No frills streaming transport?

cozey boy

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So, here's the journey:

After years of a simple 'vintage' set up of amp, cd player and speakers, I start thinking it would be great just to stream my music using WiFi (Bluetooth not a good option). So I spend a month ripping all my CDs to flac using MusicBee. All good.

I then updated the amp and speakers (Musical Fidelity M2si and Q Acoustics 3030) and look to see what set up could allow me to play these files. I identified that a dac and some sort of transport is required. It didn't need to cost the earth or be complicated though I want decent sound. I start with a second hand Cambridge Minx XI. What the seller fails to tell me is that CA no longer support the app, and to use the original app I have to purchase an old Android tablet. However, the sound world is dull and the app terrible. I then buy a SMSL dac so I have the flexibility to use a transport with/without inbuilt dac.

Next I buy a Sonos Connect. Basic but functional, though for some reason the volume level isn't equivalent to cd which I find annoying - and the sound isn't great either.

So, next up is an Arcam Rplay. I eschew a fully wireless setup and favour the ethernet connection. The sound is perfect, the volume fine, and I can even use MusicBee to play the files. Happy bunny. Then - day two - the signal keeps dropping out. I do a bit of research and over the course of the following week change settings on the laptop and router, then change the router, then try using a tablet, then another laptop, but the drop outs still happen.

Now I go for a Raspberry Pie with Digione and Volumio. Sound isn't great and the app a bit grim. Plus I dislike that I can never switch the damn thing off.

My current solution is my laptop connected via a 5metre usb cable direct to the dac. The sound is perfect but who wants a cable across the living room floor?

So, my question is, is there a simple transport out there? I don't need/want Roon, Spotify or any other subscription service. I don't want something the size of an amp - the RPlay was about as big as I think a transport should be. I just want to use Windows or Android wirelessly to play flac files without losing volume or definition, and without signal issues - or without being tied to an app that will become redundant in future or just be plain awful to use. The nearest I can identify is the NAD CS1 but the reviews aren't encouraging. There must be others out there who don't need the bells and whistles, who want to use MusicBee or VLC etc, and who just need something to carry the signal to their setup? By the way, I've eliminated Blue sound Node (reliability issues), Audio lab 6000 (dull sound), and ifi Zen stream (ugly as sin). All positive suggestions appreciated, thanks.
 

Cork

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I swear by my Yamaha WXC-50. (And I also have a WXA-50, for out on the deck.) It does require an app, but it's a good app, and being Yamaha it's highly unlikely that it's going anywhere.

I haven't found a good way to use VLC without streaming from the device (phone) instead of the server. I don't want to stream from the phone because I think it's more prone to lag and decreased sound quality.
 

cozey boy

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Thanks for the prompt and constructive replies. I'd thought about the Yamaha - so I'll maybe do a bit more reading on that.

The WiiM is a thought, forgive my ignorance but I was assuming that was Apple only, so hadn't given it serious consideration?

As an aside I should point out I tried the Minx before buying the MF amp (the MF is excellent btw).
 

Rodolfo

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I have a truly no-frills -to me- solution; BUT, it is using Bluetooth, not wi[fi, and MusicBee running on a ~10-year-old (Win10-updated) music-dedicated Surface Pro 2, to Bluetooth-stream my desktop-MusicBee-FLAC, etc.-creations (loaded on a micro-SD card) to my bluetooth-equipped two-channel integrated amp and out. Fully satisfying for me, and the bluetooth connection is usually automatic and always reliable. I also bluetooth-stream Amazon Unlimited plays from this SP2. I could also bluetooth-stream with other portable players, or other devices, but I've learned to like the MusicBee Now-Playing screen look and features. (I run VLC, and HiBy, on my Samsung phone only.)

Welcome to the forum, and good luck finding a wi-fi solution that satisfies you.
 

Fandango Andy

Well-known member
So, here's the journey:

After years of a simple 'vintage' set up of amp, cd player and speakers, I start thinking it would be great just to stream my music using WiFi (Bluetooth not a good option). So I spend a month ripping all my CDs to flac using MusicBee. All good.

