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vortecjr

SGC - sonicTransporter & HQPlayer 4 Embedded as audio hub

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I have been experimenting with using a SGC i5 sonicTransporter as an audio hub. This process allows one to take digital or analog audio in and stream it out via HQ Player to your system. 

 

The system in this example:

Cable box <optical cable> MiniDSP Streamer <USB cable> SGC i5 sonicTransporter running HQ Player embedded <ethernet network> ultraRendu as NAA <USB cable> DAC <analog interconnects> AMP

 

Prerequisites:

1. Install stereo i2s/Toslink firmware on the MiniDSP Streamer. This firmware needs to be download with a user account and loaded via software MiniDSP provides.

2. Some code needs to be installed via command line on the SGC i5 sonicTransporter since this is not an official feature. Depending on interest Andrew could arrange this by making it an official feature.

3. Stop all other HQ Player streaming. 

 

Usage is very simple and just requires that you configure HQ Player on sonicTransporter as usual selecting the remote ultraRendu as the NAA device for output to your system. Then you go to the Input section of HQ Player on sonicTransporter and select the appropriate input rate. In this example the appropriate input rate was 48kHz. As soon as you press Select audio starts streaming.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 8.45.53 AM.png

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Hi @vortecjr / @Miska

 

I will try this, but what about connecting a Mac to the sonicT i7 + HQPe , using a type A male-to-male USB cable.

 

Can we have the Mac's audio output (any program) fed to the sonicT 7, then over the network to Rendu NAA?

 

Is this something that is being worked on?

 

Or even if it was another USB source like a 2nd Rendu or a Pi3 etc, that connects to the sonicT i7 which plays to the downstream DAC connected Rendu.

 

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That would be technically possible for example with USB3 Type-C connection, with some limitations.

 

But the way I do it is to use USB to SPDIF/AES adapter on Mac Mini and then similar input to HQPlayer computer. It is possible for example with two of those MiniDSP Toslink dongles, then you also have full optical isolation. MiniDSP dongle though has limitation that it cannot automatically switch input side sampling rate to follow the source. For that purpose I use RME HDSPe AIO card on the HQPlayer Embedded computer and that allows HQPlayer to follow sampling rate changes over AES (or S/PDIF) from the Mac Mini.

 

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1 hour ago, Miska said:

But the way I do it is to use USB to SPDIF/AES adapter on Mac Mini and then similar input to HQPlayer computer. It is possible for example with two of those MiniDSP Toslink dongles, then you also have full optical isolation.

 

Noted but if people are following Sonore's and Small Green Computer's advice of having the sonicTransporter outside of the listening room and just the Rendu NAA inside the listening room, then the isolation feeding the sonicT i7 is irrelevant since you still have the network isolation and more importantly, DAC connections which are inside another room.

 

Of course not everyone does it this way and some have the sonicTransporter directly connected to DAC.

 

Something that avoids SPDIF would be ideal but I understand if it doesn't exist yet then it's difficult.

 

In our use case, the sonicTransporter i7 is in the home office next to the Mac. If needed  we can control the Mac via iPad app in the listening room, so it would be nice to have the Mac appear as an input on HQPe on the sonicTransporter i7 , then just a direct USB cable would connect to the sonicT i7 and you can have all Mac audio output over the network, to the other side of the house, to the Rendu. And all connections involved up to the DAC are only USB and ethernet, no SPDIF.

 

It wouldn't have to be just a Mac source. Even a Raspberry Pi or 2nd Rendu or whatever USB source.

 

I'm just dreaming 🙂

 

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The cable box just sends 48k and it played all day:) A CD player would send 44.1k and I would think that would the most interesting external input to most people. Using USB from another computer would seem messy. 

 

You can play direct from a sonicTransporter to your DAC, but it’s not optimized in anyway for this. Unlike some companies that claim an off the shelf motherboard has an optimized USB port:) 

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1 hour ago, vortecjr said:

You can play direct from a sonicTransporter to your DAC, but it’s not optimized in anyway for this. Unlike some companies that claim an off the shelf motherboard has an optimized USB port:) 

 

No, definitely prefer having the sonicTransporter in another room and just having the Rendu in the listening room. And not for audible noise purposes (obviously, since it's fanless).

 

1 hour ago, vortecjr said:

A CD player would send 44.1k and I would think that would the most interesting external input to most people.

 

Fair enough. I would have thought most using something like the sonicTransporter have ripped CD's by now or just stream 🙂

 

1 hour ago, vortecjr said:

Using USB from another computer would seem messy. 

I could look at a USB-to-Toslink converter, then to the miniDSP device, but that's even messier.

 

Streaming from a Chromecast is interesting but limited. For example, Qello Concerts and that's just one example.

 

Anyway I'm sure this digital hub idea will grow as more/better interfaces pop up. I'm sure Jussi is always watching for new inputs to HQP Embedded and will share more uses over time, as they come up.

 

I'm watching with great interesting and looking around at different interfaces.

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12 hours ago, Em2016 said:

In our use case, the sonicTransporter i7 is in the home office next to the Mac. If needed  we can control the Mac via iPad app in the listening room, so it would be nice to have the Mac appear as an input on HQPe on the sonicTransporter i7 , then just a direct USB cable would connect to the sonicT i7 and you can have all Mac audio output over the network, to the other side of the house, to the Rendu. And all connections involved up to the DAC are only USB and ethernet, no SPDIF.

 

It wouldn't have to be just a Mac source. Even a Raspberry Pi or 2nd Rendu or whatever USB source.

 

Issue is that most computers don't have USB type-B (device) ports (some do). Type-C can be dual-role and is a bit more widely available. I have this this kind of setup working to limited extent though. But so far S/PDIF and AES/EBU is most universal when it comes to source hardware, and that can be output over network (yes, there are network <-> SPDIF/AES interfaces too).

 

But it doesn't have to be USB. Even Mac Mini's built-in optical output works too, but it is just not so nice in some ways.

 

Whether you output to local USB, to a NAA, or whatever from HQPlayer is unrelated. All options work the same regardless of type of input.

 

Anyway, in my setup I have AES as connection between Mac Mini and HQPlayer Embedded and of course anything I play from Mac goes to through HQPlayer. Be it Spotify, Tidal, etc.

 

But for use from mobile devices and tablets I use Chromecast Audio dongle (Toslink) because it allows easy playback from  apps like Spotify and Tidal. And also has a "guest mode".

 

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Another option, maybe Sonore can make (and sell) a cheap little USB black box (USB in, USB out) that would allow any USB source to connect the sonicTi7 hub's USB input...

 

This little black box needs to have no fancy clocks and regulators because it just connects a computer to the sonicT i7, which can be on the other side of the house (or next to the DAC if that's how people use it).

 

But this cheap little black box will have whatever firmware/driver HQP Embedded needs, to make it an "input" into HQP Embedded.

 

Then someone can have ALL the PC/Mac/Linux audio sent over the network to NAA (from any program or streaming site) .... something a fair few people around here have been looking for, for years... and this solution could come before expensive Zman board devices arrive 🙂

 

 

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