Flutterby™! : Ditching the CDs

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Ditching the CDs

2009-11-26 00:32:27.909384+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

Charlene has started grumbling about realized that there are cost and space advantages to switching to a post-CD music system, so I think it's time to switch. I'm trying to get the Chumby working with the My SqueezeBox server and I can (slowly) browse my music collection, but nothing is making it play. I know I had this working at one point, but it's a royal pain in the tail.

What's the right device for this? I have all the music on a Linux server that can easily share the data via NFS, Samba, or any server that wants to be run on it, but the bloody thing has to work. I can also easily run a network cable through the wall to that device.

We'll want a solution with playlist management. If it wants to have its own storage I'm okay with that. And it can't be an Apple product, if I have to deal with iTunes any more than I do I'll slit my wrists.

Bonus points if that device has an amplifier to run unpowered speakers in it.

[ related topics: Free Software Apple Computer Interactive Drama Music broadband Open Source Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-26 01:49:50.591982+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, the Chumby is mostly working from SqueezeCenter, and I've got iPeng installed on the iPhones to control it.

I think I'm going to want something wired eventually, but maybe the occasional skips are my motivation to finally get this network configured right so that I'm not relying on the woefully underpowered 2-Wire DSL modem for actual switching.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-26 02:49:04.904029+00 by: John Anderson

Damn, I just got rid of a first generation Squeezebox that would have done everything you want except work with un-powered speakers... Big downside was it was 802.11b only, but if you were going to run cable for it, it would be perfect... sorry.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-26 18:33:57.972384+00 by: Dan Lyke

Bummer. I'm not sure where it's coming from, but we're getting occasional pauses in the music which became progressively annoying over the evening.

I think we're going to break down and buy an MP3 player with its own storage. We'll have to plug it into a computer to do playlist management and such (and I still haven't found the right tool for that), but it'll be self-contained.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-28 20:24:02.279404+00 by: ebradway

I should have stuck my Via Eden in with that DVD player I sent you. It's current sitting unused in a cabinet. Hate to see decent hardware go to waste. Maybe I should stick it in my stereo system upstairs. Need to work out a UI though... And when the SliMP3 have be had for $30 on eBay, makes me wonder if I should bother...

A similar matter - I'm trying to see if I can really tell the difference between high-bitrate MP3, OGG and FLAC. I've got my new Sennheisers deeply inserted in my ears with rips in all three formats of Rush's 2112 (broad fidelity range from acoustic guitar to full-on prog rock guitars+bass+drums). I tried it with the soundcard in the PC and the Sansa C250 running RockBox.

The PC is much noisier - probably more noise than the differences in the formats. On the Sansa, so far I can only really tell the difference between MP3 and the other formats. MP3 seems a little more compressed (may be an artifact of the encoding algorithm) with more noise in the quiet spaces. Actually sounds more like the music is being blasted from a Marshal stack (which, live, it would be). MP3s attenuate the music in a similar fashion to Cerwin Vega's speakers. Not a bad thing if you like blasting your rock loud.

For the life of me, I can't detect a difference between the high-bit-rate OGG and FLAC.

File sizes: MP3 @ 192bits 53MB OGG @ 450bits 130MB FLAC @ 850bits 226MB

I currently have 97GB in MP3s. That would likely expand to 250GB in OGG or 1TB in FLAC. The Sansa only has 4GB (unfortunately, only the Version 1 Sansa C250 is supported well by RockBox and it can only take a 2GB SDHC card). With FLAC, I only get about 8 albums worth on the device. OGG gives me 16 albums. MP3 gives about 40 albums.

Of course, I could keep the main library in FLAC and have MediaMonkey convert to OGG or MP3 when syncing to the Sansa... Just thinking out loud...

Maybe I just don't have the frequency sensitivity I once had... What's

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-30 03:10:54.084943+00 by: ebradway

Scratch that... Turns out that RockBox on the Sansa C250 V1 supports SDHC cards > 2GB. Another win for RockBox!

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 06:20:05.649629+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Ooo, please share more! I've heard "Chumby" around, but didn't know what it was until now - definitely adding it to the list of things I'm considering as I tech up the house.

I'm a bit confused as to how you're setting all this up though, so a few questions:

- Do you have the Chumby One, or Classic? I'm thinking the Classic might be better for music, since it's got the stereo speakers, but the One looks better for other things.

- I'm guessing that you don't have (or aren't using) the [Logitech] hardware that goes with(?) the SqueezeBox server...? I'm not seeing much to explain what this thing is, but I think I've got the gist of it. I also don't see anything that states compatibility between the Chumby and SqueezeBox - so how exactly is that workin'?

I know you're not looking for Apple solutions, but our setup already includes an iTunes library separate from the one I established on the MythTV server (don't ask), an AppleTV and the ATV/iTunes remote for my iPod Touch. I am trying to make sure I don't get locked in, though. While I'm expecting to get another ATV and some of those remote speaker hubs, I've also got my eye on one of the new Roku boxes (now that TWiT and Revision3 are on it) and maybe a separate lighter-weight MythTV front-end - not to mention access to the music (at least) from various apps across the PCs on the network.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 06:37:03.980406+00 by: Dan Lyke

I have the Classic. The speakers on it are decent, but I'm just feeding the audio out into our stereo.

The Chumby as it ships basically has two things going on:

  1. Cycling through a list of Flash "lite" applets downloaded from (and the list is defined on) their server, with the possibility of them inserting occasional advertising (I've never seen it).
  2. A music client, with any of a whole bunch of different sources.

The Classic works as a SqueezeBox client, I assume the One does as well.

Other things that can work as servers include devices that can play streaming MP3 from an HTTP URL, so you can set this whole thing up with a laptop to try it out (in fact, I should, so that I can figure out where our stutter is coming from).

The SqueezeBox server transcodes (for formats the client doesn't understand, if you've got all the packages installed correctly, bla bla bla) to a format the clients understand, and then pushes music at the clients. The interface to the server is either web or remote API calls.

So, we have Chumby. We have "toohey", our house server. We have iPhones and laptops and desktops.

Chumby is set up as a SqueezeBox client.

Toohey is running the SqueezeBox server from the .deb package.

The iPhones are running iPengo.

I need to put the (WiFi) laptop and the (wired) desktop into client mode so that I can see if the occasional dropout/skip is coming from the Chumby, WiFi (suspect this, because our 2wire router is way overworked), or something else.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 06:49:48.851017+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Cool, thanks :-) I think I remember reading something on the support pages... ah, here it is (down in the Known Issues section):

Audio playback on the chumby may abruptly stop. Since Flash Player initiates the audio and video capabilities of the chumby, if the Flash Player stops functioning the audio will stop as well. Flash Player will be automatically restarted by the chumby if it detects the Flash Player has stopped. Afterwards you can restart your audio playback by using the chumby control panel music feature.

Not sure if that'll be helpful, but I thought of you when I came across it ;-)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 08:08:18.227674+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ah. There's a widget or two I should remove from my audio rotation and try again.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 08:14:58.604912+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, just to close the loop: I haven't tried any of them yet, but there are apparently a few Flash widgets for the Chumby that control the SqueezeBox server.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-04 20:30:19.241496+00 by: Dan Lyke

Changed to an empty channel and have had no dropouts yet. Think that the wallpaper app was searching for my pictures on a server that no longer exists was probably the problem. Thanks, Shawn!