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Hard disk Audio players - like imerge

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Triggaaar, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I've read through some good threads on HD players like the imerge s2000, and home made PC versions, and thought an update of where people have got to would be good.

    Has anyone got an imerge system, or built something equivelant?

    The imerge does seem a bit pricey for what it is (£1900 for the 160Gig), but you can control it from individual rooms - using Netboxes (more expense @ £600 each, with 30W amp) would allow you to search through the titles and tracks, and make selections for that room. Has anyone come up with a comparible alternative for controlling a central pc from seperate rooms (without having a pc in each room)?

    Thanks
     
  2. kryten

    kryten
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  3. Steve Bate

    Steve Bate
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    How about a centrally located Audio Server, PC with big hard disk, something like the RME soundcard with analog expansion board that will give you 6 analog outputs you can then feed small integrated amps and run speaker cable to each room, or into the KAT5 distribution system then into amp.

    I know you said noPC's but I currently run a WLAN with an Audio Server in the middle and wireless capable PC's accessing my 200+ losslessly compressed CD's, these can then either have PC speakers for low-fi or another soundcard feeding amp/speakers for hi-fi.

    A lot less than Imerge for better quality.

    HTH

    Steve
     
  4. daren jackson

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    Yes, I have implemented a solution

    All my equipment is housed under the stairs:

    2 x Xantech amps (12 channel/ 35w channel)
    Xantech preamp & IR controller
    PC with lots of space (2 x 250gb, 1 x 40gb) decent sound card (24/96) and IR Girder
    Philips Pronto Pro (to control the sound remotely)
    Xantech IR (dinky link) and in each room
    Xantech 6.4" smartpads in each room (see picture)
    Soundstyle ceiling speakers in each room

    I use Microsoft Media Player (with the digital media pack) to control the sound (and video)

    To give you some idea on costs:

    a 4 room solution will cost approx £5k - including a mono smartpad in each room and a Pronto (excluding fitting)

    Hope this helps
     

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  5. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Yeah I don't mind a PC server, but can't get one in each room - just not consumer friendly enough.

    Nice one darren, thats another thing for me to research. But before I look at that, the current options I've seen:

    Imerge sound server, with Imerge Netboxes in each room
    Pros:
    Looks good
    Good functionality
    Cons:
    Expensive (£1900 for 160Gig, + £600 for each netbox)
    Low quality for the price

    CyrusLink soundserver setup like imerge
    Pros:
    As imerge, + Possibly decent quality sound - same DACs as their conv setup
    Cons:
    Expensive (about £4K for server, then at least £600 per room)

    PC HD server
    SlimP3 or AudioTron, feeding an amp in each room (£200-£240 + amp)
    Pros:
    I'm hoping it has everything the above options have, but with better quality, for less £
    Cons:
    Not as consumer friendly - you have to sort the server out yourself (but I'm happy to do that).
    So these 2 options (slimP3 and Auditron) I'm well excited about. Do a search on AudioTron and SlimP3 and there's quite a bit in this forum. Question is what's the quality like - a lot of comments have referred to compressed MP3 - but when you can have several hundred Gig on your main server, for not too much £, there's no real need to compress (unless lossless compression provides as good playback). I hear the slimP3 looks better - but it doesn't have digital out.

    I see in your post kryten, that you have the AudioTron. Ignoring the functionality, what value CD player do you think compares to its output (RCA and optical)?

    Thanks
     
  6. kryten

    kryten
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    The RCA is ok but they've wired it alongside the headphones - there's a guy who's posted a mod to remove the headphone link and improve the quality (can't remember where) but I don't use the RCA output (except for Zone 2 playback).

    I think the quality is excellent. I haven't managed to a/b it yet - mainly because the quality is good enough that listening to my favourite tracks, I can't really notice anything missing from when I had a demo of my system using the arcam fmj dvd player as a cd transport. A mate borrowed it and had it a/b in his meridian digital system - the audiotron came second but only just - on some tracks there was almost no difference.

    However, I have an AV8 which has very good DACs - I need to go a long way up the ladder to find a dedicated CD player that is better connected via analogue than co-ax.

    The AudioTron doesn't support lossless playback, but it uses simple file sharing, so there are no pc based programs to install for it to work. WAV playback is excellent - I haven't bothered with MP3 as I have half a terrabyte of Raid 5 to play with.

    They've just added DRM support too, so I believe buymusic.com files now work - you can also connect to web streams so I've listened to a few things on BBC7 from it.

    Some people have moaned that it can only cope with 32,000 tracks at a time - though IMHO they must be collectors and don't actually listen to the music (at 3 minutes a track 32,000 tracks would be over 6 weeks of 24x7 music!)

    The display is a little small to be read from 6m away (I can just do it) but you can create playlists on the pc and assign these to buttons.

