Media Server / Streamer / Player

Luxman Amplifiers India

navin advani

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We have about 3000 CDs and about 1000 DVDs and Blu Ray discs. Yeah, it occupies a whole wall in our apartment.

In addition to that, we also watch Amazon Prime and Netflix and recently my nephew set me up with a Spotify and Tidal account (don't ask how I don't know). We have a Marantz Pearl CD player and a similar-looking DVD/Blu Ray player, in addition, we watch Netflix via an Apple TV box, Amazon Prime is via some USB thing, ... you get the picture. We have way too many boxes and sources.

To reduce the boxes I decided to Rip all my CDs to Lossless (almost 2TB) and all the DVDs and Blu Ray to MOV (about 3TB). All this "data" fit on a 6TB hard disk.

Now I need your help.

We need to get a Media Server / Streamer that can play all the "data" from the hard disk, as well as stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tidal, Spotify, etc from the internet but there are so many options that we got confused.

We are looking for a media server/streamer that can be operated like a CD player or Set-Top box and has a simple interface like Apple TV. A friend set up a small PC with Kodi but it took many seconds to boot and was too complicated.

Options we have heard of (but not experienced):
1. Odroid N2+ with Logitech Media Server (see links below)

2. Raspberry Pi4 with Jellyfin (no transcoding available).

3. NVidia Sheild Pro (I can't find one) with Emby

In addition to these "all in one" boxes, there is the option of using dedicated audio and video solutions for example an SMSL DP5 for audio and a Zidoo Z10 for video.

Budget: Rs. 100,000 for audio and video but if the audio quality justifies (better DAC etc) we can stretch to Rs. 150,000 and are ok with having a 3 box solution (audio player, video player and DAC such as the Topping D70 MQA).
 

shibashis

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For your purpose I think you need a few things.
1) Consider getting a quality NAS, the NAS will store all of your FLACs and MOV files and will 'serve' them for a client device (like a network player or a media player such as Zidoo Z10) to access and play.
2) For audio you could go for a single box solution like the Marantz ND8006. It will play the music 'served' by the NAS, output to your stereo/HT rig. It has a quality DAC to boot and a CD drive just in case if you still fancy spinning a disc. It will let you do Spotify and Tidal as well. Do your research on it.
3) For video and OTT streaming, the aforementioned Zidoo or similar devices will do nicely.

How is the user interface of both of these players, that is a very important question. Unfortunately I have not used one to know. For me LG 4K smart TV takes care of all the video needs and for projector I have a Amazon FireTV 4K connected to the receiver, very intuitive and friendly user interface, you can not really go wrong.
 

hydra

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Navin, ideally you'll need a minimum of 2 devices: One to play stored music and stream music (Tidal/Spotify), and one to play stored movies and stream movies from Netflix/Prime etc.

For music, I'd suggest a _Matrix Audio Element i_. It can play from two directly connected (via USB) hard drives, and stream from Tidal. Spotify playback is available via Airplay, and Spotify Connect (and eventually Tidal Connect) are apparently being added via firmware update. This unit is a shade under 1L in India. But it should sound really good out of the box. (You can hook it up to an amp via RCAs or via balanced cables). You could also look at a Bluesound Node (less expensive) or a Yamaha WXC-50 (still less expensive).

For movies, the Nvidia Shield is probably the best option.

You will need to split your movies and music into separate hard drives for this 2 device plan. If you prefer to keep your music and movies in the same place, you will need a NAS: Something like a Synology DS220j (16.8K INR on Amazon) at the very least. You'll also need to buy hard drives to install in the NAS (so do figure that also into the budget if you go this way).
 

navin advani

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Navin, ideally you'll need a minimum of 2 devices: One to play stored music and stream music (Tidal/Spotify), and one to play stored movies and stream movies from Netflix/Prime etc.

For music, I'd suggest a _Matrix Audio Element i_.
For movies, the Nvidia Shield is probably the best option.

