Streamers vs streaming

Old novice

Novice Member
I am no techie so half the current names and TLAs are new to me. I've recently decide to upgrade my old Arcam AVR to new Linn kit which has HDMI inputs. I have some music on iTunes on my MacBook that I've been playing via phono conns but sound is not hi-fi. I've been looking at moving the iTunes library to a 'streamer'. Looked at suggestions of using a Mini Mac, Raspberry pi with associated DAC and other gismos. But then learned that I could upload everything to PLEX and listen via my Roku stick through my new amp. So - here's the question, Why do they still sell music streamers [hardware] and why are people still building their own? What am I missing?
 

FaxFan2002

Well-known Member
So you could go anywhere from £30 - £30,000 as it always is the wonderful world of Hi-Fi.

My view it's about matching and what you want from what you purchase. So you could get a HHD, connect to a PC / MAC and install PLEX and listen to it, right? But do you want music room listening or do you want casual listening?

My personal experience I've gone for a music room, full fat speakers, AMP, DAC and streamer (~£5k) AND yes it could be replaced by a £30 chromecast but hey.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Well-known Member
I originally started with a chromecast audio, then I went the build your own route, with a pi, a dac and a touch screen. The screen allows anyone to control it, whilst saves having to use a phone or tv to see what I want to play, whilst also allowing me to see album art, play status, and even vu meters. Basically, it gave me what I wanted without costing a fortune.

My music is on a NAS, which is on 24/7, so if I want music I just switch my pi on and turn on my amp, all nice and easy.
 

Craig uk

Well-known Member
I recently added an Innuos Zen Mk3 into my system, mainly to take care of my Cd ripping and because I’d heard a few good reports about it’s performance both sonically & functionality wise. I was previously using an IMac to rip and store my music library but the Zen is a far better solution, ripping couldn’t be easier, just pop the disc and the zen takes care of everything else, and most importantly it sounds significantly better than the iMac did . If you have a decent dac and are just in the market for a streamer/server it takes some beating. I’m very impressed with it.

I found this Darko video quite informative before buying it; skip the first 90 secs waffle though...
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
I've recently decide to upgrade my old Arcam AVR to new Linn kit which has HDMI inputs. I have some music on iTunes on my MacBook that I've been playing via phono conns but sound is not hi-fi. I've been looking at moving the iTunes library to a 'streamer'. Looked at suggestions of using a Mini Mac, Raspberry pi with associated DAC and other gismos.
But then learned that I could upload everything to PLEX and listen via my Roku stick through my new amp
???
As far as I'm aware all the latest Linn AVR type devices are streamers in their own right, eg, the Linn Majik DSM - so should be no need to plug the MacBook or even a Roku into it, never mind bothering with a Raspberry Pi (with or without associated DAC) or any other 'gismo'!

Exactly what model is your 'Linn kit'/'new amp'?
 
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phil t

Well-known Member
But then learned that I could upload everything to PLEX and listen via my Roku stick through my new amp. So - here's the question, Why do they still sell music streamers [hardware] and why are people still building their own? What am I missing?
I remember being in the Akash in Helensburgh with a group of equally inebriated submariners. We decide to be posh and have wine. Thing was, none of us knew anything about wine, so we ended up with a bottle of blue Nun because that's all we'd heard of.

Your question is like going from blue nun to a £10 bottle and then questioning why anyone would spend any more on a bottle.

Sure, if that's what you want and are happy with, then enjoy.
If you are curious, then try a more expensive bottle. If you don't think it's worth the extra, then don't buy.

What are you missing? Some people are happy to spend extra and savour the differences that the extra buys.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Ps Linn kit probably has excellent DACs and if feed with a good digital signal, will sound excellent.
 

Southern soul

Active Member
I recently added an Innuos Zen Mk3 into my system, mainly to take care of my Cd ripping and because I’d heard a few good reports about it’s performance both sonically & functionality wise. I was previously using an IMac to rip and store my music library but the Zen is a far better solution, ripping couldn’t be easier, just pop the disc and the zen takes care of everything else, and most importantly it sounds significantly better than the iMac did . If you have a decent dac and are just in the market for a streamer/server it takes some beating. I’m very impressed with it.

I found this Darko video quite informative before buying it; skip the first 90 secs waffle though...
The innuos is good for PCM but give it some DSD files and it drops out all the time, I had the Mini Mk3 and then the Zenith mk3 and both dropped out with DSD files. Just a note of caution if you have a good DSD library.
 

Craig uk

Well-known Member
Thanks for the advice, I don’t have any file based DSD content, only a few SACD‘s. Nowadays all of my digital content is from CD rips or downloads from Qobuz. Do you still have the Zenith?
 

