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About markebrauer

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  1. Excellent review, but you did not mention gapless playback... I have had my Node 2 for two years now and I love it. At the time of purchase I had decided that it was necessary to move on from my Squeezebox Touch and I started looking into everything on the market. I was about ready to acquire a highly-regarded model when I discovered that it did not support gapless playback. Further research proved that many of the competing hardware/software offerings out there did not provide gapless support . Even some of the "high-end" models lacked gapless support. I had never thought much about gapless because the Squeezebox just did it, and I expected that it was the norm. I believe that even now, two years later, gapless playback is not a given. Also, I had been ripping CDs and purchasing downloads for 8 years and it was all identified by the usual mess of metadata. Early on I had experimented with editing the metadata myself but decided that organizing in folders suited my needs best. The Squeezebox provided a folder view of my music and that suited me well. I found that many of the systems I was researching did not support accessing music by folder. These two concerns (along with a preference for Android control) effectively narrowed my search down to Bluesound. I had been prepared to spend quite a bit more for a streamer, but it turned out the Node 2 was my only real choice. Both the Bluesound hardware and the BluOS software have been extremely stable and are updated often. I have never had an issue. I use the Node 2 with an external DAC and the SQ is fantastic. Oh, and another difference between BluOS and Roon is that BluOS runs on directly the Bluesound device whereas Roon software needs to run on some sort of central server (basically a PC), much like the old Squeezebox system. That's not a bad thing, but one should realize that to be useful it must be on 24/7. And depending on the platform, computers usually require management tasks to be performed occasionally. With BluOS your music files can reside on a low-energy/low-noise NAS connected to the router, and the Bluesound device pretty much manages itself. Of course one still needs a computer to load music onto the NAS, but it need not be running all the time. Not a huge difference I know, but depending on one's computer skills it's a good thing to know.
  2. My observations on Amazon Music HD after one month. First be aware, the 3 month free trial is only a trial of the HD service. To take advantage of this, one must also subscribe to the Amazon Music Unlimited service. I was not a subscriber, so when I signed up for HD I was also enrolled in the basic service. That offers only a 1 month free trial. After the first month, to continue to get the HD service, the cost would be $9.99 ($7.99 for Prime members). To "free trial" HD for 3 months would actually cost me $14.98. My month ends tomorrow and I will not be continuing the trial. I have a Bluesound Node 2 and the Amazon service works fine, just as Chris describes. SQ is good - no complaints. One quirk, CDs purchased from Amazon with the "auto rip" feature automatically show up in your ALBUMS. If you play them, they are the auto rip MP3 versions. If you want the uncompressed versions you must add them to your ALBUMS yourself. In the BluOS interface, when you search for something in Amazon Music, typing does not immediately start reporting "hits" like Spotify and Tidal do. You have to type first and then choose whether to search "my music" (things you have purchased) or "Amazon music" (the whole streaming catalog). This is a lot less convenient. I also use the Chromecast Audio and was curious how Amazon music works with that. Amazon admits it does not directly support Chromecast Audio but it does post instructions on how to play music on it. Basically you must use the local cast functions on your device, meaning the stream comes to your device and then is sent from there to the Chromecast. I believe this is what's called "mirroring". It does work but it is unclear if the stream is altered by the intermediate device, and of course, when the device leaves the local WiFi network, or the controlling app is shut down, the music stops. Streaming this way is also a constant draw on the controlling device's battery. So I acquired an Echo Input to see if staying in the Amazon ecosystem gave better results. Amazon has implemented its own casting function for Echo products. But again, it is a mirroring function. Even Amazon's own music app does not stream directly from the source to the Echo. The same is true for Tidal and Spotify. This is disappointing. (Side point: The Echo Input's SQ seems OK. Maybe not quite as good as the analog output of the Chromecast, and certainly not as good as the Chromecast's optical output feeding a good DAC, but good enough for my secondary system. I did not do extensive listening so my opinion on this could change.) As a final test I tried playing music directly from the Alexa app on my Android phone to the Echo Input. The app is not a music app. You cannot browse the music catalog. You cannot type in a search on "Beatles" and then see their albums. In the app you are stuck with the suggested playlists and "stations" that Amazon sees fit to present on the screen. The way to play what you specifically want is to ask Alexa for it, by speaking to ALexa through the Echo Input. This works fine if you are satisfied by saying "Alexa, play Taylor Swift" but if you want to hear "Tales from the Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss played by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra lead by Jacob Kreizberg" - well good luck. The problem is you have probably forgotten (I did) that that it's really the Weiner Symphoniker, the titles of the songs are in German where "tales" is pronounced "geschichten", and it's Yakov not Jacob. You can spend quite a bit of time speaking at Alexa before you ever hear one note of the music you want. The good news is, if you start the stream using Alexa, the music is cast directly from Amazon Music to the Echo, no intermediate device is involved. Bit perfect? Who knows.
