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Freestanding hard drive music player

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NomoneyNohoney
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Freestanding hard drive music player

#335210

Postby NomoneyNohoney » August 23rd, 2020, 9:05 am

I am looking for some kind of music player, that can read from hard drives. (My music is about 1 TB of mixed flac/mp3/wav.)
What I envisage is something like a DAB radio menu system, or an old juke box, where you can scroll through the folders and then dig deeper to find the individual songs on an album for example.
It doesn't need to be loud as I can patch it into my stereo system, so I guess what I'm looking for is something maybe 10" wide, 3" thick and 6" tall, that I can load with all my own stuff, or even add my own hard disk inside it.

I'd appreciate suggestions for things to search for or to investigate, as I'm bored with having to use the computer as the head unit to play music.
Thanks!

Midsmartin
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335212

Postby Midsmartin » August 23rd, 2020, 9:28 am

Maybe the Brennan B2 is what you want? I've never tried one, but looked into it once. It's a standalone box with a hard drive containing your cd collection. I think you need to supply speakers.

Otherwise there are multiple ways of storing music on your pc/laptop/Nas and playing it back using an app on your phone/tablet as a remote control. Sonos is the big name of course.

I'd like to recommend Squeezebox but the commercial hardware to play it back is no longer made. The software is still developed, but hardware is either DIY or old from eBay.

NomoneyNohoney
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335237

Postby NomoneyNohoney » August 23rd, 2020, 12:03 pm

Thank you - that's absolutely the kind of suggestions I was hoping for.
The Brennan is way outside my pricing, while a squeezebox is pretty close to what I think I want. Ebay has only one sensibly priced unit at the moment, so I think I'll set an Ebay alert for new 'squeezebox' items and see what comes up.

Just as an aside, somewhere I have an old O2 Joggler, never used, just bought 'cos it was a couple of pounds. I think there was some kind of connection or interface with squeezebox- anyone have any clue what I'm on about?

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335241

Postby Stompa » August 23rd, 2020, 12:24 pm

NomoneyNohoney wrote:Just as an aside, somewhere I have an old O2 Joggler, never used, just bought 'cos it was a couple of pounds. I think there was some kind of connection or interface with squeezebox- anyone have any clue what I'm on about?

Yes, I had one of those. I seem to recall installing SqueezePlay on the Joggler, and Logitech Media Server on my PC such that I could then get the Joggler to play music stored on the PC. My recollection is that the sound quality (from the Joggler headphone output) was just about acceptable, I guess mainly due to it being fitted with a cheap DAC.

formoverfunction
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335269

Postby formoverfunction » August 23rd, 2020, 2:35 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0CufyjhK_4

Rapsberry Pi Juke Box. If you have speakers, you just need a Pi, Amp hat, storage and some kind of monitor.

Maybe £100-150

*I use an old Raspberry Pi 3 playing to an Amazon Echo via Bluetooth from an SSD attached to the Pi. I control it via my Laptop using SSH (to the Pi) and MOC (Music on Console) command line player (on the Pi).

Last time I counted, I had just over 22,000 MP3 files. As I had all the bits; the Echo, an old Pi and the SDD in a dead works laptop it cost me nothing.

I also use cvlc ( the command line version of VLC) and playetctl command (it's in lots of repo's) and play net radio throught the Amazon Echo via the Pi.

I use a "pod cather" to down podcasts and also play them on the Pi via the Echo.

* there plenty alternative ways, include using a smart phone or device like an iPad. The Pi is using just 500mb and I control it from a terminal on my MacBook Pro when working. It takes a lot less resources than iTunes and using iTunes Match. I don't want to store all those files on the laptop any longer. So, Apple's severs (iTunes Match), Raspberry Pi and Pi based NAS server was my solution.

Overall, I found it a good solution to replacing an aging laptop. Afterall, shouldn't we expect at least 10 years from a chunky purchase from Apple.

PrincessB
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335272

Postby PrincessB » August 23rd, 2020, 3:09 pm

I also thought the Pi might be the ideal solution. Unfortunately, I've never owned one so I can only add some ideas.

If you're planning to add a hard drive, I would recommend a laptop unit, partly because they are smaller but the slower spin speed makes them quieter than a full sized desktop drive. Another alternative would to push all of your files onto a NAS and access them from there.

