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Personal audio streaming for home use - best solution with player hardware?

BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
Since 2005 I have been using my own music streaming server, using it with a dedicated player in my HiFi system giving me great audio while also saving a lot of space in my living room which the music collection would otherwise take up (physical media takes up space). It has been great only this week my trusted Soundbridge player died, so I figure now is a good time to perhaps swap for a new system (or find a replacement player on eBay).

Here is what I have:
Home build 100% silent PC running Windows 10 that acts as the server. Streaming software is Logitech Media Server(formerly called Slimserver) and there is about 2,000 albums in the music collection, files are Apple Lossless except a few that are FLAC or high bandwidth MP3.
And then there is the dead Roku Soundbridge which was flashed to act as a Squeezebox, which was then connected to a D/A converter which feed my amp, which then again feed my speakers. I controlled the player with either a remote or through a web browser on my PC or phone.

The Soundbridge:
2audio_soundbridge_full.jpg

Back when I created the system there was nothing else like it, since then a lot has happened including Sonos, Spotify and more. So I wonder what the best choice would be for streaming my music collection for like the next decade or more?

With the old setup I liked that it was a discrete system which I could control using just a remote, while on the same time it having the flexibility of allowing the use as a web browser as controller - if using the PC then why get up to grab the remote :-)

I have been looking at Sonos, but unlike when they started out their remote doesn't have a display and I want a system where either the player or the remote does have a display (plus it must be a dedicated remote). Plus their solution does seem expensive for what one gets.

What are you guys using for music streaming you music collection? And what is great and not so great about it?


Note. Changing server software and also converting to a different lossless audio format is fine.

Bones heal, glory is forever.
BlindZenDriver on

Posts

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Sad to see that no one had suggestions. I hope it is not because I'm the only one holding on to having a personal music collection - or maybe it is just that everyone has moved to vinyl (which I also do enjoy btw.).

    So anyway I did some searching and it really came down to not finding anything better than using the Slimserver as source and using player hardware. And for player hardware one is then either doing something DIY based on say a Rasberry Pi where the sky is the limit with using touch screens, custom controllers and more or there is going with players that are no long in production like the Soundbridge that died on me. I chose the later, went on ebay and ended up combining two of the possible kits available.

    So my "new" audio streaming setup that I use to feed music files from the server to my stereo system is this:

    A Slimdevice Squeezebox )They are also found as Logitech Squeezeboxes):
    it_photo_4305.jpg?itok=OMMIanC4

    And as supplement to its standard plain remote I snapped up a Logitech Duet which is remote that is really a dedicated handset sized controller with a 2½" color screen, it has a clever scroll wheel, comes on automatically when one picks it up and is really very clever. I think a modern version would be just like it only it should have a bigger screen.
    jive_3qrt_l_mr.jpg

    Now it is of course all old/ancient electronics, but because the player comes with an optical out, much of the critical bit with regards to audio quality is done with a good D/A converter so it is all good.

    Investment wise I'm out aprox. $150 including international shipping for the "new" gear.



    Bones heal, glory is forever.
    Shadowfire
  • JazzJazz UKRegistered User regular
    Sad to see that no one had suggestions. I hope it is not because I'm the only one holding on to having a personal music collection - or maybe it is just that everyone has moved to vinyl (which I also do enjoy btw.).

    You certainly aren't the only one, I vastly prefer having my own local music collection, but I haven't got nearly as elaborate a setup. I have a Philips soundbar with a separate subwoofer, and usually just play from my phone to that via Bluetooth. I have a little Betron Bluetooth speaker that's surprisingly decent for if I'm elsewhere in the house. Otherwise it's headphones from my phone (headphone jack fo' lyfe, my phone is an LG V30 that's famous for its DAC, although I don't have high end headphones but it still sounds good), or, since my car lacks Bluetooth audio, a USB stick full of music in my car.

    So not really comparable to the setup you have, which sounds very cool but would be impractical/overkill for me. But yeah, local music collection ftw :)

  • useruser Registered User regular
    Sonos is capable of playing ALAC, FLAC and such. It's standalone remotes are pretty anemic but the Apple iOS and Android Apps are very robust.

    I personally use only FLAC on a thumbdrive plugged into my router and a Google Chromecast Audio into my desired outputs, but that doesn't support Apple Lossless so. The former is probably your best bet.

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Jazz wrote: »
    You certainly aren't the only one, I vastly prefer having my own local music collection, but I haven't got nearly as elaborate a setup. I have a Philips soundbar with a separate subwoofer, and usually just play from my phone to that via Bluetooth. I have a little Betron Bluetooth speaker that's surprisingly decent for if I'm elsewhere in the house. Otherwise it's headphones from my phone (headphone jack fo' lyfe, my phone is an LG V30 that's famous for its DAC, although I don't have high end headphones but it still sounds good), or, since my car lacks Bluetooth audio, a USB stick full of music in my car.

