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bluesman

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  1. Great piece! FWIW, Stax cushions have always seemed a bit thinner & more fragile in feel than most others. They actually glued themselves together on my SRX Mk 3s after being left unused for a few months when we built our house & moved. Thanks for the info & its articulate presentation!
  2. With all due respect, I don't think this is a problem with internet forums per se - I think it's largely a problem with people. Anonymity and accountability are not mutually exclusive. But each of us has to hold himself or herself accountable and behave accordingly, even if anonymous. One can (and should) have integrity and be trustworthy, open to change, and comfortable with ambiguity whether on a soapbox in the town square or hidden behind an internet pseudonym. We hold ourselves accountable by accepting reasonable limits, recognizing and apologizing when we unintentionally cross them, and displaying a self-deprecating sense of humor (for which we have smileys 😁 ). It's true that there can be no accountability without consequences - but accepting responsibility for a faux pas, apologizing, and actively trying to learn from the encounter are consequences even if no one but you knows you have to do it. Sure, visual clues like facial expression and body language help us assess others' reactions to us. But the critical cues are those that herald developing discomfort, insecurity etc in a response - and I think they're most often there. It's a rare thread that goes off the rails without some indication of impending trouble before the crash, no matter how subtle. Sensing, understanding and reacting productively to the emotions of others is the heart of emotional intelligence. When you sense that someone is becoming uncomfortable or feeling insecure / threatened, you have to help them get back to a more comfortable position before you can continue the primary interaction. This is where that self-deprecating sense of humor can be invaluable: "I didn't mean to offend you with my opinion . I don't agree with yours, but I recognize that it's as valid and important to you as mine is to me. Please help me understand why you feel the way you do. If there's common ground, let's find it." You may make a breakthrough and go on to a great interaction.....or you may get flipped the digital bird. But your EIQ makes you try, and that's all you can do. Then you just gotta decide when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. FWIW, I didn't make this stuff up in my head. I've been a Six Sigma Master Black Belt for about 12 years and am trained and certified in Design for Six Sigma, Lean, and Change Management by GE. I was associate chief medical officer at a 1000 bed academic medical center for about 15 years and found this approach to be very helpful in managing medical staff behavior and solving problems. After 38 years of medical staff and hospital leadership, I'd much rather have to deal with audiophiles than doctors, Chris!
  3. I applaud your use of Goleman's Emotional Intelligence as a framework for your post and thoughts, Foggie. It's a wonderful book that's relevant today (and will be tomorrow) even though it's 25 years old - I strongly suggest that everyone read it before throwing more fuel on this fire. I see his concept of an emotional IQ as a kind of social equivalent to a handicap in golf. No matter how great the disparities among people's knowledge, beliefs, and personalities, they can all interact enjoyably and productively if their EIQs are sufficiently high. His basic premise that we do best in life when we learn to temper the rational with the emotional (and vice versa) is a perpetual key to success on many levels. If everybody took Goleman's approach to heart and developed the sensitivities embodied in EI, the world (which includes AS and every other internet forum) would be a much more pleasant and productive place. Perhaps the best reason to adopt it is that it helps people who differ greatly on issues get along better and more productively. I'm paraphrasing Goleman to illustrate your bullet points in what I hope may be a more obvious and inspirational way: Self-awareness: understanding personal moods, emotions & drives, and their effect on others. manifests as appropriate self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, sense of humor about yourself, knowing & controlling your own emotions. Self-regulation: managing disruptive impulses and moods, suspending judgment, thinking before acting. manifests as trustworthiness, integrity, comfort with ambiguity and being open to change. Internal motivation: being driven by passions that go beyond money and status, by the joy of learning and doing. manifests as drive to achieve, true optimism, and ability to commit to ideas and efforts. Social awareness: sensing and understanding the emotions of others, and interacting appropriately to achieve the best outcome manifests as empathy and awareness of / respect for the hierarchy of relationships in groups & organizations Social skills: managing relationships, finding common ground, building rapport. manifests as ability to lead change by persuasion and intelligent discourse rather than brute force. This great discussion around EI in the Harvard Business Review that says it very well "Don’t shortchange your development as a leader by assuming that EI is all about being sweet and chipper, or that your EI is perfect if you are — or, even worse, assume that EI can’t help you excel..." (not that sweet and chipper wouldn't go a long way toward smoothing some of our most contentious posts and threads 👁️ ) A high emotional IQ can help students learn and teachers teach. Those here with sound knowledge of a subject can be mentors, coaches and inspiring leaders for us all by adopting Goleman's approach to relationship management rather than berating those who don't agree with them. There may be a key to a kinder gentler AS in this simple approach: present your opinion, support it with what you think is the best available evidence, welcome dissent, and be sensitive to emotional cues that suggest the need to back off and/or take a different approach. Whether you think the best available evidence is objective or subjective doesn't matter - there's room in the world for us all, and there is no winning or losing. Believe what you wish, support it as best you can, and live with it. If your emotional IQ is high enough, you'll always be open to change if presented with new evidence you accept - and you'll be better able to convince others of the wisdom of your own opinions.
