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bsimonsez
2006-02-17, 11:44
I'm moving to a new condo in a month and I'm building a completely new computer system and stereo system. I'm considering the SB3 but am not convinced of its ease-of-use and value over a standard CD player. I see all the advantages but am concerned that it'll be more of a hassle than necessary.

Basically what I want to do is get a new computer with sufficient storage to house my music collection. The machine won't be a dedicated music server though and will act as my families Internet browsing, word-processing, and gaming machine. The machine will be upstairs with a cable connection to a wireless router.

The music system will be downstairs and preferably the SB3 will connect to the LAN wirelessly (I'd rather not wire the whole condo).

So my questions are:
1. Will wireless be good enough to not have stuttering music?
2. Will I have performance problems if the machine is being used for other purposes while I'm listening to music?
3. How much monthly effort is required to keep the system up-to-date and in working order?
4. Any general advice for computer or stereo system?

Thanks in advance.

bernt
2006-02-17, 12:18
1. AP/Router upstairs, SB downstairs and four wireless computers. Encryption off. No stuttering using flac.

2. No dedicated server. Kids playing games on the Slimserver computer without problems.

3. Ripping and tagging takes some time. Slimserver is boring because it just works. Nothing to play around with. ;)

4. You canīt have to much memory.

And Sweden Lady Hockyteam is in Olympic Games final. :)

bsimonsez
2006-02-17, 12:32
1. AP/Router upstairs, SB downstairs and four wireless computers. Encryption off. No stuttering using flac.

2. No dedicated server. Kids playing games on the Slimserver computer without problems.

3. Ripping and tagging takes some time. Slimserver is boring because it just works. Nothing to play around with. ;)

4. You canīt have to much memory.

And Sweden Lady Hockyteam is in Olympic Games final. :)


That is definitely comforting to hear.

Anyone else have similar experiences (postive or negative)?

MrC
2006-02-17, 12:40
I'm moving to a new condo in a month and I'm building a completely new computer system and stereo system. I'm considering the SB3 but am not convinced of its ease-of-use and value over a standard CD player. I see all the advantages but am concerned that it'll be more of a hassle than necessary.

Basically what I want to do is get a new computer with sufficient storage to house my music collection. The machine won't be a dedicated music server though and will act as my families Internet browsing, word-processing, and gaming machine. The machine will be upstairs with a cable connection to a wireless router.

The music system will be downstairs and preferably the SB3 will connect to the LAN wirelessly (I'd rather not wire the whole condo).

So my questions are:
1. Will wireless be good enough to not have stuttering music?
2. Will I have performance problems if the machine is being used for other purposes while I'm listening to music?
3. How much monthly effort is required to keep the system up-to-date and in working order?
4. Any general advice for computer or stereo system?

Thanks in advance.

I'll respond as well... its a no-brainer.

Using my wife as a benchmark for the worthiness of SB over a CD player. She *never* listened to music while she was working, because the time and effort it took to put her work down, get up, find, and load a CD (and then repeat the process in 45-60 minutes) was too great. I set her up with an SB and she listens to music now every day when she works or is doing her hobbies. She can create very long playlists quickly ("i think I'll listen to all my classical music today"), and that's it - music just plays. In short, she's thrilled with the system.

Having your CDs ripped to a central system beats physical media hands down! An added benefit for us, all our CDs (about 1100) are now in 320-CD holders, in a closet. No more racks and racks of CDs.

Now, back to your questions:
1) With an good AP, no troubles. I use the Belkin Pre-N and its simply stellar. Your results will very much depend on how crowded your wireless arena is (your neighbors, etc.).

2) I have Slimserver running on my 3ghz desktop PC w/2gig RAM. I run email, chat, games, APC UPS management software, bluetooth software, VNC, SecureShell clients, browsers, network monitoring software, antispyware/antivirus software, backup software, photoshop, and much more (currently 66 processes), and slimserver never cuts out or is starved, even during backups, AV scans, re-indexing, etc.

