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View Full Version : Lots of questions and information needed! I've got no clue!



Duncan1234
2007-09-09, 02:37
Well, i've been wanting to buy a squeezebox for a long time now, and have finally got some money to buy one. But I dont just want a squeezebox, theres other things I need aswell and basicly have no clue what I need to be looking for.

Ill just explain what I currently as far as things that will be connected to the squeezebox etc in my house, and what I'd like to do.

Basicly, I currently have one PC which i built myself, running Vista Ultimate, wirelessly connected to a BT Home Hub (sadly..) which is roughly in the middle of the house, i have a network set up which shares my 40gig of music which is currently sitting on a hard drive inside this PC, there is also a laptop used in the house which wont really make a difference.

What I need some information on and I am interested to know if possible, is all of this.

Im sure ive seen products out there that act as an external hard drive which can hold all my music, and other data, and wireless be networked (or through ethernet, could sit next to the homehub) to the Squeezebox so that i wouldn't need to have the PC on at all times. Im interested in this because I will be buying an external hard drive no matter what happens, need somewhere to backup everything and if this was possible it would be even better.

I need to purchase a set of speakers for my room, which is the speaker set the Squeezebox would be connected to, what I need to know is can I also have these speakers connected to my TV at the same time? If so, id need to know what sockets the TV would need to be able to do this (I've got no clue) as im purchasing a new TV / DVD Player / Freeview box for my room in the near future aswell as the squeezebox / speakers etc.

If possible, links to where purchasable for any of the items ive asked for would be great.

If you need to know anything just ask, im sure ive left some vital information out but me not having much of a clue about this whole home entertainment thing doesnt help!

Thanks very much

davep
2007-09-09, 03:14
Well, i've been wanting to buy a squeezebox for a long time now, and have finally got some money to buy one. But I dont just want a squeezebox, theres other things I need aswell and basicly have no clue what I need to be looking for.

Ill just explain what I currently as far as things that will be connected to the squeezebox etc in my house, and what I'd like to do.

Basicly, I currently have one PC which i built myself, running Vista Ultimate, wirelessly connected to a BT Home Hub (sadly..) which is roughly in the middle of the house, i have a network set up which shares my 40gig of music which is currently sitting on a hard drive inside this PC, there is also a laptop used in the house which wont really make a difference.

What I need some information on and I am interested to know if possible, is all of this.

Im sure ive seen products out there that act as an external hard drive which can hold all my music, and other data, and wireless be networked (or through ethernet, could sit next to the homehub) to the Squeezebox so that i wouldn't need to have the PC on at all times. Im interested in this because I will be buying an external hard drive no matter what happens, need somewhere to backup everything and if this was possible it would be even better.

I need to purchase a set of speakers for my room, which is the speaker set the Squeezebox would be connected to, what I need to know is can I also have these speakers connected to my TV at the same time? If so, id need to know what sockets the TV would need to be able to do this (I've got no clue) as im purchasing a new TV / DVD Player / Freeview box for my room in the near future aswell as the squeezebox / speakers etc.

If possible, links to where purchasable for any of the items ive asked for would be great.

If you need to know anything just ask, im sure ive left some vital information out but me not having much of a clue about this whole home entertainment thing doesnt help!

Thanks very much

You are thinking of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) which is, just as you say, a hard drive that can be attached to the network to be shared by multiple users. The only trouble with this is that, since you must have a copy of the SlimServer software running somewhere on your network to control the Squeezebox, serve the music, relay commands, etc, you'll need to install this on the NAS if you want to run without your PC turned on. Now lots of people do this - as evidenced by the forum message traffic here - but in my opnion this is not a job for the absolute beginner. Many people have developed install packages for various flavours of NAS and some places sell pre-installed systems. Take a look here
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=32727 for a discussion of some options. As you can gather it can get a bit hairy in NAS land. The alternative is to just use your PC and keep things simple. In either case you want to have the data drive hardwired to the network so as to avoid the multiple wireless hops involved in not doing so, which could have potential for music dropouts.

To use speakers with the SB3 you really need to have an amplifier and this could also be used to take the TV sound output allowing you to switch between them. The alternative is powered speakers but I'm not sure if any of these allow input switching. I suppose you could consider using Y-splitters on the inlet to have both SB3 and TV sound inputs present and control things by just turning each source on and off, but I don't like the idea myself.

