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what to replace CD changer with?


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 Jeremy Illingworth

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Posted February 10 2008 - 08:43 AM

I have an older Pioneer 100 disc changer, but its starting to wear out. Rather than just replace it I was wondering about storing my music electronically and having it sent to the amp. My first choice would be if somebody invented a CD player with a hard drive that could simply store all my CDs, which number few than 100. If such a thing does not exist, I guess my next option is to get an iPod. Will there be a noticealbe quality difference with mp3s? Can it be made to work with a remote? How much space will I need for 100 CDs of average length? Is there a third option I'm missing? My computer and stereo are not near each other, so liking them up is not likely.

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#2 of 17 JeremyErwin

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Posted February 10 2008 - 08:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Illingworth
My computer and stereo are not near each other, so liking them up is not likely.

Do you have a wireless network?

#3 of 17 nolesrule

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Posted February 10 2008 - 10:45 AM

Transporter & Squeezebox Wireless Network Music Players - Every room deserves a soundtrack

They do support wired networking, not just wireless, but if you have wireless, you're all set. And if you don't, it's just another $40 to get wireless networking with a Linksys 802.11g wireless router or get a wireless access point to plug into your router for use with the squeezebox only.

If you are going to rip, rip to a lossless format. You can always transcode to any other format you want without ever having to pull the original CDs out of storage ever again. If you rip to mp3, you will never have CD quality without re-ripping down the line. There is advice on the site's wiki and in the forums on the best way to rip CDs.

I've been using this setup for about a year now, and it works wonderfully. Even my wife loves it. I think I have 200 of my 300 albums ripped and in use so far (I rip in batches).

#4 of 17 Alon Goldberg

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Posted February 10 2008 - 04:52 PM

I'll second the Squeezebox, absolutely wonderful network music player. I'm considering upgrading to the Squeezebox Duet next. I stream all of my music lossless (FLAC) from my PC to my hifi system. I also use her to stream Internet radio.

#5 of 17 Holadem

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Posted February 11 2008 - 12:03 PM

Um guys, that thing, as wonderful as it is, is $2000! (which curiously enough, people recommending this stuff often fail to mention).

Perhaps my understanding of the Wi-fi feature on the more recent receivers is wrong, but don't these allow you to accomplish essentially the same thing (albeit with the loss of flexibility that a standalone device like the Squeezebox can provide)?

--
H

#6 of 17 Alon Goldberg

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Posted February 11 2008 - 12:15 PM

You don't need the Transporter.. Posted Image

The Squeezebox has an MSRP of $300, and the upcoming Squeezebox Duet has an MSRP of $400.

#7 of 17 nolesrule

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Posted February 11 2008 - 12:59 PM

Yeah, the Transporter is their high-end product that is overkill for all but the most discriminating audiophiles. The Squeezebox, and upcoming Squeezebox Duet, are excellent products for everyone else.

And like i said, the WAF is high on this one.

The Squeezeboxen and Transporters are thin clients, meaning you can have 1 or 2 or 10 and they will all be connected to a central server software that can control them individually (or synchronize them with the v7 software). There are playlists, web-based interfaces with skinning, plugins for the server, web interface and the clients themselves. They can output in analog, coax or optical (and some have headphone out), so the box can connect to anything from a high end receiver to a pair of powered speakers. And the server will run on Windows, MacOS or Linux.

#8 of 17 David_Rivshin

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Posted February 11 2008 - 03:01 PM

There are a number of networked "media players" available these days, although most seem to focus more on the video rather than the audio side. Even still, they should do fine with audio if you use a digital connection to your preamp/receiver. And for me, personally, support for FLAC is a must-have.

One unit that I've been strongly considering lately is the Ziova CS510 which looks to have a reasonable on-screen UI, and can be found for around $200. Another option is the various TViX products from DVICO, but they tend to be abit more expensive, and have a small fan.

The only audio-centric ones I know of are the Squeezebox units. The new Duet does look very nice, but at double the cost of the CS510 I have to wonder whether it's worth it for essentially the slick remote. Of course if you don't mind controlling it from a computer nearby, just the squeezebox receiver at $150 seems like a reasonable deal.

