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MUSIC SERVERS (Read 6769 times)
4krow
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MUSIC SERVERS
09/02/11 at 16:49:14
 
I really didn't want to break new ground in my system. Overall, I am happy with things just as they are. Then I read about music servers sounding better than cd's. And if you get the right one, you can access the internet for HD downloads. Do any of you guys have experience with these? And do you have recommendations for one that is inexpensive?
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Damien
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #1 - 09/02/11 at 22:26:37
 
I have never seen a dedicated music server device. Means nothing I am sure there are a lot of things I haven't seen  ;D  I have heard people talking about building their own.
People say the Mac Mini makes a fine server as does the Apple TV. The Mini gives you a full computer with full internet access where the ATV limits you to the iTunes Store (unless you hack it). People seem to like it over a PC equivalent because the Mini/ATV are near silent when operating. PC's have fans and such. If you are a windows person and have a favorite music server app you can always run it on the quietest PC you can find.... the Mac Mini runs windows well, if you like.  Jeez I sound like an Apple Advertising guy.
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #2 - 09/03/11 at 02:22:55
 
Thanks for the advice. I am way behind the curve when it comes to such things. Yet, if there is a way to go that is promising, I want to try it on for size. I've been doing that w/audio for most of my life anyway.
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Donnie
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #3 - 09/03/11 at 02:48:02
 
I'm just using a old Gateway laptop that I brought back to life. I put in a 500 gig hard drive and downloaded a whole shit pot of CD's into it. I'm using Winamp to output into my ZDAC-1 then into my Torii. The computer is more or less a dumping ground for all of my CD's. I just make sure that they are stored as WAV files. Nothing fancy or elaborate. I figure that if it shoots craps I'm only out my time that it took me to load my CD's.
I also keep a LOT of music on my Ipod and output it through a Wadia 170i dock into the ZDAC. Plus my Dell laptop is full of FLAC files that I download from the internet. I just got a free James McMurtry download this evening.
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seank
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #4 - 09/03/11 at 04:16:32
 
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #5 - 09/04/11 at 01:34:32
 
I too am investigating this and building a multi-media server.  It makes sense that once the CD is burned using a lossless format such as .FLAC or Apple Lossless (.m4a), the playback of that file does not have to deal with timing /jitter issues from a CD player.  Hard disk bandwidth is at least a hundred times that of CD, and motherboard clocks run in the Gigahertz range, so a PC might outperform even a high-end dedicated CD transport in terms of jitter.

However, it's only as good as what you put into your ripping of the file ... I would use a program called EAC (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/) and rip to .FLAC format, the .FLAC file takes up more space but I can definitely tell the difference between .FLAC and .mp3 file formats in terms of sound (even on my iPod ear buds).

IMO using EAC would negate the need for a hi quality CD transport, because the software ripping the file would correct and produce an exact copy of the CD itself regardless of the quality of the burner in your PC ... meaning the playback of ripped .FLAC file that used an inexpensive DVD/CD burner combined with EAC should be equal to or better than most hi quality CD transports (that's the .FLAC file itself and not taking into effect the DAC and other components in the audio chain of course.)

You can use pretty much use any PC as an NAS Server (Network Attached Storage), but a dedicated one right off the bat might be best if it's within your means.

Here is what I think is needed in an NAS/Music Server:

1. It should be at least 2 TB and be able to expand disk space by either adding more internal hard discs or daisy chaining external hard discs.

2. It should use a RAID configuration (needs at least 2 discs for RAID) for backup and safety reasons.  With a RAID configuration - if one of the discs goes bad, the other disc still has a mirror image and can use that image and restore it to another disc.  Let's face it ... ripping a music collection takes a lot of work and if you only have one disc and it crashes, you are SOL  :'(

3. It should be fairly robust, quiet and be able to be left on 24/7/365.

4. It should be networkable so you can access it wirelessly from any room in your house where you want to hear music or access other media files.

5. It needs a universal language to communicate with other devices so it should be UPnP A/V (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatibility; this will give it the ability to work with of a lot of aftermarket devices to access and retrieve data from the server.

6. It should be able to do more than play back music ... for economic reasons, I think just a dedicated music server would not fulfill the needs of most people and since my ideal server is RAID configured it would be wise to use the server to back up every PC and Laptop in my home including all my media, music, pictures and important files such as Word, Excel, Photoshop, etc. (hence the need for expandable disc space).

7. You should be able to remotely access the server, anywhere there is an internet connection ... if you are at Starbucks in another state (or another country for that matter), you should be able to access your server remotely and download that paper or song you forgot to add to your laptop you took on your business meeting or vacation.

8. Finally you should be able to create user accounts and set file/folder permissions.  I want everybody in my home to be able to access pictures, music and movies, however I work from home and want to limit my work files access to only me and my business partner, etc.

With the above configuration, not only could you stream music, pictures, movies and other media from anywhere in your home, but you would also be able to remotely access it from anywhere in the world and back up ALL of your data in case your PC or Laptop crashes.  It may sound complicated, but there are already server's out there that can do this and it is quite simple to set them up ... once they are setup the backups, etc. can be scheduled and done automatically ... so it's pretty much - take a couple of hours to get it setup, RIP your media to it and forget about it-.