You will need to split your movies and music into separate hard drives for this 2 device plan. If you prefer to keep your music and movies in the same place, you will need a NAS: Something like a Synology DS220j (16.8K INR on Amazon) at the very least. You'll also need to buy hard drives to install in the NAS (so do figure that also into the budget if you go this way).
For your purpose I think you need a few things.
1) Consider getting a quality NAS, the NAS will store all of your FLACs and MOV files and will 'serve' them for a client device (like a network player or a media player such as Zidoo Z10) to access and play.
2) For audio you could go for a single box solution like the Marantz ND8006. It will play the music 'served' by the NAS, output to your stereo/HT rig. It has a quality DAC to boot and a CD drive just in case if you still fancy spinning a disc. It will let you do Spotify and Tidal as well. Do your research on it.
3) For video and OTT streaming, the aforementioned Zidoo or similar devices will do nicely.

How is the user interface of both of these players, that is a very important question. Unfortunately I have not used one to know. For me LG 4K smart TV takes care of all the video needs and for projector I have a Amazon FireTV 4K connected to the receiver, very intuitive and friendly user interface, you can not really go wrong.

I think hydra knows me from another forum. We don't have LAN cabling in our apartment and don't intend to install it as it would mean tearing open the false ceiling and a lot of civil work (there are 9 beams between our living room and bedroom) so a NAS would not be a viable option. We are also quite old so are not very PC or Internet literate and in any case, we don't want to expose ourselves to civil works and other outside staff, not until we have taken both doses of the Covishield vaccine.

We have 2 active systems (and 2 that are unused but that is a story for another time). One system is in the bedroom and the other in the living room. So we intend to replicate the server/streamer/player options in both areas.

Both systems have a separate internet connection one from Hathway and the other from Jio. Each system has an AVR, a Stereo amp, a CD player, a DVD/BluRay Player, an Apple TV box, an Amazon USB Dongle thing (I don't know what you guys call this), and a "Kodi box" each with a 6TB internal hard drive, etc. The NAS thingy was suggested to us but it did not serve any purpose as we would need to buy 2 of those NAS boxes and that defeats the purpose of having a "network". Instead for back up we recently got a pair of La Cie D2 Professional 6TB external drives.
The Kodi Box is from Asus https://www.asus.com/in/Mini-PCs/VivoPC_VM40B/
and the back up hard disk is this one
@Sandip Das the Cocktail Audio system looks lovely but it also means that we won't need our existing CD player - it looks to be a basic preamp with Phono, Aux and Digital inputs along with a Streamer and DAC. We do not need the CD section or the Preamp section.

@hydra I like Matrix Audio and was considering their mini-i Pro 3 instead what does the Element I do that the Pro 3 does not? My other alternate was the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 but the Matrix Audio has I2S LVDS out which means I can use an external LVDS compatible DAC if I want to. After the support it got from PS Audio and Chord, LVDS (HDMI) has become the defacto standard for IIS communication between a transport and a DAC. Where did you find the NVidia Shield Pro? I can't seem to find it quoted by anyone in India.

@shibashis The ND8006 has a CD player (like the Cocktail Audio system).

Take away for now:
For Video it's either the NVidia Shield Pro or Zidoo Z10 or even DIY using the aforementioned Odroid N2+ running LMS... anyone installed LMS on Odroid N2 yet?
For Audio it's either the Matrix or a media streamer from Cambridge, NAD, Marantz or I can DIY... hmm...DIY might be an option...heck one can even DIY an MQA compatible DAC now with the release of the ES9068AS chip from ESS Sabre. The 9068 has MQA built in.

DIY Transport for Audio (using Volumio) :

I2S LVDS HDMI option:
Raspberry Pi 4 using Ian Jin's boards (FiFo Clock, I2S LVDS output via HDMI, Linear power supply with Capacitive-Conditioners, etc) see links

The SPDIF option:
Allo USBRIDGE SIG (with DIGIONE SIGNATURE and Shanti Power supply) see links
 
Last edited:

amitk777

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Some people claim that for the RPi4, the USB out is good.
I would suggest to use LMS with 2 RPis, one server and one / two clients. May be one for audio, another for video ? The damages will be low if you don't like the sound.
 

hydra

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@hydra I like Matrix Audio and was considering their mini-i Pro 3 instead what does the Element I do that the Pro 3 does not? My other alternate was the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 but the Matrix Audio has I2S LVDS out which means I can use an external LVDS compatible DAC if I want to. After the support it got from PS Audio and Chord, LVDS (HDMI) has become the defacto standard for IIS communication between a transport and a DAC. Where did you find the NVidia Shield Pro? I can't seem to find it quoted by anyone in India.
Navin, this is indeed the same old Hydra, heh heh. Good to see you here.

