Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.

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panomaniac

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #40 on: 2 Sep 2009, 01:35 am »
Hi Jim -
The board I saw that "might" have spdif is the alix3d3
http://www.pcengines.ch/alix3d3.htm

Of course some other little board like one of the Intel Atom boards should work, too.  I was just interested in the alix stuff 'cause it is so low power.

Find a nice client and it should be a go.  A browser based client would be nice so that any device, even mobile, could be used.  Thinking of my Dell Axiom.

jrebman

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #41 on: 2 Sep 2009, 01:45 am »
Michael,

I think I even saw a client for a wireless mouse :D.

Look at the MPD wiki pages and you'll find all kinds of good stuff there.

-- Jim

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #42 on: 5 Mar 2010, 04:37 am »
Any way to get this thread put up as a sticky?

JDUBS

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #43 on: 5 Mar 2010, 05:13 am »
What's the latest with this?  Any further development with front ends? 

-Jim

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #44 on: 5 Mar 2010, 05:22 am »
What's the latest with this?  Any further development with front ends? 

What exactly do you mean by front end? The server?

JDUBS

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #45 on: 5 Mar 2010, 05:27 am »
What exactly do mean by front end? The server?

Sorry, should have been more clear.  I was referring to the Web-based gui front end used for installing.

Also, curious about the latest in boards.  looks like there is a new(er) ALIX out, the 2D3.

-Jim

EchiDna

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #46 on: 8 Mar 2010, 03:07 pm »
Any way to get this thread put up as a sticky?

done :)

ebag4

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #47 on: 8 Mar 2010, 03:20 pm »
nyc_paramedic,
Have you looked at the Network Media Tanks as an alternative to buying the bare boards?  I have an egreat unit that I am using MPD with but it is only configured for the optical out now and I dont have the Linux knowledge to change it.  The nice thing about the NMTs are that they come with an enclosure, power supply and remote control.  I am currently using a plugin called MPD Jukeox which allows me to control it with the remote while viewing my library in list or album view to a monitor connected to the NMT. 

I know that the NMT is not using ALSA and I don't know what impact that has on the sound, this is a potential negative to this setup.

Any insight or comments regarding the NMT as a music server are appreciated.

Best,
Ed

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #48 on: 8 Mar 2010, 08:18 pm »
Sorry, should have been more clear.  I was referring to the Web-based gui front end used for installing.

Also, curious about the latest in boards.  looks like there is a new(er) ALIX out, the 2D3.

No updates. I am not a programmer, and writing a daemon and a web client front end is beyond my expertise.

The avenue that I have been investigating is the Voyage Linux framework. This would allow one to download a simple file and copy it to compact flash. This file will be configured with MPD, NFS, ALSA, etc. One would still need to edit a few text files and add a normal user account. These directions could be spelled out clearly in a text file or written down here.
« Last Edit: 9 Mar 2010, 12:15 am by nyc_paramedic »

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #49 on: 9 Mar 2010, 12:12 am »
nyc_paramedic,
Have you looked at the Network Media Tanks as an alternative to buying the bare boards?  I have an egreat unit that I am using MPD with but it is only configured for the optical out now and I dont have the Linux knowledge to change it.  The nice thing about the NMTs are that they come with an enclosure, power supply and remote control.  I am currently using a plugin called MPD Jukeox which allows me to control it with the remote while viewing my library in list or album view to a monitor connected to the NMT. 

I know that the NMT is not using ALSA and I don't know what impact that has on the sound, this is a potential negative to this setup.

Any insight or comments regarding the NMT as a music server are appreciated.

I don't know anything about NMT. I did read this today, though: http://www.networkedmediatank.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
If it works for you, then that's great.

Concerning my fondness for the Alix boards, I should mention a few things:

I don't watch television. I do watch videos on my PC on occasion, but I don't have a television in my living room; it's dedicated to my 2 channel system. So, I personally don't have a need for a "media" device. I am strictly a 2 channel audio guy.

Currently, my little Alix MPD combo fills a specific little niche, i.e., high quality yet inexpensive playback for USB DAC's using open source software. Not to mention a very minimal hardware footprint. No switching power supplies, fans, disc drives in my listening room, no excess circuitry (VGA, etc) on my hardware.

On occasion, you'll read about the UNIX philosophy of small tools dedicated to doing one task and doing that one take extremely well. Even though the application of the Alix/MPD server has a narrow application it does its job very well. The system, for me, has been extremely stable with nary a pop, click, or hiccup experienced yet.  The system is very customizable. It has the ability to be controlled via numerous clients, and if one was inclined one could write his own client.

