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Advice Sought - Network Audio Player for Classical Music


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This is my first post here. Would appreciate some advice on selecting a network audio player setup.

 

I have an extensive classical music collection which I ripped to my PC and have spent a lot of time tagging to organise it as I wish. I use foobar2000 to play it on my PC (Windows 7) and that’s just fine. Everything is FLAC and I use lots of tags (composer, composition, movement, catalog, year (of composition), genre). I also use album artist for the performer(s) and duplicate the composer into the artist tag. I like to be able to browse by composer, or by genre, then sometimes also by performer as I have multiple recordings by different performers for many works.

 

Now I want to be able to play this on my hifi system which is a mid range Denon system that’s a few years old now. Currently I don’t have any kind of network music player or software or whatever. So I guess I need some kind of network music player. I dont mind copying the files to a NAS or other dedicated music server on my network if I need to.

 

I basically want to be able to browse my collection in a more sensible way than just by ‘album’ [which can sometimes be meaningless for classical] or ‘album artist’. So I need to be able to intelligently browse the collection and select stuff to play, use/setup playlists etc. Will I need to get a tablet/ipad or similar to act as the ‘remote control’ to browse my networked library and which then feeds the stuff to the player? I’m a total novice when it comes to this sort of thing.

 

In terms of fidelity of music I am not looking for the ultimate in audiophile quality sound. Just reasonable quality without breaking the bank. The ease of browsing the library and selecting music is what matters to me most.

 

If someone could suggest the kind of equipment/setup I should be looking at, without spending a great deal of money, that would be great. Would something like a Denon DNP-F109 do? This would match my existing hifi and apparently plays FLAC files. But its unobvious to me what kind of interface it gives for browsing your music collection.

 

Any advice gratefully received. Thanks.

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Its a Denon DRA-F102DAB (dab tuner + amp), Denon DCD-F102 cd player, plus Denon speakers all bought bundled together, some 9 years old now.

 

If I am understanding all this, it looks like you need a DAC (digital analog converter) in order to get music out of your existing PC and into your Denon receiver. Generally speaking, you connect your PC to a DAC using a standard USB cable. From there, you connect the DAC to your Denon receiver using the analog (RCA) cables.

 

There are lots of DAC units available today from a few $100's to well sky's the limit. DAC's from Schiit and ifi are popular units at decent prices.

 

I am not familiar with Foobar2000 but I would think if you are happy with it then use it. There are other players available such as Roon which allows you to use devices like iPad to control things remotely. That said, I hear that players like Roon are not the best for classical music. For instance:

 

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/classical-music-and-roon-very-long-post/1566

 

Lastly, you can use a NAS unit in a variety of means. A NAS can simply be used to store music files. A NAS, which is a computer, can also be used to play music. I suggest you get music playing using your existing PC and Denon system before venturing off to a NAS unit. Don't get me wrong, NAS units rock but one step at a time.

 

The one problem I can anticipate is your PC in close proximity to your Denon system? There limits to how long USB and unbalanced (RCA) analog cables can be. So if you PC is upstairs and your Denon system is in the basement, then you would have to consider another solution, which there are many.

 

Hope this helps.

Eric


Ubuntu Linux box (i7-12700K, 12 cores, 32GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber > fitlet2 (HQP Embedded OS - NAA) > T+A DAC8 DSD > Rogue Audio DragoN > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP, DSP with HQP convolution 

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The one problem I can anticipate is your PC in close proximity to your Denon system? There limits to how long USB and unbalanced (RCA) analog cables can be. So if you PC is upstairs and your Denon system is in the basement, then you would have to consider another solution, which there are many.

 

Thanks for your reply. Distance is however an issue; the PC is a long way from the Denon system and besides I really dont want to have a PC in my lounge! So, some kind of networked solution is what I'm looking for.

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Thanks for your reply. Distance is however an issue; the PC is a long way from the Denon system and besides I really dont want to have a PC in my lounge! So, some kind of networked solution is what I'm looking for.

