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Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
12-03-2021, 20:01
Post: #1
Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
I allowed myself to think that I'd more or less got my head round it, but having just read right through 'The control app thread' (on this sub-forum) I realise, 1: I've barely got hold of the basics and 2: a lot of the trouble shooting I've had to do over the years is not as specific to my particular setup as I'd thought, but perhaps more of a universal experience for those of us trying to achieve a reliable, stable and flexible home audio streaming network environment for high quality listening. My own limited understanding has come from all sorts of different sources - some of the most useful on this forum - but I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good (online) guide that covers the essentials, especially the interaction between servers, controllers and renderers, without proseletyzing unduly for a particular brand or ecosystem and providing enough technical explanation to make sense of the underpinning processes without getting bogged down in the minutiae.

That leads me to a more specific supplementary question which I probably wouldn't need to ask if I had read such a guide: is it possible to / how does one get a rendering device with both ethernet and HDMI inputs to render the signal from the latter rather than the former? Eg In one setup I have MinimServer on a QNAP NAS sending to Volumio on a RPi with a Hifiberry DAC, the latter connected to an old Arcam amplifier. On another setup MinimServer sends to an Arcam AV receiver (SR250) via an ethernet cable and the Arcam's internal network streaming capability. But what if I wanted to connect the RPi directly to the SR250 by HDMI, bypassing the Hifiberry DAC and utilising the Arcam's (superior??) onboard DAC? I use BubbleUPnP, btw, as my controller of choice.
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15-03-2021, 16:45 (This post was last modified: 16-03-2021 02:13 by skeptic Mike.)
Post: #2
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
(12-03-2021 20:01)nickc Wrote:  ..... I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good (online) guide that covers the essentials, especially the interaction between servers, controllers and renderers, without proseletyzing unduly for a particular brand or ecosystem and providing enough technical explanation to make sense of the underpinning processes without getting bogged down in the minutiae.

I suggest Jean-Francois Dockes documentation. He wrote Upmpdcli which is the key component for most Raspberry Pi based renderers. see:
http://www.lesbonscomptes.com/pages/homenet-audio.html
and
https://www.lesbonscomptes.com/upmpdcli/...anual.html


(12-03-2021 20:01)nickc Wrote:  That leads me to a more specific supplementary question which I probably wouldn't need to ask if I had read such a guide: is it possible to / how does one get a rendering device with both ethernet and HDMI inputs to render the signal from the latter rather than the former? Eg In one setup I have MinimServer on a QNAP NAS sending to Volumio on a RPi with a Hifiberry DAC, the latter connected to an old Arcam amplifier. On another setup MinimServer sends to an Arcam AV receiver (SR250) via an ethernet cable and the Arcam's internal network streaming capability. But what if I wanted to connect the RPi directly to the SR250 by HDMI, bypassing the Hifiberry DAC and utilising the Arcam's (superior??) onboard DAC? I use BubbleUPnP, btw, as my controller of choice.

[Edited]

An audio renderer will be connected through to an amplifier and loudspeakers or headphones. There will be a DAC in the chain, this may be part of the renderer which will then have an analog output, or part of the amplifier (if that has digital inputs) or a standalone device between the renderer and the amplifier. In these forums you'll see examples of all these arrangements.

If you are connecting your Raspberry Pi to your receiver via HDMI, then the Pi is the renderer, This is what you would have to use if you were streaming both Video and Audio and your receiver didn't support the format. (As it is audio only, you couldn't be using MinimServer to do that.)

HDMI supports both video and audio so I think that it's possible to send audio in this way, although there would have to be a video signal as well. I can't see any point in doing that if you can use the receiver as a renderer in the conventional way.

I assume you are wondering if this might produce a "better" sound, but in each case, you're using the same DAC in the Arcam receiver. I wouldn't expect you to notice any difference if you took the audio output from your Pi with the HiFiBerry DAC and sent that into the analog inputs on your Arcam receiver.

All competently implemented renderers should produce exactly the same digital information for the DAC. It's a straightforward programming task. I'd also expect all competently implemented DACs to sound the same; the key component in all your devices will be a single chip Sigma-Delta DAC. Their design and operation is well understood.

