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Hardwired speakers, FLAC, NAS - how to bring them together?, Home stereo - wired speakers, NAS, FLAC. Now what?
Evil Overlord1
post Sep 15 2013, 16:14
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All,

I'd appreciate some advice. I have the following:
  • House with hardwired speakers - 1 pair (JBL) in each of four rooms. Each room has a wall-mounted volume control switch. All wires lead from speakers to volume controls to a common point in the living room
  • Music in FLAC format - almost all music in FLAC format. Some MP3
  • NAS - currently, all music is on Network Attached Storage. About 500 GB total, on a ReadyNAS NV+


What's the best low/middle range option (<$500) for playing back my music? My vague thought so far has been some combination of speaker selector (to handle 4 speaker pairs), receiver (to handle audio input and any other devices I hook up+local radio), and a cheap network connected laptop to manage the FLAC playback (+internet radio).

All of this is open to change - my main objective is to use the installed speakers to play my FLAC files. Other good things would be remote controllability (over two floors of a wood-frame building), maybe via a smartphone and WiFi.

I'm just starting to think this through, and won't take any practical steps for a few months. I'd like to use the intervening time to devise a realistic solution. I'm open to buying special hardware. I like my music, but I'm not a high-end (nor wealthy) audiophile. I'd like a <$500 solution. More than $1,000 is pretty much out of the question.
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garym
post Sep 15 2013, 17:06
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I'd recommend something like:

1. a "Niles" speaker selecter (placement at your stereo where all the separate room speaker wires are terminated)
http://www.amazon.com/Niles-SS-4-Four-Pair...+speaker+switch
http://www.amazon.com/Niles-SS-6-Six-Pair-...0/ref=pd_cp_e_3

2. something like a Squeezebox Touch (now discontinued, but available used or new in box from various sources). Install "logitech media server" on your ReadyNAS. This will be the server for your FLaC files to the TOUCH, which will be connected to your stereo via either analog (RCA) or digital (toslink or S/PDIF). Various, mini-headless computers can also act as if they are a squeezebox player. See for example:
http://vortexbox.org/forum/vortexbox/gener...nt-for-under-30

or alternatively use an inexpensive netbook connected to your stereo (preferably feeding a DAC either in your stereo or between netbook > USB > stereo). This netbook could run, say, foobar2000 as the player for your FLAC files.

This post has been edited by garym: Sep 15 2013, 17:07
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pyrosb
post Sep 16 2013, 02:06
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I assume your speakers are already amplified and you just need a source?

If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, you can roll your own "squeezebox" style device using a Raspberry Pi.
I am in the process of setting up something like this: http://blog.scphillips.com/2013/07/playing...dlna-revisited/

So far, the Raspberry Pi ($35) is setup and working, connected using 3.5mm or RCA cables to a small amp/speaker pair in each room (4 rooms, no central control point in my setup). The entire system (4 Pi units) is controlled using Android smartphones. Audio can move between rooms by selecting a new UPnP destination in the BubbleUPnP phone app ($3). Music (mp3/FLAC/etc.) is sourced from a PC/NAS in the basement running AssetUPnP server. You can add AirPlay to the Raspberry Pi if you prefer Apple devices in your environment.

It should also be possible to have a single Raspberry Pi control the speaker switching but that is not something I have attempted. Although I have added an LCD to the Raspberry Pi to display track information. Still working on having the amps power on and off when playback starts using audio detection relays.


--------------------
Fire always makes it better - the Offspring
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aztec_mystic
post Sep 16 2013, 03:20
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QUOTE (pyrosb @ Sep 16 2013, 03:06) *
If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, you can roll your own "squeezebox" style device using a Raspberry Pi.
I am in the process of setting up something like this: http://blog.scphillips.com/2013/07/playing...dlna-revisited/

Not the best guide in my opinion. It's not clear why you would want to run an UPnP media renderer on the Pi as opposed to squeezelite (or squeezeslave).

Other things to think about: (i) performance of Logitech Media Server on the ReadyNAS may be marginal (can't say for sure without knowing which generation and how much RAM you got); (ii) performance of the Pi is a bit marginal, especially if you can't use one of the stock options (line out, HDMI) for audio but need an external USB DAC.

This post has been edited by aztec_mystic: Sep 16 2013, 03:22
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garym
post Sep 16 2013, 12:04
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QUOTE (aztec_mystic @ Sep 15 2013, 21:20) *
Other things to think about: (i) performance of Logitech Media Server on the ReadyNAS may be marginal (can't say for sure without knowing which generation and how much RAM you got)


Very true re: ReadyNAS. Even the old ones (I had an original readynas duo) *can* work just fine for playing FLAC files, etc., except browsing with a large collection (at the time I had about 60k tracks) was painfully slow. Some of the newer x86 ReadyNAS units are very fast and don't have this issue. Not sure which is the NV unit. (In my own case, I moved to a small headless x86 linux (vortexbox) machine that both holds my files and runs Logitech Media Server. It runs 24/7 and is simply setup in a back closet. Note, that like a NAS, this doesn't need to be anywhere near your stereo. Rather, it simply needs to have a connection to your local network, preferably wired). Almost any old $100 used computer can have the vortexbox system (fedora linux based) installed on it and work as a music/video server. The vortexbox install is designed to be plug & play. I have a system at two residences and they work very well for serving and storing my library.
http://vortexbox.org/about
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2Bdecided
post Sep 18 2013, 11:59
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I expected the options in 2013 to be better or cheaper than they are. It seems like "just" getting audio 100% right is too much of a niche to fill properly on a budget.

Someone please prove me wrong. You're up against a Sansa Clip Zip with a 32GB miniSD card. I'd love networked audio that worked that well, with a decent (cheap, Android) tablet interface option, and not much more cost. Good luck wink.gif

Cheers,
David.
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4season
post Sep 18 2013, 22:51
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Hello, couldn't you just use Sonos devices to do the deed?

http://www.sonos.com/shop/products/connectamp

It's been awhile since I set it up, but I think you simply need your music collection to be in a network-accessible location, and point the Sonos to it. You can remote control via Mac, Windows, Android or iOS devices--I've tried all 4 versions of the client, and it works great: Clean, attractive, a breeze to navigate. No need to do any software mods to your NAS.

However, if you want fully independent control of each room via remote, you'd need multiple Sonos devices. On the other hand, if you did that, each room really would be fully independent, and could have different tunes playing at different volumes.

Downside: The client software is free, but the hardware costs add up fast.
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garym
post Sep 18 2013, 23:08
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Correct, the SONOS approach is functionally similar to the logitech squeezebox approach (sonos is more expensive and more tweaking can be done with squeezeboxes and there are "roll your own" hardware devices one can create that emulate a Squeezebox hardware player. Heck both my iphone and ipad also emulate a hardware squeezebox player when running iPeng app or squeezepad app). But a SONOS would certainly work.
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Evil Overlord1
post Sep 19 2013, 18:58
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Thanks to all for the input. I didn't mention that I already have a Logitech Radio, so already have Squeezecenter installed on the NAS. The NV+ is an older model, so slow, but it works fine for playback. I've considered Sonos, but I haven't seen a model that feeds of music held elsewhere, so the extra storage seems a bit redundant. I've thought about the Logitech Touch, and these comments suggest that's a decent way to go.
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garym
post Sep 19 2013, 21:25
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I have 5 of the squeezebox touch players. Marvelous little units, with spdif, toslink, and analog outputs.

Edit. The Sonos would use the music files on the nas.

This post has been edited by garym: Sep 19 2013, 21:41
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