Standalone server, Apple, NO WiFi, cheap - - - how?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by gd0, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    Right off the bat, the No-WiFi requirement is firm. This is an atypical household: no networking, no sharing, no online streaming service. WiFi is kept disabled for performance and security.

    That said, I do have an Airport Extreme, hard wired.

    And despite “no WiFi” I can use Bluetooth for remote control purposes.

    Per my profile, I keep a standalone system in each of two rooms. One is a hardwired 2.0 rig, and the other is a 5.1 setup with TV. The 2.0 is settled and works fine. I’d like to more or less replicate that in the 5.1 room, ideally using what I already have. Which includes:

    Oppo BDP-103
    iFi Nano iDSD DAC (not yet in use)
    Marantz SR8000 AV receiver (no HDMI)
    Samsung plasma (HDMI)
    iPod Touch 6
    Any number of 4TB hard drives; one has USB-C.
    Ethernet connection

    I’m willing to spring for something like a used Mac Mini, or an entry-level iPad, to view and play the library. I presume I would need a powered hub. If a standalone NAS hard drive is somehow a potential solution (I know nothing about them), it must be hard wired (and at least 3TB). I don’t mind using the plasma as a monitor for a Mac Mini if I can setup a remote control. If an iPad could do it all, that would be great. Whatever is assembled here would connect solely to the DAC.

    The idea is to browse and play music using my JRiver license applied to one of these devices. JRiver because my library sports a bunch of different formats and resolutions. If possible, I’d like to use my existing iPod Touch as a remote control (to a Mini?), but the more I read the less likely that seems.

    This is the part I’m stuck on; I don’t know which of these devices connects – hard wired – to one another to predictably create a simple music server. Which would be the ONLY use here. I’m comfortable with Apple computers, but I’ve never bought into any of their lifestyle toys, so I just don’t know their basics.

    Organize me.
    .
     
  2. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    You can hardwire a NAS. I'm pretty sure it has to be, even with a WiFi router. You connect it to the router. It would actually be easier if you used WiFi, because you could use a tablet or an old smart phone to use as a remote for JRiver. Otherwise, you'd have to use a monitor with a Windows Media Player remote control to control JRiver in Theater Mode. Security on a WiFi Router is pretty secure if you use password protection. But, that's your choice. I personally think Gizmo or (WebGizmo for iOS) is the easiest way to navigate music, but it does rely on WiFi. The Media Player remote control is better suited if you are using it with a video library since you will be using the TV anyway.
     
  3. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I’d look at NAS products from Synology and QNAP. You can usually buy packages with disks included.

    Not being able to use WiFi is going to limit remote control options significantly as I don’t think Bluetooth is going to work with anything.
     
  4. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    FWIW, I don’t know what your budget is for this product, but I think some kind of stand alone music server device with an infrared remote control might work better for your use case. Something like the Sony HAP-Z1 or Cocktail Audio, both which use Ethernet and have built in storage.
     
  5. One option for the remote control app without wifi is to use a Chromebook. Modern chromebooks can have a touchscreen can run Android apps. You can disable the wifi on the Chromebook and use a wired ethernet connection using a USB to ethernet dongle. Chromebooks can work with some of the USB to ethernet dongles that are Linux friendly.

    You could run the JRiver Gizmo android app on the Chromebook. And use the Chromebook as a big wired remote. I think that would work for you, depending on how you've got your network set up and if you can run an ethernet cable to where you'd want to sue the Chromebook as a remote.
     
  6. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    If you google “infrared remote computer” you’ll find a lot of options to drive a computer with a remote, using infrared sensors added via usb but I don’t know how easily that would control JRiver.

    You could have a long keyboard and mouse to your server, or a wired laptop on your lap to control the server over VNC or Remote Desktop or something similar.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  7. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    I run a Mac mini as a music server, and it is wired.

    Your real challenge is of course controlling the output via an iPad (or whatever you decide upon).

    They make Lighting to Ethernet adapters, I have one. So as long as you don't mind a long cord + dongle hanging out of your iPad, you can use all the great music control apps out there.
     
  8. JRiver Media Center does have a Theater View that is designed around being used and navigated with a TV remote. Using the four arrow keys and center enter button on the typical DVD player style TV remote. You run JRiver in Theater View on the big TV screen then sit back with the TV remote to navigate and select what to play. You can also use a wired or wireless keyboard attached to the media PC running Theater View to get faster searching by being able to type in names of artists.

    Here's the JRiver wiki page about Theater View: Theater View - JRiverWiki

    Here's a clumsy demo of Theater View on YouTube. He's using Theater View on a touch screen computer. It works the same on a TV and using a TV remote.

     
  9. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    Thanks, guys.

    Yah, I kinda suspect that as well.

