School me on SONOS and other home streaming systems

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I can't find a specific thread about this other than some discussion buried in the Spotify thread. Most of my home listening nowadays is through to streaming audio (either digital files or Spotify) straight from my laptop to my living room stereo via an Airport Express. This is fine sound quality-wise but patchy in terms of reliability, and having to open up my laptop whenever I play music is a pain in the arse. I want to upgrade to something better, seemingly bewildering array of options out there, so help me ILM. Criteria are:

- I have an excellent separates system and really good speakers in my front room, I do want or not need something that comes with its own speakers.
- It might be a decent option for other rooms in the future though, so the option to add speakers later would be nice.
- Without wanting to be a tossy audiophile about it, sound quality is important, but without having to resort to a two grand Linn streamer. Good enough is good enough.
- I don't currently have a server and I don't really want to keep a computer on 24/7. The ability to just plug an external hard drive into the back of it would be ideal.
- Ability to stream Spotify in high quality is essential
- So is internet radio (primarily BBC)
- Ability to control via an Android phone would be nice

Does anything actually exist that fits the bill here?

Matt DC, Friday, 29 January 2016 15:05 (four years ago) link

The Marantz M-CR611 is the one I crave. It does everything you want, I think. as soon as I have the money...

droit au butt (Euler), Friday, 29 January 2016 15:11 (four years ago) link

Another not-inconsiderable concern is how long developers will continue to support the hardware, so I'd rather not drop a bomb on it unless it's relatively future-proof.

Matt DC, Friday, 29 January 2016 15:15 (four years ago) link

I like Sonos pretty well, sounds good, was relatively cheap, mostly works fine. But I don't like my internet connection so much. Mostly it all works fine but occasionally bad internet connection makes me wonder wtf was wrong with a stereo and physical product.

japanese mage (LocalGarda), Friday, 29 January 2016 17:45 (four years ago) link

I went with Sonos (after also using Airport/Airplay for years) and am totally in love with it. The only downside to it for my purposes is the expense — the unit you would need for your existing setup is the Sonos Connect, which at $350 seems overpriced to me to attach your amp to the network. But the ease of use and rock solid reliability makes the cost worth it for me.

It ticks every one of your requirements except being able to plug in an external hard drive. If you don’t want to leave your computer on you’ll either need a NAS or do what I did — upload your library to the Google Play Music cloud (the first 50,000 songs are free, which has been plenty for me so far — and now I can also access my library from work or anywhere else, which is pretty neat). I believe it limits your local library to around 65,000 songs.

One thing I really like about it is that everything goes through the Sonos app, so playing music from multiple services is pretty seamless and you have a unified interface. Some people don’t like that aspect of it because certain features might not be ported over from a service’s native app and if the service isn’t supported within the Sonos app you can’t stream it — e.g. no YouTube which bugs a lot of people. But you’d want to be sure that any specific features you like about your current apps are supported.

I believe it's been around the longest and as far as I can tell is the current market leader, so it’s probably the safest bet as far as future-proof.

A much cheaper though much less slick option is the Google Chromecast Audio. You’d still need to upload your library to the cloud, and you’d need to use different apps to play your music — Google Play for your library, Spotify, whatever radio app you use, etc. It’s sort of a low budget cross between Sonos and Airplay.

Lots of info on Sonos and comparisons with competition both here and on the horizon: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/sonos-player/

early rejecter, Friday, 29 January 2016 18:06 (four years ago) link

I have a multi-zone Sonos setup at home. Have used it for the last two years and I love it. My only issue is the iTunes library limit is something weird like 80K tracks.

brotherlovesdub, Friday, 29 January 2016 22:52 (four years ago) link

The limit is 65,000 tracks. There's ways to get around that - installing a Subsonic server is one of them. You can also connect to Sonos speakers via DLNA - I use BubbleUPNP on my Android phone for just such a purpose, connected to my JRMC Media server. Setting up all this stuff isn't all that hard, actually.

I've got one Sonos Play:1 speaker (a gift) and I quite like it, though it's technically mono. The newer, more expensive stereo Play:5 has a line-in port which opens up other possibilities. The primary appeal of Sonos is IT JUST WORKS. You don't have to buy anything other than a speaker or two and use them via their app or another that supports DLNA. And the word on the street is their customer service is second to none.

I've also got a Chromecast Audio and find it a terrific value ($35) and an easy way to connect to regular speakers that have a line-out. You could add one to a Sonos Play:5 for the best of both worlds.