3) Monthly efforts is no more than just maintaining your PC. You RIP your CDs once, setup slimserver, and your done.

4a) Computer: get as much horsepower/ram as you can for your main PC, and you'll not regret the decision later. I've never heard anyone say - geez, i just find my system is too fast! My system is still very fast almost 3 years after its purchase.

4b) Stereo: that's entirely up to you, your budget, and your ears.

Enjoy the SB/SlimServer setup!

Kurt
2006-02-17, 12:41
Slim is runnning on my main office PC along with Homeseer and it's also used for browsing and work. I have 1G of memory and I'm sure that helps. My wireless access point is a D-Link G router and the Squeezebox shares the wireless with a laptop.

The squeezebox is about 35 feet from the AP and I've never heard a FLAC rip stutter yet. When I first got it I had to play with the channel settings on the AP a bit, and also made the SQB use a static IP. No problems at all now for 2-3 months.

My advice would be to get the biggest hard drive you can afford to get two of, put one in your PC, and put one in an external case to backup all of your music onto. Ripping, tagging, etc, takes along time and you won't want to do it again.

There are tons of how-to's and advice on this board. I'd do a search for anything you're not clear on. Good luck!

abdomen
2006-02-17, 16:06
I presently have only a single SB2, connected via 802.11g to Slimserver running on a Windows machine with 512MB RAM and a 2.4Ghz Pentium 4. I never have problems at all playing FLAC files while using the computer.

pablolie
2006-02-17, 17:25
SB3, wireless, downstairs.

Wireless router and main desktop upstairs in my study. Decently large size house, shabby Californian building materials, though. :-)

SQB reports 88% signal quality.

Never had an issue during music play now that I keep my 256k MP3s (I know people here like other formats) separate from tracks I buy from music online stores (which make the Slimserver stop). I also keep the files on relativeles slow -but very quiet- mirrored network drives, I don't think their sustained throughput goes much beyond 12 Mbps (for sure when writing to them), not an issue.

And while ripping CDs non-stop and doing other stuff -while running Slimserver- CPU does run at 80-95% quite often, and same thing: the music just plays.

Awesome little box. I am getting another one for the garden system in the spring.

MeridianMan
2006-02-17, 19:50
It's not quite comparable, but I'm using a _wired_ SB3. SlimServer running on the main machine (Dell Pentium 4, 2 GHz, 512Meg RAM) - I do "ordinary" work 8 hours a day (email surf, word processing, spreadsheet) and no hiccups or noticable deterioration in speed. I have NOT run PhotoShop since loading SS, but PS was never a speed demon on this machine anyway.

I reboot my 'puter typically once a week; no maintenance needed at all on SS/SB3. Ooops, I lied - SB3 stumbled last week on Squeezenetwork due to their software upgrades. I had to reboot the SB3 and upgrade the firmware. Not a big hassle. Folks on the forum told me how to fix it.

cjhabs
2006-02-17, 19:58
I am running 802.11g and my Squeezebox 3 is not in an ideal location, it shows 25% signal strength. FLACs play with no problems with 2 computers on the network, 1 wireless, 1 wired, doing email, IM and web browsing.

JJZolx
2006-02-17, 20:19
1. Will wireless be good enough to not have stuttering music?
Barring any peculiar interference problems and given a good enough signal, absolutely.


2. Will I have performance problems if the machine is being used for other purposes while I'm listening to music?
With most tasks, no. Gaming, maybe. For an example, tonight I was ripping and encoding several albums on my SlimServer PC. When encoding, the CPU tends to spike to 100% for 5-10 seconds. No problem during this time streaming to a Squeezebox playing music.


3. How much monthly effort is required to keep the system up-to-date and in working order?
Releases of SlimServer don't happen very often, so you shouldn't spend too much time. If you add new music to your library, running a library rescan before you go to sleep at night requires little effort.

If you run into a bug or a limitation, you may want to update to a stable beta version prior to it being released, but who can say if that will happen.

