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Old 27th March 2012, 06:48 AM   #1
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Default Multimedia players

Hi,

I am starting a thread for people like me who use multimedia players (AC Ryan, WDTV etc) to compare notes on how and which one works best.

I am looking to get another one, one of my players the toslink out died on me, so I am suddenly short of one source. I am wonderng is there any unit out there which you have tried and you can vouch it works well.

My ideal player should have this:

1) Co-ax out and optical out for maximum versatility.
2) as direct out as possible (no digital volume control)
3) Plays from a USB thumbdrive/hardisk
4) analog sound quality is not important, intending to use it with outboard DAC
5) Does not cost a bomb.

I am presently using an AC-Ryan HD. My take on it. It has volume control, which means it is messing around with the digital signals, although I keep it at maximum which I think is just 0db cut. Other than that, it works well. The GUI sucks.

I've also considered the QLS 550, only thing it is running on SD cards, which means you have to manualy change the cards, not so friendly if you are trying to make a juke box.

WDTV, had it at one time, only has optical out, co-ax supposedly sound much better.

Oon
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Old 27th March 2012, 10:43 AM   #2
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I have the WDTV Live. Based on Sigma 8655 cipset.
Latest firmware will downsample everthing to 48kHz and will not play 88.2 and 176.4 files - it used to downsample those too in previous firmwares. The HDCD encoded files play corectly on my receiver so I assume the 44.1kHz and 48 are passed without processing. WD blames Sigma for that.
At the 44.1 and 48 kHz level is a decent transport, even with the optical out. You might use the HDMI digital out also...
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Old 27th March 2012, 11:08 AM   #3
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Any idea you to convert HDMI to coax? I suspect the claims that coax sound better than toslink is the additional circuitry that goes into driving the led and detection. Might introduce a lot of jitter if not implemented properly.

Oon

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Old 27th March 2012, 04:15 PM   #4
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HDMI receivers are on eBay or in the newer digital receiver/amplifiers.
DIY cannot buy those cips.
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Old 30th March 2012, 11:06 AM   #5
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I used to use the WDTV Live, but it was too limited in terms of BluRay.

HTPC, not bad, but fiddly and got relegated when 3D came along due to my reciever not being 1.4.

I am currently using an OPPO 95, It plays everything, including BR ISO'S ( as long as you have older firmware), has an awesome DAC, music, SACD. The only downside is there's no pretty menu / media centre interface. It has dual HDMI so you can send the pic through 1.4 to the projector and the sound through 1.3 to the reciever. It just works !!!
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Old 30th March 2012, 05:53 PM   #6
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Oppo 95 is great, especially if you have an analog-only amp/receiver, but it has one small fault. Cheapest that I saw is at $1000.
WDTV Live has his faults, but it costs 1/10 of that.
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Old 31st March 2012, 06:45 AM   #7
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1000 bucks is not really a small fault. Might go for the qls 350. Seems like a good deal. Quite a decent dac. Only problem is running on SD card. Troublesome if you want to make a jukebox..

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Old 31st March 2012, 12:51 PM   #8
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So... instead of multimedia (including FLAC) player that can use USB drives or Ethernet shares from a PC (in another room), you will buy a WAV 16/44.1-only player that costs double.
Good thinking.

PS: The only draw-back of WDTV Live (or similar player) is that they need a TV to select the songs...

Last edited by SoNic_real_one; 31st March 2012 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 31st March 2012, 02:34 PM   #9
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The QLS is great in sound quality, but its best use is as a portable. If you have more than a handful of recordings, having to move everything to cards is a real pain, and means you pretty much have to have a computer nearby to access your library. Also, its display is very limited, and I've found it challenging to navigate through multiple folders.

I've got a WDTV hooked up to a small in-car TFT monitor, which works well as a navigation screen, although the 4" size I have is barely useful due to the fact that the interface was designed for use on a regular TV, so everything's very small. A 7" monitor would work better, but I wanted to keep the thing compact enough for travel. I found the on-board DAC to be not very good, and got much better sound with a cheap Aune DAC, especially after I upgraded the op-amp. I love being able to plug in a big hard drive and have a ton of music available.

I also recently got an Aune S1 player. It's not cheap (US$600), but it's built pretty well, with an outboard linear power supply. It runs Linux, according to the specs. Monitor is tiny but adequate. The sound quality is very good, and the onboard DAC can be used to decode another source if you like. I have had problems with USB hard drives, though. I get some skips that seem to be caused by inadequate data speed, so that's not good. The machine will take SD cards and also has an eSata port. With a cable that supplies USB power to a hard drive (I'm using a solid state) and connects to the eSata port, I don't get the dropouts. Small enough to be transportable, too, which is important to me. It's not perfect, but so far, the best I've found.

I've got my eye on the Oppo 95, which my wife will think is just an unreasonably expensive Blu-Ray player, but will be the heart of the stereo where the TV is. The interface is functional enough, right?

I've pretty much given up on CD players except as data storage. I think players of this type will be dominant eventually. They make so much more sense than CDs in many ways. I've been looking for the perfect self-contained player in the few hundred-dollar range, and so far it hasn't been built.

--Buckapound
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Old 31st March 2012, 05:34 PM   #10
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Ah, yeah, the WDTV Live internal DAC is crappy, like the one in all of those devices. It makes sense only with a digital connection.
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