My setup is so hodge-podge that I never bother with playing something in multiple rooms. That's now how my life and house is configured anyway.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 29 January 2016 23:56 (four years ago) link

Having said all that, there are new Sonos competitors on the market. Samsung has multi-room speakers as does Denon. You can set up multiple Chomecast Audio's and sync them together.

If were starting from scratch I very well might just go with Sonos, in part because I like how they sound, it's dead simple to set up, and their app is quite clever in the way it can easily combine tracks from various sources.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 29 January 2016 23:59 (four years ago) link

This may well be a dumb question but can you plug Audiocast into the back of an amp, or does it need to go straight into the speakers?

Poacher (Chinaski), Saturday, 30 January 2016 19:52 (four years ago) link

Here are the various ways you can connect Chromecast Audio to an amp, speakers, or whatever:
https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/6280276

Sonos looks good but is a little pricey for my budget. If I were setting up a new multi-room system on the cheap, using existing stereo systems, I'd probably go with Chromecast Audio. But those would not support Matt DC's requirement of being able to plug in an external hard drive rather than running a server.

Currently I use antique Squeezeboxes and the free Logitech Media Server software, which streams the contents of my iTunes library and (via a plug-in) Spotify. I love being able to synch audio throughout the house. Based on what I've read, I think I could get my server talking to Chromecast Audio devices without too much craziness ... I hope I won't have to test that for a while!

Brad C., Saturday, 30 January 2016 20:54 (four years ago) link

chromecast audio is frustrating in what you can use with it. on a pc, you can only stream browser tabs, not from stuff like itunes or spotify. you can basically only stream from paid mobile apps, etc. it's useful sometimes, but you can only do exactly what google wants you to do with their platform.

circles, Saturday, 30 January 2016 21:04 (four years ago) link

But on an Android phone you can stream all output, regardless of source, to a Chromecast Audio.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 30 January 2016 21:37 (four years ago) link

xp There are some ways to work around that, both in and outside the browser, but yes, it is frustrating.

In the browser, you could use the Spotify web player and stream that tab. There are some Chrome extensions that can play media files from your computer, and I guess those tabs could be streamed too, as a way to send things from your iTunes library to the Chromecast ... I doubt this would work with DRMed stuff.

So many devices now support streaming that it's hard to keep up with what they can do. The other day I replaced the Blu-Ray player on our home theater system and without my doing anything the new player discovered and connected to my local music server. It has a Spotify app too, so that is an option for streaming music that appeared in my living room more or less by accident.

Brad C., Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:02 (four years ago) link

okay, i knew you could stream from the regular android music player but didn't realize you could just do anything. lol obv i have an iphone.

circles, Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:34 (four years ago) link

Chromecast audio using the optical into a DAC is really great. CCA is the greatest value audio product in history

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:12 (four years ago) link

thanks for this thread, had been meaning to sort this shit out for ages and it made me think about properly - in a similar situation to Matt DC, but a little less worried about quality. On top of that, also need something the family can use - like I love thinking about clever cheap solutions, fiddling with connections, weird off-brand black boxes from tottenham court court road, but everyone else in the house will want something that just works, ie as-if-by-magic players that they can control, rather than me saying "it's quite simple. First, open terminal…"

Always dismissed Sonos before - expensive, a bit too single-company dependent, and multi-room was never a need… but shit it does look easy and clever, so… a Sonos 1 to start, get another down the line if it works & have stereo or second room, and maybe build from there. Get my library into Google Play, and down the line run a sonos connect into my old amp and speakers if it all seems to be working. In the meantime, a chromecast audio for them because it's cheap and interesting and why not.

woof, Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:49 (four years ago) link

Yeah both my wife and I have Android phones and will I think continue to for the foreseeable future, so the Chromecast Audio looks a pretty easy solution. Although getting my entire library into the cloud, while probably sensible in the long term, still feels like a massive ballache.

Are there really no options that involve just whacking a hard drive into the back of them? TV streaming boxes have been offering that functionality for years, with the ability to zip files round the network vi wifi.

Quality is an issue for me (this is a really good Linn system that we were amazingly lucky to get second-hand) so any option has to sound good on that kind of setup. Then again streaming any source to the Apple Express sounds good in that setup, and I doubt the Chromecast will be a big step down from that.

NAS + Sonos Connect might be the way to go, happy to pay a bit more for something robust in the longer-term. But that Marantz box in the first response does look tasty.

Really useful thread, thanks! I figured I was unlikely to be the only person wondering about this stuff.