Old novice

Novice Member
Thanks everyone. The anticipated Linn unit is an Accurate hub DSM so yes, if my question was unclear, I can stream via that. The question was more about whether buying a dedicated 'music server' was better than streaming. Phil t the wine expert [I grew out of Blue Nun about 50 years ago] is, I think suggesting that there is sound quality difference. That is what I'm aiming at. So to simplify: will the SQ of my digital music be better if stored as MP3 files on a server or uploaded and streamed via PLEX or similar. Bearing in mind that my ears are 69 years old.
 

Old novice

Novice Member
Ahhh. Just a minute. Just spent another hour trying to understand PLEX. So much marketing stuff it's hard to figure out exactly what it does. I got the impression from something I read about 'uploading' one's media library. This led me to believe that Plex would store my media [assuming some enormous cloud server] and I could stream from that. What it did not say clearly on the 'first page' is that PLEX simply plays media from one's own device and streams it to one's other devices. So apologies! I am back to needing my own box that will store my digital music [or just keep it on my MacBook]. eg square 1.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
Phil t the wine expert [I grew out of Blue Nun about 50 years !ago] is, I think suggesting that there is sound quality difference. That is what I'm aiming at.
I believe the intended comparison was actually the cheap Roku stick streamer (= Blue Nun) vs some more expensive streamer - the irony being that you already have said more expensive streamer in the form of the Linn Akurate DSM!


So to simplify: will the SQ of my digital music be better if stored as MP3 files on a server or uploaded and streamed via PLEX or similar. Bearing in mind that my ears are 69 years old.
This led me to believe that Plex would store my media [assuming some enormous cloud server] and I could stream from that. What it did not say clearly on the 'first page' is that PLEX simply plays media from one's own device and streams it to one's other devices. So apologies! I am back to needing my own box that will store my digital music [or just keep it on my MacBook]. eg square 1.
Ok, trying to see if I can get my head around this. What I think you are saying is that:
- you require an application (not Plex as you have now discovered) which can upload your music files to the cloud, so that you can get your Linn Akurate to stream your music files from an online server;
- as opposed to getting the Linn Akurate to stream your music files from a media server (eg MinimServer, Asset UPnP, Logitech Media Server, Plex, Twonky Server, the unreliable built-in default Windows DLNA server that comes bundled with Windows Media Player, etc) running on a computer or NAS connected to your own network.

Am I even close?
If so, why do you require your music files uploaded and streamed from the internet?
Are you asking if they'll sound better streamed that way?
 
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phil t

Well-known Member
I believe the intended comparison was actually the cheap Roku stick streamer (= Blue Nun) vs some more expensive streamer - the irony being that you already have said more expensive streamer in the form of the Linn Akurate DSM!
I thought the original post was a discovery that you can stream on the cheap, so why spend big bucks doing the same?

Now I'm not so sure what is being asked.

Personally, I ripped my CD collection to FLAC, put it on a 1 TB usb drive which hangs out of my streamer. I thought about a nas, but since I spend time at my other halfs house, I stuck with the usb drive.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
I thought the original post was a discovery that you can stream on the cheap, so why spend big bucks doing the same?

Now I'm not so sure what is being asked.
You're not the only one!

May be the OP is confusing the music file receiver (& player) network (client) 'streamer' (aka network music player, aka media renderer) device, with the music file sender (& non-playing) network media server device.
Both the streamer receiver and the media server sender are involved in music file network ''streaming'.


Personally I ripped my CD collection to FLAC, put it on a 1 TB usb drive which hangs out of my streamer. I thought about a nas, but since I spend time at my other halfs house, I stuck with the usb drive.
Oops! Mentioning using the device's ancillary function as an attached USB drive music file player has the potential for (further?) confusion - you're not actually using it as a streamer. 😀
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Oops! Mentioning using the device's ancillary function as an attached USB drive music file player has the potential for (further?) confusion - you're not actually using it as a streamer. 😀
True. The only music I actually stream, if in fact it counts, is internet radio.

Perhaps I/we should use the term digital music player? But not to be confused with the term digital audio player. I don't know. It's an olive green box that plays my ripped CD files. There, clear as ditch water.
:cool:
 

Old novice

Novice Member
Ha, this is all very enlightening. [I've yet to have the Linn Akurate delivered so am planning in anticipation] Sounds like I will not actually need the Roku since I can stream everything into the Hub. Sounds logical although of course the Roku does provide a simple interface on my TV screen - I'm not sure what would take the place of that.

The idea of the USB drive is interesting. What I am really trying to avoid is taking my laptop [with may digital music] and having to plug it into a loose wire hanging out the back of my hub. [I suspect using the headphone output from the laptop is also not the best SQ] I want a permanent fixture. And I agree uploading and downloading to some external server should be an unnecessary faff. Now here's a thing: I have a large collection digital music on an SD card. [Copied from my laptop] My car's music system can read this and show me the various folders and files so I can select albums or tracks. Clearly some mini computer behind my dashboard is doing this. So, is there a small gizmo that would do the same thing that I could plug into my Linn Hub?. I would of course need to be able to 'see' the track list so a screen of some type is necessary. I guess the connected TV could do this if the gizmo has an HDMI output. Any thoughts?
 

mseve1

Active Member
@Old novice - I may have completely misunderstood the gist of this thread but I get the impression that you don't have a smart mobile device with which to access and control any stored media. Is this the reason why you appear to want to use your TV as the control point?
 