Where you'll spend the bulk of your time is:

a) ripping your CDs. Depending on the size of your library, this could take months at a leisurely pace of a couple CDs a day.

b) Correctly tagging your collection, fixing wrong or incomplete tags. This can be some work with SlimServer if your library isn't displayed as you'd expect in the web or remote interface. Sometimes it can be downright frustrating trying to get tags straight.


4. Any general advice for computer or stereo system?
If you're at all serious, dedicate a hard drive in the computer to the music library. That is, have one drive for your computer's operating system and programs, and another for music. Then get an external drive of the same capacity as the internal music hard drive and do periodic backups of the library. Religiously. If your music drive dies and you don't have a backup, the real cost will be all the time you've spent in ripping and organizing the library.

Michaelwagner
2006-02-17, 23:10
I'm going to go out on a limb and go against the majority of the respondants on this thread.


I'm moving to a new condo in a month [...] (I'd rather not wire the whole condo).
Why?

Or rather, why not?

It's relatively trivial to do, and not even very messy if you're not moving there yet. Or pay someone to do it. You should be able to get ethernet connections into any room in your condo for about $50 a connection.

I have a wireless connection. It works. Today. But as wireless gets more popular, will it work next month? I don't know. I live in an apartment. I don't own the walls. So I have little choice.

But if I were moving into a new place, I'd wire it. For a million reasons besides the SB. I wired my factory for Cat 5 8 years ago and haven't regretted it at all. And my cable runs were considerably longer than house runs (200 feet in some cases).

Pale Blue Ego
2006-02-18, 00:20
It's true that a wired connection is faster, more stable, and more secure than wireless. And if you apply the $50 saved by buying a wired instead of wireless Squeezebox, you can afford to pay somebody to run cat-5 through the wall. It works out to about the same price, and makes for fewer problems in the long run.

That said, there are thousands of people getting successful playback using wireless setups. So basically, it's your choice - either method should work.

bsimonsez
2006-02-18, 06:03
Ok. It seems like people are generally happy with everything. I guess the hardest part now will be the upgrades to my computer (storage space). I have at least 500 CDs so I figure I need at least a 250GB drive to store that in FLAC. I'll probably end up getting two of those and mirroring them. Or do people generally set up RAID with 3 drives? Seems like storage is the biggest expense...

I have one other concern that I'll post in another thread and link to from this.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=21234

Thanks!

Michaelwagner
2006-02-18, 06:59
There was a big discussion of RAID for Slimserver in another (several) threads. You can use the Search box to find them.

Basically, RAID is meant to solve a different problem - highly complex highly dynamic data that needs to be preserved in synch in the face of power failures, etc.

Song data is neither complex nor dynamic, at least not complex in the sense that a database has complex inter-relationships between files and will be unusuable and un-recreatable if the inter-relationships are not preserved properly at all points in time.

Song data is mostly read-only - after all, it came off a CD and you aren't going to be changing the song much, if at all. You might fiddle with the tags once shortly after you RIP it, but that's about the extent of it.

You'd probably just as well served with a second hard disk in another computer on the same home network and a job that copied changes nightly to the second hard disk.

Or a plug-in USB disk. Try for USB 2, though. The speed difference betwen USB1 & 2 is impressive.

Michaelwagner
2006-02-18, 07:01
I have one other concern that I'll post in another thread and link to from this.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=21209
I think you got the link wrong. That's a link to the same thread. :-)

bsimonsez
2006-02-18, 07:14
Ooops.

Here it is.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=21234

Robin Bowes
2006-02-18, 07:39
Michaelwagner said the following on 02/18/2006 01:59 PM:
> There was a big discussion of RAID for Slimserver in another (several)
> threads. You can use the Search box to find them.
>
> Basically, RAID is meant to solve a different problem - highly complex
> highly dynamic data that needs to be preserved in synch in the face of
> power failures, etc.

That's not entirely accurate. In fact, it's wrong!

RAID doesn't protect you from power failures - quite the reverse
actually - RAID arrays are v. sensitive to power failures.

