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    The Computer Audiophile

    Streaming & Local Content Through HQPlayer - A Nice Alternative With The sonicTransporter

     

     

    Many of us have enjoyed HQPlayer's digital signal processing over the years, but have been less than satisfied with the remote control options. Fairly recent remote options named HQPDcontrol v4 and HQPWV (HQPlayer Web Viewer) have made and continue to make great strides. I use both of these options frequently and love to see the developers interacting with the Audiophile Style community to make each product even better. Perhaps some day they'll charge for their apps, and we can all show our appreciation by throwing some money their way. 

     

    Audiophiles who only play local content from a hard drive can certainly use the aforementioned apps and call it a day. HQPlayer will scan their libraries and the remote apps will enable really nice library browsing and song selection. However, many of us also stream from Qobuz and Tidal. To date, there is no way to add a streaming service to HQPlayer or one of the remote applications. What's an audiophile to do? The answer lies in a combination of UPnP/DLNA and HQPLayer Embedded.

     

    Note: Some people will undoubtedly suggest, "just use Roon." Well, that's one option but it presumes that everyone wants to use Roon. That's an incorrect presumption, as no single product offers a solution for every listener. 

     


    Options

     

    There are many ways to accomplish almost everything in HiFi. I tried several potential solutions when researching this article and settled on one that is the easiest, offers support for any issues that may arise, and is a solution I'd actually use every day. I'll attempt to detail both the recommended solution and some of the stuff I tried over the last several weeks. This will enable readers to make their own decisions and understand why I recommend what I recommend and if they wish to tackle some of the hands-on issues with the other solutions. 

     

    Goals

    1. Streaming content from Qobuz, Tidal, and local files from NAS or hard drive through HQPlayer. 
    2. A nice looking and very usable interface for remote control.
    3. Simplicity in setup and daily use. 

     


    Recommended Solution

     

    Playing local content through HQPlayer is a simple task, but to route Qobuz and Tidal through HQP requires a little different setup. Trust me it's very easy and doesn't require jumping though unsupported hoops. The first requirement is using HQPlayer embedded because it can receive audio via UPnP/DLNA as an input. HQPlayer Desktop doesn't have this option and will not work. In order to send audio via UPnP/DLNA to HQPlayer Embedded we need a UPnP/DLNA server and a UPnP/DLNA control point. 

     

    The Small Green Computer sonicTransporter is my recommended solution because it accomplishes the above goals by combining both HQPlayer Embedded and MinimServer as the UPnP/DLNA server into a single component. Rounding out my recommendations is the forthcoming UPnP/DLNA control point application JPLAY for iOS. 

     

    The SGC sonicTransporter starts at $999 and gets reasonably more expensive as one increases processing horsepower, network isolation, and solid state storage. The specific version I used for this article is the $3,499 sonicTransporter i9 Optical with a 4TB SSD. When the Transporter arrived I and installed HQPlayer Embedded and MinimServer with a couple clicks of the mouse. Both are options, among several others, accessed via the web interface. I also copied a few terabytes of music to the internal Transporter SSD, then proceeded to setup HQPlayer and direct MinimServer to the local SSD to scan the music. 

     

     

    sonicTransporter.jpg

     

     

     

    Outputting audio to my DAC was done two different ways. I connected a USB DAC directly to the USB output of the Transporter as a test, to make sure it worked for those who wish to go this route. It worked perfectly. Most of my testing was done using the Sonore signatureRendu SE optical as an HQPlayer NAA endpoint. I connected both the Rendu and Transporter to my network switch via fiber optic cables. I'm not a fan of connecting the Rendu directly to the Transporter via fiber cable because of potential multi-homed network issues, but I know many audiophiles who set it up via direct connection and love it. No judgement here, I just prefer one way over the other. 