With all of the music remote, you might be able to find some software that would work on a tablet and if you don't might the possibility of audio quality loss, connect the tablet to the amp using bluetooth.

My TV room has a Tangent Ampster with Bluetooth and I thoroughly enjoy parking up in there on a Saturday afternoon, linking my Ipad to the amp and catching up on Serious Jockin from the previous days Steve Wright show. Admittedly, that's streaming rather than from the library but it works very well.

If you don't mind a bit of proper DIY, you could set up something using a partly dismantled laptop (preferably with touch screen) an inexpensive DAC (I use a Behringer 222 on my main machine) Under £20 and a good option for anyone using an older motherboard with low quality onboard audio.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-UCA2 ... Z7TDXDF3KP

The problem to me is not a hardware one, the issue will be finding some software that works to your satisfaction.

Good luck.

B.

genou
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335276

Postby genou » August 23rd, 2020, 3:17 pm

PrincessB wrote:I
The problem to me is not a hardware one, the issue will be finding some software that works to your satisfaction.

B.


Plex server on a NAS, and the Plex client on whatever. I can pull music and video off my Synology NAS with my Fire Stick, so it comes through the TV setup. Or pull to a tablet / phone. Goes over wi-fi, so more reliable than Bluetooth.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335281

Postby swill453 » August 23rd, 2020, 3:43 pm

genou wrote:Plex server on a NAS, and the Plex client on whatever. I can pull music and video off my Synology NAS with my Fire Stick, so it comes through the TV setup.

Yes, this. I have the Plex server on my Windows 10 PC, with the client on all my phone and tablet devices. The client then casts to a Chromecast on my non-smart TV with its decent sound setup (Sony soundbar and subwoofer).

Scott.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335291

Postby Grumpsimus » August 23rd, 2020, 4:33 pm

The Brennan B2 seems to be what the OP was looking for, but is too expensive for him. I have one and it works well and I think would do everything he wants. The only thing I don't like about the B2 is the indexing system which uses the Artist/Album/Track model, which works for most music but is a pain for classical music, of which I have rather a lot.

The Brennan B2 is based around the Raspberry Pi - they have put all the components together in a small case and developed software which works well. You could put a similiar system together yourself if you have some experience of electronics and loading software and keeping it updated. I considered that this is an option for the keen diyer.

Personally I would be very wary of going done the Squeeze Box route. Logitech stopped making it in 2012, any hardware will be pretty old now, how long is it going to last?

The music is already on a HD on your computer so why not leave it there. You could access via a Sonus system, controlled from a mobile, tablet or even a computer. The Sonus One would work, but a cheaper option would be the IKEA Symfonisk, which to all intents and purposes appears to be exactly the same at £89.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335296

Postby NomoneyNohoney » August 23rd, 2020, 5:12 pm

Really enjoying this discussion: thank you all for your input.

I note a comment about how you don't want too fast an HD if its spinning type, as its noisy. Now its time to confess...

Some months ago I bought a Sky box locally for £1.00, and found that inside it had a large hard drive, 5400 rpm, so I extracted the drive and then used a USB adapter, and backed up all my music and documents from my PC and now keep the drive in a drawer, as my archive storage.

That set me off, and I admit that I have since than demolished about four or five more Sky boxes, to rescue the drives. Most are 5400 or 5900 rpm, although one is 7200, and the sizes are 1.5 to 2.0 terabytes. Plonk them into a USB SATA 3 housing (check Ebay for "3.5 usb docking station") and then swap the drives in and out depending what you want to do. I now have a 2TB drive of PC backups, another for music, another for Films/TV/Videos and so on.
The Sky boxes aren't very sought after on Ebay, so you can sometimes get them for a fiver or so, if there are no other bidders, and in my book, a 2TB drive for about a fiver plus postage, is well worth having. Check on Wikipedia, but it's the HD Sky boxes that seem to have the biggest, newest drives.

With all these drives, I did consider trying to make a 4-bay NAS, but the costs and effort versus the return on effort invested didn't seem worth it. The stack of drives sit in a sideboard drawer and are plugged in and out of the USB3 SATA docking station as required.

Hope that's of interest to someone - on Ebay used 2TB drives from surveillance systems are about £30 - £40 when last I looked, so demolishing Sky boxes is very LBYM, and you get drives, connecting cables and cooling fans as well. All useful stuff for a tinkerer!

