Play music from laptop over WiFi to existing audio system: how?
I want to play music from my laptop to my existing stereo system over WiFi instead of a USB cable. I find plenty of systems designed to stream music from the Internet but I'm not interested in that. I want to play the music from my laptop. I also find plenty of USB DAC's but I don't want to have a USB cable. I also don't favor Bluetooth because WiFi offers my bandwidth and options. I looked at the Yamaha MusicCast WXC-50 and while I see that it can access files over the network using NFS (my preferred network file share protocol), it appears that in this case the laptop act as be a passive storage device. I am hoping instead to use the music player on my laptop to send music to my DAC/preamp as if it were connected by USB cable. But, of course, I want to do this wirelessly. Is there a solution similar to what I am looking for?
I have a an Onkyo P-3000R preamp / USB DAC. It is not WiFi capable. But I did not even find any WiFi capable preamps that will do what I want.
I am happy to add another piece of equipment and I would welcome recommendations. My file formats are FLAC (mostly) and some MP3 (when I cannot get FLAC). My Onkyo handles those and more, as does my laptop. I just need a WiFi connection to replace the USB cable. How?
Any wireless streamer, Bluesound, Auralic,etc will stream the files from your laptop just fine. That would be all you needed whatever streamer you had would be on your wireless network and on your rack and you just run a digital cable to your dac/preamp.
Save money. Use existing smart phones or tablets (don't buy custom streaming devices) and Install plex server on laptop (free). and create a library. Install plex app on a separate phone laptop or tablet (~$5 each). Connect digital out to dac and dac to pre-amp. Or use analog y connector from headphone jack to hifi/preamp input to use dac in phone or tablet. Cast from plex on laptop to device connected to hifi. Play music and enjoy. If you have another phone or tablet install plex app there too and use that as a remote controller to the device running plex that is connected to hifi.
> Connect digital out to dac and dac to pre-amp. Digital out of which device is to be connected to DAC? You are saying don't buy any device, so I don't know which device you are saying will connect to the DAC. Or are you suggesting installing Plex on a dedicated computer (like a NUC) and positioning that near the DAC?
@jondThanks for the mention of AURALiC. I am not familiar with them or Bluesound. It does look like a couple AURALiC products have the features I was seeking: AURALiC ARIES G2 Wireless Streaming Transporter AURALiC Aries Wireless Streaming Bridge
In particular, I would like the device to have a USB output that can be connected to the USB input of my DAC. However, since I am already happy with my DAC and all I am seeking is to replace the USB cable with WiFi, I don't understand what value the AURALiC products add that makes them worth several thousand dollars. There are $50 Bluetooth music receivers that support the aptX low latency protocol. Something like that would almost be sufficient, it seems, except they only offer RCA outputs and I would prefer WiFi instead of Bluetooth.
It seems that there should be a range of products in between these low end Bluetooth music receivers and the AURALiC Wireless Streaming products. The AURALiC products cost more than my DAC and I'm happy with my DAC. Apparently I do not understand the value-add of these products.
Check their web site. I believe it is available on linux.
You have to run plex server to host a library. Plex app or plex.tv in browser accesses Plex. With any home computer you can run both on same linux host and do usb digital or analog out from there. Or you can run plex app on any supported device and connect that to the server.
@mapman thanks for the tips about Plex. I see that the Plex server is available for Linux. Plex does look interesting and I will look into it further; but I cannot see how it solves my present problem. I still need a wireless connection to my DAC. The problem I have is where you said:
Connect digital out to dac
I am presently doing that with a 30 foot long USB cable and I wish to make the connection wireless. With Plex, I still have to do that -- or I could set up a small Windows NUC at my DAC and run the Plex player on it, but that's not the kind of elegant solution I'm looking for. It adds yet one more computing device that I have to maintain into my system. I like my present system and I mainly wish to replace a 30 foot long USB cable with a wireless connection.
I use an Ultra Rendu and a Schitt DAC with ROON software. The Ultra Rendu needs wired (CAT x) connection. But... I can use any computer on my network (wired or wireless) including my iPad or iPhone, to play music.