    So not really comparable to the setup you have, which sounds very cool but would be impractical/overkill for me. But yeah, local music collection ftw :)

    My faith in humanity is now restored a little. Thank you.
    You clearly found a different way of basically doing the same thing as I with regards to music. Above anything else I love having that sort of personal relationship with my music, some albums for sure are more special than others and there are those which I recall how I acquired them. Like for example Prince's Black album, which I got on an school trip to Italy way back, or Madonna's Like a Prayer that came sprayed with perfume - the scent now long gone only I still remember it.

    I too have an LG V30 and should you at sometime invest in some high end headphones, then you won't be disappointed the DAC in the phone it worthy of its reputation. I can not think of another phone I would rather want.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
    Jazz
  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    user wrote: »
    Sonos is capable of playing ALAC, FLAC and such. It's standalone remotes are pretty anemic but the Apple iOS and Android Apps are very robust.

    Back when Sonos arrived on the scene I found them very promising, but with them moving away from being just about music and abandoning their sort of iPad like controller for me they went in the wrong direction. I would love a tablet size controller with some dedicate buttons for music control, but business wise I get why Sonos went more towards convenience and less HiFI centrist.

    Bang & Olufsen also offers much the same as Sonos except with them the sky is the limit. They offers goes from great to really high end, they also offer something which is truly beautiful not only to look at but also to touch. If I had a bigger place I would definitely be looking towards them.

    user wrote: »
    I personally use only FLAC on a thumbdrive plugged into my router and a Google Chromecast Audio into my desired outputs, but that doesn't support Apple Lossless so. The former is probably your best bet.

    Thank you for the suggestions.

    Format is however not an obstacle.

    My only real requirement for the audio format is that it is lossless. That what I have is mainly Apple Lossless is mostly because I at one time was using a Mac and like the Cover Flow function i iTunes, a function which btw. I think they copied from someone else and that is thus gone because of some legal fight. The beauty of Lossless is that not only does one get the best possible quality it also allows for converting ones files to a different lossless format without any loss of quality. It is just putting the computer to work and have it convert the files.
    I regularly do this as the audio system in my car only supports MP3 and uncompressed Wave, so I grab what I feel for in the moment and make Wave copies of, put them on a SD card and put that in the car. It is a little inconvenient not being able to just copy the music files from my collection, but not as inconvenient as if my collection was all Wave-files as it would required double the space (and extra 700 GB or so).

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • JazzJazz UKRegistered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Jazz wrote: »
    You certainly aren't the only one, I vastly prefer having my own local music collection, but I haven't got nearly as elaborate a setup. I have a Philips soundbar with a separate subwoofer, and usually just play from my phone to that via Bluetooth. I have a little Betron Bluetooth speaker that's surprisingly decent for if I'm elsewhere in the house. Otherwise it's headphones from my phone (headphone jack fo' lyfe, my phone is an LG V30 that's famous for its DAC, although I don't have high end headphones but it still sounds good), or, since my car lacks Bluetooth audio, a USB stick full of music in my car.

    So not really comparable to the setup you have, which sounds very cool but would be impractical/overkill for me. But yeah, local music collection ftw :)

    My faith in humanity is now restored a little. Thank you.
    You clearly found a different way of basically doing the same thing as I with regards to music. Above anything else I love having that sort of personal relationship with my music, some albums for sure are more special than others and there are those which I recall how I acquired them. Like for example Prince's Black album, which I got on an school trip to Italy way back, or Madonna's Like a Prayer that came sprayed with perfume - the scent now long gone only I still remember it.

    I too have an LG V30 and should you at sometime invest in some high end headphones, then you won't be disappointed the DAC in the phone it worthy of its reputation. I can not think of another phone I would rather want.

    Holy crap, someone else actually has one of these things. V30 hi5! Yeah, it's a great phone. When you read about how the DAC compares to, say, studio gear that costs many thousands and professionals who work with that stuff every day say that the V30 sounds better, it's a definite eye-opener. LG's doubling down on the headphone jack ("let's still include one, but with blackjack and hookers!") in this day and age is inspiring, honestly.

    I don't buy a ton of physical music any more, but I do like having that sort of relationship with it, definitely. I've still got all my old vinyl, and buy the occasional new album that's special to me on vinyl too (I have a particular fondness for picture discs despite their deficiencies), and CDs more rarely. Lots of good memories attached to some of those records, like you say. Even in this digital age I'd rather have my own curated local collection (well, part of it) on my phone or on the car's USB stick than rely on a streaming service. I don't always need access to everything remotely so a media server isn't something I need, but my entire digital music collection is on my laptop so if I go anywhere that warrants taking that with me (which isn't all that often because it's a huge heavy gaming laptop, rather than anything truly portable, so I don't cart it around everywhere daily), everything's already to hand. And it's not that huge file size wise anyway because it's all lossy formats, mostly 320k MP3 (there's still some older AAC rips and things I need to replace), so I don't have the constraint of large lossless file sizes to worry about.

