Questions on making server for FLAC playback

Discussion in 'PCs & Music Servers' started by Moon_Man, Nov 12, 2016.

  1. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,020
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    I know this is probably an often asked question, but I don't really see the answer I'm looking for. I'll try to make my information request simple and clear.

    * I want to play FLAC files located on my laptop (or external hard drive) on my vintage stereo equipment.
    * My questions are more about the equipment and interconnection than software. I can figure out the software after I get the technology down.
    * I do not want to use any music streaming service.
    * I would prefer to use a small laptop or similar with an external hard drive that stores the music files so I can leave the laptop in place.
    * I want to have the best quality music reproduction possible instead of settling for the standard computer output, if that makes sense.
    * I have an existing Toshiba laptop and a E-Machine tower that are not currently used for anything. Not that old. However, I'm not against something new.
    * I'm not afraid to get into the guts of a machine. I have opened up machines a lot in the past.
    * RCA plug interface for the vintage equipment would be ideal, since I have several different systems and the RCA interface is the only consistent interface I have with all of them.
    * I'm not afraid to purchase a DAC unit or whatever to make this happen.
    * I am a live music collector and have many, many GB of files that I want to be able to select on the screen and play.

    Thank you for your insight and help.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    Big fan of the Maverick TubeMagic D1+. That has analog connections perfect for a legacy stereo, and your choice of digital connections for your computer. I prefer the USB ... that tops out lower than coaxial or optical, but sounds better. There, it's all about the chipset.
     
  3. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,652
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    I don't think you need a really high end machine to handle the computing power necessary to play back FLAC files. It's the DAC that's where it's at.

    One thing that I have found is that if not all your files are 44.1 there is some configuration required on a Windows machine to make them play at their native sample rate through a USB DAC. I am sure that that was probably documented on the interwebs somewhere but I was not aware of this until I actually purchased a (used) DAC and started playing with it.
     
    ben_ likes this.
  4. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,213
    Location:
    SE Alaska
    I am doing something similar to what you are wanting. I just got all the parts and don't have it figured out yet. The parts being a little computer called a Raspberry Pi 3b and JRiver Id micro SD card. The package is about $100 and would probably require a good usb DAC if you don't already have one. This little computer with JRiver will use a stand alone hard drive, NAS, or networked PC. It has no fans or anything else to add noise. It uses only 4 watts and stays on 24/7 ready to play music. Can be graphically controlled from a pc, smart phone, or a keyboard and mouse with the Raspberry connected to a flat screen monitor via hdmi.
    http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php/topic,106807.0.html
    https://www.amazon.com/Vilros-Raspberry-Basic-Starter-Black/dp/B01DMFQZXK/
     
    judsonw and ldatlof like this.
  5. JRhoBurton

    JRhoBurton In The Listening Room on the Edge of Forever Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,998
    Location:
    Utah, USA
    My setup is similar to what you want. I did a power calc on my Toshiba laptop and usage is light so it's buried under the stairs, on all the time. I set it to reboot nightly because it's Windows. I rarely need physical access to it.

    From there I go to a simple USB-digital converter with optical and coax (RCA) out. It will do up to 24bit/96k.

    rps20161112_213249.jpg
    This is one of three devices going to the "digital section", the other 2 being minidisc and DAT recorders, all connected to a Behringer SRC2496, which sounds fine to me and converts and switches nicely.

    rps20161112_213116.jpg
    The SRC has balanced (XLR) analog outputs, and I've tried it with and without balanced-unbalaced converters. It works fine both ways.

    Foobar2000 is a nice music server, but what brings it all together is the remote control Android app, FoobarCon Pro.

    Screenshot_2016-11-12-22-01-45.png

    Screenshot_2016-11-12-22-06-52.png

    I've been doing more FM, vinyl, and tape lately, but digital will remain in the mix. This is a good way to run it.
     
  6. ldatlof

    ldatlof We are all steak Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,823
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    My setup is similar in hardware to what you want to accomplish. I am using an old emachines AMD dual core running windows 10 as my server. The server software is logitech media server (free). It has two external 1TB hard drives that holds the .flac files. One hard drive is for back up. The player is an old netbook running Linux Mint (Windows also works here) running Squeezelite (a free squeezebox emulator) and is connected to the server via Wi-Fi. The netbook goes into a DAC via USB and then from the DAC to my pre-amp via RCA. The system is controlled from a smart phone, tablet or computer connected to the network.

    It is easy to setup, use and it sounds great. It is also expandable and can do whole home sound either simultaneously, independently or in a combination of the two. My squeezelite devices consist of the aforementioned netbook, an RPi quad core and two different types of pogoplugs. You can also use use streaming services like Spotify or Tidal if you ever change your mind.

    Good luck.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,020
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Thanks to all. I'd like to say I followed all of that, but I didn't. I am new to most of the digital world. I guess I will have to continue to read up on the topic.