     

    Other than the standard HQPlayer setup, selecting filters and an output device, nothing needs to be done with respect to selecting an input. HQPlayer Embedded automatically advertises itself as a UPnP/DLNA renderer and accepts audio via UPnP/DLNA whenever it's sent. The only thing to do once HQPe and MinimServer are setup is to select a UPnP/DLNA control point. 

     

    JPLAY for iOS is easily the best control point app I've used to date. JPLAY for iOS combines Qobuz, Tidal, and local content in a single interface in addition to offering excellent features such as album info and artist bios, links within the app to other content from each artist, record label filters (think displaying only ECM content etc...), among many others I've yet to discover on my own. Searching each streaming service and local content can be done individually or combined into a single search. The user interface is beautiful and very easy to use. One of the extremely audiophile features in this app is the ability to adjust what's called polling time. This can be set to a maximum level, so once albums/tracks are selected for playback, the app is completely silent. It doesn't send any network traffic to the server or renderer. 

     

    JPLAY iOS App 01.jpg

     

    JPLAY iOS App 02.jpg JPLAY iOS App 04.jpg JPLAY iOS App 06.jpg

     

    JPLAY iOS App 07.jpg JPLAY iOS App 03.jpg JPLAY iOS App 05.jpg

     

     

     

    This combination of HQPlayer Embedded & MinimServer on the sonicTransporter and JPLAY for iOS on my iPad Pro is fantastic. There are certainly some issues to be worked out in the JPLAY control point app, but it's still in closed beta. Using the JPLAY app on iOS to send audio to other renderers in my system was flawless. For example, I set an opticalRendu into DLNA mode and used the same MinimServer install on the sonicTransporter with great success. I think the little issues revolve around HQPlayer Embedded's use of Rygel as the UPnP/DLNA rendering software and its interaction with the JPLAY for iOS app. 

     

    As a temporary solution, until JPLAY for iOS is released, listeners can use the mconnect app as a control point. I don't wish this on my worst enemy, but many people use it and are OK with it. Some people use one of the HQP apps such as HQPDcontrol v4 or HQPWV for local content, then switch to mconnect for streaming audio only. This is an option, but it seems so primitive. Like something we'd do in 1998 :~)

     


    Possible Showstopper

     

    One issue that may be a showstopper for people is inconsistency of gapless playback. No matter what people say about gapless playback and the control point being what determines whether or not gapless audio works, my research definitively indicates gapless playback depends on the interaction between the control point, server, and renderer. All three matter. This gapless issue isn't unfixable though. Simon from MinimServer asked me to send him some logs because he has an idea about hat may be causing this issue. Hopefully this can be resolved. 

     


    Bits and Bytes I Tried

     

    The gapless issue mentioned above is what caused me the most headaches. Not because I listen to a ton of music that requires gapless playback, but because I wanted to find a solution to the issue. Here are some of the solutions I tried and what I found. 

     

    I installed Ubuntu 20.04 on my CAPS Twenty computer, then installed HQPlayer Embedded and MinimSever manually. This enabled me to connect to the server and test many things via command line. No matter what I did, I couldn't get gapless working with HQPe and MinimServer on this install either. I also put HQP OS on this machine and Minim on my NAS, but the results were the same. 

     

    One benefit of running Ubuntu 20.04, with a manual install of the apps, is that I could install the NVIDIA drivers for CUDA offload within HQP. 

     

    On my Ubuntu 20.04 installation I also tried Asset UPnP and MiniDLNA as UPnP/DLNA servers. I couldn't connect to Asset via the JPLAY iOS app, but was able to get with mconnect. Gapless didn't work with Asset and HQPe whether on the same machine or split with Asset running on my NAS. Surprisingly, MiniDLNA worked every time. Yes gapless audio from MiniDLNA (version 1.3 with DSD enabled), sending the audio to HQPe and JPLAY as the control point worked great. However, MiniDLNA server was terrible on all other respects such as speed, album art, search, etc... I suggest this solution only to the most hardcore gapless fans. 

