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Escient Fireball vs other solutions

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David Prall

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Here's a question for the "techy" folks. How many of you have utilized alternate methods for your digital audio library? I have been looking at investing in an Escient Fireball E2-x00. My wife is impressed with the easy access to our music library that it would provide with TIVO like searchability. I admit I like it too. Still, one concern that I had is the quality of the music even recorded on FLAC (lossless) format, as supplied by the DAC of the Escient units. If any of you currently uses the Fireball products, do you find that you are equally pleased with your library as served up by the HDD versus playing the actual CD in a decent single disk CD Player? One of my friends believes I should just build a Computer with a decent (audigy?) sound card and a video card that displays on the TV and use it as a music server, because it would be more cost effective. That does leave me wondering if there is a good software program that would work in a similar manner as the Escient though. Has anyone used this approach with satisfactory results?
 
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David Prall

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Hmmmm....does no one have any experience with the Escient Fireballs or an alternate/home-made music management system? :rolleyes:

SleepySurf: I noticed your system picture had something called a squeezebox and you have some network devices. Are you using a PC type solution for storing CD's?
 
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Peter Hogan

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David Prall said:
Here's a question for the "techy" folks. How many of you have utilized alternate methods for your digital audio library? I have been looking at investing in an Escient Fireball E2-x00. My wife is impressed with the easy access to our music library that it would provide with TIVO like searchability. I admit I like it too. Still, one concern that I had is the quality of the music even recorded on FLAC (lossless) format, as supplied by the DAC of the Escient units. If any of you currently uses the Fireball products, do you find that you are equally pleased with your library as served up by the HDD versus playing the actual CD in a decent single disk CD Player? One of my friends believes I should just build a Computer with a decent (audigy?) sound card and a video card that displays on the TV and use it as a music server, because it would be more cost effective. That does leave me wondering if there is a good software program that would work in a similar manner as the Escient though. Has anyone used this approach with satisfactory results?
Hi,
You can try perusing these threads...:

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=1920

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=540

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=981

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=764

HTH,
Peter
 

David Prall

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Thanks so much for your response Peter.... I'll peruse them now. :) I was beginning to feel unloved or unnoticed. :p
 

sleepysurf

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I'm using a Buffalo Tech Linkstation for file storage, and multiple Squeezeboxes in my home for streaming audio. I originally looked at the Escient Fireball, as well as the Macintosh version of that device, but didn't like the idea of having a (potentially) noisy device, with limited storage capacity, also requiring TV or expensive add-on display, in my listening room. The Slimdevices Squeezebox (and forthcoming Transporter) are totally silent. You can use ANY storage device/capacity you want, located remotely anywhere you want. For EASE OF USE, the Escient, or competing Olive server devices, are perhaps simpler, but not necessarily better. It all depends on how TECH LITERATE you are, re ripping CD's to FLAC, and configuring the software to work for you. Tons of threads all over the Net extolling the virtues (and weaknesses) of all these systems.
 

David Prall

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Thanks for your reply SleepySurf :) I have read all of the thread links that were provided, and am still left with a few questions hopefully some of you can answer. I originally looked at the Escient simply because the interface seemed nice. It pulled in all the album art and the song data from the web. And my wife actually LIKES the TV interface option for choosing songs. (We have DLP, so burn-in isn't an issue fortunately). Still here are my thoughts/questions after reading through the threads.

I am thinking of an Apple Cube married to an external HDD for storage of the songs, using ITunes (I think). I currently have a wireless router that I use with an Imac in my Library and my XPS laptop. The 2 PC's in the computer room are directly connected to the router. Anyway, the cube would give me a "local" PC that I can connect to the TV display (enabling my wife to use the Web as well). I'm thinking that ITunes will import album art and song title info from the network/web, and I'm guessing that the Squeezebox software is able to access all of this from Itunes. But, I'm a bit confused on how you would search your library with the single line Squeezebox display. Is it like going through levels of menu, ala the Ipod type method of access? Also, since the TV would actually have connectivity to the TV, is there any benefit (ie viewing cover art, etc) to using the Squeezebox software directly from the PC? It would be convenient to be able to burn CD's from my collection, though I don't know if you can burn the standard/native audio format playable in any CD player using ITunes. Thanks in advance! :cool:

FYI: All you experienced people can't be wrong.... I just placed the order for a black wireless squeezebox, with faith that you guys can help clear up ANY questions I might have. :D
 
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sleepysurf

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To be honest, if you're already Mac/ITunes-centric, and plan to have an Apple/High-capacity hard drive in your listening location (also connected to a TV), you probably don't need a Squeezebox. You can use ITunes to rip your CD's to Apple Lossless files (ALAC format, like FLAC), and then use Airport Express to stream to your stereo setup, or conversely stream right from the computer to one of the new outboard DAC's featuring USB connectivity. Ipods will play Apple Lossless files (albeit fewer song capacity), so you wouldn't need to convert from one format to another.

Fortunately, Slimdevices offers 30 days money-back, so you can play with it a bit to see if you prefer that approach. You can still use ITunes as your "Ripping and Song File Manager" if you wish, instead of the more tedious (but arguably more accurate Exact Audio Copy program).

Do a Google search with key words "Squeezebox and Apple" and you'll get a ton of informative links.
 

