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music server. wireless?

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, May 3, 2004.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Here’s what I fancy doing.

    Want a central music server with, preferably, uncompressed audio but WMA or MP3 may have to do. Want to be able to access this music in main system using a graphical interface on TV or on PocketPC. Also want to access this in Kitchen and in Study. Control in Study can be from PC, control in Kitchen from some other method.

    I was thinking of a Roku plugged in to local mini system in Kitchen?
    Old PC formatted and used just as music server in study?
    Not sure about how to do the control etc from PDA or if it’s necessary if there is something that can access the music and have an OSD (perhaps modding XBOX for meda server duties)

    Oh Kitchen and Living room have to be accessed wirelessly.. I have an 802.11B Dlink wireless router.

    In case you haven’t worked it out yet I am trying to do this on the cheap.

    All and any help gratefully received.

    G
     
  2. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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    A friend does this with his server under the stairs - he uses remote access software from another pc - VNC and that means he doesn't need a kb, mouse or monitor connected to it.

    Windows XP remote access control (can't remember what they call it) may work too.

    Gary.
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Gary,

    I don't understand. I need to have a method to stream music wirelessly to my lounge and kitchen then have devices in those area that can access this and give analogue(kitchen) and digital(lounge) audio outputs to hi-fi systems. It's being able to see the database of music in lounge and/or kitchen that I see as another problem. I don;t see how XP remote access is of use to this? Am I missing something here?

    Thanks for fast feedback.

    Gordon
     
  4. cwick

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    Gordon,

    Not sure how you'll do all that on the cheap ;) But I'd go with a Roku HD1000 in the main system. For under £200 it's a steal considering it also handles hi-def material (although it'll struggle to stream hi-def over 802.11b). But it will give you a reasonable front-end to an MP3 or uncompressed music library remotely. Quieter than an xbox too.

    Study, like you say, use a PC.

    Kitchen, I'd guess either a Roky Soundbridge or a Slim Devices squeezebox (both the same thing really), but that might blow the budget.

    Or, if such a thing exists, a PDA with a docking cradle that provides a line-out. Then you could dock it in the kitchen, use it as a networked walkman with headphones, and even a wireless remote. Lots of tinkering involved to get it all working no doubt - I'd probably be lazy and go with a soundbridge.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  5. Peter Parker

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    Sorry Gordon - didn't read what you was after properly. I asumed part of your problem was accessing the server remotely to queue up music/take control of the box etc.

    Gary.
     
  6. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    My main concern I suppose is the user interface in the kitchen and living room. It'd be good to have a web interface with the box in the living room in case I can't be arsed turning on the TV to look at display. The Kitchen doesn't have a TV so I thought maybe a PDA could work as a gui there too if there was only a server/bridge to get audio to the little hi-fi.

    Gordon
     
  7. Triggaaar

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    Gordon,

    I'm doing simillar, and have had a look at a kind forum members SlimP3 system. That's been replaced by the Squeezebox, which includes digital out (should you want to be able to improve quality) and can be used wirelessly. The Roku looks nicer, and uses the same software (they've used the open software from slim devices, which I think as annoyed the community), but I don't think can do wireless?

    Anyway, to answer your question...
    If you go wirelss squeezebox, or simillar, you won't need a PDA - you'll only need the server you have. It doesn't have to be high spec.

    I was amazed how easy to use the Slimp3 was. Searching is fast, easy, and configurable. Easy to sync rooms. Display can be changed to suit you - double size font if unit is far away - or display to switch off if distracting from AV equipment, for example.
     
  8. Triggaaar

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    I'm so impressed with the Slim device (and Roku should be simillar as they've used the open source), that I'm going to give you more detail :)

    Using the server, you can configure how you use the system to search. I think the best method for me, is browsing by Artist. I'll explain how this works, but you could also browse by album title, song title, or search on these, and more.

    If you want to play Nirvana, by Nirvana:
    Press down arrow on remote a couple of times (like on sky remote) to highlight 'Browse by artist' on the Slimp3
    Press right arrow (listings start at 'A')
    Press 6 twice (in a text message style, to list artists starting with N.
    Hold down arrow to whiz through all artists starting with N.
    Press right arrow to list albulms by chosen artist.
    Down arrow to choose Album
    Play

    Takes longer to read than do. When I compare that to the offerings from Imerge and Cyrus, its fantastic. All you can do with those, is hold a down arrow, and wait for it to scroll through your 600 albums.

    You can also create play lists, and browse through these in the same way. Basically, once set-up, all you need is a remote, and 4 seconds (I've timed it).
     
  9. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    My equipment is all in an understair cupboard so I need to have a GUI or some form of visual interface in the room for control in Living room. Just been to their site and see it is able to be controlled from a webpage? Could it be possible to have a PDA on a wireless network controlling it then?

