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Stedek97
2018-11-17, 02:45
I have a bunch of different pieces of equipment, but I have a big house and I want to put something together that makes sense and has multi-room functionality. As it is right now, I can't listen to the same thing in more than one room, and I don't feel like I have a central location in which to play music from. I wish to improve this with something smart and (hopefully) simple. I'd like to work with my equipment if possible, but I'm open to other ideas if I'm better off without it.

Here's what all I have to work with: One Onkyo HIB (5 small speakers, passive sub, tuner), One Yamaha Tuner, one cheap set of outdoor speakers, one pc with a decent external speaker set, one macbook laptop, a wireless network, and 2 ipods.

sgmlaw
2018-11-25, 09:30
Oh my, such a broad question. There are literally endless combinations of combined and discrete configurations. It will all depend on your priorities, budget and objectives. Perhaps one way to give you an option tree is to describe what we have.

Ours is truly an audio and music retreat. We have at least seven separate stereo audio systems across the house, ranging from a mid five figure high end system, down to a modest integrated amp system and budget bookshelves. And mid century German table radios in bedrooms. Tubes, high power SS, large floor standing speakers, bookshelves, modern amplification, vintage classics from the golden era . . . we have it all going on. All have Squeezeboxen, from Transporters down to Classics, most with Touches, some with improved PSUs, some with better outboard DACs. And three SB Radios, extending all the way out to an outbuilding some 60 feet from the main house. All can play together synchronized or separately. All synchronized, you would hear the same beautiful music everywhere. But you are talking about an enormous investment in Squeezeboxes and complete audio systems. We have spent over 45 years in audio as a passionate hobby. Most people would never make that sustained investment over such time. And most importantly, we NEVER listen to our systems that way. Some of the systems are serious music machines, and would be wasted as passing background sources singing in unison. These are systems for when you sit down in a room and want a musical experience. But that is one option.

But we also have a twelve station Nutone intercom system, over 50 years old, and fully restored. Back when the stations had passable sounding speakers. And into that we have connected a single Squeezebox Receiver, remote wired into a closet below the master station. And THAT is what we listen to when we want whole house background music to follow us around. One squeezebox, playing everywhere. No, it is not super high fidelity. But it sounds plenty nice as you move about. I am sure there are modern intercom systems, wired and wireless, that could do the same for you if you wanted a whole house solution using a minimum of players. That is another option.

And in later years, as the community has developed plug ins, you now have the option of Chromecast. Sometimes, when we do not want to fill the entire house or burn a nice stereo, we have LMS stream to a TV soundbar or other Chromecast device. Some soundbars with subwoofers actually do not sound too bad. And there are a universe of tabletop devices and even powered speakers that have Chromecast. If you do not want to invest in a full Squeezebox ecosystem, a series of self-contained Chromecast devices fed by LMS might be the next best thing.

And yes, there are even Squeezebox emulators that you can install on your Mac or PC.

You will need at least one computer to run a local server and access your local library. LMS is not all that resource hungry, so a computer could mean a Mac or PC, a NAS, or for some, something even more modest. We have a pretty vast music library, so we bivouac ours on a RAID stack Thunderbolted into an i7 Mac. Right now we are listening to a 5,000+ song Christmas music playlist. No FM radio station playing the same lousy 50 Christmas songs here. Our LMS shuffles and serves it up in about five seconds. It will play on for weeks.

But a smaller library could sit nicely on an internal SSD, an external HDD, or even when resources are tight, on a USB thumb drive. And you can use a networked music source with LMS, keeping the server on one computer, while keeping the local library on another networked source, such as a NAS or other shared computer location. We have never attempted a cloud based music folder solution, as we have too much owned media and prefer a local setup. But LMS 7.9 is remarkably flexible and usable, so who knows.

And the key to it all is centralized, portable, control. When slim devices first started, most of the time you had to sit down at a computer to exert full control over multiple players. Now, while you can control most Squeezeboxes from any of them, a single portable control is the breakthrough to move about convenience. Years ago, the only way to enjoy that level of hand held control was with a Controller, and we have one of those . . . that we hardly use.

Today, the indispensable control option is without question iPeng. With that wonderful app, you can tote around total control of your entire Squeezebox ecosystem, whether individual systems, a whole-house option, or a flock of Chromecast substitutes - or all of them - in your pocket on your iPhone or pad. OrangeSqueeze offered a similar solution for Android users, but frankly iPeng is head and shoulders better. For an extra couple bucks, iPeng will even turn your phone or pad into a Squeezebox.

The other necessity for a strong ecosystem is a stable and reliable network backbone. While most of our devices are ethernet wired through smart enterprise grade switching, a more modern wireless router can keep the bits flowing smoothly, especially when high resolution streams are involved.

