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Streaming Audio Devices: review and information thread (Updated 4/23 with JF Digital review) - Page 3

post #31 of 142
Thread Starter 

So I did a little searching, and it seems that the Seagate uses its own special software, so it won't natively run Squeezebox Server, or talk to it at all. There is a way to modify the drive to work for you, but it seems a pretty complex: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/SqueezePlug#SqueezePlug_GoFlexNet_Image

 

Basically your Seagate is a little purpose-built computer, complete with a CPU and memory. It has an operating system that is incompatible with your Touch. You need to basically re-install a new OS (the link above) in order to make it work. This may be something more complex than you are willing to attempt.

 

Lots of people use an old PC as a Vortexbox. It is very simple to set up using the free software, and basically turns the computer into something similar to what a NAS is.... you could then connect your Seagate via USB and it would word as you originally hoped: network access from any computer, streaming files to and fro, and of course working with your Touch. 

post #32 of 142

I previously reported (post #20 above) that I had purchased a Grace Internet Radio Tuner (model GDI-IRDT200, reviewed above by project86). Initially I was quite enamored with it. While the interface was a bit klunky (setting up network passwords, preferences, internet stations, etc. was a bit awkward but I got used to it quickly), it was worth it for the key features I wanted in one of these devices:
* coax and optical outputs to my Peachtree Decco
* remote control…although this was so basic as to make it not terribly useful
* internet radio…this was the biggie. Access to 16,000 stations without turning on my laptop was just terrific
* the thing looked cool with my other hifi equipment…had a component-like shape and look

So why am I returning it?

It sits less than 6 feet from my cable router, and will absolutely not lock onto it and stay locked. When I first got it and hooked it up, I had a full 4 bars. For some reason, this is now one bar, with an occasional blip up to two bars (truly, it’s mostly NO bars). I just cannot understand why it has deteriorated this way. Tech support, which shot back an answer within 8 hours, said to change the channel on the router (done) and to reset the router (done…several times). In addition, I recently replaced my old router with a dual-network Netgear (before you ask, the problem started with the prior router), so it's not router issues...at least I am convinced it's not router issues (far from a network expert, for sure!).

Absolutely no difference. In fact, it would not lock at all after doing these things and rebooting the Grace unit. I had to run a network cord across the room and hook it up direct. With a direct connection, all is well: no dropouts, no hesitation, no glitches. However, this is unsightly and will not work in my situation. Besides, this is supposed to be a WIRELESS streamer!

I looked at reviews on Amazon, and at the very limited Grace forums, and found this is a common issue. So it goes back (they have stated that units bought by December 22 have until 1/31/12 to be returned for a refund. I will be taking them up on this offer).

Six feet away! Holy cow, what if it was in the next room? Or on the other end of the house? Is the wifi chip in this thing that poor? Surely these chips are so ubiquitous that it wouldn’t cost much to put a top quality one into these tuners.

I just wanted to report back about this issue. I had previously praised the Grace Tuner.

Will be trying the Squeezebox Touch next. I don’t like its looks nearly as well, yet its functionality trumps looks.

Thanks for reading.
 

Jim

post #33 of 142
Thread Starter 

Sorry to hear that Jim. Mine is still going strong so I guess I got lucky.

 

Unfortunately there isn't really anything out there which has a similar "full size component" look, at a low price. The NAD C 446 is great, but is priced a bit too high to be seen as a casual add on. 

 

I feel like there is a bit of a hole in the market for the lower priced, simpler devices. If there was a device with a full size form factor, wireless streaming, hi-res FLAC playback, a nice big display.... but not much else, for a decent price, I'd buy it in a heartbeat (and I think others would too). We don't necessarily need a DAC, headphone jack, pre-amp controls, etc. built in to every device.

post #34 of 142

Thanks project86. I agree with you completely on the hole in the marketplace...a hole which I had hoped the Grace unit had filled.

 

BTW, if it makes any difference...it shouldn't, but want to fully disclose...mine was a refurbished unit bought direct from Grace. I assume their refurb's are as robust as the new units.

 

I continue to read this thread, as it interests me greatly. Thanks for all your in-depth work on this new genre of digital products. I bet you have fun doing this!

 

Onward!

 

Jim

post #35 of 142
Thread Starter 

I've got the new Pioneer N-50 "Audiophile Networked Audio Player" on the way to me for review. Looking forward to checking it out.

 

N-50_large.jpg

post #36 of 142

I appreciate this thread and I am subscribed, but I would like to know more about how these devices are better than simply using my laptop.  The laptop has a full screen with which I can see all available options, and I can access any station I like by clicking on the desktop icon. For example, if I click on my icon for WFMU I have the option of several streams, but also the option of reading the forum comments. Clicking on my Soma FM icon shows all available streams which I can then examine.

