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MUSIC SERVERS (Read 5671 times)
Pale Rider
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #15 - 09/06/11 at 17:11:36
 
4k, I think that is a pretty straightforward performance spec that a number of devices on the various platforms can deliver for you. There are quite a few ways to serve up and access stored music wirelessly, from a number of devices, ranging from audio components with the capability built in, to iPads, to Airport Express, etc.

For example, I have my music available on my network from both the NAS and the iTunes side of the Synology 411+. My Oppo BDP-95 (which can play all the files up to 192/24) and my various iDevices can access those libraries. My AppleTV units can access the shared libraries. I have an Airport Express in the garage that provides an audio line to a decent boom box. Lots of possibilities!
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« Last Edit: 09/06/11 at 18:33:04 by Pale Rider »  

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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #16 - 09/07/11 at 03:00:48
 
If you wanted to do this without a computer there are a few manufacturers of music servers out there that are designed to the point where all you do is put the cd in the drive and it rips, catalogs and stores the cd for you.

One that I can think of right off the bat is the McIntosh MS750 ... that thing costs some serious bucks though (around $6000) and only has a 750GB hard drive .... but it is a no brainer all you do is insert the disc and it takes care of the rest and it has Wi-Fi capabilities ... but hardly economic, although is does have that black glass blue meter glow that I personally think is really cool!

Another one that looks pretty cool is the Olive 3D or 4D http://www.olive.us/products/music_servers/olive3hd/specs.html.  It has a sleek interface and they range in price according to hard drive space.  Like the McIntosh, Olive doesn't require a pc to rip, store and playback either.

IMO if you put a little effort into it (to get past the learning curve of the pc and server), it's much more economical AND more future proof if you use your PC to rip and catalog them onto an NAS Server.

Economical meaning that you can do more with a NAS server than a dedicated music server (such as store pics, movies and other important docs).  Future proof meaning you are not tied to the manufacturer in terms of technology and expandibilty.
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« Last Edit: 09/07/11 at 03:14:34 by beowulf »  
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #17 - 09/07/11 at 13:24:21
 
EXACTLY! The Olive device is right on track. It is a little above my budget, but I think in time these devices will be common(inexpensive). Thanks for the suggestion.
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Pale Rider
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #18 - 09/07/11 at 16:41:45
 
I think the Olive and similar devices are heading in the right direction. Not sure I am thrilled with their choice of DAC chipset, but more important than the chip itself, is how they engineered the SQ out of it. Separate discussion.

The Olive (and others I cannot recall) make this easy. Right now, I rip my discs on one machine, transfer the files to the NAS, and then access those lies from multiple machines and interfaces. Works for me, but management of the process and the system is non-trivial. Of course, by splitting and spec'ing each function separately, I have greater flexibility and choice. And I have more upgrade flexibility. Right now, I am looking hard at the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC/Network Bridge. It doesn't have to replace my Oppo for NAS file transcription, but it can. And while the Oppo has an absolutely amazing audio DAC section for its price, the PSA PW is on a different level.

At the end of the day, I probably value component flexibility more, and so would not choose the "easy as a toaster" approach of either the McIntosh or the Olive. But I sure do like seeing these options out there.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #19 - 09/07/11 at 21:27:50
 
It seems as they are almost there ... what I don't understand is why aren't they picking up the other storage access part of it?  I know for myself, I cannot afford a dedicated music server AND a storage server as well ... it is also redundant and a hassle to have to keep music on one server and everything else on another.

Another thing that everybody hasn't caught on with is ... why do they limit the disc space and expandability of their products by trying to put them all in one box?  IMO, it would be much more economical for me to purchase a 2 box system...

(1) The first box would be the main controller that (a) houses the NAS Operating System AND music cataloging, ripping w/exact bit software, etc., (b) CD/DVD/Blu-Ray rip drive, (c) the DAC, (d) LCD screen (e) HDMI, stereo, etc. input/output connections.

