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Offline MattD

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straightening out my playback source
« on: November 20, 2010, 07:17:52 PM »
I am finally happy with the downstream part of my system (Benchmark DAC1 HDR > PS Audio GCA 100 > PSB Platinum T6) and have started to look at the source components. I have been running digital only for as long as I can remember and plan to keep it that way. However, I want to get a system that is more convenient, provides a means of backup, and can be expanded into other rooms.

Current Source
Right now I have a 10-year-old computer running the show. It's a PIII 866 with 384 MB RAM running Windows XP SP2 and Foobar2K. This computer is on my network and we log into it using remote desktop from one of our laptops. This is inconvenient at best, because it means you need to keep a laptop around and it's not really conducive to having other people use it. All of my music is on a 1 TB USB 2.0 drive plugged into that computer. It's a Mac-formatted drive, read using MacDrive (more on this later).

Options
  • Install FreeNAS on the computer, add a second 1 TB drive for backup, run Squeezebox Server and add Squeezebox radios in other rooms. I'm not sure what to do in the main room - perhaps add a Squeezebox Duet there.
  • Get an NAS that can run Squeezebox Server and add Squeezeboxes in the main room and other rooms.
  • Get an HTPC and set it up as a NAS (Windows Home Server?) - control that via a remote and view on TV, run Squeezebox server and add units in other rooms.

Backup Routine
I'll admit it, my current backup routine blows. I have a 1 TB drive attached to my iBook, which is the "master" and I create data on there (ripping CDs, photos, concert recordings, etc.). Periodically, I bring the 2nd drive up from my system and rsync them to update the second. This is tedious because I have to physically move the drive and also because it's not universally accessible. I would like a device that automatically makes the redundant copy (RAID) and can be accessed by OSX, Windows and Linux boxes. Then I can give each user a home folder on that device or organize by type (music, photos, etc.) and permissions. I would like whatever system I end up with to solve this problem.

Budget: < $1000 for everything. Bonus if there is a way to incorporate the existing PC into the system, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

I'd love to hear how others have solved similar problems or how you think I should address this one. I'm sure there are products I haven't heard of or other ways of integrating things that I am unaware of. Thanks!
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Offline acidjack

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 11:18:45 AM »
I may be the only one, but I **hated** the Squeezebox.  I could never get it to consistently recognize the files, it was very difficult to get it to add both my iTunes and non-iTunes stuff, and I eventually just gave up on it and sold it.  It seems like a good system in theory but I was very disappointed in the software.  But I realize that there doesn't seem to be much in the way of alternatives to it for FLAC playing either.

Backup: I have a RAID 2TB drive that is hooked up directly to my router.  That way any backups can be made directly to that from any laptops.  I do all my other audio on a 1.5TB Iomega external that I've hooked up directly to my laptop.  Also most of my stuff is also up on nyctaper, so it's on the server there as well, at least the final FLACs.
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Offline bhadella

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 12:01:39 PM »
No issues here running my Squeezebox but I'm not a iTunes user, just FLACs for me.  The neat thing about a squeezebox is the mulitple outs (coax, optical and rca) so you can run multiple rooms off of the same box if you have crawl space or basement access.   I use two squeezeboxes to run to four rooms (two via the upstairs squeezebox, two via the downstairs squeezebox) all controlled by the single duet controller.   Once we complete our deck addition, I'll be runnning 5 different sets of outs from my two squeezeboxes.

My backup it pretty crude, full copies of my two audio hard-drives (1.5 T for my recordings, 2T for albums) updated once a month and kept offsite. 
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 12:03:09 PM »
FWIW, I use a variation of option 1 and love my Squeezebox Classic and Boom.  No stinking i-Tunes in the mix potentially screwing things up.  Since the SB Classic and Boom UI only allows me to view a single line of information at a time (band, or album, or track, depending on which level of the hierarchy I'm in), they work best for finding music I know I want to hear...not so much for browsing a collection.  If I really want to browse (which is rare), I can do so on any computer on my network with a browser.  Additionally, I can sync the Classic, Boom, and SqueezePlay on my office computer to all play the same thing at the same time, which is handy when I'm moving around the house a lot while listening.

If I were to do a similar setup with the current offerings, I imagine it would be SB Touch for the main system (digital out) and SB Radio for other rooms.

As for backup, I'm inclined to keep it simple:  add enough storage to your old PIII to maintain at least 2 copies of everything and schedule rsync on a nightly basis.  This is what I do.  (I think RAID is overkill, as well as risky and problematic at consumer price points.)  Unfortunately, I can't provide any feedback on how to address universal access.
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 01:38:24 PM »
The neat thing about a squeezebox is the mulitple outs (coax, optical and rca) so you can run multiple rooms off of the same box if you have crawl space or basement access.

Now that is clever. I will keep it in mind.

Brian, why the Touch over the Duet? Wouldn't you have to get up to access the Touch? The Duet has a remote.

I think this is what I want to do. I think I could dedicate a full day to it sometime in the next week. If that works, then I'd just need the Duet/Touch and Radios in rooms that I want individual play in.
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 02:03:37 PM »
Brian, why the Touch over the Duet? Wouldn't you have to get up to access the Touch? The Duet has a remote.

