PS Audio Music Server In The Pipeline?


#1

Thought that I had read somewhere that a PS Audio Music Server was being considered.
Is this so?
Can you tell us anything?
I would certainly be very interested.
Thanks.
Bruce


DirectStream, Bridge II, Roon, and the Future
#2

It’s called Octave and there’s not a lot more I can divulge right now. I will suggest this. There are many music servers out there - from low cost to expensive to everywhere in between. They all have three requirements that are critical. None, to my eyes and ears, have gotten them right yet.

To make a great music server you need to perfect three things:

  • A great user interface
  • Output impervious to the vagaries of the computer and hardware inside
  • Simple to use, operate and implement
Get those three things right - better than anyone yet - and you have a winner.

That’s Octave. I can’t tell you more than that because the timeline is undefined. We know exactly what we want to build. It must fit those three requirements better than anyone’s yet done - and that simply takes a lot of work and time.

I can tell you that the first task, build a great user interface, is progressing wonderfully. I just got a chance to play with the first version. Wow!


#3

What makes “A great user interface?”


#4

What a wonderful question. I am not sure I can answer it in words too well.

Roon’s done the best job so far, iTunes a distant second. The UI needs to be intuitive, connect you with what you want to hear easily. It also should make it fun as opposed to challenging.

There are several excellent examples on TV. Apple and Netflix are good examples of relatively easy GUIs to navigate.

I know one when I see one. It’s hard to define in words.


#5

Thanks, Paul

I have been perfectly happy with just about any interface, but I suspect this is because I take a good amount of care in ripping and tagging in a fashion which makes sense to me. Even then I lose things on occasion.

A perfect interface would see through/past the idiosyncrasies of each person’s tagging habits and find what we are interested in, regardless of how labeled.

I have seen many which does pop well. None which handle classical even vaguely well.

A very difficult job.

I like Octave as a name. Much better than Tritone. :slight_smile:


#6
Elk said A perfect interface would see through/past the idiosyncrasies of each person's tagging habits and find what we are interested in, regardless of how labeled.
That is a great description of a perfect interface. Just don't hire me to program it.confused
I have seen many which does pop well. None which handle classical even vaguely well.
That was the first thought that popped into my mind when I read Paul's answer in post #2. The majority of my listening is classical and, like Elk, I have spent a lot of time and effort tagging my download purchases and CD rips. I see ads for these nice-looking one box solutions (insert a disc, it's automatically ripped, tagged and added to your library, etc.). But I know that these boxes would, almost always, do an awful job with my classical music. So I have never been tempted to buy one. My recent experiences using the Playlist feature while testing the DMP have only reinforced this feeling.

Take a (negative) lesson from Roon in this area. One reason I have never used Roon is that it won’t take advantage of the tags that I have so carefully put in my files. I understand it’s not designed as a UPnP/DLNA product, but still, the info is there and could be used.

Also, please make sure that users can backup or transfer music from Octave easily. I have read reviews of a couple of these servers where you can only back up to a drive attached to the unit or in a proprietary format or whatever. That’s a total non-starter for me.

I like Octave as a name. Much better than Tritone. :)
24_gif

#7

My personal favorites are the Lumin app as uPnP/OH control point and Classé for source control over IP.

(No pix attached due to Simple:Press missing option from iPad - bummer).

I am sceptical to all the proprietary app and tagging makers. This easily becomes a money drain and never ending development nightmare (just look at eLyric). And how about all those who are locked into a lifelong membership of de-facto apps (read Roon)? As a minimum Octave should support 3rd. party uPnP servers if the internal OS will support this. If no internal storage this might be handled externally, though.

I reckon the Octave will have no DAC onboard (i.e. I2s out)? In this case one won’t mess around with MQA at least…sad-029_gif


#8
magister said
One reason I have never used Roon is that it won't take advantage of the tags that I have so carefully put in my files.
Where is this information from and how old is it? Roon has accepted and used user tags for, I think, a year now -- at least that's what the documentation says.

-Jim


#9
magister said Also, please make sure that users can backup or transfer music from Octave easily. I have read reviews of a couple of these servers where you can only back up to a drive attached to the unit or in a proprietary format or whatever.
Yes, this is critical. Olive used/uses a proprietary format which is a mess for any other purpose and requires the user to keep a second non-proprietary format version of their library for every other purpose.
Frode said

I am sceptical to all the proprietary app and tagging makers.