Old novice

Novice Member
Trying to avoid running my whole life from my iPhone but I'd be happy to control everything from an iPad. I believe I could use the iPad to communicate with a mini mac which i could plug straight into my Linn Hub. The mini mac has the advantage of both being able to store the music and the software to select it. It's not a cheap option but neat. Good/bad idea?
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
Goodness gracious - there appears to be a major misunderstanding of how network streaming of music files works. You certainly don't need to plug the computer containing the music files into the Linn Akurate!

You just need to make sure that both the computer and the Akurate are connected to your home network, either by wire (ie network Ethernet cable) or by WiFi - the said network takes care of them communicating with each other and of course is also the conduit for music file streaming.

You also need to run UPnP/DLNA supporting media server software on the computer containing the music files. Plex is one such application, but is really geared more to cataloguing & streaming video. My advice would be to instead use a music file dedicated UPnP media server such as the excellent MinimServer:
MinimServer features


As far as controlling the Akurate is concerned, Linn provides its own controller application, Linn Kazoo, with versions available for both your computer and the iPad.
 
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mseve1

Active Member
As well as the apparent misunderstanding I can't help but feel that a Linn Akurate is way over-specified for your specific needs. From the discussion it seems that you simply need 2 basic components which could be obtained for one tenth the cost of the Linn!
  1. A stand-alone store for copies of your local media available 24/7 so that you're not dependent on accessing the files stored on your laptop. This could take the form of Network Attached Storage (NAS) sitting on your local network or a USB storage drive attached either to your router or the network player itself (this scenario being equivalent to the SD card in your car).
  2. A standard network audio player which can access the above media files wirelessly, via ethernet cable or, in the case of a USB drive 'directly' via a socket on the player. Most players will also allow you to access commercial streaming services for a fee i.e. files stored on a remote server.
I'm not sure what your AV requirements are aside from the streaming capability but I would have thought it would make more sense to add the above devices to your existing Arcam kit rather than spending thousands on the expensive Linn hub for little real benefit.
 
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Old novice

Novice Member
Getting there I think and again, much appreciated. For context; my Arcam AVR is 15 years old with one dead channel and a few strange drop outs. I cannot easily watch streamed films in 5.1 plus DVDs etc without various switching devices. And I mostly listen to CDs or Vinyl or watch movies, so the Linn system seemed like a good upgrade.

The digital music is really about the relatively small collection of downloaded stuff I have.

Cebolla is right, I am not appreciating the options using my 'home' network. Although apart from 'plugging in' I'd still like to avoid having my laptop running in order to listen to its stored music. So separate storage is preferable. If I understand Mserv1's suggestion: I have a USB drive [on which I could put the music files] which could connect to the Hub via HDMI [I guess]. If the Linn software via my iPad can address this then it is all far simpler than I anticipated.

As for using the home network, there is one Ethernet connection on the Linn hub so I'm not sure how the hub would distinguish between internet and local inputs in my router to select which stream to run but maybe the software could do that. The direct connection seems simpler though.
 

mseve1

Active Member
For context; my Arcam AVR is 15 years old with one dead channel and a few strange drop outs. I cannot easily watch streamed films in 5.1 plus DVDs etc without various switching devices. And I mostly listen to CDs or Vinyl or watch movies, so the Linn system seemed like a good upgrade.

The digital music is really about the relatively small collection of downloaded stuff I have.
Ah good, I now understand your approach regarding the replacement of your current AVR!
Unfortunately, the Linn doesn't have provision for plugging in a storage device such as a USB stick (and it cannot be connected via HDMI) so your media will have be accessed through your home network - by means of either the network cable or Wifi as per the description by @Cebolla.
As you don't want to use your laptop as the network store then a NAS (containing copies of your music files together with a UPNP media server) is probably the best option to give you the necessary functionality and could left on 24/7. A basic NAS box by Synology or QNAP, together with a couple 1TB HDDs, would cost around £300.
And finally, there are many excellent beginners guides to audio streaming on YouTube which may aid your understanding further.
 
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Craig uk

Well-known Member
If looking at Linn kit, then you could probably also look at Roon for streaming in future as well as I believe the current Linn devices are Roon certified. If you have never heard of Roon - see Music Player & Music Server Software - 14 Day Free Trial | Roon Labs.

Quite a few people here use it for single room to whole home streaming via a variety of devices.
As a Linn owner & Roon subscriber would advise sticking with Kazoo, their own solution works flawlessly, you really don’t want any other software in the mix.
 

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