(Audio sent over HDMI is sent in data packets interleaved with the video and other data packets, so it has to be reassembled into a digital stream for the DAC.)

Even if you are in a position to play the same music through different renderers and DACs to the same speakers, it's difficult to demonstrate this to yourself, as you need to be able to balance the output levels very accurately, and not know to which one you are listening.

Mike
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15-03-2021, 18:01
Post: #3
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
(15-03-2021 16:45)skeptic Mike Wrote:  If you are connecting your Raspberry Pi to your receiver via HDMI, then the Pi is the renderer, This is what you would expect to use if you were streaming Audio and Video that your receiver didn't support. Obviously you wouldn't be using MinimServer in that case.

Is this obvious? MinimServer could run on another machine (or even on the Pi itself) and stream to a UPnP software renderer on the Pi that sends audio to the DAC using HDMI, if there is such a UPnP software renderer. Perhaps upmpdcli can do this.
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15-03-2021, 20:48
Post: #4
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
(15-03-2021 18:01)simoncn Wrote:  
(15-03-2021 16:45)skeptic Mike Wrote:  If you are connecting your Raspberry Pi to your receiver via HDMI, then the Pi is the renderer, This is what you would expect to use if you were streaming Audio and Video that your receiver didn't support. Obviously you wouldn't be using MinimServer in that case.

Is this obvious? MinimServer could run on another machine (or even on the Pi itself) and stream to a UPnP software renderer on the Pi that sends audio to the DAC using HDMI, if there is such a UPnP software renderer. Perhaps upmpdcli can do this.

I think that it is obvious that you wouldn't be using MinimServer as a UPNP Video server. I'll clarify my original reply later today.

Mike
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15-03-2021, 22:08
Post: #5
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
HDMI could be used for audio only, I presume. Perhaps I misunderstood what the OP was saying.
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16-03-2021, 12:38
Post: #6
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
Thanks Mike and Simon for these very helpful responses.

Mike, the links you posted are exactly the sort of thing I've been looking for. Very useful.

Quote:HDMI supports both video and audio so I think that it's possible to send audio in this way, although there would have to be a video signal as well. I can't see any point in doing that if you can use the receiver as a renderer in the conventional way.

This goes to the heart of my issue. The point in doing it is that I have no control over, or insight into, either the rendering software or the networking configuration inside the Arcam (and it's now a discontinued product so unlikely to receive further updates etc). It produces excellent sound but I've learned from experience that it can be quite picky and fiddly to operate in its network/software functions. To a lesser extent so too is the QNAP NAS where I have my music library and MinimServer/Streamer. What I'm hoping to do is leave the music library on the QNAP but transfer MinimServer/Streamer to a new RPi4 (Simon has already confirmed it should be possible for MS to access the library on the QNAP) where I will have full access and control. I want to leave Volumio (on an old RPiB+) as it is, and see little point in buying a DAC board for the new RPi if it can render the files/streams directly to the Arcam via HDMI to be converted to analogue just like all its other inputs. The configuration, software and networking all stays outside the Arcam. Does this make sense? (I shall know in a few days as I went ahead and ordered the new RPi anyway!)

Quote:MinimServer could run on another machine (or even on the Pi itself) and stream to a UPnP software renderer on the Pi that sends audio to the DAC using HDMI, if there is such a UPnP software renderer. Perhaps upmpdcli can do this.

As you'll see from the above, that's exactly what I'm hoping to do. I see there's now an OpenHome player for the RPI (http://openhome.org/pages/use/index.html) so I was hoping to use that.
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16-03-2021, 18:51
Post: #7
RE: Home Network Streaming for Dummies?
(15-03-2021 16:45)skeptic Mike Wrote:  All competently implemented renderers should produce exactly the same digital information for the DAC. It's a straightforward programming task. I'd also expect all competently implemented DACs to sound the same; the key component in all your devices will be a single chip Sigma-Delta DAC. Their design and operation is well understood.

My personal experience is that different DACs sound different. I can't say whether this is because of the DAC chip itself or surrounding circuitry.
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