Matt DC, Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:28 (four years ago) link

I'm running a Chromecast Audio through optical to Musical Fidelity VDAC II into s Cambridge Audio amp and nice speakers. Even using Spotify it gets pretty close to vinyl and CD, there's still some harshness which I think midrange speakers that aren't so revealing might be better... But all said I spent $35 for the CCA and $150 off eBay for the DAC and it's great

One thing to point out, Chromecast Audio doesn't "stream" from your phone. It has its own broadband WiFi connection. Your phone just "points" the CCA towards what you want to play. That means it's not compressed like Bluetooth streaming and even better you can go to another app like YouTube or take a phone call and it won't affect the music. Even if you turn your phone off it will continue to play until the end of the current album or play list.

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 31 January 2016 14:57 (four years ago) link

I'm sure Chromecast works best with Android devices, but I've had good luck using my iPhone and a regular, video-oriented Chromecast -- no problems using the iPhone to control Spotify or YouTube on the Chromecast.

Brad C., Sunday, 31 January 2016 15:45 (four years ago) link

also need something the family can use . . . everyone else in the house will want something that just works

This might actually be my favorite things about Sonos. My wife had just about given up on listening to music between her frustration with Airplay and the impracticality of CDs/vinyl on our main stereo with two kids under the age of 5 running about pressing any button within reach. Now she has music playing all day long and is rediscovering her love for forgotten bands, the kids are being exposed to so much more music, everyone is asking for more speakers throughout the house . . .

early rejecter, Monday, 1 February 2016 03:19 (four years ago) link

I got my parents into Sonos w/ Spotify. My mom is the kind of person who types GOOGLE.COM in the search bar on Google.com. She can work the Sonos from her phone.

brotherlovesdub, Monday, 1 February 2016 03:44 (four years ago) link

Anyone here with experience replacing a Squeezebox 2/3/Touch with a Sonos Connect? I guess since it doesn't have a screen you need an iPad or something to control it?

erry red flag (f. hazel), Monday, 1 February 2016 04:17 (four years ago) link

I was also thinking about this recently. My hifi is very old and i haven't listened to any of my cds or vinyl in years. It's also difficult to find a space for it in my current living room.

How are the actually sonos speakers? I don't care sooo much about sound quality but I certainly don't want anything that sounds like a portable bluetooth speaker.

Or is it a better option to investigate a new standalone hifi and then get a sonos connect or similar?

tpp, Monday, 1 February 2016 06:12 (four years ago) link

Sonos app makes it unusable to me. True heads can't even listen to Youtube & my 64 gb itunes library never fully syncs. Currently use apple airplay thru vintage gear but it buffers so I'm interested in other options as well.

Captain Maximus, Monday, 1 February 2016 09:50 (four years ago) link

Thanks for the tips in this thread, I've been looking for a streaming device too. I have only one audio set in one room I would need to stream to, so I ended up ordering Chromecast Audio... However, upon looking at Google own streaming app, Google Play, it noticed that it transcodes all the FLAC into MP3s. And I know Plex does the same... Most of the music files on my computer are FLACs, and Chromecast itself supports that format, so are there any good music streaming apps that would stream FLACs to Chromecast without transcoding them?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 09:55 (four years ago) link

I agree with ums that chromecast audio is THE best bargain on the market. But for multiroom purposes I think Sonos, HEOS or Bluesound are better (though more expensive) choices, in part because of the dedicated control app.

Sonos Connect is a great way to get started with streaming on your current stereo system, it's probably the most stable and developed system on the market. Heos Link and Bluesound Node 2 are good alternatives, they offer more connectivity (usb, optical input, bluetooth-adapter, subwoofer pre-out, triggers) and improved sound (24 bit support, better built-in DACs, better optical outputs).

If you're looking to replace you current amplifier, you'll need active speakers or streamer-amps. The stand alone speakers (like the Sonos Play 1) are impressive but can be a bit tiresome to listen to for very long - unless you're allergic to passive speakers I'd recommend the Sonos Connect Amp, Heos Amp or Bluesound Powernode 2 with a set of budget passive speakers for your main listening room. Price will be similar to a Play:5 or a stereo pair of Play:3s, sound is going to be a lot better.

No matter what system you choose, I think you'll experience improved functionality with a NAS - so if streaming your own collection of music files is important, I think that's a solid investment.

As a final note, I'll add that your streaming system is never going to function any better than your router - so if you're using the one supplied by your ISP, getting a proper router (~80$) can make all the difference.

niels, Monday, 1 February 2016 11:45 (four years ago) link

No matter what system you choose, I think you'll experience improved functionality with a NAS - so if streaming your own collection of music files is important, I think that's a solid investment.