(2) the second box would be mainly for storage that (a) you could start off diskless or with at least 1TB disc (b) hot swappable and raid configurable (or one of the newer technologies such as beyond raid or x-raid).

That way you could charge say $1,500 for the controller and then another $1000 for the storage box (without drives) and depending upon your needs purchase the amount of drives you want.

It would be cool if they were the same dimensions to where they could be stacked upon each other and of course they would have to match aesthetically for us OC people where everything has to look as beautiful as it sounds ... Smiley

What makes sense to me is that most people need storage for multiple items (not just music), but most vendors only handle the music portion when there is so much more that it can do.
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« Last Edit: 09/07/11 at 21:35:32 by beowulf »  
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Donnie
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #20 - 09/07/11 at 23:05:20
 
I am lost on all of this. I don't see what a dedicated music server does that a $600 laptop or tower can't do. A hundred bucks for a external hard drive and you're up and running. Like I said before, I rip CD's into a old beater laptop, USB the signals into my ZDAC, simple and cheap.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #21 - 09/08/11 at 02:04:51
 
Quote:
I am lost on all of this. I don't see what a dedicated music server does that a $600 laptop or tower can't do. A hundred bucks for a external hard drive and you're up and running. Like I said before, I rip CD's into a old beater laptop, USB the signals into my ZDAC, simple and cheap.


Yes, that is the most simple and inexpensive solution ...

But with an NAS Server you have more flexibility in terms of accessing your data, when your data is networked you can access download or stream data from pretty much anywhere in the world where you have an internet connection ... as an example, you are on vacation and ran out of room on your camera, well you can logon to your server from your hotel, upload alll of your pictures to your server at home and free up your camera space.

It also means in a mulitple room home you can play back music, pictures and movies from a single location onto a laptop, iPad, iPhone, TV, multiple laptops and PC's, etc.  also more than one person can access this data at a time ... so your wife can be watching a movie in the living room, your daughter can be looking at family photos in her bedroom, your son can be streaming music in his room, while you are streaming different music and working on a Word document in your office ... and  all this media is located on a single server.

Also, your PC's do not have to be physiclly connected to the server in order to back them up and access the data as long as the device you are trying to access it with has wi-fi.

The  media is also more safely storeed as most NAS servers have some sort of data protection using multipe hard drives such as a RAID configuration.

So while yes, the single PC hooked up to a USB hard drive works in the most simplist of terms ... if you need more flexibility to access your data rather than it being tied to your USB hard drive and/or have mulitiple rooms or people who need to access the data without physically hooking up to it, or you need to access data while you are out of your home or in another room in your home you can access it.
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Pale Rider
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #22 - 09/08/11 at 04:51:39
 
@beowulf: agreed. Two boxes and flexibility. And on this point, I especially agree:

Quote:
IMO if you put a little effort into it (to get past the learning curve of the pc and server), it's much more economical AND more future proof if you use your PC to rip and catalog them onto an NAS Server.

Economical meaning that you can do more with a NAS server than a dedicated music server (such as store pics, movies and other important docs).  Future proof meaning you are not tied to the manufacturer in terms of technology and expandibilty.


What is also nice about this approach is that you don't have to build it all at once. You can step your way into an NAS/front end system.
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will
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #23 - 09/09/11 at 06:14:18
 
4K,

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? 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.


I can't tell from your shopping list that you are particularly needing these more advanced NAS systems. Perhaps simple is better as suggested, and you can always add more later.

Though it is a computer, a Mac Mini will do these things with the help of a good DAC. Though I have always preferred Macs myself, there are folks out there with a lot of experience in exploring different servers that find the Mini the best sounding, most reliable, readily tweakable for great sound, while being relatively inexpensive. Particularly the last two models have very good sound, the theory being that in going for minimal size without performance handicaps, they also hit it for audio making the computer very quiet as an audio server.

