Okay, a completely new discovery for me - Music Server - Questions...

treitz3
treitz3 Posts: 18,136
edited November 2023 in 2 Channel Audio
Hello all and good evening to you. I am entering into a virgin territory for me, but one that I would like to explore.

Jody and others keep talking about physical music being better through a server (copied digital). Well, I would like to know more about what they speak about. I cannot afford the creme-de-la-creme of servers (Taiko Audio Extreme), so I am wondering what to do to ditch my Marantz Reference SACD Player and move onto what others have blazed the trail on.

My first question(s) are this.

How do you know if you have the best version of a digital copy of the thing you are trying to copy?

What if another version or way to copy what you have physically comes along that is better/bests what you originally copied?

I'll start here.

Again, I am a complete virgin when it comes to this....so please be easy on me. I have no clue.

Tom
~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
Post edited by treitz3 on
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Comments

  • nooshinjohn
    nooshinjohn Posts: 24,928
    Interested in this topic...
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, Arcam AVR20, Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk Audio Legend L800 with height modules, L400 Center Channel Polk audio AB800 "in-wall" surrounds. Marantz MM7025 stereo amp. Simaudio Moon 680d DSD

    “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”— Thomas Jefferson
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 27,900
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    Time has marched on since then. While I appreciate your response? This is already in my notes.

    I am willing to expose that I am a COMPLETE novice to this and I will ask any and ALL questions that I want to ask on the subject.

    When I want to learn? I want to learn. This is a subject that I am truly wondering about. I'd like to do this the way I did my streaming rig...

    I am rather proud of that. Those who have listened would not argue.

    I just want to do the same thing. Do it right, the first time and actually understand everything before I start spending the dough. I have read so much on this? Yet, I still know so very little.

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • nooshinjohn
    nooshinjohn Posts: 24,928
    edited November 2023
    I am sitting here listening to Eva Cassidy's "Live at Blues Alley" streaming from Qobuz, and I have zero desire to spin anything. The Simaudio Moon 680d is bringing a sense of scale and realism that I have not heard from physical media, and that includes vinyl. Since I picked up Qobuz, I think I have pulled music from my computer hard drive and JRiver perhaps a dozen times, and vinyl even less. I have yet to spin a disc.

    To be honest, I don't see much of a reason for a server anymore, with streaming services sounding as good and in some cases better.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, Arcam AVR20, Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk Audio Legend L800 with height modules, L400 Center Channel Polk audio AB800 "in-wall" surrounds. Marantz MM7025 stereo amp. Simaudio Moon 680d DSD

    “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”— Thomas Jefferson
  • CottageChz
    CottageChz Posts: 361
    edited November 2023
    Common setup is NAS (Synology and QNAP are some popular brands), and you use your computer to rip CDs to it? Is that part of what you’re looking for information on? Then you’d connect your streamer to the NAS over your network.

    I have a real basic setup but it’s worked for me so far with my LUMIN D1. I rip my CDs to FLAC, put those on the Synology to use with my LUMIN, and then I transcode the FLAC to mp3 and put that on my phone and ipad for when I’m on the go.

    As far as best rip, if you’re talking CDs, you choose the recording you like, make sure your rip settings are correct, and it’s all 0s and 1s from there. I don’t think there is a “best version” of the same recording as long as your settings were right and there’s no errors reported.

    Maybe this isn’t even what you’re asking, but I can share how I set up my rip settings if wanted.
  • PSOVLSK
    PSOVLSK Posts: 4,982
    CottageChz wrote: »
    I can share how I set up my rip settings if wanted.

    I’d be interested even though I’ve ripped all of cd’s.
    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.-John Wooden
  • Toolfan66
    Toolfan66 Posts: 16,769
    I haven't listened to any of my ripped files since I acquired my Cary, and started to use Qobuz. I have found no need in doing so, YMMV.
    I do pull out an SACD now and then, and the vinyl side has been pretty dormant as well, that will change soon..
  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,337
    I primarily use a couple SSD based music servers that are disconnected from the internet. They were originally hard disc drive based but I switched the drives to SSD for a performance gain.

