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Xlobby - your thoughts/ideas please...

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by shoehorn, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. shoehorn

    shoehorn
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    Hi,
    I've just moved house and want to set up some sort of media server with movies, music, pictures, freeview, etc.
    It would be great to have this multiroom where I could have different sources playing different things or even sync the lot so all rooms play the same....
    I'd also like to be able to control this wirelessly...

    Currently I have two PC's with freeview tuners, one with 300Gb and the other with 40Gb, a Linksys WLAN/Router 54g, a Pinnacle Showcenter 1000g and a Netgear MP101 - all networked.
    I also have two IPAQ 4150's with Wi-Fi (54b) - that I can "surf-the-net-on" over my wireless network.

    From what I've read/seen, it seems that Xlobby would suit... so if that's right how hard would it be for me to set everything up the way I want and how long would it take?

    I'd be looking at using 4 or 5 TV's, and 4 or 5 rooms for Audio (plus outside).

    Could I set it up so that I can control zones with one IPAQ, whilst the Mrs controls other zones with the other?

    I think the ideal would be to have some sort of Media Server "under-the-stairs" that I would leave on 24/7 - that would also let me access everything without having to turn on either of the other PC's - is this possible?

    Finally, if this isn't possible, then I'll be getting a couple more showcenters and the Sonos product for my music here - any thoughts on this solution?

    My main concern is finding the time to set everything up with Xlobby and then having to tweak/tidy up any bugs, where the Showcenters and Sonos would be quite tame (I think!).

    Sorry for all the questions, and thanks for any help/ideas! :)
     
  2. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    hi shoehorn,

    I've had a bit of success using xlobby to do what you want. I don't have it fully working yet as that will have to wait till I move house.

    the short answer though, is yes, you can do what you want. if your ipaqs can surf the net then you can use xlobby's webserver function to allow them to connect, this allows you to browse your media collection and chose what music/movie to play. the zone control is actually very easy, all you need is a multi channel soundcard (I use an RME but others will work I believe) and then you just set it to run multiple instances of your music player (either foobar or winamp -I use the former). I've been playing with this setup in preparation for when we move, but I got it all working with my current setup, played different tracks in different zones, then sync'd them all.

    tbh it didn't take that long to setup, you can certainly get a rough and ready setup done quickly, fine tuning it will take longer though. there was a thread on here which johnS contributed a lot of very useful info to the other day, have a search for it and you should find a lot of helpful tips.

    as for the media server, this is definitely possible. I've currently got a 750GB RAID5 one and will be expanding it soon (never enough space!). they can be done pretty cheaply and are (to my mind any way) one of the best reasons for going with an HCPC setup - the idea of having to get of my ass and pick up a CD seems bizarre to me now, I want custom playlists from hundreds of albums, all at the touch of a button :)

    there are different approaches to the server solution depending on how much work you want to do yourself/how much you want to spend.

    if you're prepared to put a bit of time in then you'll be able to get a much more flexible/better quality system than going for a prebuilt one.

    HTH
    owain
     
  3. shoehorn

    shoehorn
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    Thanks owian, its the way I want to go (I think) - the problems all boil down to the above - I would put the time in, but I seriously don't have any!
    Is there anyone that will set up and tweak Xlobby, like an AV installer or someone similar, or is it a do it yourself job only?
     
  4. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    i'm not aware of anyone I'm afraid, though that's not to say there are none so it may be worth emailing a few of the forum members who run AV companies. might be worth your while having a go as xlobby and foobar are free products so you can have a play and see how far you get. tbh its very difficult to put a time on it as it depends SO much on some very individual variables (most importantly your particular combination of hardware/software - for some setups everything is smooth as silk, for others it requires a lot of digging and forum posting), I suppose the amount of experience you have with messing with PCs would play quite a part too.

    any way, if you do decide to give it a go you'll be able to get plenty of help on here :)

    good luck,
    owain
     
  5. Embarker

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    Shoehorn

    If by garden of england you're in Kent, then there are a few of us that have similar systems. JohnS, myself and Mark Ward are all local xlobby fans.

    I currently have three computers one being a 1.2tb server all using xlobby. Wifi access from two pda's. I am in the process of intergrating two more computers over the next few weeks. This will allow for audio zones in all rooms and the syncing. Thinking about a touchscreen in the hall way to give an overview. Ever since i saw JohnS's it was on my must have list.

    The access time in a PDA is instant and xlobby is fully skinnable so you can build in buttons for DVD player controls, lights, sky boxes etc.......

    pm me if you want to have a chat as all this typing takes too long.

    Dangerous Dave
     
  6. JohnS

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    Xlobby is made for multiroom, independent client control of music but is capable of other stuff too. My xlobbys server runs 8 zones, integrates radio and cd's as well as playing online movies via a seperate htpc. The files themselves are stored on a sperate file server which is a bit over 3tb at the moment....never enough space:)

    If you want to do it yourself then advice here is free. I could point you in the direction of someone you could pay to set yours up if you're in or near Kent ;)
     
  7. U187146

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    Exactly the same set up as I am wanting to achieve. I have been told that the Server would be the weakest link in the chain, as this would be doing the streaming of the media and have been advised not to try to use my existing (fairly old) PC to add large capacity hard drives. Is this accurate ? What is the benefit of RAID5 for this purpose - I see a lot of talk about them but I am not sure why.

