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View Full Version : Apple Lossless - who is doing the decode? Squeezebox or SC7?



Kuro
2008-04-07, 06:59
I've got the Duet. My collection is in Apple Lossless (ALAC).

Is the Squeezebox receiver doing the music file decode or SC 7 is doing the decode?

I'm getting some performance issue and I'd like to pin point the problem...

andyg
2008-04-07, 07:00
ALAC is transcoded to FLAC on the server first, we don't have ALAC decoding in the firmware.

Kuro
2008-04-07, 18:20
That explains the performance issue I'm having:

I use the Synology DS207+ NAS with SSODS to run SC7. When I play an album full of ALAC files, the first track always skips and pauses in the first 30 secs. After that, the track seems to play normally. Subsequent tracks seem to play fine. After reading your msg, I rip a couple albums using FLAC and the skip/pause problem went away.

Why are you guy doing transcoding from ALAC to FLAC? It seems more logical to me the software should simply just decode ALAC to WAV and be done with it. Transcode is going to demand lots of CPU cycles, which explains the playback issue I'm having.

I also notice that skipping to the next track is often very slow with ALAC, taking anywhere from 2 to 5 seconds or more. With FLAC, it is almost instantaneous.

When I bought the Duet, it was advertised the receiver can play Apple Lossess, but it seems it is false advertising, as the receiver itself cannot play ALAC, it was SC7 that is doing the decoding.

Can the ALAC decoder be part of the firmware of the Squeezebox receiver?

aubuti
2008-04-07, 18:36
Why are you guy doing transcoding from ALAC to FLAC? It seems more logical to me the software should simply just decode ALAC to WAV and be done with it. Transcode is going to demand lots of CPU cycles, which explains the playback issue I'm having.
Then just change your settings to transcode ALAC to WAV. It's under Settings > Advanced > File Types > Apple Lossless.

Before going on about false advertising, consider that the hardware you're using isn't exactly up to snuff. Transcoding doesn't demand that many CPU cycles, but your NAS -- and most NASs -- aren't up to the job. What does yours have, a 500MHz CPU and only 128MB RAM?

JimC
2008-04-07, 21:16
Why are you guy doing transcoding from ALAC to FLAC? It seems more logical to me the software should simply just decode ALAC to WAV and be done with it. Transcode is going to demand lots of CPU cycles, which explains the playback issue I'm having.

We transcode to FLAC to save network bandwidth. FLAC is going to send roughly 1/2 the data over the network as WAV.

You can change it to skip the FLAC step and send WAV to the player using the SqueezeCenter interface. You'll find it under Settings > Advanced > File Types > Apple Lossless.


When I bought the Duet, it was advertised the receiver can play Apple Lossess, but it seems it is false advertising, as the receiver itself cannot play ALAC, it was SC7 that is doing the decoding.

It is not false advertising... that's an extrememly serious claim. The box states that ALAC is supported, not that it is decoded on the hardware. The User Guide and our website state that ALAC is supported via transcoding in several places. The bottom line is that you *can* listen to ALAC files via the Squeezebox Receiver, just as stated on the box.


Can the ALAC decoder be part of the firmware of the Squeezebox receiver?

Sorry, no. There are a lot of reasons behind this, but the end result is that ALAC support is handled via transcoding on the server and that isn't likely to change in the forseeable future.


-=> Jim

Kuro
2008-04-07, 23:36
Thanks to all the replies.

I do not see any option in changing from ALAC to WAV. All I see on the streaming column is to disable flac, disable mp3 or disable wav. I disabled the 1st two, and left the last one in, but I still experience pauses during the initial stream.

At the present moment, my option is to convert all the ALAC files to FLAC via dbPoweramp :(

As for false advertising: I got the Duet via your website as mail order. Before I bought it, I looked at the spec on the Duet on your website and the word "transcode" was not under the Apple Lossless format. It was only mentioned in the mp3 section. So my claim is not unfounded.

autopilot
2008-04-08, 00:14
At the present moment, my option is to convert all the ALAC files to FLAC via dbPoweramp :(


Why's that a problem? Thats what i would do, FLAC's a better format in some ways anyway and you wont lose any sound quality as both are lossless. I would set up Foobar2000 to do an over night batch job.



