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Advice request regarding creating a new home sound system setup


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#1 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 04 2012 - 07:41 AM

Hello, I'm looking for some advice. I'm not looking to spend big money on equipment, as I'm quite satisfied with what I already have... I have Logitech G51 surround sound system with subwoofer. Currently this is connected to my PC and used for music playback from my own collection or from the internet. All of my own music is stored digitally on my hard drive. I used to use the system also for the TV (watching TV, DVDs, or playing PS3) using a not ideal method of connecting the TV headphone output to the PC's microphone input. Doing this meant the PC would have to be switched on aswell, and if it was not then I would pull the lead out of the TV and just use its own speakers. The advantage of doing this was that I could have the sound from the TV and music from the PC playing at the same time through the Logitech G51 and control the levels with the PC (for example, if I wanted to play the PS3 and hear some sound through the Logitech system, but also listen to music at the same time). The disadvantages here were that the PC would HAVE to be switched on in order to: - Listen to music - Have sound from the TV I don't bother with this any more currently and just use the TV's own crappy speakers at all times. I did once look into ways I could get things set up how I wanted them but didn't really reach a proper conclusion other than using a cheap mixer to connect both the TV and PC independently to the Logitech G51. Well, I'm starting this thread now because I'm soon going to be moving home, and I would like to get things set up how I'd like them at the new home. What would be ideal is, not having to use the PC for anything other than work and internet, etc. I would rather not have to switch the PC just to listen to my music, let alone watch TV with sound through the Logitech G51. So, ultimately what I'd like, in a cost-effective way, is: - Some kind of equipment which will play my music from a hard drive or other storage solution (rather than from the PC). - A way of connecting the above equipment and connecting the TV both to the Logitech G51 and allowing control of the levels between the two (rather than a straight switch between the two) which will not affect the sound quality. I'm also quite interested in the equipment that will send music wirelessly to any room, and if I could, for example, send music from the storage solution to a separate set of speakers which I already have only (rather than sending it to the Logitech G51) that would be pretty good. Although to be honest, I could live without this if it will be expensive.

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 04 2012 - 09:19 AM

- Some kind of equipment which will play my music from a hard drive or other storage solution (rather than from the PC).

You want a streaming device. There are dozens if not hundreds ranging from the Apple AirPort to ones from Western Digital, D-Link (and other computer makers) to audio and video equipment like Blu-ray players or satellite receivers. I use my DirecTV receiver to stream audio. Since I keep my PC one 24x7, I use a media server running on it. But you can add a NAS drive with a media server. Or some of the players have a USB connector that you could just plug a drive into. Finally, you need to make sure it will play the music in the format you have it in. My satellite receiver plays Windows Media Audio 320. I also have my music in WMA lossless. But my encoding software can easily convert it to any other format from AAC to Ogg Vorbis to FLAC.

- A way of connecting the above equipment and connecting the TV both to the Logitech G51 and allowing control of the levels between the two (rather than a straight switch between the two) which will not affect the sound quality.

Most of these streamers have a GUI so a TV is required. Connect it to the TV. Connect the speakers to the TV.

I'm also quite interested in the equipment that will send music wirelessly to any room, and if I could, for example, send music from the storage solution to a separate set of speakers which I already have only (rather than sending it to the Logitech G51) that would be pretty good. Although to be honest, I could live without this if it will be expensive.

A Sonos Bridge and a Sonos Connect:Amp would work. You control everything from a phone or tablet. That would cost $550. Is that expensive to you?

#3 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 04 2012 - 10:12 AM

- Some kind of equipment which will play my music from a hard drive or other storage solution (rather than from the PC).

You want a streaming device. There are dozens if not hundreds ranging from the Apple AirPort to ones from Western Digital, D-Link (and other computer makers) to audio and video equipment like Blu-ray players or satellite receivers. I use my DirecTV receiver to stream audio. Since I keep my PC one 24x7, I use a media server running on it. But you can add a NAS drive with a media server. Or some of the players have a USB connector that you could just plug a drive into. Finally, you need to make sure it will play the music in the format you have it in. My satellite receiver plays Windows Media Audio 320. I also have my music in WMA lossless. But my encoding software can easily convert it to any other format from AAC to Ogg Vorbis to FLAC.

- A way of connecting the above equipment and connecting the TV both to the Logitech G51 and allowing control of the levels between the two (rather than a straight switch between the two) which will not affect the sound quality.

Most of these streamers have a GUI so a TV is required. Connect it to the TV. Connect the speakers to the TV.