 

In that case, you might want to look into a small computer like:

 

https://www.smallgreencomputer.com/products/sonictransporter

 

in combination with Roon which can be controlled remotely. Just move your music to an external USB drive and attach it to the SonicTransporter.

 

Also need to get a DAC.

 

The above is just one of many solutions.

 

For instance, a network player like:

 

https://www.smallgreencomputer.com/collections/music-players/products/sonicorbiter-se

 

where you could attach to your network. You could use your existing PC as the player but control it via iPad or the like using Roon or the like.

Eric


Ubuntu Linux box (i7-12700K, 12 cores, 32GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber > fitlet2 (HQP Embedded OS - NAA) > T+A DAC8 DSD > Rogue Audio DragoN > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP, DSP with HQP convolution 

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Plug a Chromecast Audio into the AUX input on your receiver. foobar2000 can be set to act as a UPnP server. Use a UPnP controller on your tablet or cellphone.

 

foobar2000: Components Repository - UPnP/DLNA Renderer, Server, Control Point

 

or if your receiver has an optical input, that would sound even better.

 

if you just want decent sound, for $25, this is the simple answer for 10min setup and minimal cost.

 

(the optical input to your reciever will have a much better dac than the chromecast has)...

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or if your receiver has an optical input, that would sound even better.

 

if you just want decent sound, for $25, this is the simple answer for 10min setup and minimal cost.

 

(the optical input to your reciever will have a much better dac than the chromecast has)...

 

Thanks for all the advice. Off to get a chromecast...

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If you are going to be using a Chromecast and foobar you will need to use Bubbleupnp Server on your PC so that the chromecast is seen as a upnp Renderer, and use the foo_upnp_out extension. Plays gapless...

 

http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_upnp

 

I have chosen instead to load all my library on Google Drive and use the Double Twist Cloud Player app on an Android tablet (also works on a Chromebook). I prefer the interface and that way I have my music available when I travel as well.

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If you are going to be using a Chromecast and foobar you will need to use Bubbleupnp Server on your PC so that the chromecast is seen as a upnp Renderer, and use the foo_upnp_out extension. Plays gapless...

 

foobar2000: Components Repository - UPnP MediaRenderer Output

Agreed. The foo_out_upnp plugin component has some advantages over the other UPnP plugin component mentioned in the earlier posts, foo_upnp, if you are going to be using foobar2000 to control the Chromecast Audio device.

 

With foo_out_upnp you simply use your existing foobar2000 setup/user interface with the Chromecast Audio. All you have to do is configure foobar2000 to set the Chromecast Audio as the Playback Output Device. This does actually mean that it's foobar2000's internal music file player's audio output (configurable as either a raw LPCM stream or a WAV file stream) that is passed over the network to the Chromecast Audio, so the Chromecast Audio would not be receiving the OP's original FLAC files. This is the reason why the Chromecast Audio appears to be playing the files gaplessly, ie, its foobar2000's own player that's actually providing the gapless support as it is foobar2000 that's actually playing the contiguous music file tracks.

 

Contrast this to foo_upnp, where you are given a UPnP Controller popup window for controlling the playback, ie, separate to the main foobar2000 user interface. The foo_upnp UPnP Controller window can be a bit awkward to use, especially as you are restricted to only being able to use it to play the music file tracks placed in the special UPnP Controller Playback Queue playlist tab it provides on the main foobar2000 user interface. Also, in this setup, it will be the OP's original FLAC files that will be passed over the network and played by the Chromecast Audio. Hence, the lack of gapless support, as it will be the Chromecast Audio that will be playing the contiguous music file tracks.

 

Incidentally, the BubbleUPnP Server helper software will need to be installed on the PC and configured to create a (UPnP/) DLNA renderer for the Chromecast Audio, for both foobar2000 UPnP plugin methods:

https://www.bubblesoftapps.com/bubbleupnpserver/#googlecast

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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The problem with a Chromecast is that it doesn't support gapless playback, so it might be pretty useless for classical music.