As far as where to buy things is concerned I am guessing from your reference to Freeview that you are in the UK. I think that there are one or two NAS/Slim suppliers in the UK who can probably help. Maybe one of them will jump in here.

davep

jaysung
2007-09-09, 12:00
Hi,
it would be helpful to have an idea of the amount of money you can spend for:
- network infrastructure
- network attached storage
- amplifier
- speakers
- dvd player

A problem with cheaper nas solutions is that the sometimes tend to lack performance for slimserver especially if you do onthefly transcoding of music. So it is worthwhile considering to choose (transcode) a format that the box streams natively.

pfarrell
2007-09-11, 16:52
Im sure ive seen products out there that act as an external hard drive which can hold all my music, and other data, and wireless be networked (or through ethernet, could sit next to the homehub) to the Squeezebox so that i wouldn't need to have the PC on at all times. Im interested in this because I will be buying an external hard drive no matter what happens, need somewhere to backup everything and if this was possible it would be even better.


You can get such a device, typically called a NAS (network attached storage).

But I'm not sure what you gain by that.

You need a computer to run the SlimServer. It doesn't have to be "the PC" that you use for other things, but its a computer and it will run either Windows, Mac OS or some Linux.

The NAS vendors sell boxes that bundle the PC into a different box. It has normal commodity disk drives. You may never see the operating system, but its there, and it usually is Linux.

Connecting an external hard drive to a NAS is exactly the same as connecting it to any other PC and sharing the drives.

Many folks report that low end NAS servers are underpowered and/or restricted for upgrades. Search the other forums for details.

I believe, IMHO, etc. that you are better off using a cheap/free used PC as the server. Put your favorite O/S on it and be happy. I have always just used a PC that I stuck in the basement as too old and slow for real use (games, development, etc). It works great.

After you've had it a while, you may decide that you want something else. Some folks build very energy efficient PCs from vendors such as Via. Others want serious servers with redundant RAID disks and multiple NICs.

The key is to be able to move your music and access it with your SqueezeBox. The rest is just implementation details.

4mula1
2007-09-11, 18:10
Pat is absolutely spot on when he says get an old computer to run SlimServer. I'm using a PC with six years on it with no problems. You will in time want to give Linux a try and you will be glad you did. It runs on older/slower hardware better than Windows will. A PC is more powerful and flexible than a NAS, which comes in handy when you need to transcode from one format to another on the fly. Get the NAS to hold or backup your music, not serve it.

Ur[s]uS
2007-09-12, 00:31
Im sure ive seen products out there that act as an external hard drive which can hold all my music, and other data, and wireless be networked (or through ethernet, could sit next to the homehub) to the Squeezebox so that i wouldn't need to have the PC on at all times. Im interested in this because I will be buying an external hard drive no matter what happens, need somewhere to backup everything and if this was possible it would be even better.

You'll see from the responses already that there are two things at play. You need a "computer" to run the slimserver software and you need a "hard drive" on which to store your music and other data.

You have alot of options, whether delivering your two needs in a single device or two devices.

The computer to run slimserver can be the PC/laptop you already own, a "new" dedicated PC (favoured by the other guys who have responded already, using an old PC)) or a so-called "Network Attached Storage" or "NAS" device. To listen to music on your squeezebox, the device running slimserver must be on.

You have described a NAS in your post.
See - http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?BeginnersGuideToServers
The focus of NAS is storage first and processing second. The main things to watch out for with a NAS are:

- capacity (enough storage for your music)- this is the key strength of NAS;
- processing power (enough to run slimserver, whether at all or to a given level of satisfaction) - this is the key weakness of NAS; and,
- whether it is easy to get slimserver to run. Most NAS are not designed to make installation of slimserver easy. You may have to "hack" or do unlicensed things to your product to get the ball rolling. Some NAS offer slimserver built-in (and - obviously - these have been popular).

Examples, which can be searched in this forum or on google are:

Thecus 5200 Pro (and others), Infrant/Netgear ReadyNAS (popular because Slim Devices offer squeezeboxes bundled with a ReadyNAS for sale on this site); Qnap TS-401; Synology Diskstation CS-407; Buffalo Terastation [all of these examples have room for 4/5 hard disks and tend to cost more than 1,000];

Qnap TS-201, TS-109, TS-101; Synology Diskstation DS-207, DS-107 etc.; Buffalo Linkstation; Thecus 2100 [all of these examples have room for 1/2 hard disks and tend to cost more than 300]

Linksys NSLU2; Kurobox [these examples involve adding an external hard drive to a "slim computer" front end that - in effect - works as if it was a NAS and tend to cost 100]

See - http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=34776

I have tried the ReadyNAS, but did not think it was responsive enough for browsing my music collection using the web interface for slimserver (on my laptop or similar). There are different levels of satisfaction with each of these devices - search the forum for inspiration.