In comparison with the Element I, the Mini i pro 3 has a better DAC chip, much better clock, better power supply, LDAC+AptXHd Bluetooth 5.0 and MQA decoding. And of course, a really good screen and an excellent menu system. But the Mini i pro 3 is not compatible with DLNA/UPNP. And it cannot play directly from a hard drive. The only way of streaming to it from a network or a streaming service is to use to Roon. (Tidal can be played via a computer or iPad connected to it via USB input. The iPad will need a lightning to USB adapter. Spotify can be streamed via Airplay 2.)

The only advantage the Element I has over the Mini I pro 3 (in my mind) is that it can play directly from hard drives, and is DLNA/UPNP capable. It has an App that will let us control and play network shares, and that we can play Tidal directly from. Also, depending on what headphones you use, the Element I might have a better headphone amp.

I compared the two, and for my purposes, I found that the Mini I Pro 3 was what I wanted.

A word of warning for your situation here: The Mini i Pro 3 has an internal Wifi antenna, and while it does have 5ghz (the Element I doesn't) band, it needs the router to be fairly close by to get a decent signal. It is best fed via a wired connection to the router.

I don't think the Nvidia Shield is distributed directly in India. I do see it pop up now and then on Amazon (but without warranty). Some folks also manage to buy it via drop shipping services like Aramex Shop and Ship.
 

Sandip Das

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I think hydra knows me from another forum. We don't have LAN cabling in our apartment and don't intend to install it as it would mean tearing open the false ceiling and a lot of civil work (there are 9 beams between our living room and bedroom) so a NAS would not be a viable option. We are also quite old so are not very PC or Internet literate and in any case, we don't want to expose ourselves to civil works and other outside staff, not until we have taken both doses of the Covishield vaccine.

We have 2 active systems (and 2 that are unused but that is a story for another time). One system is in the bedroom and the other in the living room. So we intend to replicate the server/streamer/player options in both areas.

Both systems have a separate internet connection one from Hathway and the other from Jio. Each system has an AVR, a Stereo amp, a CD player, a DVD/BluRay Player, an Apple TV box, an Amazon USB Dongle thing (I don't know what you guys call this), and a "Kodi box" each with a 6TB internal hard drive, etc. The NAS thingy was suggested to us but it did not serve any purpose as we would need to buy 2 of those NAS boxes and that defeats the purpose of having a "network". Instead for back up we recently got a pair of La Cie D2 Professional 6TB external drives.
The Kodi Box is from Asus https://www.asus.com/in/Mini-PCs/VivoPC_VM40B/
and the back up hard disk is this one
@Sandip Das the Cocktail Audio system looks lovely but it also means that we won't need our existing CD player - it looks to be a basic preamp with Phono, Aux and Digital inputs along with a Streamer and DAC. We do not need the CD section or the Preamp section.

@hydra I like Matrix Audio and was considering their mini-i Pro 3 instead what does the Element I do that the Pro 3 does not? My other alternate was the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 but the Matrix Audio has I2S LVDS out which means I can use an external LVDS compatible DAC if I want to. After the support it got from PS Audio and Chord, LVDS (HDMI) has become the defacto standard for IIS communication between a transport and a DAC. Where did you find the NVidia Shield Pro? I can't seem to find it quoted by anyone in India.

@shibashis The ND8006 has a CD player (like the Cocktail Audio system).

Take away for now:
For Video it's either the NVidia Shield Pro or Zidoo Z10 or even DIY using the aforementioned Odroid N2+ running LMS... anyone installed LMS on Odroid N2 yet?
For Audio it's either the Matrix or a media streamer from Cambridge, NAD, Marantz or I can DIY... hmm...DIY might be an option...heck one can even DIY an MQA compatible DAC now with the release of the ES9068AS chip from ESS Sabre. The 9068 has MQA built in.