DbAudioLabs and their customers have done loads of research on the subject working to help Tranquility DAC owners get the best possible analog sound from a computer source/DAC. And they continue to find the Mini exceptional for sound, reliability and performance for the money.

You will get the best sound if you use a good external Firewire drive so that the internal drive is not working very hard, and you can cut out internal functions to further quiet the computer. Also, a decent USB cable is important. Actually everything is in my experience. The feet under the mini will effect the sound as they do under other components. So it is definitely not 1s and 0s only coming from that computer.

That these things can be easily discerned with a mini speaks well to the quality. As with other good components, you don't hear the subtle stuff if the unit can't play really transparently to begin with.

A long story, so I will cut it short in case you are not interested. But if you are, and you wade through the very long Tranquility thread on audiocircle http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=74816.0 you will find good software/system tweaks for the Mini.

I have found all I have tried to be relevant for sound. And they work just as great for my ZDAC as they do for a Tranquility.

Function-wise, with a stock Mini you could hook up to your wireless network, stream from the net, rip CDs error free to a hard drive then play from that drive, download from the net etc. I think this covers your requested stuff and you could do the computer, keyboard, mouse, inexpensive monitor and extra drive(s) new for a grand give or take. But buying last year's Mini is a great sound and could save a couple hundred.

Of course, then there is the DAC and USB cable! And if you want the refinement of playing from memory, iTunes does not currently do this, but you can buy software players like PureMusic that interfaces very well with iTunes and has memory play and other ways to improve the player sound.

If sound is the main objective, I believe like PR, that components may be your best choice. If you start with the Mini, then you get the DAC you like, cables you like and so forth, just like your usual gear, each part is flexible for the future. I do believe that you can get very good sound from a Mini/DAC. Part is the Mini, part the DAC, and as important, how you rip your music and how you setup the system.

I was worried about giving up CDs, but no more. With error corrected rips, I have amazing sound, great flexibility, and a really easy playback system with hundreds of uncompressed CDs stored on a little bitty drive.
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« Last Edit: 09/09/11 at 06:28:47 by will »  

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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #24 - 09/09/11 at 06:51:27
 
Pale Rider, that's what I like about your Synology, it comes diskless and you can buy as many hard discs as you need to get up and running and then add additional storage down the line.

With an all in one music server like Olive your are tied to how much space is in box that you buy, their cheapest box only has 500GB and costs $999 while their  top of the line is maxed out at  2TB and costs almost $5,000 ... to it's credit, I think they can connect to an NAS server, but IMO they miss the point ...

why not just build the cool box with all the no-brainer ripping features, DAC, operating system, hd music and movie services, etc., BUT without hard drives and then let me connect it to my own NAS server so I can save 4K?  Or better yet if they built the NAS as well they could keep the revenue in house when people look elsewhere for an NSA to connect it to.

It seems these guys keep missing the boat with this idea.
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« Last Edit: 09/09/11 at 06:56:18 by beowulf »  
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4krow
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #25 - 09/09/11 at 14:01:55
 
Sounds like I got homework to do before the quiz. No surprise that there are many options, but in time I think that there will be simpler solutions. Didn't really want to dive into a laptop for the sake of music, but the mini mac may be an exception.
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beowulf
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #26 - 09/10/11 at 04:59:59
 
I'm not trying to dis a Mac or anything as I own 3 iPhones and in general I like Apple products as they just seem to be well-built  and cool items (except for the fact that they still are Pro-DRM music which sucks), but if you buy a Mac Mini - you are still in the same boat as anyone with a PC ... the mac mini costs around $800 for the one with decent specs, it only comes with a 500GB hard drive (so if you plan on storing a lot of music you'll need an external drive), but even worse, the new mac mini does not have a CD/DVD-R drive built in so you cannot rip to it directly unless you buy an external super drive (or some other compatible external disc drive) and all of that external stuff adds up to the cost of what an NAS Server already costs, which can do a lot more and works with the current PC or Mac that you already have.

