My upcoming purchase of a Bridge II and the joys of setup


#1

Hello all,

I’m about to purchase my Bridge II and need the community’s best advice on how to setup and use it in my system. A brief description is in order so there is no confusion.

I use a late 2012 Mac Mini with the latest (10.10.5) version of Yosemite. My router is an older Apple Airport Extreme connected to my Mac via Ethernet. (The Airport Extreme has given me ZERO problems in the eight years I’ve used it.) This router also provides wireless to assorted devices in my house via an Airport Express repeater. Both the Extreme and Express have the latest firmware updates from Apple.

I currently use my DS DAC via USB from my Mac Mini for streaming my library via iTunes. I’ve been less than happy with this solution because my inexpensive – read, “cheap” – active Tripp-Lite 15-footer doesn’t seem to like certain high-res files and causes sound chaos trying to pass these bits to my DS DAC. My other two-channel system streaming sources are an Oppo BDP-105, combined with an AppleTV and Roku 3 that are connected via a passive HDMI switch to the Oppo. (The AppleTV and Roku are never used for music other than Pandora, and sundry radio apps.) Each of these devices is connected to my network via a four-port 10/100 switch fed by Ethernet cable from my Apple Airport Extreme router. I have the one remaining Ethernet cable in the switch allocated for the Bridge.

My goal with this purchase is simple: eliminate USB and go straight through my network, hard-wired, to the DS DAC. My questions are:

(1) Do I need to use a 1-gigabit switch instead of a 10/100? If push comes to shove I have one Ethernet port left on the router. I can run a 20-foot Ethernet cable from to the DS DAC and bypass the switch completely.

(2) Are there any peculiarities unique to using a Mac that I need to concern myself with once the Bridge is in and working?

(3) What music library software do you guys recommended for an iTunes replacement on the Mac? I just want to use it for music files. After using it for 10 years plus I’m really beginning to dislike it: it has become useless salesware/bloatware.

(4) Talk to me about the advantages of having the DS DAC with Bridge II on my network. The other potential music devices in the house connected to this network will be my living room AppleTV, living room Roku 3, an Oppo BDP-93 (that’s a little long-in-the-tooth), an iPhone, an iPad, a Windows Phone, a Windows 7 workstation and a Windows 10 laptop.

That is all for now. As always, thanks for your advice.

(P.S., Yale Final rocks!)


#2

George,

You don’t need a gigabit switch since the Bridge itself is limited to 100mb.

I suggest MinimServer, which is available for Mac as well as Windows and Linux. The difference here is that MinimServer is only a server, unlike iTunes and JRiver that are all in one programs where can do tagging, playback, etc. I know that there are some folks who really like JRiver. For me it is overly complex, but you may wish to check it out. With MinimServer you will need a separate tagging program; I know there are some good ones available for Mac but I can’t speak from personal experience. On Windows I highly recommend mp3tag. I find the slight lack of convenience of using separate programs is made up for by the power of using a program specifically designed for what you want to do and not other things.

I’m sure Mac users can give you other suggestions. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t control MinimServer and do tagging from your Windows laptop, even though the files are stored on the Mac, and play music via a control point on your iPad. That’s one of the advantages of an ethernet-based setup.


#3

George,

Metadatics is a good tagging program for Macs and is available through the Mac App Store.

I would also suggest starting with minimserver. The main disadvantage is that the control point software options are not as good as JRemote, which only works with JRiver Music Center. Currently some users are experiencing skipping issues with Bridge II and JRMC, which is another reason you might want to start with minimserver. For control point software, you can use mconnect HD on an iDevice or BubbleUPnP on an Android device. mconnect is a bit buggy (sometimes crashes) and is something of a pain if you like to create playlists from different albums/artists (the interface could be streamlined in my opinion). There are other control point options but I am not as familiar with them.

