Player capable of reading tags

Discussion in 'Music Streamers' started by pooksahib, Feb 4, 2018.

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  1. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    Hi. I've been looking at network players/streamers and it seems that they all work in the same way - music must be properly sorted into folders if you want to be able to find anything. If there's a 'shuffle' function on the player, it'll only shuffle the contents of a single folder.

    I'm familiar with the Cocktail Audio X10 - it has internal storage and builds a database using tags. This means you can choose to play not just an artist but e.g. a genre. Also, you can 'shuffle play' your entire collection.

    Does anyone know if there's a high-end player that works in this way? Thank you.
     
  2. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    Don't know what you've been reading but they all do - assuming that the files themselves are correctly tagged. There will be three elements; storage, server software & player. Most use DLNA which relies on server software somewhere indexing the files for playback. Some use dedicated server software that can have benefits like true gapless playback of MP3.

    Or are you asking for another all-in-one solution like the CA?
     
  3. drdocmatt

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    Disagree, they are all UPnP dlna players so they will shuffle their "play queue". You can generally use a basic search across the entire catalogue to find items to add to the play queue and you can add them by artist, album, per individual song, by pre-written playlist, or indeed by browsing the file tree. They can all also be driven by an app such as Bubble UPnP which generally provides a superior interface for search and queue manipulation, and will still stream directly from the source not via the mobile device.

    That said, none of the UPnP devices are as flexible as the Logitech Media Server based systems (either genuine hardware, now obsolete, or the myriad of software players based on squeezelite and raspberry Pis. Once you've installed the LMS server itself and pointed it at your library it can even stream content to any other UPnP devices, or Chromecasts, and many others at the same time. It also supports hi-res, internet radio, deezer, Spotify and friends, and has vastly better applications for search and control.
     
  4. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    Thanks for that. An example of what I've been reading is attached, it's from the Cambridge Audio CXN Manual. I've no plans to stream, any player I buy I'll simply plug in an HDD so I think I'm correct in saying that the CXN would only let me search for folders, yes?

    If that's the case then, yes, I'd like to know if there's any player capable of doing what the Cocktail Audio does – scans the contents of it's drive (inbuilt or plugged in) and then lets you choose what to play by tag rather than folder.
    cxn.jpg
     
  5. drdocmatt

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    So this is limited because you are using the cxn as a file browser, in place of having a dlna server on your network and using the cxn as a UPnP renderer. It is indeed restricted to simply browsing the file structure in that case. Most home NAS drives will offer DLNA services, as will LMS on a raspberry Pi, or any other half decent music server.

    The functionality you're looking at there is geared towards people who want to plug in a USB stick to play some tunes at a party, it's not a serious option for someone with a significant music library.
     
  6. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    Might have helped to mention that up front!

    What file format exactly do you want to play?
     
  7. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    Fair point, I suppose I should have... All my music is in FLAC save for the odd mp3. I like my tech simple and the idea of having to switch on the PC (or a NAS - never owned one...) whenever I wanted to hear music always seemed a bit nonsensical. That's why I like the Cocktail Audio X10 but it's ceased production.

    If there isn't a similar device in existence, then it seems I need to know about NAS's. If it has DLNA, it will read the tags on the audio files, yes? And the player (be it a CXN or whatever) can navigate those tags i.e. using the remote control, you could list genres, artists, titles etc on the front display and play songs in any way you choose?

    My continued thanks.
     
  8. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    With modern "sleep" functions there is no need to turn anything on as it's on permanently. I run a Windows Home Server that sleeps after 20 mins of no activity. The Squeezebox players I have send a Wake on Lan signal to the server when brought out of standby that wakes it. Within seconds I'm ready to play. A NAS or low powered PC would work in a similar way but may need an app to send the wake command. You'd need to check with CA if the CXN can send a WoL.

    Exactly what features would be available would depend on the DLNA server software. Sometimes NAS' are shipped with poor software & need something else installed.