    Yipe! Beyond my pay grade. I'm just trying to cobble something together with found objects. You're right, but... yipe.

    So the dongle is strictly for MacMini-to-iPad connection, and not internet connection, right? This would require both a Mini and an iPad, so more than I wanna spend, but sounds like a solution. And Apple-centric.

    Now this looks like something in my wheelhouse.

    Disclosure: I know nothing about Chromebook, or why it even exists.

    If it is sort of a notebook with ports, and I'm playing music strictly from a local hard drive (right there in the room), I shouldn't need an Ethernet connection at all, right? (Maybe for initial setup?) There is Ethernet in that room nonetheless (if, say, I wanted internet radio, which is doubtful). Again, there's no need for networking in general in this small home.

    If I'm perceiving this correctly, would this cheap-o Dell be a solution?

    https://tinyurl.com/y2px3dm4

    I actually have a spare 20" iMac which would obviate this discussion, but there is simply no place to put it in that small cramped room (esp with surround speakers) where I can view and control without inconvenience. So the solution needs to be compact, in addition to cheap.

    Chromebook might be it.

    Thanx again.
     
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  10. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I have a feeling a Chromebook would annoy you. You'd find an Android app that sort of works but isn't the best and then a ChromeOS security update will break it and etc etc. I've just been down this road many times even with "good" hardware like the Pixelbooks.

    Consider a Chromebook is basically a tablet with a keyboard, and the same dongle-ethernet approach could be applied to an iPad, right? You wouldn't hate an iPad.
     
  11. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    No the dongle is for the iPad to connect to Ethernet. Use the iMac as your server. It can be in a different room from the iPad. You’d be using all LAN. No WiFi, internet or WAN.
     
  12. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    No, I wouldn't hate an iPad. And I share your suspicions, doubly so with a $130 gadget.

    I guess I don't understand the basic connectivity requirement. Not to mention how a notebook works at all.

    If iPad's only port is Lightning (it comes with a Lightning-to-USB connector), and I'm playing local HDDs (right there in the room), don't I need only a hub so I can connect iPad, HDD and DAC? And just install JRiver?

    Is there still some need for Ethernet and/or internet connection that I don't see? Does JRiver for iPad app run off the cloud or something? I don't mind using Ethernet, there's a hookup in the room. But do I need it?

    I guess this answers that particular question:
    But still, what prevents me from setting up an iPad-hub-HDD-DAC server separate from everything else in the house?

    I know, these are basics. I've never had a need for mobile gadgets, and thus am clueless.
     
  13. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Yeah, you can definitely have a closed-loop of just the gear you need to control and play music that isn't connected to anything else. I think that part is easy, the hard part is any scenario in which you control it from your sofa. If that's not actually a requirement, then it does get easier.

    BTW, why aren't we just plugging hard drives into the back of the Oppo, turning on the TV, and playing music with the Oppo's remote control+TV interface?
     
  14. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    Isn't that what the iPad touchscreen is for? In my case, a connector from iPad to hub would be 3 ft at the most.

    (Thinks about it...)

    I'm pretty sure I considered this before, and there was some sort of obstacle. Which might have been along the lines of no gapless ability. Or maybe not all of many formats would be playable. Or maybe some switching conflict.

    Or maybe I should just try it. And then know.

    Basically, I listen to music in this room while watching sports. Which is more or less the only TV I watch.
     
  15. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Its probably gapless playback, at least of DSD files. Everything else should be supported. It's easy for me to tell somebody else to compromise, but for the goals of working within your technical requirements and not looking for too much additional spend, I think this is going to be the best bet and you should learn to live with any idiosyncrasies. Or at least revisit it and get a better sense of what you didn't like about it, which could be useful data in finding a better long term solution. I'd hate to see you rig up a bunch of wires and ipads only to find you still can't have gapless DSD etc.
     
    gd0 likes this.
  16. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    “iPad-hub-HDD-DAC” isn’t going to work. You need something to act as a server to manage the files. Unless you get a giant ipad and don’t have too much music that you can play off iTunes.

    It works like this (which by the way is mainly this complex because of your “no Wi-Fi” rule ;) ):

    1) Client - this could be a raspberry Pi or similar “end point” The server sees this, and sends music to it, over Ethernet.
    2) Server - this could be your current iMac. Use JRiver, Plex, whatever.
    3) Remote control. Trust me, you want an iPad/iPod, not IR. This interfaces with the Server above to tell your end point what to play. It needs a LAN/Ethernet connection in order to talk to your Server/iMac. Most people use Wi-Fi. You’ll need to use a Lighting to Ethernet adapter, and plug it into a long Ethernet cable (already in your listening room, apparently).
     
    gd0 likes this.
  17. sjsanford

    sjsanford Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    To OP: can you elaborate on your physical setup a bit? ie, where do you want to be sitting when you access the music system, and how close is this to any existing Ethernet drops, etc. Given the non-wifi constraints, painting a picture of how your components/infrastructure are physically laid out and where you are physically going to be when you interact with them might help us give more precise advice.
     
