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vid1900
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Audiophile Music Server Project

I went to a friend's house a few months ago and he had a big commercial CD Jukebox in his basement. It was set to free play, so all night we punched in some great tunes. I noticed that I had many of the same discs, but never played them as I was too lazy to pull out a disc for one or two good songs.

Upon arriving home and looking at my 2000+ CD collection, I knew I had to build an Audiophile CD Touchscreen Jukebox.

I wanted the Jukebox to have a touch screen with full album art, not have a lot of fan noise, and be truly Audiophile quality.

Components:
Screen: 22" Planar Touchscreen ($250 CompUSA)
Processor: Intel i3-2100 ($99 Micro Center)
Motherboard: MSI H61M-P23 B3 ($65 CompUSA)
Ram: Corsair CMX4GX3M1A1333C9 XMS3 4GB DDR3 ($35 after rebate CompUSA)
Case: Rack Mount server case and power supply ($69 NewEgg)
Hard Drive : Western Digital 2TB "Green" ($59 Micro Center)
Software: AlbumPlayer 5.3 ($46 albumplayer.com)
Bit Perfect Driver Software: ASIO4ALL ($FREE asio4all.com)
============================================================
Total cost: $625 (or about $800 less than I paid for my CD player)

Reasons for components chosen:
Planar PX2230MW 22" monitor was chosen because it was very large, had touch screen input and high resolution (1920 x 1080) for album graphics . The mounting screws on the back are standard VISA100 so it can be mounted to an adjustable arm, and thus folded out of the way when not in use.

Intel i3-2100 was chosen because it runs very cool (100 watts), and has onboard video (no need for a video card and the accompanying fan noise) .

MSI H61M-P23 B3 Motherboard was chosen because it has onboard S/PDIF (digital audio out), so I had no need to buy a sound card. It also has no fans of its own.

Rack Mount case "looks" like a piece of pro audio gear, rather than a standard computer case.

AlbumPlayer software was chosen because after trying six different software packages, it looked and worked the best. Testing all of the "Jukebox" software took longer than any other part of the project. AP worked flawlessly with the ASIO4ALL software so that CD, DVD-A, DTS and SACD files output without any modification (yes, you can back up your SACDs nowadays - Google it).

ASIO4ALL is a free driver software that bypasses all of Windows' mixer and volume controls. It forces Windows to pass the digital audio stream unaltered to your D/A converter. You need ASIO drivers or your system will not be bit accurate.

The system is very quiet and you would be hard pressed to hear it running unless there were no tracks playing and you were within 6" of the rack. I certainly can not hear it from my listening chair.

If you needed an absolutely silent system you would want to swap out the following components:

FSP Group ZEN 400w Fanless Power Supply ($125 NewEgg)
Thermalright HR-02 Fanless CPU Heatsink ($68 Mwave)
SSD Hard Drive ($1/GB after rebates)

The above modifications would give you a system with no moving parts at all. It would be quieter than any CD player in the world!

I can post pictures if there is any interest.

Drtrey3
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Lemm see!

Please post the photos! How do you compare AlbumPlayer with J River Media Player? Obviously, you prefer AlbumPlayer, but I would appreciate knowing why. I bet that trying all the software took some time, any other thoughts you ahve about those comparisons would be great to read too. I look forward to seeing the fruit of your labor!

 

Trey

vid1900
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The Reasons
Drtrey3 wrote:

 How do you compare AlbumPlayer with J River Media Player? Obviously, you prefer AlbumPlayer, but I would appreciate knowing why. I bet that trying all the software took some time, any other thoughts you ahve about those comparisons would be great to read too. I look forward to seeing the fruit of your labor!

 

Trey

 

 

I don't want to bash any other software, because I know each authoring team puts a lot of time and effort into their product.

I will make a few points of why Albumplayer was the top choice, so I can keep this thread positive:

1.  AP had the most "snappy" and responsive interface.  I have 2000+ CDs (and an untold number of MP3s).  AP did not start to slow down once fully loaded at all.  Search and playback is instant. 