As for false advertising: I got the Duet via your website as mail order. Before I bought it, I looked at the spec on the Duet on your website and the word "transcode" was not under the Apple Lossless format. It was only mentioned in the mp3 section. So my claim is not unfounded.

But SqueezeCenter and the SB's work together as one, much of the functionality of the Squeezebox 'system' is in the server software - the SBr etc are thin clients, thats what its all about. Are you going to claim that every function thats actually handled by the server is false advertising?

JimC
2008-04-08, 01:28
I do not see any option in changing from ALAC to WAV. All I see on the streaming column is to disable flac, disable mp3 or disable wav. I disabled the 1st two, and left the last one in, but I still experience pauses during the initial stream.

As I understand it, that will cause ALAC to be streamed as WAV, not FLAC. The problem is more likely the delay in loading the external decoder rather than in SqueezeCenter.


As for false advertising: I got the Duet via your website as mail order. Before I bought it, I looked at the spec on the Duet on your website and the word "transcode" was not under the Apple Lossless format. It was only mentioned in the mp3 section. So my claim is not unfounded.

Again, you are levelling a very serious accusation without foundation. The product performs per the claims: you can use it to listen to Apple Lossless on the SBR. How the specific decoding is achieved is not part of the product's claims; support for listening to Apple Lossless files via the SBR is the extent of the claim and is functional on the supported platforms.

Since you ordered from our website, our 30-day guarantee protects you if you feel that the product does not meet your needs. If you are not satisfied, please contact our inside sales team who will arrange for a full refund of the purchase price upon return of the product.


-=> Jim

peter
2008-04-08, 02:17
JimC wrote:
> Kuro;288891 Wrote:
>
>> I do not see any option in changing from ALAC to WAV. All I see on the
>> streaming column is to disable flac, disable mp3 or disable wav. I
>> disabled the 1st two, and left the last one in, but I still experience
>> pauses during the initial stream.
>>
>
> As I understand it, that will cause ALAC to be streamed as WAV, not
> FLAC. The problem is more likely the delay in loading the external
> decoder rather than in SqueezeCenter.
>
>
>> As for false advertising: I got the Duet via your website as mail order.
>> Before I bought it, I looked at the spec on the Duet on your website
>> and the word "transcode" was not under the Apple Lossless format. It
>> was only mentioned in the mp3 section. So my claim is not unfounded.
>>
>
> Again, you are levelling a very serious accusation without foundation.
> The product performs per the claims: you can use it to listen to Apple
> Lossless on the SBR. How the specific decoding is achieved is not part
> of the product's claims; support for listening to Apple Lossless files
> via the SBR is the extent of the claim and is functional on the
> supported platforms.
>
> Since you ordered from our website, our 30-day guarantee protects you
> if you feel that the product does not meet your needs. If you are not
> satisfied, please contact our inside sales team who will arrange for a
> full refund of the purchase price upon return of the product.
>

He's got a point though. When you look at the Duet-specs, you'll notice
that transcoding is mentioned under compressed formats (bad term BTW,
since FLAC & ALAC are also compressed), but not under 'Lossless
Formats'. I don't believe this is intentionally misleading, but it might
lead people to think that the lossless formats are not transcoded.

http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_duet.html#formats

You're right about the 30 day return policy, of course.

Regards,
Peter

radish
2008-04-08, 06:09
I do not see any option in changing from ALAC to WAV. All I see on the streaming column is to disable flac, disable mp3 or disable wav. I disabled the 1st two, and left the last one in, but I still experience pauses during the initial stream.


That's the correct approach. The server will automatically select the "best" format to send to the player from the ones you allow with those options, with the order of preference being FLAC > WAV > MP3. As others have mentioned, the problems you're facing are likely due to the ALAC decoder on your particular hardware.

Kuro
2008-04-08, 09:20
Basically, I'm running the slimserver on a NAS (Synology DiskStation DS-207+). I'm trying to build a turnkey system for some of the people I know. None of us here wants to have a PC turned on 7x24, hence the idea of a NAS as mediaserver.

I've been watching the slimdevices for many years now, and the Duet is my first system. My feeling is that, this system is still not fool proof enough for mass deployment.

As for my NAS, depsite it is having the best spec possible for a personal NAS (Arm 500MHz processor, 128MB RAM), it is simply not fast enough to produce a good experience using the Duet with ALAC files.

