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September 30, 2020, 10:10:24 PM

Author Topic: Poor Mans Music Server  (Read 1658 times)

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Offline Natural Sound

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Poor Mans Music Server
« on: November 24, 2015, 12:04:07 PM »
I've been using a makeshift setup in my office for a while now. Basically just using the line out from my desktop computer. I wasn't even using a dedicated sound card or anything just the sound coming from the integrated chip into a S.E.X. amp. Hardly an audiophile arrangement to be sure. But I was mainly listening to Internet radio streams so it was sufficient, barely. Anyway, I already have a networked shared drive loaded with my music collection. This is the drive I connect to with my main system and it contains 16 and 24bit material. I wanted a better way to connect to my music collection in my office. Then it dawned on me, I already had everything I needed to do the job.

Prior to my upgrading to the Bottlehead DAC in my main system I was using a Micromega MyDAC. I had considered selling it at one point but I'm glad I didn't. Thats one critical part out of the way. Now I needed a computer. I have a couple of Raspberry Pi's lying around (B models) but had mixed results with the Pi at the higher 24bit sample rates. I wanted something with a little more oomph and a better USB port. The Pi shares the USB with the Ethernet so its a bit of a compromise. I also needed something fan-less. I hate fan noise when trying to listen to music. Enter the re-purposed Slim Client. When businesses upgrade their network they sell the older slim clients for a small fraction of the original cost. I picked mine up for $25 about a year ago. The model I used is a Dell FX170. This is one of the smaller slim clients made at roughly 6.25" x 5" x 1.5". It has an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz 1Gb of RAM and a 1Gb DOM. DOM stands for a Disk On Module and it replaces the hard drive. Think of it as a [real] small Solid State Drive. It also has four USB2.0 ports, (I'm only using one) a Gigabit LAN and an HDMI port. But since I'll be running the system headless the video port wont be used after the OS install and MPD is configured. This lightweight computer uses only 9W at full load. You wont be running Windows 10 on a computer like this thats for sure. But my favorite Linux distribution tailored for audio use, Voyage MPD, works splendid. Voyage MPD only takes about 256Mb of space when installed. So my 1Gb DOM has lots of room to spare. And it boots up in about 20 seconds or so. Voyage MPD is FREE but they take donations on their website so you can toss them a few bucks if you enjoy their work. Even at 24/192 the CPU utilization on the FX170 is 5 percent or less. The final link in my audio chain is a very modest Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable. The resulting sound quality nothing short of spectacular. This "Poor Mans Music Server" is a huge step up from the integrated audio I was using previously. Since all the components were previously used everything was broken in nicely. :)

As I mentioned earlier I had everything I needed including an established network file server. But even if you had to purchase the components on the used market you wouldn't have to spend a lot of money.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please note that Voyage Linux MPD is command line only. So a little Linux experience helps. Adventurous types not afraid to "get their geek on" and mess with the command line should be fine with a little patience and persistence. Once its all set up you can control MPD from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. I use MPaD on my iPad. The client interface has a nice GUI and is super easy to use.

For more information on slim clients check out this site.

For more information on Voyage MPD

One more thing. If you plan on trying this out make sure you get a slim client with a bare minimum of 256Mb of RAM. 512Mb or more is better. My 1Gb model is overkill for Voyage MPD. But hey, it was only $25!

Offline JamieMcC

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Re: Poor Mans Music Server
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 04:24:41 AM »
I also use a little desk top with Atom 330 Dual Core for a music/media server its just a old Acer Aspire Revo R3610 but it fits behind my monitor and uses a wireless keyboard and mouse it has a optical out which has been handy it works very well for a cheapo music server and has no problem streaming Spotify, cd rips youtube or 1080p.  With a added it external hd drive for additional storage it suffices but I found it a bit on the slow slide for doing much else such as having multiple applications running. Its runs nice and quiet which is a plus.

Shoot for the moon if you miss you will still be amongst the stars!