Sorry if I sound stupid, but what's a NAS and how do you acquire it?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 11:58 (four years ago) link

and can i eat it?

NAS, Network Attached Server. dedicated file server running something like FreeNas or MediaVault.

koogs, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:08 (four years ago) link

NAS : network storage.
basically a big hard disc that you access via your home network.
they are not too pricey these days :

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/computing-accessories/data-storage/data-storage/wd-my-cloud-personal-cloud-storage-4-tb-21817659-pdt.html

i use the NAS/Sonos Connect setup, and its brilliant.
not fussed re speakers round the house, just needed to get my digital archive into my stereo, and figured this was the best option for my needs.
and yeah, the desktop app is very easy to use, and i love the way you can flip from digital radio, various streaming services (i got 12 months free deezer when i bought the sonos connect), and your local digital library without any trouble whatsoever.

mark e, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:10 (four years ago) link

Rather than full-blown NAS enclosure… can i kill 2 birds/1 stone: buy a new, stronger router with a USB port, plug a terabyte hard drive into that, then point Sonos and/or CCA towards that?

woof, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:23 (four years ago) link

So basically it's an external hard drive that also works as a cloud? The price is pretty steep, but I guess it'd eventually pay itself back since you don't have to pay a monthly/yearly like with net-based cloud services...

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

(xpost)

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:28 (four years ago) link

yes, to keep your network up and running, then you do need to leave the router on.
i dont think this is a fire hazard !
re router+ USB : no idea, i would suspect it is possible, just depends on how the router maps the USB drive.
if you can access the USB drive as a standard external network drive, then i see no reason why you cant point Sonos to that location and pick up the digital files.

mark e, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:34 (four years ago) link

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

people turn off their modem/router???

tpp, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:36 (four years ago) link

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

You're being overly cautious. The equipment is designed to be on 24/7 and to just burst into flames would represent a major design flaw. Virtually every office building in the developed world has a server on constantly, if your concerns were realistic they'd be burning down all the time.

I don't think I've turned a router off except to reboot it in about 15 years.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:49 (four years ago) link

Rather than full-blown NAS enclosure… can i kill 2 birds/1 stone: buy a new, stronger router with a USB port, plug a terabyte hard drive into that, then point Sonos and/or CCA towards that?

I think my BT Homehub might do this but I've never worked out how to actually set it up properly.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:50 (four years ago) link

if you think about it there is also electricity CONSTANTLY running into the house. you can prove this by flipping a light switch on, there is no latency, i.e. the electricity is storing up behind the walls in an active state.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 1 February 2016 12:51 (four years ago) link

haha that is not how electricity works

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:07 (four years ago) link

Like even if any of that post made sense, "you can prove this by flipping a light switch on, there is no latency" is cartoon funny - the idea you could see the delay between your fingers flipping a switch and a light turning on if it wasn't "storing up behind the walls".

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:15 (four years ago) link

You're being overly cautious. The equipment is designed to be on 24/7 and to just burst into flames would represent a major design flaw. Virtually every office building in the developed world has a server on constantly, if your concerns were realistic they'd be burning down all the time.

Yeah, I get this, but those servers have inbuilt cooling, unlike my modem, which gets fairly hot if I keep it on for two days in a row. I assume this NAS has its own cooling system, though?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:24 (four years ago) link

i acquired a sonos player last year and the sound is really good but

It ticks every one of your requirements except being able to plug in an external hard drive.

this was just a bit of a deal-breaker - i play all my music off an external HD and the speaker seemed to be requiring that i never switch my laptop off? i don't really see how that's remotely desirable.

cher guevara (lex pretend), Monday, 1 February 2016 13:41 (four years ago) link

Yeah I think this is why people are talking about servers/moving everything to the cloud. Always-on laptop is the scenario I want to avoid.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:46 (four years ago) link

what about an always-on raspberry pi?

koogs, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:53 (four years ago) link

it really confused me when i got it because it was like...how on earth did sonos not take that into account when designing their weird system?

xp

cher guevara (lex pretend), Monday, 1 February 2016 13:53 (four years ago) link

I have the older version of the Marantz mentioned near the top of the thread.

