the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: audio

minidlna

When talking about digital music servers other than Squeezebox Server, I feel like a cheater. It’s been my reliable go-to method for serving up my ripped and downloaded music for over a decade now. But not every piece of hardware speaks to it; Beep appeared a while back and saw me install miniDLNA on my linux box, where all my music files reside.

The Digital Living Network Alliance is a trade group that certifies compliance to a standard for delivering digital media. MiniDLNA is an implementation for Ubuntu, and mini it is! No interface (save a bare bones web page at port 8200), it is configured by editing /etc/minidlna.conf.

Set the path to your music; I’m only looking for audio files, so I mark the directory with an A.
#media_dir=/var/lib/minidlna
media_dir=A,/mnt/data/music

Set the database cache directory (important!) and enable logging:
db_dir=/var/cache/minidlna
log_dir=/var/log

Tell it to look for new files or not:
inotify=yes

Set the name of the server presented to clients. This provides a simple way to check if you’re connecting to you server.
friendly_name=My-MiniDLNA

That’s it! Restart the service after you make changes to the configuration,
sudo service minidlna restart

or rebuild the database if you’ve changed or added music.
sudo service minidlna force-reload

There’s a ton more it can do, including serving videos, pictures, etc, and it also offers per-user configuration as well; but for my purpose my newly acquired Oppo BVD-103 can now stream all the music on my computer.

On the web:
MiniDLNA Ubuntu
ReadyMedia

audio bliss with the piCorePlayer + HiFiBerry

If one thing has changed in the past forty years of my listening to music, it’s not the music; as Lemmy said in his documentary, (to paraphrase) “you always return to the music of your youth because that’s when you figured out what music you like”. What has changed is how I listen to music; as much as I still enjoy flipping a vinyl record over (and that delicious analogue sound), nothing beats the convenience of digital streaming. Basically, I want all my music on a computer so I can access it, with a click, wherever I may be.

Not like any of this is new. Since the iTunes revolution, music has been reduced to ones and zeros, in more ways than one. The album has vanished, and CDs are mere content delivery units. Services such as Spotify, Pandora, Google Music, Amazon Prime, iTunes Airplay, etc… are the new record stores, serving and predicting what music one wants to hear. Their respective apps, and devices such as Sonos, Beep, Amazon Echo, and the newly announced Chromecast Audio are all there to push that music your way.

But I want my music, the music on my computer. Logitech Media Server, aka SlimServer or Squeezebox Server, has been my go-to for music streaming for probably a decade now. Problem is Logitech stopped making Squeezeboxes years ago. Beep seemed like a nice substitute, but honestly it mostly crashes, far too often to be considered usable.

Screenshot from 2015-09-30 04:04:27

The most elegant and inexpensive solution is the Raspberry Pi equipped with a HiFiBerry DAC running piCorePlayer. The latter has made some serious leaps in the past year in terms of usability and stability, and with the addition of the HifiBerry, sonically as well. So all of this is a long winded way of giving the trio another, hopefully louder shout-out for earning the top spot in my hifi rig. It works, it’s simple and it sounds fantastic. Thank you!

On the web:
piCorePlayer

what roku could be…


Don't get me wrong, the Roku HD, at a mere $59, is almost an instant buy. It's a set-top box for streaming digital video. The box connects to your tv or a/v system and facilitates streaming video from the internet, via wireless or wired ethernet connection. It supports Netflix, Amazon VOD, and soon enough Hulu Plus, plus a zillion other "channels" offering everything from sports, music, movies, etc. Too bad their website doesn't have a comprehensive list.

For streaming audio, there's one channel of particular interest to me: MainSqueeze connects your local Squeezebox Server to the Roku. But here's the caveat: the Roku doen't play some audio formats, including Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC. Talk about a heartbreaker!

Will this change in the future? It just seems like too good of an opportunity for Roku to miss, doesn't it? Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC are free, open standards that do not require any licensing fees. Further, the Roku, at just $59 for the entry model, is so much less expensive than the Squeezebox Touch that you could buy five (5) for the same price – one for nearly every room! Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC support usually sets the audiophile scene/buzz on fire, just as the Sansa Clip did when it added support for those formats. It would also give Roku a leg-up on Apple TV, which will never natively support Ogg-Vorbis nor FLAC.

Write Roku and let them know we want Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC support now!

On the web:
Roku Digital Video Player

oppo dv-980h

Okay, after years of denying it, I'm now interested in multi-channel audio. It was the recent Genesis archival box set that put me over the edge – what does the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway sound like in 5.1 audio? Now where to start. Obviously there are three things you need for multi-channel audio: 1) six speakers, 2) a receiver to process the audio signal, and 3) a disc player that can play all those formats. Well, I've got 2.1 setup with my PSB speakers, so I just need to purchase a couple of surrounds (Alpha LR1's for $85 each) and a center channel speaker. I honestly have no idea on a receiver, as this seems like the most daunting purchase (and a later post).

But the player ended up being quite an easy choice. I'm not sure how I stumbled on to it, but the Oppo DV-980H is one amazing universal disc player. Nuforce, who brought us the wonderful Icon amplifier, even offered a 20% discount on the player for their customers. A trip to Amazon.com and $134 dollars later, I've got a universal disc player that can play DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, VCD; in fact, every format except BlueRay and the now deprecated HDDVD. It handles up to 7.1 audio, sports 24-bit, 192kHz high resolution audio D/A converters, and has Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding. Stylish, easy to setup, and above all, one great sounding disc player, it's no wonder that the Mountain View based Oppo Digital has won too numerous accolades to mention. As a DVD player, it also upconverts, which may be of interest to those looking for HD video.

I almost forgot to mention – it also plays discs with Divx and Xvid files, and it's easy to hack into an all-region player too. Check out the Videohelp website.

On the web:
Oppo Digital DV-980H