So as you see, there are so many ways you can use Squeezeboxes, either a few or many, or even one, to move music to as many or as few locations as you like. It is an extremely flexible platform, and we have stayed with it and will continue to stay with it as long as the hardware and server code will allow. It was a profound mistake for Logitech to have abandoned it. It was and remains superior to Sonos and is still competitive with the latest music streaming solutions.

Good luck in whatever configuration you decide upon. I hope a peek at ours helped show you some options.

d6jg
2018-11-25, 10:53
+1

The networking is fundamental to a robust system. NEVER run the server on anything other than wired connection.

sgmlaw
2018-11-25, 11:11
+1

The networking is fundamental to a robust system. NEVER run the server on anything other than wired connection.

Agreed. While an individual player can live on a stable wireless connection, a server feeding multiple streams (ethernet or wireless) works best on a gigabit ethernet connection to the router.

The more ethernet you can tolerate, the better. It is a bulletproof connection under any traffic environment. If the player is not going to be moving, we do our best to get copper to it.

left channel
2018-11-25, 11:51
I have a bunch of different pieces of equipment, but I have a big house and I want to put something together that makes sense and has multi-room functionality. As it is right now, I can't listen to the same thing in more than one room, and I don't feel like I have a central location in which to play music from. I wish to improve this with something smart and (hopefully) simple. I'd like to work with my equipment if possible, but I'm open to other ideas if I'm better off without it.

Here's what all I have to work with: One Onkyo HIB (5 small speakers, passive sub, tuner), One Yamaha Tuner, one cheap set of outdoor speakers, one pc with a decent external speaker set, one macbook laptop, a wireless network, and 2 ipods.

Don't let us worry you about wired vs. wireless. Not yet anyway. If you get dropouts in Wi-Fi or feel you want sonic improvements, then look at wiring your house for Ethernet, but the average person will just move things around to get stronger Wi-Fi and that's OK.

Let's focus on the basics first:

Buy a Squeezebox Touch on eBay and see if you like it. It was the last model, and still the best choice for most.

Onkyo HTIB - connect a Touch via the RCA jacks
Yamaha tuner - connect a Touch via the RCA jacks
Outdoor speakers - connect a Touch via the external speaker jack
Windows PC - install LMS and leave the PC on, and for a player/control app install Squeezelite-X
Mac laptop - install SqueezePlay for a player and use the LMS web interface as your control app there

iPods... can't help you there. Put the music on your LMS server. Control the entire network from the computers and/or from iPhone or Android using apps like iPeng or Squeezer.

For your home theater system there are also higher end headless streamer products like the Sonore ultraRendu. In-between are many Rasberry Pi solutions. But don't get too complicated just yet.

philippe_44
2018-11-25, 13:01
I have a bunch of different pieces of equipment, but I have a big house and I want to put something together that makes sense and has multi-room functionality. As it is right now, I can't listen to the same thing in more than one room, and I don't feel like I have a central location in which to play music from. I wish to improve this with something smart and (hopefully) simple. I'd like to work with my equipment if possible, but I'm open to other ideas if I'm better off without it.

Here's what all I have to work with: One Onkyo HIB (5 small speakers, passive sub, tuner), One Yamaha Tuner, one cheap set of outdoor speakers, one pc with a decent external speaker set, one macbook laptop, a wireless network, and 2 ipods.

Just a quick note: The Onkyo HIB and the Yamaha tuner probably work with at least UPnP and maybe AirPlay. If they do UPnP, then they can be directly integrated in LMS but w/o synchronization which I understand is something you might want. If they do AirPlay, then you'll have audio sync as well. The PC and the macbook can run squeezelite and become 1st class member of LMS. I personally have a mix of UPnP, Chromecast, AirPlay, real SB and Pi-based devices. I also have a large house and want sync with all sort of dynamic group hence I wrote these plugin, including Group Players.

Depending of your priorities and skills/interest in tinkering you can

1- Start with your existing devices and see if/how they can be integrated natively with LMS (including using squeezelite on PC/Mac)
2- Buy used SB boxes on eBay to use your existing equipment as just amp/speakers
3- Build Pi-based boxes with squeezelite as a variant of 2-
4- Buy new equipment which is compatible with LMS (AirPlay if you want sync). Most A/V units and speakers sets like Yamaha WX or Riva families are also compatible with AirPlay

For iPods/iPads, if you want to use them as a SB player, you can use iPeng which has an integrated squeezelite client. If you want to use than as controller, use iPeng. If you want to stream music that is on them, then use Shairtunes plugin to integrate your Apple system with LMS

Apesbrain
2018-11-25, 15:08
I'm a die-hard Squeezebox fan, but with Sonos PLAY:1 going for as little as $135 right now, it would be hard to recommend anything else. Buy a few for the key rooms and add on as you can afford. If you want higher fidelity, get a Play:5. If you want to plug it into an existing receiver/HTIB, get a Sonos Connect. If you want Alexa support, buy a Sonos One. Each room can be its own zone, or you can synchronize them however you like. You can add a second speaker in a zone and configure them as stereo. No server required; just copy your music to a portable hard drive and hang it off your wireless modem, if possible. Control via smartphone/tablet app. Supports internet radio and music streaming services, too.

