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Need local music player for headless Windows PC

aikofan

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Apr 13, 2022
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I’m looking for a music playing software solution that meets the following requirements:
  • Works on Windows 10
  • Is free or very cheap (so I don’t feel committed and can easily switch to something else if I’m dissatisfied)
  • Browses and plays various audio files (including flac, alac, aac, and mp3) on an attached USB drive
  • Allows user-friendly headless control from an iPad with an elegant, attractive UI that
    • Displays album art
    • Allows sorting of albums chronologically
Optional but nice-to-haves are scrobbles to last.fm, displays file properties like file type and sample rate, displays metadata like composer and comments, and plays in exclusive mode.

As background, in my main living room setup I’ve been using a Cambridge CXNv2 streamer/preamp to feed a sub and an amp to a pair of speakers. I’m running the mains full range and using the sub’s internal crossover to set the low pass. I also have the sub close to the listening position to try to manually reduce the sub’s delay, but for lifestyle purposes would prefer to move the sub against the front wall behind the mains. I’ve been happy with this setup for several years, but I’ve been waiting for a reasonably priced (<$1000) piece of hardware to be released that would integrate well with the reset of my system and provide high pass crossover and delay. When the miniDSP Flex was released, it seemed to be just what I was looking for to satisfy the shortcomings in my setup, so I ordered it and just got delivery a couple of days ago.

Adding the Flex also allows me to move my CXNv2 into my office desktop system, where I can make good use of the CXNv2‘s DAC/preamp capabilities that would be redundant and going to waste in my living room setup. So then I just need a new streamer for my living room system, and I got a cheap $160 Windows mini PC to fill that role. I was first looking at an RPI, but decided on the Windows PC instead because I
  1. Don’t want to spend countless hours looking at various sites several times a day at all hours for weeks and weeks so I can jump at the chance for the split second when one happens to come back in stock
  2. Don’t want to pay more for a used RPI than for a new Windows PC that’s many times more powerful
  3. Need a PC to configure the miniDSP and run REW anyway, so might as well use it to play music (which is also why I decided against dedicated hardware like a WiiM Mini)
So now that I have my hardware set, I just need to find the right software to play music. I have almost 2TB of music on an external USB HDD, which will make up like 99% of my listening, so playing that is my primary focus. Unfortunately, after a few days of trying out various things, I’ve been getting frustrated. So here are the things I’ve tried and the reasons why they fall short for me:
  • Foobar2000 controlled by a remote desktop app - This is my leading candidate and my fallback for now, but I don’t like how the UI—with tiny buttons and heavy reliance on right-mouse-click commands—doesn’t work well on touch screens. The Columns UI skin works better for touch screens, but it looks like the albums filter won’t sort chronologically without some sort of hack. I’ve also tried the Monkey Mote app in the past and could never get it to connect.
  • iTunes controlled by the Apple Remote app - Doesn’t sort albums chronologically and would also require me to convert more than 40,000 flac files to alac.
  • LMS/Squeezelite-X controlled by web - I used to be a happy Squeezebox Classic user decades ago, so I had high expectations. However, I’ve been experiencing a lot of problems, with the Squeezelite failing to connect to the server every time I start up, settings like additional browse modes being in multiple confusing locations with most of them failing to affect anything, when I finally get folder navigation working I find out it doesn’t display album art, and being unable to bookmark the web control URL because the PC IP address keeps changing.
So does anyone have any good suggestions for a Windows software music player that meets the requirements in the bullet list at the top of this long post? Please don’t recommend anything that doesn’t meet my requirements, like an RPI, Roon, etc.
 

Apesbrain

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I was going to suggest LMS/Squeezelite, but you're already not happy with it. It's always a good idea to reserve an IP address on your router for your server. That way, you and your apps always know where it is. If Squeezelite-X is not doing what you want, you might try running Squeezelite as a service instead. I do this using NSSM and set it to start with Windows. LMS with its "Material Skin" and "Music And Artist Information" plugins will pretty much do all you want (even has the last.fm scrobbler).
 
OP
aikofan

aikofan

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Apr 13, 2022
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I was going to suggest LMS/Squeezelite, but you're already not happy with it. It's always a good idea to reserve an IP address on your router for your server. That way, you and your apps always know where it is. If Squeezelite-X is not doing what you want, you might try running Squeezelite as a service instead. I do this using NSSM and set it to start with Windows. LMS with its "Material Skin" and "Music And Artist Information" plugins will pretty much do all you want (even has the last.fm scrobbler).
I‘ll have to look into how to set up a static IP address for my server. After I installed Squeezelite-X, I noticed I can toggle between that and Squeezelite. However, there’s a problem where at startup, neither player can connect to the server and I have to restart LMS by right-clicking on it and running as administrator. I reinstalled LMS as administrator, which I saw somewhere as a fix, but this didn’t solve the problem. Also, I wish the folder browse displayed art.

Also, this brings up the fact that LMS + any squeeze player really is an overly complex solution for my needs, since I don’t need a separate server and players connected on a network, which is what LMS is mainly designed for. I just need a player for local files, so LMS is overkill. So someone who’s tried a wider variety of music players than I have might hopefully know of one that has a touchscreen-friendly UI.
 

haro

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May 7, 2022
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HI, Check out 'music bee' with the 'android remote' or there is an IOS app that works with the Android Remote plugin (for the pc side) There are quite a few skins that work well with a touch screen for the pc side.
 
Last edited:
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aikofan

aikofan

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HI, Check out 'music bee' with the 'android remote' or there is an IOS app that works with the Android Remote plugin (for the pc side) There are quite a few skins that work well with a touch screen for the pc side.
I’m on iOS, but I see there’s also an iOS remote app. Looks like it’s worth a try. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

haro

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May 7, 2022
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HI, sorry that should have been "music bee remote" - the remote plugin dev supports android directly with a client, but there is also at least one IOS client. not really being an IOS user the one i found seems a bit hard to navigate but think that was more because i dont find the IOS paradime natural. ( i dont have that muscle memory developed) and after a few minutes poking around and figuring it out seemed ok other than the ADs in the free version are a bit annoying. :)
 
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