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Hardware to run fb2k as music player within the living room
allerlei
post Aug 12 2009, 11:50
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Hi there,

I'm using fb2k since round about 4 months and I'm very happy with this software after trying iTunes, Winamp, Songbird and so on.
Now I'm thinking about some kind of music player for our living room, using fb2k. Maybe you can give me some ideas or recommendations based on the following demands we have:

* low power consumption
* as less radiation as possible (thinking about Bluetooth or wireless LAN)
* optical or coaxial digitil output for music
* possibility to connect to an old fashioned tube tv as display for maintanence
* all daily usage should be done by a remote control (can by i.e. some kind of Java App on a mobile phone by using Bluetooth)
* the daily usage should be realised by using the display of the remote control or by using a small dedicated display of the device itself
* the device itself should be good looking in order to be placed next to our amp within our living room

I'm looking forward to your ideas!

This post has been edited by allerlei: Aug 12 2009, 11:51


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odyssey
post Aug 12 2009, 12:29
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One thing I would definately love to see: A slim stylish ~11" wide touch-screen PC (something light, maybe an Atom or something like that, that doesn't need cooling) with SPDIF out and eventually NIC and/or WiFi.

A Crunchpad will probably fit such gap when it comes out, but it most definitely doesn't come with SPDIF.


...and having cables sticking out of the side all the time doesn't seem so stylish tongue.gif

...oh well, and the fact that it doesn't run Windows. But that might be hackable tongue.gif

Alternatively it would be cool if it's somehow possible to use foobar2000 on such thing with files from network shares and stream it back through WiFi to a receiving component with SPDIF. I think something like Apple Airport Express?

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vogliadicane
post Aug 12 2009, 14:46
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something like this ^^ would be stylish, no question.

Im running foobar on a HP TouchSmart in the living room, works like a charm.

Its now the central media device for us and has substituted the TV, CD/DVD-player and other devices. It has most features allerlei is looking for.
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allerlei
post Aug 12 2009, 15:40
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Yes, an All-In-One PC with a touchscreen like the mentioned HP TouchSmart fits more or less all of our demands (incl. inter alia the remote functionallity by using the http interface of fb2k offered by the 3rd Party http control plugin)...

...but: we do not want to have such big item. I'm thinking about some kind of nettop (Intal Atom stuff or something like that) with a small display on its front, controlled by the above mentioned http control of foobar. The only problem that this idea has: There is no nettop with a nice small display integrated on the marked available, isn't it?

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gob
post Aug 21 2009, 07:50
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i dont know how well a cell phone app would work, but you could look at a tablet pc or something with wifi that can run a vnc client. then you could get an ssf box such as a shuttle variant, or make something lightweight in a silverstone chassis, to sit beside your amp. put a vnc server on that box, i know ultravnc server will allow you to run a single application (such as foobar smile.gif as a vnc session so you can access foobars whole ui remotely.

as far as radiation, the only way to get away from that with this setup is to run a network between the ssf box and the remote.
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odyssey
post Aug 21 2009, 08:15
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QUOTE (gob @ Aug 21 2009, 08:50) *
i dont know how well a cell phone app would work...

Try foo_httpcontrol. It has a lot of functionality and many configs are even optimized for use on iPhone.


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allerlei
post Aug 21 2009, 09:26
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Yes, foo_httpcontrol is a fine thing. I don't have an iPhone, but it also works fine with my E71 Nokia.
So we'll try this kind of running foobar on our laptop computer linked to our hifi equipment at home. When it is smooth enough and we don't miss any screen / alternative user interface (there is only an old tube tv in our living room so no chance to use a nice tft as display for more complex operations), I'll buy some nettop and use it as audio-server and -player in our living room, controlled with foo_httpcontrol.

thanks!


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gcogger
post Aug 22 2009, 21:46
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I've recently done something similar, although I'm using a (cheap!) 19" widescreen LCD as the display and an IR remote to control it. Not the same as you want, but some of it may be helpful...