DIY Transport for Audio (using Volumio) :

I2S LVDS HDMI option:
Raspberry Pi 4 using Ian Jin's boards (FiFo Clock, I2S LVDS output via HDMI, Linear power supply with Capacitive-Conditioners, etc) see links

The SPDIF option:
Allo USBRIDGE SIG (with DIGIONE SIGNATURE and Shanti Power supply) see links
Cocktail audio just not a cd player it's also rip cd in full resolution and store on ur hdd Or inbuilt hdd on cocktail. U dnt need copy all the cds on computer and tag it, folder it etc lots of time saving just play the cd on cocktail and done next time just plays digitally without cd
 

navin advani

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Cocktail audio just not a cd player it's also rip cd in full resolution and store on ur hdd Or inbuilt hdd on cocktail. U dnt need copy all the cds on computer and tag it, folder it etc lots of time saving just play the cd on cocktail and done next time just plays digitally without cd
Navin, this is indeed the same old Hydra, heh heh. Good to see you here.

In comparison with the Element I, the Mini i pro 3 has a better DAC chip, much better clock, better power supply, LDAC+AptXHd Bluetooth 5.0 and MQA decoding. And of course, a really good screen and an excellent menu system. But the Mini i pro 3 is not compatible with DLNA/UPNP. And it cannot play directly from a hard drive. The only way of streaming to it from a network or a streaming service is to use to Roon. (Tidal can be played via a computer or iPad connected to it via USB input. The iPad will need a lightning to USB adapter. Spotify can be streamed via Airplay 2.)

The only advantage the Element I has over the Mini I pro 3 (in my mind) is that it can play directly from hard drives, and is DLNA/UPNP capable. It has an App that will let us control and play network shares, and that we can play Tidal directly from. Also, depending on what headphones you use, the Element I might have a better headphone amp.

I compared the two, and for my purposes, I found that the Mini I Pro 3 was what I wanted.

A word of warning for your situation here: The Mini i Pro 3 has an internal Wifi antenna, and while it does have 5ghz (the Element I doesn't) band, it needs the router to be fairly close by to get a decent signal. It is best fed via a wired connection to the router.

I don't think the Nvidia Shield is distributed directly in India. I do see it pop up now and then on Amazon (but without warranty). Some folks also manage to buy it via drop shipping services like Aramex Shop and Ship.
Some people claim that for the RPi4, the USB out is good.
I would suggest to use LMS with 2 RPis, one server and one / two clients. May be one for audio, another for video ? The damages will be low if you don't like the sound.
@amitk777 RPi is just a pipedream. It is an interesting DIY project but I did a quick calculation and an RPi system using Ian Jin's parts would cost about $700 plus the box and software install etc. It is a fun project but the first step is to get started watching some media.

@hydra
For video, I asked around for the Nvidia Shield and no one has it. Then someone told me about HiMedia Cubtek Q10Pro that is available on Amazon for 20k. It is cheaper than the Z10 from AVstore. Is the Z10 worth the price difference?

For audio, Matrix might be the closest ready to use solution. If I was to DIY a player using Allo's USBridge Signature + DigiOne Signature + Shanti Power supply + case it would run about Rs. 50k plus the cost of a DAC. The SOtM sMS200 Neo actually works out cheaper, besides RPi based players aren't very happy with high capacity external HDDs.

The Zidoo X20Pro has a ES9038Pro DAC (this is different from the ES9038Q2M mobile DAC in that it has 8 channels instead of 2 channels). Is AudioMart reliable?

BTW the flagship Zidoo product has the new 9068AS DAC from ESS Sabre, wonder if and when it will be available in India.

@Sandip Das Yes I understand that the Cocktail has a ready ripper but I have already ripped my CDs to Lossless using Exact Audio Copy and WavPack (I used FooBar to create a FLAC version too since WavPack is not as pervasive as FLAC).
 

shuv

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I think Ajay (from the other forum), has a product for videos that supports (nearly) all formats. But, you would ideally need a wired connection for playing big files.
I personally am happy with the Audiolab 6000N. Does Spotify, Tidal and local files from the NAS. It's easier than running a Raspi IMHO. Obviously, the SOtM, Matrix Audio, etc are from a different league.
 

navin advani

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I think Ajay (from the other forum), has a product for videos that supports (nearly) all formats. But, you would ideally need a wired connection for playing big files.
I personally am happy with the Audiolab 6000N. Does Spotify, Tidal and local files from the NAS. It's easier than running a Raspi IMHO. Obviously, the SOtM, Matrix Audio, etc are from a different league.
"Ajay from the other forum" is the friend who ripped my DVDs and set up the 2 Asus Kodi boxes. ;) I don't want to "trouble" him too much now as he might whack my "base" especially now that he is a proud papa.
 

navin advani

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Navin, this is indeed the same old Hydra, heh heh. Good to see you here.