I want to use ALAC because I can use Airtune within iTune to distribute music via Airport express base station as well. Seriously, Apple only needs to build an interface in iPod Touch to wirelessly control iTune on the PC for wireless music distribution via Airport express and slimdevices will be doomed. Airport express is able to synchronize music perfectly with multiple receivers.

Anyway, I've just transcoded all my ALAC files to FLAC now. Hopefully, this should give me a much better experience.

Eric Seaberg
2008-04-08, 09:43
My server is a Mac MINI with external 500GB drive... that's what I bought it for and it does nothing else. It's been on 24/7 for 18+ months. No monitor, no kbd... just power and an ethernet cable. All my files are ALAC and transcoded to FLAC without issue. It boots up, it works.

It seems like a plug-n-play solution to me.

radish
2008-04-08, 10:20
Seriously, Apple only needs to build an interface in iPod Touch to wirelessly control iTune on the PC for wireless music distribution via Airport express and slimdevices will be doomed.

Ahh yes, the SD killer. Was Audiotron, then Roku, then Sonos, then Media Center, now Apple :) Apple have already had two goes at media streaming devices (Airport & AppleTV) and SD are still here. Third time's the charm?

Kuro
2008-04-08, 11:31
Hi Eric,

The thought of buying a Mac Mini did cross my mind before I went for a NAS solution. The problems with Mac Mini are that: 1. it is too expensive for this application (overkilled), 2. Rumors say either Apple will drop the Mini or they'll bring out newer models using 3.5" internal HD.

If I were to go with the Mac Mini, then I want it to be a true media server with H.264 decoding. Unfortunately, the video portion of the Mini is too weak for H.264 decoding.

Maybe slimserver on PS/3?

funkstar
2008-04-09, 02:18
How about an Eee Desktop?

http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2008/03/asus_eee_desktop_coming.html

Not exactly a power house, but still a damned sight more powerful than a NAS box.

Nonreality
2008-04-09, 04:24
Basically, I'm running the slimserver on a NAS (Synology DiskStation DS-207+). I'm trying to build a turnkey system for some of the people I know. None of us here wants to have a PC turned on 7x24, hence the idea of a NAS as mediaserver.

I've been watching the slimdevices for many years now, and the Duet is my first system. My feeling is that, this system is still not fool proof enough for mass deployment.

As for my NAS, depsite it is having the best spec possible for a personal NAS (Arm 500MHz processor, 128MB RAM), it is simply not fast enough to produce a good experience using the Duet with ALAC files.

I want to use ALAC because I can use Airtune within iTune to distribute music via Airport express base station as well. Seriously, Apple only needs to build an interface in iPod Touch to wirelessly control iTune on the PC for wireless music distribution via Airport express and slimdevices will be doomed. Airport express is able to synchronize music perfectly with multiple receivers.

Anyway, I've just transcoded all my ALAC files to FLAC now. Hopefully, this should give me a much better experience.

I just don't get it? The love affair with Apple. I have Ipods and they're very nice to a point. To get all the benifits I have to use a very bloated player, organizer in Itunes. It does some things very nice but other things not well or not at all. The Ipod database...why. Why would you purposely mix all the data into multiple folders that make no sense for manual use, unless it's to make it difficult for people to use other programs. Sell it's customers drm encoded music at a semi low bit rate for years and put in it's own quality encoder paired with a lousy mp3 encoder. Oh and by the way most other portable players don't support our encoder so you better just spend the bucks and buy your kids ipods too. Lets also keep changing firmware so other companies that do make programs that can link ipods are always kept well behind. It seems that this is even beyond what gave Microsoft such a bad name. The Apple fans seem not to notice and keep praising the almighty Apple. I just don't get it.
Oh and another thing, The ability to synchronize multiple players isn't the only thing important to a lot of people. I have one so it doesn't matter at all. I like the quality of sound, and how I can customize the SB. You really think Apple will make theirs open source? How about other file types, get used to converting. I don't mind Apples stuff I just like to have some choice in what I play and what programs I can use.
Sorry, I'm done ranting now.

