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Old 27th July 2011, 03:33 AM   #1
i2k92 is offline i2k92  Indonesia
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Indonesia
Default My poor man music server

Hi all,
I always want to have a music server like Olive, PSA Perfect wave, etc but the price are just too expensive (and very difficult to find in my country). Having completed a hifimediy TK2050 amp, I decided to build a music server as my next DIY project. So I made following design goals :
  1. It should sound good but cheap, small & energy efficient.
  2. It should be headless (no monitor, keyboard, mouse).
  3. Control could be done from external devices (other PC/laptop, smartphone, etc).
  4. It should be able to share it's library to other consumer electronic devices (eg: TV, other PCs, etc).

After some research, trial & error and some headaches (although I'm not new at all to computer & networking). I came up with following config (except for the server, I already have the other devices):

Click the image to open in full size.

The result (the server is on the middle):

Click the image to open in full size.


The server is a very basic Atom D410 single core PC with only 1GB RAM and 160GB hdd taken from old laptop plus USB wifi adapter. It runs Win 7 Home Starter edition. The case is a very nice CFI mini ITX case (looks like a high end audio device hahaha). To ensure efficiency, I disabled all un-necesary devices via the BIOS (serial, parallel ports, onboard LAN & audiodevice, etc). The case fan was also disabled.

I also removed un-necessary services and features from Windows to make it boot faster & resource efficient. There's a ton of info about this on the web.

Software side, I installed Foobar and it's uPNP component and configured it as uPNP server (to provide content library) and renderer (to play the contents). Foobar is launch as a service when the system startup. I have tested several other uPNP server (TVersity, TVmobily, Servioo, etc) but nothing come close to Foobar for the flexibility & portability.

To make it sounds good. I also install foobar Wasapi & ASIO component (requires installation of ASIO4all driver). I still can't decide which is better in term of SQ.

Being a headless PC, I need to find a way to control it from external devices. So I installed tightVNC (for remote desktop, in case I want to make some changes on the server) and PC Monitor (to remotely monitor the PC, restart, power off, etc). Both can be accessed remotely by another PC or smartphone.

To access & control the content of the server, I used an Android smartphone (Samsung Gio). I installed uPNPPlay as uPNP controller. It can browse the library and play the content into remote foobar renderer. This is an amazing piece of software as you can control the server just like using a portable music player. It can also be used to play the content from the server like a portable music player.

I also install tightVNC viewer and PC Monitor client on both my laptop and smartphone to control the system part of the server. This is necessary for example to : update patches, change system / software config, etc.

Except for the Win 7, all software all free. In total, the server costs me about 140$.

Overall, I'm very please with the result. The SQ is good and very easy to use. I can now browse my FLAC album library, create playlist and select the song without leave my couch. A CD player will look & feel like a stone age technology compare to this music server.

Last edited by i2k92; 27th July 2011 at 03:44 AM.
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Old 27th July 2011, 03:38 AM   #2
i2k92 is offline i2k92  Indonesia
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Indonesia
To continue my post above, following are the screen capture of uPNPPlay android controller :

Select the library :
Click the image to open in full size.

Select the genre :
Click the image to open in full size.

Select the artist :
Click the image to open in full size.

Select the album :
Click the image to open in full size.

Make a playlist :
Click the image to open in full size.

Select a rendered (aka player):
Click the image to open in full size.

Play it !!!
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 27th July 2011, 07:57 AM   #3
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Extremely nicely done I like this alot. Wish I had the skills and knowledge to execute something like this myself.
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Old 27th July 2011, 09:12 AM   #4
jambul is offline jambul  Belgium
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it's very nice build my friend :-D (dukung sama orang sekampung :-p)
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Old 27th July 2011, 09:50 AM   #5
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Cool indeed!
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Old 27th July 2011, 10:19 AM   #6
gil1 is offline gil1  United States
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Wow!

Very impressive, would you say this sounds equal to straight from the cd player quality?
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Old 27th July 2011, 11:23 AM   #7
zman01 is offline zman01  Bangladesh
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Brilliant job i2K92!

Dumb question - with this setup, is it possible to remotely play video content/movies?
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Old 27th July 2011, 02:37 PM   #8
i2k92 is offline i2k92  Indonesia
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Indonesia
thanks all for the kind words....:-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jambul View Post
it's very nice build my friend :-D (dukung sama orang sekampung :-p)
hehe...makasih gan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gil1 View Post
Wow!

Very impressive, would you say this sounds equal to straight from the cd player quality?
Compared to my cheapo marantz 5400 analog out, the server + DAC combo significantly sounds better. Sometimes next week I plan to compare it to my friend's mega expensive system (Marantz SACD, DLS DAC + upsampler, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by zman01 View Post
Brilliant job i2K92!

Dumb question - with this setup, is it possible to remotely play video content/movies?
no, bu it can be done if you use other uPNP server with video support (TVersity, Serviio, etc). But I think transcoding of video contents will need better CPU. I don't care about video as I have a HD media player for my video needs. But for music, it can stream music to Panasonic Viera plasma & Dune HD media player effortlessly.

Last edited by i2k92; 27th July 2011 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 28th July 2011, 01:08 PM   #9
Tyimo is offline Tyimo  Hungary
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Hi!
Quote:
So I installed tightVNC (for remote desktop, in case I want to make some changes on the server) and PC Monitor (to remotely monitor the PC, restart, power off, etc). Both can be accessed remotely by another PC or smartphone.
Could you tell me where can I find that "PC MONITOR" software?
How the tightVNC on your Phone communicate with the PC? On Bluetooth?

Greets:
Tyimo

Last edited by Tyimo; 28th July 2011 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 28th July 2011, 11:36 PM   #10
i2k92 is offline i2k92  Indonesia
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Indonesia
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyimo View Post
Hi!

Could you tell me where can I find that "PC MONITOR" software?
How the tightVNC on your Phone communicate with the PC? On Bluetooth?

Greets:
Tyimo
Hi Tyimo,
Here's PC monitor : PC Monitor - Monitor and manage your computers from iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows Phone 7.
The PC & android communicate through Wifi provided by ADSL Wifi router. Using tightVNC on my phone is dreadful as the phone's screen is very small, it will be better with tablet.
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