Streaming Music from NAS

fgysin

Member
I am looking for an easy way to stream music from an Android phone or tablet to my ONKYO digital receiver/amplifier.

My current setup:
  • WLAN / LAN network in our house
  • Drobo NAS, connected to the network (SMB)
  • An ONKYO digital receiver/amplifier: this connects to the beamer, the speakers, etc. and takes inputs as HDMI
  • Beamer / speaker setup connected to the ONKYO receiver
  • Vero4K+ to browse and play movies from the NAS
Now, I already have options to play my music as it stands - but both are not quite satisfying:
  1. Option: Use Vero4K to browse and play the music - this has the big disadvantage, that I have to turn on the beamer in order to deal with the KODI UI, and I'd rather not have the beamer noise...
  2. Option: Use a SMB-enabled Android music player to access the music on the NAS, and stream via Bluetooth directly to the ONKYO. Disadvantage here is that the Bluetooth streaming seems to be rather limited in range and also sometimes has lags/connection issues. Also I haven't really found any SMB-enabled music player apps for Android which can truly cope with the size of my music collections...

--> What other options exist?
I am looking for ease-of-use over basically anything else... I'd like to be able to browse and play music quickly and efficiently.
Is Chromecast an option? If I understood this correctly that would mostly rely on an Android "cast app" which can do SMB well - and after some googling I wasn't really able to assert if that is the case or not...
 

jamieu

Active Member
I am looking for an easy way to stream music from an Android phone or tablet to my ONKYO digital receiver/amplifier.

My current setup:
  • WLAN / LAN network in our house
  • Drobo NAS, connected to the network (SMB)
  • An ONKYO digital receiver/amplifier: this connects to the beamer, the speakers, etc. and takes inputs as HDMI
  • Beamer / speaker setup connected to the ONKYO receiver
  • Vero4K+ to browse and play movies from the NAS
Now, I already have options to play my music as it stands - but both are not quite satisfying:
  1. Option: Use Vero4K to browse and play the music - this has the big disadvantage, that I have to turn on the beamer in order to deal with the KODI UI, and I'd rather not have the beamer noise...
  2. Option: Use a SMB-enabled Android music player to access the music on the NAS, and stream via Bluetooth directly to the ONKYO. Disadvantage here is that the Bluetooth streaming seems to be rather limited in range and also sometimes has lags/connection issues. Also I haven't really found any SMB-enabled music player apps for Android which can truly cope with the size of my music collections...

--> What other options exist?
I am looking for ease-of-use over basically anything else... I'd like to be able to browse and play music quickly and efficiently.
Is Chromecast an option? If I understood this correctly that would mostly rely on an Android "cast app" which can do SMB well - and after some googling I wasn't really able to assert if that is the case or not...

Lots of options, almost every third post in this sub-forum is a variation on this question ;-)

Does your ONKYO support DLNA/UPnP? If so you could install a DLNA/UPnP media server on your NAS (pointing at your music files) and use a Android control app like mConnect to handle browsing and playback.

http://www.conversdigital.com/

mPlayer also supports Chromecast. So if your Onyko doesn’t support DLNA you could pick up a used Chromecast Audio and hook it up with an optical 3.5mm mini TosLink to S/PDIF cable.

If you just want to buy a dedicated device something like a Bluesound Node 2i or Sonos Port (both of which can index a SMB share directly) or a Yamaha WXAD10 (requires a DLNA server on NAS) would fit the bill.

Have a search for those devices on here and you’ll see plenty of pros, cons & alternatives.

If you’re technically leaning, want to keep things low cost and happy installing software you may also want to search on here for LMS (Logitech Media Server) and piCorePlayer.

There are also commercial software products/eco-systems like Roon, JRiver and Audirvana that run on a PC or NAS - where they index your music collection - but can be controlled via a mobile app. These products are aimed at users with large local music libraries which is often reflected in their apps and feature set.

Plex + PlexAmp could be another option if you can install Plex on your Drobo. But you will also need to pay out for a PlexPass to use PlexAmp in order to ‘cast’ your music to a Chromecast Audio. Plex is also fairly limited in the devices it can stream to (it's primarily intended to work with TV sets and AV devices like the Roku running the Plex client) and probably makes more sense if you're already using it to handle video content. Plex also includes a UPnP/DLNA server (enabled deep in a settings menu) which you can then use with a 3rd party UPnP/DLNA control app like mConnect (above) to stream to a UPnP/DLNA supporting AVR. Although you can't use the nicer UI of the Plex apps to do this, you're literally just enabling a UPnP/DLNA server under the hood. I mention this as it may be the easiest way to get a UPnP/DLNA server running on your Drobo for use with mConnect) even if you don't use any of the other features of Plex.

