Advice for streaming setup only


Hello there, wanted to get into streaming audio so I signed up for the new Classics Online HD streaming service, which promises 16/44 to 24/196 resolution. Mike Lavorgna wrote a quick thing on audio stream about it.

The quick takeaway after 3 days is that it's wonderful and indeed good sound quality - the bad part is I'm getting lots of dropouts and glitches, so I want to get something dedicated to streaming.

I think that the service is not quite ready for prime time but I'm hoping they'll get it squared away.

So my question is - with a budget of $400-800, what laptop should I get to use as a dedicated streaming device ? I'm running it via usb into the DAC of my Marantz SA8004. Classical/opera mostly. Dedicated room.

My current PC laptop is old and on its last legs.

Actually I'd love to use a something other than a laptop but my understanding is that every network streamer still requires a computer in addition to the streamer itself - if I'm wrong and there's a one-box streamer that would be great.

My requirements are- 16/44 and above sound- compatible with Classics HD (which requires downloading Orastream from Classics HD) -

I won't do much downloading so no need for backups or large storage. I will not be ripping any of my current CD collection.

I'm not computer savvy at all, so any creative solution would have to be pretty easy to set up and maintain.

Thanks everyone
eljack
You can get a lot of info at computeraudiophile.com. Yup can also work w someone like Neal @'sound science who builds/sells the music vault line of pc based server/streamers. I'm a satisfied customer. You can also search the forums here and also look for posts by several members who are in that end of the business who are very generous w their knowledge. I think Ayre has a lot of info on their web site, too.
"I think Ayre has a lot of info on their web site, too."

The Ayre guide is very good. Dcs and Audioquest have good ones, as well.
I am using classicsonlinehd also and have had some similar problems. There 16/44 streaming works without any problems but higher rez like 24/96 or 24/192 has problems. They are working very hard to fix them and things are getting better. I am using on my main system a Lenova laptop into a Metrum Hex dac via USB. The laptop connects to the internet via a router using WiFi. This might be a source of the problem and they are looking into it. Actually if I were you I would wait a few months and let them sort it out.
Meanwhile I also use Spotify premium and it really sounds quite good and plays with no problems. They have a huge classical library
Alan
I've been on computeraudiophile and frankly it's simply beyond my understanding. I'm really just looking for advice for model numbers that are quiet, have good Wi-Fi, have the required USB connections etc. I'm really not looking to learn anything about how it all works, just looking for some advice about models, setups, etc.
In other words I'm not looking to learn how to build a watch I'm just asking what time it is. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and appreciate any help
Thanks Alan it did seem to get a little better late last night and the high resolution stuff was streaming better but was not showing up as high resolution at my DAC, which is strange.
Can I ask which model computer you use and whether the fan is quiet?

Also to the other posters I don't want to sound ungrateful so I do appreciate your responses but I have found that web searches do not help me because everyone talks about ripping their CD collection and listening to Pandora etc. and I don't want to do that. I have a very specific request and that is simply streaming this new high resolution service for classical thanks
Thank you for the comment about the music vault business. I believe this is not what I'm looking for as it seems to be focused on enormous hard drives and ripping capability and is 5 times over my budget of $400-$800.
Thanks for taking the time to respond it does look like an interesting product but not what I'm looking for for this streaming service

Maybe I should have skipped all the information and just said that I am looking for a really quiet laptop for streaming in the 400-$800 range
Eljack, while the service may be having start up issues, if you are using WiFi, some of the drop out problems might be related to the speed and signal strength of your wifi router.

If you can, try hard wiring via Ethernet , to see if there is any reduction in drop outs.