    Right now I am merely interested in getting at the hundreds of FLAC files on my computer without the silliness of burning disks. At some point I do plan on setting up a server with more functionality, including host/client access for file transfers, but right now I've got speakers, turntables, a RTR and receivers to rebuild as well.

    Allow me to ask this. If I wanted to start off simply - a laptop, a DAC and a vintage system, I understand that I could go out of the laptop through the USB port to the DAC. What I don't understand is how do I skip the audio card in the laptop, or redirect the output to the USB skipping the audio card? Also, I assume I want to skip the audio card because an external DAC would be much better translation?

    I took a look at the Maverick TubeMagic and that looks good. It has a lot of inputs which would help with my Dynaco ST-70 & PAS 3 system that I want to use several input with but would prefer to do the switching outside of the PAS 3, plus it gives me a headphone amp for that system location, something I don't have now.

    I have an unused laptop that seemed particularly susceptible to malware, and I haven't figured out how to take it back to out-of-the-box condition, so I figure I'll just reformat it and load only Windows 10 and whatever player software I need and just leave that at my main system (off line) with an external hard drive with the files. Any suggestions for this arrangement will be greatly appreciated.
     
  8. audioman00

    audioman00 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    688
    I took a few old windows pc's I got for free and made a frankenstein music server.. windows xp with the good old winamp music player using monkeymote lite from my old iPhone 4s and... done. plays all my music on demand from the smart phone wirelessly and the best part is the server is in the closet not to be seen or heard feeding spdif to my dac. Zero money into this is my favorite part. I guess music servers are the future cause I'm not going back to cd's anytime soon if this setup keeps working. cheers!
     
  9. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,652
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    You could start using the internal audio card and a 3.5mm stereo plug to 2xRCA cord for a next-to-no-investment way to get you started

    A USB DAC would be the next logical step, something like this

    http://www.hirestech.com/product/?pid=128

    Alternately, you could use an old tower and put a really good sound card in it

    When I use my MSii+ the internal speakers automatically shut off when I plug it in
     
  10. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,213
    Location:
    SE Alaska
    I would recommend getting a decent media program first. You will want to set it up in options or preference to bypass windows audio processing which will make your FLAC sound as good as cd's. Then give your internal sound card a try, some do sound good I'm told. Then if you want to try an external DAC there are lots to choose from. I went with an entry level Schiit which sounded good but then decided to upgrade to their multibit and gave that a try for 2 weeks (free refund within 2 weeks) and I loved the new DAC. The reason I decided to get my music onto a dedicated player like the Raspberry Pi had to do with noise from my pc on the USB and issues with Windows which required a reboot to fix. Your pc may be just fine however and you probably just would need good media software like foobar or JRiver to get going (there are no doubt others that are good as well). If you want to keep files off the pc laptop, get a NAS or even a USB external drive. Point is that you are probably almost there already.
     
  11. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,652
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    Good argument for a NAS is if you have multiple systems through which you may want to play the files. also mine is RAID 1 so a single HDD failure won't result in having to rerip.
     
    TPettenati likes this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. JRhoBurton

    JRhoBurton In The Listening Room on the Edge of Forever Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,998
    Location:
    Utah, USA
    Just want to make sure you know, when you connect a USB DAC to a Windows PC, it becomes a sound card. You might need to install driver software first. You can then find the new device in the list with other devices, and make it the default if you like. You can also select it from your playback software, at least with the programs I have used.

    You can use one sound card for playback, and a different one for recording, if you need to.
     
    judsonw likes this.
  13. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,020
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Ah-ha. JRho, thank you. I always suspected that, but to be honest I have never dug deeply enough into this to know that.

    Alobar - I'm using Foobar now (occasionally) and I guess I need to understand the capabilities of the software better.

    Thanks folks. I will keep you appraised of my progress as I make it (IF I make it).
     
    judsonw likes this.
  14. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,213
    Location:
    SE Alaska
    I cannot say how it is done in Foobar but JRiver there are a few settings. I use something called WASAPI (see below).
    Here is some things that may be of interest in choosing the right output mode whatever the media player software is used. Don't run anything through the windows mixer...
    This could be handy for understanding output modes although it is specific to JRiver it should also be relevant to whatever you are running.

    Choosing the Audio Output Mode

    On OS X MC uses Core Audio to access your audio device, which provides bit-perfect playback, and requires no configuration. On Windows, Media Center will typically choose the best Output Mode available for your device, based on the drivers installed. If given the choice between multiple modes or drivers, choose the best output for your hardware in this order:

    1) If your hardware has a native, well-behaved, ASIO driver, use ASIO.

    2) Otherwise, on Windows Vista, Windows 7, or newer, use WASAPI Exclusive Access.

    3) Otherwise, use Kernel Streaming if it works.

    4) If none of the above are possible, use DirectSound or WaveOut. Neither of these provide hardware direct output, so choose based on performance.

    If you have problems, start with DirectSound and get MC working. Once you have audio working and are comfortable using MC, then experiment with other audio output choices.

    ASIO
    See also: ASIO
    ASIO is a sound card communication system created by Steinberg.