  4. No worries, mate! The older they get, the smarter you become. Ours are now 38 and 41, and (if we interpret them correctly) it seems that my wife and I may not be quite as dumb as we used to be.
  5. Thanks for the fine work and write-up! I've been sorely tempted to check out some new McIntosh, and you may have pushed me over the line. I'm old enough to remember when the audiophile world and press shunned McIntosh. This was a critical part of my formative years, as I loved everything about Macs from their sound to their looks to their build quality and couldn't understand the flames from non-Mac dealers and the press. Thanks to McIntosh, I learned to trust my ears and judgment far more than reviews and opinions that differed too strongly from mine to be objective. I've owned at least a dozen of their products since buying a new MX110 and a pair of used MC40s in 1969, and I only sold my last pieces (a pair of MC75s) when we downsized from a house to an apartment four years ago. That applies in spades to the original audiophile objections to early Mac tube amps because they operated in class B. Everybody knows that class B sounds dull and lifeless 😁
  6. Great stuff! Here’s another teaser for the article I’m preparing right now - my task yesterday was to install, set up and gain more experience with OpenMediaVault on Raspbian Buster Lite on a Pi 3b+. Today I’m adding it to a multi-Pi music system for live recording, ripping, and listening. It’s up to 3 so far - one as a dedicated audio workstation, one for mixing, mastering, file conversion, and listening, plus the NAS to keep all files out of USB traffic and archive every bit. The reason for separate recording and monitoring devices is that a 3b+ can’t process both a source signal and real time monitoring of it without stuttering, popping and dropping out. A 4gig Pi 4 handles this better for single track live recording and for ripping, but the price has to be paid for latency. Fortunately, Audacity has an excellent correction function, although it’s a bit tedious to dial in. It offsets the input by 123 msec on mine after setup, which lets me lay down multiple tracks with excellent time alignment. Once I figure out how to make it work with a brace of 3b pluses that I already own, I’ll try to distill it down to a portable recording station with two Pi 4s. I’m waiting for complete resolution of the problems with the 4 gig version before buying any more.
  7. The 4 gig Pi 4 is obviously still a work in progress. I'm reminded of the early life of the Porsche 911 and how continued increases in engine size and power pushed components to and beyond their limits. Yes, it's another loose analogy - but as displacement got closer to 3 liters than the original 2, little things like head studs started failing. And factory "patches" like case savers and Dilivar studs were only partially effective. Like air cooled 911s, the poor little Pi may have reached the limits of safe and reliable performance without costly and exotic work-arounds - and that's how reliable and inexpensive high performance items turn into finicky and expensive ones. Let's keep trying to make these the best they can be, recognizing that we're probably just biding time until the next advance in SBC design.
  8. The Bell system “speech band” was 300-3400 Hz through decades of dial phone use. Bell Labs did a lot of research to determine everything from the optimal frequency response of their phones to the size of the holes in the dial and buttons on touch tone phones. The equipment was very high quality until the demise of Bell - and it was tough as nails. I suspect that those black dial phones were bulletproof! I blew a 6L6 in my guitar amplifier on a gig in the summer of 1968. It was almost midnight, and I had no spare.....but we had another 2 hours to play. So I called the phone company’s repair service from the club, explained my predicament, and asked if they had any tubes I could buy. The guy who answered asked where I was and said he’d get back to me. About ten minutes later, a Bell System truck pulled up and the driver brought two 6L6s to the bandstand, telling me I should replace both for best sound. I asked what I owed him, and he asked for my home phone number - he told me it was “repair service” because I was a customer!