Audio engine maybe others sell wireless dac. Easy solution is put plex app on a tablet or similar device with WiFi near hifi and connect that to hifi. Then use a separate phone with plex app also as a WiFi remote controller. You have to connect something physically to the hifi unless it has built in streaming.
However, my existing DAC is better than that one. It seems that buying a new DAC just to get a wireless connection is not the smart choice. And going to a lower-end DAC to accomplish it seems even less desirable. Am I misunderstanding something?
Any wireless streamer, Bluesound, Auralic,etc
I’m not sure of the exact devices to look for. Maybe the Bluesound Node? This one by Auralic has a name that sounds right because what I had in mind was just a wireless transport, not a new DAC:
has to be an inexpensive way to get wifi to your DAC
My thoughts exactly! If I cannot find a simple and straightforward solution, then the next option seems to be something like this: attach a small computer (like a NUC or any other capable computer) to my DAC via short USB cable and then connect that small computer to my network. I have a Gigabit Ethernet jack available nearby, so it is no problem to make a wire connection. I also happen to have several small computers that are not being used for anything right now. They have Intel Core i7 CPU’s and will be performant enough to handle audio as well as any other components in my system.
Then I can run any client-server software: Plex and Roon have been mentioned. However, since I run Linux, I also learned that PulseAudio have this capability built in. So I don’t need any other software. There is also one more option on Linux: usbip. This is a client-server solution (part of the Linux kernel) which sends USB over the network. When set up, my DAC which is attached by USB cable to one computer, will appear as if it is directly connected (by USB cable) to the other computer.
All of these client-server solutions require connecting a small computer to my DAC (which I can easily do). I guess that will be my next step unless someone here has a better idea that is under, say $500.
I definitely do not have a good understanding of all the options, the tradeoffs, the benefits of some of the solutions already suggested, etc. So please feel welcome to educate me or point me to tutorials to read or whatever you think I need to learn.
The Yamaha you mentioned might do what you want. It is DLNA compliant so depending on your music player on the laptop you might be able to play from the laptop as well as from the Yamaha. For example with my integrated amp which is also a streamer I can either access media from the amp/streamer or from Jriver on my computer and play it to the streamer, I know BubbleUpnp will also do this . I am not familiar with the players you’re using. If your music player on your laptop can see DLNA media devices it should be able to play to them.
if you want something to try out until you upgrade get your self a google Chrome cast Audio like $50. it lets your stream from your laptop to it and out put from it to your Sterio. can use it from any smart phone as well. oh it outputs analog and digital Tos Link. and its tinny like a thick silver dollar.
@mental - OK, thanks. I'm getting a better idea of your suggestion now. However, that specific product, the D2 24-bit Wireless DAC, doesn't appeal to me because it involves a box connected to the laptop as well as a box at the DAC. While it is wireless, that box on my laptop will be like an anchor, defeating my goal. I want to stream wirelessly from my laptop using it's internal 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi radios (and without connecting anything extra that will make my laptop less mobile).
@tcatch - That's very interesting. I might buy it. Looking closely at it now. I wish Lightning DS was available for Android. But if I can play music using the music app on my laptop and send it to the Auralic mini, that is what I wanted to do anyway. So, to be sure, I can use my laptop connected to my home network via WiFi and stream music to my DAC through the Auralic mini, right? Also, I read that the retail price is under $500. So why is this used one $550?
Here's something else I just learned about: https://hifiberry.us/Those are not much more expensive than a Chromecast Audio and much more flexible. I'm not a big Google fan. It's amazing to see the price range of the various solutions. From almost nothing to over $2000. The HiFiBerry and the Auralic Mini both interest me.
If I was an Apple person, I think the Auralic Mini and the upgraded power supply would be a great choice. But not being able to (not wanting to) use one of its best features, the Lightning DS software, deters me from the Mini just a bit.
Also, am I right that that listing is a bit overpriced? The new price for the Mini is $549 with a 1 year Tidal subscription ($240 value). Without Tidal, the Mini is $399 (outside US). The power supply is $299 (I think). Without Tidal, it seems $550 is a bit high for a used one. Or am I wrong?
One interesting thing is that this shows the hardware I want can be built and it is in the price range I had in mind. Surely some other companies must build hardware like this too, and I'd like to find some of those offerings. Specifically, a WiFi enabled device that connects via USB to an external DAC.