I built the PC myself using a mobile Atom board (Intel D945GSEJT) in a mini-ITX case (Compucase 8K01 - it looks better in horizontal orientation). Hard disk is internal - a 3.5" Samsung HD502HI 500GB 'green' drive. According to reviews this specific drive is quieter even than 2.5" ones, and doesn't consume much more power. This kit has passed the domestic acceptance test smile.gif

The computer only consumes about 2W in standby, and wakes up from this state in just a few seconds. Even when running it only consumes 16-17W (+2W if I plug in a USB wireless network dongle). It is also totally silent - there are no fans in the system and the drive is inaudible. It has no problems running foobar without a hitch, although it struggles with some of the visualisations!

The only problem with this board is the lack of an optical audio output, but that's easily solved by buying one of these: Behringer UCA202 which is very cheap, but fine for CD quality files and even comes with an ASIO driver for bit perfect output. I initially tried the PC into my DAC directly, as that has a USB input, but this created hum and interference issues due to ground loops. Nothing major, but they're completely gone now I go via the UCA202.

As I'm using it via remote control across a room, I've had to come up with my own minimalist foobar layout using size 32 fonts! It works pretty well, though, and the system is much nicer to use than the Logitech Squeezebox I used to use smile.gif Now that it's set up, I don't need the keyboard or mouse connected.

Anyway, I hope some of that is useful...
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odyssey
post Aug 23 2009, 03:15
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How much does power consumption increase when you add the USB?

I'd say it's really tempting. I didn't expect the power consumption to be that low. Actually I tried making a HTPC with low power consumption in idle.... failed - Now it pretty much just serves as foobar player using waaaay too much power.

Only drawback is that i would like a touch-display that doesn't look ass and are reasonably priced.

Does it come with the external power-supply?

Oh by the way, it DOES feature:
"S/PDIF digital audio header"

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ojdo
post Aug 23 2009, 08:58
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I am about to buy an ASRock Ion 330 due to its low power consumption (between 25 and 40 W, according to this German review), small form factor and HDMI+SPDI/F output. When you will use analog sound output, the similar Acer AspireRevo which is reported to have a better sound chip, might be a better choice.

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odyssey
post Aug 23 2009, 12:09
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Interresting posts. However the ASRock you just posted is supposed to use double of the Intel D945GSEJT? Please do post your experiences and measured power consumption on these devices. It would be good to know their limits as well - Are you able to do other things on them besides running as a music-player? Also how well do they handle DSPs like resamplers etc? Ever noticed hicccups while playing music (I do that often on network-traffic, like RDP to mine)?


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gcogger
post Aug 23 2009, 22:58
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QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 23 2009, 03:15) *
How much does power consumption increase when you add the USB?


Not sure what you mean by that? If you mean the Behringer thing, it only adds about 0.5W

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 23 2009, 03:15) *
I'd say it's really tempting. I didn't expect the power consumption to be that low. Actually I tried making a HTPC with low power consumption in idle.... failed - Now it pretty much just serves as foobar player using waaaay too much power.

Only drawback is that i would like a touch-display that doesn't look ass and are reasonably priced.

Does it come with the external power-supply?

Oh by the way, it DOES feature:
"S/PDIF digital audio header"


The motherboard just takes a 12V input, so something like a 60W power 'brick' would be plenty - that's how I'm running mine.

The S/PDIF output is, I assume, for a coax cable rather than optical (which would give the same earthing problems as the direct USB connection to the DAC). Regardless, I couldn't find a cable for it!

I've not yet noticed any hiccups or interruptions in the music, but mine is acting as a dedicated music PC, so wouldn't be doing much else. Even with the visualisations running (badly!) however, the music has still played fine.
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allerlei
post Aug 24 2009, 09:01
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Thanks for all those great ideas and replys!

@gcogger: Which kind of remote control you're using?


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gcogger
post Aug 24 2009, 09:48
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QUOTE (allerlei @ Aug 24 2009, 09:01) *
Thanks for all those great ideas and replys!