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#9 of 17 nolesrule

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Posted February 11 2008 - 03:16 PM

The Ziova is interesting as a single location device (from what I can tell). I did notice it only uses WEP encryption, and how does it browse the media collection? It seems like it's a simple file navigation system that can read the file tags, but can't make use of them for browsing and searching.

The advantage of SlimServer (or SqueezeOS as it will be renamed when v7 comes out of beta) is that a central server can stream your music to multiple SlimDevices, to any media player on your network that can receive an mp3 stream and, if you have the upload speeds, can even connect over the internet to listen to your entire music collection from afar. You can browse by artist, album, year, genre, and there are custom plugins so you can create dynamic playlists, browse by any criteria you want, including ratings, composer and conductor (for those into classical), decades. And it's not dependent on your file structure. Have a Sting song on that soundtrack? It'll show up under a search for Sting even though the file is stored in a separate directory with the rest of the soundtrack.

As for the SB Receiver, you currently need the SB Controller to do the network setup, unfortunately, although that issue is being worked on. However the Controller can control multiple SlimDevices because it connects directly to the server via wifi (via wireless router/AP or using an ad-hoc wireless connection to a wired Slim Device.

Also, another nice advantage of a SB is if you use wireless, its wired ethernet port can be used as a passthrough, so you could connect an ethernet enabled device in your home theater, such an HDM player or gaming machine...or you could connect all of them by putting a switch in between. Posted Image

#10 of 17 Jerome Grate

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Posted February 11 2008 - 03:34 PM

Interesting thread, so this enables my songs on my computer to play through my HT or stereo system via a wireless connection? do I hook up my Ipod to this and play it through that way. If that's so, what's the difference between some good Ipod cable directly to the stereo?
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#11 of 17 Holadem

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Posted February 12 2008 - 01:00 AM

Wirelessness is the point. If you're happy with wires then you have no need for a device like this.

I am still not sure if a wifi enabled receiver can play music from say a laptop without an add on.

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H

#12 of 17 Dan Driscoll

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Posted February 12 2008 - 03:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holadem
Wirelessness is the point. If you're happy with wires then you have no need for a device like this.

Not quite. Wireless is a big selling point to some people, but lots of people, maybe even a majoirty, still use a Squeeze Box or Transporter wired.

IMO the real advantage of an SB, Transporter or similar device is the user interface. It allows seamless integration into your existing audio system and can be treated as a drop-in replacement for a CD player. You put it into or on your audio rack with the rest of your components. Without that interface you have to control the device through your computer, which is often the computer is in another room, requires additonal equipment if you want to control it remotely, etc. Not nearly as user friendly, IMO, and can be a lot more expensive than a Squeeze Box or Roku.
Dan

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#13 of 17 JeremyErwin

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Posted February 12 2008 - 04:06 AM

It's a simple client server system.
When you log onto this forum, your browser (a client) communicates with www.hometheater.forum (the server), which tells it what sort of information to display. The method of connection-- DSL, modem, direct ethernet, is somewhat irrelevant.

Similarly, when you install the sqeezbox server on your computer, it allows the squeezebox hardware to request that a particular piece of music be streamed. The hardware decodes the stream into digital or analog audio. You can wire up your squeezebox to the computer using ethernet cables, or you can use 802.11 wireless.

The major advantage of this over something like the airport express, is that the squeezebox has its own display, and its own remote. Whereas airport express assumes that you're controlling it with a laptop.

The major advantage of this over an ipod dock is that you aren't limited by the size of the ipod's hard drive.

#14 of 17 DaveF

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Posted February 12 2008 - 02:25 PM

Do you have a Tivo? It will serve as a media player, playing music from your computer. That's what I'm doing now, playing iTunes playlists from my Mac on my Tivo.

An AppleTV will do the trick.

A $10 mini jack to RCA cable will connect any portable audio player to your stereo. Not the most convenient solution, but afforable and easy to use. I did this until I got the Tivo.

Any number of iPod docks will provide remote control, charging, and easy connection to your stereo.

#15 of 17 Scooter

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Posted February 12 2008 - 02:53 PM

I bought a used Dell from Craig's List for $40.00 and put it under the bar in my theater. From there I use a wireless mouse and keyboard, and one of them there A/V transmitters to get the audio to the reciever. Works like a million damn dollars!

I have to dig out my old USB adapter so I can get it online as well as communicate with my other PC's in the house. At some point I want to add a touch screen, 'cause the CRT takes a fair bit of bar top real estate.