     

    Another interesting solution was using the built-in QNAP DLNA server. This surprised me even more than MiniDLNA because it was also gapless. Using JPLAY on iOS to select audio on my QNAP NAS running the built-in Multimedia Console and streaming add-on, and sending it to HQPe, worked every time. Unfortunately, I don't even recommend this as a solution for gapless freaks. The usability with any control app I tried was horrific. 

     

    Attempting to outsmart myself, I installed BubbleUPnP on the sonicTransporter (it's one of the easily installable options), because Bubble makes a UPnP/DLNA renderer into an OpenHome renderer. I thought this may be the solution to my gapless issue and be an awesome all-in-one (HQPe, MinimSever, BubbleUPnP all on the sonicTransporter). Nope. No gapless in this configuration either. One nice part about this was that I could test the Lumin and Linn Kazoo apps for control, but neither of them gave me gapless either. 

     


    Wrap Up

    Running both streaming and local content through HQPlayer using UPnP/DNA as an alternative to Roon is definitely doable. I've been doing it for weeks and really like it. The easiest and best way to do this for most audiophiles is to use a Small Green Computer sonicTransporter. The Transporter can house both MinimServer and HQPlayer Embedded on a single box, and SGC can provide support if people run into issues along the way. I've known SCG's founder Andrew Gillis for many years and can attest to his knowledge, skills, and customer service. He knows what he is doing and works hard to make sure his customers are satisfied. 

     

    I'll send back the sonicTransporter i9 Optical in the next day or so because the last thing I need around here is another server. If I didn't have CAPS Twenty, I'd buy the transporter in a heartbeat. The i9 ran HQPlayer upsampling to DSD256 using poly sync short MP filters, the ASDM7EC modulator, and 65,000 tap convolution filters without a hiccup. This little machine is much more powerful than it appears and it looks much better in person than in photos. 

     

    Given that I have CPS Twenty, I am running HQP OS on the NVMe drive, MinimServer 2 on my QNAP NAS, and the JPLAY iOS control point on my iPad Pro. This is a slick solution. I can update HQP OS by booting from the other NVMe into Windows, and using Balena Etcher to write the latest version of HQP OS to the HQP OS NVMe drive. Then I reboot and I'm all good. 

     

    I highly recommend the sonicTransporter for everyone who has no interest in installing an operating system or writing an image to a USB/SSD drive.  The transporter is just so simple and works so well. It's a no-brainer. 


     

     

     

    More info:

    sonicTransporter

    HQPlayer

    MinimServer

    JPLAY

     

     

     




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    Hi Chris,

    thank you for this interesting article. Looking for Roon alternative option for a while, but rather Windows/Linux/ Android based.

    If I understand correctly, you offered two ways of installing the "basics" (HQP emb/Minimserver2), using off-the-shelf hardware/software from SGC (perhaps not really OtS,  though different from homebuild music server many members may already have) or an Linux installation on existing hardware.
    Q: Is there an image of the SO software available for installation on existing hardware?
     

    You described BubbleUPnP as a prerequisite for using Lumin software, I have heard that Minimserver and Lumin work quite well together.
    Q: Perhaps this is only the case if you have Lumin hardware intergrated?
    The playstore info for Lumin's Android App isn't really encouraging., I'd noticed.

    Q: Is there a reasonable controlpoint software alternative outside the IOS environment, perhaps on Android ?


     

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    Chris, this is great! Thanks for working this out for us. I was able very quickly to get Qobuz streaming to HQPe on my sonic Transporter, using the mconnect app. Works great, sounds great. I don’t mind living in (this version of) 1998 until JPLAY for iOS is released! Roon is now relegated to the mono networked speakers in my living room, kitchen and spare bedroom. Since I have a lifetime Roon license, I am fine with that limited use for Roon. 