@gcogger: Which kind of remote control you're using?


The remote is a Cyberlink remote from play.com (I'm not sure what country you're in, so I don't know if you can buy from there). It's nice and cheap, but to get more control over what it does I've also bought this Intelliremote software - it lets you customise the buttons to send key presses or application events; or to run powerful scripts, or run applications. With that particular remote, not all of the buttons can be customised, but it's enough for my purposes. I use a universal learning remote anyway, so I get even more control that way.
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odyssey
post Aug 24 2009, 10:21
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Also my recommendations on IntelliRemote wink.gif It's a cheap piece of software but extremely powerful especially with it's built-in support for autoit3 scripts! In that regard I can recommend the Microsoft remote (it also exists in some rebranded models - I got a cheap Pinnacle remote). All buttons seem to be programmable on that one.

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allerlei
post Aug 24 2009, 11:15
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Tanks for your fast and really helpful answers!

I'm living in Germany, but all those items are also available here. The IntelliRemote sw really sounds good - thanks!

Stefan


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odyssey
post Aug 24 2009, 21:52
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QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 23 2009, 23:58) *
The S/PDIF output is, I assume, for a coax cable rather than optical (which would give the same earthing problems as the direct USB connection to the DAC). Regardless, I couldn't find a cable for it!

I took a look at the manual of the board, and no wink.gif The pin-header includes a 5V-pin, meaning that pretty much any bracket with both Coax and Optical (even both!) will work - just like this one. I verified that for exactly this one, the pin-out matches - as long as you connect it the right way wink.gif
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 23 2009, 23:58) *
I've not yet noticed any hiccups or interruptions in the music, but mine is acting as a dedicated music PC, so wouldn't be doing much else. Even with the visualisations running (badly!) however, the music has still played fine.

I'm asking because I sometimes strangely have dropouts on certain network activity, i.e. when i Remote Desktop to mine (that even has a powerful processor) or even more mystical things like when my other PC's go in standby (dropping network shares to the foobar2000-player/server)


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gcogger
post Aug 24 2009, 23:23
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QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 24 2009, 21:52) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 23 2009, 23:58) *
The S/PDIF output is, I assume, for a coax cable rather than optical (which would give the same earthing problems as the direct USB connection to the DAC). Regardless, I couldn't find a cable for it!

I took a look at the manual of the board, and no wink.gif The pin-header includes a 5V-pin, meaning that pretty much any bracket with both Coax and Optical (even both!) will work - just like this one. I verified that for exactly this one, the pin-out matches - as long as you connect it the right way wink.gif


Thanks - I couldn't find anything like that when I was looking before. I imagine the shipping cost to the UK would be pretty large, however! I might consider getting one to play with at some point. I'm not sure if it will do bit-perfect output via ASIO - I guess it would be a case of trying ASIO4ALL and see what happens.

(Edit: just found a UK supplier for the bracket, so I think I'll have to try it smile.gif )

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 24 2009, 21:52) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 23 2009, 23:58) *
I've not yet noticed any hiccups or interruptions in the music, but mine is acting as a dedicated music PC, so wouldn't be doing much else. Even with the visualisations running (badly!) however, the music has still played fine.

I'm asking because I sometimes strangely have dropouts on certain network activity, i.e. when i Remote Desktop to mine (that even has a powerful processor) or even more mystical things like when my other PC's go in standby (dropping network shares to the foobar2000-player/server)


I guess I don't generally do much over the network with the PC when it's playing music, so maybe that's why I haven't seen a problem. It's only been up and running for a couple of weeks, so I'll post here if I get any problems.

This post has been edited by gcogger: Aug 24 2009, 23:31
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odyssey
post Aug 24 2009, 23:53
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QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 00:23) *
I'm not sure if it will do bit-perfect output via ASIO

Mine is a Realtek HD Audio chip - probably the same used in this board (and most other boards recently). I haven't tried if bitperfect out works, but I could try that out tomorrow probably.
Edit: Someone already did the test.

