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  1. #1

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    Default Looking to go digital, completely computer-audio illiterate. Please help!

    Hello,

    So I'm a young audiophile who dove into the hobby just a few years ago. Up until now, I've been using a cd player and a turntable for almost all of my listening. With all of the advancements and convenience of computer audio, I'd like to explore that route as well, but know literally nothing about this, and the more I research, the more confused I get haha. The biggest problem I have is my computer rig is in one room, and my main audio rig is in the living room. I am aware of wireless options such as Sonos or Squeezebox (never used either, though); is this the only real option I have given how far apart my computer is from my main rig? Will the wireless Sonos/Squeezebox really preserve the sound quality? Also, if I could I'd rather have my computer separate from my hifi altogether, like a standalone media server. Does anyone have anything like this? Just trying to get an idea as to what my options are, and I apologize for having no idea what the hell I'm doing.

    Here's a snapshot of my modest equipment:

    Computer rig:
    Custom quad-core i5 Windows 7 PC, running Jriver to a VERY cheap Creative X-Fi USB DAC
    Sansui G-9700 (my pride and joy)
    Polk Lsi7's

    Main living room rig:
    NAD C320BEE
    ProJect Debut Carbon
    Polk LSi15's

    Thanks for helping me out!

    Yours Truly,

    Overwhelmed Hi-Fi Rookie
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  2. #2

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    Depends on how much you want to spend. Cheapest probably being Squeezebox/Sonos, but either of those options require a good dac to get the most from them. Separate music servers will need to be tied to the computer, most anyway, hard wired. Those can range from 1000 bucks to 5,000 and up. Other options are Apple, WD, for cheaper alternatives but also require a good dac.

    As a side note, that Nad your using on the LSI 15's is a tad light in the power department. Feed those speakers some high quality current and they'll come alive.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Depends on how much you want to spend. Cheapest probably being Squeezebox/Sonos, but either of those options require a good dac to get the most from them. Separate music servers will need to be tied to the computer, most anyway, hard wired. Those can range from 1000 bucks to 5,000 and up. Other options are Apple, WD, for cheaper alternatives but also require a good dac.

    As a side note, that Nad your using on the LSI 15's is a tad light in the power department. Feed those speakers some high quality current and they'll come alive.
    Thanks! I knew I'd need a better DAC either way. Now, is it true what I'm reading that Sonos does NOT support FLAC? Most of my digital collection is FLAC right now, played through JRiver. My cheapo Creative USB soundcard handles my FLAC files just fine.

    I know the NAD is not the best amp for the load the LSI's present, but I've held back on upgrading my amp a) because I may be selling the LSI15's and b) I just haven't found a deal on a new one that was tempting enough to replace the NAD. I do enjoy its warm, full sound, and living in an apartment, I can't crank the speakers anyways so the NAD powers them to reasonable levels without even really getting warm. Eventually though, I do want to replace the NAD.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

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    I would build a NAS and connect it to your router. I did this myself for about $500 at the time using two 2TB drives and a Synology DS212J (you can get the newer model here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822108139 for $199).

    Then using a Western Digital TV Live player, I connect to the NAS and access my music, photos and movies. I don't have to have the computer on to play anything which I think is great. You will have to copy your music to the NAS, but once done, you can access it from any computer/device you want. The WD TV Live plays pretty much every format, including FLAC. You can hook that up to your receiver via HDMI or optical until you decide to get a better DAC and then you can connect it to that.

    For the money, I think it's a great way to go.

    Additionally, with the Synology DS213J, you can access your files from the web if you set up a web address for yourself. I've tried doing this and streaming music to my iPhone via the Synology Music App and it works great. Additionally, via a web address you can let others (family/friends) access your photos and what not via the web using this NAS.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by GospelTruth View Post
    I would build a NAS and connect it to your router. I did this myself for about $500 at the time using two 2TB drives and a Synology DS212J (you can get the newer model here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822108139 for $199).

    Then using a Western Digital TV Live player, I connect to the NAS and access my music, photos and movies. I don't have to have the computer on to play anything which I think is great. You will have to copy your music to the NAS, but once done, you can access it from any computer/device you want. The WD TV Live plays pretty much every format, including FLAC. You can hook that up to your receiver via HDMI or optical until you decide to get a better DAC and then you can connect it to that.

    For the money, I think it's a great way to go.

    Additionally, with the Synology DS213J, you can access your files from the web if you set up a web address for yourself. I've tried doing this and streaming music to my iPhone via the Synology Music App and it works great. Additionally, via a web address you can let others (family/friends) access your photos and what not via the web using this NAS.
    Good suggestion; seems like a good option for a fair price. Only downside is I would have no choice but to get a DAC, as the NAD is from 2004 and has only analog RCA inputs lol; no HDMI or optical for me. But, a good DAC is a good investment anyways, so it's not a huge issue.

