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bluegaspode
2013-09-22, 12:32
Based on erlands question here (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?87364-ANNOUNCE-Music-Playback-now-on-ANDROID!-SqueezePlayer-released-to-the-market&p=757032&viewfull=1#post757032), I decided to start my own tests regarding Android TV sticks/devices <=100$, and ordered two of them for a comparison. I hope that others can share their experiences here as well, which is why I started a separate thread.

Note that I cannot test those devices fully regarding their TV capabilities, I'll focus here on Squeezebox stuff, you need to decide on your own about the additional features they all provide.

First in this series will be the Minix Neo X5 (http://georiot.co/2r1T), which is available for 96$/ 89€ on Amazon.com/.de (http://georiot.co/2r1T) (guess the US pricing is without VAT?). The Minix is the little box to the right, on the left a Squeezebox Receiver as comparison.

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It's a small little box, with many connection possibilities - most important for us is HDMI, SPDIF (!) and a line-out/phones jack.
I hooked it up to the TV and booted it up, it started instantly and only having connected an USB-Mouse I was able to setup WiFi and my Google Account, went to the PlayStore and downloaded
- my SqueezePlayer App (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.bluegaspode.squeezeplayer) (to make this box a Squeezebox)
- AutomateIt (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=AutomateIt.mainPackage&hl=en) (free), to configure that SqueezePlayer starts up automatically after booting.

No trouble here - 10minutes after starting up, my TV was available as a Squeezebox :)
Remote controlled by my phone with Orange Squeeze (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.orangebikelabs.orangesqueeze&hl=en) (my favorite Controller App right now, use whatever you prefer).

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One has to note that the Minix comes with an optimized UI for the TV (big buttons) and also a remote. I guess this will come in handy, when you want to also use it for it's actual TV capabilities.

The most interesting thing of course is synchronisation to other Squeezeboxes. So I got two Squeezebox Radios into the same room and started experimenting.
The very first experience was - not convincing. This is because HDMI and Android imposes some delays that have to be compensated for. To our rescue comes the Squeezebox-Server settings: for every player one can configure synchronisation delays.

The first one should care for is "Player Audio Delay". You'll need to start a playlist, wait about 30seconds (!) to have all devices synchronized as good as it gets and then try to guess what delay your TV has (it is typically behind your Squeezeboxes).
Then change the corresponding value in the settings, Apply, wait again 30secs (while everything is playing) and see how much improvement you achieved. When you found a good value, one can also care for the "Player Start Delay". Everytime you manually start the next track from a playlist, you want to make sure, that all devices start in Sync as good as possible, so that they don't need catch up to each other to get into real sync.

In my scenario: Minix -> HDMI -> TV I arrived at the following values:
Player Start Delay: 180
Player Audio Delay: 270
Note that my TV might have imposed some delay, so the values might differ for you.

With these settings I listened through a whole mp3 album (two Radios and the Minix via TV in sync in one room). On rare occasions I could hear the players drift a bit, but they recovered soon again. When those boxes are in different rooms, noone would be able to hear a difference in my opinion.

Next test was the SPDIF connector into my AV-Receiver. First it didn't work, until I realized, that I had to activate SPDIF in the Android Audio settings. When this worked, I removed the HDMI connector, to just use the Minix just as a Squeezebox Receiver replacement.
Worked fine and looks great on the AV rack as well.

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(little black box on top is the minix - just two cables on the back - power + SPDIF)

The settings for synchronization I needed this time were
Player Start Delay: 180
Player Audio Delay: 150
Again - this worked great for me and I happily moved between my living room (Minix + 1 Radio) and bedroom (1 Radio) all the time to check the sync.
Your values of course will differ again, as my AV-Receiver will have some influence on the delays (I ran it in 'straight' mode though).

One little caveat remained for me: my SPDIF connector didn't properly fit into the Minix for some reason - it didn't snap into position and was in danger of removing itself when moving the device. Might be different with other cables, but a little bit confusing definitely that a digital connector doesn't fit.

All in all: I really like what I saw in this first test :)
Give me some more time until I have tested the second device.

bluegaspode
2013-09-22, 12:32
Now to the second little device, the "Android Mini PC MK808B" (http://georiot.co/Ohb), available at 45$/50€ at Amazon.