If someone knows already, don't hesitate to reply wink.gif

Edit: I think this might actually be a solution for me as well. However I find this case a bit more attractive - It's much smaller wink.gif

My current solution uses way too much power to run all the time. The most annoying is that every flatscreen I've been looking at draws a lot more power than the PC-itself would. So currently I'm looking for some tiny PIR-USB sensor (or kit) that could allow for such display to sleep if no motion is detected. I've found a few kits already but no OOTB solution yet. This discussion on the subject is interresting.

This post has been edited by odyssey: Aug 25 2009, 00:04


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gcogger
post Aug 25 2009, 00:12
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QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 24 2009, 23:53) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 00:23) *
I'm not sure if it will do bit-perfect output via ASIO

Mine is a Realtek HD Audio chip - probably the same used in this board (and most other boards recently). I haven't tried if bitperfect out works, but I could try that out tomorrow probably.

If someone knows already, don't hesitate to reply wink.gif


Thanks. I guess the other issue, if you believe the audiophile crowd, is whether the onboard sound chip would have higher levels of jitter than an external one. I really don't know if that's an issue, though...

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 24 2009, 23:53) *
Edit: I think this might actually be a solution for me as well. My current solution uses way too much power to run all the time. The most annoying is that every flatscreen I've been looking at draws a lot more power than the PC-itself would. So currently I'm looking for some tiny PIR-USB sensor (or kit) that could allow for such display to sleep if no motion is detected. I've found a few kits already but no OOTB solution yet.


The monitor I bought (an Acer V193WA) claims to use 22W while on and only 0.85W while in standby. Could you not switch your system into standby when it's not in use? My whole system, including monitor, takes less than 3W in standby, and starts up in 11-12 secs.

edit: That case looks pretty nice. (It doesn't look like it takes a 3.5" drive, if that matters). I'm not sure how good the cooling would be - one picture shows a lot of vents in the top, but another shows a lot less. There also seems to be a lot of metal above the board - the Compucase one has nice open space and plenty of venting over the motherboard, which was one reason for getting it. As I wanted to run completely passively, I was paranoid about ventilation smile.gif

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odyssey
post Aug 25 2009, 08:46
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QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
Thanks. I guess the other issue, if you believe the audiophile crowd, is whether the onboard sound chip would have higher levels of jitter than an external one. I really don't know if that's an issue, though...

I don't really care about audiophools. They can believe what they want, as long as I find the sound perfect, that's good enough for me.

QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
Could you not switch your system into standby when it's not in use?

Sure, but wouldn't it be nice to have cover shown when playing and someone is in the room? wink.gif

QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
My whole system, including monitor, takes less than 3W in standby, and starts up in 11-12 secs.

Which OS do you use?

QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
edit: That case looks pretty nice. (It doesn't look like it takes a 3.5" drive, if that matters). I'm not sure how good the cooling would be - one picture shows a lot of vents in the top, but another shows a lot less. There also seems to be a lot of metal above the board - the Compucase one has nice open space and plenty of venting over the motherboard, which was one reason for getting it. As I wanted to run completely passively, I was paranoid about ventilation smile.gif

It does take 3,5". I agree it looks weird that one case has better ventilation. I don't think heat would be a big issue as long as the HDD is not placed directly over the CPU.

Edit: BTW, did you use a cheap watt-meter like a kill-a-watt or a proper one with more accurate readings? You might be able to rent one at a library or something like that.

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gcogger
post Aug 25 2009, 10:34
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QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 25 2009, 08:46) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
Could you not switch your system into standby when it's not in use?

Sure, but wouldn't it be nice to have cover shown when playing and someone is in the room? wink.gif


Of course, I meant when the system was not in use at all. The total of around 50W or less seems OK to me if it's just while I'm actually playing music. YMMV, of course.

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 25 2009, 08:46) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
My whole system, including monitor, takes less than 3W in standby, and starts up in 11-12 secs.

Which OS do you use?


That's with Windows XP, using a streamlined install made with nLite, and with some of the optimisations selected.

