Background Music from the Junkpile

 

Abstract

A lo-fi system put together from “unwanted” junk. 😀

Background

Various changes and upgrades to the other music systems saw several bits and pieces relegated to the junkpile.  I figured that these could be put together to do something useful.

Old stuff

Networking it

This is verbose, but it puts to rest an internet myth about it being “impossible” to network so-called “high res” stereo wirelessly:

I couldn’t get a cat5e cable from the router across to the N-50 in this area without creating a trip hazzard.  It’s about 10m away from the router and across three plasterboard walls.  The N-50 has an RJ45 network input only.  Pioneer provides an optional wireless LAN converter, but a Netgear WN3000RP wireless range extender can do the same job.  This is a very basic 2.4GHz single channel model.

Some tests found that the Netgear range extender (in the wanted location) could deliver 10.3Mbps via its RJ45 to a connected laptop and this seemed to be enough, since the highest live bitrate I’ve seen displayed by JRiver was around 6300Kbps for a stereo standard compression FLAC stream.

Time to connect the N-50.  It appeared promptly under JRiver’s “Playing Now” over on the music server PC, so I played a 192/24 stereo FLAC and it worked.  If it didn’t, the next test might have been a power line network bridge, but that would be a problem because all of the RJ45 outputs on the router are taken already.  An extra hub would be required.  Too expensive.  That FLAC was 50% compressed by DVD Audio Extractor, but I recalled that some 176/24 FLACs converted from DSD with Korg Audiogate showed a higher bitrate (often over 6000Kbps), so I tried some of those and they played perfectly as well.

The N-50 displayed everything correctly on its front panel and played everything smoothly.  I looked under Task Manager in Windows on the music server PC to see that only around 0.6% of the Gigabit network bandwith was being used which tied in with what JRiver was displaying.  The trace looked the same as it did when the N-50 was wired directly to the router before trashing it.

If WAV (or idiotic uncompressed FLAC) of similar bitrate and bitdepth needs double the bandwidth (12,000Kbps), then it would certainly have hiccuped.

The extender had to go back to its original place, so I found the same model used on eBay for $30 and snapped it up.  Its wireless access point is disabled since only the RJ45 connection was needed.  🙂

Cheap range extender

So not only can you stream 50% compressed stereo 192/24 FLACs wirelessly across 10m through three plasterboard walls, you can do it through a repeater as well!

The Concert VII’s passive crossovers had previously been modified for active bi-amplification, so they were reverted to fully passive:

Killer bass!

They’re actually good speakers.  I shouldn’t be too critical of them.  They pack a solid punch for sure and seem to thrive on all that power of the Class-D amp.

Overall sound

Well, it’s a bit all over the house really due to the way the speakers face, so I won’t be running any impulse response measurements!  🙂

Addendum!

About 6 months after finishing this page, the playback started to skip on high data material (e.g. Carlos Kleiber’s Beethoven Symphonies 5 and 7 at 176/24).  Turned out there was interference on my WiFi channel. 😯 A pesky neighbour got a new WiFi router that was interfereing.  How very dare they!  Switching to another channel didn’t help, so I removed the WiFi extender and replaced it with a pair of EoP thingies.  Like this:

EoP thingie

The other one in the study.  These things are also a big compromise, have throughput nowhere near their claimed link rate and are difficult to get working in a stable manner.  That middle LED (link rate) must shine green (to indicate a link rate greater than 80Mbps) or else there are drop-outs despite the fact that the required throughput is much lower (less than 8Mbps)!  Turned out that the other one had to be in a very nearby power point (probably less than 20m of house wiring away).  Anyway here is a view of Windows Task Manager during playback of the Karlos Kleiber album (using a different power point, the middle LED shone amber and it dropped out with giant zig-zags appearing):

throughput

At 7.3Mbps that looks the same as if Cat5e were being used.  You wouldn’t want to push it much higher though.

I give you good price for zis junk.

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