2.  APs touch screen mode simply worked the best.  The buttons were correctly sized, the scroll rates were super smooth.

3. AP does one thing and does it the best.  It does not print CD covers, it does not sync with my cell phone, it does not try to sell me MP3s from Rhapsody or Amazon.  I believe that is why it is so responsive; it does not have a bunch of bloatware always running in the background.

4.  The user interface is just so dead simple that I don't have to tell anybody how to use it.  They walk right up and start searching and playing music, just like you would with a CD Jukebox at a bar (in fact, you can add a coin or bill changer and it will run as a real jukebox).  The "Party Mode" locks users out from seeing the menus.

5.  AP works automatically, with no effort on my part.  Each time I add more albums, it scans through the music folder for changes, retrieves the album artwork in the background (for any album that did not already have artwork), and adds them to the collection.  It even has a button for albums that were "Recently Added" just like the commercial jukeboxes do.

vid1900
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A Picture of Server Setup

OK, I finally got some pictures taken.

1.  Tascam single disc CD player - allows quick playing of discs not in the collection.  Tascam CD players are great because they will play DTS surround discs with no modification.  

2.  The Server - 22" touchscreen monitor is mounted on adjustable swivel arm.

3.  DTC-100 - HD box for over the air (rooftop) reception.

4.  Parasound Halo C2 - Nice preamp with balanced ins and outs.  Really good sounding D/A.  Plugs into any laptop for the fastest configuration with no menus to dig through.

5.  Power Conditioner - Cleans power and acts as big on/off switch.  

6.  Parasound HCA-3500 (with JC1 mod).  500w per channel dual mono amps designed by John Curl.

vid1900
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How to rip 2412 CDs and not take a week to do it:

[IMG][/IMG]

How to rip 2412 CDs and not take a week to do it:

I had a lot of CDs that needed to be ripped into lossless FLAC files.  FLAC compresses CDs into about 1/2 of their normal size without loosing any audio quality.

I used to be a big fan of EAC (Exact Audio Copy), but it is just too slow for a project like this.

I switched to dBpoweramp.  It is a program for ripping CDs that lets you open as many instances of itself as you have CD drives.  :

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/

dBpoweramp uses AccurateRip to make sure that your copies are bit perfect.  It also finds the artwork and song titles automatically.  It also creates the FLAC files automatically.  

1.  Acquire every single CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drive you have ports for in your computer.  Most computers have 2 ATA and 6 SATA connections.  You will use one SATA for your hard drive, so that will leave you with 7 available CD-ROM ports.  (Don't skimp on this step or it will take you forever to rip all your CDs.  CDs with scratches sometimes slow down from 52x ripping speed to less than 1x; that equals a long time for that disc!  You don't want a few slow rips holding up the line.)

Don't bother mounting the drives in your case.  Just stack them up next to your computer with the case cover off so the wires can reach the motherboard.  

Don't use an external hard drive for this mass ripping, the USB ports are too slow.  Make sure your drive is directly connected to the Motherboard.

2.  Get organized.  Things are going to move really fast.  Clear off your desk so you have room for the open CD cases.  Have some large boxes ready to accept the ripped discs.

3.  Open 7 instances of dBpoweramp.  Stack up each instance in the same order as your CD-ROM drives are stacked (this will avoid confusion latter).  Always use the Eject button in dBpoweramp rather than the button on the front of the CD-ROM (again this will prevent the confusion of you opening the wrong drive while it is ripping).

Set dBpoweramp to rip to FLAC.

Don't run any other programs.  This will be one of the few times you will see all 8 of your CPU Cores being used at the same time!

4.  As you insert each disc, you will see the titles and artwork displayed.  If the artwork looks low contrast, or otherwise odd, hit the + button and choose a better example from the screen.

5.  dBpoweramp will make each artist a folder and then album folders within it automatically.

6.  This process goes so fast, you will often not be able to keep all 7 drives ripping at the same time.

7.  Put heavily scratched discs into older, slower drives as that will free up your faster drives for normal rips.

8.  The drives that seem to hit the fastest ripping speeds consistently are made by Lite-on.  Even older Lite-on drives seem to be often cruising along at 52x.

