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Topic # 110032 1-Oct-2012 22:15
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Hi there

We are in the early stages of building an external room; one of the functions of this space will be as a home theatre. I am wanting to be able to access all media content (music and video mainly) from the NAS we have also purchased from this space. My plans are to run both Plex media server and Squeezebox server (whatever it's current name is) software on the NAS (the existing HT set-up in the house and our laptops will access all media via the NAS as well).

Video
We are currently running a Mac Mini for the existing set-up (and will keep this), but I'm wanting to future-proof this new set-up, to the extent of whatever device we get should to be able to cope with 1080p. This means either a later-model Core 2 Duo or current gen Mac Mini, but these are either fairly rare (in the case of the Core 2) or expensive (current gen). Also thought about an Apple TV, but gen 2 can't cope with 1080 and gen 3 hasn't been jail-broken yet. I also want a small form factor like the Mac Mini or similar, it must be affordable (eg, less than a second-hand current gen Mini) and I would like to have it controllable by a Harmony remote.

Have any readers of this got any suggestions as to a suitable device?

Is the 3rd gen Apple TV a possibility, or is it just too limited in the formats it supports? Do any of the other media players like a Boxee player offer what we're after?

Audio
Similarly, I'm looking for advice regarding listening to and controlling audio from within this new space. We have all our music in FLAC format, and currently access it via a Squeezebox Duet. All the music will be transferred to the NAS, once that's set up. The receiver I have purchased is network-capable, and can be controlled by an android app, but I don't think this app provides any interface to play and access music from the network (it appears to only control music from the phone and play that through the receiver, a useful function but not what I'm after).

So... similarly, can anyone offer any advice as to the best way to play and control music in this space, as accessed from the NAS? Ideally, it would be a single product that can also cope with video playback (as above); also, I completely want to avoid having to have the TV on to select music, so it would need to provide an alternative interface, ideally via an Android app. (I guess if I end up with a Mac Mini I can have that deliver the audio to the receiver, and use an app like the official Squeezebox app, but I'm really keen on hearing any other affordable options.


Anyway, apologies for the long post, but hopefully someone will take pity on me in this state of confusion and offer some helpful ideas! Many thanks in advance.

Cheers
Jonathan


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  Reply # 694575 2-Oct-2012 00:10
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If you want a tiny device for video play wdtv is the best in terms of video quality + player formats. It will work with your harmony and has built in wifi as well as being a very small. It has no problems playing video from a NAS.




HTPC: Intel i3-2100 / 12GB RAM / AMD HD7750 / 480 GB SSD / 58TB Storage / MediaPortal / MadVR / Win10
AVR: Pioneer Elite SC-LX87 220W 9.2 Ch AVR
Speakers: Wharfedale Jade 7 Fronts / Jade 2c Center / Jade 5 Rears
Subs: iNuke 3000dsp 3000W proamp with 4x 15" JBL Sealed Subs
Display: Samsung 60" UA60H6400 LCD TV
Accessories: Gefen HDMI Detective with splitter




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  Reply # 695507 3-Oct-2012 13:50
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kiwijunglist: If you want a tiny device for video play wdtv is the best in terms of video quality + player formats. It will work with your harmony and has built in wifi as well as being a very small. It has no problems playing video from a NAS.


Thanks for the reply.

I've now done a bit of research on the WD TV Live device, and one can use an Andriod app, WD 2 Go. What I haven't been able to work out is whether the WD 2 Go interface - or a third-part app - would provide easy access to our music collection, namely to view by artist, genre etc; and hopefully also a search function. Can anyone advise on this particular question, or on the other questions I asked above?

Many thanks


 
 
 
 




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  Reply # 695513 3-Oct-2012 13:59
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Moderator(s) - could I please request this thread be moved to the Home Theatre forum? (I can't find any other way to requst this).

Thanks

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  Reply # 695532 3-Oct-2012 14:39
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jonathan18: Hi there

We are in the early stages of building an external room;


Does this mean you're parking the car outside and boarding up the garage door? Wink



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  Reply # 695537 3-Oct-2012 14:44
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Jaxson:
jonathan18: Hi there

We are in the early stages of building an external room;


Does this mean you're parking the car outside and boarding up the garage door? Wink


Well, as it happens, Richard, we did think about doing something along those lines (well, replacing the garage with a new one with a room at the back), but that would have been small and dingy. Instead we're getting rid of half the back lawn, in the process ensuring our children have less space to play on, and at the same time give them the opportunity to become morbidly obese through watching TV or movies all day (they have the park next door anyway...).

And enough of the smart quips - where are you ideas??!!