In comparison with the Element I, the Mini i pro 3 has a better DAC chip, much better clock, better power supply, LDAC+AptXHd Bluetooth 5.0 and MQA decoding. And of course, a really good screen and an excellent menu system. But the Mini i pro 3 is not compatible with DLNA/UPNP. And it cannot play directly from a hard drive. The only way of streaming to it from a network or a streaming service is to use to Roon. (Tidal can be played via a computer or iPad connected to it via USB input. The iPad will need a lightning to USB adapter. Spotify can be streamed via Airplay 2.)

The only advantage the Element I has over the Mini I pro 3 (in my mind) is that it can play directly from hard drives, and is DLNA/UPNP capable. It has an App that will let us control and play network shares, and that we can play Tidal directly from. Also, depending on what headphones you use, the Element I might have a better headphone amp.

I compared the two, and for my purposes, I found that the Mini I Pro 3 was what I wanted.

A word of warning for your situation here: The Mini i Pro 3 has an internal Wifi antenna, and while it does have 5ghz (the Element I doesn't) band, it needs the router to be fairly close by to get a decent signal. It is best fed via a wired connection to the router.
SMSL and some company called JF (both Chinese) have similar products.


 

Yaridu

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I think Ajay (from the other forum), has a product for videos that supports (nearly) all formats. But, you would ideally need a wired connection for playing big files.
I personally am happy with the Audiolab 6000N. Does Spotify, Tidal and local files from the NAS. It's easier than running a Raspi IMHO. Obviously, the SOtM, Matrix Audio, etc are from a different league.
What is this product? Which can play all video formats? Will it also play all Dolby formats wrt to surround sound? I am looking for a device which can play all 4k formats along with atleast 5.1 surround formats.
 

venkatcr

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Navin, I am undertaking centralizing all my media in a manner similar to what you are looking at.

I experimented quite a bit with RPi. I finally gave it up.

Reasons:
  1. RPi is never meant to be used for serious media playing.
  2. The bare board by itself is a toy and multiple companies are making money to make it work for various applications by adding hardware.
  3. The H.265 in RPi is iffy with none of the application companies yet implementing hardware acceleration.
  4. There are excellent hardware DACs available and they are the only option available for audio using an RPi.
  5. You can access both networked media as well as streamlined media with PRi apps. Only issue is usually wireless connectivity. Since the RPi uses a small internal antenna, I have faced ‘not connected’ many times.
  6. Using external hard disk is also a bit of a pain as the tagging large files system takes a long time.
  7. The headless control many times gets connected and reconnected making you lose track of what you were playing.
  8. In general I found using a PC and Foobar far far better.
  9. Jumping between Linux, Android and Windows is painful. I have started seeing flash drives being spoilt needing reformatting.
What I am implementing is as follows:
  1. An i5 based PC that will be used as a NAS and media server for audio. This will be connected directly to a Topping 50s for serious listening. The Topping has AptX and will also play streaming audio.
  2. An i5 based PC with a high end GPU as a NAS and media server for video. This is connected to my AVR for watching UHD videos.
  3. Using a networking server such as Plex to distribute media across the house. Plex offers clients for literally every device. I will be experimenting with a few servers, but I am leaning towards Plex because of its connectivity.
  4. When I am feeling large hearted towards myself, I will spend the $600 for a Roon. I have seen it working, and it is very impressive.
  5. Using a combination of smartphones, Ipads, tablets, and smart TVs to distribute the audio and video throughout the home.
  6. Using active speakers for playing audio files.
  7. Using smart TVs to play video.
Some of the assumptions:
  • Get a professional to come in a set up a networking system at home where all your devices can read each other’s drives. This does not cost much.
  • Spend the least amount possible on new hardware. Reuse what I already have. Would rather add a GPU than buy a Zidoo or something. One of the biggest advantages of a HTPC is the capability to play Youtube and other media that is not available on Android TVs. Some of the streaming companies have become smart enough to recognize the end device and implementing restrictions.
  • You will get high quality audio only from your main system.
  • Use the best budget active speakers you can lay your hand on for other rooms. Amplifier and passive speakers mean more wiring and more headaches.
  • You will get 4K video from your HT system.
  • In other rooms, be ready to be happy with 1080p or as best as your device can offer.
Cheers
 

navin advani

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What is this product? Which can play all video formats? Will it also play all Dolby formats wrt to surround sound? I am looking for a device which can play all 4k formats along with atleast 5.1 surround formats.
Navin, I am undertaking centralizing all my media in a manner similar to what you are looking at.

