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24/96 multimedia hard drives with digital outs?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

i was interested in getting a logitech squeezebox when i heard they can send 24/96 digital outs to a high end DAC, but that was until hearing that it's designed to be used with a noisy computer which totally defeats the purpose though it can be used with SOME hard drives with glitchy performance on some.


then i heard about multimedia players like lacie's lacinema drives which would be a much cheaper solution to begin with not even factoring in still having to buy a hard drive to make a squeezebox touch work, but that model, at least, doesn't seem to support high definition audio.


does anyone know of a hard drive based solution that would have a 1 terrabyte minimum drive or capability, that DOESN'T need a PC or use ethernet, that's capable of at least 24/96 stereo, and that has coaxial digital out along with some sort of file navigation? i'd like to turn my stereo into a "high end juke box" instead of using my DVD player, which doesn't do DVD-A anyways.


is there some other kind of product i should be looking for? i'm clueless as to what's available having only read about the squeezebox touch a few days ago and miltimedia hard drives yesterday. i don't care about video capabilities at all. i just want to put all of my CDs on a hard drive and download some 24/96 audio and use a high end DAC for best resolution having just upgraded my speakers.


if everyone's multimedia hard drives are sold as "high def", you'd think that means audio too. i'd especially be interested in some kind of affordable system that can host room EQ software like a PC, but silently. i've noticed that the members here in this forum are into cutting edge underground gear like the eastern electric minidac that i'm interested in using myself. how can i marry that to a hard drive without needing to have my noisy PC running at the same time?

post #2 of 7

There is the Iomega Screenplay Director. I have one sitting right next to me. Terrible interface, for which you need a small TV by the way. I can hardly read the text from it. Takes ages to boot up.

I also have two Freecom 350 Network Mediaplayers. The USB socket broke off on one so I bought another one and had the same fault. 

The Popcorn Hour A110 is another one. Popcorn Hour does several types. Have a look on ebay for specs etc.


But in the end I came back to a laptop which I fitted with a Creative XFI card that has an optical output. No noise issues that I can detect via the optical out. I have a 240GB SSD drive fitted in it. Maybe that could be one reason why it is not noisy?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

laptops are way quieter than desktops with their cooling fans. i was looking at tablets the other day, and saw that some were as little as $250. if one could be hooked up to both a standard hard drive as well as some digital out that ISN'T USB (the western electric minidac only does 16/44 with USB) to feed the dac, i might look into getting one of those as it should be able to host room correction freeware too. then, i wouldn't have to maintain both pre-EQed tracks for my stereo as well as original masters as back ups, or originals in case i make some change to my system.


i'll look into the drives you mention. at first, i was liking the sound of just working with a lacie etc. as they're available for under $250 and can run directly into a DAC. you'd think more manufacturers would make a high end music server that INCLUDES room correction capabilities along the lines of a squeezebox touch/behringer DEQ2496/hard drive/DAC in a single box. that new 32 bit sabre DAC used in both the western electric minidac and oppo's newest top of the line universal player sounds like it rivals multi-thousand dollar DACs, but is available in gear under $1000


i wonder if anyone is DIYing such a solution themselves.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

i'm looking into the popcorn hour units right now. those might be the closest to what i'm looking for, especially as you can swap windows drives into them and upgrade to higher capacities down the road. i also like the "high end" look of the popcorn hour unit.


i wasn't finding any info an 24/96 for the iomega units and faulty USB jacks are a deal breaker as i hate having to buy ANY piece of electronics more than once.


i was really disappointed when i learned all of those $200 or less tablets are androids which won't support that room correction software.

i still have more reading to do, but at this point, popcorn hour looks like the best choice. it sucks that US made media players are always hobbled so they won't play WAVs (eg. sandisk & *cough* creative... read liars) where import players like cowon and hippo will play almost anything. i'm SO sick of hearing FLAC.


thanks for the info. i at least have one piece of gear that will play all of the audio i want on my wishlist now. i just found there are MORE players out there that'll do hires audio.



Alternatives to the Popcorn Hour include the ioBox 100, HDX 1000 and Kaiboer networked media tanks. These three come with both optical and co-ax outputs, and in my opinion look to be better constructed than the Popcorn hour.

i see now that the keyword i've been looking for is "networked media tank" (obvious... ???)


if anyone else is following this, i just found a link with a bunch of reviews of other devices here


Edited by budget minded - 11/8/12 at 9:02pm
post #5 of 7

If you're considering DIY, then this would be something to consider:



post #6 of 7

Great thread. OP "budget minded" has done lots and lots of research.


However, options are very limited (if there is any at all), because OP has very specific (and tough) requirements (<$250, 24/96, EQ/Room effects, >1TB storage, no noisy PC). EQ is not cheap without a computer (DEQ2496, as you already knew, is >$300). For 24/96 support, you may want to contact tech support of manufactures (if such info is not provided).


My suggestion is: an external 1/2 TB hard drive --> an used laptop with DIY SSD replacement (use SSD instead of HDD to reduce noise) --> some music playback software for EQ (pick your own favorite) --> ODAC (it is a good 24/96 USB DAC that only costs $150) --> you amp / speakers / headphones


If OP can forgo EQ and >1TB storage, then there is a 500 GB 24/96 portable iPad option here (PM that thread owner for recommended app's):



If OP can forgo EQ and 24/96, then I have a 1TB portable iPhone/Android option here (sorry, I do not have equipment or interest to test 24/96):



I have yet another cheap option, but again there is no 24/96 or EQ: I would use a WDTV Live to play flac from an external 2TB HDD and send digital to an external DAC. WDTV can stream/playback onto iPhone as well (and iPhone can send digital out through Pure i20).


There are some expensive (>$500) options listed here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/582370/streaming-audio-devices-review-and-information-thread-updated-4-23-with-jf-digital-review


Finally, here is a "crazy", no budget limit option. You may get a professional studio recorder with a big hard drive. Korg MP-10 pro costs $1000 and may not play flac, but you can perform professional EQ and use it portably with headphones to listen from hard drive. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MP10Pro    You may be able to replace its 120GB HDD with a 1TB HDD or a SSD. Professional recording gears may sound better than your audiophile players.  The thing is, I could not find a <$500 pro HDD recorder. 


Oppo BDP-105 could also be great (not sure it does EQ though), if you have $1200 to spend.

Edited by zzffnn - 12/27/12 at 1:18pm
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

i was looking into doing software EQing and saving my files as both EQed and originals. after further consideration, i think i'll just get a western electric media tank and give up the idea of high resolution. i don't know of any particularly inspiring high res recordings to even look for other than maybe dark side of the moon which i'm not liking so much these days anyways. i never bought and SACDs for my sony DVD player so maybe 24/96+ isn't as critical a feature as i thought. i have a couple hundred regular CDs, and most recorded material is still 16/44.


the western digital tanks are under $200, and for the amount of media that i do have, i could use 1 to store all of my media EQed and untouched too without filling a single terrabyte up. besides, if you have a good enough DAC, the differences in resolution shouldn't be too different, and finding the best music is more important than hifi mediocre to flat out boring fare as hires recordings tend to be.


doing software EQ correction offline on a "generic" 16/44 media drive with a schiit gungnir DAC seems like the most practical path to me. i could get another drive down the road if i ever found high res material worth it, but so far, every demo i've heard of high res recordings bores me to tears as the music is uninspiring other than a few reference regular CDs like badi assad's rhythms and mickey hart's planet drum. you can only hear dark side of the moon a few thousand times before it loses it's interest. i'd already have that on SACD otherwise.

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