    About the nearest I can think of as a standalone unit would be a small PC/laptop running Jriver. But then you have to add a DAC & mess around ensuring bit perfect output.
     
  9. larkone

    larkone
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    A Cocktail X10 still needs to be on and to do that you have to boot it up - it is just a computer at heart.
     
  10. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    Agreed, but it's quick, does everything and is 'all in one' - just like switching on your CD player but without having to take a CD off the shelf and load it. I get the impression sometimes that people derive more pleasure from their network setup than the music...

    drdocmatt, above, says a device like the X10 is "... not a serious option for someone with a significant music library". Totally disagree - my library is big and the X10 stores it well and plays it well. An all-in-one is, in my view, the perfect option and it's hugely disappointing that the high-end manufacturers seem to have stopped short of incorporating an HDD bay and database indexer into their players.

    But if anyone knows of one, please let me know!
     
  11. Matthewmk

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    Cocktail is certainly a valid option.

    The Sony HAP-S1 sounds like it would have been along the right lines as a no thrills local storage device (built in amplifier too should it have been needed), but guess there are limitations in having disparate libraries nowadays. That said, I really wanted one as it was just a device to have in a hifi rack along with other components.

    How about something like an innous zen mini? That’s a ripper, music library has 1 or 2tb, has a digital out so can be used as an all in one device.

    And should you later decide you’d like Roon (having been testing it, it’s quite good!) it also doubles up as a room server?

    At the top end there’s things like naim atom or naim star that can have a local USB hard disk plugged in / has a HDD caddy?
     
  12. Matthewmk

    Matthewmk
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    Just to highlight all of the above options all index locally and don’t rely on a upnp server as that’s what I’ve anticipated the original requirement is?
     
  13. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    So another piece of information drips out, you already own the Cocktail Audio & are happy with it. So what exactly are you looking to improve with a "high end" version? You could always try an external DAC.

    As above there are high end devices like the Naim but they tend to be all-in-one, including an amp. You haven't said that you want an amp as well but maybe you do...
     
  14. Matthewmk

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    If amplification isn’t required, guess there’s also the naim core, nativ vita, blue sound vault 2 and innuos previously suggested is still valid?

    As the previous poster, crocodile, suggests there’s also external DAC’s etc but I sense there’s a preference for streamling / simplicity (e.g. an example stated was not wanting to use UPnP on the original posting) so an all in one could be perceived as more elegant perhaps?

    Personally, having considered cocktail audio is the past, my recollection was that I felt it wasn’t quite as main stream as I’d have liked, I’d likely gravitate towards something like the innuos mini (there are other models in the range), bluesound vault 2 or any of the naims, of those, naim core would be the best server / local playback only option (if budget allows as it’s pushing the envelope a bit at 5x the cost of the cocktail audio!).
     
  15. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    Crocodile - I'm planning ahead - the CAX10 is discontinued and my one probably won't last forever.
    Mathewmk, thanks for the suggestions. You anticipate correctly! Ideally, any new player I get would have it's own display and a remote control rather than a phone with an app.
     
  16. larkone

    larkone
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    Your going to struggle with that one as apps to control endpoints are increasingly becoming the norm.
     
  17. drdocmatt

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    I said this is relation to the CXN, which clearly has none of these features.

    I've seen the cocktail audio product, there's also the Brennan. Expensive though for what it is. If you are considering a CXN, which you may as it's a decent product, you can get to the place you want to be just by buying a small Nas with dlna service onboard. Or a raspberry pi with embedded Squeezebox LMS. Much less expensive.

    Truth is that what you're paying for on these devices is the curation of the ripping database. That's the (very) hard bit.
     
  18. drdocmatt

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    Totally, and frankly once you're used to it it makes a huge amount of sense. For them it's cheaper to let you bring your own touchscreen, and for you, you get to control your music from anywhere in the house on a far more powerful UI than they could put on the box itself.
     