    Also, I am having real problems working around the amplification side of things. What I really need is an amp that can be controlled by the HTPC, in terms of volume but also (importantly) channel, so I could run multiple rooms off the same amp and switch between them using a wireless connection via an iPAQ. This is a real challenge because I want to run ceiling speakers located in a bathroom from the same amp situated below in a kitchen and the only option I seem to have is putting a physical in-line volume control switch, which is not exactly 21st century... Is anyone aware of next gen. amps that can be controlled by a PC. I guess I could do something with Sonos, but I would ideally like to go my own way.

    Any recommendations on custom PC builders would be appreciated. Not sure I have the confidence to build my own, though I have added hard drives, RAM and CD-Rom drives in the past. In terms of cases, are there any out there that have LCD / VFD displays that can be used to select media, rather than simply display a track name when playing (which is not much use in my opinion). I think the Silverstone LC18 is the sort of thing - for a price - are there cheaper CFD versions of this type of thing. I really don't want to have to turn on a 26" LCD just to play some music from my HTPC.

    One other question. If I wanted to run a server and 2 HTPCs, would I need to run Windows Media Center on all of them (assuming I want to use this as my front end), or does it just run on the Server or the HTPCs ?

    Cheers.
     
  8. JohnS

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    U187146
    For serving music, almost anything will do, its only when you are starting to talk about streaming hidef that the performance becomes more relevant, I'm told a gigabit network card needs something like a 600mhz processor to work.

    Raid 5 means that you lose 1 drive of the group to protect them, ie if one drive goes down you can replace the drive thats broken without losing any data, sure beats reripping stuff.

    Xlobby has the ability to send ir from the pc to other equipment so if in yor example the amp sepcified was ir remote controllable then it would be easy. Xlooby also allows the digital change of volume from within the windows enviroment so control from a ppc is also easy without needing anamp with ir.

    Not with xlobby, my server, htpc and xlobby machine all run xp pro, xlobby runs on the htpc and xlobby machine, far more flexible but will likely take more time to configure than media centre.
     
  9. shoehorn

    shoehorn
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    Orpington! :)
    I need to clear everything with the Mrs - and show her this thread, but our internet at home is down - for 4 weeks :mad:
    - hopefully she'll agree when she reads this thread!

    Might have to take that someone up on that - if agreed be the Mrs (see above!)




    Thanks for your repiles - I wanted to know the practicalities of it all before deciding.... :)
     
  10. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Just as a little update on this, I went to audition some new speakers yesterday and the shop I was in (wired for living in balckburn) had one of these sonos setups running. Unfortunately I was a bit pressed for time when I saw it but I've got to say first impressions were VERY, VERY good. the remote control part of it is a stunning bit of kit, great screen which really looks the business, very ergonomic to use (as easy as an iPod - which is saying something).

    I didn't get a chance to hear the musical ability of it but I'm going back up there in a while to do just that. The guy in the shop I spoke to said they'd tried it with some pretty high-end totem speakers to see what it was like and were very pleasantly surprised.

    I'm pretty sold on getting some of these now, I don't intend this to replace the music side of my HCPC setup, more to complement it: For proper hifi I'll be using my HCPC and its RME soundcard, I'll use a similar PC for watching movies in the planned cinema room we hope to get when we move house, the place I can see me using the sonos though is in less critical rooms - the kitchen, dining room and bedroom. I had originally planned to build a multichannel PC and use xlobby to control it but I'm just not sure any more that I could get a setup thats as reliable and easy to use. from all I've read since yesterday (a LOT!) these sonos systems are pretty much plug and play (in the literal sense rather than the windows sense!) and they certainly look the part.

    Two little gripes for me at the moment: they don't currently support .ape files, not a huge problem but it would mean me converting my existing library into flac format instead. Secondly the remote controls don't have a docking station yet, this is a promised product and should be here later this year but I would say its fairly necessary to finish the system off properly.

    Any way, enough rambling, if you're having thoughts about these devices then I'd suggest getting a demo, they may well be the answer for rooms were sound quality is not the only consideration.

    Owain
     
  11. cameronl

    cameronl
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    xlobby is great!

    CaM
     
  12. DaveP

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    Sorry to jump in but this could be what I need for the "player under the tele" thread.

    Does it play DVR-MS files?

    Thanks

    Dave
     
  13. oxygenuk

    oxygenuk
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    sounds nice
     
  14. DeeeKaaY

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    Xlobby for prime minister!
     
  15. DeeeKaaY

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    I only use xlobby for music but it convinced me that the future is all stored on computers. Now many of my CDs have been damaged/destroyed or lost/stolen. Fortunately I have copies stored on HDD (transferred using EAC) so I can still enjoy the sound of music. (there's nuns in them there hills...)

    I have not worked on skinning xlobby yet. Does anyone have any top tips? I attach a screenshot of what I am using at the moment (Jawolo variant?)

    Best of all, it's free!

    dk
     

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