  9. I agree with you. Digital recording breaks the continuous frequency spectrum of analog sound into quanta of frequencies and compresses all levels within each quantum to a mean. This reduces dynamic contrast within each quantum and has to affect the liveliness of reproduction to some degree. Higher bit depth creates more quanta, so there should be less of this effect. I must admit that I'm not sure I can actually hear it in most recordings of the same material made at 16 and 24 bits - but theoretically, it makes sense to me.
  10. The magic word in this is "available" (at 36 seconds into the video). Bit depth determines the dynamic range available for use during recording, i.e. the maximum DR of recordings captured by the system. This is independent of the source program itself and of playback equipment. I suspect you could record a rock band playing a song that has a DR of 4 dB (which is typical in some genres) at an average level of 0dB with an 8 bit system and hear little if any difference compared to a 16 or 24 bit capture. The noise floor would be 20 dB below the signal in an 8 bit file, and the signal would be sufficiently loud and sufficiently compressed to render any differences in accuracy inaudible. Low bit rates create an artificially high noise floor by "compressing" all signal that's within the lowest quantum level range in each sample to the same amplitude, which makes the noise as loud as any musical content that's also within that range. Signals above the top of that range are unaffected by the noise, although they too are compressed within their ranges (which is not mentioned in the video).
  11. Very interesting thoughts - thanks! I see the digitized waveform a bit differently, in that each and every instrument being played is present (if being played at the time of capture) in each and every sample. The single instantaneous value being captured is the summation of all values for all parts being played. We can't separate them within an individual sample because there's no dynamic context - the samples by themselves contain data but no information, and are a perfect example of the difference between the two, in my opinion. But sequenced as they were when captured, they define a complex waveform in which the individual parts can be identified by ear and in a Fourier transformation. And we could determine the contribution of each instrument to the value of that sample with a little (OK, more than a little...) mathematical manipulation. Of the 1.3V in the 12,273,418th sample of a string trio piece, we might see that 0.2V were the violin, 0.4 were the viola, 0.5 the cello, 0.15 the natural intermodulation of the three, and 0.05 the cumulative noise. Just thinkin'...........😉
  12. I'm not suggesting otherwise and apologize if I gave that impression. I was just trying to convey in simpler terms that the way in which it does this is to enable more accurate capture of instantaneous signal levels in the source waveform, which obviously encompasses both the bottom and the top of the DR. And that accuracy is, in large part, determined by errors resulting from fitting each sample to the size of the "word" (i.e. bit depth). This is quantization error, if I remember this all correctly. The other common confusion I see stemming from this is failure to understand that the bit depth of the recorded file determines only the DR of the recording. It determines the DR of the source file you're playing, not the SNR of your playback equipment.
  13. That's true for the equipment but not the program material, which is an important functional difference. Program material rarely has a DR equal to the SNR of the equipment through which it's being played. Unless the DR of the program is equal to or greater than the SNR of the system (which is virtually unheard of today), the desired listening level will determine the effective SNR. If the recording is a quiet piece with limited DR, e.g. concerti for solo violin or guitar, the listener may like to listen at sufficient volume to make system background noise intrusive. Tchiakovsky's 4th has a wide DR, so I set the volume control lower to avoid excessive peak SPL. This also lowers background noise, so the audible SNR is higher.
  14. I'm offering a loose functional analogy meant to be illustrative for Teresa and not a literal description. I thought the movie analogy was more useful because each frame is an instantaneous sample of the changing visual "signal" and the end product is a dynamic sequence of these samples. As the dynamics of motion picture production and control are similar in many ways to those of an audio waveform, it just made a lot more sense to me than your example. I could be wrong - I look forward to feedback in this thread to help me improve my communication skills. I suppose that pixels in an image can illustrate the same concept in a different representation, the main differences being that pixels are not samples or "complete" representations of anything. They're components that combine to form a static image just as linked dyes combine to form the color image on emulsion based film. And there are many different kinds of pixels that vary in shape, size, ability to display color etc. For Teresa et al: there are similarities that may help you understand the subject that started this discussion. Each pixel in an image can display multiple colors within a designated set, e.g. RGB or cyan-magenta-yellow-black (because not all pixels are functionally alike). An 8 bit color image can carry 2^8 colors - it's like having a box of 256 crayons that divide the entire visible color spectrum into 256 parts by frequency. No matter how many shades of color are in the source, the pixels in the screen will use the closest of the 256 colors it can display to each color in the source image. If the exact shade of red is between two in the "crayon box", it will use the closest one. A 10 bit image can display 1024 different colors, so it can render an image closer to the original in color composition. The accuracy of color rendition is somewhat analogous to the accuracy of voltage representation in a single sample of a digitized audio waveform, in that the exact value is limited to a given number of decimal places. So it's "rounded" up or down to fit within the limits of that digital field. The more bits available per sample, the more accurately the value can be recorded (i.e. the more significant digits it contains and the smaller the potential difference - no pun intended - between the actual value and its digital approximation).
