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Old 7th June 2007, 10:23 AM   #1
jkeny is offline jkeny  Ireland
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Default SqueezBox substitute

I came accross a box which I believe would act as a cheaper SqueezeBox (€100 - 500) as well as giving you additional functionality - TV decoding,reception& playback - a DreamBox

These are a range of Digital Video Broadcast set-top-box decoders. They are based on the IBM PowerPC CPU and run a open source Linux OS. Various Firmware images are available on the net with different capabilities - all support MP3 playback - One that I know of supports FLAC playback (PLi Helenite). All have TV decoding support

For those who need more here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreambox

They have a whole range of connections at the back (Scart, Ethernet, USB, SPDif, Aerial,etc) and can easily be part of a network so audio can be streamed to the box & with SPDif output they can link to a DAC.

As part of the range there are versions with internal HDD so no need to connect to network for audio files.

On top of all this you can connect to Cable, Satellite or Terrestial for TV and can play back recorded video.

Does this sound like a good idea?
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Old 8th June 2007, 06:29 PM   #2
kec is offline kec  United States
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Default Smcwaa-g

I think a more similar device to the Squeezebox (from an audio perspective) is the SMCWAA-G. You can get it for about $30-$40 USD from here http://www.buy.com/prod/SMC_EZ_Strea...202126283.html depending if it's on sale or not.

This has some of the same features as the SB, but no digital out - which may deter some people. I have 2 of these and they work very well. SQ is pretty good and I'm sure there's a good mod or 2 to be had. I'd like to see if a digital out mod can be done on this.

The device itself only supports MP3, WMA and WAV files, BUT, if you use TVersity or TwonkyVision media server (uPNP) you can transcode lossless files, FLAC in my case, to the device (if you have the proper codecs).

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Old 8th June 2007, 07:17 PM   #3
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The dreambox looks interesting. There is a US distributor but I couldn't find any pricing info on their web site. A lot of SB owners passed on devices that require a TV to be on to display song titles, etc., but with the price of LCD monitors dropping all the time, maybe plugging into the dreambox would be a low power way to have a large, dedicated display.

The SMC box is also an interesting device, especially at $30. Clearly it has some limitations but at that price it's hard to argue against it. If you transcode .flac files and stream .wav to this box, will it display the tag contents?

I_F
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Old 8th June 2007, 07:38 PM   #4
kec is offline kec  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by I_Forgot
The SMC box is also an interesting device, especially at $30. Clearly it has some limitations but at that price it's hard to argue against it. If you transcode .flac files and stream .wav to this box, will it display the tag contents?

I_F
Yes. I also thought that there would be a lag time between tracks, but there's not.

I was only going to get one unit for the garage, but I ended up getting another one for my house. Eventually, I plan to do a comparison between the SMC (wav & flac) and CD. I'm just curious.


-Ken
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Old 10th June 2007, 01:08 AM   #5
jkeny is offline jkeny  Ireland
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I have been off air for a couple of days so I missed your posts.

Yea Kec, SMC looks interesting - do you know what chips it uses?. Just wondering if digital can be tapped off any internal chip pins - this would indeed make it more interesting.

The Dreambox has one advantage in that it's also a TV (cable, Satellite or terrestrial) receiver so also has the ability to stream video

John
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Old 11th June 2007, 03:08 PM   #6
kec is offline kec  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by jkeny
I have been off air for a couple of days so I missed your posts.

Yea Kec, SMC looks interesting - do you know what chips it uses?. Just wondering if digital can be tapped off any internal chip pins - this would indeed make it more interesting.

The Dreambox has one advantage in that it's also a TV (cable, Satellite or terrestrial) receiver so also has the ability to stream video

John
I opened the device for a quick look and found an STMicroelectronics 2527 (from what I can remember) near the analog connectors. Googled it and could not find anything specific on it. I need to do more thorough look at the chips.

Build quality is very good. I'll see if I can post some pics of the guts.

Listened to alot of tunes this past weekend in the garage. The SMC worked flawlessly. It's probably 150 feet from my Buffalo WHR-G54S (stock) through 3 walls. I'm impressed. I love this thing!


-Ken
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Old 11th June 2007, 03:49 PM   #7
jkeny is offline jkeny  Ireland
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Hi Ken,
Pics would be good - thanks for this. Maybe we can improve the sound even further, who knows? At this price can afford to experiment & bust it - like the t-amp

John
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Old 11th June 2007, 04:34 PM   #8
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Another alternative is ofcourse a modified xbox. They go for around 90 euro's in the Netherlands. Play divx and all kinds of other formats.

Bought a SB3 myself and love it to bits. But I'm eyeballing my sons xbox to have it modified so I can stream video as well.
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Old 11th June 2007, 06:45 PM   #9
kec is offline kec  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by jkeny
Hi Ken,
Pics would be good - thanks for this. Maybe we can improve the sound even further, who knows?
John
I hope so John. I was going to start a seperate thread on this, but decided to wait until I can find out what chips they're using.
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Old 12th June 2007, 02:54 AM   #10
jkeny is offline jkeny  Ireland
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I opened up a DreamBox DM500C and found a PCM1725 DAC doing the audio duties - I believe this is accepting I2S as input on pins 1,2 &3

It also has L & R analog output on pins 6 & 9 which maybe routed to the scart output? I don't yet know how well regarded, sonically, are these outputs but if my brief inspection of the board is correct each analog signal passes through a non-descript electrolytic capacitor of 33uF 16V. This could be improved by simply replacing these caps with higher quality caps as a first step.

A more complicated but better sounding mod would be to take the I2S from these pins and use as input to another DAC.

Anybody got suggestions? I have some TDA1387 DACs which I might try.

John
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