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The good things: it's internal name is "rockchip" yeah, thus this is the default internal player name.
Also synchronsation is usable with the following settings:

Startup Delay: 40ms, Audio Delay: 150ms

Now to the thing I don't like:
- the form factor: if you can hide it it's great. As power and HDMI are on opposing sites, you cannot place it somewhere visible nicely
- connections: only HDMI out, if you have a spare one on your AV receiver it will still work fine
- stock Android, no additions for TV operation. If you want to turn it into a media center, you will have to spend more of your own time to download the corresponding Apps.
Instead there are some Games on it, that need some Controller that was not part of the packaging, Also some chinese netflix App :)
Guess this Android version is also used in other devices.
- worse WiFi reception: I got more problems with download speed / dropped connections, so had to move the thing closer to my router.

Conclusion: the Minix Neo X5 (http://georiot.co/2r1T) is my better friend :)

erland
2013-09-22, 15:04
Does these boxes work if you don't connect them to a TV and just have the SPDIF connected to the amplifier ?
Or is the TV needed for them to be able to start and launch SqueezePlayer at startup ?

bluegaspode
2013-09-22, 15:36
You only need to connect via HDMI for setup. Then provided you configured the AutomateIt App, SqueezePlayer will startup automatically on boot also without HDMI connected.

Peter Galbavy
2013-09-23, 04:53
Very nice. I may have to spend my money on your player app, which I've been putting off as I have too many real SB boxes. I bought a Rikomagic RK809IV to play with but so far it's not great on video playback, but I am going to be testing other ROMs and even Ubuntu soon.

One thing that did spring to mind was that now with real HDMI and not just S/PDIF I should in theory be able to playback multichannel DVD Audio rips. No idea what the Squeeze platform (server, your player etc.) might do with that - any ideas? I assume the ability to decode multichannel FLAC and then stream multichannel LPCM over the HDMI will not be a native function - any guesses if this is feasible?

I have the luxury of two living rooms, one for music with a 2.0 (going to test an old subwoofer to maybe go 2.1 soon) and the other the TV/movie room with a nice 5.1 setup- currently an SB Touch in each. I used to have some spare money once :)

Peter

bluegaspode
2013-09-23, 09:52
One thing that did spring to mind was that now with real HDMI and not just S/PDIF I should in theory be able to playback multichannel DVD Audio rips. No idea what the Squeeze platform (server, your player etc.) might do with that - any ideas?
The FLACs are transferred to the respective players, typically they only use the first two main channels for playback.
I didn't check the Android API yet, if it would allow to pass 5 channels down the HDMI route.
I'm also not sure yet, if such a niché feature of a niché product would really make sense :)

marlo
2013-09-23, 10:59
Could you please check if playback of hires-files is possible via hdmi and/or spdif?

Peter Galbavy
2013-09-24, 08:11
I'm also not sure yet, if such a niché feature of a niché product would really make sense :)

niché^2 - sounds like a plan ;)

wewen
2013-09-25, 09:08
Try installing caustic 2. Then go into settings. There your audio latency are measured. Good tool to get a po9inter to your audiodevices latency. For example the latency in my nexus 4 are 40ms.

bluegaspode
2013-09-26, 15:11
Could you please check if playback of hires-files is possible via hdmi and/or spdif?

hi Marlo,

Sorry for the late answer.
Right now SqueezePlayer uses an AudioAPI that is compatible with pretty old Android versions ("AudioTrack" / http://developer.android.com/reference/android/media/AudioTrack.html#AudioTrack(int, int, int, int, int, int)
This supports only samplerate of 48kHz and 16Bit material.

I also checked about the multichannel possibilities now. Unfortunately there is a parameter "channelConfig" which allows only the parameter Mono + Stereo.

On newer Android version (starting 4.0) audio support was improved in Android.
Supporting would require a whole rewrite of my Audio Engine, which is not doable within reasonable time right now.

bluegaspode
2013-09-28, 07:00
Just added my second report. See above the second post.