The Bridge II should sound considerably better than your Mac Mini by USB. You mentioned your USB cable not liking certain high res files. Are you using iTunes without a helper app (like BitPerfect)? If you are using iTunes by itself, you would need to manually change the sample/bit rates in Audio Midi Setup in order to play them without up or down sampling.


#4
stevem2 said

The Bridge II should sound considerably better than your Mac Mini by USB. You mentioned your USB cable not liking certain high res files. Are you using iTunes without a helper app (like BitPerfect)? If you are using iTunes by itself, you would need to manually change the sample/bit rates in Audio Midi Setup in order to play them without up or down sampling.

I use it with and without. I get inconsistent results. Regular files and DSD. [ADDED] To be honest, I've using VLC because of iTunes crashing all over the place since v12 came out...

#5

I use minimserver as well. You might miss the slick interface of iTunes but the program is rock solid. MConnect could use some improvement and I hope that we can encourage this since it is a product of the company that supplies the engine for the Bridge II. Mac OS is not the most tweakable platform out there but there are probably some tips floating around on the web. I think that you will love the B II for it’s sound quality and gapless playback.


#6

I agree the trend with iTunes has been towards more bloat, less usability. minimserver (you also need to install the minimstreamer module and you need to tell it to stream DSD files as DoP) is free to try (it’s donation-ware) and control point software generally runs to a few bucks. JRiver is more like $50 but you can get a free trial. They can both appear a bit daunting at first but actually aren’t that hard to set up. Either one beats iTunes (which is not an option with the Bridge anyway).


#7

Is anyone using Audirvana Plus instead of jRivers?


#8

I was using it with good results but I don’t believe you can stream it. So USB.

SQ was very good if you bypass Itunes but the cut n paste UI is not much fun.

I have not used it since I got my Aries and Bridge2.

B2 seems to deliver a bit more “weight” to the SQ.


#9

I already downloaded MinimServer and MinimWatch. I may get Metadatics for tagging as well. It looks like a good app. Thanks for all the advice. I’m curious since a lot of you have said that SQ has improved with Bridge II. Frankly, I can’t wait, but…

(Future) Hurricane Erika may make landfall in my part of the world this weekend so I may have to postpone my purchase by a few days or a week or more. Hopefully, she won’t come here to SoFla. According to the five-day track at 8:00 PM tonight, it’s heading right for the Space Coast, where my father-in-law lives. This will be my fourth hurricane in the house I’ve lived in for almost 24 years: Andrew, Katrina, Wilma were the previous visitors. Before that four others. I’m on my third roof.

At least it’s not an earthquake or a tornado…


#10

Good luck George.


#11

As of 11 PM DS DAC users in North Florida, Georgia and South Carolina better batten down the hatches…


#12

Yikes! I’m thinking of moving that direction someday. As Roseanne Rosannadanna said, “It’s always something.”


#13

My friend literally this week just made his retirement move down to Clairmont, which from what I can tell is in the Orlando area. Yikes indeed!


#14

After a week or so of delays I finally installed the Bridge II in my system yesterday. The installation and networking setup of the Bridge II went flawlessly. I’ve got a boatload of questions on UPnP and DNLA, however, since this is the first such device/protocol I’ve installed on my Mac. I followed the advice on this thread and installed MinimServer. It is an efficient little app that seems to do its job with minimal fuss and overhead. I’ve experienced several problems, though.

First, even though the DS is connected via a switch directly from my router, I’m encountering quite a bit of residual noise when I have the Bridge selected as the source in the DS DAC. Can’t put my finger on it other than my Airport Extreme, the switch, or the (very cheap) CAT5 cable itself is creating it. I just ordered an 8-meter AudioQuest CAT5e Ethernet cable and should have it later this week. It will run straight from my router to the DS DAC.