  15. Maybe this will help: Digitizing an analog function (like the sequential voltages that comprise the waveform of moving electrons coming from the recording console) is like making a movie by stringing still images together. The first motion pictures could only show jerky motions because they included so few stills per second. The image quality was poor because optics and film technology were both crude. Stability and reproducibility of the film path were inconsistent, so action might look too fast or slow - and you can definitely see jitter Movie film got bigger, moved faster, and recorded better images as it evolved. A 16mm frame had a fraction of the information contained in a 35mm frame of the same scene shot on the same emulsion, and film technology advances improved accuracy of individual images - so quality improved because the “bit depth” increased. The mechanical speed of film’s advance through camera and projector smoothed motion by increasing the visual sampling rate. As a kid, you probably drew a series of cartoon-like sketches of a stick figure on the pages of a small pad of paper, moving one of its arms up a bit in each successive sketch. When you flipped the pages, you saw what looked like a “motion picture”. The more pages in your pad, the more smoothly you could portray the motion by making the successive position changes smaller and cramming more of them into the same flip time. This is another example of sampling rate. You could use a pencil to make crude stick figures, or you could make more refined drawings. The less information you put into the sketches, the less like a person and the more like a bunch of moving lines the moving image looked. If you drew artful images of a boy waving, your “movie” looked more like a boy waving - it was more accurate because there was more information in it, i.e. it had greater “bit depth”. Bit depth determines the accuracy of the instantaneous value of the analog function being represented - and in this, accuracy means variance in the actual value. That parameter is voltage at most stages of audio ahead of the analog renderer that turns the signal back into air pressure waves so you can hear it (the usual output power metric is based on current). More accurate instantaneous values in the string mean more accurate capture, storage & reproduction of the analog input signal. One argument against going above 16 bits for consumer audio files is that we “can’t hear” the difference. This would be analogous to limiting display resolution of optical media to the highest we can see. It’s a tricky path without definitive answers. This may be too obscure or abstract to help visualize the concept, although I hope not. But the basics are simple: sampling rate is analogous to the number of stills in a second of movie film running at standard speed, and bit depth is a measure that reflects the accuracy of each still. The digital clock is analogous to speed control of the the motors that move film through the camera & projector. That speed has to be stable and exactly the same for both, or the movie won’t look right. The same effects manifest in digital audio, for directly analogous reasons. One major difference in this analogy is that a single static sample of the audio signal makes no sound - only the sequential confluence of all samples can generate audible output. But each frame of a movie is a picture in itself. So, unlike a single sample from an audio signal, it contains information usable in isolation from the rest of the reel.
  16. 68C is normal for a Pi 4 in a generic plastic case and in many metal ones with no heat transfer mechanism with ambient temps between 70 and 75F. The onboard throttling trigger is 80C, so 68 is “safe” according to Canonical and many Pi experts. I suspect it does shorten component life, though. A passive cooling case like the Flirc has an integral platform inside that’s joined to the CPU by a heat transfer pad - Flirc brought my first 4 down from a high of 73C while recording live music to wav files with Audacity, monitoring via software playthrough, to about 50. A fan cooled case keeps it even further down - I haven’t gone above 43 with the same recording setup and the same sources (multitracking my own instruments) in either of two plastic cases with fans. Routine 2 channel Redbook flacs cruise along at 35-36C with fan cooling and about 40-41C in a Flirc in a 70F room. DietPi is cool, but it’s a bit much to configure if used only for audio - there are many software packages available in the setup, and even if you only want Roon bridge, you have to run through the setup screens anyway. I like Ropieee because it’s just a Roon bridge on a JEOS, and there’s nothing else with which to deal.