    The awkward part about using a local server for music is the amount of time it takes to get the music files ripped and organized. But the ripping process has been spread out over years. I've been using JRiver for a long time for that and have always archived in WAV format for 16 bit tracks and have DSD and a mix of FLAC and WAV for high resolution downloads. There are some metadata and cover art issues with using WAV in some devices but it's easy to convert the WAV files to FLAC to get around that after they're in the archive format. I maintain four libraries with one in WAV, one in FLAC, one in MP3 format, and one where the WAV files are converted to DSD. Storage space is cheap and I've been running a secure Synology NAS system since 2017.

    I am seriously thinking about getting a Qobuz account but that will require me also getting a music streamer. I have seen Qobuz also allows purchasing and downloading albums. If I get a streamer I would also be looking for the capability to use an internal SSD for local storage inside the streamer.
  • pitdogg2
    pitdogg2 Posts: 24,367
    edited November 2023
    Excuse my ignorance here.
    With hard drives in the multi-terabit era, why not use WAV files over FLAC?
    While FLAC is "lossless" it's still tossing out something if it's smaller than WAV files. While doing a bit of research trying to understand it seems folks think WAV files are better audio wise. Are the streamers the choke point in that they like the FLAC files better than WAV ?
    A snippet from a discussion.
    WAV files offer great sound quality, but they tend to be large in size : which can be an issue if you want to save storage space on your device or share the file with someone else online. FLAC is much smaller in size, but it also offers lower sound quality than WAV.
  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,337
    Regarding ripping CDs, JRiver will either make a bit perfect rip or it will report any errors that were encountered with making a rip. Out of a couple thousand CDs I maybe had four that wouldn't fully rip perfectly bit for bit but the problem was limited to a single track on each. All of my CDs that were in jewel cases were removed from them and stored in boxes a few years ago. I still have a few hundred SACDs, DVD-As, and Blu Ray audio discs that I occasionally use.
  • PSOVLSK wrote: »
    CottageChz wrote: »
    I can share how I set up my rip settings if wanted.

    I’d be interested even though I’ve ripped all of cd’s.

    Sure, I am busy for work this week so it may take me some time to do it, but I will post. I use XLD for Mac, is that useful to you? If you are on PC I believe the most recommended software is EAC, which I believe I also have rip settings instructions for.

  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,337
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    Excuse my ignorance here.
    With hard drives in the multi-terabit era, why not use WAV files over FLAC?

    From what I understand the audio quality may be device dependent. For example, if someone is streaming from a computer there may not be any audible difference between WAV and FLAC because the computer is processing both file types. For my Squeezebox Touches I just stream FLAC files because those are smaller and the Touch isn't the highest resolution thing the way I use mine. For my phone in my car I use FLAC files because that's what the best the car's audio system will accept.

    For a local storage media device I can tell the difference between WAV and FLAC although it's very small. It may have something to do with the process of "unpacking" the FLAC files using some processing power. Some may never hear a difference in their setups. I think PS Audio and others also have ways of getting around the processor issues.

    With local storage easily available at 4TB these days I don't see a reason to use FLAC for a local media server except for potential Meta data issues with WAV.

    This is how simple the Eversolo DMP-A6 accepts an SSD drive but almost every serious music streamer device should also have the capability for local storage ($200 to $300 add on at 4 TB):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOBRLhkVLZ8

  • mhardy6647
    mhardy6647 Posts: 32,790
    edited November 2023
    treitz3 wrote: »
    ...

    Again, I am a complete virgin when it comes to this....so please be easy on me. I have no clue.