I then updated the amp and speakers (Musical Fidelity M2si and Q Acoustics 3030) and look to see what set up could allow me to play these files. I identified that a dac and some sort of transport is required. It didn't need to cost the earth or be complicated though I want decent sound. I start with a second hand Cambridge Minx XI. What the seller fails to tell me is that CA no longer support the app, and to use the original app I have to purchase an old Android tablet. However, the sound world is dull and the app terrible. I then buy a SMSL dac so I have the flexibility to use a transport with/without inbuilt dac.

Next I buy a Sonos Connect. Basic but functional, though for some reason the volume level isn't equivalent to cd which I find annoying - and the sound isn't great either.

So, next up is an Arcam Rplay. I eschew a fully wireless setup and favour the ethernet connection. The sound is perfect, the volume fine, and I can even use MusicBee to play the files. Happy bunny. Then - day two - the signal keeps dropping out. I do a bit of research and over the course of the following week change settings on the laptop and router, then change the router, then try using a tablet, then another laptop, but the drop outs still happen.

Now I go for a Raspberry Pie with Digione and Volumio. Sound isn't great and the app a bit grim. Plus I dislike that I can never switch the damn thing off.

My current solution is my laptop connected via a 5metre usb cable direct to the dac. The sound is perfect but who wants a cable across the living room floor?

So, my question is, is there a simple transport out there? I don't need/want Roon, Spotify or any other subscription service. I don't want something the size of an amp - the RPlay was about as big as I think a transport should be. I just want to use Windows or Android wirelessly to play flac files without losing volume or definition, and without signal issues - or without being tied to an app that will become redundant in future or just be plain awful to use. The nearest I can identify is the NAD CS1 but the reviews aren't encouraging. There must be others out there who don't need the bells and whistles, who want to use MusicBee or VLC etc, and who just need something to carry the signal to their setup? By the way, I've eliminated Blue sound Node (reliability issues), Audio lab 6000 (dull sound), and ifi Zen stream (ugly as sin). All positive suggestions appreciated, thanks.

Thanks for the prompt and constructive replies. I'd thought about the Yamaha - so I'll maybe do a bit more reading on that.

The WiiM is a thought, forgive my ignorance but I was assuming that was Apple only, so hadn't given it serious consideration?

As an aside I should point out I tried the Minx before buying the MF amp (the MF is excellent btw).

Take a look at this from the WiiM forum abut musicbee:

 

cozey boy

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Thanks Rodolfo.
I tried Bluetooth with the CA Minx and the Sonos, and I've had a Bluetooth connector in the past. If I have the music on as background it's ok.

However, I listen mainly to classical music and the different colours in an orchestra are part of the pleasure and, for my ears at least, Bluetooth has never really reproduced the sound from CDs or from the usb laptop connection I'm currently using.

I'm maybe being too fussy but it's why this journey has become a bit of a crusade. Thanks.
 
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cozey boy

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Take a look at this from the WiiM forum abut musicbee:

Thanks - I've had a look and that'll be very helpful if I go down the Wiim route.
 
Thanks - I've had a look and that'll be very helpful if I go down the Wiim route.
As you’ve been down a few blind alleys I think you’d be best off going for an established manufacturer with widely recognised support. By support, I don’t mean so much help sett8ng it up, but longer-term support in the guise of firmware updates, and revisions to accommodate the evolving streaming suppliers, like Tidal, Spotify and Qobuz, along with various radio services. You’ve already found out that devices are often ‘stranded’ by expired updates or flaky software.

I’d suggest you reconsider Bluesound, with their current NODE (actually v 3), or earlier versions such as Node 2, for example, if you are buying used.

 

cozey boy

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As you’ve been down a few blind alleys I think you’d be best off going for an established manufacturer with widely recognised support. By support, I don’t mean so much help sett8ng it up, but longer-term support in the guise of firmware updates, and revisions to accommodate the evolving streaming suppliers, like Tidal, Spotify and Qobuz, along with various radio services. You’ve already found out that devices are often ‘stranded’ by expired updates or flaky software.

