Hard-Disc Music Player to Feed DirectStream DAC with Bridge II?


#1

Hi, I have the DirectStream Sr. with the Bridge II network card. I listen primarily to TIDAL HiFi using the Bubble UPnP Android app to drive the Bridge II. The sound is great and the convenience is first-rate. Here is my problem: I also have approximately three terabytes of FLAC and DSD files on an external hard drive that I listen to from time to time. My file playback set-up is less than ideal:

External HDD > USB > Windows 7 PC with JRiver and MinimServer > Ethernet > Cable Internet Router/Modem > WiFi > Squeezebox 2 as wireless bridge > Ethernet > Bridge II

There is no reasonable way for me to run an Ethernet cable from the router/modem to the Bridge II. I am considering an “Ethernet over Power” (EoP) system, but I have read mixed things about EoP. I am also not thrilled about the idea of having a hard-wired connection to the Bridge II coming out of an AC outlet.

I started thinking about a hard-disc music player from the likes of Aurender, Melco or Lumin. I have read great things about such devices but I am reluctant to abandon the Bridge II’s Ethernet input and go back to the DS’s USB input for file playback. (I noticed a Melco model that has an Ethernet input and output; I do not know if that output could be connected successfully to the Bridge II.)

The goal is to bring my FLAC and DSD files closer to the DirectStream with an excellent-sounding hard-wired device that does not cost a fortune ($4K is the outer limit of what I would spend on such a device, I think).

Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks and happy holidays!


#2

I don’t do digital files or stream etc. But if there is a component available that uses the PS Audio protocol of I2S via HDMI I’d get that one. That data transportation method is fantastic with the DirectStream DAC.


#3

Why not a NAS? You are already used to running BubbleUPnP on a tablet and are familiar with MinimServer. You can get a good two-bay NAS from Synology or QNAP, with discs, for $500 or less. Then install MinimServer on it. You would need a network access point to connect the two and allow the tablet to communicate. This is basically the setup I have: my audio rack contains a Synology and a network switch, with the Bridge in an adjacent rack. You can’t run a cable from your current router to the Bridge, but depending on the arrangement of your house wiring you could perhaps put the NAS somewhere other than the music room and connect either wired or wirelessly. I personally still prefer wired connections but I know that some people are successfully using wi-fi even for hi-res audio.

I’ve been very happy with the SQ of this setup. I did spring for a LPS to power the NAS and the network switch. That’s still cheaper than spending $4K on a player and takes advantage of the tablet and software you already use.


#4

magister: Thanks very much for the NAS suggestion. I considered a NAS but ruled it out due to the fact that I could not find a wireless NAS. Are you saying I could connect the NAS directly to the Bridge II via Ethernet and the NAS would not have be hard-wired to my router/modem? Also, what is the “network switch” you mentioned? Would I need one of those, as well? Or, could I put the NAS in my computer room, connect it via Ethernet to my modem/router, and have an EoP device in the music room to connect to the Bridge II? Thanks.


#5

One simple (but relatively pricy) way is to buy a powerful fan-less NAS with at least 4GB RAM with SSD onboard. Then you install Roon Server on the NAS (no computer needed). The NAS is directly connected to your router. The Bridge II will act as a Roon endpoint, also connected to your router. You may also consider an Ethernet bridge to go wireless.

You may also take a look at this solution: https://www.smallgreencomputer.com/products/sonictransporter-roon-server-hqplayer

If you won’t run Roon, you may install Minimserver (DLNA) on your NAS and run mconnect HD app on your control point - similar solution. If you want to dive into OH media (Lumin, etc.), you may also consider running BubbleUPnP server.

This is the way I would do it (actually I have a similar solution currently running).


#6
lonson said I don't do digital files or stream etc. But if there is a component available that uses the PS Audio protocol of I2S via HDMI I'd get that one. That data transportation method is fantastic with the DirectStream DAC.
You don't mean LANRover by any means?

This is USB - Ethernet - USB and not I2s.

Edit:

Sorry, I missed the ‘if’ in your sentence ‘But if there is a component available…’


#7

I have a Melco N1A in that setup. Sounds great via USB, IMO even better using the Ethernet to Bridge II connection.

I use the Kinsky App for USB, Mconnect for Ethernet, I have them both connected.


#8

davek: That sounds very encouraging. Can you hear the hard drives spinning inside the Melco box? I had to get my otherwise great external HDD (CalDigit AV Pro) out of my listening room because the enclosure’s cooling fan can be heard ten feet away at the listening position. Thanks.


#9

Hi, I’ve also got a Melco N1A, currently feeding DS via USB (superb) but currently waiting for a bridge II to arrive, when I’ll switch to direct Ethernet cable (I’ve decided to go for bridge II rather than optimise USB with Lanrover etc). Silent (unless you press your ear against it) and a significant upgrade over networked Synology NAS that I had previously. Hirez flac and DSD (up to 2x) work flawlessly. Controlled via bubble upnp on android. Tidal also works great.