Apesbrain
2013-10-03, 06:12
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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BFXOZE/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008BFXOZE&linkCode=as2&tag=squid09a-20
http://www.amazon.com/eForCity-Adapter-Internet-phones-programs/dp/B0019SVUQK%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAIAA4MWUJXHBYFRNQ %26tag%3Dsquid1685143-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165 953%26creativeASIN%3DB0019SVUQK

I purchased this cheap, single-core, Android mini-PC from Amazon for under $32 and already had a cheap USB DAC that appeared identical to the one linked above. I used the included HDMI cable to attach the mini-PC to my HDTV and plugged in the power supply. Within 30 seconds or so, my TV was displaying the Android ICS desktop. Upon plugging an HP wireless mouse receiver into the full-size USB on the mini-PC a mouse pointer appeared. After joining the mini-PC to my wireless network and installing Squeeze Player via Google Play, I was able to select the mini-PC in LMS on my laptop and send music to it exactly the same as any of my other SB players. At this point, the sound was coming via HDMI from my TV speakers. This mini-PC has only one full-size USB port, so I used another cable it shipped with to plug the DAC into its "USB OTG" mini-port and I had music in my headphones. It wasn't perfect as there was the occasional crackle. I pulled out the mouse receiver and plugged the DAC into the full-size USB which had to be done via a short dongle due to space constraints and the crackle went away.

Via HDMI & USB:
- Plays FLAC and MP3; I didn't have other formats to test
- Plays 16/24 - 44/48/88/96 files; whether these are being resampled along the way I don't know
- A short glitch every so often

If this were my only experience of Squeezebox I'd probably not be that impressed, but for the extension of an existing SB system into another room I don't see how it can be beat. If you already have an A/V receiver, you can plug the mini-PC directly to HDMI and skip the USB DAC altogether. Remember, you only need a display for initial set-up. After that, using the free "Startup Manager" app you can configure the mini-PC to automatically start Squeeze Player upon boot. Of course, you can always leave the display connected and have album art visible. Or install an Android SB controller and navigate via your TV and a mouse.

The mini-PC does not have an Ethernet jack, but Ethernet/USB adapters are available. I can't say whether my wireless was the cause of the occasional glitch I heard, but I suspect it was as the on-screen wireless strength icon seemed to dip at the same time. It wouldn’t surprise me as living in a high-rise apartment building with another one directly across the street is a wireless nightmare.

I don't need another SB device at this point, so I unplugged the DAC and re-attached the mouse receiver. I now use the mini-PC as a Netflix streaming device on a secondary HDTV. The wireless mouse provides control from across the room.

If I were to do this again, I'd spend a bit more and purchase a dual- or quad-core mini-PC for the extra CPU power. Again, I don't know if CPU or wireless issues were the cause of occasional drop-outs. Some reviewers have complained about the device over-heating, but my experience is that it only gets warm during playback and at rest returns to room temp; I leave it on all the time.

leafygreens
2013-10-09, 13:21
Based on erlands question I decided to start my own tests regarding Android TV sticks/devices <=100$, and ordered two of them for a comparison. I hope that others can share their experiences here as well, which is why I started a separate thread.


Thanks very much for doing this review. I'm also interested in using an Android box/stick for Squeezelite. Have you had much time to let it run 24/7? I wonder how stable this is, and how it works for long term use.

Is there a version of LMS for Androids? I only see Windows, Macs, and Linux.

toby10
2013-10-10, 01:16
..... Is there a version of LMS for Androids? I only see Windows, Macs, and Linux.

No. These are playback devices, not server computers.

wortgefecht
2014-09-15, 02:05
I had this little device lying around my place for some time now (picked it up at a daily deal site some time ago): Archos 35 Home Connect: http://store.archos.com/archos-home-connect-p-5027.htm?id=5027

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It's basically a radio alarm clock running Android 2.2 and comes with TuneIn Radio. Sound quality is fair, considered the size of the device. I installed SqueezePlayer on it and it's now a part of my Squeezebox setup playing in our guest bathroom.

castalla
2014-09-15, 05:25
I had this little device lying around my place for some time now (picked it up at a daily deal site some time ago): Archos 35 Home Connect: http://store.archos.com/archos-home-connect-p-5027.htm?id=5027

16386

It's basically a radio alarm clock running Android 2.2 and comes with TuneIn Radio. Sound quality is fair, considered the size of the device. I installed SqueezePlayer on it and it's now a part of my Squeezebox setup playing in our guest bathroom.

I thought it was a low-quality solutionn until the battery went flat and it wouldn't boot from AC power - binned it.

wortgefecht
2014-09-15, 06:52
I thought it was a low-quality solutionn until the battery went flat and it wouldn't boot from AC power - binned it.

Strange, I never had any battery or power issues so far. But low-quality it is, definitely. That's why it's located where it is ...

castalla
2014-09-15, 07:14
Strange, I never had any battery or power issues so far. But low-quality it is, definitely. That's why it's located where it is ...

A cheap android phone with a replaceable battery is a better option!