I went for this because, after selling all my high-end gear in 2012 and going with a basic separates system (10yo Sony DVD player into 30yo Cyrus amp), and then giving those up too, I wanted to start from scratch with something good but simple. The sound quality is great (basically just the Marantz into Q-Acoustics monitors and Sennheiser headphones), but there are a few niggles with it dropping off my network with some regularity - so it can't find Spotify, or my iPhone / tablet app can't find the Marantz. CD playback was essential for me (again, it would be nice here if, seeing as it's a networked device, it could do a Gracenote-style lookup and not just say "11 tracks 55:12" like a dumb CD player), but there is a cheaper model without.

It also has a useless Last.fm mode (support for that was withdrawn before I bought mine), good FM/DAB and NAS/USB/Bluetooth/AirPlay connections (the last of which I use a lot when I can't be bothered navigating Spotify via the clunky Marantz app).

As an amp, it's perfectly fine - I route the TV and MD deck in via S/PDIF, and the turntable pre-amp via analogue. I think that's about all the connections taken up, mind.

Michael Jones, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:01 (four years ago) link

it's tempting to think there's a NAS out there that you can dump your music onto, and feed your Spotify Premium details, and it would provide a unified search/playlist interface to? with RCA out?

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:05 (four years ago) link

I'm looking to reconfigure my home audio system, hopefully in a way that also integrates with my TV. My main music source is Spotify and my main TV platform is Roku. The essential apps for me on Roku are Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Twitch, and Spotify. Unfortunately, the Roku Spotify app is pretty bad. It doesn't allow you to play from folders, only from individual playlists, and it doesn't support local files, only songs in Spotify's library. I've tried doing screen mirroring from my Android phone to Roku for Spotify, but Roku's screen mirroring is junk, it crashes a lot and pretty much disrupts my wi-fi.

I don't think SONOS is the answer to this, but I'm curious about Chromecast. My main reservations are the lack of Amazon and the concern that casting from my phone to my TV/stereo will cause similar wi-fi issues as the Roku.

Check Yr Scrobbles (Moodles), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:19 (four years ago) link

I wonder if there are any players that would do the same as what the Marantz does, but also work as an bluray/net video player with an HDMI out and surround sound? I have 5.1 speaker set and I watch movies and play music through the same Yamaha A/V receiver... It feels pretty pointless to have separate systems for music and videos, but most audiophile players/receivers seem to be for audio only.

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:23 (four years ago) link

(xpost)

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:24 (four years ago) link

I have been looking at that Marantz thing for a while actually. If it had phono input I would have bought it already. But I've been in a state of indecision for a while now about whether to get that plus separate phono preamp OR vintage integrated amp plus bluetooth adapter (plus separate CD player I guess).

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:24 (four years ago) link

Oppo players might they are supposed to be great dacs

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:25 (four years ago) link

i.e. the obsolescence came from playing catch up, and they hopefully are caught up now. The wireless, bluetooth (move), and sound design os very good.

kniphofia face (Sufjan Grafton), Monday, 28 December 2020 04:35 (four weeks ago) link

I mean whether it's a deliberate dick move on their part or not, it just makes me hesitant to drop $1000 on a pair of sonos 5's that might no longer be supported in 5-8 years.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 28 December 2020 04:39 (four weeks ago) link

sure. I guess possible acquistion should be another worry.

kniphofia face (Sufjan Grafton), Monday, 28 December 2020 04:41 (four weeks ago) link

setting up a proper stereo

I'm way more audiophile than the avg ilxor, so I would vote for this.

You can always add a wireless speaker to the "proper stereo" later on if you wanted that functionality.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Monday, 28 December 2020 13:08 (four weeks ago) link

I've used Logitech Media Server for years. You can use whatever you like as a wifi speaker. There's a tiny Raspberry Pi operating system dedicated to it (though my players mainly run off of old laptops and phones). I used to hesitate recommending it but this year i started using the "Material Skin" plugin which has done a lot to modernize the interface. There's still a good community working on it. Keeping Spotify and things working basically depends on those efforts.. but you run your own server (can be done on a Pi or computer) and it's not going to go away, or change without your input.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 13:31 (four weeks ago) link

Basically Logitech was an early player in wifi speakers and got out of it (no more hardware is produced). The server was made open source so community development continues, with one engineer at Logitech.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 13:37 (four weeks ago) link

Sorry for being dim but when you say use “whatever you like as a wifi speaker” how do you make the connection to a regular speaker? Some kind of dongle on the back?

Alba, Monday, 28 December 2020 14:14 (four weeks ago) link

Or if you’re you’re specifically talking about some class of non-Sonos speaker, can you give an example?

Alba, Monday, 28 December 2020 14:15 (four weeks ago) link

We have Sonos all over the house, purchased in pieces over the last 5 years or so. So far, they've all been good, give or take some bugginess now and then. I'm no audiophile, so the sound is good enough for me, though not perfect.

