Question Playing FLACs + controlling the playback remotely

enig

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Hi everyone ! Many times a visitor, but needed to create an account to get some help on an issue on hand.

My father has had set of B&W 703's (or 704's - don't remember, don't matter), and a Musical Fidelity M6i to drive them - sitting in his living room for years now. I want to finally see him enjoying them. If I can do it for the Christmas - it would be the perfect gift.

PROBLEM. The absolute one and only source of music for him is going to be FLACs or high-bitrate MP3s.

The M6i has an internal DAC, so that part is covered. I need to figure out of feeding the M6i, and a way to control the playback remotely.

My train of thought - have either a mini laptop, a tablet, an MP3 player or some other type of tech connected to the M6i. Store all the music on that piece of tech and find a way to control the player on it remotely. Perfectly - another tablet.
Whatever is connected to the M6i must be able to
a) actually utilise the internal DAC in the M6i instead of feeding a resampled bit-stream. Something like an USB Audio Player PRO if it's an android device, or the ability to use an external sound-card if it's a windows device. Not even going to entertain any Apple/iOS options - we don't do that here.
b) Have a large internal storage to stor all the FLACs, OR way to expand/replace internal storage via a memory card or installing a bigger capacity HDD/SSD , OR have an available USB port (other than the charging one) to feed off eiher an USB stick or other form of external storage.

Second piece of the puzzle - a way to control the playback, select the playlist etc. An option is to just use my dad's android phone, but I would prefer it to be another dedicated device. Ie - a tablet running either Win or Android. There must be some apps that allow you to control another device, or at least remotely control an app running on another device. In this case - a music player app, such as Foobar or similar.

I know this is a bit of a long-winded post but.. may I ask for an advice on how to best approach this? I need this to be on a low-budget. 200-300 EUR wold be the absolute maximum that I can afford to spend on this. Buying used is absolutely an option. But most importantly - are there any hidden issues that are not immeditaly obvious, but people tend to run into when doing this? Can anyone recommend any specific approaches, in terms of what pieces of software to use to make all of this work?

I did attempt searching for topics on this but with no luck. If there are any - by all means please do direct me straight there.

Cheers!
 
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daveh75

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A Raspberry Pi, running Moode, Volumio, Rune or one of the countless other media players available. Moode is my personal preference.

Store all the files on a USB drive, and control it with any device that runs a web browser.

You can buy starter kits with everything you need and the software is free/open source.


 
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Revolutions

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The £80 Wiim Mini is a much better solution than the Raspberry pi in my experience. Just add the files to his phone or tablet and away you go without all the messing around Volumio I found was as buggy as hell never had any issues with the wiim

Agree with this. The WiiM mini is a simple & cheap option, assuming you can get storage on your phone/tablet. Connect via optical to your amp & you can set the WiiM to bypass its own dac for an essentially transparent digital connector, which is what I use it for. £80 to turn your amp into a streamer is amazing value for money.

Haven’t used the wiim app to browse/play music as I use Spotify which connects to the wiim in-app. I’m sure plenty of folks here might chip in with reviews about the the interface. I found it super simple to do the setup via the app when I first bought it, which is always a good sign.
 
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enig

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Bois. You really came through, but I am afraid not all is settled just yet.

My train of thought was as follows:

1) let's bypass the Raspberry PI option and go with the Wiim
2) With Wiim mini - optical out is the only way to use an external DAC. Horror stories about jitter issues seem to be never-ending (speaking about optical connection in general here), but let's jut go with it and hope for the best
3) After a bit of research it seems that Bluetooth is the only protocol available if you are using Android. Again, I am not a huge fan of bluetooth to transmit audio, but again lets assume that I can find a tablet that is able to handle it well.

4) I realize that M6i does NOT have an input for optical.

5) somewhere in between of the above I was trying to figure out what bitrate the M6i can actually stomach via it's digital inputs. Could not find any info in regards to USB, but the M6si handles up to 24-bit/96kHz. M6i is gonna be either the same or lower. Leaning towards the latter. Will probably have to go and ask Musical Fidelity directly, so we can know if there is any use to even source/store files any heavier than 44.1 or 48.

6) getting back to the task on hand - I am kinda back to square 1.

7) just to get it out of the way - optical to USB converters do not seems to exist for this purpose, or even if they did - I jsut do not see it working well in terms of jitter. Not an otpion.

8) also to get it out of the way - the whole range if Wiim products only support external DAC via an optical out.

9) Truly back to square 1, except now I know that such a product as a streamer exists. Assuming I can get a basic tablet + a quality SD card for about 200 EUR in total, it leaves me with 100 EUR to spare.

Should I actually try and go the Rasprerry PI route, hope that I am blessed by the gods and that it will actually work well, or maybe someone can recommend a different quality streamer that can use utilise an external DAC via USB?