    I've never set up a NAS before, so hopefully I don't mess it up if I go this route lol.
    Last edited by Zitro; 12-06-2013 at 12:36 AM.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  6. #6

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    +++"Sansui G-9700 (my pride and joy)".... I love this same vintage receiver and have it's 200W driving my SDA 1A's here in my computer room.

    I am also a big fan of the Squeezebox system.

    The Logitech Squeezebox Server software is free, as is the SqueezePlay software which can be run on any PC which could then be connected to your preferred sound system.
    Last edited by eeagle; 12-06-2013 at 12:40 AM.
    SDA SRS 1.2
    Adcom GFA-5802
    Adcom GFP-750
    Sony DVP-NS999ES

  7. #7

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    Ps audio dac with network bridge is king and will destroy the squeezebox touch in every way.

  8. #8

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    Music Direct has an sale on the Music fidelity M-1 CLIC right now Orig. $1900 down to $599.00. It's a DAC that you can stream music to as well as internet radio/ ipod dock/ preamp. They are know for making a quality Dac.
    Mcintosh MC-501 mono blocks
    Mcintosh C-45
    Mcintosh MVP-871
    PS AUDIO AV5000
    MIT 3.3 Shotgun biwire speaker interface
    MIT 3.3 Shotgun XLR interconnects
    Polk 2.3TL's Gimpod boards/F-1 modded crossovers/dynamat/JB weld/Larry's rings/Blackhole 5 strips
    Polk 3.1 TL's mint/stock (purchased new)
    Polk SDA-2's

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Thanks! I knew I'd need a better DAC either way. Now, is it true what I'm reading that Sonos does NOT support FLAC? Most of my digital collection is FLAC right now, played through JRiver. My cheapo Creative USB soundcard handles my FLAC files just fine.
    Sonos DOES support flac.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    Sonos DOES support flac.
    And it does a fantastic job!
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Source: SONOS Music System, DAC: W4S DAC-2, Pre/Pro: Marantz AV8801, Amp: W4S MC5, Front: Polk RTIA9, Center: Polk CSIA6, Surrounds: Polk FXIA6, Sub EQ: DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C, Subs: 2 - Polk DSW PRO660WI, IC & Speaker Cables: Signal Cable

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Good suggestion; seems like a good option for a fair price. Only downside is I would have no choice but to get a DAC, as the NAD is from 2004 and has only analog RCA inputs lol; no HDMI or optical for me. But, a good DAC is a good investment anyways, so it's not a huge issue.

    I've never set up a NAS before, so hopefully I don't mess it up if I go this route lol.
    The WD TV Live does support composite out for TV and audio, but I can't believe that the sound is that good with the DAC inside the player - but you can use it without a DAC.

    As far as the NAS goes, it's pretty easy to set up and the directions are straight forward. All you need is the Synology NAS and a couple 2TB or 3TB drives and a network cable to connect to your router and you are in business. If you do decide to go that route and have any questions let me know. I'll be happy to help out.

  12. #12

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    I would just get an Oppo 105 and an be done with it.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I would just get an Oppo 105 and an be done with it.
    Are you going to help Skip and me pay for our 105's? He's probably at his computer right now with his credit card out and I'm getting close:)

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by PSOVLSK View Post
    Are you going to help Skip and me pay for our 105's? He's probably at his computer right now with his credit card out and I'm getting close:)
    Lol right?

    OK, let's say I decided I Don't mind having my computer on all the time. Am I understanding this right in that I can connect this guy (WD TV Live) to my router, either wirelessly or via ethernet, and then to my tv and integrated amp?

    http://www.amazon.com/WD-TV-Play-Med...rds=wd+tv+live

    If so, that's a good temporary solution, at least to have streaming, until I can get a better setup.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  15. #15

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    Will it work as a temporary solution....yes Sir. Will it sound good doing it on it's own ? Debatable....

  16. #16

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    OK, now that I have some perspective on budget I can offer more constructive advice...

    If I had less than $100 and I wanted to stream only audio I'd go with an early model Apple Airport Express, but it's not a perfect solution. Those actually had a decent DAC in them and sound good on their own, way better than that WD device is gonna sound. It's also a great option because you can add a DAC later, so it's a scalable option as well. Doing what it does, playing redbook CD, the sound coming from the AEX into and using the Oppo 105 as a DAC sounds just as good as playing the files directly from the 105.

    So it's an option that scales well, but there are some drawbacks:

    1 - No hi-rez audio. It only does rebook CD, so if you have a lot of hi-rez content from HDtracks the AEX will downconvert to redbook CD resolution.
    2 - It's audio only, so if you're looking to stream video as well you'll need something different.
    3 - iTunes needs to be running, and obviously your music needs to be in a format that iTunes plays, so likely Apple Lossless.
    4 - You need some way to control the AEX, as there's no video output to the TV. I use an iPad, you'd either need something like that or could control directly from the computer, but there is no 'interface' for the AEX. You don't need an Apple device, there is an Android app as well though I've not personally used it, gets good reviews though. If you're on Blackberry or Windows mobile you may be SOL, not sure.