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    1 hour ago, DuckToller said:

    Hi Chris,

    thank you for this interesting article. Looking for Roon alternative option for a while, but rather Windows/Linux/ Android based.

    If I understand correctly, you offered two ways of installing the "basics" (HQP emb/Minimserver2), using off-the-shelf hardware/software from SGC (perhaps not really OtS,  though different from homebuild music server many members may already have) or an Linux installation on existing hardware.
    Q: Is there an image of the SO software available for installation on existing hardware?
     

    You described BubbleUPnP as a prerequisite for using Lumin software, I have heard that Minimserver and Lumin work quite well together.
    Q: Perhaps this is only the case if you have Lumin hardware intergrated?
    The playstore info for Lumin's Android App isn't really encouraging., I'd noticed.

    Q: Is there a reasonable controlpoint software alternative outside the IOS environment, perhaps on Android ?


     

     

    Hi Tom, yes, there is an image from @Miska (link). it can run off a thumb drive or you can install it to an SSD/NVMe like I do. Then you'd need to put a DLNA server on something else because this image can't really be altered without major effort. 

     

    BubbleUPnP makes the Rygel / HQPe renderer appear in the Lumin app. MinimServer always appears in the Lumin app and other apps. 

     

    Others will have to chime in on a control point for Android. When my last Android tablet and phone died, I never replaced them. I need to do that though. 

     

    @Ran do you know of a good Android control point?

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    1 minute ago, Ran said:

     

    BubbleUPnP - This is the Swiss Army knife of all DLNA / Chromecast / OpenHome apps (May be too complicated for beginners)

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bubblesoft.android.bubbleupnp


    Fidata - Works well with DLNA & OpenHome but no streaming services

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.iodata.fidata

     

    Lumin - Supports OpenHome as well as Tidal / Qobuz 

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.luminmusic.lumincontroller


    Hi-Fi Cast - Works well with DLNA no streaming services

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.findhdmusic.app.upnpcast

     

    Kazoo - Supports OpenHome as well las Tidal / Qobuz 

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.linn.kazoo2


    Mconnect -  Supports DLNA & Chromecast as well as Tidal / Qobuz

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.conversdigitalpaid

    Thanks!

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    22 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Hi Tom, yes, there is an image from @Miska (link). it can run off a thumb drive or you can install it to an SSD/NVMe like I do. Then you'd need to put a DLNA server on something else because this image can't really be altered without major effort. 

    Thank you for the reply, Chris !
    I've meant to ask if there is an image of the Sonic Transporter software (for Intel boards), but I typed SO instead ST, which may have provoked som misunderstanding. Possibly with a license fee ?
    Did you use the SGC i9 with local storage only or as well with your QNAP NAS as media source ?
    Thanks, Tom

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    3 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

    Thank you for the reply, Chris !
    I've meant to ask if there is an image of the Sonic Transporter software (for Intel boards), but I typed SO instead ST, which may have provoked som misunderstanding. Possibly with a license fee ?
    Did you use the SGC i9 with local storage only or as well with your QNAP NAS as media source ?
    Thanks, Tom

    Ah, no worries. 

     

    I don't believe there are images of sT anymore. 

     

    I had the i9 with internal storage. I also connected it to my NAS as a test. Works well. 

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    The Squeezebox Server (Logitech Media Server) on the sonicTransporter should also make a good Roon alternative & work with HQPe (via the UPnP/DLNA Bridge LMS plugin):

     

     

    @Miska also mentioned that someone managed to get HQPe gapless working with it (but gapless would likely not work with MinimServer):

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/30983-hqplayer-linux-desktop-and-hqplayer-embedded/?do=findComment&comment=1112294

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    3 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

    The Squeezebox Server (Logitech Media Server) on the sonicTransporter should also make a good Roon alternative & work with HQPe (via the UPnP/DLNA Bridge LMS plugin):

     

     

    @Miska also mentioned that someone managed to get HQPe gapless working with it (but gapless would likely not work with MinimServer):

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/30983-hqplayer-linux-desktop-and-hqplayer-embedded/?do=findComment&comment=1112294

    Which control app do you recommend for a setup using LMS?