Second, I’ve tried several “control points” for my iPad and iPhone (not for my Mac as yet) to test and all have been less than stellar in their performance. MConnect, PlugPlayer, ArkMC, all crap out sending the cover art (which appears in the app) to the DS/Bridge. I’ve also encountered dropouts with all of these apps where the track just stops playing and then starts again at random. I jumped out of my chair when the Brahms Third started suddenly after having stopped playing.

So, I’m asking for advice. Using MinimServer for Mac what is the best “control point” I can use for Mac, iPhone, and iPad? I have not tried the overpriced JRiver which seems to the favorite on this forum. (I’ll bite that bullet if I have to…)

(BTW, the times it did work properly it sounded amazing. Better than my USB connection, by far.)

-george


#15

Hi George,

Hang in there with Bridge II – as you’ve discovered, it’s capable of amazing SQ.

For cover art: do you have an SD card inserted in the DAC? (No card, no art. Some people take the card out after they update firmware.)

Control points: there is no perfect one. The best I have found is BubbleUPnP, which unfortunately is Android-only. It’s so good that I actually bought a very cheap Android tablet to run it, and it works without hiccups. I prefer my iPad for most things. Mconnect is probably the best, although it crashes fairly often when used when my old first-generation iPad. The current version of mconnect HD requires a more recent OS than I can get; someday I will buy a newer iPad. PlugPlayer is old and clunky, with (IMO) a bad interface, but it should work.

I have cabling running from my router, which is on another floor, to an outlet in my listening room. From the outlet I connect an Airport Extreme, which connects my NAS, the DS, and my NPC. No noise issues. Cat6 and Cat7 cables are, I believe, better shielded than Cat5, so you might try one of those (even a plain vanilla one should have the shielding, no need for a fancy audiophile cable for that purpose, although I did find that an AudioQuest Vodka improved the sound over a generic Cat5).

You are connecting to the Mac’s ethernet port, right? I have a suspicion that this might be involved with the noise, but that’s just a hunch. Hopefully other Mac users can comment on this. If you can borrow a NAS from a friend for a few days, that might be a good experiment.

Bridge I owners often found that setting static IP addresses improved reliability. Bridge II is more robust in this regard, but it is something you can try if you continue to experience problems. Set one for the Bridge and also for the AE.

Finally, give it a little time. Over the summer I had construction in my house and my system was taken apart for several weeks. When I put it all back together, for the first couple of days I had a lot of problems. Then everything just settled down.

Don’t be in a big rush to get JRiver. I know a lot of people use it, but I don’t understand why – it is so complicated. Have you noticed all the messages here where people need help with JRiver? I find it no trouble at all to use a separate app for tagging – there’s one that Mac folks here have recommended, but I can’t recall it (I use mp3tag on Windows).


#16

For Mac I only know of mconnect which i agree leaves a lot to be desired, I’d like to know too if there’s something better. Are you using the premium ? But mine is stable and good sq.


#17
rogerdn said For Mac I only know of mconnect which i agree leaves a lot to be desired, I'd like to know too if there's something better. Are you using the premium ? But mine is stable and good sq.
I'm using the free version. It's only 5 bucks so I may give it a try.

#18

I don’t remember the differences but recall it having better features, but doubt it will resolve your noise or dropouts.


#19
magister said
Thanks for the very helpful reply!

I have a 25-foot Monoprice Ethernet cable running from my AirPort Extreme to the Netgear switch in my audio rack. From there I serve four network-enabled components in my system – DS DAC, Oppo, AppleTV 3, and Roku 3 – with very short-run Ethernet cables. My Mac, AirPort Extreme, Bridge, Oppo, and AppleTV have static IPs.

I just bought mConnect HD for my iPad. I’ll try it tonight after I put an SD card in the DS.

I’ll keep experimenting. I’m looking forward to having my wife stream her music from her PC to the Bridge using one of these apps. She’s in for quite an SQ shock!

-george


#20

What sort of noises are you hearing, and when? Control points are not at their peak yet, I’m afraid. Mconnect could be a lot better. sad-029_gif