RAID simply protects you from disk failure. Take two disks, write the
same data to both of them, et voila - redundancy.

The choice of raid level depends on many factors but for the purpose of
music storage it really comes down to cost vs. complexity for the amount
of storage space required.

For example, I've got about 1TB of storage. If I used simple mirroring,
I would need 8 x 250GB disks. By using RAID5, I only need 5 disks (I've
actually got a hot-spare in there too so I'm using 6 disks in total.)

> You'd probably just as well served with a second hard disk in another
> computer on the same home network and a job that copied changes nightly
> to the second hard disk.
>
> Or a plug-in USB disk. Try for USB 2, though. The speed difference
> betwen USB1 & 2 is impressive.

Having said all that, with just 250GB I'd do what Michael suggests and
sync between two drives manually.

R.

bsimonsez
2006-02-18, 08:36
Michaelwagner said the following on 02/18/2006 01:59 PM:[color=blue]
Having said all that, with just 250GB I'd do what Michael suggests and
sync between two drives manually.

R.

Right. 250GB now. But my music collection will definitely increase. I'm thinking my best bet might be to go with 3 250GB drives and RAID 5 with a small 80 GB drive for OS and applications although I might have to trim back my processor a bit to keep the cost down.

Here's a question... If I start out with 2 250GB drives mirrored (with the 80 GB OS and app drive as well), would it be easy to add a third drive and convert to a RAID 5 system? Probably not... its probably something you have to have from the beginning..

Robin, do you have hardware RAID or software RAID?

Robin Bowes
2006-02-18, 09:03
bsimonsez said the following on 02/18/2006 03:36 PM:
> Robin Bowes Wrote:
>
>>Michaelwagner said the following on 02/18/2006 01:59 PM:[color=blue]
>>Having said all that, with just 250GB I'd do what Michael suggests and
>>sync between two drives manually.
>>
>>R.
>
>
> Right. 250GB now. But my music collection will definitely increase.
> I'm thinking my best bet might be to go with 3 250GB drives and RAID 5
> with a small 80 GB drive for OS and applications although I might have
> to trim back my processor a bit to keep the cost down.

Sure, you don't need much of a processor for slimserver.

> Here's a question... If I start out with 2 250GB drives mirrored (with
> the 80 GB OS and app drive as well), would it be easy to add a third
> drive and convert to a RAID 5 system? Probably not... its probably
> something you have to have from the beginning..

Yeah, it wouldn't be straight-forward. You'd have to do something like:

Take one drive out of the mirror
Create the array in degraded mode (i.e. with just two drives)
Copy from the remaining drive onto the new array
Add the drive to the RAID array.

Of course, it would be difficult to then add a further drive.

If you're up to it, you could do worse than start off with a 3x250GB
RAID5 array.

Then, by the time you want to add more storage, larger drives will have
come down in price and you will be able to buy 3x500GB drive and migrate
to that.


> Robin, do you have hardware RAID or software RAID?

I'm using software RAID under linux.

I've got 6 x 250GB drives in a RAID5 array. One of these is a hot spare
so I've got around 1TB of storage in total. If I were starting again,
I'd use RAID6 rather than having the hot spare.

R.

JJZolx
2006-02-18, 12:59
Right. 250GB now. But my music collection will definitely increase. I'm thinking my best bet might be to go with 3 250GB drives and RAID 5 with a small 80 GB drive for OS and applications although I might have to trim back my processor a bit to keep the cost down.

Here's a question... If I start out with 2 250GB drives mirrored (with the 80 GB OS and app drive as well), would it be easy to add a third drive and convert to a RAID 5 system? Probably not... its probably something you have to have from the beginning..

Robin, do you have hardware RAID or software RAID?
Please read some of the other threads on the suitability of RAID for a music server. It's really unnecessary for your needs and will only increase the cost of your server substantially.

