me back to the wild days of yore when a trip to Tower Records on South St in Philly was an adventure never to miss, not knowing what I may come home with to listen to that next week.


As to thoughts in my head.. I guess the number one thing that has been rattling around is my need to share this hobby on a more local way.. either thru a local user group (anyone know of any that are branching out into the computer music world??) or hoping to get a recommendation as to whether any of the music shows (Denver and the Rockie Mountain Audio Fest soon) have enough information to make it worth the trip..

Also, I am looking for any suggestions or places to go read what others are doing to categorize their ripped collection of music.. not sure what way I am leaning (genre, favorites, style of music, etc.) but this group here has always had some great ideas.. looking for any and all suggestions.


Enuff for the day.. thanks for reading

Don J

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