 

Sent from my E6653 using Tapatalk

Not a problem at all. I prefer to have the gaps!
Not sure if you fully understand what lack of gapless support between contiguous music file tracks means. It is referring to the (additional) artificial, abrupt and complete silence of a second or two that you'll get between the music file tracks; it does not refer to any natural or intended pause that may already be there as part of the original music.

 

Also, having gapless support does actually mean having the ability to preserve both any original/intended pause as well as any original continuous music between the contiguous music file tracks.

 

Incidentally, if you can get hold of a cheap (perhaps used) Denon DNP-F109, it may be worth getting as that network audio file player certainly does support gapless playback - especially if you decide to use a tablet for control instead of foobar2000 on the PC. A much cheaper gapless method, perhaps, but requires some (minor) DIY is to use a Raspberry Pi computer (+ DAC) with readily available free network audio player software.

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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Thanks for your reply. Distance is however an issue; the PC is a long way from the Denon system and besides I really dont want to have a PC in my lounge! So, some kind of networked solution is what I'm looking for.

 

A couple of approaches you can take, but you need to start with getting your music to a DAC collocated with your audio gear, a network "renderer". Cheapest worthwhile solution I know of is a Raspberry Pi with the Hifiberry Digi+ coax/toslink board with upgraded transformer, package should run you under $150. Other end of the spectrum is the Sonore microRendu renderer which connects to USB DAC, at $640.

Once you have a renderer you should be able to use your PC as a NAS running either Foobar2000 or Minimserver. I suspect you will want to use Minimserver if versatility in viewing library is your preference. Remote control software will depend on what you choose for a renderer, as the better "control" client apps generally rely on the Open Home standard which is not supported by all renderers. I tend to prefer Kinsky for Open Home supporting renderers as the least buggy software

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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The previously mentioned Denon DNP-F109, Chromecast Audio (with the BubbleUPnP Server helper software) and the Raspberry Pi (with appropriate software and DAC) are all UPnP "renderers" aka "streamers" aka "network audio file players". The main issue with the Chromecast Audio device is that (unaided) it does not support gapless playback, which for (undisturbed) classical music file playlist playback I would have thought a prerequisite.

 

Also, it's not clear whether the OP prefers to carry on using the foobar2000 user interface on the PC (and therefore prefers keeping its music library setup) so making MinimServer and use of controller apps on handheld network devices unnecessary, or not.

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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Firstly thankyou for the detailed replies.

 

Re gapless playback - yes I do understand what is meant by that term. Though it honestly is no issue to me as I am used to (and expect) gaps between the movements of pretty much everything I listen to so any solution that doesnt implement proper gapless is not likely to cause me problems. I am used to the foobar interface and the fact that I can configure it reasonably well including a fairly good organisation with custom tags means I an quite happy to continue to use that.

 

Seems to me that the most cost effective and relatively easy solution for my situation is with a chromecast audio, fed by foorbar2000 along with foo_out_upnp and the BubbleUPnP thing. Though if the chromecast is a upnp renderer, I'm not sure I fully understand why I need that in addition to the foo_out_upnp component. What is it doing that foo_out_upnp does not? I guess the BubbleUPnP can sit on the same PC thats running foobar?

 

I am a software developer [though not in the audio field] and am quite interested in at least understanding whats going on under the hood as it were.

 

Thanks

 

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Firstly thankyou for the detailed replies.

 

Re gapless playback - yes I do understand what is meant by that term. Though it honestly is no issue to me as I am used to (and expect) gaps between the movements of pretty much everything I listen to so any solution that doesnt implement proper gapless is not likely to cause me problems. I am used to the foobar interface and the fact that I can configure it reasonably well including a fairly good organisation with custom tags means I an quite happy to continue to use that.