You're grossly overestimating your storage needs. I currently have 527 albums with 6185 tracks, ripped to FLAC at the default compression level, in 152 GB of disk space. Figure a max of maybe 350 MB per album. A "250 GB" drive is really about 232 GB (2^30 bytes), so at 0.350 GB per album, you'd have room for approximately 660 albums. On a hard drive that costs less than $100. That gives you a fair amount of room to grow. You want more room? Get a 300 GB drive (about 800 albums) for maybe $125. The thing about disk space is that capacities are increasing and prices falling so fast that by the time you've added 300 albums to your collection and outgrown a 300 GB disk, a 500 GB disk will be very inexpensive.

To rehash just a little of the don't-bother-with-RAID argument... For the size of your collection RAID buys you very little that a weekly backup doesn't already provide. Get two identical hard drives. Put one into an external USB enclosure for backups. If your internal music drive dies then replace it with the backup drive. Very simple, very inexpensive insurance.

bsimonsez
2006-02-18, 14:02
Please read some of the other threads on the suitability of RAID for a music server. It's really unnecessary for your needs and will only increase the cost of your server substantially.

You're grossly overestimating your storage needs. I currently have 527 albums with 6185 tracks, ripped to FLAC at the default compression level, in 152 GB of disk space. Figure a max of maybe 350 MB per album. A "250 GB" drive is really about 232 GB (2^30 bytes), so at 0.350 GB per album, you'd have room for approximately 660 albums. On a hard drive that costs less than $100. That gives you a fair amount of room to grow. You want more room? Get a 300 GB drive (about 800 albums) for maybe $125. The thing about disk space is that capacities are increasing and prices falling so fast that by the time you've added 300 albums to your collection and outgrown a 300 GB disk, a 500 GB disk will be very inexpensive.

To rehash just a little of the don't-bother-with-RAID argument... For the size of your collection RAID buys you very little that a weekly backup doesn't already provide. Get two identical hard drives. Put one into an external USB enclosure for backups. If your internal music drive dies then replace it with the backup drive. Very simple, very inexpensive insurance.

What you write definitely makes sense. I've still got some time before I have to make a decision and I want to make sure I explore all options. Basically, as long as I can fit all of my CDs onto disk and be able to recover from a failure I'll be happy.

Why do you recommend an external backup rather than an internal one if I have to room in my tower?

snarlydwarf
2006-02-18, 14:29
Paranoia. (Which is a good thing. :))

With an external disk, you can plug the drive in, make a backup, remove it, turn it off, take it to work and leave it there, powered off, safe from stray lightning bolts and other things.

If it's in the same cabinet as the other drive, if someone runs into a telephone pole and sends a nasty power spike that fries your PC power supply, it could send the same bad power to both drives, toasting your working drive and the backup drive in one swoop.

radish
2006-02-18, 14:44
You're grossly overestimating your storage needs. I currently have 527 albums with 6185 tracks, ripped to FLAC at the default compression level, in 152 GB of disk space. Figure a max of maybe 350 MB per album.

It depends on the albums. I have just 288 albums taking 123GB, giving me an average of over 400MB per album, and there are plenty of individual albums well over 500MB in size.

Pale Blue Ego
2006-02-18, 14:55
I agree an external drive for backups is better. If your computer gets stolen, it's nice to have that external drive tucked away in your sock drawer or somewhere else safe. You can take it offsite if you have to, leave it with a friend when you go on vacation, etc.

There are some good tools that make it easy to sync the 2 drives when your collection changes. I use xxcopy (www.xxcopy.com). It's like the DOS program xcopy only a lot more powerful. Specifically, it has a "clone" feature that will make 2 drives exactly the same:

xxcopy d:\ y:\ /clone

It will copy any files that have changed or been added. It will also delete from the target drive any files that have been deleted from the source drive.

I also use this clone feature in a nightly batch file that clones my documents directory and email folders to a network drive.