Brown Sound
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Nice...

Very nice, thanks for sharing. So how long did it take to rip your collection? Did you verify the tag info from the online database as you went or after the fact? Looks very slick, indeed.

vid1900
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Time
Brown Sound wrote:

So how long did it take to rip your collection?

 

It took a couple days, around 8-9 hours total.  I should have timed it, but I did not think of it at the time.

Figure that most discs rip in a minute or two, and you are ripping 6-7 at a time.

 

Brown Sound wrote:

Did you verify the tag info from the online database as you went or after the fact?

dBpoweramp checks five databases when it assigns the titles and artwork automatically, so it was very accurate.  The only thing I sometimes had to do was choose the correct cover art, if dBpoweramp did not choose the MobileFidelity version of the cover.

Brown Sound wrote:

Looks very slick, indeed.

 

Thank you Sir!

RGibran
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Sound Quality?

I have a cheap soundcard with SPDIF out to my DAC for occasional listening to computer program and the sound quality compared to other sources connected to the same DAC is lacking.  I love your project and thanks for sharing, but would have concerns over the quality of built-in SPDIF from motherboard.  Could you give us your opinion as to sound quality as compared to your other sources?

One more question if you don't mind.  Does the software and touchscreen play nice together?

Thanks,

RG

vid1900
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SPDIF Trick

The "trick" to computer SPDIF is to use a direct driver so Windows can not step all over the data.  Otherwise Windows changes all the data and ruins the sound.  Even if the volume control is working, that will reduce the available bits.

**The $2200 Bryston BDP-1 uses a $100 sound card (Juli@) and a $100 motherboard (alix1d).  It gets rave reviews because Windows does not interfere with the bits, not because of a million dollar SPDIF interface. **

For bit perfect sound, use a direct driver like this:  http://www.asio4all.com/

Now Windows will not be able to re sample the data, the volume control, EQ and mixer will be bypassed and your sound will arrive "bit perfect" to your DAC. 

To prove to yourself that the data is arriving bit perfect to your DAC, put in a DTS CD.  If Windows changes the bit stream at all, a blast of noise comes out of your speakers instead of music (turn the volume down before trying this experiment!).   Windows volume control will be locked at 100%, so you need to use an ASIO driver with an external DAC. 

 

The sound of my server is absolutely amazing.  Without the CD player "fixing" the missing bits of data from fingerprints and scratches, the true sound of the recording flows through.

 

The Albumplayer software was designed from the start to work with a touchscreen monitor.  It knows how to "flick" just like your cell phone does.   

steve1steve2steve3
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What about using a

What about using a touchscreen laptop?

vid1900
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Laptop Jukebox
steve1steve2steve3 wrote:

What about using a touchscreen laptop?

 

Sure, you could use a touchscreen laptop.

Some things to consider:

1.  You want SPDIF for your audio output, and not every laptop has that built in. Often the built in SPDIF is shared with the headphone connector (check your manual) so you need an 1/8" to RCA cable to utilize it. 

2.  Or you can get a SPDIF to USB interface.  I've never tried this model, but maybe something like this:  http://www.brainydeal.us/Channel-Optical-External-Laptop--Win-playback/d...

3.  You want to turn off all the power/screen saving options on the laptop so it is always running at full performance.  You probably don't want the screen falling asleep all the time while playing.

4.  17 and 18" laptops usually have 2 hardrive bays, smaller laptops only have one.  Lossless albums are larger than you might at first guess.  A CD quality album in Flac might be  400mb and a SACD in Flac might be over a gig.  Most laptops only have a 500 gig drive, so you may want a second laptop drive (like the 1TB Scoripo Blue) or an external drive. Make sure the THICKNESS of your new laptop drive fits your laptop.  Some are thicker than others. 

5.  If you choose to use an external drive, make sure that along with USB 2.0 it also has eStata or USB 3.0  .  Your current laptop may not use those ports, but your next one will.

thecount
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thanks!