  19. Matthewmk

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    To complement servers without a display, if they are Roon compatible (such as the Innous or at a lower cost, without a CD ripper, something like an Intel NUC running Roon that can be built for £400) or many of the following: Roon Knowledge Base - Partner Devices Matrix

    You could then use ropieee as a screen to see what is playing and control playback perhaps?

    Display
     
  20. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    My apologies, drdocmatt. The app controller seems odd when I try to envisage it – you're listening to an album, you're phone rings so you need to mute the sound, what do you do first, take the call and ask them to wait or navigate to the app and THEN take the call? Bit awkward, if you ask me...

    This raspberry setup: would the system simply be HDD attached to Pi, Pi attached to CXN?
     
  21. Matthewmk

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    Using LMS, presumably that would a pi2/3 running as a server, with an external USB drive to store music, using the raspberry pi screen (similar to the ropieee) for controls. This is a great low cost approach (total would be about £120 - £150). The link below may give an example of what it would be like:

    piCorePlayer with touchscreen support
     
  22. larkone

    larkone
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    Not if you use a tablet instead of the phone - most homes have one now
     
  23. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    You mute the amp...
     
  24. drdocmatt

    drdocmatt
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    Or use a control app that can stop playback when it detects an incoming call... This is very much a solved problem.
     
  25. drdocmatt

    drdocmatt
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    Many ways to slice this. Add a DAC and the pi can be the smart playback device too and you can use the cxn just as an analogue (or digital) amplifier. Or use an Ethernet cable and configure the pi to use the cxn as a dlna renderer. Or more likely put both on the WiFi and do the same thing.
     
  26. pooksahib

    pooksahib
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    An app that stops playback - didn't know there was such a thing. Apps and I are not yet well acquainted. Your next post is a bit daunting, I must say, and I won't pretend I understand it fully. If you have a DAC (the bit that determines how good your audio is) and a Pi (smart playback device) why would you need a CXN (or similar)? What is this 'DLNA rendering'?
     
  27. drdocmatt

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    Lol... Ironically you probably also need a DAC to get a digital output (though with the right cables you can probably get the digital audio straight out the HDMI port of the raspberry Pi).

    As you say.. if you want a streamer the cxn is nice enough but if you only want an amplifier then you don't need it and you can just buy an amplifier..

    So, I am beginning to think you might be happier with a supported one box solution with a user guide and a limited number of well tested functions...
     
  28. pooksahib

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    I have a traditional stereo amp. As long as my Cocktail Audio is working, I'm happy but I wanted to know what my options were if it ever bites the dust. You're right, I wouldn't be entirely at ease with a Pi contraption - a bit ugly, for a start from what I've googled. Looks like it'd have to be something like that Innous Zen Mini+smartphone or the Cocktail Audio Pro X100. But I'll keep looking to see what comes along. Perhaps the day will come when people realise that remote controls are best after all. When listening in the dark, I can use my CAX10 remote just by touch - try doing that with your fancy app...
     
  29. drdocmatt

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    Lol.. not an issue, I grab the phone, unlock it with a thumb on the obvious place then the screen *lights up* .. ! Works perfectly in the dark .. ;). I know what you mean about the benefit of doing it "by touch" but the richness of control on a proper smart app (with gestures and easy browsing of long lists and so on) makes up for what you lose. A streaming device is too complex to navigate with a simple push button remote, it is heavily limiting. It's perfect for a CD player of course (though I don't think I ever used my remote when I had one).

    The Pi is generally kept out of sight, after all it sits behind its screen which can be used as a control panel. It is available embedded in various forms in high quality enclosures with a suite of software too, and at that point it's just a music player appliance like any other..

    The long and short answer to your real question is that the restrictions you found with the cxn as a file browser do not represent the average product capability even now, let alone when you will potentially be buying in a few or more years time. Exactly what products you may choose at that time (or which even may be available) is just speculation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  30. Matthewmk

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    Just as another option, there's always Sonos and the CR100 / CR200 remote controls if you felt so inclined, and that'll give you huge versatility with music services / local music. The remote's are now best found on ebay, but they give a great user experience.
     

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