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Old 07-20-2008, 08:11 PM
Andrei Popescu
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

On Sat,19.Jul.08, 15:37:00, Nick Lidakis wrote:
> Ron Johnson wrote:
>> -
>> Mark it [OT] and post away!
>
> Thanks...
>
> Just thought someone could benefit from this application, or I could
> receive some constructive criticism on some of choices I had made.

I would only like to give my setup as example.

> I had been researching way to assemble an audiophile grade music server
> since early last year for my dedicated listening room. There were
> several ready to go retail (Sonos, Slim Devices, McIntosh, etc.)
> solutions that were quickly dismissed because of price and/or their
> closed hardware/software nature. The server had to fit several criteria:
>
> 1. open source, preferably Debian based (apt makes software easy to
> install and it's my desktop OS)
> 2. relatively low cost
> 3. audiophile grade (FLAC output via USB without any re-sampling and/or
> conversion of the audio stream)
> 4. power efficiency (preferably below 10 watts)
> 5. absolute silence ( NO fans or disk drives in the listening room)
> 6. ability to control music and play lists from the listening position
> with relative ease.
> 7. stability

[...]

I have an old box with standard hardware: PIII-500MHz (with a huge
fanless sink) on a i440BX chipset and 256MB RAM [1]. When the HDD died I
built a custom Live-Debian image for it, as it won't boot from USB or
disks larger than 32GB (and the BIOS update won't apply). It also has a
sound card with both coaxial and optical digital out (based on CMI-8738)
connecting to my receiver and a fanless nVidia GForce card. As the PSU
is also pretty quiet the noise level is ok as long as the CD doesn't
spin [2].

It's main purpose was to be able to watch movies on my TV, but I use it
mostly to listen to my favorite radio station [3] or listen to music in
whatever format available (but preferably flac or ogg) by accessing a
samba share from my laptop or even directly from an external USB drive.

Right now I am experimenting with pulseaudio to provide a decent output
for my laptop. I have to say it works very well, I was able to watch a
movie on the laptop with the sound output over a wireless g connection
without any problems. Too bad moc doesn't know pulseaudio

[1] Actually it's a 512MB stick, but the board is limited to 256MB per
slot

[2] I'm planning on acquiring a PCI-to-USB2 adapter and then use the CD
only for booting

[3] The reception is no very good where I live, over the internet it's
much better

Regards,
Andrei
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
(Albert Einstein)
 
Old 07-21-2008, 05:35 AM
Jochen Schulz
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

Nick Lidakis:
>
> I had been researching way to assemble an audiophile grade music server
> since early last year for my dedicated listening room. There were
> several ready to go retail (Sonos, Slim Devices, McIntosh, etc.)

I don't know whether it suits audiophile needs, but this is my setup:

- Roku Soundbridge hooked via coax to my hifi system and to my LAN

- mt-daapd a.k.a Firefly running on my home server, serving FLAC, Vorbis
and MP3 files. Everything but MP3 will be streamed as WAV to the
Soundbridge because it cannot decode it itself.

Unfortunately, the Soundbridge always resamples everything it plays to
20Bit / 48kHz. But I cannot claim to hear any difference because of
this.

J.
--
If politics is the blind leading the blind, entertainment is the fucked-
up leading the hypnotised.
[Agree] [Disagree]
<http://www.slowlydownward.com/NODATA/data_enter2.html>
 
Old 07-21-2008, 08:50 AM
Adam Hardy
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

Jochen Schulz on 21/07/08 06:35, wrote:

Nick Lidakis:
I had been researching way to assemble an audiophile grade music server
since early last year for my dedicated listening room. There were
several ready to go retail (Sonos, Slim Devices, McIntosh, etc.)


I don't know whether it suits audiophile needs, but this is my setup:

- Roku Soundbridge hooked via coax to my hifi system and to my LAN

- mt-daapd a.k.a Firefly running on my home server, serving FLAC, Vorbis
and MP3 files. Everything but MP3 will be streamed as WAV to the
Soundbridge because it cannot decode it itself.

