I use it less and less all the time, too, especially once I seriously upped the quality of my disc-spinning game. And I haven’t bought a download from iTunes for probably close to 8 or 9 years or so. I continue to rip new disc acquisitions more to be “complete” than to have them playable at the touch of a phone or tablet screen.
Just a quick note here Craig. FYI, I do not know about iMac or other Apple products. With that said, in the windows world, that external drive on your computer would need to be “shared”. If it’s not, you’ll never see it on the network. Again, I’m a Windoz guy. Hope this helps and if needed there should be lots of help available how to share devices.
IMO, you need to step up your “renderer” game.
JRiver Media Center and Roon (I am sure there are others) both allow you to point the software to where all of your music is stored (multiple networked locations) and they then organize and maintain the library for access through their user interfaces, Apps, etc.
Spend some time on their respective product sites to get a feel for what they offer and how they work.
By the way, the user experience of accessing Qobuz and Tidal libraries via Roon is preferable to using their respective Apps/user interfaces alone, in my opinion.
It’s been a couple of years since I waded into the setup waters for the Node, so I don’t recall if there was a necessary “share” setting or not, but I’ll take a look. Thanks.
I’ll look into JRiver. I’ve already made the decision that Roon isn’t worth the cost to me, after a 90-day one-cent trial period last year.
I have JRiver on one of my Macs. It functions well enough for what it does, but if you’re coming from an iTunes world, it’s different. There is a learning curve and depending on your willingness to get it to do exactly what you want, you may find yourself where you started. I was using JRiver until I decided to buckle down on the server/streamer. Now I rip songs directly to my backup drive and copy those songs to the server via network. I rescan the server and viola, everything loads into the server software.
Thank you, Craig, for the mention of Blue Coast. This is a fascinating thread you’ve introduced me to. As much as I love DSD for serious listening in the studio and my home, I have to admit that it’s often frustrating when I want an easy ‘quick fix’ of music. Networking can be such a pain it makes my 44.1 CDs very attractive for a quick listen. And I often succumb to the whims of youtube listening for the fun.
OK, here I go and I need some honestly here. First of all, I’m old enough that my hearing is somewhat challenged, hence an equalizer (Paul don’t listen to this!). The second thing is that my background is in computer technology. Therefore, while I want a good solution I don’t have an unlimited amount of money. So, I have a couple of items, much less expensive, that will allow me to get USB to my audio system from a remote computer. Please take a look at these two examples and see if you’d agree or that this would not work for some reason. I really appreciate all your help on this. And yes, I am a believer in the K.I.S.S. Theorem.
Light-Link USB, USB 3.0 over Fiber - Cable
Prudent Way USB Over Ethernet Extension Adapter
If you don’t want “kludgy”, you are going to have to invest in software and/or hardware designed to round up, organize and play your library. You can spend a modest amount or sky is the limit; but there is no free lunch, in my experience.
Best of luck, to you.
I understand. And when I said, “kludgy,” it wasn’t necessarily intended as a complaint. It’s the system I have, and while it could certainly be streamlined, it works as it is, and to change it appreciably will require far more networking expertise than I possess, especially if I want those changes to be inexpensive.
I hope I didn’t mislead anyone. I wasn’t looking for help on this post (for a change!). I was just describing my setup and what it took to make it work, warts and all.
Tom, just a thought. Knowing that budgets mean something to everyone. If you were to invest what kind of money would you consider spending? It will make the responses more on target for your interest. Also, I would love to see what the group comes up with!
Todd, were you able to check out the two options that I was asking about. Please don’t worry about the “budget” here. I just want to understand my options. And yes, these are one heck of a lot less money. If they’ll work, and I get reasonable sound then I’ll use this solution. I’m sure they’re quick enough, I mean this is only audio and being so, does not need the full bandwidth of Ethernet nor optical cable.