Very much appreciating everyone's input.
 
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Revolutions

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Bois. You really came through, but I am afraid not all is settled just yet.
The WiiM works over WiFi, like Sonos. Pretty sure with Android it’ll be no different?

If your amp doesn’t have digital inputs then the WiiM pro (ok dac) or WiiM pro+ (excellent dac) would be feasible options if you’re streaming via WiFi. I guess budget might dictate the choice, but even the pro will give you decent music.
 
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daveh75

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Should I actually try and go the Rasprerry PI route, hope that I am blessed by the gods and that it will actually work well, or maybe someone can recommend a different quality streamer that can use utilise an external DAC via USB?

Very much appreciating everyone's input.

I've been using Raspberry Pis to stream music for over a decade and never had any issues.

I don't use Volumio though as I'm not a fan of their "Freemium" business model. MoOde works well for me.

The reason I didn't recommend a Wiim in the first place is because of the optical output and the Musical Fidelity only having a USB input, and using a phone/tablet to store all the music and then Bluetooth to send it to Wiim or another device is pants frankly.
 
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enig

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The WiiM works over WiFi, like Sonos. Pretty sure with Android it’ll be no different?

If your amp doesn’t have digital inputs then the WiiM pro (ok dac) or WiiM pro+ (excellent dac) would be feasible options if you’re streaming via WiFi. I guess budget might dictate the choice, but even the pro will give you decent music.
The amp has an integrated DAC that I'd like to utilise, but only a USB input.
From what I read I got an impression that the android app itself has limitations and Bluetooth is the only option for Android devices, but I did not dive too deep into that. In other words - don't quote me on that :)
I've been using Raspberry Pis to stream music for over a decade and never had any issues.

I don't use Volumio though as I'm not a fan of their "Fremium" business model. MoOde works well for me.

The reason I didn't recommend a Wiim in the first place is because of the optical output and the Musical Fidelity only having a USB input, and using a phone/tablet to store all the music and then Bluetooth to send it to Wiim or another device is pants frankly.
Yeah, it seems that that's the way to go for me - unless I ditch the integrated DAC in the M6i all together, and trust the DAC in Wiim to not be inferior. Not sure if I like this idea better than going with the Raspberry PI though, for several reasons. Except that it would be an easy plug-n-play solution.

Last question, and I guess this one goes specifically to you @daveh75
How fool-proof is the setup itself, once you get it up and running? In terms of power outages, out-of-the-blue disconnects or aything else, that would require more than just a power-up and a reconnnect?
I have never messed with Raspberry PI so pardon my ignorance. While I have no doubts that I can make it work, and my father would have no problem following a set path to get things working again - I am not sure whether he'd be able to put things back together if it required a bit of trivia. He has just hit retirement and, for example, setting up a network printer is not something that I can always expect him to accomplish without help.

P.S. maybe I am still thinking about using a random laptop running i.e. Volumio instead of Raspberry PI approach. It would all depend on the luck with the specific laptop, but wondering which approach is better noise-wise. I'd probably want a low-noise power supply for the PI, or perhaps the laptop as well. And from what I am reading - I better use a stand-alone network adapter instead of the on-board WiFi on the Raspberry. All of a sudden things start looking less and less cheap.. unless I am making things more difficult than they need to be?

P.P.S. Continuing my monolgue here. After a lot of googling and reading - I am no longer sure if sticking to the integrated DAC of the M6i should be held in so much regard. From what I gather - it is most likely an equivalent of a V-DAC I. Not bad. But not groundbraking either. Since getting a proper DAC is not in the cards right now - my eyes are now turning towards a WiiM Pro+. Seems to be a very good value for the money, especially after reading VintageFlanker's review. And it does seem that it is possible to do the WiFi -> WiiM transfer, plus there are also 3rd party apps available if one does not like the WiiM Home.

Heading straight into the Analysis Paralysis here, to be honest.
 
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Sir Ken Smith OBE

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I have a NUC (Windows mini-PC) connected to my Musical Fidelity M6sCD DAC (USB-A to USB-B). I also have Music Bee media player on the NUC using WASAPI to the M6sCD DAC. There is also a remote control mobile phone app for Music Bee. It works perfectly.
 
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Gray

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Continuing my monolgue here. After a lot of googling and reading - I am no longer sure if sticking to the integrated DAC of the M6i should be held in so much regard.
Indeed the S.M.S.L. SU1 DAC might be (at least) as good.
It would go between the optical output of a Wiim model and an analogue input of your M6i - and, as a bonus, is very reasonably priced.

I happily use Volumio to play FLAC files via a Raspberry Pi....but I think Wiim / SU1 is likely to be a better option for you.
 

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