audio tips anyone?

On what has to be a common topic, I'm more and more wanting to have a way to (easily) play my music through my receiver. The traditional answer would be a big-ass CD changer. While that would work, I don't know that it's really ideal for my usual listening pattern (lots of random) and also is a bit limited in expansion capability. Also, I already rip all of my CDs to ogg so that I can have them with me, so it seems that being able to take advantage of that would be ideal. There are a number of hardware devices available to support playing encoded music via a receiver. And with consumer-grade NAS, I could even get away with not having to keep another full machine running.

Unfortunately, this hits a couple of snags
a) Most of the devices require some custom software running on a PC. So much for not having to have a dedicated machine always running.
b) Support for non patent encumbered formats is rare at best.

The best idea I've got at present is getting one of the Roku Soundbridge devices and setting up a machine to run the server and do transcoding. I'd probably take the plunge on reripping my CDs to flac at that point, just to get better sound quality for after the transcode. Anyone know of anything better that I'm missing? If so, leave a comment or send me mail. I'd be interested to hear what other people have ended up doing before going and reinventing the wheel myself. I'm pretty much resigned to having to compromise on at least one if not both of the above at this point, so don't let one of them stop you from making a suggestion.

Update: And the third bit I forgot to mention is that being able to control it with a remote instead of having to use my laptop would be a plus. Since if I'm going to have to use my laptop, I might as well just plug it into the receiver instead.

18 thoughts on “audio tips anyone?”

  1. What if you hired a very skilled one-man band with the ability to sing all of your favorite songs and reproduce them perfectly and had him stand in the corner? You could get one of those folding partitions to decoratively hide him away.

  2. ok well now that others have already recommended a mini or airport express…

    i don’t feel so bad seconding the ideas… the mini would be nice because you could use software on it to play back your files without having to transcode or re-encode them…

    the express would be nice because its so much cheaper, and with a little magic from dvd jon… but its temporarily (I hope) MIA on his site, JustePort I think is the one, what it does is allow you to stream MPEG4-based Apple Lossless files to the AE, so transcoding wouldn’t be too bad or hard, since it would just need to up-sample it to the higher quality format… but then you’re running into using a proprietary format…

    *shrug*

  3. Audio Recommendation

    Instead of the Roku Soundbridge, try the SqueezeBox2 from slimdevices.com Better hardware I believe, and the software to run it is written in Perl. Some people have even ported it to run on consumer NAS devices like the Buffalo Technology Linkstation.

    http://www.slimdevices.com – SqueezeBox Info
    http://www.buffalotech.com – Consumer NAS device
    http://fieldnetworks.com/slim/linkstation.html – Guide for installing server software on the Buffalo NAS

  4. I did a little different setup for my brother. He rips and stores the CD on NAS (Linksys NSLU2 $79 and Maxtor External 200HD $200). Hooked to his Home Network ( w/Wireless ) any computer can access and update the wife’s iPod. He add sonos system ( http://www.sonos.com ) to two rooms and one outside ($1698). The sonos does come with a remote.
    Formats it plays: Native Support for compressed MP3, WMA, AAC (MPEG4), Ogg Vorbis, and Flac (lossless) music files as well as uncompressed WAV and AIFF files. Firmware upgradable to support future audio formats. DRM-encrypted and Apple or WMA Lossless formats not currently supported.
    Like I said, a little different. And if you want more control over the NAS (NSLU2), check out http://www.nslu2-linux.org/ . The sound is great. The control is easy. The NAS/HD are left on, uses little power and you can add a second HD. And the NAS is use for Shared Folders for the three computers.
    Or use Roku Soundbridge instead of sonos system.

  5. The airport express just uses daap (http://www.opendaap.org/) from what I understand. But that still ends up requiring a computer to control which I forgot to mention is less than ideal.

    Sure my laptop is usually sitting there, but I’d rather not have to use it.

  6. It’s interesting the number of apple-based responses I got quickly. The problem with them is they all rely on the computer for controlling, not just doing the providing of the music.

  7. Re: Audio Recommendation

    Thanks, I had forgotten about the actual squeezebox. The soundbridge can actually use the same software as a source. I’ll have to do some more comparisons between the hardware

    I also didn’t know about the Buffalo NAS devices. I had looked a bit at the Linksys NSLU2 which you can use with two different firmwares.

  8. yup…

    the Roku is niiice though, a couple friends down here have them, one of them runs daapd on his *bsd box, where all his music is stored, and the Soundbridge connects to it to get the music in the same manner it connects to the iTunes network sharing… now the question is could you use daapd to deliver ogg content?

  9. actually the express doesn’t do the daap thing, its a little more funkified, dvd jon broke the encryption on it soon after they came out, but yeah, it still needs a computer controller

  10. The roku doesn’t natively support ogg, but you can do transcoding from flac -> anything on the fly pretty easily. And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to add more format supports in the future if they wanted, the question is mainly one of having the demand.

  11. Re: Audio Recommendation

    The friends I stayed with in London a week or two ago had one of those squeezebox toys. It seemed quite neat, and played multiple file formats, including oggs iirc.

  12. http://www.slimdevices.com/ <- Squeezebox2, the software on server side is small, perl, and GPL. the DACs are better than any others I have seen out there on such a device. Native flac support is certainly a plus. I will give you more details over the weekend, mine will arrive on friday. Basically, I have used the Audiotron, tivo, and a dedicated myth box, I think Squeezebox is a worthwhile upgrade.

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