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The Never Ending Search for a Music Server


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I have had Tidal since around the time it came out in the states. I tried it back and forth with Spotify years ago, and Tidal won hands down SQ wise for me. Works on whichever device I have, and if I want to do something dumb and complicated, I'll listen to vinyl.

My HDD full of gigs of music is at Doug's, and I think about it maybe 1-2 times/yr over the past 4 years.

I'd probably just throw whichever vintage laptop you have on hand in with the DAC and enjoy the beautiful, beautiful music.

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Rolling with Tidal Hifi on the Macbook today fed thru the Ayre.  Sounds pretty great. A stable setup will start being assembled today and hopefully get this party started right.

OK I have to change my mind on Roon. I spent the morning reinstalling my Roon Core and now it all works flawlessly. Since both Roon as well as my infrastructure has changed significantly since the las

Thanks for posting that, I'm all over $4  to get me thru July.

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I use FreeNAS + Roon + Raspberry Pi 4 or Audio Cast M5 or Apple TV.

The Roon Server runs on the NAS where the files are stored. I have lots of compute (Xeon E-2136), RAM (64GB) and disk resources (80TB) in a small form factor that lives in my closet. I use a Node 304 case, which is as tiny as you can get for this setup.

I use the RPI4 to connect to my SACD player which has a USB input that can do DSD, and the M5 for patio speakers and a portable speaker and ATV for everywhere with a TV.

I have one exception where I need something custom, which is the input to Metric Halo / Headphone rig. I am building an embedded device that will run full OSX and be the size of a RPI4 and can connect via Ethernet to the MH.

It all works amazingly well. Browsing around via the library via an iPad is fun and educational.

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You can also check the bluesound devices. One of the best interfaces in the market IMO and they have a unit with built in storage.

I've had the Node for some years now to use with LAN stored music and tidal and it is reliable, fast and easy to use.

I had tidal until recently but changed to spotify family plan. Easier UI, controls the amplifier and wifi speakers around the house directly and for casual listening I can't hear the difference between spotify and tidal. 

 

Edited by MASantos
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I've gone the SOTM 200 Ultra route, essentially a linux audiophool small computer built to only do audio. I run a Roon server connected to a network switch. I did this primarily to get the convince of Roon with better SQ. The Roon server sounds good but is not nearly as good sounding as the SOTM. 

For me Roon was the way to go to leverage my Tidal and Qobuz subscriptions. I'd cancel Roon but I'm on a package deal with Mike and Raffy. It just opens up so much more music to me and the Roon engine is pretty sweet.

 

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Rolling with Tidal Hifi on the Macbook today fed thru the Ayre.  Sounds pretty great. A stable setup will start being assembled today and hopefully get this party started right.

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Nate, another possibility is the Cocktail Audio N15 streamer.  Lots of services including Tidal, Qobuz, and Roon.  Has analog and digital outs, and a tray for a 2.5" drive.

There's one on sale for $399 if you (or if not you, others) are interested, I can send link.  I think there's a new "D" revision, the sale one is the old one in the Amazon link above.

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Because the old Tidal thread hasn't had a post in a long time and Nate's thread is more current and has had me thinking about moving on to something else besides Spotify...

I spent about 3 hours tonight directly comparing Spotify Premium and Tidal HiFi. Virtually zero difference in my chain. On a small number of tracks I detect slightly more precision in midrange (namely vocals) and bass (Spotify occasionally had more bloom and less balance)... but this was maybe 3-4 tracks out of 30+. I was all over the board on genre and compared Normal, HiFi, and Master levels of Tidal recordings. Made no difference. Not that my desktop rig is the end-all in resolution but I'd love to know what source gear would show significant improvements from Tidal's output. I'll keep the trial and go back a few more times but I guess I'm good standing pat.

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Yeah, I can't really hear the difference either, especially through my Equators, which are my primary source of listening these days (best $300 I ever spent).  That said, I still prefer knowing it's lossless over Spotify Premium, it's just a psychology thing to me -- if I think it's better, then it's better, innit?  I kind of wish I could convince myself that "bits is bits", but I suspect whenever I finally get around to putting together any of my better systems (Gallo 3.1 or Dynaudio Special Twenty Fives or JMLab (Focal) whatevers I have), I will be able to hear the difference.

But yeah, by all means, go with your own findings, they are the only ones that matter!

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Just now, Dusty Chalk said:

Yeah, I can't really hear the difference either, especially through my Equators, which are my primary source of listening these days (best $300 I ever spent).  That said, I still prefer knowing it's lossless over Spotify Premium, it's just a psychology thing to me

Thanks, Dusty. I suspect the 'reassurance' factor is playing a big role for many. My bias going in was actually to demand an enormous, obvious difference between the two to convince me to change. It's just not there.

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48 minutes ago, Aura said:

Thanks, Dusty. I suspect the 'reassurance' factor is playing a big role for many. My bias going in was actually to demand an enormous, obvious difference between the two to convince me to change. It's just not there.

Interesting. I was using IEMs (Dita The Answer) out of a Pico Slim back when Tidal came out. I'd say I could tell with over half.

I still have both, but use Tidal about 80% of the time. There is a site/service that lets you bring playlists over, and what I largely listen to on Spotify is a certain playlist. (It was easier on data when I was commuting as well; networks got bogged down some on the commutes home.)

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didn't Spotify not used to accommodate 320kbps? I seem to recall that being introduced maybe a few years back. i wonder if they hadn't improved the streaming quality prior to Tidal's introduction...

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I'd be hard pressed to think there's a huge difference between streaming services. I'm pretty happy with Tidal so far, ask me again when/if I start paying $20/mo for it. My office rig is good enough (I guess) that I can tell every time that Tidal switches to Normal from Hifi due to either random network issues or some other cause. So whatever is the final solution will certainly need to provide decent quality, I'm not going back to basic Pandora or You Tube for full time listening.

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I just sold a Sonore MicroRendu (old HW rev, old SW) for $250.  I just ordered all ^^^^^ for a little over $100, and I get Wireless included, which the Rendu's don't have....VERY nice!  Thanks Marc!

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2 minutes ago, skullguise said:

I just sold a Sonore MicroRendu (old HW rev, old SW) for $250.  I just ordered all ^^^^^ for a little over $100, and I get Wireless included, which the Rendu's don't have....VERY nice!  Thanks Marc!

Make sure to get a HDMI-Micro HDMI cable 😉

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