If you reconsider a dedicated PC - whether one you own or another old one (as recommended by some here) - you can think about either having the music on the local storage of that computer; on an external hard drive plugged into that computer; or, having the storage on your network (by some mechanism other than a NAS that is capable of running slimserver).

The latter solution is convenient if you want to access files when the local storage is turned off - e.g., from the laptop, when the PC is off.

You have two main options:

- use a router that allows you plug a USB hard drive directly into it (thereby making that hard drive available to your network) - a Linksys with StorageLink is an option; or,

- use a network enabled hard drive enclosure for your external hard drive (or buy one that comes within such an enclosure) - sometimes called "Landisk" or similar. If you search for hard drives at any online retailer, you should have the choice between USB/Firewire/Ethernet for choice of connection. The network enabled drives come with Ethernet.


I have tried running slimserver on laptop with music on USB external hard drive, but it gets inconvenient and frustrates music listening - as it is a pain to have to plug in both, boot up laptop and start the slimserver etc.

I think this fairly covers your options.

My setup is dedicated PC for slimserver (that also works as my home theatre PC), with music and other data on the network using a ReadyNAS.


I need to purchase a set of speakers for my room, which is the speaker set the Squeezebox would be connected to, what I need to know is can I also have these speakers connected to my TV at the same time? If so, id need to know what sockets the TV would need to be able to do this (I've got no clue) as im purchasing a new TV / DVD Player / Freeview box for my room in the near future aswell as the squeezebox / speakers etc.

This is not an area I'm too clever on, but your main choice is between:

- powered or active speakers (ones that do not need an amplifier to drive them); and,
- dumb speakers (that do need an receiver/amplifier to drive them).

If the TV or other devices will use the speakers, you need to think about speakers with several inputs (one for each device) and how it changes between the inputs.

In the living room, I have a Yamaha YSP-900 (a speaker/receiver/amplifier rolled into one) that has several inputs and changes them easily. Provided the TV has audio out - whether analogue or digital (even from headphone jack) - you can input to active speakers. If you are heading down the freeview road, you can expect your set top box to have analogue/digital audio out.

If you want to run alot of devices into the speakers, you will probably need a receiver/amplifier. You'll have to do some more searching for info on that. There is alot of information about powered/active speakers in the Audiophile forum.

FWIW, I have one squeezebox outputting through an Apple iPOD Hi-Fi in the kithcen (there is no on switch on the hifi, auto sensing the output from the squeezebox, so that works nicely) - digital output/input; I have one in the bedroom outputting through an old JVC cd player/radio/stereo - analogue output/input; and, I have one using the Yamaha YSP-900 - sharing that speaker with the home theater PC, the set-top-box etc. using digital output/input.

There are many ways to skin this cat.

stevemich
2007-09-12, 00:34
Pat is absolutely spot on when he says get an old computer to run SlimServer. I'm using a PC with six years on it with no problems. You will in time want to give Linux a try and you will be glad you did. It runs on older/slower hardware better than Windows will. A PC is more powerful and flexible than a NAS, which comes in handy when you need to transcode from one format to another on the fly. Get the NAS to hold or backup your music, not serve it.


I currently have my pc running slimserver, but want to get a dedicated old pc so my day to day one is not always needing to be on.
As it stands I have 2 external hard drives linked to a Linksys NSLU2, and this is connected to my wireless router. These drives hold all my data (one is a dedicatd backup). I do not have the experience to use the Linksys as a NAS...
So where in this system would I put my old duffer PC server in order to retain day to day access to my drives via my normal pc? Can I also get away without a monitor, and control Slimserver (inc playlists/updates etc) via my usual pc when I turn it on?