    Tom
    Interested in this topic...
    You wanna talk about someone who is ignorant on this topic?
    Guilty as charged. :(
    Curious, though.
    One thing that troubles me (strictly hearsay, though -- since I got spanked for ostensibly offering some loudspeaker lore as fact Someplace Else yesterday ;) ) -- there are (ahem appear to be) many reports on teh webz of somewhat misrepresented high-res audio versions of audio tracks: to wit, upsampled copies of, e.g.,CD quality files. How does this fit into the equation -- or is it even a thing?
    I doubt that I'll ever go too deeply into this just due to the cost of entry -- and, for someone my age at this point in the evolution of the genre, the steep learning curve.
  • pitdogg2
    pitdogg2 Posts: 24,367
    reports on teh webz of somewhat misrepresented high-res audio versions of audio tracks: to wit, upsampled copies of, e.g.,CD quality files. How does this fit into the equation -- or is it even a thing?

    I've questioned that myself. I certainly think it fits the equation, correct me if I'm wrong but is there not a higher cost for say DSD (sacd) equated titles vs CD ? I would not want to pay more for the better version that is just a upsampled CD flagged as SACD.

    But this is not the question at hand in this discussion.
  • invalid
    invalid Posts: 1,247
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    reports on teh webz of somewhat misrepresented high-res audio versions of audio tracks: to wit, upsampled copies of, e.g.,CD quality files. How does this fit into the equation -- or is it even a thing?

    I've questioned that myself. I certainly think it fits the equation, correct me if I'm wrong but is there not a higher cost for say DSD (sacd) equated titles vs CD ? I would not want to pay more for the better version that is just a upsampled CD flagged as SACD.

    But this is not the question at hand in this discussion.

    I think it can make a difference for the DAC filter, but definitely not as good as the original recording being high resolution and not needing any upsampling.
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    Emlyn wrote: »
    I primarily use a couple SSD based music servers that are disconnected from the internet. They were originally hard disc drive based but I switched the drives to SSD for a performance gain.

    The awkward part about using a local server for music is the amount of time it takes to get the music files ripped and organized. But the ripping process has been spread out over years. I've been using JRiver for a long time for that and have always archived in WAV format for 16 bit tracks and have DSD and a mix of FLAC and WAV for high resolution downloads. There are some metadata and cover art issues with using WAV in some devices but it's easy to convert the WAV files to FLAC to get around that after they're in the archive format. I maintain four libraries with one in WAV, one in FLAC, one in MP3 format, and one where the WAV files are converted to DSD. Storage space is cheap and I've been running a secure Synology NAS system since 2017.

    This is definitely something to consider. I consider myself an old school "ripper" meaning that I've been pulling music off my CDs and putting them onto my computer for a very very long time. More than 20 years ago is when I initially started to make CD-R copies of my purchased CDs to keep the CDRs in the car and keep my originals scratch free in the house. Later, it was to create MP3s for an iPod. Then it was purchasing/downloading FLAC files directly from the source and streaming on my PC or burning a CD to play back in my home disc player. Even after 20 years, I spends at least 50 hours a year maintaining my digital library. I think its worth it though. I've migrated to higher bit-rate files in the last few years and you can really hear the difference.

    There are dozens of ways to approach this and you can spend thousands at every step, or go cheap like I did and still have a wonderful experience. A lot depends how computer/tech savvy you are.

    My approach (and I have talked about it often here) was to get a very good DAC (for the price), and pair it with a cheap thin client PC running Daphile (which is very much like Squeezebox/Logitech Media Server).

    The interface is web-based (local IP address) by a smart phone, tablet, or laptop. The only thing lacking is a physical remote with hard buttons.

    I started with files being hosted on cheap NAS boxes, but I eventually moved over to using retired enterprise servers which have proven to be much more reliable. TrueNAS running on an older PC with a Zpool of retired enterprise drives will also give you a very reliable experience.

    Either way, its a rabbit hole :D
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    treitz3 wrote: »
    Hello all and good evening to you. I am entering into a virgin territory for me, but one that I would like to explore.

    Jody and others keep talking about physical music being better through a server (copied digital). Well, I would like to know more about what they speak about. I cannot afford the creme-de-la-creme of servers (Taiko Audio Extreme), so I am wondering what to do to ditch my Marantz Reference SACD Player and move onto what others have blazed the trail on.

    My first question(s) are this.

    How do you know if you have the best version of a digital copy of the thing you are trying to copy?

    What if another version or way to copy what you have physically comes along that is better/bests what you originally copied?

