Author Topic: Computer Used with your Squeezebox  (Read 4385 times)

Bigfish8

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Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« on: July 11, 2007, 01:35:35 PM »
I purchased a Squeezebox 3 and linear Elpac and had Wayne of Bolder conduct the Analog Mods with platinum caps to the S3 and mod the power supply.  My job requires me to travel extensively and I own a laptop with no desktop computer at home.  Prior to owning the S3 I really had no need for a desktop but I find I would like to have one dedicated for it.  All of my CDs have been ripped, uncompressed in .wav format to a 330 gb external HD.  As I have no other purpose for a desktop computer other than as a music server for my S3 what computer would you recommend?

Thanks,

Ken

Offline bpape

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 04:31:06 PM »
There are a ton of options.  You need hard drive and a decent web connection. CPU and case and other issues are at a minimum. Check out www.mwave.com.  Good PC for less thatn $700 for everything you need.  They'll assemble, install, and test everything but Slim Server for that price and you'll be fine.

Bryan
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Double Ugly

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2007, 04:43:14 PM »
Hi Ken,

If you have no use for a desktop, don't get one.  No sense in wasting the money.

I'm no expert, but you may want to consider a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device.  I know a number of SB and Transporter users have moved to NASs, but I've also heard grumblings of speed, reliability and other issues.  Nothing earth shattering, but apparently some adopters aren't entirely happy.  I guess it depends on what you expect from it, and how comfortable you are with working through potential issues.

If NASs aren't of interest, consider getting a second laptop and use external HDDs (several smaller drives or one large drive) exclusively, and use a single large external drive as a back-up.  External HDDs + a "Blue Light Special" laptop might be your least expensive path.  Alternatively, you could get a new laptop - maybe a really nice laptop - and relegate the one you own now to home office/surfing/gaming/porn perusal/music server duties.

Caveat - The one and only purpose of my 20+ year old computer science degree was to serve as a vehicle to get into pilot training.  Consequently, I'm quite sure Carl or one of the other more technically-savvy guys here will have better, more up-to-date advice.

Take care, Ken.  Hope to see you at the RMAF in October.

-Jim

Offline Carlman

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2007, 06:51:14 PM »
DU's suggestion to get a NAS is a good one... "Infrant" is the recommended brand sold by Slim and that's what will be easiest to implement.  There's no need to buy a desktop in your situation... that is unless you aren't using a router or some other type of network in your home setup.

-C
I really enjoy listening to music.

Offline richidoo

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2007, 07:10:04 PM »
Hi ken
Dell has new PCs for <$500. The slowest cheapest box they have is overkill for slim only. Dells customer service reputation has suffered recently by farming consumer tech support calls to India. This has improved, but you should keep this in mind. I own and recommend Dells to my business clients because they are quality design and cheap. Farmed out service is part of the reason why the machine is so cheap. You will need to remove all the crap software running on it, like Norton, AOL, photo editor software whatever else. I can help you with that if you just drop it off for a couple days.

Alternatively, if you can find a used or free donator Pentium 3 you could spend far less on this project. Load Linux or minimal XP on it and run slim only. It will still be very fast, especially with linux.

I have Infrant ReadyNAS NV which runs slimserver natively. It is a nice idea, but the processor is too slow to act as host. I don't do any scanning at all, work strictly out of "Music Folder". Browsing is tolerable but noticeably slow. Converting flac to wav at the server for optimum sound quality playing flac is impossible. Running Inguz is impossible. I use my P4  as a separate slimserver for those things and ripping. Infrant is extremely expensive for the advanced features which are nice but unnecessary. Its data throughput is unbelievably fast, good for streaming video and multitrack recording, streaming hi rez wavs, etc. I think for your application a PC is best. Doing it again I would not buy the Infrant, but just another PC. It is noisy too, since a recent firmware update increased the idling fan speed to 2600RPM!! It can't be in the same room as the system. It is annoyingly loud in any room.

You certainly could use your laptop as a slimserver. Eventually you will get tired of squinting to see the SB display, and will enjoy having the slim GUI in front of you. Laptop is ideal for that, but you could still use your laptop to control slim running on another server. If using laptop only you can hang your hard drive on the network, etc. as nas, or as shared drive in another PC that you already own? A free ethernet port on your router will allow NAS. Lots of options. Glad to chat you up about it.

Just think cheap. There is no advantage to spending more money as long as it is reliable. Try to find a donor PC like a Pentium 3 or younger. Even if you find a junker, we can probably get it going for cheap.
Rich

Offline Carlman

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2007, 07:29:17 PM »
Interesting... I have a PC and was thinking I should've done what you did, Rich... ;)  Grass is greener?  I dunno... ha...
I moved what was once my primary audio PC to my office and it is now my NAS/music server... It's a PC... and it's very quiet.  Dell has some very quiet PC's... all of them are quieter than the Infrant.... I forgot about the noise... It sounds like a space heater... and kind of looks like one too. ;)

So, forget my advice... do the PC... just keep in mind it will be a little bit more hassle to setup initially... and you'll need to spend money on more/bigger hard drives... I'd get a PC that can do ATA drives and handles 500G+ drives.