Cheers
Steve

Questor
2007-09-12, 00:48
IMO - a NAS like the QNAP TS-109 would be a good bet for you - you can connect it to your router and it will run SlimServer for you, as well as store your music (and lots more)
That's what I run, and it works really well - I couldn't justify the electricity requirement to have even an old PC on 24/7 (the 109 only uses 14W in action compared to probably at least 200W for a PC) and I use it as a storage device for lots of other things I can then access wirelessly

nacmacfeegle
2007-09-12, 01:38
Hi Duncan, welcome to what must be one of the most helpful forums I have ever lurked around.

My kitchen/family/dining room set up matches almost exactly what you are trying to achieve.

I have a DVD/cd player, squeezebox, TV and powered speakers all connected up and very usable.

Centre to the audio switching is a doodadd like one of these
http://www.cybermarket.co.uk/ishop/923/shopscr3360.html, I actually used an old I had lying around and butchered it into a wall mount using a blanking plate from B&Q.

For speakers I use the excellent Aego M powered sub woofer and wee bookshelf speakers...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Acoustic-Energy-AEGO2626WHITE-satellite-Speakers/dp/B000FUH4JK
This takes the selected output from the switch and doesn't need an amp. I have these built into a display cabinet thingie.

I have a digisender instead of a freeview box, but it's essentially the same input wise etc and connected via scart to my kitchen LCD tv, TV isconnected to the DVD player via HDMI.

So the audio switch is connected to audio out from the tv (you could use the audio out from the freeview box), audio out from the DVD player, and the squeezebox audio out. I turn the knob to select sound inputs to the speakers.

I have tried using a NAS but found it frustratingly slow, and limited, so I now use an old PIII, 700mhz laptop with a usb bus powered external drive (when the laptop is off, this is off).A 160 GB version of this..
http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=4HN8&CategorySelectedId=11157&fb=413&NavigationKey=11157

I have a pretty old house with 2 ft thick walls in places, so I use devolo hompelugs, as well as a netgear wireless router for networking (both available at PC World). My laptop/server and wired SB3 is in the conervatory/music room with a 4 way network switch into a single devolo, the wireless router is at the far end of the house, and is connected via another devolo, and serves the other SBs via Wlan, I have regular office PC at this end of the network.

The missus doesn't like leaving the pooter on all the time, so I switch the laptop on and off remotely using the Squeezebox, the hard drive switches on and off with the laptop (wake on LAN, and server power control plugin). The laptop only serves music, provides nice moving wallpaper via Gforce (http://www.soundspectrum.com/g-force/) and a microphone input to the laptop, and occasional surfs into the interweb, nothing else. It happily services 3 squeezeboxes and its all pretty reliable.

The network probably isn't ideally optimised, but this all works fine for me, I'm sure it is what you have in mind. Give me a shout if any of this bamboozles you.

chris.mason
2007-09-12, 06:26
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned in the replies so far is the importance of hardwiring the machine running slimserver and your collection of music to the network (i.e. connect it to your router using an ethernet cable).

If you SB3 is going to be wireless, having SlimServer hardwired reduces the number of wireless hops which can only be a Good Thing(tm), especially if you wish to stream loss-less music (for example FLAC).

pfarrell
2007-09-12, 20:00
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned in the replies so far is the importance of hardwiring the machine running slimserver and your collection of music to the network (i.e. connect it to your router using an ethernet cable).


What Chris said.
Wireless to the SqueezeBox can be wonderful, but wireless from the SlimServer PC to your router/wireless AP can cause lots of problems.

Duncan1234
2007-09-20, 06:27
Thanks to everyone, and sorry about taking so long to reply, ive read over alot of this, and haven given alot of it some thought, have decided upon a few changes to my plan.

My PC is going to be wired with a 15m odd ethernet cable through to the Router, so im going to just buy an external hard drive to backup everything and use my PC to stream the music as the PC is basicly on all the times that i would want to use the SqueezeBox so forget the NAS!

http://www.cybermarket.co.uk/ishop/923/shopscr3360.html
That seems like a essential purchase for what im looking to do! Will definetly be getting one of those.

WHat i now need advice on is which speakers to buy, whats the difference between using powered speakers or seperate speakers with an Amp? Also how much do i need to spend to get a decent set and what should i be looking for when buying?

Need to look into getting a DVD player that plays Divx/Xvids and has a USB port aswell as new TV and freeview box but they seem pretty simple to look into and easy enough to purchase without any complications.

Thanks very much

Duncan1234
2007-09-22, 22:50
Anyone? Or would that sort of audio question be better in the audiophiles forum?