Computer Ward => Streaming Players => Topic started by: James Edward on April 05, 2019, 02:16:46 PM

Title: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 05, 2019, 02:16:46 PM
I will say at the outset- I want it simple and stable. To be honest, I have heard streaming in systems at shows, and some at peopleís homes, and what I like is the availability of the music; not the sound so much.
So... What is the way to begin? I figure there must be a tried and true solution. I would like to use an iPad as the controller, if thatís the right word. I donít have the access to run a wired connection to the system, so wireless is necessary. Again, this may not be ideal for SQ, but thatís not the goal, music access is. Iíd prefer a bug free one as opposed to the latest and greatest.
I suppose I will need a streamer; again, Iíd like something bug free that doesnít need care and feeding if possible.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: Nick B on April 05, 2019, 05:02:39 PM
Well, Iíve used the SB Logitech and imho it was an unstable pita. I then went to the Auralic Mini. If it goes funky, itís a bit of a pain to reboot. But the iPad controlling Roon with Roon Core on a separate computer is a breeze to run
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: Jack on April 05, 2019, 05:13:32 PM

The easiest solution is probably going to be the Bluesound Node 2 which you can buy from AA and if it doesn't suit your needs in the first 30 days send it back.  I preferred the Aries Mini when I tested them both 3 years ago but the Mini has been discontinued and not replaced by Auralic.  Next up would be the Innuos Zen Mini but is wired so you would need a wireless extender to get the hardwired connection. 
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 05, 2019, 06:31:14 PM
Ok. What about streamers is better than just bluetoothing internet radio, Tidal, iTunes, etc., from my iPad to an input on my Integrated amp? Please donít interpret my question the wrong way- I just am not sure where the streamer fits in. Is it considered a source, or a conduit?
I feel Iím missing a piece of the puzzle...   :duh
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: Jack on April 05, 2019, 06:38:57 PM
It's a source device and a conduit to music material on the internet.  Plus the quality is greater than that inherent in Bluetooth.  That's why buying from  AA may be the safest bet for you to see if you in fact hear a difference.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 05, 2019, 06:43:13 PM
So the streamer is actually connected to the internet, and the iPad/laptop, etc., is simply a visual controller for the streamer?
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: Jack on April 05, 2019, 07:11:35 PM
Yes the iPad is just the control point for the streamers software though there are certain Internet radio stations that broadcast in higher quality through their own website than what they provide to the services the streamer companies subscribe to.  You can then just use Airplay to the streamer for those.  Radio Paradise is the one I use that streams in FLAC on their website but much lower quality through the Internet Radio services like Tunein. iTunes you would also use Airplay for.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: mdconnelly on April 06, 2019, 05:32:35 AM
If you have a large collection of digital music (CDs, downloads, etc), then I think Roon is one of the best streaming systems around.   I was a long-time Squeezebox user but jumped to Roon 3+ years ago and never looked back.   I can stream to my main audio rig, the SqueezeRadio in my bedroom, a small system in the kitchen, and a  pair of Audioengine bluetooth speakers in another room - all easily controlled by my iphone or iPad or any computer in the house.   I use it for 95% of my listening.   Sound quality is every bit as good as spinning CDs and better because it can play hi-res (192khz, 24bit or DSD64).

Roon is pretty damn stable, but I use it almost exclusively with wired internet.  I know it is less stable with wifi - particularly when streaming hi-res music.  And it is dependent on using a computer to stream from and an endpoint (one or more) to stream to which can be a small hassle whenever there are updates.    While it's not DIY, I wouldn't say it's just plug and play either.    To put it in context, it's perfect for me because I've always loved tinkering with audio geer, ripping CDs to flac files, etc... My sweet wife loves it but she would never want to deal with getting it setup, or dealing with occasional updates.

If just streaming from the internet, there are numerous solutions and they work fairly well if you just want to use bluetooth.   Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer and a host of others.  Most all have free trial periods.   

One last thought... I know an audiophile kinda guy that fell in love with Amazon's Alexa and Echo.   He and his wife love to tell Alexa what they want to hear and it gets streamed from Amazon Music.   It seems Alexa has become another member of their family.   A bit strange but damned if it doesn't work for them.   No, it doesn't replace his main audio rig for serious listening, but it does work for general backround music (and a myriad of questions that Alexa will answer).
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: tmazz on April 06, 2019, 11:07:59 AM
I have used the original Bluetooth Node for about 3 years now and it has been very stable. But rather than AA if you dicide to go down that road I would recommend buying from Crutchfield. It is rare that yiou see any of these units selling new for anything other than list price, so you will pay the same at both places but Crutchfield also offers 7 day a week telephone technical support which can come in handy if you ever hit some kind of snag with the streamer. They also have a 60 day return policy.

As far as Bluetooth goes that is a wide iopen question. It depends on what you are planning on streaming and what kind of Bluetooth device you are using. There are several different versions of Bluetooth out there and they are capable of transmitting different bandwidths, and therefor differing levels of SQ.

    AAC (250 kbps) and SBC (328 kbps) are bandwidth limited to pretty much MP3 bitrate speeds. But keep in mind that they, like all Bluetooth standards (even the higher quality ones) use lossy compression so if you use them to transmit MP3 files you are compressing and already compressed file, which will degrade the audio quality even more.

aptX (352 kbps) and aptX HD (576 kbps) are both marketed as being good for up to 24/48 which seems strange as one has a significantly higher bit rate than the other, but then who ever said that marketing people know what they are talking about (or tell the truth?) and lastly is  LDAC (990 kbps) which is said to be able to transmit music at up to 24/96. But again it uses lossy compression, so it would not make a whole lot of sense to me to pay extra for something like Tidal HiFi to get high bit rate music only to compress it on the way to your stereo.