I expect that they will work just fine, but…
If you want something that pretty much works out of the box and is super flexible for endpoints to interface with your stereo(s), and you want to use Mac, Win, iOS, Android, etc to control it, I’d suggest you go the Roon route. It has a great interface, works with Tidal and Qobuz and your internally hosted libraries.
It also gives you the opportunity to either build your own, purchase a 3rd party host, or buy one of Roon’s servers. It’s about as flexible as you can get.
Sure some will argue there’s better sound quality from one solution over the other. But you really can’t beat their interface and there’s quite a number of options for endpoints.
Hmmm. When I read the original post I get the idea that baby steps are what are asked for. Roon and JRiver are anything but baby steps.
I am thinking an iMac running iTunes sending out via Ethernet to a Sonore MicroRendu. I believe the MicroRendu offers Apple Airplay as an method of operation. Call Small Green Computer to find out. I think the MicroRendu is fairly inexpensive.
Ordinarily I would never advise anyone use a Mac Mini for anything audio related but in this case the original poster could stay in a world he knows and not spend so much that in the future he could baby step his way up the chain, I would hope he would be so pleased with this setup that he might avoid the very slippery slope so many of us are skidding out of control on.
I’ve not been following this thread so I’m responding directly to your questions. Apologize if I’m repeating anyone else.
If you want yo continue using iTunes keep it on a Mac. There are advantages to using Airplay on a Mac you’ll loose if you move to Windows. I think iTunes still supports the remote features on a iPad.
For a quick replacement to your Express look at this:
For placing the server in another room stick with networked endpoints. If you like iTunes then that’s airplay. Airplay is limited to 16/48 so if that’s a concern you’ll need to move away from iTunes and Airplay. I think you said you didn’t like Roon. My second favorite, on Mac, is Audirvana. The network endpoint you want to use for Audirvana is called UPnP. The cheapest way to get one of these is a Raspberry Pi if your DAC supports USB. Costs can go up from there but plenty of UPnP renderes on the market.
I’ll leave it at that. Skimming this thread looks like all the common software was mentioned. Good luck. I started with a MBP, optical out, to my surround processor. Many many years later I’ve got Roon in a VM to multiple dedicated endpoints connected to various DACs. I’m all into the deep end on digital transport but its been a long journey
Just to throw this out if it helps anyone. I have all my music stored in three places - a dedicated PC, a dedicated Pi4 with Iancanada boards that I made specifically to try i2s direct (rather than through a USB bridge/DDC), and a Synology NAS.
All three sources reside (along with the DS/Bridge II) in an “isolated” network under an Edimax router in WISP mode. Since the Edimax is connected to my main network as a WISP, it (the Edimax) uses the main router as WAN for internet access and routes traffic within the WISP. So you can’t connect to anything in the WISP network directly from the main network, and vice versa. I set it up this way so the only network traffic (generally) is music data. Obviously, there will be some internet traffic, but all the other stuff going on in the house (iot stuff, etc.) does not affect the data within the ‘music’ network.
Both the music PC and the Pi run JRiver. I have the Master License that allows the use of the software on multiple platforms (Windoz, IOS, and Linux). The Master License is a modest additional cost above the single OS license. With JRiver, you only pay if you want to upgrade, and even with the Master License, it’s only 20 something bucks when they come up with the newest ‘version.’ Within each version, the UPDATES are free.
In JRiver, there is an icon that glows blue if it the data is being pushed “bit perfect,” so if you do something to NOT make it bit-perfect, you’ll know.
In order for JRiver to play to the Bridge, you have to enable DLNA in network settings of the tools. Once enabled, the bridge should show up as a “zone” to play to.
When you set up network availability, you can also allow other software to play to and control JRiver over the network. For example, I can either use their own controller called JRemote, or I can use something like BubbleUpnp to control what’s playing. I can tell JRiver to play, in my case, to USB>DS, or to Bridge (if using the PC. On the Pi, I can set the output to USB, i2s, or Bridge. Whatever I set it to IN JRiver is what it will play through when I select JRiver as the renderer.
