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kevinkr 16th July 2005 07:18 PM

Digital Audio Music Server
I am slowly collecting the bits and pieces to build an audio server.
I have an antec aria micro atx case which will have an asus a7n8x-vm-400 installed with a barton core athlon xp 2600 and 512M of ram. Drive is 80GB ata 100 seagate 7200rpm with noise kit. I have not bought a cd burner yet, but am planning something modest that can play dvd and record cdr at >40X. Far more power than I initially need.
Eventually I may add a sata drive and use as video recorder as well.

I am probably going to get a sound card by m-audio and use either aes/ebu or spdif to my dac. Analog outputs would be used only in audio shoot outs away from home.

I have an iPod... :D May want to run itunes..

Would prefer remote administration and not use a regular monitor with this unit. Very small monitor is being considered or tv via s-video on optional agp video card.

Need remote control as well but might use wireless keyboard for this function.

Anyone doing anything remotely similar?

I am thinking either of WinXP Pro or Media Edition. Linux is an option as I am willing to forego iPod support.

Booting without login.
Remote control
Web interface for remote administration
Deriving quality spdif or aes output. (mobo has spdif - will use temporarily)

All thoughts and comments welcome

Thanks, Kevin

SVinzant 17th July 2005 12:11 AM

Kevin, I have been running a "Musicbox" PC for quite awhile now.
Basically, it is a PIII 750MHz with a 40GB HD. It is strictly for music. I have WinAmp running on it. I ripped all my CD's with FreeRip (that took awhile). I am using RealVNC to "remote control" the PC, it has no monitor, the keyboard and mouse are stuffed under the desk where the box hides. I just did a quick check, this box has been up for three week straight now. I have Win2k Pro running on it and have loaded some nifty little web interface thingy for WinAmp. The only yhing this part of my system feeds is a small Ramsey FM transmitter kit. I can fire up the old stereo in the garage and listen out there, or put on an old walkman and listen while I mow (or blow snow). All the mp3's on this box are replicated to another PC that is for my media center.
It's a P4 1.3GHz with a 120GB HD. That box has a Happauge TV tuner, DVD Burner and a few other goodies. It is running "SageTV" software for the management of the "TiVO" like interface. We watch DVD's on this box as well. I can provide more detailed information if you would like, just ask....

dsavitsk 17th July 2005 12:45 AM

I do this with XP SP2 and use terminal services to control the remote computer (SP1 has a bug that makes you need to log in locally before logging in remotely or else the sound doesn't work). I then use the digital out from a chaintech into a jitter reducer then into either my Cary DAC or a NOS DAC. It is worth using a lossless format, b/t/w/. mp3 is a waste of time here.

Something you might want to look into is a small touch screen monitor. ( Then you have a local controller that is not huge. There is even a guy that builds these into cases, though I can't find the link right now.


kevinkr 17th July 2005 04:09 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys, I will keep you posted. I have not yet received the hardware, but I do plan to use FLAC for compressing audio primarily, although HD are cheap enough I may elect not to use compression at all. I do plan to use ASIO and avoid microsoft's K mixer and the resampling issues it presents. I use XP pro on all my machines and will just purchase another copy of sp2 I guess. No one out there using linux?

Great ideas I will look into them all. The intended purpose is to provide CD quality playback..

I initially thought about the mini-itx format, but decided that being constrained to relatively slow VIA chip sets was not the way I wanted to go. These do drive small lcd displays directly, just not compelling enough..

Intel hardware is just too expensive and I wanted something relatively compact. I have had a lot of asus boards with amd processors and currently run an athlon xp in my desktop, hence the choices I made.


dsavitsk 17th July 2005 04:24 PM


Originally posted by kevinkr
I guess. No one out there using linux?
I did do a music server with FreeBSD at one point. It actually worked pretty well, but in the end my hardware was too slow to really pull it off. I had written a apache/mod_python based music server allowing easy control from a laptop and my pda. This just sent commands to mpg123. I settled on XP in the end because I use the computer I bought for other stuff and needed windows on it, otherwise *nix could be a good choice. If you do want to go that route, and you don't want to wite your own software, you might look into SlimServer. The biggest downside I see is that it is written in Perl:smash:.


SVinzant 17th July 2005 06:21 PM

I know mp3 is not the greatest format, but for what I am doing with that box, it works fine. How good does the audio need to sound over a lawn mower or snow blower engine on a 1980's knock-off walkman ;)
And my wife can easily grab a pile of tunes for her microscopic mp3 player when she want a change of pace.
I do use the spdif out on my HTPC to feed the audio into my DD reciever. This seems to work fine as well.

fb 17th July 2005 11:00 PM

I'm planning a mini-itx box with one of the fanless VIA motherboards. Will probably use Gentoo linux with a Chaintech AV-710 soundcard. Not sure what display I'll use yet, possibly one from The VIA system should provide plenty of power for just audio decoding, I'll do all encoding and replay-gaining etc on my main computer.

kevinkr 17th July 2005 11:36 PM

Cool, sounds somewhat like what I was initially thinking of doing. The music server I am building is actually considerably more powerful than the desk top I am writing this on - the inevitable consequence of newer technology.. I felt too constrained by the itx format, and as I am envisioning using it for lots of media related stuff I wanted sata support, and this device will do the whole job from start to finish, playing and ripping cd's using FLAC or similar. I am tending towards windows xp pro for OS, mainly because I am planning on using either the m-audio 2496 pci, emu 1212m or emu 0404 or a SEK'D Progrif 88 AES/EBU interface (only) for audio/spdif/aes/ebu support and I am not sure about support for other OS's. Eventually I will also use it for video recording. I am seriously interested in achieving at least CD quality as well as compatibility with higher resolution formats through software upgrades. I will primarily be using my Ultralink II dac for d/a and want the best possible aes/ebu signal to it - my digital benchmark will be my Lambda drive which I am currently in the processing of repairing.


kevinkr 17th July 2005 11:40 PM

Hey FB,
Thanks for the tip on the lcd display, I think this would provide most of the functionality I need on the server, with remote admin providing the rest.


amo 25th July 2005 06:39 PM

Question for the experts: I am using uncomressed WAVs only, and I have a high end digital output via an EMU card, which gives me a ballanced digital output, isolated via a tranformer... That said, how can I protect the set-up from the "monstroseties" produced by even the best PC power supply, and how can I improve the performance of the optical drive, which granted, is never used in "real time" but is only used for extracting the digital data and putting it down into computer memomry. I guess the question is, whethere or not the final recording, say on the hard drive, will be effected by the quality of the power supply powering the optical drive and other PC components, and whether isolating the drive physically will further assist in quality and reduction of jitter. Thanks! This is keeping me up at night (I sad)

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