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View Full Version : Taking the plunge: Need advice on homemade SB



GeeJay
2014-09-14, 10:33
I am not a techie, and don't have even rudimentary programming skills. Getting my existing SB ecosystem to work the way I wanted it to took me several years. Networking basics were a challenge, as well as troubleshooting other issues as they came up. I figured them out, though, so I'm not a complete technical idiot.

I introduce myself that way so when seeking advice, you understand why I don't understand most of the threads in the various developer forums dealing with the latest designs folks are experimenting with these days. I have a need, however, and am willing to invest a little time since this isn't an urgent need.

I'm looking to add a SB to my study. I'd be happy with a Radio-like device, although I don't need the screen. I will likely use small amplified speakers (haven't settled on those yet, so I could use advice there as well), and they can be wired or wireless.

I need the device to be both WiFi and Ethernet capable. I have had connectivity issues in the past with this particular room, variously trying both power line and wifi without consistent success. I anticipate the need to experiment with both before I settle on one.

I mainly stream from my local library, although on occasion I'll use one of the free services like Pandora. Sync is very important to me, as I frequently play the same music on multiple devices.

Hope I covered all the important stuff. Any advice on what I should do would be much appreciated.

SlimChances
2014-09-14, 10:55
I am not a techie, and don't have even rudimentary programming skills. Getting my existing SB ecosystem to work the way I wanted it to took me several years. Networking basics were a challenge, as well as troubleshooting other issues as they came up. I figured them out, though, so I'm not a complete technical idiot.

I introduce myself that way so when seeking advice, you understand why I don't understand most of the threads in the various developer forums dealing with the latest designs folks are experimenting with these days. I have a need, however, and am willing to invest a little time since this isn't an urgent need.

I'm looking to add a SB to my study. I'd be happy with a Radio-like device, although I don't need the screen. I will likely use small amplified speakers (haven't settled on those yet, so I could use advice there as well), and they can be wired or wireless.

I need the device to be both WiFi and Ethernet capable. I have had connectivity issues in the past with this particular room, variously trying both power line and wifi without consistent success. I anticipate the need to experiment with both before I settle on one.

I mainly stream from my local library, although on occasion I'll use one of the free services like Pandora. Sync is very important to me, as I frequently play the same music on multiple devices.

Hope I covered all the important stuff. Any advice on what I should do would be much appreciated.

I have given this some thought too. One of the problems I have had is WiFi reception in some areas outside of my house. A device like the Raspberry Pi or Odroid (with Squeezelite installed)would I have b/g/ and n wifi capability which must be better than the b/g capability of Squeezeboxes. One of those devices connected to an inexpensive DAC and powered speakers may be all you need. I have not done this myself but this is likely the route I will go as my Squeezeboxes start to fail. I am not sure if Pandora is a problem but I think these devices will sync (check other threads). They both have ethernet


http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Multi-Room-Audio-MobileTabletPC-Contr/?ALLSTEPS

http://vortexbox.org/forum/vortexbox/help/51615-pandora-on-squeezelite

Grumpy Bob
2014-09-14, 20:21
I've taken several approaches to this (though all my Squeezeboxes are fine.

I have two Raspberry Pis - one connected to the amplifier via a HiFiBerry DAC, the other is used as a headphone player through a USB headphone amp. But probably the easiest solution was to use my old 1st generation iPad with iPeng connected to the HiFi via an iPhone dock I bought through Amazon.

Robert

bigblackdog
2014-09-14, 21:42
Robert, thinking of going down the raspberry pi, hifi berry dac route as well. What is the output quality like.
I haven't been able to find any user feedback on this.
I am finding LMS 7.9 is the most solid it has ever been so don't want to use any other system.

dafiend
2014-09-15, 00:24
I would consider taking the Android route. In my experience, you need to tinker less that way. Just make sure the Android box has the connectors you need. Adding peripherals such as USB audio devices can be a pain on Android. (Sometimes, it can even be impossible if the device isn't class-compliant).

But then, you simply install the SB player app or the SqueezePlayer app on the box and you're good to go. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to check beforehand if the Android box you're getting is compatible with the aforementioned apps. On the forums, both apps have their own dedicated thread.

The alternative way to go is a small-board computer like the Raspberry Pi. This gives you a lot of flexibility. With those, you can integrate small LCD displays, hardware buttons, IR receivers, and many other things. But the flexibility comes at a price. In my experience, things won't just work out-of-the-box. You need to mess around with linux distibutions, you may have to tinker with things such as buffer sizes, and you may have to add a DAC. Particularly, in the case of a Raspberry Pi, the on-board audio just isn't good enough for most applications. Thus, usually, one needs to install and configure a DAC.

EDIT: I forgot to mention one important point. Small boards like the Pi tend to receive operating system updates for a longer period than Android set-top boxes and sticks. Android devices typically incorporate more closed hardware for which proprietary drivers and/or firmwares are needed (unless somebody reverse-engineers it). So when the manufacturer of the Android box stops its support, you're unlikely to see any more OS updates. This problem applies particularly to heavily locked down devices such as the Amazon Fire TV.

Despite this disadvantage, I would still recommend that you look into Android. It's a very user-friendly platform that's accessible to non-techies. Personally, I have an Amazon Fire TV on order. But I think there are other interesting devices from companies like Minix and Orbsmart. There are some cheap Android sticks, too, which may meet all your requiremnts.

Grumpy Bob
2014-09-15, 06:04
Robert, thinking of going down the raspberry pi, hifi berry dac route as well. What is the output quality like.
I haven't been able to find any user feedback on this.
I am finding LMS 7.9 is the most solid it has ever been so don't want to use any other system.

Sounds pretty good to me. But of course you can always take USB output to an existing DAC if you prefer that.

Robert

aubuti
2014-09-15, 08:23
One of those devices connected to an inexpensive DAC and powered speakers may be all you need.
I haven't done substantive research on the available options, but for this approach the AudioEngine 2+ self-powered speakers may be a good ingredient. They include a USB connection and built-in DAC.

epoch1970
2014-09-15, 11:08
Sync is very important to me, as I frequently play the same music on multiple devices.
AFAIK you cannot get the same sync accuracy from a home-made SB compared to a hardware player.
I can sync via ethernet 2 SB3s located 5 meter apart in the same room for hours on end and can't hear any drift or defect.
I have been synching ok 1 software player (squeezelite) and an SB3 playing in another room. Increased distance and volume difference smoothe out small drifts.

iPeng as a software player is an extremely simple solution and offers a nice user interface (and sync is not its forte --I don't think pippin condones using sync on iPeng).
I haven't used packaged distributions of squeezelite but I doubt any can be as easy as iPeng. I do believe the right hardware/soft player combo will yield superior results.

IMHO if super-accurate synching is critical, there is no substitute to a good second-hand squeezebox (and not a Duet...)
My assessment of using soft players dates back a bit. I could be wrong.

garym
2014-09-15, 13:36
Synching has improved. Ipeng as a player syncs well for me.

GeeJay
2014-09-15, 18:40
The iPeng route has a lot of appeal. I'm about to get a new iPhone, so I could use my old one. I seem to recall a thread devoted to using iThingies as players, so perhaps I should go dig it up.