I can set the library to any network source. I COULD set the library source to the Synology NAS, but I generally only use the NAS as backup storage or testing since SSDs are pretty cheap these days. Note - I boot the Pi from external SSD to avoid known inevitable problems with trying to use micro SD cards over time. Because of my plan to run the Pi off SSD, it was cheap enough to just get a big SSD and keep the files local (to the Pi) rather than stream the library from the NAS or PC.
When using JRemote, I can control if the software on the PC or Pi (whichever I connect to with JRemote) sends through the player (which is preselected as USB on the PC, or i2s on the Pi), or the Bridge.
When using something like BubbleUpnp, I can choose JRiver, but cannot control how JRiver sends the music (see below though). ie. however the software is set to send music is how it will play when that JRiver is selected. If both the PC and the Pi are on and alive in the network, and both JRivers are running, it appears in Bubble as two separate renderers.
Here’s the ‘see below.’ When streaming from Qobuz using Bubble (JRiver does not interface directly with any platform - it’s a mild controversy on the JRiver forums), I do not need JRiver at all, and can stream DIRECTLY to the Bridge as a renderer. So if you ONLY do internet streaming (Qobuz, Tidal, etc.) all you need is the Bridge. If you have your music stored in a server (NAS, computer/laptop, etc.) and you have a Bridge, you STILL don’t need something like JRiver because something like Bubble can be used to stream from your NAS as source (for example) directly to the Bridge as renderer.
If you don’t have the Bridge, either because you don’t like the ‘sound’ of the Bridge, or you just simply don’t have one, then you will need something as a renderer to stream to/output to the DS.
As for my server, I have one currently but the motherboard is older. I think I’ll just replace it and then I’ll have a new pc, basically. Connectivity is still something I need to figure out.
Can I assume then that no one here is able to voice an opinion of two items that I was asking about?
Light-Link USB, USB 3.0 over Fiber - Cable
Prudent Way USB Over Ethernet Extension Adapter
For USB, I’ve always just used a CERTIFIED (by USB.org) cable, as their certification qualifications are quite stringent when they test to assure a given cable is USB compliant. The vast majority of USB cables do not meet the TECHNICAL spec(s) for one reason or another, but it’s also fairly pricey to be certified (the company needs to submit their sample and pay for the cost of certification even if it fails).
You can go to the USB.org site and search for certified cables/brands. It’s a little difficult to use, since it’s based on the MANUFACTURER, which may not be the same as the BRAND.
I’ve been using StarTech BRAND (their certified ones - they also sell non-certified ones). I have tried my friend’s uber price USB (don’t remember which one off hand, but I do remember he paid more than $500 for it), and even he said he heard no difference (we did blind (not double blind) and sighted testing) and has been using certified StarTech cables since too.
So I looked at the Light-Link, and the cable appears to use USB power to power the optical conversion on both ends. You can see the two hard wires in parallel with the two optic lines in their cut away.
If so, I don’t see an especially clear benefit to their use, and you still have the supposed ‘dirty’ usb power on both ends of the cable. Just the DATA is traveling over the optical fiber.
If your problem is RF/EM interference of the DATA, it may be beneficial, but USB cables - especially 3.0 cables are already shielded. Even their marketing seems to espouse THAT aspect rather ‘clean power,’ along with the capability of transmitting further than standard hard wire.
Most people’s reasoning for USB isolation is the ‘dirty power’ coming over the cable to the DAC. If this is your theory/issue, then the ‘standard’ USB to fiber converters are more in line with what you’re trying to accomplish - if you have a good power supply for the transmitter and receiver. If you use the included wall wart power supply (at least on the receiving end), you aren’t necessarily cleaning up the issue (in theory) because most SMPS wall wart power supplies are pretty ‘dirty’ as well.