Media Soup

Part I - About
Part II - Components
Part III - Hardware
Part IV - System
Part V - Server
Part VI - Client
Part VII - Miscellaneous
Part X - Examples

Part I - About

1. Play!
2. Goals
3. How to play?

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1. Play!
 

You've got a PC, a home theater system, too many bad movies (or forgotten cult series) to ever watch, and neither disc nor file is swallowed by your over-expensive DVD / BlueRay player. And your neighbour's twenty years old stereo sounds better than your brand new 7.1 setup... That's the life of an over-enthousiastic multimedia enthousiast.

Good thing I'm not one of those :-)

Note that I am not a real audiophile either. I just cannot afford myself the money real audiophiles or movie fans are willing to spend on their setups... brrrr... Fortunately, discount, common sense, and lots of DIY will go a long way. What is an audiophile anyway? Here's a definition:

    An audiophile is someone who can hear differences among various components even when there aren't any.


Read this first

There are three rules that apply to everything:

  • The user defines the quality of the system
  • To each his own
  • There's always something better
In other words: if it looks or sounds right to you then that's the only thing that counts. And if your brother-in-law or the audiophile next door disagrees, then too bad!
 

Windows / PC centric

Not by intention, it's just the platform I am most comfortable with. However, I'll add other hard- and software where I am reasonably sure I know what I'm doing. (Perhaps all these pages should stay blank then? :-))
 

Examples

Once everything is done and working, I'll add a rough step by step guide. See the Examples chapter.


2. Goals

My goals:

  • Don't go overboard with money, use what I have
  • No 'serious' 'downgrades' when it comes to music quality
  • One (one) box that runs 24/7 and stores everything *
  • Simple enough to be used by kids and guests
  • One (one) server / system for music, movies, everything
  • Data accessible from multiple locations using multiple devices
  • Optional: remote access from the Internet
  • Preferably on Windows
Now I'll just have to figure out how to get to Nirvana. And I'm perfectly aware I will go too far somewhere down the road...

* Though I accomplished my goal (an I3 that does everything) I've since then split the tasks between an old server and have repurposed that I3 to become more of a HTPC / Steambox client. Reason: I didn't like the sound of the server when listening to some music or a good movie. If that doesn't bother you, or you have the money / intention to build a really silent HTPC, go for it. I know it's possible.


3. How to play...

Here are some suggestions / combinations / options for client and server software that I have considered, have tried, or actually use.


Music

Music on SqueezeBox

  • SqueezeServer - required to deliver streaming music to SqueezeBox devices
  • SoftSqueeze / SqueezePlay / SqueezeSlave - turn a PC into a SqueezeBox
  • browser supporting Flash - remote control a SqueezeBox
  • SqueezeCommander - remote control a SqueezeBox using an Android device, controller only (but better than anything else IMHO!)
  • SqueezePlayer - use an Android device as a SqueezeBox, player only
  • SqueezePad - remote control a SqueezeBox using an iPad, player and controller
  • iPeng Party - free app that only allows adding entries to the current SqueezeServer playlist, nothing else, good for parties though
  • ...
Music on PC and HTPC
  • foobar - music player (there are countless others, take your pick)
  • MediaMonkey - music player and conversion tool, comes in handy when copying music to mobile devices
  • XBMC - free all in one HTPC frontend, bit weak on the music side
  • official XBMC remote iOS - control XMBC using an iPad
  • official XBMC remote Android - control XBMC using Android
  • SqueezeServer - required to deliver streaming music to SqueezeBox devices
  • SoftSqueeze / SqueezePlay / SqueezeSlave - turn your PC into a SqueezeBox
  • ...
Music on iPad

I'm not using the iPad as a normal music player so I got no suggestions there. But... I do use it as a portable SqueezeBox and SqueezeBox controller. Unfortunately the iPad doesn't run Flash based interfaces, so you cannot use Safari and browse to your SqueezeBox server. Instead you have to use a dedicated app, but that seems to work better anway.

  • Logitech SqueezeBox - official Logitech software to control a SqueezeBox, not very reliable
  • SqueezePad - remote control a SqueezeBox using an iPad, player and controller
  • iPeng Party - free app that only allows adding entries to the current SqueezeServer playlist, nothing else, good for parties though
  • ...
Music on Android

I sometimes use my phone (BlackBerry or Android) as a walkman. But if you do, you might want to check out MediaMonkey and SqueezeCommander as they have good 'on the fly' conversion options.

  • browser supporting Flash - remote control a SqueezeBox (my phone won't run Flash but this should work if your phone does)
  • SqueezeCommander - remote control a SqueezeBox using an Android device, controller only
  • SqueezePlayer - use an Android device as a SqueezeBox, player only
  • if you want to use an Android device as a sort of SqueezeBox, you'll need both SqueezeCommander and SqueezePlayer
  • ...

Images

Images on PC and HTPC

  • IrfanView, or whatever you like
  • ...
Images on iPad
  • ImageBank - shows images from your server, either locally or over the InterNet, great when using an iPad 3
  • ...
Images on Android
  • BubbleUPnP - browse a TVersity server (and share images)
  • ImageBank - might work for you, didn't work for me
  • MediaHouse - browse a TVersity server (but you can't share images)
  • ...


 

Video

Video on PC and HTPC

  • XBMC + file server - easiest
  • XBMC + Serviio 
  • XBMC + TVersity
  • official XBMC remote iOS - control XMBC using an iPad
  • official XBMC remote Android - control XBMC using Android
  • VLC + file server - for troublesome files, not your typical integrated HTPC experience though
  • ...
Video on iPad
  • ServeToMe + StreamToMe - stream stuff from your server to your iPad
  • VLC - couldn't get it to properly handle audio tracks, unfortunately :-(
  • ...
Video on Android

Books

eBooks and comics on PC and HTPC

  • Acrobat Reader - for PDF files
  • MobiPocket - for .mobi files (should do .epub as well)
  • Calibre - the build-in reader should handle most formats
  • Stanza - haven't tried the PC version of this one yet
  • CDisplayEx - great for reading comics
  • ...
eBooks and comics on iPad
  • Stanza + Calibre - all regular ebooks, converted and served by Calibre
  • Stanza + Stratospherix FileBrowser - good combo for reading comics (only on iPad3, Stanza's zoom function is broken)
  • ...
eBooks on Android
  • iReader - to read MobiPocket files
  • Aldiko - to read all sorts of eBooks
  • ...




Other stuff

Other stuff for PC and HTPC

  • TightVNC - my VNC server and client of choice
  • mcwol - send WOL messages to a server
  • ...
Other stuff for iPad
  • Remoter - rarely mentioned but well working VNC client
  • mWOL - send WOL messages to a server
  • Stratospherix FileBrowser - browse your network, good combination with Stanza
  • ...
Other stuff for Android
  • AndroidVNC - VNC viewer, hard to use on a mobile phone but it does work
  • WoL Wake On Lan Wan (Ben Finnigan) - send WOL messages to a server
  • ...


Next page for all AV components...
 
 

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