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Is there a way to access a USB drive wirelessly from a computer?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I am about to get a CD player with a USB input (compatible with FAT16/32 drives), that uses the Burr Brown DAC from the CD player, so you can plug in a flash drive or MP3 player and get the benefit of that DAC (like many new receivers). Unfortunately you can't navigate folders too well from the CD player.  I am wondering if there are any gadgets out there that can let me access a thumb drive (or whatever) that is connected to the USB input on the CD player, from my computer, wirelessly, to allow me to play files on the drive from the laptop (so the computer is sort of like a remote).

 

I know there are devices that can connect the computer to the stereo wirelessly using a USB transmitter and a receiver that has RCA inputs to connect to the stereo (and therefore using whatever DAC is in the device), but I am wondering if there are any that will let me use the CD player's USB input, to take advantage of the nice DACs.

 

 

So, to put it simply, is there anything that will let me stick a USB drive in my stereo system and access (play) the folders on it wirelessly from my laptop?


Edited by tman1 - 12/12/12 at 11:45pm
post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tman1 View Post

 

So, to put it simply, is there anything that will let me stick a USB drive in my stereo system and access (play) the folders on it wirelessly from my laptop?

 

I kinda get what you want to do, but I'm confused - if the music's in the USB drive in the stereo system how are you playing it from the laptop?

One thing you can do is see if a BT USB data transceiver can work on the CDPs USB input, then connect to that with your computer (using another transceiver if your computer doesn't have BT built in). If the USB input works with a computer you can just set your laptop near it, then get a remote control app so you can control it from your phone. I use UniversalRemote for Android to control my PC and active speakers when I'm using it for ambient sound.

 

Or you can just get something like these instead of a CDPlayer : M1 Clic , Aune S1.Some of these music servers come with remote apps (iOS and Android) instead of having to install a monitor (as with HT media players, but those presumed you'd have one since they're designed for movies) or force you to squint (as the Wadia 170i did if you're using it with a speaker system).

post #3 of 16

Why don't you instead get a CD player that also has digital inputs for your computer, and then play the files directly from the computer?

 

If you can't/don't want to run a cable from your computer, get an Apple Airport Express and plug that in next to the CD player, and use its digital output as the input to the cd player.  The AE carries a lossless signal, and there are third party programs that can access it, so you don't have to use iTunes.

 

If you do use iTunes, and also have an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch you can then use the Remote app to control what you are listening to, which is about as seamless a setup as you are going to get.
 

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. Yeah I was thinking of looking into if bluetooth would be a solution, but not sure about that.

 

I will be getting a new CD player, since I have well over 1000 CDs that will not be getting ripped any time soon. I do want to control the USB input wirelessly (thus the original) question.

 

**So the USB on the airport express sends a digital signal out? So I can just plug that into the USB input on the CD player and control it wirelessly with the laptop? If so, that may be an answer.**

 

I also found this last night - a USB stick that acts as a bridge between the computer and the USB port, using WiFi, so it acts like your whole computer is on the USB, and you control it from the computer. If it works, might be what I was looking for. At least one review said it was slow access files, but I may take a chance on it:
 

http://hsti.com/products/wirelessmediastick

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tman1 View Post

Thanks for the replies. Yeah I was thinking of looking into if bluetooth would be a solution, but not sure about that.

...

I also found this last night - a USB stick that acts as a bridge between the computer and the USB port, using WiFi, so it acts like your whole computer is on the USB, and you control it from the computer. If it works, might be what I was looking for. At least one review said it was slow access files, but I may take a chance on it:
 

http://hsti.com/products/wirelessmediastick

 

Take note thought it might not work. Make sure there's return policy on that item or even the CDP, or try the same player in a HiFi dealer's with that device.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by tman1 View Post

 

I will be getting a new CD player, since I have well over 1000 CDs that will not be getting ripped any time soon. I do want to control the USB input wirelessly (thus the original) question.

 

If the CDP can take input from an active computer streaming it, not just a HDD or other storage media, you can set the laptop down near the CDP (or a long enough USB cable to wherever you can set it down), then get a remote app for your smartphone. I'm using the free version of UnifiedRemote for Android and I can't browse files, but based on the blurb on the pay version, I think it can do that (I only use it on shuffle and ambient so I don't need that). Also I have MonkeyMote to control MediaMonkey on the older laptop using my iPad, which can browse through the files but set-up is hell, but then I got a stand to keep the iPad upright which worked with the CCK, so I prefer just using that one. All it really lacks now is the storage.

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tman1 View Post

Thanks for the replies. Yeah I was thinking of looking into if bluetooth would be a solution, but not sure about that.

 

I will be getting a new CD player, since I have well over 1000 CDs that will not be getting ripped any time soon. I do want to control the USB input wirelessly (thus the original) question.