Thanks for posting this. I have my collection all FLAC'ed and tagged already. I will have to give Album Player a try. I had not heard if it. I too tried J River and thought it was way too bloated and not user friendly. And their support is the most obnoxious ever if you dare to question the genius of their work. I was going to go with a monitor-less system and use Foobar and the smartphone UPnP controller. But the added visual interface is more guest and family friendly :-)

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sampling rate capabilities of Album Player?

Cool project

I am sitting here with about 300 CDS and trying to figure out what way to go.

On the Album Player software what is the maximum sampling rate the music will be played back at? 44.1kHz or up to 192kHz? at up to 24bits?

vid1900
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No need to upsample
tdarling57 wrote:

Cool project

I am sitting here with about 300 CDS and trying to figure out what way to go.

On the Album Player software what is the maximum sampling rate the music will be played back at? 44.1kHz or up to 192kHz? at up to 24bits?

 

Album Player will playback 192/24, but it won't get you any more data than the 16 bit CDs you have.

So, just rip all your CDs as FLAC files and you don't have any decisions to make.  Every bit of data on your CDs will be accurately reproduced.

I hope that makes sense...

jazzfan
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Redbook
vid1900 wrote:
tdarling57 wrote:

Cool project

I am sitting here with about 300 CDS and trying to figure out what way to go.

On the Album Player software what is the maximum sampling rate the music will be played back at? 44.1kHz or up to 192kHz? at up to 24bits?

 

Album Player will playback 192/24, but it won't get you any more data than the 16 bit CDs you have.

So, just rip all your CDs as FLAC files and you don't have any decisions to make.  Every bit of data on your CDs will be accurately reproduced.

I hope that makes sense...

I believe that what vid1900 means to say is rip your CDs at 16bit/44.1kHz, which is the native, and therefore the maximum, resolution of a CD. Ripping them to a greater bit depth, e.g. 24bit, or a higher sampling frequency, e.g. 96 or 192 kHz, is not going to them high resolution and will only waste hard drive storage space.

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IMO, I wouldn't use some low

IMO, I wouldn't use some low quality onboard to pass a digital signal to a DAC.  I would get a higher quality interface, either a card with a better S/Pdif inplementation or go with a USB/S/Pdif converter.

Edit- After reading I think you may have went with a higher end interface for S/Pdif.  Good idea!

vid1900
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A common problem

A common question is people not getting 192/24 sound files to play from their Toslink (optical) outputs.

Please understand that the Toslink system was never intended to work with such a high bitrate format, so usually no sound will come from the output, and your DAC will usually just say "DIGITAL ERROR".

So for rips of your SACD, or any other ultra high bitrate format, remember to use the SPDIF (RCA style jack) digital outputs. If you motherboard only has a Toslink jack on the back, usually it will have the 2 pin SPDIF header on the motherboard itself.

In this case you will have to solder a 2 pin header cable to a RCA jack (the Signal is the center pin of the RCA, Ground goes to the outside shield). I'll post a picture of this adapter if you guys need it.

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Glad to see someone using Album player!

I switched to Apple TV because I couldn't get the sound quality with my set up but missed the function of AP! I am still under construction on the stereo and computer but decided to give album player another try after reading this and am very happy!! I have a little over 13000 cd's in flac format and have been missing the ease of access... ITunes only allowed me to load about 300 albums and run wirelessly through apple TV before things started locking up! My main issue was sound quality and running wirelessly through apple solved that with some major drawbacks! ASIO solved that in AP. Second issue was having a raid 5 set up and server in the same room as the stereo...sounded like a jet taking off. The solution was to move the server to the garage and set up a fan less computer running only album player wirelessly. Issue 3 I didn't want a extra screen in the living room and my TV isn't touch so how to run everything? Turns out there is a app that lets you use a Iphone or ipod touch as a remote http://melloware.com/intelliremote/ I am still in disarray as I am working on the whole system but things are coming together! I have to thank my previous employer for letting me drag their old server and disk array...wouldn't have happened without the storage space!

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