 

Seems to me that the most cost effective and relatively easy solution for my situation is with a chromecast audio, fed by foorbar2000 along with foo_out_upnp and the BubbleUPnP thing. Though if the chromecast is a upnp renderer, I'm not sure I fully understand why I need that in addition to the foo_out_upnp component. What is it doing that foo_out_upnp does not? I guess the BubbleUPnP can sit on the same PC thats running foobar?

 

I am a software developer [though not in the audio field] and am quite interested in at least understanding whats going on under the hood as it were.

 

Thanks

 

 

Foobar2000 has no streaming support without the added UPNP component. It needs the protocol add on to send the data to the Chromecast device

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Though if the chromecast is a upnp renderer, I'm not sure I fully understand why I need that in addition to the foo_out_upnp component. What is it doing that foo_out_upnp does not? I guess the BubbleUPnP can sit on the same PC thats running foobar?
Neither the Chromecast Audio nor foobar2000 natively support UPnP/DLNA network audio file streaming:

- The Chromecast Audio is a UPnP renderer only with the help of the BubbleUPnP Server software, configured to 'create a DLNA renderer' for the CCA, ie, it provides a UPnP/DLNA renderer emulator for the CCA.

- The foo_out_upnp plugin component is only included to give foobar2000 itself UPnP/DLNA streaming support, as a UPnP control point with Content.

 

 

I am a software developer [though not in the audio field] and am quite interested in at least understanding whats going on under the hood as it were.
Ah the joys of coincidences. Just posted the following reference to the UPnP AV Architecture doc on another site's forum (though, admittedly not for the same reason)! Should make a good read for a fellow software developer:

http://www.upnp.org/specs/av/UPnP-av-AVArchitecture-v2-20101231.pdf,

sourced from the Open Connectivity Foundation (maintainers of the UPnP specs via its UPnP Work Group) webpage containing the latest spec docs concerning the MediaServer & MediaRenderer UPnP devices:

https://openconnectivity.org/upnp/specifications/mediaserver4-and-mediarenderer3

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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  • 2 months later...

Well eventually I was given a Chromecast Audio for Christmas. And I have it playing from foobar2000 with foo_out_upnp and the BubbleUPnP Server software. So ... thanks for the advice there. Quite a nifty little thing the CCA.

 

Only problem I have is that the volume is low. It seems the volume level of music fed to the CCA is low and changing the volume within foobar2000 doesnt do anything. Only way I can see to get the volume to a reasonable level is to turn up the volume on the hifi which ends up with hum and speaker noise. I'm sure there must be a better way ... does anyone know how I can change the volume on the CCA or foobar through its foo_out_upnp plugin?

 

Thanks

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The +/- button volume control provided by the foo_out_upnp plugin (range 0 to 50) should match and automatically follow the volume control slider setting for the CCA in the Chrome web browser and Google Home app. Are you saying this is not functioning?

 

foobar2000 foo_out_upnp.jpg

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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This is my first post here. Would appreciate some advice on selecting a network audio player setup.

 

I have an extensive classical music collection which I ripped to my PC and have spent a lot of time tagging to organise it as I wish. I use foobar2000 to play it on my PC (Windows 7) and that’s just fine. Everything is FLAC and I use lots of tags (composer, composition, movement, catalog, year (of composition), genre). I also use album artist for the performer(s) and duplicate the composer into the artist tag. I like to be able to browse by composer, or by genre, then sometimes also by performer as I have multiple recordings by different performers for many works.

 

Now I want to be able to play this on my hifi system which is a mid range Denon system that’s a few years old now. Currently I don’t have any kind of network music player or software or whatever. So I guess I need some kind of network music player. I dont mind copying the files to a NAS or other dedicated music server on my network if I need to.

 

I basically want to be able to browse my collection in a more sensible way than just by ‘album’ [which can sometimes be meaningless for classical] or ‘album artist’. So I need to be able to intelligently browse the collection and select stuff to play, use/setup playlists etc. Will I need to get a tablet/ipad or similar to act as the ‘remote control’ to browse my networked library and which then feeds the stuff to the player? I’m a total novice when it comes to this sort of thing.

