I want to store and playback high quality audio from a disk source

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Peter Lanky, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    I eventually want to replace my CD player with a system that will store and play back my music, in a similar way how my my wma files are stored and played on my computer but in hi-fi quality.

    I could buy an all-in-one solution such as the Olive 4HD, but this is quite an expensive option at the moment as is the even more expensive Naim equipment. I have read various methods by which people have achieved this, but I've not really yet found the definitive answer, or at least a range of options.

    My main requirement is sound quality, which I want to be at least as good as my Pink Triangle. My secondary requirement is that I don't have to have vast amounts of kit all over the house with its associated wiring, nor do I really want to have to switch on a computer every time I want to listen to my hi-fi, though I wouldn't rule it out if the right solution appears. Others in the house not sharing my interest is the reason why. I currently have a home network using a Linksys WRT54GS router for any wireless solutions.

    Apart from that basic information, I don't really know where to start, which pieces of kit I would require, or how much it would cost, though I would want it to be significantly less than the Olive which costs £2250. I'm just really looking for ideas that work.
     
  2. belloire

    belloire
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    I'd recommend a squeezebox touch and a nice quality dac. Add to that an appropriate nas or server (*********?) then spend the rest of your cash on music
     
  3. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    So how would I set this up? If I may speculate:
    Squeezebox, or similar item sits with hifi unit and plugs into DAC via HDMI cable which them plugs into amp with audio cables.
    Squeezebox gets wireless signal from network
    External HD source sits in an appropriate place somewhere in the house and connects wirelessly to network, but otherwise is stand-alone unit.
    External HD sends digital signal wirelessly to Squeezebox via network.

    How am I doing so far?

    If I am on the right lines, then:
    What software is used to control everything?
    I've heard about using an ipad touch as a controller, but there's no way I am every buying anything Apple, so what else could be used?
    Does this controller control the Squeezebox and the external HD?
    What quality of DAC would I need to get the sound quality I am looking for?
    What options do I have if I get all this stuff and the wireless signal is not adequate enough?

    As you can see, I am a long way from knowing what to do.
     
  4. belloire

    belloire
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    Close. The squeezebox is attached to the dac by coax or optical (it will attach to your amp but a dac can give it a nice lift) the dac then connects to the amp either balanced or RCA. (whichever you use) depending on the dac it might be a nice lift for your cd player too.
    Storage would be standalone and always on (and controlled by your pc if nas), but cables to the network, normally direct to router. The squeezebox works wireless or wired (I use wired) and is controlled by a phone or iPad type device. On my iPhone I use ipeng which costs £7 but there is a free sb app too. If you don't like apple then there are apps for android too.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  5. belloire

    belloire
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    The dac you buy is subjective, there is a bewildering choice out there and only listening can help. Something like an audiolab m-dac or rega rdac is a good place to start (£600 & £500) but the prices get stupid (eg £96000 for audio notes top dac)
    If your signal isn't good enough, either an 'n' spec router or cables. I use home plugs to attach mine with cables
     
  6. a8ch

    a8ch
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    Trod this path earlier this year, trying out popular options including Dacs. The Linn option was head and shoulders better for me, although tbf the Majik DSi oddly actually shares technology with it's bigger brother rater than its DS counterpart.

    If ultimate SQ is your objective I would save up a bit longer and buy a 24/192 solution as a minimum rather than faff around with 24/96. There are only a couple of streamers on the market to my knowledge that support this. I hear tell that Naim's NDX will be 24/192 compatible with a hardware fix soon if not already.

    I can say for sure with hi-end speakers there is a noticable difference, so great if you want to upgrade, and buys you a few years while the market catches up too! :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  7. belloire

    belloire
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    Linn ds is good, I had a sneaky ds before my squeezebox. I went with the sb/dac as it sounded as good, maybe better, to me (but I like the audiolab dac anyway) and its much cheaper to have a second sb elsewhere in the house.
    Only listening will tell
     
  8. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    Cabling a NAS would be difficult as I already use all 4 wired ports, so would have to get a new router if wireless is not practical. So is wireless no use for this? What sort of power consumption am I looking at if it's switched on all the time? What exactly am I controlling on the NAS from my PC, regular use or just file transfers after ripping etc?
     
  9. a8ch

    a8ch
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    AFAIK wireless does not have sufficient bandwith to carry bitrates above 24/96. With talk of higher bitrates being released it just makes sense to build the capability in now for the future.

    Of course wireless will improve also, but is likely to be more expensive because of the ditch and replace approach. Hardwire at present is still the cheapest way to future proof the infrastructure imo. As for the ports how about adding a network hub, all connections to the hub, one to the router, this is my configuration.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  10. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    you could extend your ports by adding a 4 port switch like the following

    Netgear FS105 Prosafe 5 Port Fast Ethernet Unmanaged Switch: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

    Use one of the existing ports to connect to the above switch and you will have 4 extra ports which you could connect either the nas or the other devices to it.
     