I’d suggest you reconsider Bluesound, with their current NODE (actually v 3), or earlier versions such as Node 2, for example, if you are buying used.

Thanks. I certainly considered the Node but too many reports of faulty units for my liking - and, to be honest, it has more than I need. Manufacturers seemed to think they hadd to jump on the Tidal, Spotify, Roon, internet radio bandwagon, but there must be plenty old school folk like me who don't want or need any of that. It's just like my car - too much additional crap likely to go wrong - does the public get what the public want, or do they just want what they get?? Perennial theme me thinks.

All I really need is a a basic but reliable transport to stream my flac files to my dac and to be able to choose my own library/play software - and if a better software appears I can change to that without having to buy new equipment.

I'm thinking that the Wiim Pro looks like a possibility - though there's a voice in my head saying 'oh no, here we go again'. 😕

Or maybe I'm just getting too old for all this ......
 

Cork

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All I really need is a a basic but reliable transport to stream my flac files ...

Reading your last post it occurred to me that if you don't need a DAC all you really need is a DLNA interface to your music. If your receiver has an HDMI port and you have a PC/laptop you could get that very inexpensively using a Roku pinging Jellyfin. Best of all you can set it all up first on you laptop for free (Jellyfin is free) to see if it works and you like it before committing to a purchase of the Roku.

Here's a screenshot of Jellyfin via Firefox; it similar on Roku:
(I want no grief for *Nsync or ABBA; I load my daughter's and wife's music on the same server!)
 

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cozey boy

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Reading your last post it occurred to me that if you don't need a DAC all you really need is a DLNA interface to your music. If your receiver has an HDMI port and you have a PC/laptop you could get that very inexpensively using a Roku pinging Jellyfin. Best of all you can set it all up first on you laptop for free (Jellyfin is free) to see if it works and you like it before committing to a purchase of the Roku.

Here's a screenshot of Jellyfin via Firefox; it similar on Roku:
(I want no grief for *Nsync or ABBA; I load my daughter's and wife's music on the same server!)
Thanks Cork - I appreciate the lateral thinking. Sadly, neither the Musical Fidelity nor SMSL dac have hdmi - but it's a creative idea and the simplicity of it is exactly what I'm trying to achieve, and (naively) thought would be easy. Keep thinking, you're on the right track!
 
Thanks. I certainly considered the Node but too many reports of faulty units for my liking - and, to be honest, it has more than I need. Manufacturers seemed to think they hadd to jump on the Tidal, Spotify, Roon, internet radio bandwagon, but there must be plenty old school folk like me who don't want or need any of that. It's just like my car - too much additional crap likely to go wrong - does the public get what the public want, or do they just want what they get?? Perennial theme me thinks.

All I really need is a a basic but reliable transport to stream my flac files to my dac and to be able to choose my own library/play software - and if a better software appears I can change to that without having to buy new equipment.

I'm thinking that the Wiim Pro looks like a possibility - though there's a voice in my head saying 'oh no, here we go again'. 😕

Or maybe I'm just getting too old for all this ......
Yes, I can see you aren’t wanting a regular commercial product after all. Maybe a laptop just for audio, placed closer than 5 metres away, but how do you control it?

Something like a Node, or one of the Cambridge streamers, are popular because most users love the unlimited library they can access 24/7 for a modest subscription. I’ve still got a significant collection of CDs and LPs, but the vast majority are from their respective heydays, rather than the last decade. Streaming is very liberating I find.
 

cozey boy

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Thanks everyone for the contribution and constructive solutions.

By chance, Amazon have a lightning deal on the Wiim Pro today -£127 - so, unit ordered and fingers crossed for success this time 😬.

Incidentally, I note that the Wiim Ultra is about to be released which perhaps explains a desire to get shot of Pro's sitting on the shelf.