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    LMS's built-in web browser controller, enhanced by the Material Skin and the Music & Artist Information LMS plugins.

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    Just now, Cebolla said:

    LMS's built-in web browser controller, enhanced by the Material Skin and the Music & Artist Information LMS plugins.

    Ah. That’s a no-go for me. Happy that others enjoy it though. 

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    The iPeng app is supposed to be the go to controller for LMS on iOS - no idea if the Music & Artist Information LMS plugin works with it though, as I only have Android handheld devices.

     

    Fortunately, for those of us using Android, the Material Skin plugin's developer has also provided a webview wrapper app for a seamless web browser controller:

    https://github.com/CDrummond/lms-material-app/releases

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    1 hour ago, bibo01 said:

    Would BubbleUPNP control HQPembedded and MinimServer with no gapless?

    I’m not sure as I’d have to test on Android and both my tablet and Pixel phone are dead. 

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    17 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I’m not sure as I’d have to test on Android and both my tablet and Pixel phone are dead. 

    Thanks.

    I hope @stefano_mbp intervenes in this discussion because he also had a lot of experience in Embedded/MinimServer/gapless, contacting both developers about it and son on...

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    1 minute ago, bibo01 said:

    Thanks.

    I hope @stefano_mbp intervenes in this discussion because he also had a lot of experience in Embedded/MinimServer/gapless, contacting both developers about it and son on...

    That would be great!

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    3 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Which control app do you recommend for a setup using LMS?

    I am using iPeng and I am really happy with it.  I understand that Orange Squeeze works well on android.  I will have to try it this week.  I will demo some of this soon!  Maybe on YouTube live.

     

    There is also an app for ipad called “Squeezepad” that feels pretty good.

     

     

    You can also install Jivelite on the endpoints and use a touch screen… (GEEKY hardware alert)

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    6 minutes ago, botrytis said:

    Orange Squeeze is a nice product. I use it with my Daphile system.

    Update Daphile for the ZeroTier vulnerability. 

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    Why I couldn't find Jplay in app store from iphone or ipad? Did it release?

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    12 hours ago, Ran said:

     

    BubbleUPnP - This is the Swiss Army knife of all DLNA / Chromecast / OpenHome apps (May be too complicated for beginners)

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bubblesoft.android.bubbleupnp


    Fidata - Works well with DLNA & OpenHome but no streaming services

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.iodata.fidata

     

    Lumin - Supports OpenHome as well as Tidal / Qobuz 

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.luminmusic.lumincontroller


    Hi-Fi Cast - Works well with DLNA no streaming services

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.findhdmusic.app.upnpcast

     

    Kazoo - Supports OpenHome as well as Tidal / Qobuz 

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.linn.kazoo2


    Mconnect -  Supports DLNA & Chromecast as well as Tidal / Qobuz

     

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.conversdigitalpaid

    Only Bubble UPnP & Mconnect have full Tidal/Qobuz implementation. Other options will not work with Tidal/Qobuz if renderer doesn't support Tidal/Qobuz. 

     

    A workaround is using BubbleUPnP server between control point and renderer. 

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    9 hours ago, bibo01 said:

    Is there going to be an Android version of JPlay app? @Marcin_gps

    @The Computer AudiophileWould BubbleUPNP control HQPembedded and MinimServer with no gapless?

    Android version is not planned at the moment. JPLAY app is a native iOS app which is why it works so smooth. 

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    Hello Chris, 

     

    you are using MinimServer, but is it possible to use JPlay Femto instead to stream to HQPlayer Embedded? So JPlay Femto and the control point application JPLAY for iOS from the same company. Streaming from Qobuz and Tidal and playing local content. Or am I overlooking something?

     

    Robert

     

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