I guess its a glorified NAS but it sits silently on my hifi rack, looks good and sounds excellent. You don’t need to worry about setup/software and you can connect Ethernet direct to DS. Excellent partner for DS in my opinion.

Regards, Mike.


#10

Hi Mike, and thanks for the post. (Funny that I have the Bridge II and am looking at a Melco while you have a Melco and are looking at the Bridge II!) Let’s say I go for a Melco (N1A or N1ZH). I could put all my FLAC and DSD files on the internal hard drives, but I would still need a way to connect the Melco to the network, and I cannot get a direct hard-wired Ethernet cable from my router/modem to the Melco. Given that I would (I think) only need the Melco on the network for purposes of remote controlling it, I am hoping I could get away with a wireless bridge or an Ethernet-over-Power set-up. Thoughts? Thanks again.


#11

Hi Bootzilla, I believe you’d also need the Melco to be on your home network if you want to continue to stream Tidal. Ive got a dedicated Buffalo router for the Melco because I initially had problems with my home network - I’ve hard wired it to my main router but set it up on a separate subnet (don’t ask me how, I just followed some instructions i found without really understanding it) and it works perfectly. I think having a wireless Bridge (or Ethernet over power) will work fine but Melco themselves will be able to advise tthe best setup - they provided great support to me. I’d loved to have tried the N1ZA but it was beyond my means. Reviews suggest it it an audible improvement over N1A.

Im sure Aurender and Lumin will have equally good products but the N1A did everything that I needed at just the right price. Btw, I had PWT previously and, to my ears at least, the Melco is as good. And it gives me control of my whole collection from my android, plus Tidal.


#12

I use EoP to the DS Bridge II and find it works fine. I compared it to long ethernet cable and couldn’t pick any difference in SQ. Maybe in a very high end setup there is a benefit of hard wiring but I think for the average person it probably isn’t necessary.

For the low cost of a couple of EoP adapters I would give it a go and see what you think. Keep things simple IMO.


#13
The goal is to bring my FLAC and DSD files closer to the DirectStream with an excellent-sounding hard-wired device that does not cost a fortune ($4K is the outer limit of what I would spend on such a device, I think).

Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks and happy holidays!

If I can offer a suggestion with respect to the networking part. I understand the need for a hardwired solution but a NAS could still work as a hardwired solution. I had the same issue, the NAS being in a remote room in the house and my streamer (Sonore Signature Rendu) which only takes ethernet in - much like the Bridge is in the living room. If you happen to have a coaxial cable outlet from the wall somewhere close to the PS DS, then you may consider a Moca system. I had tried EoP in the past for few days few years back with Zyxel devices and did not like the occasional spikes in the sound. I then transitioned to Moca. Moca will allow you to transfer ethernet via coaxial which is an extremely robust and reliable set-and-forget solution. One Moca adapter connects to the remote router and the coaxial outlet there (you need to have a coaxial cable outlet close to the router) and the other adapter close to the other end at the streamer. I use the simplest devices from Actiontec for more than 2 years and they just work. Track change or skipping is instantaneous even at 24/192. I am streaming from a Synology DS1515+. All my critical cables are CAT6 Belden (BlueJeans) and the streaming is practically like having a wired ethernet connection.

#14

Thanks, all, for the friendly and informative posts. I ordered a Melco N1ZH yesterday and I should receive it around the middle of next week.

Happy holidays! party_gif


#15

Good choice imo. Will be interested in your thoughts.

Regards,

Mike.


#16

Thanks, Mike, I should have some initial comments around Christmas time. I gather that some Melco owners replace the pre-installed Twonky software with MinimServer. Do you recommend doing so? And if so, is it beneficial to do so before loading music onto the hard drives? I have no experience with Twonky whereas I am familiar generally with MinimServer. Thanks.


#17

Hi, no I didn’t do that. I tried minimserver on my Synology prior to purchasing the Melco and, to be honest, it got a little confusing. So I stuck with standard software on Melco and have had no issues. Let me know if there’s a benefit, may be I’ll take another like look.

Thanks, Mike.


#18

Congrats on your purchase. I haven’t switched over either on my N1A. Only issue is DSD from the Melco needs to go thru the USB input of the DAC, the Bridge II will only do DoP and Twonky does not allow that configuration on its ethernet outputs…yet.

And if your planning to copy all your music into the internal hard drives, get a really long book to read, it could take a while.

Mike, have you heard any updates on Melco’s app release? They’ve been very silent about it.


#19

Hi Dave K, I’ll be getting my Bridge 2 in the New Year so won’t be able to confirm until then. However, Alan Ainslie from Melco advised me that by changing from Twonky to Minimserver, the Melco is able to output DoP over Ethernet. You are correct that it can’t do that with the standard Twonky software.

Regards

Mike.


#20
davek said
And if your planning to copy all your music into the internal hard drives, get a really long book to read, it could take a while.
Thanks, davek. I am planning to copy @ 3 TB to the internal HDDs. The albums are organized by folder. Some folders have artwork and some do not. How easy or difficult is it to add artwork to folders on the internal HDDs? Thanks.