I experimented quite a bit with RPi. I finally gave it up.

Reasons:
  1. RPi is never meant to be used for serious media playing.
  2. The bare board by itself is a toy and multiple companies are making money to make it work for various applications by adding hardware.
  3. The H.265 in RPi is iffy with none of the application companies yet implementing hardware acceleration.
  4. There are excellent hardware DACs available and they are the only option available for audio using an RPi.
  5. You can access both networked media as well as streamlined media with PRi apps. Only issue is usually wireless connectivity. Since the RPi uses a small internal antenna, I have faced ‘not connected’ many times.
  6. Using external hard disk is also a bit of a pain as the tagging large files system takes a long time.
  7. The headless control many times gets connected and reconnected making you lose track of what you were playing.
  8. In general I found using a PC and Foobar far far better.
  9. Jumping between Linux, Android and Windows is painful. I have started seeing flash drives being spoilt needing reformatting.
What I am implementing is as follows:
  1. An i5 based PC that will be used as a NAS and media server for audio. This will be connected directly to a Topping 50s for serious listening. The Topping has AptX and will also play streaming audio.
  2. An i5 based PC with a high end GPU as a NAS and media server for video. This is connected to my AVR for watching UHD videos.
  3. Using a networking server such as Plex to distribute media across the house. Plex offers clients for literally every device. I will be experimenting with a few servers, but I am leaning towards Plex because of its connectivity.
  4. When I am feeling large hearted towards myself, I will spend the $600 for a Roon. I have seen it working, and it is very impressive.
  5. Using a combination of smartphones, Ipads, tablets, and smart TVs to distribute the audio and video throughout the home.
  6. Using active speakers for playing audio files.
  7. Using smart TVs to play video.
Some of the assumptions:
  • Get a professional to come in a set up a networking system at home where all your devices can read each other’s drives. This does not cost much.
  • Spend the least amount possible on new hardware. Reuse what I already have. Would rather add a GPU than buy a Zidoo or something. One of the biggest advantages of a HTPC is the capability to play Youtube and other media that is not available on Android TVs. Some of the streaming companies have become smart enough to recognize the end device and implementing restrictions.
  • You will get high quality audio only from your main system.
  • Use the best budget active speakers you can lay your hand on for other rooms. Amplifier and passive speakers mean more wiring and more headaches.
  • You will get 4K video from your HT system.
  • In other rooms, be ready to be happy with 1080p or as best as your device can offer.
Cheers
@Yaridu the product was originally a Celeron based mini PC, running OpenElec and XBMC. There were 2 prototypes of this product that were created, both are with me. :cool: A newer easier-to-use version of the same using an Amlogic S922X chipset running Android or Linux or both is now available. I will audition one net week.

@venkatcr I hear you. Yes, I too have been told that the RPi is a toy. It is a fun project but can't be taken seriously especially not for high-quality audio. On the flip side making a PC and booting a PC just to listen to music is too much effort. I want a device that can is as easy to operate as my Tata Sky Set Top Box or My Apple TV box.

One friend suggested a 3 box solution with a dedicated audio streamer/server, dedicated video streamer/server and a good DAC with multiple inputs (for the audio streamer and CD player). His argument is that the DAC would add more life to my ageing (2012) CD player and that the DAC with XLR outputs would work nicely with my stereo amp that already has XLR inputs.

Another HiFiVision member told me that I have not been clear in my first post. So I am re-iterating my challenge below with details of all the equipment we own. The loudspeakers are missing as I DIYed them so are not commercial products.

We are looking for 2 devices (one for the bedroom and one for the living room) that can stream from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube Premium, Tidal, Spotify, etc and play CDs and BluRay/DVDs that have been ripped from a hard disk. The current equipment list at each location is as follows:

Marantz Pearl CD Player
Marantz - UD5005 DVD/Blue Ray player (converted to play all regions)
Tata Sky Set-top box
Sony PS4 Pro (which only the kids used)
Yamaha S2000 stereo integrated amplifier
Marantz 7013 AVR (bedroom), Denon 7200W AVR (living room)
Jio Internet for bedroom and Hathway Internet for Living Room

Apple TV used for Netflix and YouTube and to connect our iPads to when we want to airplay from iPads.
Amazon Fire Stick for Amazon Prime
Asus VM40 mini-computer used as Kodi Media box with 6TB Hard Disk which is too tiresome to use

For 2 channel-audio the CD player connects to the Yamaha Amp bypassing all the other electronics. Everything else is connected to the AVR. In "AVR mode" the Yamaha is used as a power amp for the front 2 speakers.