    I can't recommend any video streamer device in the cheaper price range for audio unfortunately. I've tried them all and all have marginal sound quality, even when using an external DAC. Most of these devices are built around the DD codec audio standards and as a result most of these boxes end up resampling incoming audio signals to that native 48khz (CD is 44), and every one I've heard does that with some detriment to sound quality. I have three Apple TVs in the house and use those for video streaming, and would LOVE to use that one box for everything audio and video, but they just don't sound great to me so I give up that convenience and use those for video only and use the AEX and/or Oppo 105 for audio. It's the same with every other streamer I've tried from WD, Netgear, Dune, etc...they all resample and sacrifice sound quality.

    So, depending on what's most important to you, I'd recommend one of two paths:

    - If the drawbacks above aren't a deal breaker and you want the absolute best sound quality you can get under $100 then the AEX is the way to go, there's nothing in that price range that would touch it for sound quality.
    - If the drawbacks above are a deal breaker then there's not really a next best option under $100 for sound quality, they're all going to sound about the same, just have to pick the device that has the features and interface you like. I personally have tried tons of options and like the Apple TV, but #3 above would still apply. My next favorite device was the Netgear just because it had a better UI than the WD.
    Last edited by AsSiMiLaTeD; 12-09-2013 at 12:18 PM.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    OK, now that I have some perspective on budget I can offer more constructive advice...

    If I had less than $100 and I wanted to stream only audio I'd go with an early model Apple Airport Express, but it's not a perfect solution. Those actually had a decent DAC in them and sound good on their own, way better than that WD device is gonna sound. It's also a great option because you can add a DAC later, so it's a scalable option as well. Doing what it does, playing redbook CD, the sound coming from the AEX into and using the Oppo 105 as a DAC sounds just as good as playing the files directly from the 105.

    So it's an option that scales well, but there are some drawbacks:

    1 - No hi-rez audio. It only does rebook CD, so if you have a lot of hi-rez content from HDtracks the AEX will downconvert to redbook CD resolution.
    2 - It's audio only, so if you're looking to stream video as well you'll need something different.
    3 - iTunes needs to be running, and obviously your music needs to be in a format that iTunes plays, so likely Apple Lossless.
    4 - You need some way to control the AEX, as there's no video output to the TV. I use an iPad, you'd either need something like that or could control directly from the computer, but there is no 'interface' for the AEX. You don't need an Apple device, there is an Android app as well though I've not personally used it, gets good reviews though. If you're on Blackberry or Windows mobile you may be SOL, not sure.

    I can't recommend any video streamer device in the cheaper price range for audio unfortunately. I've tried them all and all have marginal sound quality, even when using an external DAC. Most of these devices are built around the DD codec audio standards and as a result most of these boxes end up resampling incoming audio signals to that native 48khz (CD is 44), and every one I've heard does that with some detriment to sound quality. I have three Apple TVs in the house and use those for video streaming, and would LOVE to use that one box for everything audio and video, but they just don't sound great to me so I give up that convenience and use those for video only and use the AEX and/or Oppo 105 for audio. It's the same with every other streamer I've tried from WD, Netgear, Dune, etc...they all resample and sacrifice sound quality.

    So, depending on what's most important to you, I'd recommend one of two paths:

    - If the drawbacks above aren't a deal breaker and you want the absolute best sound quality you can get under $100 then the AEX is the way to go, there's nothing in that price range that would touch it for sound quality.
    - If the drawbacks above are a deal breaker then there's not really a next best option under $100 for sound quality, they're all going to sound about the same, just have to pick the device that has the features and interface you like. I personally have tried tons of options and like the Apple TV, but #3 above would still apply. My next favorite device was the Netgear just because it had a better UI than the WD.
    Thanks for the well thought out response! I am not necessarily on a $100 budget; I just thought it may be a quick fix until I got something better. But I guess I may as well do it once and do it right. The tough thing for my system going digital is I have no digital inputs since the amp is from 2004; only analog RCA.

    I did find something that looks like it can take the wireless concerns out of the equation, AND give me a high quality DAC with analog outs.....what do you think?

    http://www.musicdirect.com/p-45607-m...ce=igodigital&
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  18. #18

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    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  19. #19

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    So some commentary:

    WDTV Live does not play back high bitrate files i.e. 88/24 or 96/24 unfortunately. I run a couple in my home for audio/video and that is a disappointing limitation at least on the Live Plus versions that I have.

    I suggest buying a small HTPC like a Zotac Zbox and running XBMC. XBMC can run bitperfect WASAPI drivers and has a great customizable interface besides being FREE software.

    I output via TOSLINK to an external DAC, in my case an Emotiva XDA-2 (now on sale for $249...I spent a lot more...no affiliation on my part).

    You can plug an external usb HD directly into the Zbox or PC of your choice.

    If you buy an MCE external IR eye you can control this all remotely. There are also IOS and Android apps for XBMC and it supports Airplay if you're an Apple guy.

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