If you have a large collection of music the key differentiator is likely to be the quality/interface of any control app and the ability of your chosen solution to handle indexing and metadata well.
 
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fgysin

Member
Hey
Thanks for the many suggestions... The thing is, the Drobo NAS is rather limited in what I can install there, and also pretty old and a bit shaky. I'd rather not build the new solution upon something that requires special tools/services to be installed on the NAS box itself.

Does that mean that Chromecast is out?
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
In which case your only option to run the media server would be on a less flaky networked machine. The tiny reliable, cheap, power efficient Raspberry Pi would be ideal for that purpose (I'd recommend installing LMS on it), though the extra hit on the network of the media files having to first be accessed by RPi from the Drobo via SMB not so much.

Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be any decent Chromecast controller software out there that can provide the controlled Chromecast device access to media files over the network via SMB - they all require a media server of some kind.
 
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jamieu

Active Member
Hey
Thanks for the many suggestions... The thing is, the Drobo NAS is rather limited in what I can install there, and also pretty old and a bit shaky. I'd rather not build the new solution upon something that requires special tools/services to be installed on the NAS box itself.

Does that mean that Chromecast is out?

If you only have a couple of albums you may be able to find a Android app that can browse a SMB share, play a track and cast it to the Chromecast. I can't think of one to recommend, but I'd be surprised if you can't find app to do that basic step (ie. simply browsing a file on a SMB share and casting it). How reliable/up to the job it is is another question.

The problem I think you'll face is if you have a larger collection of music that needs 'indexing' so that you can browse it efficiently (ie. automatically adding cover art, list by artist/year/genre etc.). This is normally done on the server or a desktop device, firstly to keep the library/indexing centralised (to save multiple devices having to each build their own index) and secondly because those desktop/server platforms are often more suited to the task of indexing.

I know you said you'd rather not add any overheard to the Drobo but a basic DLNA server (which will handle the server side indexing for a range of 3rd party apps) is pretty lightweight. Why don't you try enabling the MiniDLNA app on your Drobo. If it starts to slow things down, then turn it off (and you'll be no worse of that you are now). If it works without issue, then your can use it with a (fairly well maintained) app like mConnect.

You can get dedicated hardware devices that will connect to a SMB share and handle the indexing for you, from DIY solutions using Raspberry Pi's (ie. Moode, Volumio, PiCorePlayer) to commercial network streamers like the BlueSound Node 2i.

Where I think you'll struggle is finding a good Android app that can properly index a SMB share of music and offer a good interface to browse and play it. At a guess this is because while the top end Android phones can probably handle this task with ease, lower end devices may struggle and no developer wants to deal with that mix of devices. Hence the separation of the indexing (server side) from the playback/control side (mobile).

My advice, either:

1) Enable the DLNA server (MiniDLNA) on the Drobo and use mConnect (what have you to lose by trying this?)
2) Install something like PiCorePlayer/LMS on a low-cost computer like a Rasberry Pi (and enable the Material Skin/Chromecast bridge plugins) and get it to handle the indexing of your SMB share/music files and streaming to your Chromecast. You'd then leave it on 24/7 and control it via a web browser interface on your phone. You can try LMS out on a desktop PC for free before migrating it to a dedicated device like a Rasberry Pi to see how this works / if this would work for you.
3) Buy a commercial network streamer that can index a SMB share and be connected direct to your Onyko (obviously the most costly of all three options).
 
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fgysin

Member
Hey
Thanks a ton for the latest suggestions, this makes the options a lot clearer for me. I guess I'll give the DLNA on Drobo a go, as you said, can't hurt to try it out...

Cheers!
 

fgysin

Member
Quick update with my updated setup just in case others run into similar questions...

I found out that there are solid Kodi remote apps for Android, the official one being called "Kore".
This now allows me (and my wife) to access all the music to which the Vero4K/Kodi has access, and play it without the beamer being needed to browse and without anything being sent over bluetooth.

While the Kore app doesn't bring exactly the absolute best UI I find it decent and so far there were no issues browsing my collection which numbers over 20k tracks / 160 GB.
 

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