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  Reply # 695551 3-Oct-2012 15:01
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jonathan18: Instead we're getting rid of half the back lawn, in the process ensuring our children have less space to play on, and at the same time give them the opportunity to become morbidly obese through watching TV or movies all day (they have the park next door anyway...)


Sounds like Tech parenting 101 there.


jonathan18:

And enough of the smart quips - where are you ideas??!!


Mate you're well ahead of me on that front!  Someone on here will have experience with what you're trying to do.

Obviously you'd want to go wired ethernet out there ideally, rather than try and rely on wireless.

You've hit all the right points though, file compatibility, harmony or smart phone interaction etc.  Some new receivers have the smart phone side of things built in.  Dunnersfella for instance mentioned that just the other day. 

Working off the NAS sounds ideal and some TV's can now pull direct from this themselves, minus the need for any intermediate device.  Doesn't satisfy the music side of things though and you'd want to confirm FLAC compatibility with whatever you opt for.  Just don't go with a PS3, though that reminds me that some bluray players have the networking side of things built in now too.

You'd want to include freeview in the mix, and personally I've been after some client that could command a central server to record something off freeview, or ideally book it from an EPG etc.  That all gets quite HTPC ish eventually and the WAF goes out the window so I revert back to some off the shelf unit.  TIVO is closest with the home networking package giving hope for sharing recordings etc.

Either way, ditch the VHF aerial (if you haven't already) and go all UHF by Sunday 29th September 2013...



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  Reply # 695567 3-Oct-2012 15:31
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Jaxson: Mate you're well ahead of me on that front!  Someone on here will have experience with what you're trying to do.

Obviously you'd want to go wired ethernet out there ideally, rather than try and rely on wireless.

You've hit all the right points though, file compatibility, harmony or smart phone interaction etc.  Some new receivers have the smart phone side of things built in.  Dunnersfella for instance mentioned that just the other day. 

Working off the NAS sounds ideal and some TV's can now pull direct from this themselves, minus the need for any intermediate device.  Doesn't satisfy the music side of things though and you'd want to confirm FLAC compatibility with whatever you opt for.  Just don't go with a PS3, though that reminds me that some bluray players have the networking side of things built in now too.

You'd want to include freeview in the mix, and personally I've been after some client that could command a central server to record something off freeview, or ideally book it from an EPG etc.  That all gets quite HTPC ish eventually and the WAF goes out the window so I revert back to some off the shelf unit.  TIVO is closest with the home networking package giving hope for sharing recordings etc.

Either way, ditch the VHF aerial (if you haven't already) and go all UHF by Sunday 29th September 2013...


Yep, am having the electrican lay ethernet cable - I thought it too risky to just have wireless (though have a spare wireless router so wireless can be used within the room).

The TV we're prob. going to get (60 inch Panasonic ST plasma) does have some capability to pull movies etc off the NAS, but I'm unsure of the interface or what it's like in practice as to what files it'll play. Running Plex is ideal, though, as it means it doesn't matter where we are watching (TV inside, home theatre or on a laptop), it'll know what episodes we've watched etc, plus has a good interface (though I'm still using XBMC until I have the NAS up and running).

Good spotting on the TiVo front as well - I've picked up a second, solely because of its ability to network (though the cost of this is damn high).

And I have indeed taken off the VHF aerial - when we bought the first TiVo the reception became quite dodgy (worse at dealing with it than the old Vantage. The problem I have, though, is getting the UHF signal out to the new building - I don't want a TV aerial on the side of it, so I had thought it sensible getting the electrician to run coax through conduit (take the cable that you put into the study, and extend that out to the new room). They said they'll do it but it's not advisable. The other thing I wondered was whether a TV aerial in the roof space would do ok. What are your thoughts on the options available here?

It's the music player which is giving me the most grief - would be interested in knowing of anyone's experience in what media players have Android apps that give full control. The reality is that a second-hand Mac Mini is still prob. the best bet, and can deal perfectly with both movies (including via Plex) and music. If only there were more of the more recent Core 2 models for sale...

Cheers for any advice, and once it's done you'll have to come around to test-drive it!


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  Reply # 695599 3-Oct-2012 16:03
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All sounds very cool.

Aerials in the roof can work, but really they don't tend to work too well, or at least they can be a bit touch and go.  Who knows though, in your case it might work.  Ideal is another cable, or consider relocating your front aerial closer to midway of the system.  You'd be talking 3 outlets, 2 splitters and some fairly long cable runs as it currently stands, which may put you into distribution amplifier regions.

