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Offline Simp-Dawg

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HTPC?
« on: September 24, 2005, 09:46:14 AM »
thinking of building/buying one for my new house, as i'll be putting together an entire new playback system  8)

anyone have any experiences?  do's/don'ts?  what you've found them most/least useful for?  brands/components you like/dislike?
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Offline MattD

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2005, 11:19:49 AM »
Do: network it and keep the hard drives in another box elsewhere in the house. Even if you have really quiet drives, the fans needed to keep them cool will be audible. FLACs should be streamable even over a wireless network.

Do: find a means of TV output just so you can see what you're doing as far as selecting songs/playlists. Also, a remote control type of device is a real winner here.

Don't: get the fastest PC out there, unless you want to do video stuff with it too. I use a P3 866 w/ 128 MB of RAM and Foobar2000. Even that chip is overkill. Playing back 24/96 FLACs is not processor intensive.

Don't: be tempeted to load stuff on the computer you don't need. Make this strictly a playback computer, and just install Foobar2000 or the playback software of your choice. You'll also need to install drivers for a few things, probably your sound card and pointing device. Consider one of the USB or FW sound cards, though.
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Offline bluegrass_brad

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2005, 01:34:37 PM »
thinking of building/buying one for my new house, as i'll be putting together an entire new playback system  8)

anyone have any experiences?  do's/don'ts?  what you've found them most/least useful for?  brands/components you like/dislike?

Simpy - If you are still thinking about getting an apple, you can buy the airport express wireless hub.  It is small (the same size as Apples AC adaptor for the G4 or for the firewire charger of the Ipod).  It comes with audio output built into it.  just plug it in to the wall, run the output to your stereo, and your golden.  It uses a thing called "Airtunes" which is part of the Itunes software. Load all your tunes onto an external drive, plug in your G4, and rock.It is also a wireless hub/router for your internet with transfer rates of up to 54 mb/s. Cool stuff and for less than $150

http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/

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Offline dnsacks

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2005, 03:24:43 PM »
I've been running a microsoft windows media center htpc configuration for about the past 6 months -- it serves as my video playback system for video (hard-drive-archived dvds that I've rented from netflicks, dvd-format live shows I've collected from various sources  and for live/recorded tv via windows MCE) and for audio (using foobar2000 to play my shn/flac collection via spdif to my sony strda5000es. 

So far I've had a lot of fun with this setup and have, after getting everything stabilized, had a lot of luck with it.

I'm running this all on a fairly modest, but current, setup -- specifically a dell sc400 using a 2.8g p4, 512mb of ram and a pair of 160gb seagate hdds (in the htpc), as well as around 600gb of storage on other networked computers in my house.  I also have a hdtv card installed and can use the htpc to watch/record over-the-air hdtv broadcasts

I put mine together for a pretty minimal investment (dell sc400 ran me $250, video card (ati radeon 9600 - fanless) another $75, tv reception cards $40 fo normal tv, another $100 for hdtv and a soundcard with bit-perfect spdif out (chaintech av-710 for an additional $25)

Offline JackoRoses

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2005, 03:53:08 PM »
make sure the sound card you use is compatible with your DAC/receiver. ie: my thread on digi I/O options.
I suggest a AIW type card or go with the latest HDTV card out.
I don't really plan on using mine as a tivo but you might want to take that into consideration.
As far as sound cards go, you can either go 2 channel or with one of them fancy 7.1 setups, in which case a m-audo revolution or the likes might interest you. I am using a dynex 7.1 card and so far the 2 channel digi out works well, which is all I really am interested in. I can't comment on how the 7.1 performs or analog out since I have not tested it yet.
Wireless network is a huge plus, so far I have not noticed any issues with streaming audio or video.
I am using an antec overture case and it is pretty quiet even with the monster fan I have for the heatsink.
processor is a 1133 tualatin I had sitting around.
I probably could of used one of my older 566 celerons that will overclock to 850 mhz but I did not feel like wasting time in case it did not cooperate.
I also am using radmin at the moment to do remote work on it, I won't quite recommend that since it eats up the cpu cycles while you are using it. RDP would be ideal but thats a whole different game.
I am going to try VNC and see how cpu intensive it is here in the next several days.
Pretty much what everyone else recommended, I don't run WMCE currently I am running 2k on the machine but it's doing ok.
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Offline kindms

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2005, 05:31:03 PM »
Well.....

Lets see. I built my machine several months ago. It was supposed to go in to the audio system but it still hasn't made it there yet.

Couple things to reiterate from above. You dont need that much processor. I made the mistake (I guess you could call it that) of wanting a gaming machine and HTPC and quiet computer all in 1. I also tried to get it all in a really sleek case that just didnt have the room in it for the heat and these speed I was using. I fixed the issue by going with a louder power supply and it really isn't that audilbe but I dont know if I would put it in the audio system just yet. there are a ton of heatsinks and fan combos to get the heat under control and they do work (from my testing/learning the hard way).

I will say that if you are considering this for mostly audio I would suggest looking at the squeezebox 2 product. It has a killer dac. Is ready to go right out of the box and they have wired and wireless flavors. 24/96 plays back flac and I think a few folks on the site have them and give them great reviews. 199.00 and 30 moneyback garuntee. I am thinking of getting 1 myself then just spending the $ on a RAID array and put that box someplace where noise isnt an issue.

Video is an entirely different ball game. I have the ATI AIW 9800 PRO and it comes with remote and etc for running it w/o a keyboard. A guy I work with has a Myth TV box (open source Tivo like system) and he really like it, he has a serial cable from the box to the direct TV box to change the channels etc.
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Offline dnsacks

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2005, 05:40:40 PM »
quick clarification (?) -- per --http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_specs.html the squeezebox only supports up to 24/48k.

Great piece of equipment though.

Offline rustoleum

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Re: HTPC?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2005, 05:50:19 PM »
I'm running a PIII 850 w/ (I think) 512 mb of RAM running Windows 2000

Voodoo Rage 3 to output to a 35 " CRT television via SVideo
Hauppauge PVR-150 for video capture/VHS transfer/etc
Wireless Keyboard and mouse
SB Live -> digiout -> ART DI/O for playback using winamp
ARCHIVE Python DDS drive for DAT -> Computer transfer or just listening to a DAT.

I use WinTV 2000 for realtime television watching when I might want to pause/rewind/etc
SageTV for Tivo-like recording uses (ie - record "24" every week).

When I record something that I want to keep ULead is a great and easy tool for dumping to DVD-Video.

The only glitch? occassionally on reboot the Voodoo 3 TV Output gets disabled and I have to VNC into the system and re-enable.  Not a big deal at all, but a pain as I need to break out the lappy to remedy the situation.  Fun toy.  Unlimited music can be cranking for a party.  All the rewind/pause/record capabilities of a Tivo with a built-in DVD writer should I want to keep something.  2.5x DAT -> Computer transfers and the ability to surf the web on a 35" TV from across the room on the couch with a wireless mouse and keyboard.





 

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