Unfortunately, the Soundbridge always resamples everything it plays to
20Bit / 48kHz. But I cannot claim to hear any difference because of
this.


I use mt-daapd but it snips the last 2 seconds off the end of every song. Never
looked into it because I mainly play music direct from the box where the songs are.


What does the Soundbridge do? I can't figure it out looking at it on amazon. I
feed the audio output from the audio card on my PC direct into the hifi. So
what's the extra hardware for?



Regards
Adam


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Old 07-21-2008, 09:50 AM
Jochen Schulz
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

Adam Hardy:
>
> I use mt-daapd but it snips the last 2 seconds off the end of every song.

I haven't seen that behaviour yet. It may be a bug in the package in
etch, I am using the latest build fireflymediaserver.org.

> What does the Soundbridge do?

It's nothing but a client for audio streaming. It decodes what it
receives from the DAAP server and feeds audio output to "dedicated audio
hardware" (my hifi system). It's a little bit expensive but a very nice
way to make my digital music collection available where I want to hear
it. It features a remote control and a quite nice display so I never
have to stand up to change music. And I don't ever have to clean up that
otherwise inevitable CD stack in front of my hifi system because I
rarely touch my CDs.

> I can't figure it out looking at it on
> amazon. I feed the audio output from the audio card on my PC direct into
> the hifi. So what's the extra hardware for?

I don't have (and currently don't want to have) a PC in my living room.

J.
--
Fashion is more important to me than war, famine, disease or art.
[Agree] [Disagree]
<http://www.slowlydownward.com/NODATA/data_enter2.html>
 
Old 07-22-2008, 09:46 AM
Timo Boettcher
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

I am in the finishing steps of building something similar myself.

* Nick Lidakis <nlidakis@verizon.net> wrote:
> There are several flavors, one of which caught my attention immediately:
> The ALIX 3c2 (http://www.pcengines.ch/index.htm). A 500Mhz AMD Geode CPU
> (fanless), 256MB RAM, 2 USB ports, 1 serial, 1 Ethernet, 2 mini PC-I all
> on a board sized 100x1600mm. The whole thing runs off a small 12V, 18
> watt adapter.
Why did you use the 3c2 that is intended as a router, but not the 1c [1]?
It has vga, network, usb, and even sound onboard (spdif, too, if you are
willing to build an adapter yourself [2]). Be careful with the PCI-slot
of the alix1c though, it doesn't provide +12V/-12V, so most soundcards
won't work.

> Software wise, I wanted: MPD on the server, FLAC files served to the MPD
> server
No real alternatives to that...

> A Nokia N800 running MMPC (http://mmpc.garage.maemo.org/) if I could
> find one used at a decent price.
I didn't find this gui at that time, so I wrote my own [3]. It runs
without X (just SDL+framebuffer), and uses a touchscreen I got on ebay from
some car-modding-guy. GPM has experimental support for these kind of
touchscreens in the current version.
I can control it via touchscreen or via my own LIRC-compatible infrared
receiver [4].


> My Kill-A-Watt registers 3 watts max consumption when the ALIX is
> playing FLAC files
I have a small via epia system since I wanted to use a real soundcard,
with a via C3 533MHz, 512MB ram, and a CF-to-IDE [5] adapter.

> FLAC output is via USB, which is plugged into a Trends Audio
> USB-to-S/PDIF converter. The trends is plugged into a Adcom GDA-700 DAC.

Timo

[1] http://www.pcengines.ch/alix1c.htm
[2] http://www.beis.de/Elektronik/ADDA2496/SPDIF-Converter.html
[3] http://www.spida.net/projects/pympdtouchgui/
[4] http://www.spida.net/projects/usbtiny-ir/
[5] http://www.pcengines.ch/cflash.htm


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Old 07-22-2008, 03:34 PM
Nick Lidakis
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

Timo Boettcher wrote:

Why did you use the 3c2 that is intended as a router, but not the 1c [1]?
It has vga, network, usb, and even sound onboard (spdif, too, if you are
willing to build an adapter yourself [2]). Be careful with the PCI-slot
of the alix1c though, it doesn't provide +12V/-12V, so most soundcards
won't work.