Alba: no no, please, i'm wondering if i am able to make this stuff sound practical! It is for me but I like tinkering and not throwing away electronics. There are many variants of the tiny "squeezelite" program for all sorts of computers, so anything from a phone to a desktop computer can be the hookup for your amp/speakers. Basically like a Roku for a non-"smart" TV.

Unfortunately the community wiki page is out of date, so it's not going to mention the Material Skin and stuff, but it should still be useful to get a picture of what I'm on about. https://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Beginners_Guide.html

I'd ignore any mention there of Logitech's cloud service as it's basically just some streaming radio links at this point. You will want one of your devices running the server software - it can also be a player. If starting from scratch, a Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 is fine as a server. I'm using an 8 year old laptop hooked up to my living room system as the server. It stays on so that any player in the house can always access the music.

If I somehow haven't talked you out of having a go, I'd say grab the server software from https://www.mysqueezebox.com/download , optionally point it at a folder full of MP3s, and explore the plugin options for internet music once it's running.

The Squeezelite player software for computers is at https://sourceforge.net/projects/lmsclients/files/squeezelite/ (any other devices, have a Google or search the relevant app store).

For controlling, the Material Skin is great on computers and phones (no more need for installing certain Android or iOS apps).

Forums are at https://forums.slimdevices.com/ ... not much use before getting started, though there's photos of systems and projects and all that

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 15:31 (four weeks ago) link

I decided after several years of Sonos envy that I was not going to jump into that ecosystem because I didn't want to drop all the money on all the components for a distributed system in one go and the recent hardware swapout made me feel that that was the only viable path to join since there was no longer a guarantee or expectation that I could build out a system over 2-3 years and then my parents sent me a pair of One SL speakers for Christmas, so now I am looking at a subwoofer and TV soundbar because fuck it, you got me

DJP, Monday, 28 December 2020 15:37 (four weeks ago) link

For the regular stereo advocates: what sort of component do you recommend for translating from your iPhone/streaming devices to the stereo? Or do most receivers nowadays have that functionality built in?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 28 December 2020 15:47 (four weeks ago) link

Try a basic 3.5mm to RCA stereo adapter with the phone's volume on max. If it's a newer one with no headphone jack, you can use the lightning to 3.5mm dongle as an intermediary. Fancier receivers with USB audio input (as opposed to a USB socket for reading flash drives) may be able to take the raw data stream from the phone and then use the receiver's audio processing.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 15:53 (four weeks ago) link

Or yknow, Bluetooth? :)

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 15:54 (four weeks ago) link

I mention this every time, but you can still find Chromecast Audios online it basically gives me sonos functionality for what I need

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:03 (four weeks ago) link

for like $80 for two

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:04 (four weeks ago) link

Where can you find them now? I got a couple for my parents, they were a great value. If you're just looking to play internet music to a system (or systems), yeah they can't be beat. The audio quality is good and if you ever want an upgrade in that regard, the port doubles as an optical audio out.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:12 (four weeks ago) link

Isn't Bluetooth lossy in a way that Sonos isn't suppposed to be(?) And if you jack yr phone directly into a stereo, you need to keep walking over to the rig to make adjustments?

Qui-Gon's Noble End (morrisp), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:15 (four weeks ago) link

(I was a big stereo guy, but finally ditched it after barely having a chance to use it for years; and I'm leaning toward Sonos as a small step back in, for size/ease reasons -- but can be convinced otherwise)

Qui-Gon's Noble End (morrisp), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:22 (four weeks ago) link

yeah, though AptX or LDAC Bluetooth are really good. It's possible they can be better than a wire, depending on the audio processing of the data source vs the receiver.

Wiring in and controlling remotely, something like Spotify's Connect feature can be used to tell other devices to play the music to the phone.

Chromecast Audio or Sonos or the Logitech Server, your phone is telling those to go and get the music, so it doesn't matter then where your phone moves to.

I guess i like the Logitech thing so that Spotify is just another source... i can insert tracks from it among my own files, other services, whatever. All one interface. And when the playlist stops, it can turn on NTS or whatever. You know, endless tinkering

Would be happy to try and answer "i just wanna do x" scenarios

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:25 (four weeks ago) link

I just wanna have great sound with as minimal fuss and as few components / small a footprint as possible; for streaming from wherever, and ideally a way to plug in a CD player and turntable (when I own those again).

