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Questions related to Plex/Kodi & support for USB DAC


tja1
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Hi all,

 

I have spent quite a bit of time researching this and find a lot of questions, but no answers to date.

 

System components:

-Qnap TS-251 (music files are FLAC, well organized and properly tagged)

(connected via USB output directly to Dacmagic)

-Dacmagic Plus

(connected via unbalanced outputs to Azur 551r)

-CA Azur 551R

-Paradigm Studio 40v2

 

Questions:

- What is a simple, effective SW based music serving solution which will stream music via setup above from NAS to DAC?

- As noted above, files are FLAC, looking for CD quality media streamed to DAC via USB

- Ideally want to be able to use mobile device to control media and stream to the system setup above, is this possible?

- Note I am using NAS for music as I don't want to be constrained to having to access HTPC via (TV & Logitech bluetooth remote) to control music.

- Have downloaded Plex but cannot figure out how to identify, and direct music to stream to DM+ via USB interface. Is this even possible?

- Can Kodi accomplish this?

- If not Plex or Kodi, then what is recommended solution?

 

Other thoughts:

- I am using HTPC to store & stream movies through the same system (less DAC) via HDMI thru Azur to TV and sound system.

- Using XMBC for the media server in this instance, thus Kodi would seem to be attractive option.

 

Appreciate assistance with this.

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I will let QNAP NAS experts to answer your questions.

 

I'm jumping in just to suggest you an inexpensive but IMO high quality "plan B":

1) add a raspberry Pi3 in the chain

2) install Moode Audio on the raspberry (or RuneAudio or Volumio)

3) connect the Raspberry to the DacMagic Plus directly via USB output (you can add a USB regen if you want, but this will bring price up)

4) configure Moode Audio to use your NAS as music source (to strema music from the NAS)

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I will let QNAP NAS experts to answer your questions.

 

I'm jumping in just to suggest you an inexpensive but IMO high quality "plan B":

1) add a raspberry Pi3 in the chain

 

For audio playback, consider alternatives like the Odroid C2. It has a better design for streaming where the USB port and network port are separate and not on the same bus. It is also faster.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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For audio playback, consider alternatives like the Odroid C2. It has a better design for streaming where the USB port and network port are separate and not on the same bus. It is also faster.

 

I admit I don't have direct experience on Odroid C2, but I'm curious.

I understand all considerations about hardware, but what about software?

I know RuneAudio distribution is available for Odroid. Are there other options? Thanks

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Questions:

- What is a simple, effective SW based music serving solution which will stream music via setup above from NAS to DAC?

- As noted above, files are FLAC, looking for CD quality media streamed to DAC via USB

- Ideally want to be able to use mobile device to control media and stream to the system setup above, is this possible?

- Note I am using NAS for music as I don't want to be constrained to having to access HTPC via (TV & Logitech bluetooth remote) to control music.

- Have downloaded Plex but cannot figure out how to identify, and direct music to stream to DM+ via USB interface. Is this even possible?

- Can Kodi accomplish this?

- If not Plex or Kodi, then what is recommended solution?

 

Other thoughts:

- I am using HTPC to store & stream movies through the same system (less DAC) via HDMI thru Azur to TV and sound system.

- Using XMBC for the media server in this instance, thus Kodi would seem to be attractive option.

 

Appreciate assistance with this.

 

Ok, nothing can stream directly from NAS to DAC. You need a streamer in between. Try microRendu, a developer board (RasberryPi, Odroid, etc.), or one of Cambridge Audio's streamers (but as they all seem to have DACs themselves, there may be redundancy).

 

Now, to your questions

1) Best mediaservers for audio only are probably MinimServer and Illustrate Agent. Both go beyond your run-of-the-mill and allow for excellent cataloging. But they do audio only. Agent is paid, MinimServer is freeware. If you want a server to do it all for you (video, photos, music), then Plex, Kodi and your very own QNAP DLNA server will do the job too.

2) Given that you use FLAC and FLAC has a very flexible metadata structure, probably MinimServer is your best choice. Unlike the other servers, it takes the FLAC metadata model as its starting point. You can use custom fields, all kinds of sorting and filtering methods and it does on-the-fly conversion to WAV, L16 or L24.

3) It wouldn't work any other way. And there is plenty to work with. BubbleUPnP, Lumin, Linn Kazoo, ae some of the more popular choices. If you go the route of Volumio/RuneAudio, then you're looking at MPD (essentially playback through a network share between the Odroid/Pi and your NAS - no media server required in that case.), which runs off a mobile website. Works brilliant too.

4) Perfect choice to use a NAS. One copy of your music files to serve all playback devices in the house.

5) No, it is not. Plex is a mediasever. You need to add a renderer to the chain (the device that provides the digital input to your DAC). I have listed some suggestions above. Your budget will decide what is best for you, as the possibilities are endless.

6) Nope, Kodi cannot accomplish this either. Neither Plex, nor Kodi can render the signal. They simply serve the media to the renderer. You're missing a component in your chain (see my signature for how it works in my case).

7) The recommended solution is to get a renderer. That can be done very cheaply by using a developer board ala Raspberry Pi or Odroid C2 (around $45 including shipping for either, jsut for the baord), or you can get purpose build devices like Sonore microRendu, streamers from Cambridge Audio, Naim, Cyrus, etc. etc. Just check whether these streamers include a DAC or not as you probably don't want to pay for duplication (or sell your DAC).

 

Your other thoughts:

- Fine. Keep it that way. I also keep my stereo audio and movie audio separate. I use a different DLNA server for movies. I find that Plex, Kodi, etc. don't come close to what a dedicated music mediaserver, like MinimServer, can offer. Also, your NAS is not powerful enough to do what your HTPC with Kodi or Plex can do (video conversion to a different format is much heavier on the CPU than audio conversion, not to mention the various image corrections you can run when using a dedicated viedocard). Lack of CPU/GPU resource in your NAS.

- I'd keep your audio playback and movie playback separate. Your HTPC can run Kodi and your NAS can run MinimServer. On your mobile device (the control point) you can then pick your mediaserver of choice and point it towards your renderer of choice.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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I admit I don't have direct experience on Odroid C2, but I'm curious.

I understand all considerations about hardware, but what about software?

I know RuneAudio distribution is available for Odroid. Are there other options? Thanks

 

RuneAudio and Volumio exist also for the Odroids. There may be more, but these are the ones that have survived over time and offer regular updates. The new versions get released at the same time for all platforms. The Pi has a broader userbase and is more diverse in general. But for the purpose of audio playback, support for both is the same and strong.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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