But I whole heartedly agree that if you are starting from scratch you should look into a Mac Mini, I have heard some cool things about them that "will" has already brought up ... however if you already have a PC, you can accomplish almost the same thing by just getting an external hard drive, a decent DAC and be done with it.  With all the Mac positives I don't think the cost associated with a Mac Mini can out weigh the pro's of an NAS server as you will still have to rip, transfer and catalog to some extent ...
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« Last Edit: 09/10/11 at 05:03:43 by beowulf »  
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will
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #27 - 09/10/11 at 06:49:58
 
I can't comment on NAS servers as I have no experience or need for them, but they look like a great concept. I can comment on the Mini, and on the research I did before buying one. From this I had no sense that all computers are alike even if the specs are similar. Each is configured with specific intent. And typically PCs are about specs and price, where all Macs begin with quality parts, configuration, durability, reliability (no small thing) and service life in mind. And I have not checked the research lately and things may have changed, but for years, comparing same to same, with comparable quality parts and configurations, Mac have compared well with PC prices.

But our interest here is not the old PC/Mac debate, it is brilliant sound. I can say that for my purposes and preferences I am very pleased with the Mini, and can only suggest hunting around different information sources. Whenever I found objective comparisons the Mini seemed to get a lot of accolades.

And like I alluded to earlier, the Mini apparently inadvertently presented a new range relative to sound quality. The very solid aluminum body, and very simple design with efficient low heat (quiet) parts are aspects of this. I started music with a Macbook Pro since we had one, and when I shifted to a dedicated Mini my sound  got more solid, transparent, and analog. Then when I got to tweaking it, it got notably more musical again.

I see from Beowulf that the new mini IS without an optical drive, but the bass unit ($600) is pretty powerful for a music server, especially since a music server is actually better if has as much system stuff cut off as possible, and its resources are dedicated to music when we play music. So for playing music and simple computing tasks the base unit is plenty of computer, though better if you add some RAM. I also would not be surprised if it sounds better than mine without the drive electronics in it, and decent drives are cheap. 100 or so will get a good drive for burning and ripping, so all is not lost. And my 1TB Oyen mini pro hard drive was $160, and hooked up to firewire is a good thing because then the USB Buss (and computer resources for it) is dedicated to the DAC. At 600 MB per uncompressed album, that is over 1500 albums and it is a very good sounding drive. 4 GB of memory can be had for $40 or so. A nice Acer monitor is 100 or so, and a keyboard and mouse, 100 or less. So it looks like 1100 give or take to get going in a good way, but it is a bit bigger chunk of change than I thought. Add a good DAC, cables and feet, and you get into a relatively costly front end.

For me, the main thing, once I had my priorities sorted out, was to get the best possible sound and user friendliness within reason, and the consensus among those who have compared, even to dedicated servers designed strictly for good sound, kept pointing a whole lot to the Mini. I can't say if this is the best sound for the money, but my system sounds unbelievably real.

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« Last Edit: 09/10/11 at 07:32:34 by will »  

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will
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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #28 - 09/10/11 at 14:25:22
 
Oops.....A backup hard drive is another expense in a computer audio system. After ripping all those disks, best to play it safe!
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« Last Edit: 09/10/11 at 14:26:10 by will »  

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Re: MUSIC SERVERS
Reply #29 - 09/10/11 at 15:33:56
 
Wow. So glad I'm sticking with my discs!  :)

Anyway, it's been over a month and my PS Audio Transport/DAC duo-front end is really impressing me. With the I2S connection via HDMI between the two cds (and DVR) sound fantstic. And via coaxial and glass Toslink the Blu-Ray and DVR sound is totally immersive.

The DAC can also be fitted with a Bridge allowing it server as a music server, and though I have no experience with this, and also no inclination to gain experience with this, just from the high quality of the DAC and its preamp capability and sound I'd think it's a solid contender in the context of a sort of system several of you are discussing. Not cheap. . . but a front-end that will make the Decware amps and speakers SHINE.
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