If the TV is required for the GUI would this mean not being able to use the PS3 at the same time as listening to music? ...Or would it just be that you would need to switch the screen over in order to use the GUI to control the music, but can be switched back again during playback? For practicality it would be preferrable for me if the GUI was on a different device rather than the TV, if this is possible? Also, using any of the equipment suggested, would it allow both audio from the TV and music audio playing at the same time as each other (with ability to adjust the level of each as said before)? To be clear, I often like to have my own music playing while using the PS3, but I still want to hear the PS3's sound effects through the Logitech at the same time (I usually then just mute the in-game music, if any).

I'm also quite interested in the equipment that will send music wirelessly to any room, and if I could, for example, send music from the storage solution to a separate set of speakers which I already have only (rather than sending it to the Logitech G51) that would be pretty good. Although to be honest, I could live without this if it will be expensive.

A Sonos Bridge and a Sonos Connect:Amp would work. You control everything from a phone or tablet. That would cost $550. Is that expensive to you?

A little bit costly for me right now. That one may be something for a later date then.

#4 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 04 2012 - 10:19 AM

If the TV is required for the GUI would this mean not being able to use the PS3 at the same time as listening to music? ...Or would it just be that you would need to switch the screen over in order to use the GUI to control the music, but can be switched back again during playback?

Switching video inputs also switches audio inputs. You did not mention using the PS3 at the same time was a requirement.

For practicality it would be preferrable for me if the GUI was on a different device rather than the TV, if this is possible?

I use a 7" LCD TV for things like this. Or you can use an app like Subsonic to stream from your PC (or media server NAS) to your phone or tablet. http://www.subsonic.org/pages/apps.jsp

Also, using any of the equipment suggested, would it allow both audio from the TV and music audio playing at the same time as each other (with ability to adjust the level of each as said before)? To be clear, I often like to have my own music playing while using the PS3, but I still want to hear the PS3's sound effects through the Logitech at the same time (I usually then just mute the in-game music, if any).

You are now back to needing a mixer to combine two audio feeds. Either a stand alone mixer or one on your PC. Since I haven't played a computer game since Tetris for the Nintendo, I'm not sure why you would want to do that. Back then, I would have the game sound from the TV and the music playing through the stereo.

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 04 2012 - 09:25 PM

Looking at some of the equipment seems pretty expensive for what I'm currently trying to achieve. With regards to the music playback I've seen a couple of things which seem much more suited to the simplicity I need (Brennan HiFi, Blackbird Digital Music Player, PyleHome PVC8U) but there may be something more suitable. When I think of my car stereo, this was relatively cheap, and offers everything I need: CD playback, radio, and the USB connectivity which I use to play my music from a separate storage device. So it seems a bit overkill to purchase complex systems when it seems all I really need is a relatively simple Digital Music Player for the home, with basic functions and no speakers supplied and no-built in memory, but a USB connection to attach the hard drive with my music collection. It would be nice for the Digital Music Player to also have a CD player and radio but this isn't essential. It would also be nice to have a remote control or ability to control playback from a different device. It would surely be a lot cheaper to buy something like this, which I can then connect up to my USB hard drive and Logitech G51 that I already have, than any of the alternative systems??? The problem is I don't know what product to use for this purpose??? Although google searching for "Digital Music Player" seems to have got me a bit closer. (I could then also get a simple mixer to take audio input from the TV and Digital Music Player, and send a single audio output to the Logitech G51, to take care of my other requirement.) Although this solution wouldn't offer music playback in a different room surely there is something more affordable that can send music data read from the USB hard drive, to another simple control device in the other room (which would have a different set of speakers I already own connected) either independently or using my wireless router? :confused: Maybe I'm wrong but it doesn't seem like it should have to cost a lot of money. Wouldn't it be possible to have a second cheap Digital Music Player in the other room, but the USB is connected to the same USB hard drive in the other room wirelessly somehow? In my mind, when I think of the cost of the car stereo with USB connectivity example metioned at the start, even having two of them and adding in the cost of a device to send data to the other room doesn't seem to even come close to the expense incurred for some of these systems on the market... surely it would be cheaper to run aswell (i.e. electricity used). Thinking about it now it would be good to have the transmitting device send data wirelessly from the USB hard drive to both of the Digital Music Players in the two different rooms - rather than just sending wirelessly to one of them and wired to the other - so that the USB hard drive can be kept away in a different room where the computer would also be. (Won't have the noise of the hard drive being on, and it would also mean updating files on the hard drive can be done without disconnecting it and taking it into the room with the computer).