I invested in NetGears N900 (their top of the line router a few years ago) and immediately had an improvement in all my wifi streaming services.
Best Buy and Computmart in Walnut Creek, CA sell laptop computers in your price range. Any computer you buy should have plenty of memory. Please see the links below:

http://www.compumart.biz/machines.asp?type=laptops

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?id=pcat17071&type=page&ks=960&st=categoryid%24pcmcat247400050000&sc=Global&cp=1&sp=-bestsellingsort%20skuidsaas&qp=brand_facet%3DBrand~Asus%5Ecurrentprice_facet%3DPrice~%24500%20-%20%24749.99&list=y&usc=All%20Categories&nrp=15&iht=n&browsedCategory=pcmcat247400050000&seeAll=

I agree with Mallen123 above that using Wi-Fi could be causing the drops out. I also suggest you use a wired Ethernet connection for streaming (I do). Please note that I was NOT able to run an Ethernet wire to my computer so I connected my Apple MAC Book Pro Computer (any computer will work okay) to the Internet using an Ethernet over power-line connection (internet over your existing power lines). It has proven to be a very reliable connection. Connection problems are very rare. My video system, dishwasher and other home appliances do NOT interfere when I am using the Ethernet over power connection for my MAC computer.

I am using the Linksys PowerLine Home Plug AV Kit (PLSK400) rated at to 200Mbps (Ethernet over power). The Linksys PowerLine Home Plug AV Kit (PLSK400) lets you pass through the existing power lines in your home or office into a high-speed network. There are many other Ethernet Adapter brands on the market but the PLSK400 was highly recommend by a networking friend of mine.

You mentioned above that you are not a computer expert. I suggest you hire someone to help you configure your computer and connection to the Internet. This person should verify that your existing router can handle your streaming requirements and that your wiring is okay. It might be well worth spending the money to get the right setup. In my case, my previous router was causing my streaming connection problems. I switched to an Apple router but there are other high quality routers on the market for you to look at. You should ask the dealer that you buy your computer from what high quality router they suggest assuming the one you have needs to be replaced (I do not know).

I hope the above helps. Please continue to ask questions to help you through this process.
Thanks - I've hooked up directly to my comcast DSL router and it shows a constant speed of 100 Mbps. With Wifi it varies from 65 to 130 Mbps.
I think either should be plenty for this application but I don't know.
I should point out that this worked perfectly via my iPhone 5, right out of the gate. Setup took about 30 seconds and all my saved music was imported.
Reading through your posts, I may have some ideas for you.

"My current PC laptop is old and on its last legs."

That usually means the software is more of a problem than the actual hardware. I know that you are not very good with computers, but if you have all the original CD's that came with your computer, its not too hard to just reinstall your OS. That will turn your computer back to the way it was when it was new. Windows OS gets slower and deteriorates with use over time. Doing a reinstall on an older computer makes a very big difference. I'm just guessing, but I would say 70-80% chance that will fix your problem. The cost would be 0.

Another simple and free option to try would be to download and run a light weight Linux distribution from a CD-R or a usb stick. Its very easy to do, and your time invested would be no more than an hour or so. You mentioned that your iphone works OK. Apple bases their OS's off software that's very similar in nature. If you're interested, just let me know and I'll tell you what to download and burn to a CD so you can try it.

If you end up needing a new PC, go to Best Buy's web site and look at the Asus Transformer Book T100TAF 10.1. Depending on options, the cost will be around $300-450. It runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and has a full size usb port. What's nice about this computer is that the screen comes off and it works like a regular 10 inch tablet. If you need it to be a PC for more functions, just plug it back into the base.
Eljack, the off the shelf device most favored on CA is Mac Mini because it works well with asynch USB and because it is reliable as a 24x7 server. Since Classics online advertises it has Mac desktop software, you may want to investigate. Make sure that the tablet app they advertise will allow you to remotely control their program on Mac Mini.
Thanks everyone I appreciate the tips
why not just purchase a dedicated STREAMER?
MARANTZ
CAMBRIDGE
NAD
OLIVE
Its a pain (sometimes) and you need a little knowledge (you can muddle through using knowledge forums) but a PC is pretty awesome sounding, incredibly tweakable and still the most versatile solution. It streams, it rips, it downloads... all you need to do is get it to be dependable (ha, ha, ha) and sound good (a life long endeavor). But, totally doable and an interesting, educational and satisfying journey. And I already had the computer...