Help needed re streaming systems

big_matt

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Hi All,

I'm a novice when it comes to hifi so please go easy on me if i'm asking the obvious.

I have approx 1000 CD's in my collection and am looking to store them on a device so they are not taking up half my room anymore. I currently play them on an old, basic all-in-one hifi. I don't like the way they sound on itunes/iphone and would like to be able to replay them in original sound quality on the new device. I probably wont buy any more CD's and just order albums on itunes in lossless format.

Have looked at the Olive 04HD and also units like the Cyrrus or Naim coupled with a NAS, and have the following questions:

1) If your CD collection is held on a NAS, why does it have to be streamed to the streaming device? ie why cant you just have it connected and not bother using streaming?

2) Are there differences in the sound quality of files held on wav on NAS devices or is a wav file the same on any device?

3) I hear none of the 3 devices I mentioned accept apple lossless files. Where would I get music in future in wav format (legitimately) as a download if i'm not buying cd's?

4) Any thoughts on which device is the best?

Any information would be a massive help - am struggling to understand all this new technology!

Cheers.
 

Andrew Everard

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big_matt said:
1) If your CD collection is held on a NAS, why does it have to be streamed to the streaming device? ie why cant you just have it connected and not bother using streaming?

Basically because the NAS device is purely for storage, and can't actually play the files – ie turn the data into audio. So you need some kind of player to play the files. If you didn't want to go the network route, you could opt for a player able to be used with a USB hard-drive, which would store the music locally, rather on the network. Or one of the Olive devices, which have onboard storage.

big_matt said:
2) Are there differences in the sound quality of files held on wav on NAS devices or is a wav file the same on any device?

There's some discussion as to whether different NAS drives sound different: in my opinion other factors, such as the quality of the decoding, DAC and analogue circuitry in the player device, have a much greater effect on the sound.

big_matt said:
I hear none of the 3 devices I mentioned accept apple lossless files. Where would I get music in future in wav format (legitimately) as a download if i'm not buying cd's?

That's a tricky one: there are sites selling legitimate downlooads of FLAC lossless files, which sound just as good, but as yet these are fairly light when it comes to stocking what could be considered 'mainstream' music.

big_matt said:
1) If your CD collection is held on a NAS, why does it have to be streamed to the streaming device? ie why cant you just have it connected and not bother using streaming?

2) Are there differences in the sound quality of files held on wav on NAS devices or is a wav file the same on any device?

3) I hear none of the 3 devices I mentioned accept apple lossless files. Where would I get music in future in wav format (legitimately) as a download if i'm not buying cd's?

4) Any thoughts on which device is the best?

Again opinions vary: the best bet is to get a listen to some of them, as well as reading the reviews here and (with my other hat on) on the Gramophone site, where I also give some background information on streaming systems.
 

Singslinger

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For streaming, I'd suggest avoiding WAV because the format doesn't attach metadata like artwork (although I read somewhere that Naim has managed to overcome this limitation). Also, WAV takes up quite a bit of storage space (though this may not really be a problem since storage is now quite cheap).

My personal experience is that FLAC is the best format. Attaching metadata isn't a problem, the format is lossless and it occupies roughly 30% less space than AIFF or WAV.
 

CnoEvil

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Welcome to the forum, Matt.

Computors and the "computor speak" that goes along with them, are not exactly my strongest subject....but I will do my best to answer you.

Q1 - The term "streaming" applies to a flow of data like an internet radio station. What you're talking about is playing music stored on a NAS (networked attached storage). This is stored as 1s and 0s (digital) and has to be converted to analogue before you can hear it ie. through a DAC (digital to analogue converter).

Q2 - Wav is one type of lossless file, and Flac is another. There should be no difference in the way one lossless format sounds versus another.....the only difference comes in the amount of space they take up (eg. Flac takes up less space). CD is Redbook standerd (16 bit), but it is also possible to get hi-res 24 bit stuff which sounds better.

Q3 - more downloading sites are becoming available Linn, Naim and B&W to name but three......others will help here.