    Jazz on
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    Twonky and a dedicated streamer/dac is going to serve you for a good long while. Right now I’m running a Twonky server to stream to my Cambridge Audio CXN V2. It has a pretty good app for both iOS and Android that I use with a tablet for the server stuff. Also streams just about every type of music streaming service you’d want, too. Also, if you want to go a step beyond all of this I’d look into Roon players and services and stay away from Sonos, personally.

    "I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge."
    X-Box Tag: PrettyGoodCake
    PSN: LLatikuf
  • BhowBhow Registered User regular
    I didn't think this would be such a big ask, but after spending half a day searching the internet, I'm not finding any solutions under $500. Maybe you've got some tips for me?

    What I want to do:
    • Access full library of electronic music (roughly 100GB, and growing),
    • Play that digital music (FLAC, mp3, etc.) from "X" to either bluetooth speaker(s) or home stereo system,
    • Where "X" is a stand-alone music player or external HDD,
    • and have some way to navigate music selection (Explorer style file folders, an app showing artist/album/etc., I'm not picky).

    Stand alone MP3 players don't have the internal capacity (in my price range), and it doesn't seem like any of them have a line in port. A Sonos type system seems to only stream from phones or online services. And nerd that I am, I don't think I'm techy enough to cludge together some sort of Raspberry Pi based media server.

    A couple of my finds come close. This Polk P1 even has a USB input (that they seem to have somehow restricted to firmware updates only).

    Does what I want exist?

  • CiriraCirira IowaRegistered User regular
    Bhow what you're describing may be possible with Plex? I have a Plex pass and can access my music from the app on my phone, TV, or computer. I can stream to any audio device that those items connect to (bluetooth speakers outside, TV audio system inside). I keep my Plex server on my NAS but you could run it from a PC for just audio I think. I use mine for movies and TV as well as a DVR so needed a bit more robust hardware than just music would require.

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Bhow wrote: »
    I didn't think this would be such a big ask, but after spending half a day searching the internet, I'm not finding any solutions under $500. Maybe you've got some tips for me?

    What I want to do:
    • Access full library of electronic music (roughly 100GB, and growing),
    • Play that digital music (FLAC, mp3, etc.) from "X" to either bluetooth speaker(s) or home stereo system,
    • Where "X" is a stand-alone music player or external HDD,
    • and have some way to navigate music selection (Explorer style file folders, an app showing artist/album/etc., I'm not picky).

    <SNIP>

    A couple of my finds come close. This Polk P1 even has a USB input (that they seem to have somehow restricted to firmware updates only).

    Does what I want exist?

    I don't know about the Polk Audio thing, so no initial thoughts on that.

    If your library is on a machine that can also run some server software and it can be setup so X can talk to it over either WIFI or a network cable, then take a look at what I bought 2nd hand.

    The Squeezeboxes has both standard RCA audio cable connectors and digital out as well, as there are different versions do check exactly the one you find offers, and the whole idea is that you have a box which hooks to your home stereo and lets you stream music from a server - and they will also do internet radio.

    To control the box you can use several ways. For starters they come with a remote, either a standard type one in case of the duet one with a display, and you can also control the box by accessing the music server which has a build in web server - the server then controls the player box.
    To access the web server you can of course just use a web browser which can then be on a PC, Smart-TV or a smartphone if it connected via WIFI to your home network. There is also dedicated apps for phones/tablets meant to work as remote controllers for the server.

    I would suggest taking a look at what is available on site where you boy 2nd hand things ie. eBay, Craigslist... to see what is available and what the cost is. If you find it might offer what you and have questions just put them in this thread. Also look on youtube - there you'll find demonstrating how it all works.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • BhowBhow Registered User regular
    Hmm...

    Plex might work for me.
    Thinking this through:
    I set up a spare laptop in the corner, make sure it's on the wireless network, install Plex server and plug in an external drive holding all my music.
    Then install and pay to activate the Plex app on a spare tablet, outputting the audio through A) bluetooth speaker or B) bluetooth/wireless adapter plugged into my stereo.

    Looks like I wouldn't need the PlexPass subscription if I'm only interested in audio, as long as the app is paid for. And it would give me lots of flexibility for future growth (movies, NAS, Sonos-type system, etc.)

    By gum, Cirira, you've done it!

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