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Streamer Recommendation for Amazon 192/24 flac stuff

Ritz

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May 8, 2022
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First post, but I'm a long-time lurker. :)

I'm about to jump in to streaming decent audio content. About 15 years ago, I had a few interns rip all of my (4000) CDs to FLAC and then stuck all my discs in a box in the attic). I am currently streaming that from a local plex server to the following:

Roku (pass-thru Plex client)
Denon AVR-X4300h
Schiit VIDAR amp
Heavily modified Magnepan MMG's

That sounds OK. However, I'm wondering what I could do to remove the roku and Denon from the mix and siphon 192/24 audio to a decent DAC and then feed to a Schiit Freya pre-amp and a pair of VIDAR mono amps to the Maggies. I have fiddled with using the Denon HEOS client to grab the flac content, but the client is just awful.

I see a lot of folks here are happy with what's coming out of China on the DAC and preamp front so I thought I'd just ask for some pointers. What would you do to get 192/24 content from Amazon Music to your rig?

Best,

Ritz
 

HarmonicTHD

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Hi. Plenty of research has shown that you won’t hear a difference between your CDs and 24/192. Look around in the forum, there is even software where you can blind test yourself and see if you happen to be the exception to the average population.

I haven’t looked up the specs of the X4300 but there is also a very good chance you won’t hear a difference between it and any of the high measuring DACs. See here


Lastly speakers and room contribute by orders of magnitude more to sound quality than any electronics. Therefore spent 90% or more on speakers and then get Room EQ (eg Audyssey XT32, Dirac, etc).
 

ZolaIII

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Don't jump into anything. Unfortunately there is no Amazon Music Ultimate/HD integration yet into any software player's with proper DSP chain like Roon or JRiver. At best there are workarounds like hijack WDM insertion driver (JRiver) which is far from ideal as it's very latency sensitive one. For local streaming creating a DLNA server with JRiver and having it's full DSP chain work's but again it's far from really conformable and plug and play or bug free (for example changing streaming interface most times wouldn't nest to devices so you need to recreate the server and do the changes on first init). Of course this also include use of powerful enough general purpose computing platform for host (lo power PC - Laptop or development board capable of running at least Linux still better Windows [for stack maturity, better polished code and legacy plugin's support]). The DAC in for instance Your Denon AVR is capable of decoding PCM 24 bit audio and up to 192 KHz (hardly wou will find any recent years audio equipment without at least 24 bit capable DAC integration) and trough network streaming. You will get little to no improvement using stand alone DAC, even degradation in some cases where analog inputs to power amplifier aren't great. You can consider getting a ADC - DSP - DAC thing like MiniDSP (see the lineup) so that you can apply EQ corrections, room correction etc to any signal but you will be limited to what you get with the device regarding DSP capabilities (same as AVR which also has some DSP abilities embedded).
I ended up ditching streaming services for now and renewing and expanding my redwood and beyond collection and using JRiver from old laptop as deticated server and DSP to my power amplifier which is Yamahas with Music Cast which work relatively deacent regarding software but it's not a big deal even with those that don't as you can use JRiver Web interface from well anything with a browser and on same rooter to control the playback instead.
Downsides as usual are you do need to run PC or such, you need to run JRiver, when ever JRiver update library it restarts the DLNA server, both init and updating libraries (with audio analys) is slow so it takes couple minutes (init and registration with reciver) before you can play what you like and of course its not for absolute beginners. Benefit is complete processing chain that it supports (PEQ - EQ, room correction, effects, plugin's [Winamp and VST] and transcoding format bit rate and depth on the fly).
I hope things will change for better in the future regarding streaming service integration but I wouldn't bet on it anytime soon as it's old chicken and egg dilemma for provider's of such that if they provide insertion point for any kind of processing then it's bay bay to DRM. Still hopefully there be a brake trough regarding emerging trusty third part provider (or more of them even better) of turn key complete solution for them or whole thing is doomed regarding me. Some DAP or such OEM's and mobile software are more or less on the right track but its still very limited (Tidal mostly) and not quite there but that ain't what you are looking for.