  18. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Location:
    IL
    Why not just do this and and use a wireless keyboard/mouse/touchapd?
     
    Ham Sandwich likes this.
  19. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Location:
    Texas
    You'd be keeping a plasma on the entire time you're listening to music, which means heat, energy, and it can be hard to navigate a desktop with mouse/keyboard from far away. iPad is easy, always on, and consumes very little power.
     
  20. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Location:
    IL
    A super cheap option could be to get a used Airport Express (connected via ethernet to act as a bridge to your iMac) and use the digital out to connect to your DAC since you're already running JRiver on your other computer. Then connect your ipod touch using ethernet connection to act as a remote. The Airport Express is limited to 16/44--so that might be non-starter.

    Edit: Just saw your DAC is usb input only. So this won't work unless you also add a new DAC to the mix. So not that cheap anymore.
     
  21. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    You guys are nothing if not relentless. :laugh:

    Thanks again.

    I knew this would be tricky when I first posted. Aside from this non-critical project, there is simply no need for elaborate networking or wireless in this dump. Like I said, this is an atypical household.

    Nothing to elaborate: a 5.1 system crammed into 14x14 with large immovable seating. A small cabinet/space is within convenient arm's reach, Ethernet and hubs and (small) whatever could go there easily.*

    I was just fishing to see if anyone else ever tried something like this.

    For now, I'll just attempt HDD to Oppo. Not at all inconvenient to hookup (I've got umpteen hard drives), and I don't need to access every last file. Just music for football. If I need surround DSD, the discs are a whopping 4 inches from the Oppo.

    *Ironically, I've got a separate iMac that would do everything exactly as I want, but there is literally no place to put it.

    It's all good. I posted to learn stuff, and so I have.

    I've even learned, years after its intro, what a Raspberry Pi is, and how little it means to me. :laugh:
    .
     
  22. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    All this work just so you can watch Nebraska football on mute with The Sounds of Silence playing in the background, I'm guessing. :D
     
  23. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Thread Starter

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    More like The Sounds Of Scoreless this season...
     
    Rolltide likes this.
  24. I mentioned the Chromebook as a brainstorm for how to run Android app for playback control without wifi.

    I use a Chromebook running the JRiver Gizmo android app to control playback. The JRiver android app will work fine on a Chromebook. I haven't had any problems with how the Chromebook runs Android. It works. And is kinda neat because the Chromebook is like a big-screen tablet. I call it my big-ass tablet.

    The Chromebooks that can do this are going to be the more expensive Chromebooks and not the bargain price ones. Needs touch screen support. Which means you're in the $350+ Chromebook range and not the $200 and under range. I'm using a Samsung Chromebook Plus that was $500.

    I was just brainstorming ways to run an Android controller app in your situation without wifi. It's probably not the best solution, just a solution.

    One way I use JRiver Gizmo is to put the laptop into Theater View and then control playback using Gizmo running on the Chromebook while I'm sitting in the recliner. The Theater View running on the laptop screen on the top shelf of the audio rack puts up nice pictures of album art and stuff while I'm still able to control playback using the Gizmo app and six feet away from the laptop.
     
    gd0 likes this.
  25. The easiest way to get started would be to connect the Mac Mini to the TV and get it working around that. Use a wireless keyboard that has an integrated trackpad to control it from the couch. Plug a 4TB USB drive into the Mac Mini to hold your music. Plug a USB cable from the Mac Mini to the Oppo or iFi DAC to send the music to a DAC. Run JRiver Media Center on the Mac Mini. Configure JRiver to use the Theater View. Theater View is the view that works best on a TV. You can use the Picture In Picture feature on your TV to control JRiver while watching a football game. Or run JRiver full screen on the TV.

    Get that working and play with it for a bit to get familiar with things.

    Then later you can start adding and trying other things for remote control and remote access. You don't have to get the remote control stuff and remote access stuff and networking stuff working right away.

    Then you can work on figuring out how to run JRiver's JRemote app on an iPad or JRiver's Gizmo on Android. With JRemote or Gizmo you'll be able to control playback and select what you want to play without having to turn on the TV. After that you can figure out how to do screen sharing or remote access to the Mac Mini using the iPad or other computer to be able to control the Mac Mini without turning on the TV. With remote access you'll be able to boot the Mac Mini, log in, make sure JRiver is running, and other miscellaneous things, all without needing to turn on the TV.

    You don't need to get all of the networking stuff and remote access stuff working right away. Add one piece at a time as you get comfortable with how the setup works.
     

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