    Also, it has a web server built in so you can add/remove tracks using that (there are many custom apps written to help with this). I have a wireless tablet pc that i often use to cue up tracks.

    I ruled out the slimp and another player whose name escapes me due to lack of digital output.

    Overall I'm very pleased with it and would thoroughly recommend it.
     
  7. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Thanks Kryten, it all sounds good - I can feel christmas coming (no reference to 'the world is not enough' intended).

    I agree re capacity. Nothing wrong with collectors, but I'm not one, so .WAV should be ok for me.

    Does your server stream the data so that several AudiTrons can use it? And does it matter what your computer hardware is like - it's CD for example? I assume that since the CD data has already been copied to the HD, its irrelevant.
     
  8. gilesm

    gilesm
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    This all sounds rather exciting. 've already got 50Gb of MP3 on my PC - mainly for use with my iPOD, but's it's been fantastic rediscovering music that I'd forgot I had- it's a lot easier to do it once it's altogther. Anyway I too am looking into the whole hard disk recording thing.

    Just one question though I noticed Dido's new album has a warning that it is copy protected and that it may not play on PCs or Games Machines - if this is true, and it's the way the music industry is going - then it puts something of a dampener on the whole hard disk thing. Has anyone had any problems with the imerge, or audiotron systems?
     
  9. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Oh lord, don't say that. Sounds a bit odd - so many customers would buy a CD, and copy to portable mp3s etc. And I don't suppose Linn and the like would be too impressed.
     
  10. gilesm

    gilesm
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    Actually I don't really understand what the difference is between a CD drive in a PC and one in a HiFi. Are the CD Drives in the imerge for example PC drives or HiFi drives?

    I know there's another thread in the Music forum about this, and there are ways around it on PCs but on Hard Disk players you don't have the luxury of using other utilities to get around protection. I guess as Sony, Yamaha and the like are introducing Hard Disk servers then they've thought about this already?
     
  11. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    My mate bought a new Blank and Jones album which had this copy protection. He ripped it with EAC and then took it back to the shop and told them it would not play, and got it changed for another one :rotfl:

    They (the recording industry) should get what they deserve for this. I would urge anyone who finds a copy protected CD to burn a copy and take it back. That is what I will do - and I've always traditionally kept CD's that I've liked, but its the principle of this that makes me do it. :thumbsdow
     
  12. mjn

    mjn
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  13. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Yeah I've seen those - £2190 + £764 per room, and I don't think the quality is too good. Had a listen on Friday (B&W ceiling speakers).

    I'm currently thinking the SlimP3 or AudioTron + PC could be the best route, though I'm not sure what the quality of the anologue output is like. Kryten is clearly impressed with the digital out (only available on the AudioTron), but I'm not sure if you can get a stereo amp with digital in (anyone?). Would be a waste getting AV amps for each room, that aren't going to be that great with stereo anyway. A cheap DAC would do, though I haven't looked into this option yet, except to find that the Cambridge Audio s700 has been discontinued. One was on ebay for £112, with a few hours still left (don't know what it went for).

    I'm hoping the PC would need to be anything special either - I assume that the quality of the CD drive on the pc is irrelevant IF you only use it to copy to the hard drive (if anyone corrects me, please explain why I'm wrong, as I don't understand where the quality drops) - I'm gessing you only get jitter etc if playing direct from the CD drive.
     
  14. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    Triggaar you might wanna get a half decent CD drive just from a point of view of copying CD's with copy protection. Plextor's and Yamaha's are good choice as is the latest Liteon 52x burner.
     
  15. xio

    xio
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    Don't know if you've seen, but there's a new version of the slimp3 out now with digital output and wireless lan built in.
     
  16. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Thats excellent news, thanks - not been looking for a while, as renovating house, but slimp3 with digital out would be good. Not sure how well the wireless will work.

    Also not sure what amps to use for digital - not going to get av amps for each room, and cheap DACs seem hard to find.
     
  17. s_tether

    s_tether
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    I have just bought a Pinnacle Showcenter which is basically a controller for you PC stored Music, Movies and Photos.
    It has SCART, Component, Composite, S-Video, Audio Out (Analogue and Digital).:clap:

    It just connects to you TV and Recever or Hifi and to a Network via cable or wireless if you plug in a PCMCIA wirless card.
    You can use multiple PCs on a network to store files and can use multiple Showcenters on the network in several rooms too !
    Its quite nice looking as well - same width as standard hifi component and about 1 1/2" high and blue LEDs.
    Doddle to fit and setup and easy to use.
    I have it plugged into my plasma via component and to my receiver via optical audio.
    It comes with organisation software and plays MP3s, WMA, HDD stored VOBs, DIVXs, etc etc
    Only £199 as well !!

    :smashin:
     
  18. kryten

    kryten
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    Does it play WAV (native or lossless compressed)?
     
  19. s_tether

    s_tether
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    No anything but MP3 is converted to MP3 128
     

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