So that gives me yet more reason to think about the HiFiBerry or even something a couple steps up from that. All these Pi solutions will let me run Linux, which is what I like. If the HiFiBerry sounds about as good as the Auralic Mini like the reviewer says, then it is by far my preferred choice over a Chromecast Audio too. Interesting thread. Thank you all for the ideas.
But I would imagine the audio quality of wifi connection would be
inferior to that of USB simply because of the unstable nature of
I cannot hear any difference. My WiFi handles up to about 1 Gbps. CD quality PCM audio over TCP/IP requires only 1.4 Mbps I think. I know it's not just bandwidth, but jitter that matters too.
I am using my PulseAudio "free" solution right now and it streams PCM audio over the network. It sounds the same as the USB cable to me. My speakers are Magneplanar 1.7i. My DAC is Onkyo P-3000R. WiFi playback has been flawless all day since I got this working.
It is wild that one can do this correctly and cost effectively so many ways using the right software on the right general purpose computing devices or buy expensive dedicated devices designed just for streaming that can cost so much more. I’ve found just use the right DAC that sounds good to you and good quality streaming software and you are in business with very high sound quality these days. Son much easier and cheaper than getting a good quality phono setup and keeping it that way. All my records and tape go straight to my music server when played these days and then they then get the nice retirement that they well deserve.
From my experience you have two routes depending of what it is you want to achieve. If you really mean that you want to play from your laptop to your hifi using wifi then products like Apple Airport can do the job. That is where I started. However, that means that your laptop or phone actually is playing the music, which is transferred to your HiFi. It eats battery and eventually your music stops if you for example see a video on Facebook.
A much better solution is using a streamer, which is connected to your router and your HiFi. In that case your laptop or phone is your remote control. You will need a streamer (transporter so to say) and a DAC that converts the digital signal to the analog amplifier. You will find solutions for this, which ranges from 100 to 10.000 $.
A requirement for me was that the streamer could do Tidal - you need to consider if such is a requirement.
I started off with a simple solution based on a Teufel streamer and a Musical Fidelity DAC. Total cost of 500 $. Recently I upgraded to Innous streamer and RME ADI-2 DAC. The intent still to stream Tidal, but use Roon as well. Total cost around 2.000 $.
@mtraesbo I do like the suggestion of using my laptop (or phone) as the remote control. I already have all the hardware required in that case. I do not even need a wireless streamer. All I need is the right software to make the phone or laptop act as a wireless remote control. Unfortunately, that is where I keep running into a roadblock because I don't want to get involved with any of the commercial solutions I have seen such as Roon. I want a solution that is totally local with no meta data or any other private information going to some third party. I'm checking to see if any of these options meet my requirements: 10 Best Media Server Software for Linux in 2018 https://www.tecmint.com/best-media-server-software-for-linux/ In regard to Tidal, some of the media servers listed at the above link offer it, but I don't need any streaming services. I will only be playing my own music which is stored locally. My "temporary" and free solution has been working well. It's the solution based on PulseAudio. It does stream wirelessly from my laptop to my DAC / preamp (Onkyo P-3000R). In that regard, it is not as good as your suggestion. If I can shift to using my laptop only as a remote control, then the next step I would like to implement is multi-room playback.
I can currently do multi-room playback with PulseAudio, but because it is streaming uncompressed PCM data to multiple rooms, I am having a few minor quality issues. I may be able to solve those, but I will still need a wireless remote control, as per your suggestion.
Alternatively, I might have to revisit my original idea, the Yamaha WXC-50 and their MusicCast system.
@lowoverdrive: for < $130 you can build your own with a RaspberryPi 3B+ ($40), HiFiberry Dac+ Pro ($45) as HAT, and all that in a HiFiberry steel case ($30). Throw in a few copper heatsinks for the RPi 3B+ board. ($5).
Then (all free): Volumio as your primary OS _and_ streamer/player, and BubbleUPnP for Android as your control point (or some other control point app - will talk to Volumio via UPnP/DLNA), and your existing laptop basically as NAS (or control point + NAS).