    Gordon
     
  10. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Ah! You only need to use a GUI to set it up, and add CDs etc. You can use the GUI to select tracks (yes, through a webpage), but that's not what you'd usually do.

    To access the webpage, you could use a wireless PDA, or if you connected the server to your L.R plasma (or whatever) you could use a wireless keyboard and mouse (radio wave - that's the route I'm taking, as I'll put my HTPC under the stairs) which would be able to interact with a PC under the stairs in most houses.
     
  11. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Just to make sure we understand each other:
    When you want it to play in your living room, you can either use the remote that comes with it, or a GUI interface to select your track from the server, but either way, you have to have a device (Roku/Squeezebox/AudioTron) in the Living room.

    If you wanted to go without a device in that room, you can just use xlobby, and run wires from your sever's soundcard to your amp - so that would be totaly seperate from your kitchen & other rooms Roku style system.
     
  12. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Server lives in study. No audio out of it. It's attached to household wireless lan.

    Want to access music on the server in Living room and also possibly Kitchen. I understand I need client devices for each remote location, these clients need to be wireless.

    My issue I suppose is, as always with distributed systems, the user interface. I'm not a fan of single line displays for navigating large music collections. That's why a visual display on a TV or a PDA is much more what I'd be hoping for.

    I posted on other forums and got other ideas too. This slim thing looks good. The Linksys device looks good except it doens't have digital output and audio quality is going to be an issue for me as well. However if it's a pain to use I'll never get round to finding out how good it might be....

    Thanks for all your help so far, very very grateful.

    Gordon
     
  13. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    The SlimP3 is a two line display - can be made 1 line for larger font. Xlobby on PDA's, or touch screens appealed to me, but I wasn't expecting the Slim devices to be so easy to use. I thought the AudioTron might be for me, as it has buttons like normal hi fi equipment, but I've changed my mind after seeing the SlimP3.

    I have the choice of touchscreens/PDAs with Xlobby or MyHTPC etc, but I prefer the user 'experience' with the SlimP3 & co. (for example, I don't like using a PDA to change chanels on TV, as I like to do it without looking at the remote, using solid remote buttons - and not having to switch a PDA on first.

    You may prefer the PDA user experience - if so, xlobby would be great, but I don't know how you'd wirelessly link your server to the amp in each room. So maybe use the Slim/Roku, and get skins to control the devices (edit - I mean server) from a PDA. I haven't seen them, but they can be programmed to be how you like, so I should think they're fine - should be able to search for screenshots - check out the slim forums.

    May be worth seeing if someone can demo a SlimP3 for you. If you want to use a PDA though, the skins should be good.
     
  14. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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  15. Steve Bate

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    Gordon,

    Thats exactly what I do, I have all my CD's ripped and losslesly compressed with ape and replayed via PC's (wirelessly) with JRiver MC9, MusicLobby and controlled via a PDA wirelessly connected running MusicLobbyPPC. Info at here

    Steve
     
  16. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Steve,

    That just looks to me like a method to store and control or play music on a PC. I don;t see how that is of use to me when my server is in the study upstairs. I am looking for a client device with a good gui and digital output.

    I suppose sticking a wireless card in the PC A decent digital output audio card and then sticking it in cupboard with equipment might be an option but it's not what I had planned.

    What are you using as the wireless client that you control with the PDA and music lobby?


    Gordon
     
  17. Branxx

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    I think Ruku or SliMP3 are more of a gimmick devices. Why not simply buy a 2nd hand laptop with wireless builtin or with extra wireless card and use it in the kitchen. You can also add ultra-high quality laptop sound card if that is an issue.

    I tried that and with works without a glitch and you can still surf the net, read food recepies, etc and have any music player, DVD player, TV client.
     
  18. Stuart Wright

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  19. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I don't want a laptop in the kitchen thanks. There isn't enough room as it is!

    SLIMP3 with PDA that will also take over from my pronto is looking like the answer. Having said that the PC I was going to use as server has just died this afternoon!.....nothing is simple in my world.

    Gordon
     
  20. Stuart Wright

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  21. Ivan8192

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    Remember that it is technically illegal to broadcast in the FM radio frequency range without a licence... :nono:

    Mind you, you could create your own radio station especially for your neighbours :)
     
  22. Rob.Screene

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    Hi Gordon,
    I use the cheaper (£90) NETGEAR MP101 (MP3/WMA 320Kbps max) wireless client. It has a 4-line display and is relatively nice to use (i.e. my wife likes it!) It sounded acceptably ok via the Linn tunebox and Keilidh's before going in to the lounge and some small pc active sub/sat speakers.

    This uses the new streaming over wireless UPnP standard.