 

**So the USB on the airport express sends a digital signal out? So I can just plug that into the USB input on the CD player and control it wirelessly with the laptop? If so, that may be an answer.**

 

I also found this last night - a USB stick that acts as a bridge between the computer and the USB port, using WiFi, so it acts like your whole computer is on the USB, and you control it from the computer. If it works, might be what I was looking for. At least one review said it was slow access files, but I may take a chance on it:
 

http://hsti.com/products/wirelessmediastick


The Airport Express uses Toslink digital out via the 3.5mm port.  The USB port is for print serving.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks again - yes I discovered today that the airport express USB is for a printer, so that won't work.

 

I think I am going to try the Wireless Media Stick. As designed, it seems to be what I am looking for. Guess I'll have to see how well it actually works.

post #8 of 16

I can't see what that stick can do that an Airport Express can't (at least as regards your wants) - and the Airport Express is a tried and true system that we know passes bit-perfect data wirelessly between a computer and the connected device.  I have no idea what the specs are on that stick, but I would be very very surprised if it is anything close to audiophile grade. 

 

The other question I would ask about this device is can you actually do any control from the computer side of things?  It looks to me like what it does is just act as virtual storage space for that stick, so you point a file share at it, and it now can access the media on that share, but you still have to access that media from the device's own navigation system.  I don't think it can 'push' any kind of control from the computer side - but maybe I'm not understanding.
 

It's the very same question that ProtegeManiac asked in the very first reply - "I kinda get what you want to do, but I'm confused - if the music's in the USB drive in the stereo system how are you playing it from the laptop?"

 

USB on these devices is not designed for any kind of remote control from another device.  An Airport Express or Bluetooth receiver is, because they are just plugging in to a dumb audio port on your receiver leaving all the control to the connected device.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

I can't see what that stick can do that an Airport Express can't (at least as regards your wants) - and the Airport Express is a tried and true system that we know passes bit-perfect data wirelessly between a computer and the connected device.  I have no idea what the specs are on that stick, but I would be very very surprised if it is anything close to audiophile grade. 

 

The other question I would ask about this device is can you actually do any control from the computer side of things?  It looks to me like what it does is just act as virtual storage space for that stick, so you point a file share at it, and it now can access the media on that share, but you still have to access that media from the device's own navigation system.  I don't think it can 'push' any kind of control from the computer side - but maybe I'm not understanding.
 

It's the very same question that ProtegeManiac asked in the very first reply - "I kinda get what you want to do, but I'm confused - if the music's in the USB drive in the stereo system how are you playing it from the laptop?"

 

USB on these devices is not designed for any kind of remote control from another device.  An Airport Express or Bluetooth receiver is, because they are just plugging in to a dumb audio port on your receiver leaving all the control to the connected device.

 

 

What this stick can do that the Airport Express can't, I believe, is enable me to play music wirelessly through the USB input on an audio component (CD player in this case), and therefore use the CD player's DAC. If I had an external DAC, then I could use the digital out on the Airport Express to plug into that. (And I may do just that if I end up getting a Bifrost at some point, but for now, for around $50, this stick seems worth a shot.)

 

As for control, it seems that you "tell" the stick which folders you want it to access while it is plugged into the computer, then when you plug it into a device (CD player), you access the stick from the computer and choose what you want to do (play music, movies, share pics if connected to a digital frame, etc.) , and the stick accesses the files through the WiFi.

 

The thing is, the music etc. is NOT on stick, it is still on the computer but being accessed by the stick through the wireless network. The stick not a storage device but instead is basically just a bridge, or antenna, that access the files. So the performance is affected by the usual WiFi factors

 

I am still researching how well it is implemented (arranging playlists, etc.) - I am guessing that you just choose songs to play in WMP (or whatever) like usual, and the signal is sent to the stick. From what I've read so far the thing seems to work pretty well, although it may access files slowly depending on the WiFi network.


http://the-gadgeteer.com/2012/11/03/hsti-wireless-media-stick-review/
 

Here is a similar thing I just found, which I will check out online also:

 

http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/25/infinitec-infinite-usb-memory-drive-review/

post #10 of 16

See, that's what I'm not sure that stick does.  I can see it being able to act as the bridge as you say where it presents the folder structure to the connected device, but I can't see how it can integrate control from a media player on a computer through that device.  Nothing in either of the reviews you just posted indicates that you can choose a song to play in WMP and it starts playing on the connected stereo.  You're looking at the wrong device if that's what you want to do.  What that stick allows you to do is exactly what a regular USB stick can do, except that it is not constrained by the physical storage on the stick.  You still have to use the CD player or TV's control mechanism to navigate the folder structure it is bridging.

 

Further, I can't see how the translation that this stick would have to do would improve things in any way that would benefit sound quality.  Many newer CD players have optical inputs which allow you to connect a device like the Airport Express and use the CD player's DAC.  This is exactly what the AE excels at, and we know it carries the signal bit perfect, and has an excellent user interface for control.

 

What model of CD player are you looking at?
 