  11. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    Would that apply just to the NAS-to-network connection, or to the player-to-network as well? There is no possibility of hard wiring from the router to where the hi-fi is located, so if wireless is inferior, I will have to forget this approach until wireless improves.
     
  12. larkone

    larkone
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    Wireless N can carry hi-def video so it has more than enough bandwidth for hi-def music - though better if you use the 5GHz band rather than 2.4Ghz
     
  13. a8ch

    a8ch
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    No argument there, But I think it will be a while (and initially expensive) for a system to be released that takes advantage of the 5Ghz band and hence increased reliability and transmission of higher bitrates, and might be wrong but I also doubt it will be backwards compatible.

    All my NAS hardware is in one room placed near to main incoming BT socket, Linn streamer is hardwired and is situated in the AV room 10m away. I intend adding another hub to connect Humax HD STB, and Sony BDP for auto updates etc.

    Pics show Network Hub, Linkstation Mini NAS, Backup USB HDD And Livebox Router. Not shown is dedicated laptop which runs all control software, and music transfer, the laptop is accessed directly or remotely via my acer netbook. Works faultlessly tbh.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  14. amcluesent

    amcluesent
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    Budget accordingly, Naim, Linn, Musical Fidelity CLiC M1, Squeezebox Transporter
     
  15. Arcam_boy

    Arcam_boy
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    I'm using a Sonos ZP90 connected to my Naim XS via a Rega DAC and using a QNAP 212 NAS drive with 2TB of storage to store flac files.

    You should be able to put the whole lot together for under £1000 be able to store thousands of tracks on your NAS, use spotify, access internet radio and be left with very good sound quality.

    My whole system equates to around £4000 and this set up is certainly good enough for my system and I've not demoed it to anyone yet who's not been impressed by it.

    I demoed the Olive 3 and 4 running in to a Naim DAC and then switched for the Sonos in to a Naim DAC and the Sonos won's hands down in ease of use and matched it for SQ.

    You can of course by a cheaper DAC than the Rega I have (£498) and even a cheaper NAS to bring costs down even further.
     
  16. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    I'd be quite happy to spend £500 on a Rega DAC. What is starting to confuse me even more is the large number of different Sonos items. Every time somebody mentions Sonos, I am linked to a different item. As I said, I'm not well up on this area of technology, so what do different Sonos items do?

    Is your Sonos wired or wireless to your router?
     
  17. ozzzy189

    ozzzy189
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    Just buy a second hand majik ds for about 1200, make sure it's dynamiked. No need to mess around with the other dac gubbins you've mentioned! :p
     
  18. formbypc

    formbypc
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    Much will depend on how much music you have in digital form and how quickly you expect to expand, but my view is that the solutions such as the Olive have a built-in limitation in terms of hard disk size. Speaking as someone who has filled a pair of 160Gb drives, plus a 320Gb, 500Gb and 1Tb without even starting to think about ripping any CDs, an Olive with one 1Tb drive would be no use to me at all.

    I'd vote again for the SB Touch. It sounds good, and you can set it up to access a network location (which does require PC or drive to be switched on) or you can connect it to a USB drive and play your music from there. The limitation is that you need to decided on one or the other in the initial setup of the SB, as it won't let you switch later. However, for £200 the SB is a bargain compared to the Naim, Linn and Olive solutions.

    My view is that with the pace that things are moving at in this arena, and with advances in solid state storage, it may be best to hedge your bets before splashing out big money.
     
  19. fyonn

    fyonn
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    What about a mk1 Appletv connected to a nice dac? All the music stored on the device itself so no bandwidth issues or needing to keep a computer or nas online, supports apple lossless format audio. Really nice user interface, controllable from an iPhone or iPad. Only issue is that it's cd quality only. Still a really nice audio solution I think.

    David
     
  20. Arcam_boy

    Arcam_boy
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    To connect to a hi-fi system you would need a sonos ZP90 or I think there now called "connect" as they keep changing there name.

    This can then connect to the DAC via optical or coax and to your receiver via RCA.

    You can then control this via an apple/android phone/ipad/computer or dedicated Sonos controller although this is £280 and pretty much the same as the iphone.

    Going down this route although gives you scope in the future to upgrade to a better DAC or bigger/quicker NAS.

    I've got mine wired to the router and have run cat6 cables to a neatgear router in a spare bedroom where I have my NAS located however this could of been placed next to the Sonos.

    As your fully aware there are slightly better options out there but you'll be well over a grand to get them even on second hand market! :rolleyes:
     
  21. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    Ok. Now my NAS would have to be located nowhere near the Sonos (or AN Other), so wireless is the only realistic option. I'm talking a distance of around 15 feet from the router where the Sonos would be located.