Q4 - The other name you shold add to your list is Linn. Check out the Sneaky DS, which also has a half reasonable 20W amp built in. IMO. Olive is the best value for money but not as good sounding as Naim and Linn (only you can decide which is sound best for you). I haven't heard Cyrus, so can't comment.

There are others on here who have a better working knowledge, and may be able to further elaborate (or correct my mistakes).

Cno
 

big_matt

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Thanks for all the responses guys - very helpful. I think the below is the bit I'm still struggling with. What I can't understand is if I have a NAS with a CD ripper and (for example) a Naim UniQote, why do the files on the NAS have to be streamed to the Naim rather than just being connected by a cable and having the Naim have the smarts (DAC) to turn the wav files or whatever into sound? ie why does the internet have to be involved at all during that process? Perhaps i'm assuming steaming means using internet and this isnt correct?

Andrew Everard said:
big_matt said:
1) If your CD collection is held on a NAS, why does it have to be streamed to the streaming device? ie why cant you just have it connected and not bother using streaming?

Basically because the NAS device is purely for storage, and can't actually play the files – ie turn the data into audio. So you need some kind of player to play the files. If you didn't want to go the network route, you could opt for a player able to be used with a USB hard-drive, which would store the music locally, rather on the network. Or one of the Olive devices, which have onboard storage.

To answer the budget question, I could probably do up to about £2.5k so could afford an Olive 4HD or say a Naim and a CD-ripping NAS. Maybe the olive would be the answer for me as it seems simple and its all in one place?

Cheers
 

nads

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big_matt said:
Thanks for all the responses guys - very helpful. I think the below is the bit I'm still struggling with. What I can't understand is if I have a NAS with a CD ripper and (for example) a Naim UniQote, why do the files on the NAS have to be streamed to the Naim rather than just being connected by a cable and having the Naim have the smarts (DAC) to turn the wav files or whatever into sound? ie why does the internet have to be involved at all during that process? Perhaps i'm assuming steaming means using internet and this isnt correct?

because that is what a NAS is. a Network Attached Storage. it uses your net work at home and can be accessable by any device on your network. and outside your network if you so wish.

If you just want something to store the music to be played back by just one device then a USB hard drive might be an idea presuming the play back box has a USB input. (DACs not included as they do not play the music).
 

Andrew Everard

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big_matt said:
Perhaps i'm assuming steaming means using internet and this isnt correct?

In this case it's streamed over the home network, not the Internet. But as I said it is possible to use a player able to have a USB drive connected directtly to it, or devices with built-in storage such as the Olives or a Naim UnitiServe.
 

Overdose

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Another option to consider is a mini Pc or Mac mini, but a mini Pc will be easier to customise with regards to upgrades.

The small form factor makes for an unobtrusive media player with capacity aplenty, with the potential for in excess of 1TB of storage, no need for a NAS. The power consumption is low also.

Both the Mac mini and mini Pcs can be configured for remote control, so you can still have an attractive interface from something like an iPod/Phone or netbook, for example.

Feed the optical out into a DAC and there you have it.
 

big_matt

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OK thanks guys - its all making much more sense now. I don't think I need a NAS (or to be on the network at all for my cd collection) and should either just go with a USB hard drive/streaming device combination or something like the olive/unitiserve. I would use the network for internet radio but as far as my CD collection goes I just need that held in one place and able to be played on the main device- I don't need them to be available over my network.

Thanks again everyone - highly appreciated. Just read a what hifi article saying lots of people are confused about this stuff so that made me feel a bit better!

Cheers
 

noogle

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The Olive would probably a great all-in-one easy to use solution for you, but IMHO you end up paying money for that integration and ease of use that could have been spent on products with better sound quality. Also remember you'll need to budget for an amplfier for the Olive, which is built in to many of the other products mentioned above. Ripping CDs on a laptop and copying them to a NAS isn't hard to do.
 