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

See, that's what I'm not sure that stick does.  I can see it being able to act as the bridge as you say where it presents the folder structure to the connected device, but I can't see how it can integrate control from a media player on a computer through that device.  Nothing in either of the reviews you just posted indicates that you can choose a song to play in WMP and it starts playing on the connected stereo.  You're looking at the wrong device if that's what you want to do.  What that stick allows you to do is exactly what a regular USB stick can do, except that it is not constrained by the physical storage on the stick.  You still have to use the CD player or TV's control mechanism to navigate the folder structure it is bridging.

 

Further, I can't see how the translation that this stick would have to do would improve things in any way that would benefit sound quality.  Many newer CD players have optical inputs which allow you to connect a device like the Airport Express and use the CD player's DAC.  This is exactly what the AE excels at, and we know it carries the signal bit perfect, and has an excellent user interface for control.

 

What model of CD player are you looking at?
 

 

You are right about controlling from the computer. From HSTI:

 

"Hi,
If you want to choose which files to play from the computer (like a playlist) that would only be possible if the media player has the ability to add to a playlist on the media player.  The only way to really do this is to create a shared folder on the PC with just the files you want to play, which isn't very convenient.

You can only access the files from the media player, you are correct.

Hope that answers your question.

thanks
"

This negates the benefit for me since supposedly the CD player does not indicate file names (a major problem if you want to use a flash drive). It is the Yamaha CD-C600, by the way. Seems like a good, relatively reliable 5 disc changer (which I like), with Burr Brown DAC. Looks like only more expensive CD players have a digital input. For that price, I would just get an external DAC to use with the changer and also with the digital out on an Airport Express (which as mentioned above I may do in the future).

 

The way the stick would improve the sound quality is by using the CD player's DAC with digital files from the computer, instead of the lesser quality DAC in a wireless USB system like say the Creative Labs Sound Blaster, which I now may get anyway for the hell of it to play files remotely from the computer. I can still plug my Walkman MP3 player into the CD player and get the benefit of the BB DAC, but just won't be able to control it remotely.

 

(Regarding the stick - oh well - so close but yet... At least I've learned a lot about streaming audio in the last couple days, staring from scratch!)


Edited by tman1 - 12/14/12 at 11:57am
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

This system is really cool and would be the ideal solution, but at $350 it is a little steep, since I could put that toward an external DAC and Airport Express and use the DAC for the CD player also.

 

USB transmitter, and USB powered receiver with analog out, to stream music from a computer to a stereo system. They use internal Burr Brown DACs!! And supposedly do not interfere with the WiFi network, which seems to be a problem with wireless USB systems, from what I've read.

 

http://www.audiopro.com/products/living-wf100

 

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tman1 View Post

 

You are right about controlling from the computer. From HSTI:

 

"Hi,
If you want to choose which files to play from the computer (like a playlist) that would only be possible if the media player has the ability to add to a playlist on the media player.  The only way to really do this is to create a shared folder on the PC with just the files you want to play, which isn't very convenient.

You can only access the files from the media player, you are correct.

Hope that answers your question.

thanks
"

This negates the benefit for me since supposedly the CD player does not indicate file names (a major problem if you want to use a flash drive). It is the Yamaha CD-C600, by the way. Seems like a good, relatively reliable 5 disc changer (which I like), with Burr Brown DAC. Looks like only more expensive CD players have a digital input. For that price, I would just get an external DAC to use with the changer and also with the digital out on an Airport Express (which as mentioned above I may do in the future).

 

The way the stick would improve the sound quality is by using the CD player's DAC with digital files from the computer, instead of the lesser quality DAC in a wireless USB system like say the Creative Labs Sound Blaster, which I now may get anyway for the hell of it to play files remotely from the computer. I can still plug my Walkman MP3 player into the CD player and get the benefit of the BB DAC, but just won't be able to control it remotely.

 

(Regarding the stick - oh well - so close but yet... At least I've learned a lot about streaming audio in the last couple days, staring from scratch!)

 

Yeah, that's what I thought. I couldn't see how they could have any sort of universal two-way control.

 

I realize that the stick would use the CD player's DAC, but that is only part of the equation.  What happens between the source computer and the receiver matters far more than the DAC the does the final conversion.  Many cheap streaming solutions will use some sort of compression or other tricks or cheats that degrade the original file.  That's why the fact that the Airport Express does bit-perfect, lossless transmission is so remarkable.  It's not the norm.

 

Do you need the actual CD player or could you instead spend the money on a DAC and an Airport Express and then use your computers CD player?

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

 

Do you need the actual CD player or could you instead spend the money on a DAC and an Airport Express and then use your computers CD player?

 

Just to add - if anyone has this set-up but then needs a more focused player* a <$100 video disc player (like a special price on a solid Sony BluRay player, or older DVD player) with the right SPDIF output (coax, since the Airport Express uses toslink), can be used for just music playback.

 

 

 

 

*no boot-up time, no setting up/interference for computer alert sounds, etc

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Does the airport express ONLY work with i-tunes?

 

That could be a dealbreaker for me.

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