Anyway, thanks again.
CB
 

Rodolfo

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Thanks Rodolfo.
I tried Bluetooth with the CA Minx and the Sonos, and I've had a Bluetooth connector in the past. If I have the music on as background it's ok.

However, I listen mainly to classical music and the different colours in an orchestra are part of the pleasure and, for my ears at least, Bluetooth has never really reproduced the sound from CDs or from the usb laptop connection I'm currently using.

I'm maybe being too fussy but it's why this journey has become a bit of a crusade. Thanks.
Granted and I definitely use bluetooth for convenience primarily and for modest/nice-enough sonic pleasure, but not for fussier listening -of a new CD or LP, for instance, and of a special classical or jazz recording especially -the kind of listen I might note in one of the music threads here, for instance again. For fussy, I use my wired CD player or turntable on my stereo, or headphones with my HiBy DAP. Heck, until last year, I would fussily listen ONLY through wired headphones! But, I like your word "fussy", because it is about as far as I go; and that level of satisfying listening has thankfully always been plenty good for me.
 

jy999

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A plus 1 for the WiiM. I have a WiiM for my bedroom on a cheaper setup and a WiiM pro on my main system. I don't use the WiiM's DAC, just a toslink cable to my DAC in my integrated amp, so I can't speak to that. However, the system has been bulletproof. I use it for my plex server (not the best interface but works) and it is seamless from my Tidal account. It even has 12v triggers (the pro at least) if you use that.
 

record_spot

Well-known member
So, here's the journey:

After years of a simple 'vintage' set up of amp, cd player and speakers, I start thinking it would be great just to stream my music using WiFi (Bluetooth not a good option). So I spend a month ripping all my CDs to flac using MusicBee. All good.

I then updated the amp and speakers (Musical Fidelity M2si and Q Acoustics 3030) and look to see what set up could allow me to play these files. I identified that a dac and some sort of transport is required. It didn't need to cost the earth or be complicated though I want decent sound. I start with a second hand Cambridge Minx XI. What the seller fails to tell me is that CA no longer support the app, and to use the original app I have to purchase an old Android tablet. However, the sound world is dull and the app terrible. I then buy a SMSL dac so I have the flexibility to use a transport with/without inbuilt dac.

Next I buy a Sonos Connect. Basic but functional, though for some reason the volume level isn't equivalent to cd which I find annoying - and the sound isn't great either.

So, next up is an Arcam Rplay. I eschew a fully wireless setup and favour the ethernet connection. The sound is perfect, the volume fine, and I can even use MusicBee to play the files. Happy bunny. Then - day two - the signal keeps dropping out. I do a bit of research and over the course of the following week change settings on the laptop and router, then change the router, then try using a tablet, then another laptop, but the drop outs still happen.

Now I go for a Raspberry Pie with Digione and Volumio. Sound isn't great and the app a bit grim. Plus I dislike that I can never switch the damn thing off.

My current solution is my laptop connected via a 5metre usb cable direct to the dac. The sound is perfect but who wants a cable across the living room floor?

So, my question is, is there a simple transport out there? I don't need/want Roon, Spotify or any other subscription service. I don't want something the size of an amp - the RPlay was about as big as I think a transport should be. I just want to use Windows or Android wirelessly to play flac files without losing volume or definition, and without signal issues - or without being tied to an app that will become redundant in future or just be plain awful to use. The nearest I can identify is the NAD CS1 but the reviews aren't encouraging. There must be others out there who don't need the bells and whistles, who want to use MusicBee or VLC etc, and who just need something to carry the signal to their setup? By the way, I've eliminated Blue sound Node (reliability issues), Audio lab 6000 (dull sound), and ifi Zen stream (ugly as sin). All positive suggestions appreciated, thanks.

The ideal connection is directly to the router, which you seem to have tried. I'm fortunate to live in an area where dropouts are non-existant and can play straight to my Wiim Pro Plus / Cambridge DACMagic 200M without a hitch. Maybe worth a chat with your broadband provider for suggestions or checking your line?
 

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