PS: Guess I'm not, try running Itunes on your NAS ;)

sgard9
2008-04-09, 08:37
I don't use my iPod much as I find I don't like to go around with
things stuck in my ears. However, my wife uses hers a lot and seem to
like it quite well. I never hear her complain about iTunes and she
seems to do quite well managing her media. I'll let her know about the
bloated player-organizer and see if she cares. I don't think she's
even aware of DRM, bit rates and changing firmware. She has never
voiced any concerns to me about "open source" issues. She also made
the switch from her Toshiba laptop to a Mac about three years ago.
Complaining has decreased even though she seems to use it much more
that she used the Toshiba. I'm personally benefitting as my time spent
troubleshooting laptop problems has dropped significantly. I think she
gets it!

-- Scott --

On Apr 9, 2008, at 4:24 AM, Nonreality wrote:

>>
>
> I just don't get it? The love affair with Apple. I have Ipods and
> they're very nice to a point. To get all the benifits I have to use a
> very bloated player, organizer in Itunes. It does some things very
> nice
> but other things not well or not at all. The Ipod database...why.
> Why
> would you purposely mix all the data into multiple folders that make
> no sense for manual use, unless it's to make it difficult for people
> to
> use other programs. Sell it's customers drm encoded music at a semi
> low
> bit rate for years and put in it's own quality encoder paired with a
> lousy mp3 encoder. Oh and by the way most other portable players don't
> support our encoder so you better just spend the bucks and buy your
> kids ipods too. Lets also keep changing firmware so other companies
> that do make programs that can link ipods are always kept well behind.
> It seems that this is even beyond what gave Microsoft such a bad name.
> The Apple fans seem not to notice and keep praising the almighty
> Apple.
> I just don't get it.
> Oh and another thing, The ability to synchronize multiple players
> isn't
> the only thing important to a lot of people. I have one so it doesn't
> matter at all. I like the quality of sound, and how I can customize
> the SB. You really think Apple will make theirs open source? How
> about
> other file types, get used to converting. I don't mind Apples stuff I
> just like to have some choice in what I play and what programs I can
> use.
> Sorry, I'm done ranting now.
>
>
> --
> Nonreality
>
> *-If the rule you followed brought you to this, what good is the
> rule.-*
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Nonreality's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=15723
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=45961
>
>

Nonreality
2008-04-12, 19:26
So if I understand you right, everything Apple does or doesn't do is alright because of people's ignorance? I guess I can see your point although I don't think it's the right argument.

Eric Seaberg
2008-04-12, 19:31
I think she gets it!

-- Scott --


Whoever said women were the smarter sex was WAY RIGHT!!!

Eric Seaberg
2008-04-12, 19:33
So if I understand you right, everything Apple does or doesn't do is alright because of people's ignorance?

That's partially true, due to the fact that the ignorant you speak of believe that Microsoft did it first.

Have a lovely day.... and go take a pill or something.

Eric Seaberg
2008-04-12, 19:49
Sell it's customers drm encoded music at a semi low bit rate for years and put in it's own quality encoder paired with a lousy mp3 encoder.

You know, I'm not done yet.

Apple did this because people were ripping off the music industry every way possible, i.e. Napster, do-dah, etc. Apple got the record companies to agree with a form of downloadable music that the masses will pay for at a fair price and the record companies can work with. The guys that are screaming about it now do so because they've gotten out of the 'shower' and see what the potential is for downloadable music. Hello... McFly!!!

Now I'm not saying Apple's DRM is good, I hate it and, if I have the chance, will purchase a hard-copy so I can rip it lossless, but the majority of music buyers DON'T CARE!! THEY WANT IT NOW AND THEY WANT IT CHEAP!!

They don't want to buy an entire CD because 8 of the 10 tunes on the CD are crap, so they buy the two tunes they want at $.99 each. When artists start doing albums again with 10 AWESOME TRACKS, they'll start selling complete CDs again!!

I'm glad that you're a quality hound... I've been in the recording business for 37-years a have stayed in it for the same reason you're griping about this, but it is A BUSINESS. If the record companies can't figure out how to do this, then someone else (like Apple) will and throw them the bones. Those of us that still care about quality music will always have to go a different route than the masses of 'casual' listeners.

Now, about that pill you're taking....

Nonreality
2008-04-14, 03:37
You know, I'm not done yet.

Now, about that pill you're taking....

I'd share but I really need them all. ;~(