JJZolx
2006-02-18, 15:04
It depends on the albums. I have just 288 albums taking 123GB, giving me an average of over 400MB per album, and there are plenty of individual albums well over 500MB in size.
Interesting. How many tracks and what kind of music?

pablolie
2006-02-18, 15:42
...has nothing to do with performance etc

It simply has to do with the fact that I never want to rip my entire music collection again, I want it residing somewhere where it can't go corrupted. And single hard drives do go corrupted, sometimes very badly, over the years. That is my experience.

My main desktop has internal RAIDs. My music resides on an external mirrored Netgear SC101 drive for clean architectural separation. And that way I know I can just copy it in a simple sweep whenever I chose to upgrade.

radish
2006-02-18, 16:20
Interesting. How many tracks and what kind of music?

It's a mixture of music but what really skews the averages are the dance/electronica mix CDs - they're almost all the full 74 mins (or sometimes even more) compared to most pop/rock albums which are usually closer to 45-50. Track counts are normally 10-15 per disc but they can easily be over 7 or 8 mins each. I did a little analysis a while ago and concluded that in addition to all this FLAC's compression seems to have a harder time with dance music compared to the other styles I tried - my guess is it's the high degree of dynamics and sharp transients.

richidoo
2006-02-18, 16:28
Part of the value of SQB3 is the superior sound quality as compared to most consumer level CD players in the same price range. WHen the power supply is upgraded, the SQB3 is the sonic equal of cd players costing over $1000. If your stereo equipment will reveal this level of detail, you will surely enjoy the excellent bargain of the SQB3 in audio quality.

I had trouble with dropouts when I first used SQB, signal was only 60% from one room away (old Linksys 802.11b router) and that was enough to drop out. I fixed with hard wire connection and all is well. Music plays 18 hours a day with never a blip, on a $300 Dell P4 with 512MB RAM.

Having all the music on disk is a nice feature, but I don't always want to rip a disc before playing it. WHen friends come over with CDs I feel cheap asking to rip their music before they can hear it on my system, like I am stealing it. It would be a nice upgrade to Slimserver if it could stream music directly from CD-ROM player. Maybe it already has this feature and I haven't discovered it yet?

I can't stand the low quality of the internet stations so that feature has been less useful for me. The music on there has not caught my ear, though I haven't been searching for hours. The jazz is not great, in my opinion.

Hope this helps,
Rich

bsimonsez
2006-02-19, 11:36
Having all the music on disk is a nice feature, but I don't always want to rip a disc before playing it. WHen friends come over with CDs I feel cheap asking to rip their music before they can hear it on my system, like I am stealing it. It would be a nice upgrade to Slimserver if it could stream music directly from CD-ROM player. Maybe it already has this feature and I haven't discovered it yet?


Actually that would be good to know. Does aneyone know if Slimserver is capable of playing CDs from the CD-ROM? I'm not planning on buying a CD player for my new system but might have to budget for a cheap-one (or maybe a discman...cringe!) to play CDs of friends.

Its good to know that people value the sound quality from the SB3 out of box. I'd love to have it modded but that will come later. Right now the system I'm looking at is a Cambridge Audio Azur 540A v2 integrated amp or a Jolida 1701A integrated amp; and Axiom M3tis or Paradigm atom or Paradigm Titans. Anyone have experience with those components and the SB3?

Michaelwagner
2006-02-19, 12:10
Does aneyone know if Slimserver is capable of playing CDs from the CD-ROM?
There is no such facility at present.

It would make a good enhancement request, though, and I'm sure lots of people would like it.

Do you know how to fill out an enhancement request?

danco
2006-02-19, 13:11
There are shareware programs that will take the sound produced on the computer (before the sound card) and convert it to a broadcast stream that can be accessed using AlienBBC (or other methods).

I use a Mac, for which the program is Nicecast; I believe it is Icecast for a PC, and I don't know about Linux. As they are shareware, one does have to pay for this facility.

Michaelwagner
2006-02-19, 13:17
There are shareware programs that will take the sound produced on the computer (before the sound card) and convert it to a broadcast stream that can be accessed using AlienBBC
That's true, and I forgot to mention that (since I don't use it, it wasn't uppermost in my mind).

However, a more direct route would be nice.