 

In terms of fidelity of music I am not looking for the ultimate in audiophile quality sound. Just reasonable quality without breaking the bank. The ease of browsing the library and selecting music is what matters to me most.

 

If someone could suggest the kind of equipment/setup I should be looking at, without spending a great deal of money, that would be great. Would something like a Denon DNP-F109 do? This would match my existing hifi and apparently plays FLAC files. But its unobvious to me what kind of interface it gives for browsing your music collection.

 

Any advice gratefully received. Thanks.

 

Plug this into your PC-

HEOS Link Wireless Pre-Amplifier HS1 | Accessories4less

 

and connect your speakers to this

 

HEOS Amp 2-Ch x 100 Watt Wireless Amplifier HS1 | Accessories4less

 

Read this for more about the system

 

http://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-heos-wireless-multiroom-sound-system

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Changing the +/- button volume control provided by the foo_out_upnp plugin (range 0 to 50) has no effect on the sound played by the CCA. It remains the same, very low volume. The only way to get it louder is to turn up the volume on the hifi to a very high level I would never ever need to use with other sound inputs (cd, dab radio etc). And then there is a lot of hum and other noise coming out of the speakers. Basically the output from the CCA seems to be a very quiet sound that is for all intents and purposes effectively useless. I have only tried using the CCA with BubbleUPnP and foo_out_pnp with foobar2000. I am not aware of how to access a volume control slider setting for the CCA in Chrome or Google Home app.

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As long as the CCA is streaming and playing some music, its volume control slider should be available from Chrome via the Chromecast icon's Manage Cast Devices menu and the Google Home app's devices icon. Also, since you are using its analogue line out as opposed to its digital optical output, for best audio quality, you should switch its Full dynamic range setting on. It can only be set in the Google Home app (unfortunately the setting is not available on Chrome).

 

If you are getting the very low volume problem even with its 'official' volume control, then make sure the cable you are using is ok. The CCA's line output level should be ok to be used with standard line inputs - I've not heard of any such issue and I've certainly not experienced it. Hopefully, you haven't been given a faulty device.

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

-- Jo Cox

Link to comment
This is my first post here. Would appreciate some advice on selecting a network audio player setup.

 

I have an extensive classical music collection which I ripped to my PC and have spent a lot of time tagging to organise it as I wish. I use foobar2000 to play it on my PC (Windows 7) and that’s just fine. Everything is FLAC and I use lots of tags (composer, composition, movement, catalog, year (of composition), genre). I also use album artist for the performer(s) and duplicate the composer into the artist tag. I like to be able to browse by composer, or by genre, then sometimes also by performer as I have multiple recordings by different performers for many works.

 

Now I want to be able to play this on my hifi system which is a mid range Denon system that’s a few years old now. Currently I don’t have any kind of network music player or software or whatever. So I guess I need some kind of network music player. I dont mind copying the files to a NAS or other dedicated music server on my network Uif I need to.

 

I basically want to be able to browse my collection in a more sensible way than just by ‘album’ [which can sometimes be meaningless for classical] or ‘album artist’. So I need to be able to intelligently browse the collection and select stuff to play, use/setup playlists etc. Will I need to get a tablet/ipad or similar to act as the ‘remote control’ to browse my networked library and which then feeds the stuff to the player? I’m a total novice when it comes to this sort of thing.

 

In terms of fidelity of music I am not looking for the ultimate in audiophile quality sound. Just reasonable quality without breaking the bank. The ease of browsing the library and selecting music is what matters to me most.

 

If someone could suggest the kind of equipment/setup I should be looking at, without spending a great deal of money, that would be great. Would something like a Denon DNP-F109 do? This would match my existing hifi and apparently plays FLAC files. But its unobvious to me what kind of interface it gives for browsing your music collection.

 

Any advice gratefully received. Thanks.

 

Just install MinimServer on your server to be able to use all your tags. You need that kind of server to be able to navigate with flexible criteria instead of using the fixed paths still common. What do you use or look to use as a DAC?

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