Plus, the Alix is "recyclable", if you will. It's a general purpose, low power, x86 computer that can be used for any number uses in the home or the field. That's a bit important to me as well.


P.S. I'm in the process of adding a simple PIC micro controller to the Alix's serial port for IR remote control. My simple GE universal remote is setup to have the "volume" buttons control my Placete Audio RVC passive preamp, and the other buttons on the same remote  will be dedicated to controlling MPD via MPD LIRC, e.g., play, pause, shuffle, random album. This will come in handy on days when I don't want to fire up the laptop or my Nokia N800 to play a few songs.



firedog

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #50 on: 14 Apr 2010, 08:24 am »
How come no one mentions the already existing Vortex Box Appliance - fanless:

http://shop.smallgreencomputer.com/VortexBox-500GB-Micro-NAS-vb500m.htm

yes, it costs a bit more, but comes preconfigured with all the software you need, and the OS (vortexbox.org) is constantly being updated and improved. BTW, it uses only 5-6 watts running.

mcgsxr

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #51 on: 14 Apr 2010, 12:38 pm »
The smallgreencomputer one looks interesting, and it is cool to get it all loaded up etc.

Compared to the price of the original suggestion though (even factoring in an extra $75 for a 500G drive) it is way over - $250 vs $419.

Clearly it is a good option though, for those less inclined to play around with loading and optimizing linux.

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #52 on: 14 Apr 2010, 01:25 pm »
How come no one mentions the already existing Vortex Box Appliance - fanless:

http://shop.smallgreencomputer.com/VortexBox-500GB-Micro-NAS-vb500m.htm

yes, it costs a bit more, but comes pre-configured with all the software you need, and the OS (vortexbox.org) is constantly being updated and improved. BTW, it uses only 5-6 watts running.

Maybe because it's an apples to oranges comparison.

First, an Alix board will currently cost you $125 for the board (http://www.mini-box.com/Alix-3D-Board-2-LAN-1-MINI-PCI-1_2?sc=8&category=754); $12.50 for the enclosure (http://www.mini-box.com/ALIX-3-Enclosure?sc=8&category=87); and $9.95 for the small wall wart (http://www.mini-box.com/60w-12v-5A-AC-DC-Power-Adapter_3).  At $147 it is still *well* below the $419 asking price of the device you linked to.

Secondly, the Alix is a small disk less server for USB DAC's utilizing MPD as the software. There is a minimum of software running on the Voyage OS to accomplish only one task (and perform that task very well): feed a USB DAC via MPD. Also, my initial goal was to *not* have any spinning disk in my listening room. Although, that point might be moot with the current crop of high capacity SSD's on the market.

Lastly, the Vortex is billed as a NAS; a music server; a Logitech server; a ripper, a music tagger; etc. It has disks. It has a more complicated (EMI/RFI) motherboard. It is *much* more expensive than an Alix. Also, anybody can turn their current desktop (I have to assume that you have at least one computer on hand if you are into any kind of PC Audio --at a minimum that machine will be used to rip some music) into an NAS/NFS server as we're only playing one song at a time. My bedroom desktop accomplished that goal nicely, so there was no need to buy more NAS hardware to feed the Alix. (Also, I can still listen to internet radio when my desktop machine is off because the Alix is still connected to the internet and has an IP adress)

Don't misunderstand me: There's nothing wrong with the Vortex box if it fits your needs. But from what I'm reading on their site, it's more of a server (NAS, Sonos, Logitech) and not a standalone player, so it won't fill my needs of feeding my USB DAC. And none of the Logitech products will feed a USB DAC either; your outputs are either S/PDIF or analog out.

Cheers

jrebman

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #53 on: 14 Apr 2010, 01:39 pm »
Hey Nick,

If you wanted to, can you attach a local, quiet hd via usb to the alix box and grab the tunes from there?  I just got a nice, super quiet WD Passport elite usb powered HD that is sounding spectacular with my Asus EEE box, and it would be (hopefully) a real easy experiment to swap the alix machine for the Asus if I could use the local usb drive for the music files.

-- Jim

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #54 on: 14 Apr 2010, 01:57 pm »
If you wanted to, can you attach a local, quiet hd via usb to the alix box and grab the tunes from there?  I just got a nice, super quiet WD Passport elite usb powered HD that is sounding spectacular with my Asus EEE box, and it would be (hopefully) a real easy experiment to swap the alix machine for the Asus if I could use the local usb drive for the music files.

Technically, yes. But I don't know how having the drive and the DAC on the same USB port would affect sound quality.

Also, I don't know if a new install of Voyage will mount the USB drive when it's plugged in. You might have to manually add a fstab entry and issue a mount command.

