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Replacing a CD/music server with an HTPC


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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted May 18 2007 - 03:53 AM

I currently am using an Escient Fireball Server to control several Sony 400-disc CD changers. I recently ripped all of my CDs to my PC (thanks to the cheaper cost of hard drives these days) and it's been great using the files to burn CDs and load to my iPod. I use Windows Media Player 11 for music playback.

I'd love to replace the Escient and be able to play my music files on my main stereo system, which is in another room. Ideally I'd like to have a tablet that could act as a touchscreen remote to control the PC. (The stereo, while in another room, does have connectivity to the PC via an ethernet cable.)

Any ideas on where to start? I'm not concerned with other HTPC functions (DVDs, games, DVR, etc.) at this time.

Thanks!

#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted May 18 2007 - 07:21 AM

Well, you could just build a nice HTPC based on OrigenAE's new case with a 12 inch touchscreen on it. It will cost a ton of money, but it will give you a nice media player that can play not only music but everything else too.

I want one myself but so far haven't been able to convince myself it's worth the cash. Posted Image

http://www.origenae....n/htpc_s21t.htm

Of course, if all you want to do is music playback, you could buy a small UMPC, like the highly desirable Samsung Q1 Ultra.

http://crave.cnet.co....9288526,00.htm

It comes with Vista and should work great as your remote music player. Just stand it up next to the hifi, plug in an audio cable and use the touch screen to control the player. When you don't want to play music, you can use it for anything else - couch surfing, for instance.
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
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#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted May 18 2007 - 07:47 AM

I think you will find my page extremely helpful.

I have an HTPC which runs J river media center, I have all my mp3s (31,000+ and counting) on a RAID 5 sever and I run netremote on a tablet pc to control it all. The whole system works fantastic.

Just click the link in my sig and feel free to email or post any questions you may have..

#4 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted May 18 2007 - 07:52 AM

Thanks Kimmo. If I went with the Samsung, would that act as the remote or as the device that connects to my pre-amp? My PC, which contains all the music files, is in my den. I guess I'm trying to figure out if I can keep the files where they are (on the hard drives with my desktop PC). The total space used is about 1,000 GB so I don't want to have to put the files on a remote PC.

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted May 18 2007 - 08:06 AM

Chris,

It looks like you've got a great setup. If I understand correctly, if I wanted something similar, I would buy a tablet PC (the one you have looks great) and use netremote software on it to control my desktop PC with the music files.

It sounds as though I would also need to buy an audio card with a digital out to connect to my Lexicon surround processor. Maybe getting an old PC to act as a server like you have would be best?

Thanks

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted May 18 2007 - 08:10 AM

Yes, you use netremote on the tablet pc to control the computer which is running your media player. In my setup the computer playing the music doesn't actually have the music files on it, they are all on my server. But it doesn't really matter where the music is stored as long as your computers are networked.

#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted May 18 2007 - 10:09 AM

The Samsung could act as either a remote using something like the built in Terminal Services in Windows or it could be your entire HTPC if you hooked it up to your preamp directly. Of course, then you'd have to walk to the hifi to actually change the song. The ultramobile PC's are essentially small tablet PC's, so it can do anything a PC can do as long as you keep in mind that it's not nearly as powerful as a modern desktop, but I'm thinking buying the cheap version of the Q1 Ultra, standing it up on its stand next to the hifi and running MediaPortal directly on the 7-inch screen would make a great music player.

You could keep the MP3's on a remote PC and access them through windows networking and normal file sharing. With wifi in the house, you could even move the UMPC around and play music anywhere.

There are a lot of options one can go with, just a question of figuring out exactly what one wants to do and then going with it.
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- "BlackAdder 4"

#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted May 18 2007 - 10:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Perry
Chris,

It sounds as though I would also need to buy an audio card with a digital out to connect to my Lexicon surround processor. Maybe getting an old PC to act as a server like you have would be best?

Thanks

Sorry, I totally missed this part of the question. Yes, you will need a PC hooked up to your Lexicon. Computer power won't be an issue at all if all you need is for it to play back mp3's. So a real cheap computer with a digital out would be all that you need. It would also need to be networked to whatever computer you are hosting your music files on either via a wired lan or wireless.

I have a traditional HTPC hooked up to my home theater system with a M-audio card connected to my preamp. I use the HTPC for DVD playback, music playback, other video playback, etc. The old computer that hosts all my files is not connected to my preamp.

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted May 19 2007 - 02:28 PM

Chris,

On your tablet, does the wireless card stick out or is it able to be inserted fully? Im thinking of getting one but would prefer not to have a card sticking out.

Thanks

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted May 20 2007 - 06:23 AM

Unfortunately, mine does stick out. I believe there are tablets out there that have flush ones though.

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted May 21 2007 - 05:24 AM

Virtually all new laptops or tablets have built-in wifi, including the Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC up there.
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- "BlackAdder 4"

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted May 23 2007 - 12:40 AM

Chris,

I tried using the Netremote software on my laptop (which is connected to my home network via wireless card) and didn't have much luck. The Netremote software didn't seem to "see" my music library on my desktop PC, even though I am able to view my music folders/files using Windows Explorer on the laptop (via shared folders).

In general, is the purpose of Netremote to be able to control the files on a remote PC and have them output on the remote PC's audio card? As I mentioned, I am able to use my laptop to view music files that reside on the desktop PC in my den. I can even listen to them remotely on my laptop using WMP. However, my goal is not to be able to listen to them on the laptop but to just control and view the WMP interface on the laptop and have the actual output go from my desktop PC's sound card to my surround processor. Is that the difference between what I can currently do and what the Netremote software is supposed to offer?

Thanks

#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted May 23 2007 - 04:39 AM

Netremote should function as remote control, controlling the other pc. It won't allow you to play the music on your laptop, it will only allow you to control the other PC.

I have a feeling you are just missing something in the setup. I suggest asking your question on the Promixis forum http://promixis.com/forums/ the people there are great about answering questions and getting people up and running.

I use J. River Media center as my media player and Netremote was somewhat built around using it. I do know that it can be used with other programs as well I am just not familiar with setting them up.