  3. Hi, I see I am very late to this discussion but I recently discovered the Hi-Fi Cast app for Android and can add some detail to Hopkins suggestion. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.findhdmusic.app.upnpcast Hi-Fi Cast indeed does gapless playback of local network files to the Chromecast Audio. The price you pay is all the music is channeled through the Android device where it is then streamed to the Chromecast using the native Android casting capability. This disturbs the audiophile in me, but it works very well. I use an old smartphone as a controller. Careful listening uncovers no degradation in audio quality compared to BubbleUPnP (using 96/24, 44/16 and MP3 files). The phone is set to "airplane mode", with only WiFi turned on, and increased battery use has not been an issue. So there are no real downsides to this setup, at least in my system. Mark
  4. I recently started using the Hi-Fi Cast Android app to stream FLAC files gaplessly from my DLNA server to Chromecast Audio. It works great but like Play-Fi runs all data through the controlling device. Fortunately it has the option to turn off gapless playback, then it streams directly from the server to the Chromecast, taking the phone out of the equation and working like casting is supposed to. My understanding is that DLNA has no innate gapless capability and that using intervening software (in this case on the controlling device) is the only way it can be accomplished. Is gapless playback from/to a variety of devices the reason Play-Fi chooses to do it this way? With Spotify of course, gapless playback is controlled by the Spotify server. Even though this "pass-through" approach annoys the audiophile in me, I have to admit I notice no quality issues when using Hi-Fi Cast. It supports up to 192/24 but I have only tried it with 92/24 and 44/16. The first thing I listened to was Glenn Gould's 1981 Goldberg Variations, which absolutely needs gapless.
  5. Just curious, what did you end up running the BubbleUPnP on? And What about Tidal?
  6. Many Windows-based players have Android control apps. Many are free, some cost a bit. Using a remote desktop setup seems like it would work, but a control app would be more straightforward. My setup is different than yours as I stream from a DLNA server running on my PC to an endpoint/DAC. I use the BubbleUPnP Android app to control what the server streams. Bubble UPnP also has built-in support for Tidal, Qobuz, and Google Music. And it has the ability to stream from major cloud storage sites like Google Drive, Drop Box, etc. There are also generic control apps that act kind of like a remote desktop but are designed specifically to be remote controls - like this. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Relmtech.Remote&hl=en I have not used this one but it sounds interesting. If you do decide to try Android be sure to get a device that runs Android 6 "Marshmallow". Mine is a couple of years old and runs Android 5.1. It is just starting to seem a bit sluggish loading programs. Android 7 would best but it only comes on more expensive phones. I will likely upgrade to an Android 7 model when they are under $50, maybe another year. Looking at Best Buy today, they have an LG K3 for $30 and a Samsung Galaxy Express for $50, both with Android 6. Be careful though, many low-price phones still run Android 5.1, which would work but is not a smart buy at this point. Best Buy even offers one model running Android 2.3! That's so old it won't run most current apps.
  7. I use a cheap ($40) Android phone as a dedicated remote. I never activated it for any cellular service. I uninstalled or disabled all apps I didn't need for audio, turned off all notifications, muted all sounds, disabled all connectivity except WiFi, set it to skip the lock screen so access is quick and easy, and set the screen time-out nice and long so it doesn't go dark while I'm still "deciding". With these mods the battery lasts for days if left on, and for weeks if turned off between uses. Way better than using your regular smartphone.