  17. The USB and RAM problems with the 4GB Pi 4 are inconsistent - I have a USB problem on one of mine but not the others, and only with Raspbian Buster (even with the latest firmware). The problem is apparently in DMA (direct memory access) in 64 bit systems - here's a link to the technical description of the problem, and here's a link to the rapsberrypi.org forum thread about it. I don't understand how you can access a full 4G of RAM with Raspbian Buster and maintain good USB connectivity, but this is a strange problem and I hope Canonical comes out with the fix soon. Here's a link to the official Ubuntu communication about it. In a nutshell, the Ubuntu team says: "official support [from the Ubuntu team] for this board is currently limited to the 1GB and 2GB versions. Due to a kernel bug, USB ports are not supported out of the box in the official arm64 image on the 4GB RAM version. Kernel fixes have been identified by Canonical engineers. We are currently testing these fixes extensively. We will push updates within weeks, following successful test completion. In the meantime, developers can use a temporary workaround to enable USB on the 4GB RAM version. The temporary solution will consist in editing the file /boot/firmware/usercfg.txt to limit RAM to 3GB" I'm using my problematic 4GB Pi 4 only as a test mule for now. Both the 3GB limit workaround on Raspbian and Ropieee work fine, so listening in our living room zone is uninterrupted until a proper fix is pushed by Canonical.
  18. I have a Pi4 in our living room running Bridge via 5GHz Wifi and it does DSD128 (actually DoP into a 2nd gen SMSL SU-8) just fine. If you're not already doing so, you might consider a good case for your Pi. I have a Flirc passive case on the living room Pi and a fan cooled case on the hot rod with which I'm doing the work for the article on modding SBCs for audio (which will follow the next one, already completed & carrying more info on the Pi and other SBCs). If you were unaware of it, there's a bug in the 4 gig Pi 4b that limits RAM access - we're not able to use the full 4 gigs with the current firmware. This model also has intermittent USB problems that go away if you limit memory access to 3 gigs in one of the configuration files. The development team is working on a fix, and I'm hopeful that it'll be available soon. Roon drops and reconnects one of my two 4s running Bridge on Raspbian Buster over a roughly regular cycle of about 30 to 60 seconds - but I don't have this problem with Ropieee. I'm about to try with DietPi and Bridge to see if it's peculiar to Raspbian.
  19. Congratulations and welcome to the club - you’re now an official Pi head! Yes, ALSA is as good, with direct kernel-to-hardware communication and the drivers built into the kernel. But in the Linux sound platform, ALSA sits “below” Pulse and JACK, which are roughly the Linux equivalents of WASAPI and ASIO. And, as in Windows, you don’t have to use them - but they’re there (if installed, as not all distros load both on installation) to help if you want / need them. Although you can use ALSA without Pulse, most distros install it if there’s any audio software at all in them. Pulse does not replace ALSA, it helps you manage it. JACK is a fancy patch panel with which you can “connect” the inputs and outputs of your Linux audio system, including MIDI and audio instruments and other sources, for complex recording and monitoring as well as mix down, mastering etc. I use it with Ardour for live recording, but you don’t need it just for listening to your music. There are other audio packages you’ll see but not need, like Carla. Linux audio can be complex if you let it or if you need that level of sophistication. But most audiophiles do not. Have fun! PS: what OS and music management system did you finally use?
  20. Another simple alternative is to get yourself a Raspberry Pi 4. You can use its HDMI port to drive the TV, connect your USB drive to it, and power your speakers with either USB or Bluetooth from the RPi or from your new TV. JRMC runs well on the 4, although you’d have to pay for that version separately even though you already bought the one on your laptop. An inexpensive tablet would work fine as a remote for that too - but you need a WLAN to use a mobile device as a remote in any system you set up. There is a way to set up a a Raspberry Pi as a WiFi hub, but I think you’re better off using a simple ac wireless router. JRMC on a Pi does not do quite as much as it does on an x86 PC. But for a simple 2 channel audio system, it’s quite fine.