    I'll start here.

    Again, I am a complete virgin when it comes to this....so please be easy on me. I have no clue.

    Tom

    I replied, above, but realized that perhaps, some of your questions have not been addressed.
    As far as having the very best version, that depends if you are referring to discs that you already own, or if you mean to purchase high-rez files.

    If you are talking about discs you own, there can't be any better "file" than one that was ripped with Exact Audio Copy (EAC) using the secure rip methods outlined on various websites (I can share some later by PM). If you rip using EAC and the log says 100% Accurate, then you have a perfect WAV/FLAC file of the original. Nothing is going to come along to create a better version of that file from your original disc. This is of course, assuming that your original disc is clean, unscratched, and doesn't have any data rot. EAC can deal with some scratches, but if they are too bad, then it won't return the 100% accurip verified.

    Now, these days, there are DSD files, 24bit files, etc out there for purchase. Those will be better, but like I said, from your original disc, there is no worry about something coming along that will be better. Just take the time to do it right the 1st time (EAC is very slow btw, it can take an hour to rip a CD properly) and you will know you have the best version.
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • Faustin
    Faustin Posts: 1,144
    Interesting information. I am quite ignorant about the topic, in fact, I don't know anything about it. But I do want to explore other options besides CD's, LP's, and low quality Bluetooth streaming. Carry on!
  • PSOVLSK
    PSOVLSK Posts: 4,982
    CottageChz wrote: »
    PSOVLSK wrote: »
    CottageChz wrote: »
    I can share how I set up my rip settings if wanted.

    I’d be interested even though I’ve ripped all of cd’s.

    Sure, I am busy for work this week so it may take me some time to do it, but I will post. I use XLD for Mac, is that useful to you? If you are on PC I believe the most recommended software is EAC, which I believe I also have rip settings instructions for.

    I have a PC. Currently use JRiver—>FireTV—>DAC—>Integrated. AirPin as my DLNA.

    Like others on this thread, I’m a novice so I may not understand half of what you type🤣
    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.-John Wooden
  • tonyb
    tonyb Posts: 32,897
    edited November 2023
    Tom's a virgin at something ? Dang, fooled me. :D

    I think before you jump down that rabbit hole Tom, first assess your hearing abilities seeing that your not a young buck anymore. I've noticed a good decline in mine lately. The reason I say to do an honest assessment is because otherwise you can be throwing good money at nuances that won't amount to a hill of difference over a certain price catagory.

    My own experiences tell me, that after listening to many servers, most of the advantages come in the way of noise elimination. The quieter a unit is, the more it throws out that clarity and hearing deeper into the tracks. I don't think you'll find, at least I haven't, that music servers aren't on the same playing field as other gear when it comes to throwing soundstages and all those other nifty things we like to describe audio with. The elimination of noise, allows the other associated gear to shine, and I think that in and of itself is worth the price of admission. Aside from the convenience factor that is.

    Other than that, same things apply as all audio gear, quality of connecting cables, dacs, quality of music sources/files.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • treitz3 wrote: »
    I'll start here.

    There is a highly respected and well regarded forum devoted to this topic. Manufacturers, digital scientists, engineers, and other digital music industry professionals are among its esteemed membership.

    I started here:

    The audiophilestyle.com forum (formerly the computeraudiophile.com forum)



    Proud and loyal citizen of the Digital Domain and Solid State Country!
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    edited November 2023
    Here is the thing. I hear what you are saying, I truly am.....but.....these are my roots in audio. The folks here (for the most part, along with another forum that is now defunct) have taught me where I am at now along my audio journey.

    That journey has been one HELL of a ride. I wouldn't trade it for anything, based upon what hits my ears tonight, versus what I have heard all my life.

    Sure, I can go onto another forum and hold the very thing that I seek to achieve...but (as evidenced by some of the comments)?

    I am not the only virgin when it comes to this. I'd rather share my journey along this path with this forum than abandon my bretheren.

    I hope you can dig that.

    Trust me when I say that if a question isn't answered here? I'll look elsewhere for said answer. But with that said, I will report said answer back here at the Polk forum.