David Prall

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SleepySurf

I'm not fully decided on whether to buy an apple cube, or conversely just build a windows PC to house the files and leave it upstairs. (I have an awful lot of old early P4 nearly complete systems around that would probably work by adding a high capacity drive(s)) I did PC support and am a gamer, so I upgrade frequently. hehe And, Im not necessarily married to ITunes per se either. I'm just familiar with it. If the software that comes with the Squeezebox has sufficient functionality for the task It would probably be fine too, since I'm going to be loading the library from scratch anyway. If there are other programs that might be better suited, I'm open to that too. So, nothing is carved in stone yet :) Except perhaps that I did opt to order and use the Squeezebox, I'm still open to suggestions as to the best software/hardware appoach you/others might suggest. And, I like the idea of later adding additional units to give my bedroom and library stereo access to all my music files as well. So suggest away! :D

Incidentally, I only have one Mac in the library cause a friend of mine sold my wife on it's many virtues...(it looks good, and its even occassionally turned on a few times a month). But that's compared to 3 PC's and a P4 laptop that gets used almost daily.... so I'm not sure that the Mac/ITunes-centric part really applies to me. <grin> I always build my PC's instead of buying them off the shelf cause I'm too picky about the components. (IMac and laptop excluded of course) .............oh, and I really do appreciate your help with this new "project" I've committed to. ;) ....did I mention I'm originally from Tampa?.... lived North of Fletcher off of Rome. My best friend and most of my family still live there. :)
 
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Taz

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I started with itunes and airport express, I think you will be happy with the SB. IMHO It has better sound and easier setup and more listenning options. Down the road you can add and external DAC to real take it to another level.
 

sleepysurf

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If you've already ordered a Squeezebox... you might as well download and install Slimserver and Softsqueeze (free, fully functional Squeezebox emulator), and start familiarizing yourself with the options, maybe even try some plug-ins (I heartily recommend AlienBBC, which gives you access to all BBC streams, and most NPR streams)...

http://www.slimdevices.com/su_downloads.html

Slimserver isn't as slick as iTunes, but it's open source and multi-platform, with an incredible developer community adding new functionality at a brisk pace.

Also, if you REALLY want a graphical interface/remote, many folks are using the Nokia 770 Wi-Fi Tablet as a Squeezebox remote. There is even a Slimserver "skin" available for it.

Lastly, it's nice to know we'll soon have a "triad" of Tampa-connected ML/Squeezebox fans (you, me, and Craig). Any others lurking out there?
 

TomDac

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Great thread...

Hey guys,
great thread... I've been looking at a device such as Squeezebox/Roku/Sonos. The Sonos looks cool, but I'm leaning towards the Squeezebox with a Nokia 770 to control it, which IMHO would be better than Sonos because A. It's open source so there are lots of plug-ins for it and B. the Nokia is made to surf the net, therefore it can do more than the Sonos remote...

Sleepysurf, you seem to be the most knowledgeable person here regarding the Squeezebox... Have you used a Nokia 770 to control it? What are your thoughts on this? I've done some poking around on the SlimDevices forums and it looks pretty promising...
 

sleepysurf

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TomDac said:
Sleepysurf, you seem to be the most knowledgeable person here regarding the Squeezebox... Have you used a Nokia 770 to control it? What are your thoughts on this? I've done some poking around on the SlimDevices forums and it looks pretty promising...
No, I actually haven't seen the need thus far, but it's certainly tempting. Right now, I find the Squeezebox remote more than sufficient, especially since I've assigned "favorites" to all my Internet Radio streams. For creating playlists I just use the Slimserver interface on my laptop. I'm waiting to see what improvements Slimserver 6.5 brings to the table.

And as for the Red Wine or Bolder mods... there are lots of "believers" on Audiocircle.com (and elsewhere) singing the praises of BOTH. Rather than go that route, I bought a Benchmark DAC-1, which IMHO, gives my system a little more flexibility rather than modding the Squeezebox itself. No doubt the Transporter might cause folks to re-think the modding or outboard DAC route. Time (and listening) will tell.
 
T

Taz

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TomDac said:
Hey guys,
great thread... I've been looking at a device such as Squeezebox/Roku/Sonos. The Sonos looks cool, but I'm leaning towards the Squeezebox with a Nokia 770 to control it, which IMHO would be better than Sonos because A. It's open source so there are lots of plug-ins for it and B. the Nokia is made to surf the net, therefore it can do more than the Sonos remote...

Sleepysurf, you seem to be the most knowledgeable person here regarding the Squeezebox... Have you used a Nokia 770 to control it? What are your thoughts on this? I've done some poking around on the SlimDevices forums and it looks pretty promising...
Tom I have used a pda and a laptop from the deck and it works great, Your Nokia should work just fine.
 

TomDac

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just pulled the trigger and ordered the Squeezebox...

My McIntosh MCD205 MIGHT be up for sale very soon.. :)
 

David Prall

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Just pulled the trigger

TomDac,

You'll have to tell me what you think once you have yours up and running. I opted to buy an external HDD and connect it to the IMac in my library for housing all the music. I've only been able to load about 30-40 CD's so far (busy weekend), but the installation and getting the SB up and running was very straight forward and I didn't hit a single snag. It essentially set itself up once I had the HDD mounted and the software installed. I am using the onboard DAC and using R/L out directly into the Krell. I haven't had time yet to do any A/B comparisons in terms of CD versus SB, but I was pleased nonetheless with the sound I got listening to the few albums I was able to listen to through the SB. I may not have the ideal set up for trying to compare though, since my CD player is connected through my receiver, and though it's only a pass through, it means there's extra cables between my source which may make a difference in the sound. That and the Logans are so new to me that I haven't been able to hear all my music through them 1st before they were loaded on the HDD. I'll keep you posted though. :)

So, first impression....... VERY nice :D
 
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