  21. The Frame has a built-in media player. You could simply plug your USB drive into it and play music without JRMC, using your KEFs as the TV speakers. Or you could put JRMC on your i3 computer, use the Frame as your monitor via HDMI, and drive your KEFs with either the computer or the TV. You’d need a remote control if you don’t want to leave a wireless keyboard & mouse out. Any inexpensive Android phone or tablet with a browser will work fine. I’ve bought 2 in the last year for under $50 USD on sale. Enjoy!,
  22. Yes, I'm well aware of Hans' origins. I'm not flaming him at all - I'm expressing the opinion that the value of what he offers seems far less to me than it is to you, and I'm explaining why. It's very hard to believe that his command of English is less than excellent if he's done everything he put in his bio, e.g. having written "for a large number of magazines in the UK". Further, it doesn't matter if English is his second language or if he doesn't speak it at all. What matters is his level of attention to accuracy and detail (which, I hope you will agree, is critical for a tech writer). He could hire a translator, an editor, a bilingual web designer, etc if he can't write up his material perfectly himself. As a long time professional tech editor, he should be well aware of the rigors of publishing technical material and the many ways of achieving excellence in his field of expertise. The errors in his content and presentation suggest to me that he's not as concerned about detail as he should be (or isn't as much of an authority as he claims to be). I also generally disagree with what he says he hears. This is not denigration - many people disagree with Robert Parker's taste in wine and Roger Ebert's movie reviews, too. Hans was obviously either unaware of the current USB problem in Pi 4s or chose to ignore it. He's in the same boat as the two experts you cite, neither of whom expresses awareness of the Pi 4 USB issue. And if you read further down Dimdim's thread in which you found that quote, you'll find this from an otherwise anonymous contributor named Derek: "Well, it’s been a few days (and nights) of listening to the RPI4 installed in a PCB – previously occupied by a 3B – and powered by the same linear 1A supply as powered the 3B. Both running Moode. Both I2S. So, a swap of the 3B for the 4. Think I prefer the 4 in this configuration – linear PS and I2S out. Seems to have a hair more resolution, slightly better bass definition and a ‘feeling’ of more coherence. It’s not huge, it’s slight but I’m going to stick with the 4 in the unit." There are also many rave reviews of the Pi 4's SQ using USB, e.g. this one by David Snyder from September 2019. His bottom line for a Pi 4 driving a few different USB DACs (all with separate power supplies) is "Well, it’s early in my evaluation, but it sounds great so far. Like the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, the RPi4 has 5 GHz Wi-Fi and 802.11ac support, so streaming DSD256 and 32-bit, 768 kHz PCM are [sic] no problem. The background is inky black on quality recordings, leading to impressive dynamics." I agree with this. Sadly, neither Mr Snyder nor the authors of many other such web posts include which OS is being used. Sadly, neither Hans B nor Snyder tells us if the Pi 4 evaluated is a 1G, 2G or 4G RAM model - and this matters because the USB issue is largely a problem of the 4G RAM variant. Higher CPU speed may actually affect SQ negatively for simple stereo playback, based on some experiments by Archimago and a few others. But CPU-intensive processes like DSP, transcoding, and sampling rate changes make a CPU work hard for a living. So pumping out DoP, DSD256 and other demanding playback modes can even affect SQ of some pretty hefty x86 devices when combined with DSP etc. So you have to balance what you want to play and how with your choices of hardware and software to achieve the best compromise for your wants and needs. The next piece in this series is an overview and general discussion of small boxes / SBCs with only my summary impressions of the SQ of individual devices. I'm currently working on the one to follow that, which is focused on the Pi from stock ZeroW, 3b+ and 4 to a hotrod 4 with overclocked CPU and GPU. This will include more detail and links to files recorded, edited, and converted from format to format entirely on the Pi4.