Running the cable in a conduit buried in the ground would be OK but this would probably need to be a separate conduit so you don't have low and mains voltage cables in the same conduit.  Same trench is likely fine, but not same conduit.  Technically there are direct burial capable Cat and Coax cables but they are quite expensive.  Might be worth considering for small distances though for reliabilities sake long term.

Laying more cables is definitely better than less Wink

What are you doing for sounds out there?  The apple TV 3 seems good with the airplay side of things, but as mentioned elsewhere, you can get airplay built into the receivers now too.  Though as you also allude to, who knows how user friendly those interfaces are.

Yes, the home networking package seems over the top, but was probably fine when the units were $900 or so.

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  Reply # 695722 3-Oct-2012 18:00
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jonathan18:
kiwijunglist: If you want a tiny device for video play wdtv is the best in terms of video quality + player formats. It will work with your harmony and has built in wifi as well as being a very small. It has no problems playing video from a NAS.


Thanks for the reply.

I've now done a bit of research on the WD TV Live device, and one can use an Andriod app, WD 2 Go. What I haven't been able to work out is whether the WD 2 Go interface - or a third-part app - would provide easy access to our music collection, namely to view by artist, genre etc; and hopefully also a search function. Can anyone advise on this particular question, or on the other questions I asked above?

Many thanks



As far as music I havn't used the built in player much, but I would guess that the best way of playing music would be to use the WDTV as a uPNP/DLNA device and have the music queued + played + controlled via your android device.  You just need to use any android player that has uPNP/DLNA support and set the sound to output via the WDTV.  I think this would be nicer than using the WDTV's music player.




HTPC: Intel i3-2100 / 12GB RAM / AMD HD7750 / 480 GB SSD / 58TB Storage / MediaPortal / MadVR / Win10
AVR: Pioneer Elite SC-LX87 220W 9.2 Ch AVR
Speakers: Wharfedale Jade 7 Fronts / Jade 2c Center / Jade 5 Rears
Subs: iNuke 3000dsp 3000W proamp with 4x 15" JBL Sealed Subs
Display: Samsung 60" UA60H6400 LCD TV
Accessories: Gefen HDMI Detective with splitter


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  Reply # 695805 3-Oct-2012 20:27
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What was the reasoning for not running coax underground to the new building? As far as I know RG6 coax is outdoor cable and also rated to go underground. We wired out a retirement complex a few years back and that had kilometers of underground coax, albeit it was rg11 but the basic structure of the cable is the same as rg6.
Also I have rg6 underground at my house and have had it there for around 3 years with no issues.

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  Reply # 695845 3-Oct-2012 21:42
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jonathan :
What receiver did you buy?
I know the new Denon and Marantz amps can now play FLAC via the network... I'm not sure about the other big 3 brands though... what is the exact model? Have you run all available firmware updates? It may help?

I use a MacMini (the one you're after with 8GB of RAM, an SSD and external 3TB Firewire 800 HDD), PLEX, iTunes and Fidellia (FLAC playback)). It's definitely worth persevering with hunting one down, they're good machines that tick the boxes.
I use Plex to stream to my iPad 2, but the thing that annoys me about PLEX is the lack of FLAC playback... then again, I haven't looked too far into finding a work around as I don't really stream music to my iPad / iPhone.
In regards to TV choice, it is certainly worth considering an LG panel. They have in-built PLEX support and the interface makes for a pretty convincing argument. The FLAC issue is still there, and it's not 100% bullet proof, but it's one of the few LED's I'd consider bringing into my home (I'm a Panasonic NeoPlasma guy). The LM9600 is BEAUTIFUL, but boy oh boy is it pricey!

Music playback - We use iTunes for convenience (I have 3 identical libraries (FLAC / AIFF and MP3), Fidellia for FLAC and Plex (seldom used for music). My partner constantly heads to iTunes via 'Remote' on the iPad, I use iTunes more and more, and Fidellia less and less. Can I hear the difference on my 2 channel system? Only if I haven't been at work all day and my ears are 'fresh'...
Even them, the difference is tiny.

There is no single App. to drive everything you're looking to do... if only there was!
In regards to streaming Freeview around the house, well that's where the issue is. As far as I know Tivo and OSX do not play nicely...



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  Reply # 695849 3-Oct-2012 21:57
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chevrolux: What was the reasoning for not running coax underground to the new building? As far as I know RG6 coax is outdoor cable and also rated to go underground. We wired out a retirement complex a few years back and that had kilometers of underground coax, albeit it was rg11 but the basic structure of the cable is the same as rg6.
Also I have rg6 underground at my house and have had it there for around 3 years with no issues.