We wish to
1. Replace the Apple, Amazon and Asus devices with one simple device.
2. Achieve better quality Audio (24/192, DSD etc) and Video (4K, Dolby Vision etc.)

However, it seems that we may not be able to do so as the needs for high-quality video and audio are different so maybe two devices might be in order.

We cannot connect our living room to our bedroom with LAN cable as our home is very old and large (by Mumbai standards) with the Living room at one end and our bedroom at the other. The distance from Living Room TV to Bedroom TV is over 25 meters with 3 thick doors in between. We do not want to tear open the false ceiling for just the one purpose of adding LAN wire. We are both old and not PC or internet literate.
 
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navin advani

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I experimented quite a bit with RPi. I finally gave it up.

Reasons:
  1. RPi is never meant to be used for serious media playing.
  2. The bare board by itself is a toy and multiple companies are making money to make it work for various applications by adding hardware.
  3. The H.265 in RPi is iffy with none of the application companies yet implementing hardware acceleration.
  4. There are excellent hardware DACs available and they are the only option available for audio using an RPi.
  5. You can access both networked media as well as streamlined media with PRi apps. Only issue is usually wireless connectivity. Since the RPi uses a small internal antenna, I have faced ‘not connected’ many times.
  6. Using external hard disk is also a bit of a pain as the tagging large files system takes a long time.
  7. The headless control many times gets connected and reconnected making you lose track of what you were playing.
  8. In general I found using a PC and Foobar far far better.
  9. Jumping between Linux, Android and Windows is painful. I have started seeing flash drives being spoilt needing reformatting.

I never intended to use RPi for video. Just for audio. Hence I do not need H265.

That said I agree with you. Companies like Project, Volumio, etc seem to be selling RPi based machines for way more than they are "worth". If I would use RPi as a DIY project I would consider Ian Jin's FiFo and Transport with his Linear Power supply or Allo's USBridge, DigiOne Signature and Shanti. It would cost me Rs. 40,000 + case and external DAC (Topping's D70s comes to mind) but at least I would have an interesting player.

The challenge of using an external Hard drive is also appreciated which is why I too would prefer machines that have the option of an internal SATA hard disk.

Has anyone heard the Modulus M1?
 

hydra

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We cannot connect our living room to our bedroom with LAN cable as our home is very old and large (by Mumbai standards) with the Living room at one end and our bedroom at the other. The distance from Living Room TV to Bedroom TV is over 25 meters with 3 thick doors in between. We do not want to tear open the false ceiling for just the one purpose of adding LAN wire. We are both old and not PC or internet literate.
There might be a solution for this, if the WiFi is acting as a bottleneck.

You could get a 3-pack Mesh Networking set. The main unit (a router replacement) would connect to your modem. The other satellite units can be placed in the two rooms you want connectivity in. A 3 unit setup would blanket your entire house in wireless coverage under a single network AP. That is, it would be like the entire house has a single WiFi network. The added advantage is that most of the satellite units would have an Ethernet socket that y could hardwire units to, that don't have WiFi.

The mesh network packs vary in terms of price. Netgear Orbi units with triband support are the best (and fastest too), and would come to about 16k or so for a 3 unit pack. A 3 unit TPLink pack with dual band (slower, as the 5ghz band is used for the backhaul) can be had for about 9k.
 

navin advani

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There might be a solution for this, if the WiFi is acting as a bottleneck.

You could get a 3-pack Mesh Networking set. The main unit (a router replacement) would connect to your modem. The other satellite units can be placed in the two rooms you want connectivity in. A 3 unit setup would blanket your entire house in wireless coverage under a single network AP. That is, it would be like the entire house has a single WiFi network. The added advantage is that most of the satellite units would have an Ethernet socket that y could hardwire units to, that don't have WiFi.