  23. And thank you - I really appreciate the kind words. The "Value Proposition in Computer Audio" series is focused on pure audiophile use, so it looks in depth at critical issues for music listening (e.g. sound quality, music library management, album art display, tagging, external data search and retrieval), ease of use (e.g. downloading, installing, configuring, listening), skill & effort levels required, and choosing a computer platform for your music software. To this end, each article has a table or other summary suggesting the pros and cons of commonly used platforms for different music-related needs. The introductory article was a general discussion of how computer based audio systems turn performance into playback. It's process based - for example, here's the front end article suggests some players and music management programs for different wants and needs: FOR CONSIDER FOR ITS Musicians Audacious, Sayonara Flexibility, effects like control over playback speed & pitch Jacket junkies Jajuk Comprehensive web sourced art & info displays Techies on budget Foobar2000 Full features if you’re willing to work a bit to get them going Casual listeners who don’t want to have to fiddle with it GogglesMM, Gauyadeque, QMMP, Rhythmbox General layout, usability, stability, simplicity Web radio listeners & other internet streamers (from web servers, not yours) Cantata, Foobar2000, Kodi, Lollypop, Moode, QMMP, Sayonara Excellent setup, display and selection of web radio stations & streams; Streaming from your own server Foobar2000, MPD clients Ability to access your own music server remotely; Cloud services make this less necessary; takes some config work; Those with huge music libraries GmusicBrowser, MediaMonkey, QuodLibet Ability to digest, display, and manage lots of files Great tag management MusicBee, QuodLibet Tagging capabilities & flexibility A simple system you can make with little work and less $ RuneAudio, Volumio on a Raspberry Pi Great value in simplicity, reliability, sound quality, etc; A simple player you can drop onto your PC Daphile, MusicBee Simplicity and ease of installation; versatility – play from computer’s audio out, drive USB DAC/amp etc; great & easy intro to computer audio Most of what you get from JRMC, Roon etc without the cost Foobar2000 Amazing flexibility and continued development over many years; it takes some work to learn about plugins etc, and configuration isn’t always easy or intuitive – but you can get fantastic sound from almost any source with just a bit of work The series is organized to parse the various wants and needs into categories, to simplify the search for good solutions. Here's the first set of questions asked: What computer will you use? One you already have A new one you plan to buy or build for multiple uses, one of which will be audio A new one you plan to buy or build as a dedicated audio player How complex do you want your system to be? One box solution (player, server, etc) Computer front end with NAS or other remote server Other What are your player access needs? None – player to DAC to audio system at one location like the old days Remote control only on LAN with mobile app LAN – multiple endpoints / renderers on a home network WAN – access to home server to stream remotely What program sources will you access? Local music files only Web radio Other internet streaming sources Video material What kinds of music files will you play? mp3 High resolution FLACs DSD MQA Multichannel Other What kind of computer will you use? x86 etc ARM based, SBC Other What operating system will you use? Do you tend to stick with something you like for a long time or change around a lot? Your inquiry seems to address a comprehensive media hub, which is a different kettle of fish that we're not frying in this series But you can take the same approach I used to hone in on good answers to your questions. The Frame looks like a cool device - but it comes with a lot of functionality that duplicates what you may already have, e.g. voice control, web and mobile control apps. It has its own "assistant" (named Bixby) but can also be integrated with both Alexa and Google Assistant. If you don't have a home hub already, the Samsung SmartThings Hub offers integration among your Samsung devices and can help you create a "smart home" if that's something you want. But you have to know what you want before you can figure out how to best get it. So you have to define your wants and needs. Here are some questions to get you started: What do you want to be able to do when you're set up and running? listen to recorded music files on your own device(s) and/or networked storage internet radio streaming services watch videos (which can also have different sources requiring different equipment & functionality) have unified control over media selection and playback, "smart home" functions like lights, thermostats, etc through a home hub through an "assistant" like Alexa or Google Home through a web and mobile app other - there are many, many possible answers to this question & only you know what they are What do you mean by "...[using] a computer to connect these devices"? to which devices do you refer? just the speakers and the TV your current laptop, the speakers, and the TV more or other devices what needs connecting - data sources, media outputs, other? do you have or want to set up a LAN, WLAN, or both? do you want a networked media system that will let you play audio and video through the new TV? Are you sticking with USB storage for your files or considering networked storage? What do you mean by "combine my Kef LS50W speakers with a new Samsung smart TV"? Do you want TV sound to come from your KEFs but be controlled (volume etc) by your TV? Do you want to integrate your KEFs into a multichannel home theater setup? Do you want to play multiple media from networked storage through your TV? HT? Do you want to use JRMC as a true media center for your network or only for music? What are your future plans for all this? Are you building a system today for the long term with no plans to upgrade in the foreseeable future? Are you building a platform on which to expand your network and/or media system(s) over time? What are you doing about backing up your media files? How big a chunk of your resources (time, money, space, structural mods like electrical lines / outlets / conditioning, etc) will you dedicate to this? How much assistance will you need in designing your system, selecting the components, setting it all up, etc? This list could go on for days. So you have to decide exactly what you want to have when you're done, which functions and factors are essential for your happiness, and what compromises you're wiling to make. We have 4 Samsung "smart TVs" and each one has a different IQ. I was amazed to learn (after I bought it) that our 2018 55" TV does not have the firmware to integrate with our Samsung SmartThings hub. I'm no expert on smart homes and networked multimedia systems, but I've been a GE-certified Lean/6 Sigma master black belt for over a decade and I know a fair amount about process and system engineering. Despite this, I failed to choose a new TV that was compatible with our desires. If you don't define your needs up front, you'll never know if you met them. Good luck!!
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