It was smaller, a bit cheaper, slightly (3 vs 6 watts) more efficient. I
did not want a monitor in my living room, and I did not need VGA for the
installation as I am comfortable using SSH or a serial console. I also
had no interest in S/PDIF as I want to buy a USB based DAC in the
future. It probably puts out less digital noise than the more complex 1c
too, but I'm just speculating on this last point.


Software wise, I wanted: MPD on the server, FLAC files served to the MPD
server

No real alternatives to that...


I agree. MPD is pretty nifty. Stable as hell too.


A Nokia N800 running MMPC (http://mmpc.garage.maemo.org/) if I could
find one used at a decent price.

I didn't find this gui at that time, so I wrote my own [3]. It runs
without X (just SDL+framebuffer), and uses a touchscreen I got on ebay from
some car-modding-guy. GPM has experimental support for these kind of
touchscreens in the current version.
I can control it via touchscreen or via my own LIRC-compatible infrared
receiver [4].


Is that posted on the MPD wiki? If not, you should put it up. Looks like
it would make a great digital jukebox for a bar as well.



My Kill-A-Watt registers 3 watts max consumption when the ALIX is
playing FLAC files
I have a small via epia system since I wanted to use a real soundcard,
with a via C3 533MHz, 512MB ram, and a CF-to-IDE [5] adapter.


I investigated the VIA's extensively. They were just too expensive, and
not as efficient for what I wanted. I could not even justify using it as
a MythTV box, as I don't watch much TV at all these days. The atom based
Intel board wasn't considered either; the chipset has a fan and consumes
more power than than the CPU itself, and you need a standard ATX power
supply or spend more money on a pico PSU.


I don't recall what the VIA's consume, but I wanted a machine that was
under 10 watts running Linux. I'm glad I went with the ALIX. Not only
does my Class A amplifier consume 300 watts at the outlet no matter what
the volume, but Con Edison in New York is raising their electric rates
by %22 soon.



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Old 07-22-2008, 04:28 PM
gary turner
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

Nick Lidakis wrote:<snip> I'm glad I went with the ALIX. Not only
does my Class A amplifier consume 300 watts at the outlet no matter what
the volume, but Con Edison in New York is raising their electric rates
by %22 soon.


It's a little late now, but why would you choose a class A amp over a
class B or AB push-pull amp? Input to the finals approaches zero in
class B with no input signal. Back in the day, when I had more of a
clue about these things, I found the B or more usually the AB (just
slightly biased for plate/collector current) to be inherently more
linear, with fewer harmonic products (as seen on a scope in both the
time and frequency domains).


Are there advantages to class A as heard by the discerning ear?

--
Gary
Anyone can make a usable web site. It takes a graphic
designer to make it slow, confusing and painful to use.
 
Old 07-23-2008, 03:31 AM
Nick Lidakis
 
Default OT: Audiophile grade music server using several flavors of Debian

gary turner wrote:

It's a little late now, but why would you choose a class A amp over a
class B or AB push-pull amp? Input to the finals approaches zero in
class B with no input signal. Back in the day, when I had more of a
clue about these things, I found the B or more usually the AB (just
slightly biased for plate/collector current) to be inherently more
linear, with fewer harmonic products (as seen on a scope in both the
time and frequency domains).


Are there advantages to class A as heard by the discerning ear?


I bought the amp around 1998. At the time it was the best sounding amp I
have heard that was in my budget, with my speakers and room. I wanted an
amp that would last me the next 20 years, and if you read about how this
thing is built I don't think it will disappoint. I was also lucky enough
to spot a used Aleph L preamp (for a steal) a few years after getting
the Aleph 5; I will not part with this combo for a long long time.
Probably be able to pass them down to my grandkids, if I ever have any.



Here is the link to the specs and manual:
http://passlabs.com/pdf/old%20product%20manuals/a5man.pdf



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