Qui-Gon's Noble End (morrisp), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:29 (four weeks ago) link

Yeah, that's exactly what I want. But I guess the fact that there will always be a ___ to RCA or ____ to 3.5mm adapter no matter what new devices come out helps.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:31 (four weeks ago) link

xpost..
ebay though they might be a bit more expensive now

I run mine via optical to a DAC then stereo amp, does 192 Qobuz great

Curious about Bluesound Node multi room systems, Sonos gives me such Bose/Beats by Dre vibes it makes my teeth itch

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:32 (four weeks ago) link

It seems like I need to focus more on the stereo I want and then figure out the "how to connect x to stereo" as the last step.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:34 (four weeks ago) link

i’ve said it here before but a second-hand Airport Express (second gen) connected to the AUX jack on my stereo works fantastically for me. i could put a second one upstairs, connected to some powered speakers, but i don’t think i’ve ever wanted or needed to send music to other floors of the house so eh

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:35 (four weeks ago) link

I've basically gone the all-separates route here (my speakers use an Amptastic Mini 1... RCA in, speaker out, the end - but it's tiny!) along with a basic 8 input RCA switcher (non-powered)...

But I'll have a look later on at what i might get if I went all in one. I know there's some super high end stuff that comes "Roon Ready" but that is some high priced Logitech Server type thing that I'm just not going near.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:37 (four weeks ago) link

man alive just buy the chromecast, that does exactly what you want. you're not streaming from your phone either, the device does the streaming. it goes direct in to any stereo and you just connect and control via whatever music streaming service it's so simple

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:38 (four weeks ago) link

that was xps to morrisp

Nice source, thanks ums!

Back later :)

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:39 (four weeks ago) link

i wonder if Google will ever stop supporting this discontinued product though?

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:44 (four weeks ago) link

so far so good

thankfully they are still making chromecasts in general (that do video and audio) and it seems to use the same interface (CCA just doesn't do video) so hopefully that should continue

I don't think any of this streaming audio tech is exactly rocket science at this point

ooh also though I have an Android phone so I guess I should say idk how it works on iphone but I can steam to the Chromecast from my macbook just fine

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:48 (four weeks ago) link

thanks to both. yeah, I don't want to go all high-end, either (needs to be reasonably $$)

Qui-Gon's Noble End (morrisp), Monday, 28 December 2020 16:49 (four weeks ago) link

ums otm about Chromecast Audio; that product delivered far too much value for its price point to stay on the market long ... I have a couple of CCAs attached to stereo receivers in different rooms and enjoy being able to play music from Spotify or my Plex server on both simultaneously

I use my iPhone with the CCAs and that works fine ... maybe once a month or so I have to reboot a device; ordinarily I just turn on the stereo, tell Spotify or Plex to send audio there, and control it with my phone

if I didn't have an old-fashioned stereo system with a decent audio receiver and speakers but I did have a home theater system with a decent audio receiver and speakers, I might buy the current-model Chromecast for ~$30 and use that to play Spotify and other streaming audio services ... it might seem a little weird to turn on the TV to listen to music, but the audio quality would be fine, and seeing album cover art on the big screen is kind of fun

respect to maffew12 for making Logitech Media Server continue to serve; I loved my Squeezeboxes, which worked beautifully for years, but keeping LMS on good terms with Spotify got beyond my tinkering skills after a while

Brad C., Monday, 28 December 2020 18:05 (four weeks ago) link

I'm still using my Chromecast Audio and it works perfectly. Side question: can I stream my television audio to it, or sou,d I need a soundbar/separate speaker?

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 28 December 2020 19:09 (four weeks ago) link

I just did a test, playing a YouTube video on my Chromebook and casting sound to the Chromecast Audio on my receiver ... the audio played on my big speakers and the video played on the Chromebook

but I don't believe there's a way to send a video signal to your television and split off the audio portion of that signal to go to a Chromecast

Brad C., Monday, 28 December 2020 19:44 (four weeks ago) link

lol thanks Brad. It was a hard thing to recommend when Spotify was half busted, the user interface looked like 1995, and phone control required its own app (all it was really good for was organizing of your own files), but these have really come along.

morrisp:
I was curious to look at some all-in-one receivers (you just add speakers and any physical media sources). Criteria:
-Stereo (not surround)
-Built-in preamp for a turntable
-Decent headphone output
-Some internet capability (basically, can it be a player in Spotify Connect)
-HDMI ports (easily hook up a TV and, say, a Raspberry Pi, this way you wouldn't have to buy a fancy audio processor for the Pi)
-Bluetooth
-a few analog audio inputs besides

Just getting all that done decently well...
What's coming up on a few sites is the Marantz NR1200. 600 US dollars. It's not the good Bluetooth but that's minor if you are doing internet streaming mainly. Can't turn up any info on running fancy headphones off of it, but probably is fine for anything that isn't very high power. I'm kinda surprised to see all those features at that price from one of the bigger hifi brands.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 22:54 (four weeks ago) link

re “streaming from wherever”.. i tried using, gulp, plex to handle my music and plexamp on my phone and.... it’s pretty great?? no way to export my itunes playlists that i can see but it does give you some default playlists based on i.e. record label, recently added etc. it also remembers playback position!