Fun lil'project, great network HW on the RPi 3B+ (Gigabit ethernet and 802.11ac wifi), Hifiberry DAC+ Pro hard to beat for ~$45, Volumio dead-simple ... and all kinds of entertaining and useful extension later (like: set up for multi-boot using Berryboot, then switch bet. Volumio, OSMC/Kodi as media center, and Raspian for all your Linux stuff).
Each room now has a laptop (connected via wired Ethernet), a USB DAC, a power amp and speakers. Here’s how it is organized.
- home network extending to each room, where I have:
each laptop which is connected to speakers runs:
one computer on my network also runs:
The above computer has all my digital music files too. I can control playback from any computer on my network, including a laptop over WiFi. I could also use my phone as a remote if I wished, but so far I haven’t felt the need.
The beauty of this approach is that it is very simple and very flexible. The simplicity surprised me. .
... I know about the RaspberryPi and HiFiberry Dac. I’m concerned that won’t give me the sound quality I’m seeking.
You may be right. But don't underestimate the
Raspberry Pi. When configured with the
Digi+ S-PDIF HAT and run into a high-quality outboard DAC, it can produce astounding results - especially for the money.
@usery> What DAC/s are they? Here are the DAC’s I’m using. I have a different one in each room:
Onkyo P-3000R (preamp + DAC)
Oppo UDP-205 (preamp + DAC)
Yamaha AS-801 (amp + DAC)
Focusrite Scarlet 6i6
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
Basically, I just used what I had. There is a large range of quality among my DACs. I have the best equipment in the rooms I care about most. (My speakers also range from inexpensive to Maggies + dual SVS subs in one room.)
I can imagine that the HiFi Berry DAC+ Pro might rival the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2. But I would be surprised if it is anywhere near the Onkyo or Oppo devices. (Of course, those devices are much, much more expensive as you and others pointed out.) Another drawback of my system (compared to the RPi and HiFi Berry DAC) other than cost is size. I did not have to buy hardly anything in order to implement this system because I had the laptops, DAC’s, amps and other equipment. I had enough to do multiple rooms. So cost was not a factor for me. But all these pieces of equipment are fairly large. I am interested in compact components that do not represent a compromise in sound quality.
I’m still looking for the ideal compact DAC and amp for some of my rooms. But I think I will continue to use laptops instead of the RPi. It is possible to buy very good used laptops on ebay for very little money, and these laptops offer much greater performance and, I think, a much better value.
Laptops are also very practical in that it is nice to have a screen and input method (touch screen or keyboard) in each room so anyone can easily change songs, playlists, etc., from any room. I guess most people today do that via a tablet or phone, but I could list dozens of ways in which having that laptop there in the room is much more convenient and flexible -- at least for me. While I could add my phone as one more remote control for this system, I have not found a need, and I see several reasons why I do not want to do that.
The laptops connected to DACs in each room are generally some I had originally purchased used on ebay.
However, I have a really awesome laptop that weighs about the same as an iPad Pro + keyboard or a Surface, but it is a regular laptop. It has an amazing screen and keyboard and I love using it instead of less capable devices. I can do anything on it, and being able to control my music with it is just an added bonus. If I did not have this laptop, I might use a phone or tablet.
I had people at my house this evening showing them the music setup. They were "amused" that I could be so excited about a text-interface music player running over an ssh connection. They called me "geeky" and I took it as a compliment. But I am still amazed that the "best" solution ended up being so simple. The cmus music player is pretty awesome. It reminds me that GUI’s are not always the ultimate way to interact with a computer.
The Yamaha A-S810 has the ES9010K2M chip in its DAC circuit - kinda the other (lower?) half of the ESS range (ie not the ’Pro Sabre’). That too may be better than the un-named TI/Burr-Brown chip on the HiFiberry DAC+ Pro HAT ... but again, at $45 this board is no slouch: check out Archimago's review & measurements.
Incidentally, the A-S810 was on a recent short-list of mine, before I swung up-market (Micromega M-100).
I stream Pandora and tidal thru my audioengine B1. I'm thinking of "upgrading" to a Bluesound node 2i. I believe I can use the DAC on my MBL player via Toslink. Will this upgrade sound quality or is this overkill running wireless thru a $9K CD / DAC unit?