I'm not sure of the reason; it was passed onto me by the building company who were told that by the electrician. I'm sure it'll be ok as long as it's in conduit - and yes I was planning on running it separately to the electrical cables! What about running network and coax in the same conduit - do you think that will be ok?



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  Reply # 695866 3-Oct-2012 22:19
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Thanks for the replies - some useful information!

Dunnersfella: jonathan :
What receiver did you buy?


I took the cheapskate's route out here (budget's tight!), and bought a Onkyo NR515 - while it's not going to rock anyone's world, I would seriously be hard-pressed to find something of better value (think it was $550). It's still sitting in its box - I won't unpack all the equipment until the build is complete.

Dunnersfella: I use a MacMini (the one you're after with 8GB of RAM, an SSD and external 3TB Firewire 800 HDD), PLEX, iTunes and Fidellia (FLAC playback)). It's definitely worth persevering with hunting one down, they're good machines that tick the boxes...


The Mac Mini that we've got in the lounge does a pretty good job, and that's only a Core Duo! I think you're right - it's a matter of being patient and waiting for a Mac Mini at a good pirce, and just using what networking ability the TV has in the interim. Would you think it best, though, to wait around for an i5 or the first of the unibody designs, rather than go with the 2009 Core 2 Duo model? (I have read this can cope with 1080p, but I bet it's fairly taxing on the system.)

EDIT: a couple of 2009-era Mac Minis (with 2.0 Core 2 Duo processors) have popped up on TM this evening - I haven't been able to get a definitive answer from the reading I've done as to whether this model is capable of playing most 1080p content (the logical point being made is that it depends on bit-rate). But some advice as to whether this should be good enough for most 1080 playback would be appreciated. Thanks!

I haven't head of Fidellia - will check it out, but I'm sure you're right in that a high bitrate MP3 will probably be fine for most of our purposes (and I'll be honest - most of the music we listen to is my son's choice!). 

Dunnersfella: In regards to TV choice, it is certainly worth considering an LG panel. They have in-built PLEX support and the interface makes for a pretty convincing argument. The FLAC issue is still there, and it's not 100% bullet proof, but it's one of the few LED's I'd consider bringing into my home (I'm a Panasonic NeoPlasma guy). The LM9600 is BEAUTIFUL, but boy oh boy is it pricey!


I too am a Panasonic plasma fan, hence why I'm looking at the 60" ST (I just can't justify the additional cost of the GT - the ST is already at the top end of what my wife is willing to pay!). But... I guess I shouldn't be so set in my ways, so will check out the LG range.

Dunnersfella: There is no single App. to drive everything you're looking to do... if only there was!
In regards to streaming Freeview around the house, well that's where the issue is. As far as I know Tivo and OSX do not play nicely...


Yeah, I realise there's no single app that has all features; it's actually just for the music I'm after an Android app. It's logical to select videos via the TV, as that's what we'll be watching it on. But for music I want to be able to have an experience as close to what we have with the Squeezebox.

I too have read of the difficulties of getting the TiVo and OSX working together, but it doesn't worry me too much. My primary concern is being able to watch items recorded on one TiVo on the other; the secondary benefit is being able to transfer them to view on a laptop (as our Mac Mini(s) are (will) be connected to the same TVs as the two TiVos).




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  Reply # 695870 3-Oct-2012 22:21
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kiwijunglist:
jonathan18:
kiwijunglist: If you want a tiny device for video play wdtv is the best in terms of video quality + player formats. It will work with your harmony and has built in wifi as well as being a very small. It has no problems playing video from a NAS.


Thanks for the reply.

I've now done a bit of research on the WD TV Live device, and one can use an Andriod app, WD 2 Go. What I haven't been able to work out is whether the WD 2 Go interface - or a third-part app - would provide easy access to our music collection, namely to view by artist, genre etc; and hopefully also a search function. Can anyone advise on this particular question, or on the other questions I asked above?

Many thanks



As far as music I havn't used the built in player much, but I would guess that the best way of playing music would be to use the WDTV as a uPNP/DLNA device and have the music queued + played + controlled via your android device.  You just need to use any android player that has uPNP/DLNA support and set the sound to output via the WDTV.  I think this would be nicer than using the WDTV's music player.


That actually sounds pretty promising! What sort of Android players support uPNP/DLNA? I tend to use Power Amp... must go do some research on this.

Cheers
Jonathan

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  Reply # 695926 4-Oct-2012 08:27
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jonathan18: It's still sitting in its box - I won't unpack all the equipment until the build is complete.


Be careful with this, as your warranty is wasting away during this period. 

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