I am sure I am missing something here, but what is it?

post #37 of 142
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by garysohn View Post

I appreciate this thread and I am subscribed, but I would like to know more about how these devices are better than simply using my laptop.  The laptop has a full screen with which I can see all available options, and I can access any station I like by clicking on the desktop icon. For example, if I click on my icon for WFMU I have the option of several streams, but also the option of reading the forum comments. Clicking on my Soma FM icon shows all available streams which I can then examine.

I am sure I am missing something here, but what is it?


The whole point of these devices is to keep the computer away from the main system. Computers do a great job of music playback on a casual level. And the value is obviously huge as a multi-purpose device that you likely already have around the house. But getting true high end sound out of a computer can be challenging - noisy hard drives, fans, a power supply not intended for that sort of thing.... the list goes on. Check out ComputerAudiophile.com to read about the lengths which people will go in order to get their computer to become a high end transport. 

 

I care about sound, but equally important for me is the interface and ease of use. I have an audio rack and I don't really see a good way of integrating a computer there. I want physical buttons to push (or a touch screen at least) so I can't just rely on my iPad as remote all the time. A streaming audio device will act as the frontend for my audio files, and bridge the gap between my hard drive and my audio system.

 

There is also the idea of having an integrated unit. Some of these devices like the NAD C 446 and the Pioneer N-50 have very good D/A conversion built in. So they act as a one box solution where a computer would need an external DAC to be in the chain. 

 

Another aspect is simplicity. When I'm not home, my wife and kids still like to play music. I don't think they would be comfortable loading up Foobar2000 and combing through the options. But they will be able to grab the Logitech Harmony remote, hit the button labeled "Listen to Music", and have a device ready to go with music selections from a simple menu. This doesn't apply to everyone but to me it is a big deal.


Edited by project86 - 2/1/12 at 6:59am
post #38 of 142

I just picked up one of these Netgear 4-Bay RAID enclosures for $290 out the door.  I'll probably fill it with 4 x 2TB drives.

 

Supposedly, I will be able to put Logitech Squeezbox software on the Netgear and NOT NEED to fire up my computer to access my music:  Netgear > Squeezebox > Benchmark DAC > amp!

 

(Having the computer on all the time at home makes it harder to listen without distractions.)

 

I'm waiting on a Salamander 5-shelf unit  and hope I can move away from my desk more easily at night.

 

When I get it all together, I'll let you know here if I am successful at listening to music the way I want to.

 

So, I'm surprised that this thread doesn't have more interest. blink.gif

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post #39 of 142

The ReadyNAS NV+ is an EOL product. Very slow and doesn't support drives greater than 2TB.

post #40 of 142

^Thanks, but I have read it is better than the new NV+ v2 and I may be okay with 4 x 2TB drives...I will use it for music/storage/TimeMachine.

 

I just hope that I can get it to work with the SqueezeBox easily.  (Have heard that it does not always work.)

 

I use a 10,000RPM Raptor drive for System and have a couple of other internal drives for Working/Scratch.  Also, another 6-7 externals for off-site and other uses...

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post #41 of 142
Thread Starter 

Update: added my review of the Pioneer N-50 which can be found on page one of this thread, or HERE as well. 

post #42 of 142

Still wading through your excellent reviews, project86, but I havent seen any mention of the Arcam Solo Neo. It did cop some flack for not handling 24/192, but most reviewers seemed to enjoy the sound signature. The  smaller, cheaper Solo Mini didnt even play WAV (!) or FLAC, but people bought them by the boatload - I hope someone can loan you their Neo for review. 

post #43 of 142
Thread Starter 

The Arcam does look intriguing for what it is. The issue is that there are so many of these devices out there (and growing every day), that I felt I should limit myself to HeadFi appropriate choices. Which for me translates to devices with some type of display to navigate files and such, as well as controls on the front panel (or touch screen). Many of these devices are just big black boxes and they want you to use an iPad or something for a remote. I figure since we are going to be tied to the gear by our headphone cable, might as well have everything at our fingertips. The Arcam doesn't do that.

 

Maybe my limitations are too arbitrary.... but I don't have time to keep up reviewing even the stuff that does meet my qualifications. So I'll keep up my requirements for now.

post #44 of 142

Fair point, although I'm constantly surprised by what enthusiasts can accomplish - voyage-mpd is old-school Linux *pain* to setup on the server but once you get it running, a child can control it from an iDevice via MPOD. I'm not saying someone needs to crack the firmware in the Arcam, but ...... 

post #45 of 142

Thought I would post here that my Squeezebox Touch firmware or the computer server software needs to be downgraded to work again with my Mac to see playlists.

 

Careful when you "upgrade" software/firmware.

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Streaming Audio Devices: review and information thread (Updated 4/23 with JF Digital review)