All that said, the bottom line here is what are you really trying to do with streaming. Bluetooth is undoubtedly an "inferior" way to transmit music if you are only looking at sound quality. But depending on what you are doing SQ may not be your number one priority. I have Amazon Echo units all over the house and they work great when I am just using for background music to enjoy while doing other things. Not the ultimate in SQ but still good enough to enjoy for casual listening. I have one in my garage workshop that gets quite a bit of use. And it does the job just fine  as SQ tends to be less important of an issue when the music is competing with the sounds of power tools. But I do have to say that while I have an Echo Dot connected to my main system because there are just times that I need background music in that room, the SQ difference is immediately apparent when I play the same music through the echo and my streamer.) I also us the Echos when I want music throughout the whole house, like when we are entertaining. But hooking all of the echos together I can have music all over at a decent volume  without  having to play it loud in one room so you can hear it in the others. So I am very happy living with the lower SQ of the Echos because at times it provides me with feature that are more important to me than SQ. And when SQ is more important I simply choose to use another source of music. This is nothing new as many of us have been shuffling between formats (LPs vs CD) for many years now.

What you really need to decide is what you really want to get out of streaming and then pick the tool that best accomplishes those goals. If you just want to preview new music or listen casually Bluetooth may be just the thing for you as  it sounds like you have the hardware required to get you started. But if you want to do some serious sweet spot listening  with the streamer I think that the quality that Bluetooth has to offer with fall short of what you need.

Jim, you have my cell number on the club mailing list. Feel free to give me a call if you want to discuss this further. (if you can find the list shoot me a PM.)
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: mfsoa on April 06, 2019, 11:49:51 AM
What do you want to output from the streamer?  Analog? and if so does it need to have a volume control?

Digital? and if so USB, spdif or optical?

While I won't call them simple I can say it's doable and fun to build your own Raspberry Pi solution. Although I haven't run Logitech Media Server on one directly, I understand that this can be done, so you run LMS on the Pi and also use a HAT (hardware attached on top) to get high quality analog or digital out from the Pi.

I use the Squeezer app to control my LMS.

You can do this for less than $100 as long as you can download free software, unzip it, put it on a micro SD card, insert the card into the Pi and turn stuff on. EZ Peasy. Plug in a hard drive for local music storage if you want.

Look at the HiFiBerry and Allo websites.

Now you have platform where you can try out different software packages (Moode, Volumio), or turn tour Pi into an HQPlayer NAA device for super-high quality SQ, or, turn your Pi into a Roon endpoint for a seamless, very high quality integration with Roon. All it takes is putting a new piece of software on the SD card and turning the Pi back on. The flexibility is something, but with flexibility comes complexity and I know that's not where you want to go...

But for $100, to have this little thingy that you put together and brought to life be the centerpiece of a high-end system is pretty cool IMO.

Ability to access free music on the internet has become an indispensable part of my listening habits.

Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 07, 2019, 05:14:01 AM
Ok... It is 7:45 Sunday morning, and I just started a 30 day trial of Tidal. I did not get the hifi plus super duper edition, as I want to see if I even like this.
Iím just using an iPad sending via Bluetooth to the stereo.
Itís almost too easy... A song list of 127 (!) best of 1967 just popped up; as I listen, I realize I want to hear a live version of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun... Ok, itís on.
Thanks for the help so far; I hadnít thought of just trying the service via Bluetooth until it was suggested.
Just another quick question- do I assume correctly that if I bring my iPad/ iPod anywhere that has WiFi I can sign in to Tidal and play music? This is not somehow embedded only into my home wireless system only?
FWIW, I donít use a smartphone, so car, whatever, is out, and thatís fine by me.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 07, 2019, 01:42:25 PM
Iím replying to my own threads now... No life.
I know I like music more than gear, but itís a close second. For now, just streaming Tidal through my iPad, and using Bluetooth as a conduit is great. Iíve already found two songs that I really like and probably never would have heard otherwise.
Itís a GREAT first step, and I donít have the hassle of setting up a streaming device... Yet.
I always opt for the low end of the fm dial, as it provides a cornucopia of diverse musical offerings, and this experience is like that without the fund drives.

Now to the question that popped into my head today:
I opted for the low cost (actually no cost) trial, and now wonder- would the higher cost hifi Tidal option offer better SQ even though Iím using just Bluetooth as a connection? BTW, the low cost sound option is far from terrible.

Thanks. Iím glad I asked the question in my original post, and appreciate all the responses.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: tmazz on April 07, 2019, 05:34:57 PM
You might be onto something. I don't know what Bluetooth version your iPad and receiver use, but there is a good chance that thet link migt be the chaokepoint as far as SQ goes.

And probably the only way to know is to try it. If you want one night I can take a ride over to your place and bring my iPad loaded with my Tidal HiFi accout  and we can compare the SQ side by side.
Title: Re: Walk Me Through What I Need To Stream Music...
Post by: James Edward on April 07, 2019, 06:16:50 PM
This is the Bluetooth receiver I have connected to my Integrated amp:

As they go, I think itís one of the better ones.

As far as the iPad goes, itís a new model, so whatever it employs, is what I use.
Thanks Tom, I will contact you for a comparison test. Iím curious for sure.

I have been threatening a mini meeting for a while, so maybe this will all come together on a Saturday afternoon.
Again, thanks for all the input.