Another cool option are the Google Home devices. I have one and it sounds surprisingly good; the Google Home Max should be even better. Logitech Media Server can make your local music library available to these players. For that matter, if you're running LMS on a PC somewhere on your network then you can add however many zones you like using an inexpensive Raspberry Pi player or any device that supports DLNA.

sgmlaw
2018-11-25, 17:01
24-bit audio.

Unless Sonos has had a major philosophical change recently, the last I checked they refused to support 24-bit audio.

And their stated corporate rationale for refusing to do so was as insulting as it was nonsensical: That 24-bit audio "doesn't sound any better than 16-bit". Maybe it all sounds the same on their equipment.

But that is a completely ridiculous position. A well-mastered 24/96 high definition stream starts to finally approach good vinyl playback in nuance, note decay, and tonal spectrum on a better system.

The best Redbook isn't even close, and you can upsample it until the cows come home. You can't add what's already missing. Redbook is what kept me spinning vinyl through the digital dark ages.

We play a lot of high definition media now. Very refined 24-bit filter and DAC chipsets have now been around for nearly 25 years. A BB PCM1704U-K grade chipset will still stomp all over whatever is in the newest Sonos and the horse it rode in on at 24-bit word lengths.

The Touch, and the Transporter in particular, do a very capable job presenting these higher bitrate streams. It's one area where the Squeezebox team had foresight and crushed it. Sonos is patently full of it when it comes to 24-bit audio.

The Squeezeboxes can't handle the newer 192 kHz sampling. But I have a very hard time hearing meaningful differences between 192 and 96 kHz, and we have a first-rate setup. And even if I could, there is even a digital pass-through app available through the community to pass it to a 196 khz capable DAC.

Just my 2c on why a Sonos device will never enter our house. Never disparage 24-bit audio because your product can't handle it.

left channel
2018-11-25, 17:06
The Squeezeboxes can't handle the newer 192 kHz sampling. But I have a very hard time hearing meaningful differences between 192 and 96 kHz, and we have a first-rate setup. And even if I could, there is even a digital pass-through app available through the community to pass it to a 196 khz capable DAC.

I agree with your rant 100% :-) except for this: as I'm sure you know, with the edo app (https://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?94512-Announce-Enhanced-Digital-Output-app-USB-Dac-and-192k-Digital-Ouput) a Squeezebox Touch can stream 24/192 tracks via the USB port to an external DAC.

sgmlaw
2018-11-25, 17:22
I agree with your rant 100% :-) except for this: as I'm sure you know, with the edo app (https://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?94512-Announce-Enhanced-Digital-Output-app-USB-Dac-and-192k-Digital-Ouput) a Squeezebox Touch can stream 24/192 tracks via the USB port to an external DAC.


That's what I said ;)

On one system we do exactly that to pass a 24/96 bitstream through a Touch to a tubed output stage DAC. Digital output only in the EDO settings.

The Touch can certainly handle 24 bits. But the Touch's analog output stage can not compete with a tubed DAC output stage.

Once 24-bit media became mainstream, I find we only spin our vinyl on Sundays anymore. It is that close, but the LMS is 1000x more convenient.

I know Sonos is a more plug-and-play all-in-one solution. But the Squeezebox is worth the small extra effort.

Even our Chromecast soundbar can handle 24-bit streams. There is no excuse in late 2018 for lacking 24-bit audio capability.

philippe_44
2018-11-25, 18:39
Maybe we don't want to start an audiophile flame war and stick to the OP ;)?

sgmlaw
2018-11-25, 19:05
No flames intended. I donít consider 24-bit audio that much of an audiophile talking point in 2018, especially when a $200 Chromecast speaker can now pull it off.

Anyone building any reasonable audio system today should expect 24-bit playback capability. Itís now mainstream. And it sounds appreciably better.

left channel
2018-11-25, 22:31
I know Sonos is a more plug-and-play all-in-one solution. But the Squeezebox is worth the small extra effort.

Hear, hear. I'll drink to that!

d6jg
2018-11-26, 03:12
The OP hasn't responded to anything yet so I suggest that we wait until he/she does before going any further. He/she may not have or need 24bit.