Midsmartin
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335336

Postby Midsmartin » August 23rd, 2020, 9:26 pm

The IKEA Sonos box looks good. Sonos have a history of making old models obsolete and stop functioning when they feel like it though. My squeezeboxes (the Squeezebox touch with a little touch screen control is good, £50 on eBay ) are all still going strong, though internet radio functions require an internet service hosted by Logitech, and this could get turned off at any time. But for now I can play my music, Spotify, internet radio etc.

There are all sorts of other options at various prices:
https://www.richersounds.com/hi-fi/wire ... rates.html.

Itsallaguess
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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335366

Postby Itsallaguess » August 24th, 2020, 6:36 am

NomoneyNohoney wrote:
I'd appreciate suggestions for things to search for or to investigate, as I'm bored with having to use the computer as the head unit to play music.


Is there a HDMI-capable TV or monitor near to your stereo system?

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335427

Postby Stompa » August 24th, 2020, 10:09 am

It's rather a shame that Google discontinued their Chromecast Audio, though I see there are some on ebay.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335431

Postby Itsallaguess » August 24th, 2020, 10:18 am

Stompa wrote:
It's rather a shame that Google discontinued their Chromecast Audio, though I see there are some on ebay.


There's plenty of other bluetooth options available that would just plug into a spare AUX port on an existing stereo system, and allow someone to play their audio files from a portable device such as a phone or tablet.

Here's an example for around £20 (with 15% off voucher) that gets very good user-reviews - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bluetooth-Streaming-Wireless-Receiver-Speakers/dp/B01CZVCYU0/

I thought about suggesting something like this earlier, and for that price it still might be worth NmNh having a play with one, but audio quality will not be as good as a wired solution, and given the OP's list of FLAC file-types, I suspect that might be a driver here. Still, a cheap experiment would probably do no harm..

I've used similar bluetooth devices to spruce up older audio systems with good success..

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335452

Postby NomoneyNohoney » August 24th, 2020, 11:11 am

I already have a setup such as you describe. I have an old good quality stereo and use a Gramofon unit plugged into the aux input. On my pc, I use an app called "Stream What You Hear". I play music on PC, Stream What You Hear streams it over my wifi, Gramofon receives the wifi stream and gives an analog output into the old stereo (which doesn't have inbuilt wifi or bluetooth.) It's a bit cludgy - there's a delay between music playing on the pc and music heard on the stereo speakers. The main thing is, I want to do this a bit more professionally.

Opening up the inner workings of a tortured mind, I had been musing about making a housing, which would contain my music hard drive and a PSU. On the outside I'd vaguely thought of using an old windows tablet, or perhaps an old Android tablet, which would have a spiffy touchscreen interface, to show the tracklist or playlist, and then play the music either by wifi, or (ugh) wired connection to the stereo. I only mention wired, as music playing over the wifi sounds lacking in treble. Could be my ears losing high frequencies, or perhaps the cludgy streaming I'm using hasn't got enough frequency response...

That's what got me thinking about commercial units. From what I can see, Sonos have turned off the capabilities of their old equipment so I have an antipathy to them, if that's what they do. Regarding squeezebox stuff, that still sounds interesting to me, I'm not enthusiastic enough to spend great sums of money on sound units.

Sorry about such pathetic details, but it helps me establish what I think I want.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335456

Postby Itsallaguess » August 24th, 2020, 11:28 am

NomoneyNohoney wrote:
The main thing is, I want to do this a bit more professionally.


And regarding the location of the stereo in question - is there a HDMI-capable monitor or TV in the area?

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335466

Postby Stompa » August 24th, 2020, 11:50 am

Itsallaguess wrote:
Stompa wrote:
It's rather a shame that Google discontinued their Chromecast Audio, though I see there are some on ebay.


There's plenty of other bluetooth options available that would just plug into a spare AUX port on an existing stereo system, and allow someone to play their audio files from a portable device such as a phone or tablet.

Yes, I realise you can do it with bluetooth. The Chromecast Audio seemed particularly well thought of though and received great reviews, e.g.

https://www.whathifi.com/google/chromecast-audio/review

In fact there are Chromecast Audio alternatives, which look remarkably similar:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Docooler-Audio ... 01D1E6JUQ/

though the reviews are not all that brilliant.