That covers the server requirements … now you want audiophile playback and access to it from where your main listening room is … although you will be able to access and stream content from anywhere in your home, most people probably have only one or two main listening areas where the music playback really counts.  So you will need some specific components to get the most out of your music enjoyment.

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« Last Edit: 09/04/11 at 01:37:41 by beowulf »  
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Damien
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #6 - 09/04/11 at 02:14:57
 
Mirrored raid (Raid 1)  only protects against a hardware failure.  With a data failure..write failures, disk directory corruption, corrupted data blocks are all copied to the mirror giving you two unusable drives. For the kind of protection you are implying you will need a RAID that uses a parity disk. Raid 5 or 10 would be needed. A much cheaper solution would be to have a program making scheduled backups of your files instead of mirroring a drive.

For 24/7/365 you will need a unix/linux based OS

With that list of needs you posted you're talking a lot of time effort and money in this.  I know I'm not the one to attempt it. I would cut too many corners.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #7 - 09/04/11 at 07:11:29
 
Quote:
Raid 5 or 10 would be needed. A much cheaper solution would be to have a program making scheduled backups of your files instead of mirroring a drive


Yes, I'm totally in agreement with you ... RAID 5 would be needed for the better solution.  I was only speaking of mirroring for cost effective purposes in the event of a disc failure.  I would not use it for complete drive images, but instead as you've suggested use a software back up utility for files only.

But I will be using a RAID 5 for myself, and it's not as expensive as one may think ... well, cost being relative and all :-)

The product I am looking into is the "LaCie 5 Big Network 2".  It comes in a RAID 5 (or RAID 6) in an iSCSI configuration and the LaCie Operating System (OS 2.0) can do everything on my list for $799.00 (although I've seen it priced about $50 cheaper online).  It has 5TB of disc space and can be upgraded to 15TB.  Considering 1TB can hold roughly 2,500 CD's ripped to .FLAC format - it would take a long time for me to fill 5TBs, let alone 15TBs (even if I burn my DVD and BD collection to it).  IMO, I think $799 a pretty good bargain considering what it can do, the amount of space and effective disaster recovery protection.
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« Last Edit: 09/04/11 at 09:34:16 by beowulf »  
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #8 - 09/04/11 at 13:16:02
 
I couldn't be more pleased with the replies here. Thank you for your help. In a sea of music servers, it is good to have a guide and a few ideas about what products to consider specifically. I look forward to more replies on this subject.
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Pale Rider
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #9 - 09/04/11 at 15:00:49
 
I would strongly echo an earlier recommendation to spend time at Computer Audiophile. I do; a sophisticated and sharing moderator/publisher plus a strong member base make it an excellent resource. I ended up getting a Synology Diskstation 411+ after first reading about Synology there. I stocked it with four 2tb drives. It has excellent music (including iTunes) and video services. It is a real NAS, so it can do a host of other things for you as well. Amazingly easy to set up from any platform, fast user support, and good user community. I back it up to a cloud service, and to a RAID 10 array on my network.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #10 - 09/04/11 at 21:48:09
 
Quote:
I ended up getting a Synology Diskstation 411+


That is on my short list as well, a little more expensive then the LaCie because it doesn't come with hard drives though.  How do you like the interface?

I've built a couple of PC's and it seems like it wouldn't be too difficult to put together a NAS server on my own.  So that's something I may look into as well.

I used an HP Home Media Server that I like a lot, but it was a friend's who loaned it to me while he was moving around ... It and was very dependable and only cost $599 ... it could pretty much do anything, very quiet and dependable.  It used Windows Home Server and the interface was a breeze, I had it up and functioning on my network, assigned user permissions and could do remote access within an hour ... unfortunately they don't make them anymore, but I left it running 24/7 for almost a year without any problems whatsoever ... I knew I shouldn't have answered the phone when he called wanting it back LOL   Smiley
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« Last Edit: 09/04/11 at 22:40:05 by beowulf »  
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Pale Rider
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #11 - 09/05/11 at 16:50:21
 
I am very happy with the Synology. I think i must have found the "hard way" to do my first music upload (several thousand files), but in all respects, I have been very pleased.
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #12 - 09/05/11 at 19:17:57
 
I am happy to see a bunch here that understands the digital options well enough to give such good advice. I am, on the other hand 'digitally challenged'. Up until this point I have not considered music servers and the like. I can tell you what I would like to have as far as features, but have no idea what is out there. I have read the articles suggested, and thank you for that. What I would to know is there a product that can use wireless, load cd info into memory, access the internet w/o a computer, and stream? I made up this list not knowing what can or cannot be done, and am relying on you to provide info as to products/brands that are out there.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #13 - 09/06/11 at 03:51:15
 
Quote:
What I would to know is there a product that can use wireless, load cd info into memory, access the internet w/o a computer, and stream?


When you mean load CD info into memory ...

Are you talking about ripping it to a hard drive on a computer or server to permanently store the music and then wirelessly access the music on the server from elsewhere in your house?

Or are you talking about putting a cd into a cd player drive (say your living room) and then accessing the actual cd in the cd drive for music playback elsewhere in your house (say a bedroom)?
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #14 - 09/06/11 at 13:34:56
 
Ripping it to a hard drive....
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