The Touch includes an IR remote, just without a fancy screen.  And as a package for Touch + IR remote it's $100 less than the Duet Controller + Receiver.  And I have a universal remote for my main AV space, so I have no need for the fancy color-screen Duet Controller (or even the Touch IR remote, for that matter).  Which also means I can re-use the IR remote with the Radio when I get one, since the Radio doesn't include a remote by default.

It looks like the purported advantage of the Duet (Controller + Receiver) is that one may add additional receivers quite cheaply and use the same Controller for all of them.  But I don't think I'd want to carry around the Controller into each room containing a receiver.  And, for my listening purposes, a SB Boom or Radio in other rooms satisfies my needs.
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 02:33:27 PM »
They really downplay the fact that the Touch has a remote. I like this solution quite a bit, since it minimizes the equipment I'll need. I'll start with a Touch and a Radio and expand as needed. Can you read the screen on the Touch clearly from 10'?

Summary for those who just scrolled to the bottom:
- keep existing old computer and install FreeNAS and Squeezebox Server on it
- keep pair of 1 TB USB 2.0 drives and use with said computer.
- purchase Squeezebox Touch and Squeezebox Radio
- rock out!
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Offline bhadella

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 04:37:30 PM »
Brian, why the Touch over the Duet? Wouldn't you have to get up to access the Touch? The Duet has a remote.

The Touch includes an IR remote, just without a fancy screen.  And as a package for Touch + IR remote it's $100 less than the Duet Controller + Receiver.  And I have a universal remote for my main AV space, so I have no need for the fancy color-screen Duet Controller (or even the Touch IR remote, for that matter).  Which also means I can re-use the IR remote with the Radio when I get one, since the Radio doesn't include a remote by default.

It looks like the purported advantage of the Duet (Controller + Receiver) is that one may add additional receivers quite cheaply and use the same Controller for all of them.  But I don't think I'd want to carry around the Controller into each room containing a receiver.  And, for my listening purposes, a SB Boom or Radio in other rooms satisfies my needs.

Amazon has the Duet (IR controller + Receiver) for $299   http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Squeezebox-Wi-Fi-Internet-Radio/dp/B0013IWYHU/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1290461519&sr=1-4

and the Touch for $268   http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-930-000074-Squeezebox-Touch/dp/B002LARRDA/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1290461519&sr=1-2

If you are thinking about multiple rooms with amps + speakers, the duet is the way to go.  If you are going with a radio or boombox, touch is a good option.
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 04:44:02 PM »
If you are thinking about multiple rooms with amps + speakers, the duet is the way to go.

Just curious why?  I suppose you save $$ if you're willing to carry a single controller around from room to room.  But other than that...what's the advantage of Duet controller + receiver vs. Touch remote + receiver?
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Offline bhadella

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 04:59:04 PM »
If you are thinking about multiple rooms with amps + speakers, the duet is the way to go.

Just curious why?  I suppose you save $$ if you're willing to carry a single controller around from room to room.  But other than that...what's the advantage of Duet controller + receiver vs. Touch remote + receiver?

Here's my setup:

Squeezebox 1: Coax to Zone 1 (Living Room), Optical to Zone 2 (Bedroom 3)
Squeezebox 2: Coax to Zone 3 (Man Cave), Optical to Zone 4 (Kitchen)

When I am in not in the same room as the receiver, I can still fully control the signal going to that room.   If my squeezebox was in Zone 1, I would have to walk from Zone 2 to Zone 1 to control it.   The control has a full display so I can change albums, artists, etc without the receiver. 

I have multiple rooms running off of one squeezebox. 
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 05:06:19 PM »
When I am in not in the same room as the receiver, I can still fully control the signal going to that room.

Ahhhh...so the controller is wifi-enabled?  I get it, now.  Not ideal for my preferences -- I still like the idea of remote + receiver for each of my rooms, as I wouldn't want to have to keep track of which room the remote is in at any given time -- but I understand the value of the Controller, now.  Thanks!
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 05:54:49 PM »
I'll probably get the SB hardware off ebay. I think I can snag a Touch for around $200 and a Radio for around $100 if I'm patient. I'm kind of in limbo about order of operations. I hope I can get the FreeNAS + SB Server on a LiveCD so I can still go back to the system as it is if things don't work out as expected. Otherwise, I'll want to have the Touch in hand so I can hopefully use it immediately after setup.

All said, if I can do this for $300-350 and using existing components for the rest, I will be VERY happy.
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2010, 09:18:04 PM »
I missed out on the $120 radio. Next time *sigh*
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2011, 12:58:44 AM »
For those wondering, here is what I ended up with in the long run:

  • Repurposed the old PC and installed FreeNAS on it.
  • Added a 1 TB USB drive to said FreeNAS box
  • Installed the Squeezebox Server Add-on to FreeNAS
  • Bought a Zotac Zbox and installed XBMC on it to use it as a HTPC, and pointed it to the FreeNAS box for files
  • Bought a Squeezebox Radio for the bedroom

The PC was around $500, the Squeezebox around $125 and the software (XBMC, FreeNAS) was free.
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Offline rastasean

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2011, 11:07:37 PM »
What's the specs on your freeNAS box and what version are you using? Also, what's the drive formatted as?
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Offline MattD

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Re: straightening out my playback source
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2011, 12:07:11 AM »
P3, 866 MHz, 384 MB RAM, using 0.7.2. Drive is UFS, I think.
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