Edit To Add: I use a keychain usb drive when I want to copy to and from the PC's.

#16 of 17 David_Rivshin

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Posted February 12 2008 - 03:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolesrule
The Ziova is interesting as a single location device (from what I can tell). I did notice it only uses WEP encryption, and how does it browse the media collection? It seems like it's a simple file navigation system that can read the file tags, but can't make use of them for browsing and searching.

Yup, as far as I know, that's all correct. For me none of that is a problem, though. I only have one stereo system in my house, I've got wired ethernet at that location, and I generally play my music by artist/album. I can certainly understand others preferring a more "iTunes-like" interface, or wanted a wireless network connection, but my needs are simpler. BTW, my understanding is that Ziova's next product (cs615) won't have a built-in wireless connection. Apparently it's too much trouble and expense to deal with, and they recommend using a stand-alone wireless bridge if needed. I think that's probably a better way of dealing with it, especially if you've got multiple networked devices in your equipment rack that can share one bridge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolesrule
As for the SB Receiver, you currently need the SB Controller to do the network setup, unfortunately, although that issue is being worked on. However the Controller can control multiple SlimDevices because it connects directly to the server via wifi (via wireless router/AP or using an ad-hoc wireless connection to a wired Slim Device.
Hrm, that's a downer. I will admit, though, I really do like the thought of using the SB controller as an interface rather than having an on-screen one. Turning on the TV to listen to some music isn't the most natural concept, but I'm willing to live with that for now. If they would sell the Duet for $250, I'd probably be all over it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Grate
Interesting thread, so this enables my songs on my computer to play through my HT or stereo system via a wireless connection? do I hook up my Ipod to this and play it through that way. If that's so, what's the difference between some good Ipod cable directly to the stereo?
There's a couple of ways these types of devices work. Most of them can pull music (or video) files off a computer you have in the same or other room via the network (wired or wireless) connection. Some of them can have music (or video) pushed to them via software running on a computer, using the computer as the interface instead of the device. Some of them can have a USB flash drive or harddrive connection, or an internal harddrive, and pull files straight from there without the use of a computer or network.

The last one is the most similar to an ipod with dock, but there are a few further differences.
- You can control a media player device with a remote control from your couch (I think some Ipod interface do allow that as well, though)
- usually displays a user interface on the TV, so you can select what you want from a reasonable distance.
- media players generally support alot more formats than an ipod does. Specifically FLAC support is something I consider essentially for a home-stereo use.
- can upgrade the storage without throwing away the whole device
- most media players can play video files of your choosing as well. That actually seems to be the main selling point most of the time, with the audio (unfortunately) more of an afterthought. That seems to be getting better, though.


To go more in detail of my particular situation, and therefore my preferences, I've got an old Sony 200 disk CD changer I've used for many years to store my collection. While that solves alot of the convenience problem (especially with CD-Text support), I'm frankly sick of moving disks around to make room for new ones. Basically what I want is a hard disk based CD changer, which I'd think is really a pretty simple thing given the decoder chips available today. FLAC encoding is lossless (so I don't have to worry about lossy MP3 encoding), but isn't supported by all devices yet, narrowing down my choices. I organize my music by artist and album, and usually listen to whole albums at a time, so fancy databases aren't really required. Just a reasonable way of browsing my collection and selecting what to listen to, without paying a small fortune, is all I'm after. I was honestly surprised by how expensive most of the devices are, but I guess that goes with trying to throw kitchen-sink functionality into them.

I suspect alot of other people (such as the OP) have similar desires, but perhaps just haven't been exposed to these options yet. Heck, most people I know still have stacks of CD's in cases laying around that they search through to grab something (assuming they listen to CD's on their stereo system at all anymore).

-- Dave

#17 of 17 Jerome Grate

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Posted February 15 2008 - 01:22 AM

Thanks for the explanation guys, and Dave really good explanation. You would think this day and age they would simply make a hard disc drive like a TIVO or DVR for music and simply sell it. I would buy it for music uploading and playback through the HT. For now the Ipod works for me through the cable. I will check out the docks that will allow me to use a remote to control what I listen too. To bad it doesn't have on screen capabilities to see what I want to listen too with out going to the Ipod itself. Interesting thread nonetheless.
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