    There may still be teething troubles with the UPnP MediaServer software that comes with it. Certainly a bit cranky at times, doesn't always start reliably, but then again I'm running it under a Windows server and scheduled startup even to save anyone having to actually log on after turning on the server.

    I'm sure UPnP server software will spring up everywhere now such devices have hit the market, uncluding single-box embedded kit.

    In counterpoint, there are three things I think the Roku competitors do that may be useful to you though:

    1. Provide digital output allowing hq external dac.
    2. Provide some sort of multi-room sync mode, perhaps like the Linn multi-room feature.
    3. The music-only bar type players look amazingly cool and can be wall mounted.

    (they use an OpenSource slimserver protocol, not UPnP BTW).


    regards,
    Rob.
     
  23. ziocleto

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    Hi gordon,
    this is exactly what Im doing.

    My set consist of:

    - HTPC server that holds music and videos. It has got a 802.11b/g card.

    - HTPC connected to my amp thru SPIF, output to 5.1 and separate 2 speakers set that can be places anywhere.

    - Dell Axim Pocket PC, this is the only pocket PC I've found that handles CF and SD memory card, it has a CF 802.11b card in it.

    - USB IR extensions "TIRA-2 (IR Receiver/transmitter, USB)", this is connected to the HTPC server, but can be connected to any PC in your room, and it just used to turn off/on, volume regulation and others IR features of your hi-fi set.

    With this setup I've wrote a client server application that transmit trhu 802.11 from Pocket PC to PC (so you can be anywere in your house you dont have to have a line of sign) and then if it's needed it send the IR codes with the USB extensions to all the hi-fis you've got.

    This required me to write serveral pieces of code, main features are:

    - GUI on both server (HTCP) and PocketPC, so you can choose what music to play from you HTPC, this GUI include a licenced grace note libraries, that allows you to get infos about the CD you are playing (thru an internet connection) like: cover of the CD, length of tracks and so on...
    (The movie section also connects to IMDB to get same sort of infos for DVDs/movies)

    - You can turn off/on and regulate all the IR aspect of your components _without_ needing to be physically in that room, and that's the bigger advcatage of the system.

    - Handles also: Music/Videos/TV/PC/Pictures/Consoles/Lights.
    All of this has a complete GUI that can be see either on the Pocket PC or the HTPC (Usually the GUI on the HTPC is outputted to the connected plasma/projector)

    Now, all of this works but as I was the only one that it actually using it I did a bit of hard coded part in it, so system works for my configuration, and only for my configuration at the moment.
    If there's enough demand I can think of release the source/apps in a more "generic" way and see how it does performs outside my house ;)

    Fact is, you need to already have a lot of hardware to be able to get full advantage of all the features of the sysytem, so I thoght that that was not going to be a common case, but if you have a a HTPC/PocketPC with 802.11b and a IRA/TIRA device, we can see if it's worth to start a "massive large scale distribuition" of the system ;)



    btw: I've bought my IRA/TIRA device here:
    http://www.home-electro.com/BuyIt.htm
     
  24. ziocleto

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    Cool! Ive' always dreamt of my own radio station with a limited audience :)
     
  25. Matt Horne

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    I'll add my voice to the slimp3 camp... works a treat from my front room over my wireless network to a small Pc I have in the study which I use as my music server.. that along with allofmp3.com and I am sorted :)

    Matt
     
  26. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Well for the first foray Ive gone with the Linksys Media Server. I will write a short review once I've had time to play.

    Gordon
     
  27. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Well for the first foray Ive gone with the Linksys Media Server. I will write a short review once I've had time to play.

    Gordon
     
  28. Embarker

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  29. EffTee

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    Gordon,

    Can you confirm what model Linksys you got and how you're getting on with it?

    I'm looking to do something very similar to you, but need to be able to stream the WMA lossless format.

    Cheers,

    EffTee
     
  30. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    http://www.dabs.com/uk/shopbybrand/linksys/ProductView.htm?quicklinx=2QD1

    It's OK but unfortunately not exactly what is required. I got it set up relatively pain free. However, it's user nterface is CLUNKILY slow. You have to have faith that you have actually pushed the button and that it is going to do what you say. The temptation is to push button again but this just confuses it.

    It doesn't stream the lossless WMA format. You need to go to the first level of lossy compression (which I didn't realise). If a real quality solution is required though then it's probably not suitable just due to it's analogue only output.

    Also it doesn't use the flags I want for stroing music data. For instance on one of the first Indidigo Girls albums I put in it stored a few songs not as Indigo Girls tracks but as songs by "The author of the song". This is annoying. Having said that once all my music is on Hdisk I 'll start making up playlists and that should sort that all out. In fact I may actually just try a few playlists to confirm that part of the functionality.

    For the money I'm quite happy. I listen to more of my music now.

    Gordon
     

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