    If your soundcard has a native ASIO driver, this is the most direct (and normally best) way to communicate with it.

    Please note that ASIO4All is basically Kernel Streaming with an ASIO wrapper. There's no good reason to use ASIO + ASIO4All vs just using Kernel Streaming directly in Media Center.

    WASAPI (Windows Audio Session API)
    See also: WASAPI
    WASAPI is a hardware communication system in Vista, Windows 7, and newer. When used in exclusive mode, the Windows system mixer is bypassed, but other applications cannot simultaneously use the audio device.

    Kernel Streaming
    Kernel Streaming is a hardware direct way to speak directly to a WDM audio driver. It works on XP, so is useful when the above two options are not possible.

    Direct Sound
    This is Windows default and the most compatible output method. It plays through the system mixer. This means all formats will be converted by Windows to the native format of the card. It is highly compatible, but it is not the highest quality method.

    Wave Out
    This is a legacy output mode. With some misbehaved hardware, it may work better than DirectSound.

    Disk Writer
    This writes whatever would have gone to the soundcard to a WAV file on disk.
     
  15. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,857
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    I built one of these:

    http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/497-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-c-p-s-v3-zuma/

    I use Windows 7 Home Premium and have it tied to my hard wired network so I can connect to my NAS which stores the music. I connect to it remotely on the network with TeamViewer (freeware) and use JRiver to manage the music, playlists and playback.

    It was an easy build, with a nice chipset and solid state HD to deliver the music to my DAC via USB.

    I have the parts list and sources on a spreadsheet if you are interested. Just PM me your email address and I'll send it along.
     
    Alobar likes this.
  16. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    For windOhs!

    - Control Panel
    - Sound and Audio Devices

    That will give you a list of available options. Set the USB device as the default.

    Just make sure you go with the TubeMagic D1+ ... they dropped ANALOG IN on the D2, for whatever reason. Another nice thing about the Maverick DAC is that it doesn't need additional drivers. Just plug it in, and windOhs does the rest.

    Avast (free) has a pretty decent and non obtrusive package for virus protection, and I scan my system with AntiMalware (also free) every now and then. No issues with either. DO enable WASAPI, as it's the next best thing to bit perfect and runs rings around any other Windows sound handler. How you do that varies depending on what player you use. I know jRiver lets you pick it from available options, but Foobar requires you to install additional drivers. For that sort of thing, goOOoogle is your friend ...

    And ya, a clean system is best if that's all you're gonna use it for. You COULD try just using MSCONFIG to disable anything you don't plan to use and see how that works before pulling the trigger on a full re-installation. Not to forget, you don't necessarily lose all your data files, but you would need to reinstall any and all software.

    Keep in mind, this is all pretty much a one time setup, and well worth a bit of effort up front. I still spin records and CDs (mostly SACD), but it's hard to fault the convenience of a digital library with a good player.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. rwartner

    rwartner Super Member

    Messages:
    1,153
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Computer technology has improved from when I started. The biggest difference to me is file storage capacity. I have over 2K CDs ripped lossless which is close to 1TB of storage.

    I would get a new laptop with a CD/DVD and USB 3.0. I would make sure there is a trapdoor to access the laptop fan because you need to blow the dust out sometimes. Laptop has battery backup and runs quiet. Do not get a netbook - small laptop. Get one big enough to have CD/DVD, You may only do one backup to CD and that will be worth the price.

    USB 2.0 works. However USB 3.0 is way faster. With 3.0 you can store all your music files on external USB drive and works almost as fast as internal drive.
    This means you do not need huge internal drive and brings down the cost of laptop.

    Playing music does not require super computer or USB 3.0. However copying files and loading music library, scrolling - is way faster with USB 3.0. It is way more convenient than having external USB 2.0.

    My laptop is dedicated to playing music. Boot up, start Windows Music Player, load library, play random music. Solid state drive would help similar to USB 3.0 vs 2.0. Boot up and loading would be faster. Playing music no difference. I think USB 3.0 is more cost effective.

    I would determine what my inputs and outputs are. What do you plug in and what goes out of computer? Then I would research DAC that corresponds.
    For instance if DAC requires coax or optical how do you output to it?

    CD library is most expensive part of system. That is where the money goes and it never ends. Don't be afraid to spend a few bucks to make it work.
     
    Alobar likes this.
  18. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,020
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Well, I did the DAC thing and ordered a Maverick Tubemagic D1+ with the GE tube and the Burr Brown upgrades. Got $40 off during a sale. It will be under the tree. And thus it begins.
     
  19. Moon_Man

    Moon_Man Dreps Crone Maze

    Messages:
    1,020
    Location:
    Snow Country NY
    Now thinking about a Synology NAS 8 TB server. Thoughts?
     
  20. for_p1

    for_p1 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,468
    Location:
    North TX
    This is a good brand. I suggest choose one with Intel CPU. They allow running additional application like Plex or LMS, which is very useful for media server.
     

Share This Page