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 28 December 2020 23:18 (four weeks ago) link

wherever you are, for your files, yeah. I read morrisp as saying streaming from whatever sources, to a living room situation?

I've got Plex going (same old laptop as the Logitech stuff) but just for video. I'm not going to get into the unspeakable things I do for out of the house. I hope I've been some use today lol

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 28 December 2020 23:43 (four weeks ago) link

yes i think you're right about that. once nice thing about the plex server is that it can run alongside whatever else you're using (if you want) - you just point it to your Big Folder Full Of All Your Music and it will deal with it

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 28 December 2020 23:48 (four weeks ago) link

man alive, listen to ums.

also, maffew12 is right that a lot newer integrated amps have DAC's included (DAC = the thing that processes a digital signal like from Spotify to something your amp can send to your speakers). Another option is the NAD C 328. Not sure it has the HDMI, but its got optical out.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Monday, 28 December 2020 23:50 (four weeks ago) link

Same price as the Marantz; both respected budget companies.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Monday, 28 December 2020 23:51 (four weeks ago) link

I read morrisp as saying streaming from whatever sources, to a living room situation?

That is what I meant... thanks, guys.

Qui-Gon's Noble End (morrisp), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 00:02 (four weeks ago) link

xp
ooh sleek. No internet and no turntable preamp though. Sounds like it has the nicer headphone amp section.

Anything that is receiving and playing digital music for you by necessity has a DAC. This NAD amp is giving you just the DAC to play with, without any built-in source for it to play anything... which is really what an audiophile would want (if not a separate DAC device). Without HDMI there, your laptop or Pi or whatnot would need something added onto it to pass audio data as optical or coaxial digital to the NAD's DAC. Chromecast audio can do this, and some Macbooks... otherwise you're looking at another pricey piece to add on. I guess optical has its advantages over HDMI or USB but that's just a bridge too far for me...

Though these amps sound pretty impressive for their price (from what I remember last time I looked), you can get pretty killer speaker amps, headphone amps, and DACs for $100 US apiece these days.

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 00:09 (four weeks ago) link

reminder that a used Airport Express, while not much chop as an access point or network extender, can receive a lossless stream from any Apple gear including a phone / iPad and put it out as optical digital or 3.5 audio (of great fidelity, in the case of the last model: https://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/airport-express-audio-quality-2014.htm )

assert (MatthewK), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 00:12 (four weeks ago) link

Yeah, lack of an optical audio out was a huge surprise when I got my newer Apple TV a year ago. My older one had that.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 02:32 (four weeks ago) link

almost all the new receivers do hdmi arc now, and they just don't decide to care about compatibility w/other stuff

I have zero Atmos-capable speakers but I'm still mildly irritated the weak link in my TV -> TV -> Sonos Amp scheme is the TV. I think the ARC stuff over HDMI has to support the specific passthrough type?

mh, Tuesday, 29 December 2020 22:18 (four weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

I wound up buying a Sonos Move because I wanted to be able to listen to music in multiple rooms as well as outside without spending thousands on a multi room speaker setup. It’s honestly pretty good. Obviously it’s not going to do what a great stereo system does but it has more of the depth of a real speaker than any portable I’ve heard and a lot of clarity. Way better than any Bose garbage

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:50 (two weeks ago) link

last sentence should be Sonos' tag

kniphofia face (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:00 (two weeks ago) link

does anybody actually have Bluesound? it's made by the same people that make NAD which seems interesting. certainly looks slick and has most of the streaming services integrated.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:16 (six days ago) link

No direct experience, but in the audiophile forums I follow (to some degree) they are frequently cited as very good products to use as a music server (as DAC/streamer for Spotify, etc. and as a file server/streamer for mp3s, flacs, and other files). At higher ends, most use an outboard DAC but continue to use the Bluesound as the streamer.

Smokahontas and John Spliff (PBKR), Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:37 (six days ago) link


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