I still think the NAS or NFS route is the better way to go, though.

jrebman

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #55 on: 14 Apr 2010, 02:51 pm »
Hi Nick,

Thanks, guess I'll just give it a try.  Right now this is all a big experiment, and one I hope I can also build as a portable solution using a crossover cable, so that's why the local drive question.

I haven't noticed any degradation in performance or sq using both the dac and Passport on the same port on the Asus box, in fact it was a rather noticable improvement over the internal disc or over the ethernet connection (which is now also disabled, perhaps contributing some to the SQ increase.

At least for me this stuff is fun :-).

-- Jim

lcrim

Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #56 on: 14 Apr 2010, 03:14 pm »
Earlier in this thread there was speculation that a SPDIF output was available on the alix3d3 board.
Wondering if anyone has tried this and/or found a driver to enable MPD to output through this (SPDIF) output.  @ $111 for the board and a few more for a case and power supply, this would be an alternative that would fit my needs better.

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #57 on: 14 Apr 2010, 09:05 pm »
Earlier in this thread there was speculation that a SPDIF output was available on the alix3d3 board.
Wondering if anyone has tried this and/or found a driver to enable MPD to output through this (SPDIF) output.  @ $111 for the board and a few more for a case and power supply, this would be an alternative that would fit my needs better.

I had done an exhaustive search a while ago and came up short. Here's a thread I found, but there are no specs detailing whether the card has S/PDIF out or not: http://lists.soekris.com/pipermail/soekris-tech/2004-October/006932.html And the card was discontinued.

When I first started experimenting with an Alix I was using a Trends UD-10.1 USB to S/PDIF converter. Bel Canto also has a good USB/S/PDIF converter.
Wavelength Audio is about to release their "Wavelink" USB to S/PDIF converter with "asynchronous" tech. Link: http://blog.stereophile.com/rmaf2009/wavelengths_new_wavelink/

If I do come across a mini-pci card I'll be sure to post it.


On a side note, I did find a find a few companies that make system-on-modules, i.e., small computers the size of laptop RAM. You plug these into your baseboard where you have all of your connection, e.g, power, network, serial. Some of these boards had and I2S audio out. Would be a nice solution for something like a Twisted Pear DAC.

Here's one example: http://www.emacinc.com/som/som536em.htm

You could run Linux with MPD, output to I2S, and then send it right to I2S input of your Twisted Pear DAC. Could make for one fine sounding system.

wilbert-vanbakel

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #58 on: 14 Apr 2010, 09:54 pm »
Very interesting, I recently got an iPod based audio setup in my living room and I'm researching options to access external storage with iPod compatible files (1 TB would hold about 3000 audio CD's in lossless format)

The mentioned PC Engine is member of the mini-ITX class boards, and there are many more brands available:

http://www.mini-itx.com/
http://www.mini-box.com/
http://www.itxdepot.com/
http://www.ewayco.com/

My question: Which size storage did you use, hard drives do generate heat?

Currently I either use a Nokia N800 tablet via WiFi, but I can also have a client running on the bedroom computer, or my Thinkpas laptop, all running at the simultaneously.

Is my understanding correct that you listen on computers/laptops, as opposed to a dedicated audio system?

nyc_paramedic

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Re: Dead silent dedicated Linux music server for USB DAC's.
« Reply #59 on: 14 Apr 2010, 10:18 pm »
Very interesting, I recently got an iPod based audio setup in my living room and I'm researching options to access external storage with iPod compatible files (1 TB would hold about 3000 audio CD's in lossless format)

The mentioned PC Engine is member of the mini-ITX class boards, and there are many more brands available:

http://www.mini-itx.com/
http://www.mini-box.com/
http://www.itxdepot.com/
http://www.ewayco.com/

My question: Which size storage did you use, hard drives do generate heat?

Is my understanding correct that you listen on computers/laptops, as opposed to a dedicated audio system?

I use a Western Digital 640GB Green drive that is hooked up to my bedroom desktop. Installing NFS makes it a simple file server. Only one of the PC Engines boards conform to the ITX standard, the Alix 1D: http://www.pcengines.ch/alix1d.htm There is no drive attached to my Alix...

To answer your second question, no. I have dedicated 2 channel system in a dedicated room. The Nokia is just a "controller", i.e., a fancy remote for controlling the Alix server.

Simply, NFS serving files on the bedroom computer. Alix in the dedicate listening room grabbing FLAC files over Ethernet from said NFS computer and streaming to USB DAC via USB port. Nokia and/or laptop as "controllers" to make play lists, start play, shuffle, etc.