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335484

Postby NomoneyNohoney » August 24th, 2020, 12:12 pm

is there a HDMI-capable monitor or TV in the area?
Yes, TV about 4m away... pretty sure its HDMI capable

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335667

Postby servodude » August 25th, 2020, 3:21 am

NomoneyNohoney wrote:I only mention wired, as music playing over the wifi sounds lacking in treble. Could be my ears losing high frequencies, or perhaps the cludgy streaming I'm using hasn't got enough frequency response


It shouldn't to be the wifi that's cutting your top end
- it'll either be in the encoding of the audio (which might be being changed depending on how it's streaming - and yes perhaps this will be changed based on bandwidth available ) or in the hardware post decode
- Bluetooth streaming on the other hand though really only reaches decent response with AptX - and on most things falls back from this if it gets a whiff of another device it knows nearby (as it seems to use a lot of bandwidth)

Having said that I've just looked at StreamWhatYouHear https://github.com/StreamWhatYouHear/SWYH it appears that it is decoding pre-transmit and with the options of MP3 or PCM - but it doesn't mention the sampling rates used so might be dropping quality; possibly they are configurable in the app?
- certainly this isn't the best way to get a FLAC file to your speakers

I'd never heard of the the Gramofon before this thread (it looks like fun) and from it's user manual it supports FLAC - so no point in transcoding it before it gets there
- as you have this already I'd be tempted to try it with an "AllPlay" app (Allplay being a OS streaming audio standard) that can see local net storage (I think AllPlay Jukebox is one)
- that should push the files as a stream to the Gramafon unit and allow it to do the decoding
- if it works with decent quality you might consider a little tablet as a dedicated remote

I solved my similar problem by having a PC hidden and connected to the TV via HDMI
- it has a bunch of USB attached and is aware of the NAS next to it
- Kodi provides a front end for accessing the media and there's android/OS apps so that this can be controlled from your phone if you can't be bothered looking for the BT keyboard
- if it was for music only then the audio could be from the PC rather than the HDMI

Many years ago I looked at the Denon auto-ripping player - but slot loaders are the work of the devil ;)

- sd

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Re: Freestanding hard drive music player

#335670

Postby Itsallaguess » August 25th, 2020, 6:05 am

servodude wrote:
I solved my similar problem by having a PC hidden and connected to the TV via HDMI

- it has a bunch of USB attached and is aware of the NAS next to it
- Kodi provides a front end for accessing the media and there's android/OS apps so that this can be controlled from your phone if you can't be bothered looking for the BT keyboard
- if it was for music only then the audio could be from the PC rather than the HDMI


This was primarily why I was asking about the availability of a nearby HDMI-enabled screen.

I've recently got a tiny Vero 4k+ media player (based on Kodi) for movie watching in my den, and it's brilliant. It plays absolutely everything I can throw at it, and is the tiny box I've been seeking for many years now.

One of the side-benefits of Kodi is the brilliant 'Jukebox' style interface for things like films and albums, and I wondered if something similar would suit NmNh's situation here.

Kodi has many 'skins' available for the visual interface, but there are some examples here of the sort of thing it's capable of for music -

https://www.inlinestudio.dk/xtra/kodi/e ... albums.png

https://androidpcreview.com/wp-content/ ... 24x576.jpg

I used to have a Windows PC performing these media playing tasks, but it was terrible overkill in terms of space and cost for what I really needed it to do, and even then it couldn't play some of the more modern audio-codecs, so to be able to carry out the same tasks (and more, because it now plays all the problematic media-codecs with ease...) with something that fits into the palm of your hand is absolutely brilliant for me, and I only wish I'd found the Vero 4k+ solution sooner -

https://osmc.tv/vero/

Some reviews -

https://techuplife.com/osmc-vero-4k-review/

https://www.avforums.com/reviews/osmc-v ... view.13857

https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=354168

My Vero 4k+ box is hard-wired to my home network, and so has access to my NAS-stored films and music, but it's also got two USB connections on it as well, so a powered hard-drive can be used for local file playback if a local-network solution isn't available..

Given that there would then be a choice of either wiring sound out from the HDMI-enabled screen, or picking up the stereo headphone socket of the Vero 4k+ unit itself, and then sourcing that into an AUX input on the existing stereo system, this would then remove any lossy 'wireless' interfaces completely, and deliver the best musical bandwidth to the stereo system, along with a great user-interface and a tiny, discrete, low-powered player...

Cheers,

Itsallaguess


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