Best regards.
 

Wendigo79

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Hello! My system consists a old miniature PC by HP, a Topping E30 DAC and a Yamaha AS-501 amp. The HP/PC is the kind of they use at a doctors office and other similar places. Basically completely silent. I bought mine used from a dealer that sells used office computing stuff. The Topping dac is then connected by USB to the pc. TV is also connected by optical. The PC runs just ordinary windows 10. It's in the tablet mode, so the ui is simplier. Then I have a airmouse which I bought from the AliExpress. If I remember correctly, for 17€. I have created shortcuts on the screen for Qobuz, Netflix and so. Foobar player is also in use for the flac playback. I also have a Logitech wireless keyboard which I occasionally use.
 
D

Deleted member 46664

Guest
First post, but I'm a long-time lurker. :)

I'm about to jump in to streaming decent audio content. About 15 years ago, I had a few interns rip all of my (4000) CDs to FLAC and then stuck all my discs in a box in the attic). I am currently streaming that from a local plex server to the following:

Roku (pass-thru Plex client)
Denon AVR-X4300h
Schiit VIDAR amp
Heavily modified Magnepan MMG's

That sounds OK. However, I'm wondering what I could do to remove the roku and Denon from the mix and siphon 192/24 audio to a decent DAC and then feed to a Schiit Freya pre-amp and a pair of VIDAR mono amps to the Maggies. I have fiddled with using the Denon HEOS client to grab the flac content, but the client is just awful.

I see a lot of folks here are happy with what's coming out of China on the DAC and preamp front so I thought I'd just ask for some pointers. What would you do to get 192/24 content from Amazon Music to your rig?

Best,

Ritz

Where is the Plex server housed? Is it in a box that will run Windows or Linux?
If so, re-do it as a standard file server and access the file sharing mechanisms with a small PC and a media player and Amazon (etc) APPs installed. In Windows you can use the WASAPI Exclusive Mode to have bit exact playback. Linux also supports this, though I'm less familiar with it.
Depending on the quality of the built in sound interface on your PC you may or may not need an external DAC.
 
OP
R

Ritz

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Where is the Plex server housed? Is it in a box that will run Windows or Linux?
If so, re-do it as a standard file server and access the file sharing mechanisms with a small PC and a media player and Amazon (etc) APPs installed. In Windows you can use the WASAPI Exclusive Mode to have bit exact playback. Linux also supports this, though I'm less familiar with it.
Depending on the quality of the built in sound interface on your PC you may or may not need an external DAC.

The Plex server is running on a Raspberry Pi 4 (the new one with 8GB RAM) and is running Debian Linux. The plex client on the Roku is configured just to feed the bitstream to the Denon receiver which decodes the FLAC (or occasional MP3) files.

To answer the other person's question, the Denon has Audessey XT32, but I have it disabled. It sounds better to me with it off no matter how many times I calibrate it.

The reason I ask....the streamed FLAC files sound better to me. So I'm assuming that whatever I used back in the day to rip all my own content didn't do the best job (I think it was just a script that called ffmpeg). So I'm just wondering if I'm leaving some "quality on the floor". Amazon sells their own streamer "the echo link," but it's digital output appears to be limited to 48khz/16bits. I don't have one of those golden setups with cables that cost more than a BMW. I'm just looking for something to allow me to get similar quality to popping a CD into a transport while allowing me to consume an interface that's better than this HEOS abomination.

Best,
 
D

Deleted member 46664

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I'm just looking for something to allow me to get similar quality to popping a CD into a transport while allowing me to consume an interface that's better than this HEOS abomination.

For your local files...

IF you organize your libraries on file shares from your NAS --no Plex!-- you can access them directly in Windows or Linux without the need of double converting to plex then back to pcm. That's one step better quality.

IF you use a windows HTPC to decode and play the files you are working with the ultimate in simple interfaces, window's native file manager. With the right media player, it's as simple as finding the files in File Manager then clicking on them. Your media player is then launched by "file association", loads and plays your selection... and then exits. That is about the simplest UI you're going to get...

