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Science project- cheap Windows 10 music server


jdjaye
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Gents, Geeks, Audiophiles, etc...

 

Dell is going to be running a $100 mini PC special on Presidents Day.

Celeron PC, 2 GB Ram, 32GB SSD, win10 home, 5"x5"x2" form factor- small enough to have a decent spousal acceptance factor.

 

Mission:

Use this cheap pc to construct a cheap, easy to use, headless music server that connects to my 2 channel system that gives me armchair access to my tunes library via my iPad.

Most of my CDs (mostly Jazz and Classical) are already ripped to Apple lossless via iTunes, roughly 300GB on my PC laptop hard drive.

 

Though I have a NAS, my LR is nowhere near my router, and I find that audio over wifi doesn't sound nearly as good to me as my CD player. (I'm sure there are those who would debate this, but let's just accept this assumption for the purpose.)

 

Hardware:

I have a midfi 2 channel system in my LR that I want to connect to.

I'm thinking to upgrade the RAM to 4GB/8GB if needed, otherwise reuse the gear I have lying around to put my iTunes library on an external USB HD. I have assorted external hard drives and 2.5 inch laptop hard drives in my old parts bin that I can use.

I will probably use an idle USB DAC I have lying around.

 

Software:

Windows 10 home, iTunes, Apple remote iOS app. Possibly Pandora and Amazon Music Apps on the PC, though controlling these from the iPad may be a challenge. I'm open to other PC media server software and iPad control apps, but I'm looking for them to be virtually free <$10. Also, I have a lot of personalized playlists set up in iTunes, so I really want to be able to access them easily.

 

Request:

I'd welcome suggestions as to how to make this project easy to set up, easy to use, and sound better wth little/no additional out of pocket expense.

Windows configuration tips would also be welcome since there is not a lot of headroom with only 2 gb ram and a celeron processor.

 

Hopefully this thread will be useful to others,

 

Thanks in advance for your help and your courteous responses.

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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Seeing as you've already got everything spec'd, from the new Windows box, Apple iTunes for playback software (especially, as you're 'tied' to it wanting to keep your existing iTunes playlists), music files needing to be located on the machine's own drive, to the Apple iOS remote app and a USB DAC that you already have, where's the actual science project/challenge?

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Seeing as you've already got everything spec'd, from the new Windows box, Apple iTunes for playback software (especially, as you're 'tied' to it wanting to keep your existing iTunes playlists), music files needing to be located on the machine's own drive, to the Apple iOS remote app and a USB DAC that you already have, where's the actual science project/challenge?

 

Maybe someone knows a better IOS app to control a Windows 10 home PC, or a streaming box with a headless iOS app that I could just plug a USB HD into with my iTunes library that would keep my playlists and metadata and playback Apple lossless?

 

Anyway, for $100 PC and a $60 USB hard drive, someone could potentially have a decent cheap music server.

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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If you want a real challenge get a Raspberry Pi. I believe there is a Win10 version that will run on it. I am thinking about picking one up just to play around with and compare to my 2 PC setup.

 

BTW, can you post a link to the $100 deal on DELL?

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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a streaming box with a headless iOS app that I could just plug a USB HD into with my iTunes library that would keep my playlists and metadata and playback Apple lossless?
Weren't you were discounting network use because you think think "audio over WiFi doesn't sound good" and a wired connection is out because of the distance?

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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BTW, can you post a link to the $100 deal on DELL?

 

Inspiron Micro Desktop

 

Enjoy!

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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Thank you. Is this box fanless? I cant tell from reading the specs.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Thank you. Is this box fanless? I cant tell from reading the specs.

 

It appears to be an Inspiron 3050. According to the manual, the 3050 has a fan and the RAM seems fairly accessible.

Theoretically, the 3050 SSD is replaceable too, but that seems more complicated.

 

Given that an OEM Win10 license costs about $90, this seems like a great deal as opposed to building a NUC from scratch.

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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Weren't you were discounting network use because you think think "audio over WiFi doesn't sound good" and a wired connection is out because of the distance?

 

I was thinking to connect the streamer box directly to my stereo or DAC, and have an external USB HD connected also.

So that would allow me to use wifi only for command/control, and all the content would be played back over physical wired connections.

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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It appears to be an Inspiron 3050. According to the manual, the 3050 has a fan and the RAM seems fairly accessible.

Theoretically, the 3050 SSD is replaceable too, but that seems more complicated.

 

Given that an OEM Win10 license costs about $90, this seems like a great deal as opposed to building a NUC from scratch.

Agreed its a great deal but that fan is a deal breaker for me. I currently use an old Acer ATOM d525 based pc for my server and it works great, aside from the fan which I cannot hear but cant help but wonder if its negatively impacting the sound. If I was to upgrade I would want something that is fanless. As for the SSD, if the Dell is anything like my Acer, it can be probably replaced by removing the motherboard.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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I was thinking to connect the streamer box directly to my stereo or DAC, and have an external USB HD connected also.

So that would allow me to use wifi only for command/control, and all the content would be played back over physical wired connections.

Oh, ok, so use this streamer box as another option, so use it instead of the cheap Windows 10 mini PC option.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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  • 7 months later...

I finally gave up on using the Dell 3050 as a cheap music server.

 

Even though I was able to upgrade both the RAm and the SSD, with windows 10 home the music via iTunes never sounded very good. Plus, the iTunes remote app on iOS 9 iPad Air was inconsistent and slow, sometimes it worked, other times I had to get up and is the monitor and mouse to get things moving.

 

I've mothballed the 3050, and used trendnet powerline extenders to connect my iTunes NAS library to Sonos Connect boxes which feed my TOSLink DAC input. 100% improvement over the cheap windows 10 server and also over a wifi Sonos implementation.

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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