The mesh network packs vary in terms of price. Netgear Orbi units with triband support are the best (and fastest too), and would come to about 16k or so for a 3 unit pack. A 3 unit TPLink pack with dual band (slower, as the 5ghz band is used for the backhaul) can be had for about 9k.
Hydra,

We have tried Google Wifi (which I still have) - in fact, I have 6 of those hockey puck looking things. We also tried NetGear Orbi 852 (borrowed from a friend) and Ubiquiti Amplifi (borrowed from my nephew). Getting even halfway to our bedroom was not possible with either.

This week some guys from Airtel and Jio and visiting my place. Each one has their own idea. Airtel is looking to use the MTNL extensions to send the signal to the bedrooms, Jio is looking to drop fiberoptic cable from a neighbours house 7 floors above mine through my bedroom windows.

Meanwhile, I will also be getting a demo of the new "Ajay-from-the-other-forum's" Streamer. If that goes well a "special version" will be made for me. Don't ask what. It's apparently some secret sauce he reserves for "friends and family". One of the benefits of being old I guess.
 

navin advani

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Navin, I am undertaking centralizing all my media in a manner similar to what you are looking at.

I experimented quite a bit with RPi. I finally gave it up.

Reasons:
  1. There are excellent hardware DACs available and they are the only option available for audio using an RPi.
  2. Using external hard disk is also a bit of a pain as the tagging large files system takes a long time.
@venkatcr: What do you think of these mini PCs at least for audio?


Alternately:
Something like this. It has an X86 (Intel Celeron J4105, is a Quad-Core 1.5GHz CPU) with an ARM Cortex-M0+ MCU (making the board Android compatible). Plus it has an RPi compatible GPIO (so maybe one can add a FiFo Recloker HAT or an I2S LVDS Transport HAT or a SDPIF HAT like Allo's DigiOne Signature).
X86 details here:
ARM Cortex details here
Or you could run Plex on it
You can even configure it to be a NAS using FreeNAS

Another option (at least for audio) is to install Daphile on any Mini PC (NUC). I have a pair of Asus Vivo PCs that I upgraded to 8GB and 6TB some years back. I might experiment with installing Daphile on them. The PC even has an SD card slot so I might even be able to run Daphile off that slot. Let's see. https://www.asus.com/in/Mini-PCs/VivoPC_VM40B/

For video, it will mostly be an Nvidia TV Shield Pro or an Amlogix S912X based media player.

What is this product? Which can play all video formats? Will it also play all Dolby formats wrt to surround sound? I am looking for a device which can play all 4k formats along with atleast 5.1 surround formats
@Yaridu
I just saw it. It is basically an Amlogic S912X based streamer with some secret sauce poured on top. It will do 4K, it will do 5.1 or even 7.4.1. It will play any video format at least it can do Dolby Vision. It even has DLNA. But... its availability is restricted as there are a limited number of S912X boards available.

An alternate: Get an Nvidia TV Shield Pro and install Logitech Media Server on it. Its the next best thing.

I would suggest to use LMS with 2 RPis, one server and one / two clients. May be one for audio, another for video ? The damages will be low if you don't like the sound.
@amitk777 RPis do not have the horsepower to transcode 4k or HD to 720p. For that, you need something along the lines of an Amlogic S922X. I have been looking for these boards (Odroid N2+ is one) but they are not available in India.

RPis are problematic as @venkatcr has explained above. My initial thoughts were to use Allo's USBridge Signature + DigiOne Signature + Shanti Power supply and build a music server but there are several issues including DLNA susceptibility especially for always connected USB drives.

A NAS or a device that has room for a big (4TB+) SATA drive make more sense. Since my rack does do not have room for a traditional NAS (aka Synology DS220), my best options is a mini PC with a built-in SATA drive.
 
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venkatcr

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@venkatcr: What do you think of these mini PCs at least for audio?
Theoretically, an i3 or i5 with minimum of 8GB RAM is more than enough to play audio. Some applications preload and store one or more songs in the RAM. This will remove jitter if any, and the odd cases where you might hear a stutter when the songs tracks are being loaded.

That said, the mini PCs seem to have some limitations:

1. They seem to come installed with a IoT version of Windows 10, not regular W10. You may not get decent audio players for this version.
2. They seems to have a max HD capacity of 1TB.
3. They cannot take any full height or half height cards.

Cheers
 
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