    I'd rather learn with the folks on this forum than be lead astray from folks who have no idea who you are or what you are about, when it comes to the end result as to what hits your ears.

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    You have a great point here and you, of all people have shown that. In spades.

    I just don't know if I have the time to do what you have done over that span of time. You went WELL above the call of duty. TBT.

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    Tom, I think there are enough of us here that have the knowledge to get you where you want to be. Audiophile Style is a great resource, but it goes way beyond simple playback from a music server to a 2-channel stereo system.
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    That's what I was expecting. Let's have that discussion here. I will learn what others have blazed the path on. Those who choose to learn with me?

    So be it.

    As you all know by now, I am a co.plete virgin to this. Heck, in all my years on this big, blue marble? I have yet to even burm a CD.

    That's how virgin I am......but I want to learn.

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • I too, am interested in this topic. I have been considering the music server path for some time, but I don't know where to begin. I have a lot of music CD's and very little practical space to store them. My house is very small, so anything I can do to reduce the amount of stuff in my home without losing the ability to enjoy that stuff is a plus. One requirement is that I need to be certain that I will not lose the data due to a hard drive failure, or obsolete hardware. That would put an end to this path immediately.
    Sources: Technics SL1200MKII | SME3009 Tonearm | Monster Alpha 1 MC cartridge | Oppo UDP203 disk player | Nikko NT-790 analog tuner | Musical Fidelity Trivista 21 DAC | Preamp: Threshold SL-10 | Amplifier: Threshold Stasis 2 | Speakers: Snell Acoustics C/V | Kimber 12-TC bi wire speakers | Analysis plus Oval 1 preamp to amp | Wireworld Eclipse 7 DAC to Preamp | Wireworld eclipse digital IC Oppo to DAC | Audioquest Quartz tuner to preamp |
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    Always have a back up. That much, I do know.

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 4,337
    newbie308 wrote: »
    One requirement is that I need to be certain that I will not lose the data due to a hard drive failure, or obsolete hardware. That would put an end to this path immediately.

    Best to keep backups of backups of music files but that goes for anything that has value. Although I have a Synology NAS system I also have archived music files on a couple of 4TB USB drives. Storage isn't expensive. I've been doing this for probably more than 15 years without data loss.

  • ChrisD06
    ChrisD06 Posts: 880
    Hey, Tom.

    I do genuinely have about 3 years experience with media servers and I can help you out here.

    First and foremost, you need a computer to run it on. I'd recommend building one for a few hundred bucks, if you're familiar with how to build computers that is. I'd be glad to send you a link to a good build for this type of stuff.

    Secondly you'll need an operating system. Linux is complicated and Windows is not as secure but if you want to run a media server I'd recommend Windows to start.

    Thirdly, you're going to use Plex. Don't let others sway you into other software. While Jellyfin and others are great, they're much more in-depth to set up and you'll need some good networking knowledge along with the fact they perform best on Linux, so you'll need some bash knowledge too.

    Tutorials are a pain to follow and things change, Plex stays pretty on top of their documentation and they're not bad at all. The only caveat is their Plex Amp app for music playback is included with the pricey Plex Pass, but fortunately it's a worthwhile one-time investment. I actually still use Plex myself even with the fact that I enjoyed many things about Jellyfin more.

    Once you have a system and your server is set up, it's essentially smooth sailing. You can put not only music, but even TV shows and movies on your Plex server. Even better is that it's discoverable by account. No need to type in an IP address, you just log in and you're off, even half way across the globe.

    Get a good sized hard drive and start filling it! You can rip your own movies, CDs, etc. Or you can digitally acquire them (hopefully legally). One method I used was downloading songs from Tidal. Because I'm in Canada, as long as I have a subscription to Tidal then I have express legal copyright permission to have the songs. I don't know how it is in the US.

    Anyhow, this is really all the knowledge you'll need. Plex is idiot proof and every question possible has been answered by their documentation or on Reddit. If you have any questions that are subjective I'd be happy to provide my input.