Play MP3 & FLAC from USB Memory Stick ?
Nov 30, 2016 at 4:58 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

DudeMyCans

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Hi,
 
Sorry if this is a dumb question, although I'm pretty much a lifetime hifi nerd, I've responded well to my addiction treatment in recent years and have stepped back a little so don't really know what's available any more.
 
I'm looking for a source component that will allow me to play MP3 or FLAC files directly from a USB memory stick so I can listen on headphones. I'd like to use a pair of 600 ohm Beyer Dynamic DT880s as my main headphones which I'm thinking will rule out most of the portable devices but I'd like it to be 'transportable' (meaning that I don't want it to take over a full desktop).
 
I don't really want to use my laptop or tablet as I always find that it's a Royal pain trying to multitask.
 
The requirement to play directly off a memory stick is really just for convenience as I have two memory sticks that I keep identical and up to date. I use one in my car's mp3 player and the other is a back up. If I have to download from it onto the device then it won't be a huge issue, but I'd like have at least 64Gb of internal storage.
 
I've been thinking of maybe something like a Denon RCD M39DAB, but am not sure if it's overkill but quite like the 'one-box' approach. I was also wondering about using a music server.
 
I have a Schiit Modi and a homebrew Starving Student amp available if required (but as I said I'd quite like a one-box approach that doesn't take over my desktop).
 
Does anybody have any suggestions please ? I'd quite like to stay at the budget end of the spectrum (maybe up to $200'ish) and would happily buy used if it suits the requirements.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 9:16 AM Post #2 of 11

obobskivich

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FLAC may be a problem - it's never been extremely well embraced by the commercial world, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. As far as what you want, lots of Blu-ray players can do this, and there are specifically designed "digital media players" (like the Pioneer N50) that can do this too, but none of those are portable (and you'll need the outboard headphone amp you already have). If you want portable, what you're describing is basically an mp3 player - it would have its own internal storage as well (there used to be some players ages ago that were basically the "guts" and you added your own storage, but that's fallen out of fashion in recent years as storage has gotten so cheap). FLAC itself will again be the compatibility question - you'll just have to find a player that actually supports the format well, but otherwise you're set. As far as the headphones you have, well, that's another question - you may need a portable amp if your goal is something you can truck around.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 9:43 AM Post #3 of 11

DudeMyCans

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Thanks obobskivich.
 
The requirement for FLAC isn't too rigid, I just have music on a hard drive stored in both formats. I was thinking of maybe a streaming device or digital media player but have never really looked into them before and don't know what they can do. I actually built a music server a few years ago with a Raspberry pie, the only problem was that it had to be plugged into a tv or a monitor and I wanted something a bit more stand alone. 
 
I'd thought about a simple MP3 player (after all I've got several), but they struggle to drive my 600 ohm 880's. Maybe another solution is to buy a decent quality DAP with large enough capacity and some lower impedance headphones. I quite fancy some closed cans anyway.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 10:01 AM Post #4 of 11

obobskivich

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Generally those streaming/multimedia devices will assume you're hooking into a TV but some of them have front-panel displays (which are usually not the most intuitive/nice thing to use to navigate file trees) and newer models tend to integrate with smartphones/tablets for control. Look at the Pioneer N50 review on Head-Fi (here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/pioneer-elite-n-50-network-audio-player#reviews) to get an idea of what that can look like. You can do the same thing with other hardware of course; Pioneer isn't the only game in town. And this kind of functionality isn't restricted to dedicated "network audio players" these days either - a lot of HT receivers and Blu-ray players (and game consoles) can do this kind of stuff too. Really there's a superfluity of options.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 12:58 PM Post #5 of 11

DudeMyCans

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Thanks again.
 
I'll keep looking around, I may even have an old games console lying around that my sons aren't using that I could use. Failing that something like what you've mentioned or the Roberts Radio Stream 93i seem to fit the bill as they're controllable from my tablet or phone.
 
This has also raised my interest in setting up a home streaming network and  may look at something for that as well (different location to the first application).
 
Why does it cost me big money every time I visit this site ...... (hahaha).
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 1:25 PM Post #6 of 11

alynx

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You mean something like this?
 
https://www.amazon.com/Monday-Digital-Drivers-External-Devices/dp/B00F37K6VS/ref=pd_sbs_504_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=S9925P357HQWCFZM9T11 
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 3:02 PM Post #7 of 11

DudeMyCans

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  You mean something like this?
 
https://www.amazon.com/Monday-Digital-Drivers-External-Devices/dp/B00F37K6VS/ref=pd_sbs_504_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=S9925P357HQWCFZM9T11 

 
Yes, I was looking at something like that as well, but have never used one and wasn't sure of the functionality. I guess it'd mean that I need to plug it into a tv to control it and then take the digital signal and convert it. The price seems attractive in comparison to all the media streamers. 
 
I was actually thinking of buying one to play with over the Christmas break.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 3:13 PM Post #8 of 11

obobskivich

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Yes, I was looking at something like that as well, but have never used one and wasn't sure of the functionality. I guess it'd mean that I need to plug it into a tv to control it and then take the digital signal and convert it. The price seems attractive in comparison to all the media streamers. 

I was actually thinking of buying one to play with over the Christmas break.


Note that it's not just digital, its digital over HDMI. Very neat device, but if you don't have something that can take the HDMI signal directly (outside of AV receivers a lot of audio/hi-fi equipment cannot), you'll need an audio extractor (they're also pretty cheap) to get a S/PDIF output. A lot of TVs have this functionality built-in as well.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 4:03 PM Post #9 of 11

DudeMyCans

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Note that it's not just digital, its digital over HDMI. Very neat device, but if you don't have something that can take the HDMI signal directly (outside of AV receivers a lot of audio/hi-fi equipment cannot), you'll need an audio extractor (they're also pretty cheap) to get a S/PDIF output. A lot of TVs have this functionality built-in as well.

 
I have a spare tv that could do it. I could even feed the optical digital audio out into another dac and then into the Starving Student if I wanted to get really nerdy. Only thing is it's getting a bit more complex than I wanted. I quite liked a simple one box solution.
 
What I think I'll do is buy one of the kodi boxes like the one alynx has linked to as I want one anyway and see if I can get it to do what I want (without being too complex or taking up an entire desk) and if not buy something like the Pioneer or Roberts radio solution.
 
I do quite like the kodi box giving me movies as well and if I can get the whole TV/ kodi box/ DAC/ Amp set up to fit where I want then it may be a winner.
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 4:28 PM Post #10 of 11

obobskivich

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I think that box would be fantastic if you have the devices it can connect to - like a TV. You could use that + TV as a transport, in theory, and probably have a nicer UI than the "media streamer" devices that rely on a small front-panel display, since you'd have the whole TV, but that's also a bit big depending on the TV. :xf_eek:
 
Nov 30, 2016 at 5:02 PM Post #11 of 11

DudeMyCans

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I agree. I think it sounds a pretty good option. I'm going to order one tonight and see if I can get it to work. I guess the simple option would be just  to use the headphone socket on the tv rather than the DAC/ amp route (but where's the fun in that ? ? ? ).
 
Thanks for your help.
 

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