Here are a couple of screen grabs from my own system ...
This is my file server root... Here I choose what I want to play...
1.PNG


So we click on Music... and, then Billboard... which gives us a list by years...
2.PNG


So now we click on 1988... to get a "contents" formatted listing...
3.PNG


And finally we click on a song...
4.PNG


The media player loads, plays the song then exits when it's done.

There's no magic here. It's really just a matter of organizing your files on the server and setting up file shares. Any song, movie, playlist ... just a couple of simple clicks away and, since this is on file shares, it can be played by any computer on your home network with equal ease. Your chief cook can be running a playlist in the kitchen, your kids can be watching videos in the living room while you're watching a full screen movie in the home theatre room .... all just a few clicks away... Easy Peasy!

Obviously you can play any file type that your media player can decode... I like MPC and it's derivatives because I just haven't found anything they won't play.

For streaming from Amazon (etc) just download and install their APP on each computer and make a desktop shortcut and you're in business.

Now for that final step in sound quality ... WASAPI Exclusive Mode ... that is a media player function... So you have to enable it in each player you use... This enables bit exact output from your files and depending on the sound chip or DAC, it can be astonishingly good.
(Obviously the setup steps are different from player to player, so I can't cover them here. But it is very easy to set up; usually just a matter of enabling the option.)
 
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Ritz

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Ah...ok, then maybe I'm misunderstanding how things are currently working. It was my impression that the plex client is not decoding the FLAC files....just passing them along unmolested to the Denon over HDMI and then the Denon is doing the actual decoding. If the signal is being manipulated twice currently (but only once when I just use the HEOS client to pull flac data from Amazon Music), then perhaps that explains the delta in quality I'm hearing.

Best,
 
D

Deleted member 46664

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Ah...ok, then maybe I'm misunderstanding how things are currently working. It was my impression that the plex client is not decoding the FLAC files....just passing them along unmolested to the Denon over HDMI and then the Denon is doing the actual decoding. If the signal is being manipulated twice currently (but only once when I just use the HEOS client to pull flac data from Amazon Music), then perhaps that explains the delta in quality I'm hearing.

Best,

PLEX is an old and outdated media server and client. With cross platform file shares and better streaming services, it's pretty much had its day.

That might be your answer ... does the HEOS client offer Exclusive Mode or Bit Exact outputs... if so try enabling it.
 
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OP
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Ritz

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PLEX is an old and outdated media server and client. With cross platform file shares and better streaming services, it's pretty much had its day.

That might be your answer ... does the HEOS client offer Exclusive Mode or Bit Exact outputs... if so try enabling it.

It actually works very well for my family. Every TV has a cheap roku box that provides a consistent interface to our music collection, movie collection, and various streaming services that we care about.

It just doesn't scratch MY particular itch to get very high quality audio (nobody else in the house cares...they just want the easy interface). :)

And consider that the server software is free and runs on a raspberry pi that draws very little power and cost only about $200 to put together (most of the cost is the SSD storage). The plex server code appears to get regular updates (a couple times per month).

Best,
 
D

Deleted member 46664

Guest
It actually works very well for my family. Every TV has a cheap roku box that provides a consistent interface to our music collection, movie collection, and various streaming services that we care about.

It just doesn't scratch MY particular itch to get very high quality audio (nobody else in the house cares...they just want the easy interface). :)

And consider that the server software is free and runs on a raspberry pi that draws very little power and cost only about $200 to put together (most of the cost is the SSD storage). The plex server code appears to get regular updates (a couple times per month).

Best,

Hey ... if it's working for you and you're happy with it... good stuff! Really.

You asked about a very simple interface and I showed you the simplest one I know ...

Cheers!
 
OP
R

Ritz

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Hey ... if it's working for you and you're happy with it... good stuff! Really.

You asked about a very simple interface and I showed you the simplest one I know ...

Cheers!

I'm definitely going to give that a try. Much appreciated!

