Software media client - help appreciated!

Posted by: cb919

Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 12:49 PM

A question for you technical experts out there:

I am looking for a way to stream media from a media server on my network to my PC/laptop over my network. Is there a free software package out there that allows this?

My setup is as follows:
DNS-323 NAS box with built in UPnP media server/iTunes server
All files are stored on the DNS-323

My PS3 streams from the built in UPnP server no problem.
My iTunes accesses the built in iTunes server no problem.

However I am starting to convert to .flac for audio files and of course iTunes does not support this. So I am looking for a software based media client that can tap into the generic UPnP media server functionality for easy access to ALL of my media files. That way I can eventually ditch iTunes and all of its limitations.

I can just 'brute force' point to specific directories on my network to get files to play with VLC or some other generic media player, but that does not provide the more elegant functionality of a client that accesses the cache of all artists, formats etc...

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Edit - Ooops, should have mentioned this is for Windows XP.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 01:43 PM

I think either MediaMonkey or WinAmp will work just fine. But you might have trouble accessing the iTunes files until you remove the DRM and convert them to FLAC or MP3 (I recommend spending the money on AudialsOne software).

You could also try the software version of Squeezebox (softsqueeze). Although I'm not sure if your NAS box would accommodate the required server-side software. You might be able to have that reside locally, though (I don't think that slimserver and the library have to reside on the same physical machine).

I used Winamp, but I know Dean and others really like MediaMonkey.
Posted by: cb919

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 01:50 PM

Thanks Tom, I used to use Winamp a long time ago - guess I'll give it another shot. Any tips for getting it setup to find and use my UPnP server?
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 01:51 PM

Not true, Tom. He'll have trouble accessing music purchased from the iTunes store before the time they themselves removed all the DRM. Music ripped into iTunes has no DRM, and music purchased as iTunes Plus has no DRM.
Posted by: cb919

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 01:58 PM

Thanks, but i have no DRM'd (aka iTunes Store) music to contend with. Almost everything I have is ripped directly to mp3 from original disc (but now starting to toy with .flac).
Posted by: EFalardeau

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 02:17 PM

Check Firefly. It is the most iTunes-compatible server and likely supports FLAC files (could require an addon).
Posted by: Murph

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 03:48 PM

WinAmp Remote also allows you to extend the reach of your media to the outside world. I use it to listen to my entire 4500 song music library from my work laptop at the office or on the road.

So far, I haven't read about any exploits on the port it opens up so I felt safe with that tiny pinprick in my home firewall.
Posted by: cb919

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 03:49 PM

Cool, I have a few options to try now. I have installed WinAmp and it seems to be working, though it is a different solution than I was originally looking for.

I was originally thinking of a 'thin' client that would just talk to my UPnP server (like the PS3 does) and take advantage of all the cached info there. Winamp worked by making it's own local cache of my shared network folder (took an hour or so), but not by being a client to my pre-existing UPnP server.

I'd still be interested if anybody knows of a true 'thin' client solution. However I am rolling with Winamp so far.
Posted by: cb919

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 04:35 PM

Murph, must've posted at the same time as you.

Wow, that's a really cool feature I am going to have to try. I usually try to keep duplicate libraries at home and at the office. Being able to just tap in and stream from my home content would be sooo much simpler.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/16/09 07:19 PM

I just keep my offsite backup at the office. \:\)
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/17/09 01:59 PM

Asking what may be a dumb question, since I'm re-ripping some music into ALAC. I'm a bit 'stuck' w/ the convenience of iTunes so I can't use FLAC. Whenever I get the chance to Rockbox an old iPod, I may go FLAC.

If you are streaming, will you really tell the sound quality difference with FLAC vs AAC/good MP3/ALAC?
Posted by: Murph

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/17/09 02:51 PM

Good question.

I am constantly thinking that the somewhat compressed streaming from my PC to the PS3 to M60s sounds inferior compared to a PS3 played CD or even when when I stream from same PC (but pure digital) to my Squeezebox and my upstairs M60s. This leads me to believe that there is indeed something different between the streaming of MP3s (or flacs using Tversity) to the PS3 vs. a more direct means.

All that being said, I've never been able to do a proper comparison but that is what my brain tells me and it's hard to shake. Although I use it all the time, I never stream from my PC for a serious demo of my speakers, even if it is probably just paranoia. I will use the Squeezebox for a demo though. Mental or not, it just seems better. Admittedly the room is acoustically better sounding than my small, square PS3 room.

When I stream via Internet to my laptop, wherever it might be, I'm just running cheap earphones and don't expect much anyways. It actually sounds not bad when your not expecting high end quality and cheap head phones are often more forgiving to compression than better systems.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/17/09 02:51 PM

I wouldn't expect there would be a dif between FLAC and Apple Lossless (I assume that's ALAC?). By definition, they're both lossless. Didn't we have this discussion in another thread?
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/18/09 01:51 AM

 Originally Posted By: kcarlile
I wouldn't expect there would be a dif between FLAC and Apple Lossless (I assume that's ALAC?). By definition, they're both lossless. Didn't we have this discussion in another thread?


There probably was a discussion but I think I stayed away from that one. I've been re-ripping to ALAC because I've got back into head-fi and I have a few headphone amps I'm testing out to see which one I'll keep. I'm using Grado 325i's, waiting for a limited edition Grado to be shipped.

I'm w/ you, not sure if I would be able to tell the difference between FLAC and ALAC. But I can guarantee you, there are folks on head-fi.org that'll claim that they can. Maybe they can, maybe they can't. Who knows. I know that I can't. I tried to A/B a 320 Kbps MP3 and the same song ripped to FLAC. Could I tell the difference? I 'think' I could but it was so minor that if I wasn't paying attention, I probably wouldn't notice. But my iPhone notices, because the files are sometimes 3x the size.
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/18/09 01:55 AM

Murph
Does TVersity transcode on the fly or does it stream the native format? That might be an explanation.

I use a video client streamer for my Tivo called pytivo that allows me to play vids from my Mac on my Tivo. It transcodes on the fly. Wonder if TVersity does the same.
Posted by: Murph

Re: Software media client - help appreciated! - 07/20/09 12:43 PM

TVersity figures out what your end device can handle then transcodes only when required. There are options to make it do it all the time, automatic, or never. Of course, never means you are limited to the end device's limits. I've never gone back to play with it much.