As am I. These should be open. i like Bryston’s approach. They rely on MPD, offer their own interface for it, and let you use any other you happen to like.

The downside to this approach is there is no magic, no unicorn glitter. I believe Paul wants magic. I will readily forgo magic for robust functionality - although a little side of glitter is fine.


#10
Jim said, Roon has accepted and used user tags for, I think, a year now — at least that’s what the documentation says.
Yes, Roon allows users to add tags within Roon. But it will not, if I understand correctly, make any use of non-Roon-specific tags, which is to say ID3/ID4 tags or Vorbis-style tags used in FLAC files. I researched this carefully several months ago since I was interested in trying Roon but decided against it when I found that Roon would not take advantage of the tagging I've already done.

#11
The downside to this approach is there is no magic, no unicorn glitter. I believe Paul wants magic. I will readily forgo magic for robust functionality – although a little side of glitter is fine.
Elk's observation about what appears to be Paul's goal seems exactly right to me. Personally, I want the unicorn. Same ol' same ol' UPnP/DLNA will just do nothing for me, even if the box is well-designed, built, and simple to use [as I expect it will be].

I am an ardent Roon fan [lifetime], but as expressed elsewhere, I have mixed feelings about the tag work I do in Roon being lost if I were to [be forced to] make a transition. Still, the Roon UI puts most UPnP/DLNA to shame. And if you share your audio system with family members who “just want to hear music” as I do, then that UI is very important. There isn’t a UPnP/DLNA “solution” that doesn’t suck in some major fashion, either its UI, its stability, its reliability, its complexity, or some combination of all four. I have tried just about all; and don’t get me started on JRiver [paid subscriber of that as well on both Mac and PC platforms, and I just won’t use it]. I like the Lumin app, and I will miss it if I unload my A1 or if Lumin finally makes a transition to Roon, but not enough to stick with it. The combo of Lumin and MinimServer are better for classical, but not “better enough” to maintain two systems if I don’t have to.

Roon creates certain demands on a server that PSA might like to avoid, but I sure do like its centralized approach, and its consistency across end points and control points. As paid software with a robust community, it gets lots of attention, maintenance, and feature expansion/improvement. It has its downsides, but, and completely IMHO, I have found them preferable to the downsides of the open source UPOnP/DLNA platform.

I love the idea of Octave, but for some who might have already invested in sophisticated server & transport technology, it may be too little/too late, or at least too late. Not to say I am not excited about its prospects; I am. PSA is on a real Midas Touch streak right now, and if that magic can be brought to network audio, it will be a big step in the evolution.


#12

I am fully in favor of unicorns if they are well-trained, color coordinated, respond flawlessly to commands, and Purina Unicorn Chow is readily available.

Unfortunately the more automagic, the more undependable and unpredictable. If PSA can sever this correlation it would indeed be a tremendous step forward.

Building a better mousetrap is difficult when the market is already flooded with well-designed, functional, albeit imperfect, mousetraps. Your new mousetrap need be perfect - self baiting, quiet, small, self emptying, maintenance free, flawless in operation. And better than a cat.


#13
magister said
Jim said, Roon has accepted and used user tags for, I think, a year now — at least that’s what the documentation says.

Yes, Roon allows users to add tags within Roon. But it will not, if I understand correctly, make any use of non-Roon-specific tags, which is to say ID3/ID4 tags or Vorbis-style tags used in FLAC files. I researched this carefully several months ago since I was interested in trying Roon but decided against it when I found that Roon would not take advantage of the tagging I’ve already done.


Hmm, I thought they had stated that existing tags would be used if present, otherwise Roon tags would prevail.

Looking again at the settings (in the iPhone app), it appears they restrict this to genre tags. Sorry for the mistake.

-Jim


#14
palerider said
The downside to this approach is there is no magic, no unicorn glitter. I believe Paul wants magic. I will readily forgo magic for robust functionality – although a little side of glitter is fine.
Elk's observation about what appears to be Paul's goal seems exactly right to me. Personally, I want the unicorn. . . .
I agree to this.

I do not know if PS Audio will outsource the UI software. At least my impression is that the software part is not on par with their hardware capabilities. I am not saying this to offend anyone, this is just my honest opinion 105_gif


#15

Unfortunately, I must agree - with the exception of the DS firmware which has proven to be robust. Ted writes air-tight code.


#16

I would say I agree with you both of our software capability (other than Ted). And yes, for the most part the firmware is outsourced to a brilliant fellow - and the internal GUI is being handled in house by the equally brilliant Tyera. The iPad app will be outsourced too.

