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 stand-alone mediaplayers

  • most of these boxes run Android
  • but I especially need to mention the NVidia Shield which might be the best video player of all, especially when running Plex on the shield and on the server


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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