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 25 2009, 08:46) *
QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 01:12) *
edit: That case looks pretty nice. (It doesn't look like it takes a 3.5" drive, if that matters). I'm not sure how good the cooling would be - one picture shows a lot of vents in the top, but another shows a lot less. There also seems to be a lot of metal above the board - the Compucase one has nice open space and plenty of venting over the motherboard, which was one reason for getting it. As I wanted to run completely passively, I was paranoid about ventilation smile.gif

It does take 3,5". I agree it looks weird that one case has better ventilation. I don't think heat would be a big issue as long as the HDD is not placed directly over the CPU.


The linked web page says one 5.25" external plus one 2.5" internal, so that's why I didn't think it could take a 3.5". Maybe a 3.5" could be fitted instead of a slim optical drive?

One reason I was paranoid about cooling was that I originally had the board in a T3 case from Tranquil PC. This has not much room inside, and the ventilation could be better, although there is (mostly) room above the MB heatsinks. I found that doing anything with high CPU load (e.g. some visualisations) caused it to heat up quite a lot. Using CoreTemp (which seems to under-read quite a bit compared to the readings on the BIOS screen) showed the CPU temp got to 71 C under heavy load, and was still climbing at a fair rate, when I stopped the test. The northbridge seems to get much hotter than the CPU, although there's no temp monitor for that, and Intel's specs state that it can run hotter than the CPU. I ran the test again when I got the new case and, in the same time, CoreTemp only read 63 C, and the temperature seemed to be stabilising. Maybe I'm worrying too much but, given that I'm not sure if CoreTemp is reading correctly, I feel much better about using the new case...

QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 25 2009, 08:46) *
Edit: BTW, did you use a cheap watt-meter like a kill-a-watt or a proper one with more accurate readings? You might be able to rent one at a library or something like that.


It's a cheapo meter I'm afraid (similar to this one), but it should be in the ballpark which is fine for my purposes smile.gif The readings seem to tie in very closely with what I'd expect from the hardware specs.

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odyssey
post Aug 25 2009, 11:11
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QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 11:34) *
It's a cheapo meter I'm afraid (similar to this one), but it should be in the ballpark which is fine for my purposes smile.gif The readings seem to tie in very closely with what I'd expect from the hardware specs.

I don't have much faith in these anymore. I got a reading of 30W of my ATX PSU in standby with *nothing* connected when it was supposed to run <1W. It turned out the meter did an incorrect reading, as a professional wattmeter rented from the local library showed the correct usage.

QUOTE (gcogger @ Aug 25 2009, 11:34) *
It doesn't look like it takes a 3.5" drive, if that matters

Aww damn you're right, it doesn't! There are a few other interesting cases available that doesn't take up much space, but they are really expensive. Can anyone recommend a cheap mini-itx case (preferably without PSU) that supports 3.5"?

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odyssey
post Aug 25 2009, 22:14
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How about using a ZOTAC IONITX-C? That seems a reasonable alternative to the Intel-board. It utilizes the same processor but instead a nForce chipset that even allows smooth playback of full-HD 1080p. Anandtech made a review here.

As for the case... well, I'm kinda in love with the Nexus Psile, although it *might* need a fan to drive the heat out of the cabin.


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gcogger
post Aug 25 2009, 22:58
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QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 25 2009, 22:14) *
How about using a ZOTAC IONITX-C? That seems a reasonable alternative to the Intel-board. It utilizes the same processor but instead a nForce chipset that even allows smooth playback of full-HD 1080p. Anandtech made a review here.

As for the case... well, I'm kinda in love with the Nexus Psile, although it *might* need a fan to drive the heat out of the cabin.


The ZOTACs look like very good boards. Looks like they consume more power, though, and would probably need better ventilation. (I'm sure I saw a review where the tester said he couldn't get it to work without a case fan). For my purposes (audio only) the Intel is just fine, but I'd say the ZOTAC is certainly the way to go if you want to do video.
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