    How do I recognise a good NAS from an average one. I'm reluctant to go off reviews on Amazon, as I doubt that many (like me) would know a good one from an average one. What features should I look for and are any brands considered better than others?

    As for the controller; call me stubborn but there is no way I ever buy an Apple product, and I don't really know what Android is, as my idea of a mobile phone is a £10 thing that I make phone calls on and nothing else, so how do I recognise an android phone? I could get a new phone from Virgin when they have an appropriate offer, but need a clue as to what to look at.
     
  22. ozzzy189

    ozzzy189
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    HTC sensation, desire hd, desire, Samsung galaxy 2, galaxy ace, etc etc. Anything with the little robot androidy icon. Most phones that aren't blackberry or iPhone are android these days. Look in the mobile phone forum.
    I use my HTC sensation with bubble ds to control my ds, works a treat. I don't buy apple either, but wouldn't mind an iPad in the future at sone point.
     
  23. larkone

    larkone
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    Not sure what you mean by backwards compatible but any 'n' device will also work on 'b' and 'g'. I am currently streaming 24/96 perfectly over a 'g' network through two walls into a brick inglenook fireplace with perfect reception - no dropouts or stuttering. 24/192 needs about 9.2Mbps so well within 'g' networks max of 54Mbps. 'n' uses MIMO so has a better grip on the signal compared to 'g' but to be honest as long as you don't have a house with difficult construction like an iron frame you really should not have any problems streaming 24/192 over a 'g' network.

    There are a lot of recommendations for Sonos but be aware they are limited to 16/44.
     
  24. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    Could you explain the reality of those numbers for me a little please and how they affect a)Sound Quality and b)Wireless network reliability. I want the best of both those criteria, but they really mean nothing to me.
     
  25. a8ch

    a8ch
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    I was merely suggesting that the OP with the above in mind dosn't invest in technology / products that were designed several years ago, when manufacturers are already designing for 24bit 384kHz resolution, and even with streamers the odd hifi addage `you have to spend more to get more' still applies.

    24/192 files are becoming more common place everyday. By compatible I meant a player designed for 24/96 or as you mentioned above with the Sonos 16/44 which is 1980's redbook cd quality, would merely downgrade hi-rez files to that standard even with an expensive dac, if they could that was.

    A 320kHz mp3 converted to flac etc is still only 16/44, you cannot put more `bits' into the file no matter how good the upscaling is on the dac, so I believe hi-rez lossless i.e. >= 24/192 will become the minimum standard shortly.

    Thats where my money would be directed anyway. :)

    http://www.olive.us/products/music_servers/olive6hd/specs.html
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  26. larkone

    larkone
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    24/192 are becoming more common but the reality is that most of the material is 're-mastered' from old recordings and that level of resolution was never there in the first place. This has been reported quite widely as being one of the cons of hi-res music sales. There is little new material out there that is recorded at this resolution. As I mentioned in a another post - You can record a wax cylinder onto a CD at 16/44 but would you call that recording 'CD quality'? If you buy it re-mastered at 24/192 then you know you are being conned - caveat emptor.

    For most new material out there is is difficult to find it at lossless 16/44 let alone anything higher - the majority of the download marketplace is still only pushing mp3. The few companies that are doing original hi-res recordings have a very limited playlist and this will the issue for some time to come.
     
  27. a8ch

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    Good points, not so sure about the re-mastering issue. Having worked and played in recording studios in the past, I can say master tapes can be incredible quality even those that are decades old. I say `can', because it still boils down to equipment quality and engineering and even the tape used.

    I have the original Gaucho album by Steely Dan on vinyl and 24/96 download, the download version is much better. I used to buy 24/96 exclusively being cheaper, until I heard a 24/192 sampler with a track off a 24/96 album I own. Subjectively to me the former just portrayed more space and nuances.

    Tend to spend the extra now. It's a real shame though as you intimated, it used to be the enthusiasts that drove the market, now it's the other way around. :(
     
  28. formbypc

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    If the 16/44 is upsampled to 24/192, that's a con.

    If the 24/192 is remastered from the original wax cylinder, that isn't. Strikes me that would be an improvement on the 16/44.
     
  29. Peter Lanky

    Peter Lanky
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    As I said before 16/44, 24/96 and 24/192 really mean nothing to me. So in simple terms, if I buy a:
    a) a normal newly released CD from a normal supplier
    b) a normal 2008 remastered Genesis CD recorded in 1973
    Which of these standards applies?
    (normal as opposed to any enhanced expensive specialist CDs)
    This is likely to comprise the source of my music.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  30. Alan Mac

    Alan Mac
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    For hard evidence that there is no audible difference between music recorded and played back at 24 bit / 88.2 kHz and the same music recorded at 16 bit / 44.1 kHz (CD quality)

    See the fourth example DYF file:


    Audio DiffMaker example files

    If you try this example you will find the difference signal to be completely inaudible.


    Alan
     

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