Best,
 

yllanos

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First post, but I'm a long-time lurker. :)

I'm about to jump in to streaming decent audio content. About 15 years ago, I had a few interns rip all of my (4000) CDs to FLAC and then stuck all my discs in a box in the attic). I am currently streaming that from a local plex server to the following:

Roku (pass-thru Plex client)
Denon AVR-X4300h
Schiit VIDAR amp
Heavily modified Magnepan MMG's

That sounds OK. However, I'm wondering what I could do to remove the roku and Denon from the mix and siphon 192/24 audio to a decent DAC and then feed to a Schiit Freya pre-amp and a pair of VIDAR mono amps to the Maggies. I have fiddled with using the Denon HEOS client to grab the flac content, but the client is just awful.

I see a lot of folks here are happy with what's coming out of China on the DAC and preamp front so I thought I'd just ask for some pointers. What would you do to get 192/24 content from Amazon Music to your rig?

Best,

Ritz
Assuming you have a TV on the same room, I'd personally get a miniDSP SHD as DAC/crossover and a Xiaomi Mi Box S as a streamer. Just connect the Mi Box S to the miniDSP via USB and you should be OK. This setup should also be ROON friendly, if so you decide to upgrade later to take advantage of your local library
 
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Ritz

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Assuming you have a TV on the same room, I'd personally get a miniDSP SHD as DAC/crossover and a Xiaomi Mi Box S as a streamer. Just connect the Mi Box S to the miniDSP via USB and you should be OK. This setup should also be ROON friendly, if so you decide to upgrade later to take advantage of your local library

Those Xiaomi boxes kinda suck and I don't think I'm up for the miniDSP box as I'm not after room correction. Also, I don't believe the Xiaomi box has any method of getting digital audio out other than via HDMI. I'll probably use Amazon's Echo Link and use the SPDIF out to one of the better rated DACs here. Then I can control it with the Alexa voice thang or just use the Amazon music app. I'll also try just feeding nekkid flac files from my local NAS server to the DAC and see how that works. The Chinese DACs have come a long way. Kinda liking what I'm reading about the SMSL SU-9/9N and the price isn't crazy.

Best,
 

SKBubba

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As far as I know, there is no current way to play Amazon HD music bit perfect, including their own devices, except for BlueOS and Heos, and you have to use their apps which aren't really very good for Amazon.
 

fuzzy_logic

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Those Xiaomi boxes kinda suck and I don't think I'm up for the miniDSP box as I'm not after room correction. Also, I don't believe the Xiaomi box has any method of getting digital audio out other than via HDMI. I'll probably use Amazon's Echo Link and use the SPDIF out to one of the better rated DACs here. Then I can control it with the Alexa voice thang or just use the Amazon music app. I'll also try just feeding nekkid flac files from my local NAS server to the DAC and see how that works. The Chinese DACs have come a long way. Kinda liking what I'm reading about the SMSL SU-9/9N and the price isn't crazy.

Best,
I think the Echo Link digital output is limited to 16/48 unfortunately. The Xiaomi Mi Box has mini toslink and usb outputs, but they are fixed at 48khz (toslink) and 96khz (USB). I think others here have reported some success using an HDMI audio extractor (using coax out to a DAC) with the 4k Firestick/ Fire TV cube to output the correct sample rates from Amazon Music, but i haven't tried it myself.
 

Bamyasi

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I am using Amazon FireStick 4K (Max) with a HDMI audio extractor. Its optical output is plugged directly into my DAC via TOSLINK. Sounds great, although Amazon Music app on the Stick is rather simplistic and does not have advanced features like playlist or queue management. It is also currently the cheapest way to get Amazon Music at full 24/192 resolution into your audio system.

P.S. And yes, it's not bitperfect, everything is being upsampled to 24/192. Still sounds awesome to my ears though.
 

Bamyasi

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PLEX is an old and outdated media server and client. With cross platform file shares and better streaming services, it's pretty much had its day.
How come Plex is outdated? They release server updates every couple weeks...
 
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