• Network Audio

    by Published on 03-11-2016 01:20 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Network Audio
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    I recently received a message from a service touting online storage of one's music files and streaming of those files to almost any device. I took a look at the service, its apps, and its pricing and thought about whether the CA Community would be interested in the offering. Most of it looked good, but when I considered the monthly charge to store files online for streaming, I started to think about what's already available to many CA readers without adding another monthly charge to their bills. I also thought about the sizable number of readers who don't subscribe to music streaming services such as Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Spotify, or Apple Music. Then I thought about those of us who have subscriptions to one or more services, but are still unable to stream our favorite remaster of Kind of Blue, Dark Side of the Moon, or any number of Mobile Fidelity albums that will never hit streaming services. I was pretty sure JRiver Media Center had a solution for this problem, but I didn't know how great it was because I honestly had never given it a spin. While testing this JRMC solution, I stumbled on an absolute gem involving JRMC and Chromecast Audio devices. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to write about streaming our music collections around the globe to almost any device for no additional cost to many readers, and sending audio around our homes to $35 endpoints all from the convenience of the JRemote iOS/Android app. Come along and be prepared to spend little-to-no money while increasing your enjoyment of this wonderful hobby. It's not often I get to say that around here, but it's so satisfying. ...
    by Published on 02-29-2016 10:54 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes,
    3. Network Audio
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    Got a USB DAC that you'd like to put on your network? Been looking for a network DAC that supports a plethora of sample rates and protocols? Want to remove a Mac or traditional PC form your listening room? The Sonicorbiter SE may help you with these first-world problems. The Sonicorbiter SE isn't a DAC but it can breath new life and capabilities into almost any DAC available.

    The Sonicorbiter SE is an Ethernet to USB (or TosLink) converter. It uses software developed by Andrew Gillis of Small Green Computer / Vortexbox fame, that runs on unmodified Cubox hardware. Sure the tiny ( 2" x 2" x 2") Cubox is a neat piece of hardware, but the Sonicorbiter SE is all about software. This is where the real value lies. It's possible to duplicate much of the Sonicorbiter SE's functionality on one's own by purchasing a Cubox or Raspberry Pi based solution, but let's get real. Nothing is more expensive than our time. If people want to spend countless hours trying to duplicate what's already available, then more power to them. I however, highly recommend outsourcing this work to Sonore by purchasing the Sonicorbiter SE (likely sold out as we speak). Plus, as of right now Joe Sixpack or Joe Bloggs can't create their own RoonReady device without working with the Roon Labs team to get the license and to get the product certified. Sonore had those boxes checked before any other company in the world.

    I've been using a Sonicorbiter SE for a few weeks and totally love this little device. What's not to love about a $300 network endpoint? Well, there are a few items but I don't believe they are show stoppers. Again, this thing is $300! In this hobby that same $300 won't buy you one meter of cable. ...
    by Published on 06-25-2015 04:31 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. Network Audio,
    4. USB Interface
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    I've been using Aurender music servers for several years. In 2011 I reviewed the Aurender S10 and in 2014 I reviewed the flagship W20 model. I've watched the company closely over the years, including traveling to its headquarters in Seoul, Korea in 2013. During this time Aurender has made substantial improvements to both its hardware and software. Features that used to be unique have become commonplace and no longer set Aurender apart from the crowd. Continuing to evolve and lead has meant integrating features like the TIDAL streaming services at a very high level and releasing the free product update to its customers quickly. I will not be surprised if Aurender updates its products to support Roon as an audio endpoint (RoonSpeakers) soon after Roon Labs releases its software development kit (SDK). In addition the company has recently expanded its line of server products to include the X series, globally launched in 2014, and N series. Prices for Aurender's entire line range from the entry level N100 at $2,499 to the pièce de résistance W20 at over $17,000. No matter what Aurender hardware one uses, the software is the same. Customers who buy into Aurender at the entry level receive the same software as those using the top-of-the-line. With very few exceptions for items requiring AES or S/PDIF output the software functionality is identical. Over the last few weeks I've been using the Aurender N100H with my current reference system. The sound quality from this system has been stellar as has the entire experience. The new Aurender Media Manager (AMM) application, updated iOS app, and the N100H hardware itself combine to make a very solid solution that touches all the bases for many music aficionados and audiophiles alike. ...
    by Published on 04-29-2015 09:52 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Network Audio


    Over the years I've researched countless software and hardware combinations, based on the Raspberry Pi, for use in HiFi audio systems. I'm not alone. Audiophiles all over the world have been trying to squeeze every ounce of audio quality from the device since its release in February 2012. During the early attempts it was "nerd city" with massive tweaking and lackluster results. Now, with the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, the right software, and a few optional add-ons, audiophiles have a simple solution for HiFi sound starting at around $50.

    After publishing the previous CA Geek Speak article with instructions for using a Beaglebone Black as a UPnP renderer, I noticed many user comments seeking additional features. Members of the CA Community asked for WiFi, Spotify, and different audio output options among other things. Satisfying these needs wasn't possible with the hardware limitations of the Beaglebone Black. Thus, I went back to the Raspberry Pi platform and pieced together three different solutions for bit perfect playback. ...
    by Published on 03-11-2015 01:10 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Network Audio
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    Warning: This article is technical in nature, but is far from rocket surgery. The step-by-step how-to instructions below make the process extremely easy. That said, this article isn't for everybody.

    This is the second article in the CA Geek Speak series (Link to first article ). If you have a USB DAC and want to turn it into a network capable device or if you want to setup multiple zones for playback and control via iPad for less than $100 per zone, then this article is for you. The instructions below provide a step-by-step guide for creating a UPnP / DLNA / OpenHome renderer with Ethernet input and USB output for connection to a USB DAC. In a way, this device can be considered the poor man's Auralic Aries (Review Link ) or SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server (Review Link ). In the previous Geek Speak article readers were forced to log in to the device and make configuration changes via command line. This time I've taken care of all the configuration myself. Readers simply need to download the preconfigured image file and flash it to a Beaglebone Black (Rev. C) following the instructions. That's it. ...
    by Published on 10-15-2014 12:13 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Network Audio
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    Over the last couple months I've talked to several manufacturers who expressed great frustration over end user network problems. In no way was this a blame game placing blame on the end user, rather just an expression of frustration that each manufacturer was incorrectly blamed for a dysfunctional product. In addition, some frustration was also expressed toward audio dealers who refuse to learn computer networking basics or enough about networking to support the products being sold. Given the level of frustration by manufacturers and end users I think it's a good idea to publish a little refresher on networking for computer audio and provide the CA Community a glimpse into my network as an example of a network that is rock solid and (almost) guarantees flawless performance. I've never had an issue with computer audio that was traced back to a problem with my network. I don't say that to boast, rather to help readers understand that my network and the following examples should suit them well for audio playback.
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