  8. The most "booklike" model might be the UE Roll which is Wirecutter's top pick for Bluetooth speakers. Diameter is 135 millimeter (5.3-inch) and thickness is only 40 millimeter (1.6-inch). Easy to pack for travel. http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-bluetooth-speaker/ I have the UE Mini Boom mentioned in the techradar article and it works fine for casual listening. The Roll should be even better.
  9. I would sign up instantly, but only if it streams the higher quality to my Squeezebox Touch running the Triode Spotify plugin. The "official" Spotify plugin does not support the Spotify folder structure, a deal-breaker for me.
  10. Bluetooth speakers most often have a 3.5mm aux input and could serve you purposes well. A couple even have an optical digital input and could take advantage of the Squeezebox's optical output. I find that Wirecutter.com offers sensible advice on choosing such things. They have two articles on speakers. The Best Home Bluetooth Speaker | The Wirecutter The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker | The Wirecutter Also, my experience with my Squeezebox Touch is that the output from the 3.5mm headphone jack is very much inferior to the output from the line level RCA jacks. Whatever powered speaker you choose you should get a short RCA to 3.5mm cable to connect it. Something like this: https://smile.amazon.com/3-5mm-Stereo-Right-Audio-CNE455759/dp/B01686RQK6?ie=UTF8&keywords=1%20foot%20male%20rca%20to%20male%203.5mm&qid=1483319872&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3 The output from the digital ports is even better yet.
  11. (editing post to properly include images) I generally find Mozart piano sonatas boring, but Fazil Say makes them come alive.Fazil Say - Mozart - Complete Piano Sonatas AllMusic tells me this Pete Alderton is a 2017 release, but I have it so...Pete Alderton - Something Smooth Love that Reference Recordings sound. Fiona Boyes - Professin The Blues
  12. If you organize your music in folders I'd recommend Folder Player https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.folderplayer&hl=en I always found the tagging that comes on music file was frustrating made it hard to find what I wanted. I'm too lazy to go in and "correct" the tagging to my satisfaction, so I use multiple levels of folders to organize. Folder Player is simple, lightweight, has no ads, works well, and it's free. The author has been very responsive with support.
  13. When I first connected to Google Drive my 500 GB of files took 8 full days, 24/7, to sync. Speedtest.net generally reports 6 Mbps uploads but my provider may slow things down with continuous data transfer. The secondary sync, from Google Drive to my music server, took much less time with download speed generally above 25 Mbps. One benefit of cloud storage is remote availability. Files up to 96/24 stream just fine to my Android phone running BubbleUPNP and connected via WiFi. I don't use it on cellular because of my low-data plan.
  14. I rip or download music files on my desktop workstation. I first store them on the desktop where I fiddle with file naming, metadata, etc. When I have the files ready I move them to the Music Folder which is backed up to a Western Digital NAS device. Because the NAS is in the same room as the workstation there is danger of losing both to fire. So everything in the Music Folder is also mirrored to Google Drive ($10/mo, other cloud services are options too). Google Drive is not really a "backup" but another copy nonetheless (and Google of course does backups too). Then because I actually stream the music from an old PC configured as a server, Google Drive mirrors everything to the Music Folder on that machine. So I have 4 easily accessible copies at all times. Maybe it's overkill, but it was real easy to set up and all happens automatically (except for the ripping). It's very unlikely that all this would fail at the same time. I feel safe.
  15. A while back my son loaned me a battery pack designed for charging smartphones. Puts out 5v DC and 2.5a, just like my SBT requires. I purchased a USB-A to 5.5mm barrel connector for $5 to hook it up. I have to admit I wasn't really expecting much of a difference, and felt making the comparison to the original wall wart would be tedious. I was wrong. The difference was easy to hear and major. Everything was better - lows to highs, dynamics, and quietness of the presentation. The music was more musical. At that point, fully understanding how important the power supply is, I purchased the $50 iFi iPower unit. It made a noticeable difference but not a big as the battery. So I shopped around and found a 12,000 Ma model for just $20. It works great. I get about 20 hours out of a full charge. Only downside - when using EDO USB output, the Touch draws the same amount whether playing music or idle. So I unplug it when not in use. A bit of a pain - but it sounds oh so good.
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