CnoEvil

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I'm biased as I have a RipNas + Linn Majik DS, which sounds great and is very convenient (it might fall into your budget with an ex-dem Majik). Sneaky + RipNas comes in under £2k (see Ripcaster for info and prices).....also any Linn dealer will demo, and then set it up if you buy. I don't like the way the rest of Linn kit sounds, so try DS with other makes if it doesn't sound right.

Cno
 

amcluesent

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> my CD collection goes I just need that held in one place and able to be played on the main device<

You may want to look at the Cocktail Audio X10 available via Amazon. It's new on the market so bug fixes are to be expected. It'll rip, store and play from the one unit with colour display and remote control. Also has an amp, so just attach speakers. Very different price point from the OliveNaim products.
 
amcluesent said:
You may want to look at the Cocktail Audio X10 available via Amazon. It's new on the market so bug fixes are to be expected. It'll rip, store and play from the one unit with colour display and remote control. Also has an amp, so just attach speakers. Very different price point from the OliveNaim products.

Had never heard of the Cocktail Audio X10 so, curiosity pricked, I looked at Amazon and the Cocktail Audio website. Looks to me a bit like a rival to the Brennan rather than a hi-fi product as such, but certainly another sign of the direction these things are taking.

The Olive 03HD would seem to be the easiest all-in-one, with some hi-fi pretensions, although as noted above, it would still need an amplifier, so is best seen as a source component, with storage.
 

Ajani

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big_matt said:
1) If your CD collection is held on a NAS, why does it have to be streamed to the streaming device? ie why cant you just have it connected and not bother using streaming?

If I'm not mistaken it can be connected directly; you'd just need a LAN crosscable instead of the typical LAN cable... That's how I connect my Squeezebox Classic if I don't want to have to use the home network...
 
A

Anonymous

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I tried a few but went with Apple in the end. Basically it Just Works and is simple to use.

You need

1) An Apple (connected to the internet) computer and some disc space

2) Rip your CDs to the Apple, choose a lossless format.

3) Buy an Apple Airport Express, and a Behringer UltraMatch, and an optical cable.

4) Buy an iPod Touch. This is a) your remote control and b) your secondary player

Now you will have a good system capable of embarrasing many (much) more expensive rigs, and you'll be able to play to multiple Airport devices from the Mac (simultaneously if needed) and the iPod (one at a time).

It may help that I have the rather special DAC that Behringer use connected up directly to the input of my single ended tube amp, but the fluid and dynamic sound, delicate nuances and wonderful involvement are beyond anything I have heard at any hi-fi store. Plus it's cheap and get get a free Apple.

TBH I use this system and it rocks. Many people do not realise an iPod will just hook up via the wi-fi to the digital optical Airport box but it does it just fine, and the Behringer allows it to sound pretty damned good too.
 

wtaylorbasil

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Andrew,

My last post was on "Lossless ripping & capacity usage - OUCH!" in May 17 2010. I have moved on a bit since.

I have started ripping my CDs to FLAC lossless and storing them on 1TB external hard drive.

I bought the Onkyo TXNR609 because it has a USB input (can play upto 96KHz/24bit but not 192KHz/24Bit). I expected the FLAC to have the same SQ as the CD played on Cambridge Audio 650BD. I am disappointed that the FLAC does not sound as good as the CD (muddled bass and less detail overall). Others have said USB has clock issues and TXNR609 must be struggling to process the signal, may need S/PIDF etc.... too technical for me!

(1) If I want the FLAC SQ the same as CD, which it should be technically, what do I need to do to achieve it using the EHD via USB or other route?

(2) As I have been learning along the way, to make life easier or worse, I am cataloguing the CDs on a database on a desktop PC. The album can be linked to the ripped tracks (on the EHD) and can be played by clicking on the catalogue. I do not want the PC with my audio setup in the lounge. To make it family friendly it would be ideal to remotely control it from the arm chair. I do not wish to spin CDs, except the 192/24 discs.

Would you please chart out solutions for me. If it can be done, I will look at the budget then.

Any members suggestion are most welcome too.
 

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