-C
I really enjoy listening to music.

Black Sand Cable

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2007, 10:17:55 PM »
I use a NAS setup (D-Link DNS-323 running RAID 1) for my Transporter and have never had so much as a hiccup with it. It works flawlessly (as a bonus it's also very quite) and is an option that should not be overlooked.

Offline richidoo

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2007, 04:55:12 AM »
I was looking at that D-Link last night too, great choice. You could stick your existing drive full of music rightinto it, and another to mirror it against failure. Then hang that off of your wireless router/switch and you're in business. You will still need a computer running slimserver though, but that could be your laptop if company lets you install software on it.

Offline mdconnelly

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2007, 07:13:06 AM »
I'm also using a NAS (Simpleshare) that has worked flawlessly.   Definitely a good strategy and the price has certainly been dropping. 

I was using an old IBM Thinkpad notebook w/Win 2000 as the Slimserver.   While it was plenty fast, I was unable to get the most recent version of Slimserver to run on it.  Some problem with MySQL.   After far too much time messing with it (including much help from SlimDevices), I popped for a new Dell XPS 410 desktop when I saw a $200 off coupon.  So now I'm running the latest Slimserver on the Dell under Vista, storing the files on it (faster ripping/conversion) and using the NAS as a backup.   I don't keep the Dell in the listening room (even tho it is quiet), but use a browser on the old Thinkpad to access the Slimserver while I'm listening.   Works like a charm.


Offline bpape

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2007, 07:59:07 AM »
Yeah - that was always my thing about the NAS.  If I have to have a PC anyway to run the server side, why have another box and not just a RAID controller and a few drives in the PC.

Mine stays in my office and I just got the Nokia 770 for remote usage. 

Bryan
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Offline richidoo

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2007, 08:45:10 AM »
The Infrant promised to solve that 'SB without a computer' problem with its onboard RISC processor, running slim natively. It actually does a good job at that, considering it is primarily a network appliance, not a high end audio product. I've played it everyday for a year without a problem, no computer, only getting annoyed at the browsing speed a few times. But we want perfection! I'm sure the newer models are faster and quieter. Some people are modding them to be fanless. When they figure out how to fit a pentium 4 in there, I will try it! Imagine the fan noise then!

It is nice to have kids pictures and videos on a safe Raid 5 array for piece of mind. When I get a HTPC I will stream video to and from it easily. For me it is a long term plan, whole house audio, Sonos, multimple streams of music and video, etc. My mailbox got bashed after HS graduation this year, so me and a friend are gonna put wireless cameras around the neighborhood and stream the compressed video to the NAS, shared on the net. Not sure if the webserver part of the NAS can handle it, but the storage can easily.

Call me a flip-flopper. There's a good and bad side to everything. I should have mentioned more of the good about the NAS on the first post. I have gushed about the ReadyNAS on other forums. Now I am a bit more experienced with it.

For what Ken is doing, a few hundred bucks  (or less) should do it. The ReadyNAS is close to 2 grand with a couple big drives.
Rich

Bigfish8

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2007, 05:49:27 PM »
Guys:

Thanks for all of your feedback!  I guess I will be shopping for an inexpensive desktop PC.  I just wished I needed it for something other than as a server for the Squeezebox.  I have been using my business laptop and it has done a great job.  If I had a permanent computer as a server for the S3 it would just make using the S3 even more convenient.  Also, Wayne of Bolder recommended break-in of 600 to 1000 hrs on the platinum caps and it is going to take forever to get there using a lap top on a part time basis.

Thanks Again,

Ken

Offline richidoo

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2007, 06:11:53 PM »
You can run that SB into anything with a RCA input to break it in. Connect to your candella with Candella's power shut off. Still works fine. Program a mighty bass heavy playlist, crank the volume to max and put it on repeat playlist. 6 weeks from now (1000 hours) you will be all done. Of course, you can still listen to it, but just leave it playing the break in songs playlist when you're not around. It just needs to see a load to play into, in order to draw current through the caps, Which is why you connect it to the preamp or any kind of input jack on basically anything, receiver whatever. There is supposedly a CD with tracks created specifically for breaking components in faster but I can't remember the name of it.  My memory's going, I just read about it last night DUH :duh

Lemme know if you need help with your PC. I'll keep my ears open and ask around about a donor for you.
Rich

Bigfish8

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Re: Computer Used with your Squeezebox
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2007, 06:31:33 PM »
Thanks Rich!

My issue with breaking in the S3 has been that I have only been able to send music (playlist) to it when I am home with my laptop.  I think I am up to around 250 hours now but it is a slow process when I only get 50 hours or so on the weekends.  When I find a desktop things should go much faster!

Ken