To Elk’s comment. Yes, I am always in search of magic. But the magic I seek here is for the user to fall in love from the first second. Instantly and without a learning curve. To never upset; like ignoring user installed tags; like not finding proper meta data; like doing lame things. In fact, if we do ur job well enough, you won’t even notice just how good it is. It will just work and work exactly the way you want.

No UPnP system is any good. Only a few servers even come close. We aim to fix that without the user even knowing.

That’s magic.


#17
Paul McGowan said To Elk's comment. Yes, I am always in search of magic. But the magic I seek here is for the user to fall in love from the first second. Instantly and without a learning curve. To never upset; like ignoring user installed tags; like not finding proper meta data; like doing lame things. In fact, if we do ur job well enough, you won't even notice just how good it is.
A very laudable goal and a truly needed product. I really hope you can pull it off. As I mentioned, it would be a tremendous step forward. And a delicious sort of magic.

On a slightly related topic, and certainly outside of PS Audio’s product line, we also need DSL/cable modems, routers, servers and computers that simply set themselves up to communicate with each other - akin to plugging a DVD player HDMI into a TV input. The products are getting a good deal better, but for what is now an ancient computer technology setup remains clunky.


#18
Paul McGowan said But the magic I seek here is for the user to fall in love from the first second. Instantly and without a learning curve. To never upset; like ignoring user installed tags; like not finding proper meta data; like doing lame things. . . . It will just work and work exactly the way you want.
I agree with Elk that such a product would be amazing. I also think you may be underestimating the work required in the area of software and metadata, which has not been PSA's strong suit. In fact, I'm not even sure it's possible, at least without devoting the kind of effort that Roon does to collecting and analyzing metadata. Does PSA have the resources for that?

Here’s a serious suggestion: devote some resources to getting the Playlist function working better. Others and I have posted our frustrations about the Playlist; I will be happy to send my suggestions again if needed. Doing so would make your existing/future PWT and DMP owners happy. It would also give you more experience with manipulating metadata, experience that will be useful when developing the software for Octave – which will be orders of magnitude more complex than the Playlist requires.

No UPnP system is any good.
None has the visual beauty of Roon, true. In my house one can use either BubbleUPnP on an Android or Linn Kazoo on an iPad to run a UPnP setup. It does require one person (me) with a modicum of computer skills to set up, but once up and running anyone can use it easily; it is reliable; it is inexpensive (assuming one already owns a tablet); it runs on low-power NAS or almost any computer (unlike Roon which requires a SSD and multiple cores if one has anything beyond a small library); and looks OK when in use, if not fancy. I call that reasonably good. Not ideal, not perfect, but reasonably good.

#19
magister said

Here’s a serious suggestion: devote some resources to getting the Playlist function working better. Others and I have posted our frustrations about the Playlist; I will be happy to send my suggestions again if needed. Doing so would make your existing/future PWT and DMP owners happy. It would also give you more experience with manipulating metadata . . .


Excellent idea. Many adore playlists and it would be a superb exercise.

#20

Metadata and its retrieval, curation, and organizing is the single biggest challenge of the project. We use Roon as our standard and to date, we’re percentages higher in capture and accuracy, but it’s already taken more than a year of research, coding and hard thought to get there. And then there’s classical - a subject of which we are dedicated to getting better than what’s come before, though I would never claim it can be as good as any of us want. It surely can be a lot better and to date, Octave has proven itself well. More to come.

Send over your suggestions on playlist and we shall see what we can do. It’s not the direction we want to go in terms of devoting resources because the reality is it’s a somewhat dead end street - though we have some ideas of how to make it better. Metadata requires much and already ripped media has a much better chance of mining accurate metadata than optical disc retrieval will ever hope to have. Part of this is because we’re not able to rely upon the ripping of CDs to help us. Instead, we have to rely upon disc ID and that in itself is a big drawback.

To the extent we’re able to improve the playlist editor for CD data, and perhaps someday build an SACD depository of metadata, we will. Data discs haven’t any ID, CDs limited, SACDs are without access to libraries.

Once you accept the idea of a server that depends on the ripping of, or the use of pre-ripped media, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for metadata retrieval and curation.

These are very different beasts with very different problems and solutions.

I personally see the future in ripped media on servers, both big and small. I also see the future of human/machine interface in the GUI and not in the hardware.