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Old 06-13-2007, 07:46 AM   #1
Yuri_Rage
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Default DIY Wireless Streaming Audio

Extreme geek alert...and long post...

Because I only belong to one forum, and there are a lot of smart folks here, I figured I'd post this idea and see if there's any response.

The problem: I have amassed a HUGE collection of digital music, and it lives on an external hard drive connected to my computer in the office. I also have an Onkyo dual zone receiver, capable of providing an audio signal to both the living room surround system and outdoor speakers in the backyard. I have no link from the computer to the receiver, and the floorplan does not lend itself to wiring a direct connection. But, I want to play music from my collection through the Onkyo unit.

Possible solutions (from easiest to most difficult):
Just run the wire, and let it be ugly.
An FM transmitter.
Use the existing wireless LAN and connect SWMBO's laptop to the receiver.
Off the shelf wireless streaming audio equipment.
A DIY streaming audio setup.

Solutions I've ruled out:
Wire - it's ugly, and I'm not putting holes in any walls or doing any "fishing."
Laptop - it's a piece of crap, the battery is shot, and there's no good place for it to live anyway when it's connected to the receiver.
Off the shelf stuff - expensive, no fun, please don't point me to links where I can buy this crap.
FM transmitter - not entirely ruled out yet. I have two of them for the car, neither of which broadcast a clean enough signal across the house. I even "upgraded" the antenna on one of them, and it doesn't cut it. I've been looking at the FM-10, FM-25, and FM-30 kits from Ramsey. They're build-it-yourself kits that come complete with all the components. They seem like fun, and my neighbors would probably even benefit. The FCC actually allows for this sort of thing as long as it's under 1W, and you're not interfering with commercial broadcasts.

Why I want to build my own wireless streaming audio setup: I want to learn more about it, I think it'd be fun, it would work well, and it doesn't look all that expensive.

IF YOU WANT TO SKIP TO THE GOOD PART, JUST READ BELOW

So, here's my idea: I'll use XBee 2.4GHz modules to send/receive. A VS1002 or VS1033 decoder will do most of the work on the receiver side. I'll stream audio from the computer to the transmitter most likely via USB.

The bigger problem:
I know next to nothing about streaming audio and homebuilt digital wireless devices. Anybody wanna lend a hand?

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Old 06-13-2007, 08:07 AM   #2
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I should mention...

I'm not dead set on using tiny components soldered into makeshift project boxes. If there's a wireless router hack to do what I'm suggesting, I'm all for it.

EDIT:
I think this might be the ticket...

However...the article isn't all that great, and those routers are hard to come by. Ideas?

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Old 06-13-2007, 01:11 PM   #3
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Hey Yuri
I've been toying with the same idea, but to go one step further not only to I want to be able to listen to my collection which is stored on my Mac in the basement, I want to be able to control the play as well.
Unfortunately, to go that one extra step I've really been limited to networking a laptop so that I can see the playlist. Mac does sell a little gizmo that allows you to broadcast the tunes, but they don't let you control it.
I'm really interested to see what kind of ideas get posted.
With respect to the Ramsey kits, I actually had one many many many years ago when I was a kid, it worked well, but the sound was a little off because of the filtering inside - you lost a lot of thumping bass and the high tones as well. However, this was a long time ago, and I know Ramsey now has digital boxes which will very likely have really faithful reproduction...

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Old 06-13-2007, 01:29 PM   #4
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I have 2 of these:

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Simpl...oductDetail.do

It runs off the USB and does not require a wall wart...

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Old 06-13-2007, 01:56 PM   #5
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The solution I use is loading up songs onto an IPOD. I already had it and it's nice to have the music portable to any location, not just to the family room receiver. It would be pretty cool if someone would come up with a hardware based music player that would simply plug into an external drive. I'm sure it could be built because the mp3 decoders are down to chip level now. What amazes me is that people will still drop $300 on an Ipod dock when they have hundreds or more invested in a home theater system that they can connect with a $3 cable.

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Old 06-13-2007, 02:07 PM   #6
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I configured a Windows Media Center PC at my office. I can stream audio and video to every resource capable of playing music or movies from my server.

I played with this same idea at my home. I also have an older Onkyo amplifier that I paid a pretty penny for years ago. I researched several solutions on how to make the device a resource discoverable by Windows Media Center operating system. The main problem is how do you make the amplifier a network resource? I worked with a friend of mine that is a certified electrical engineer. We came up with a fairly good solution by wiring a 10 Base T card to the Onkyo and adding it as a wireless hot spot on my home network. However, we discovered quickly that even if the amp is a network resource we needed the operating system to recognize it as an “audio device” this in my case would have required more money than I wanted to spend on this solution. It also was not an aesthetically pleasing solution which was important to my wifey.

Final solution for me:

I bought a 30 GB Ipod at COSTCO and downloaded the thousands of audio files I had which by the way only took up about 8 GB. I plugged the IPOD directly into my amp's auxiliary jack and had it auto shuffle my music to all parts of my home.

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Old 06-13-2007, 04:01 PM   #7
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Thousands of files at 8gig? You must have them all ripped or downloaded at 128kbps sampling. You'd be doing yourself a favor if you re-ripped them at 256k. 128 really compresses the heck out of the high frequencies.

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Old 06-13-2007, 04:24 PM   #8
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Just a question to ponder.....If you are able to figure this out and it works....do you think that the audio quality will be good? I would think that since there are many companies that have spent lots o money/time engineering products like this...thats its more complicated that one may think. Anyways....if all else fails...(and I know you want to do this your self and learn about the process) i recommend Apple's Airport Express, I have had one for many years and its great. Good luck though.

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Old 06-13-2007, 06:26 PM   #9
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I fully intend to get a working solution with good audio quality. I don't plan on spending time, money, and effort on something that doesn't work well.

Thanks for a few decent ideas, fellas. I should have mentioned that I don't really like the idea of copying songs to a portable MP3 player, either. My music collection takes up well over half of a 300GB drive, and I want access to the whole collection.

Also, allow me to reiterate:

Quote:
Originally Posted by me
Off the shelf stuff - expensive, no fun, please don't point me to links where I can buy this crap.
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Old 06-13-2007, 06:58 PM   #10
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You could get a modded classic xbox with a wireless connection. That's what I [would] use (except it's wired [if it were wired]).

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