#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 04 2012 - 11:18 PM

How about the Netgear wireless digital music player - http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B00011Y1MQ ? This will require your PC to be on and some sort of media player software to be running. Logitech has multiple Squeezebox options. Grace Digital has a bunch of options as well.

Although this solution wouldn't offer music playback in a different room surely there is something more affordable that can send music data read from the USB hard drive, to another simple control device in the other room (which would have a different set of speakers I already own connected) either independently or using my wireless router? confused.gif Maybe I'm wrong but it doesn't seem like it should have to cost a lot of money. Wouldn't it be possible to have a second cheap Digital Music Player in the other room, but the USB is connected to the same USB hard drive in the other room wirelessly somehow?

Any of those options above will do this. It's the concept of keeping your music in one location and streaming it to different sources. I'm going to load one of those streaming players on my Android tablet today and test it out.

Thinking about it now it would be good to have the transmitting device send data wirelessly from the USB hard drive to both of the Digital Music Players in the two different rooms - rather than just sending wirelessly to one of them and wired to the other - so that the USB hard drive can be kept away in a different room where the computer would also be. (Won't have the noise of the hard drive being on, and it would also mean updating files on the hard drive can be done without disconnecting it and taking it into the room with the computer).

That's what I'm talking about!!!!! Will both sources be playing at the same time? If one of those streaming apps work and you only need one location active at a time, would a table PC work? Take it with you from room to room. Connect it to speakers when needed. There are dozens of cheap Android tablets on the market.

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 05 2012 - 01:07 AM

Okay, I think I'm starting to get this. Sorry although I'm fairly expert with most technology and technical things, I'm quite novice with some of this equipment as I've never used, read or heard much about them before. While searching I've come across a couple of other things... Micca MPlay: http://www.miccastor...cards-p-32.html Which would be good for simply having my USB drive and Logitech G51 attached. Cheap and easy way of playing my digital music in one room. The disadvantage is no display other than using the TV, which lead me to finding these: HDD Media Player with LCD: http://www.espow.com...=googleshopping http://www.dealextre...ontroller-13249 Again this would be a cheap and easy way of playing my digital music in one room. Only disadvantage I can see in that respect is that it has to be an internal hard drive (not that big a problem) but also possible restriction of the sizes and types of hard drive compatible. As my music collection grows it may outgrow the largest compatible hard drive. Coming back to your suggestions, which I'm starting to understand a bit better after looking at some devices... So could I, say, use something like this, FreeAgent GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device: http://www.play.com/...41|prd:27727941 Connect my USB hard drive up to that Media Server NAS in order to share the files over my own network, and say, stream music to my Blackberry which I could then connect to the Logitech G51? If so, that could work for me, and the price is right. If this can be done then price-wise it's about the same as getting those HDD Digital Media Players with LCD and has the advantage of not needing the Media Server NAS in the same room (unlike would be needed with those HDD Digital Media Players). It would also have the added advantages of being able to access the Media Server NAS from my computer to add/remove music (rather than disconnecting the HDD Digital Media Player and taking it to the computer) and the ability to send music to a different room with different speakers if that's where I take my Blackberry. Although...... I do dislike the idea of needing a wire for audio going from my phone to the Logitech G51. Would there be a way to have the music streamed to a different device which is connected to the Logitech G51, and then have either a remote control or have the ability to use an app on my Blackberry to remotely control the device? (Or, in a more long-winded way, would I need to have the music streamed to my Blackberry, which in turn will stream or use bluetooth or other method to control and send music to the next device that is connected to the Logitech G51?)

#8 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 05 2012 - 06:08 AM

I'm trying to get Remote Control for Winamp to run - http://code.google.c...rol-for-winamp/ . This will allow me to use a free program and a free app to stream to my phone and tablet.

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 05 2012 - 08:09 AM

I think I've got this... Use the Seagate (FreeAgent) GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device (£40.00) or any equivilent NAS with my USB hard drive attached storing all my music. I would have this hidden away in the computer room / study. According to the specs of the above NAS, I can access files from my Blackberry, which I would then use as the media player. Then I would need two Logitech Wireless Speaker Adapter Bluetooth or any equivilent Wireless Audio Receivers (looking at about £15.00 each) - one for the living room and one for the bedroom - to turn each of the speaker systems into wireless/bluetooth speakers, to which I can send the music playing from my Blackberry via bluetooth. Will this do the job? All in all, looking at about £70.00 which seems very reasonable for creating a wireless music system? (Of course, if wishing to have music in additional rooms it would require purchasing additional speakers and wireless receivers or speakers with built-in wireless capability, but I'm only really looking to have it in two rooms anyway).

#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 05 2012 - 08:58 AM

Sounds like it will work but I'm not familiar with the different products you mentioned. I do like the idea of those bluetooth adapters. Post some links. Better yet, keep posting as you get equipment installed. I'd like to see how this turns out. I googled the Logitech bluetooth adapters. I may get one so I can send audio to my home stereo. I bet someone makes something similar for a car. Time to start looking.

#11 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted June 05 2012 - 09:55 AM

Might be a little while before this is set up as there's probably still a month until we get our keys for the house. I might go ahead and get the NAS now though because that £40.00 seems a very good price and I don't think the product is usually available at that price from most retailers. I will however keep updated here once I start to have the equipment up and running. Here's some links of the products I looked at, as you asked: Belkin (Price is good, but might be best avoided as the manufacturer doesn't seem to be rated by others from what I've read in the past, and we do have a Belkin router and USB wireless receiver here for internet, and the other computer here with the receiver never gets a good signal): http://www.amazon.co...E/ref=de_a_smtd Justop BTR006 http://www.justop.co...edr-btr006.html Unbranded - Chinese I think http://www.ebay.co.u...0729#vi-content http://www.colorappl...e-p-112078.html I'd probably rather get the Logitech than those particular three for a better quality product. Does it really make a difference to the sound if the device has RCA or 3.5mm jack connections? (Obviously an adapter lead would be needed if the connection type doesn't match what you are connecting to...) One like this has RCA instead of 3.5mm: http://en.akihabaran...ss-audio-system

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted June 05 2012 - 10:02 AM

Does it really make a difference to the sound if the device has RCA or 3.5mm jack connections? (Obviously an adapter lead would be needed if the connection type doesn't match what you are connecting to...)

RCA is a more robust connection but if you aren't plugging it in and unplugging it all of the time, it makes no difference. My home audio system has a mixture of F (screw on connectors), 1/4" mono plugs (pro audio), RCA and optical. They all work as designed.

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   tr0ub1e

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Posted July 01 2012 - 03:32 AM

Figured I'd post a little update here. I've now got the Seagate GoFlex Net and had partial success so far... While I've had no problem setting it up with my USB drive, and enabling Windows File Sharing (SAMBA/SMB) to use it as a NAS Media Server, that's where the success ends. I've got no problem now instantly accessing my music collection from any wired or wireless PC within my local network (and I believe I should have no problem accessing it online as well but haven't actually tried that out), and the Media Server can also be picked up by my PS3 and have music streamed to that. The problems I've encountered are: firstly, with the PS3. While I have no problem accessing the NAS Media Server, there is a known problem which may or may not be limited to my product. Near enough all mp3 files stop playing after 2m11s with a Network Error 80710723. Apparently it is something to do with the PS3 timing out. I haven't been able to fix the problem. Searching online did throw up a supposed solution from someone, but I don't completely understand how to implement the solution offered. I should mention now that I've found that the Seagate GoFlex range is based on the Pogoplug product, and it uses both their software and mobile apps. Here's a couple of threads on their support forums regarding the issue. I've had to use google cache because for some reason they have since been removed: http://webcache.goog...lient=firefox-a http://webcache.goog...lient=firefox-a If I'm honest though, streaming to the PS3 was not something I was bothered about. It would be nice if the problem could be fixed, but at least I know that the Seagate GoFlex is working as a NAS Media Server. So the second problem brings me to my Blackberry which seems impossible to connect to the NAS Media Server. Rather than going into details I'll just link the thread I created at crackberry.com. I haven't had any responses unfortunately. It would be nice if I could just get a copy of the Pogoplug app from someone so I can just install it manually on my supposed "unsupported" Blackberry 9300 to see if it will work. http://forums.crackb...-9300-a-731952/ If all fails, I might have to just look at picking up another device to stream my music to and control it from, perhaps an Android smartphone like the one I linked in the above thread on crackberry.com...

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 01 2012 - 11:18 AM

I have been looking into streaming to my Android devices but the Win Amp products want to connect directly to the server. The problem is that my server is wired to the network since it runs on my desktop PC. I haven't tried this but I don't see anything that should stop me though - put the wireless router's IP address in the app's configuration. From there, use port forwarding to route the traffic to my desktop server software.

control it from, perhaps an Android smartphone

There are dozens of sites that sell Android wi-fi only tablets for $50 to $80. The more expensive models even come with Ice Cream Sandwich.