Looks a lot like a Mac Mini to me. : ) Although at $99, it is a LOT cheaper.
I recently sold my Squeezebox and switched to a Mac Mini setup for my music. Couldn't be happier.
Interesting device. Might have to give it a try. I own two SB Touches running external DACs currently. Used Roku Soundbridges prior with same DACs. Sound quality has never been an issue for me.
Multifunction devices like this would indeed appear to be the wave of the future. Cool stuff!
So Slothman, sounds like you are finding sound quality via USB with this device to be the cats meow, better than prior SB Touch via S/PDIF? I might pick one up today just to hear if that is the case.
I haven't looked into this much, but it looks like a very interesting device. Does anyone know if it's able to run coaxial digital out of the headphone jack (like the Mac Mini)?
Mapman, I believe the biggest user base for this device are movie/video streaming buffs and that's where the majority of the support issues remain focused right now in the forums. I'm not a video/home theater enthusiast, so I'm just watching it play out.
I've only had the box for a few days and am still discovering its features. I had planned on just utilizing the TOSLINK connection into my EP9ES for my streaming apps, however USB audio support was a pleasant surprise. Granted I have only tried the Valab (which is arguably no slouch on redbook), but I honestly believe that it sounds as good or better than the SB Touch (<--on its own). I am unsure of what negative influences there may be on the digital signal of this device in its current configuration (chipset, firmware, power source, etc.) However, I am certain that one of the best things going for it is the fact that it is essentially a quiet PC.
I must say that I am impressed with the XBMC application. I am still learning my way around the interface, but it appears very solid and well thought out. Apparently the developers have recently done a serious upgrade to its audio capabilities, including high resolution support. I do need to dig deeper into the audio configuration options as there is a volume control within the application which I feel may be degrading. I am unsure of the optimal settings. I just installed the Yatse remote control app for XBMC. I had to add a few port forwarding strings to my router, but was easy to configure. This is an excellent app to control XBMC via smartphone or tablet.
Mapman, I'd say go for it. I've been more disappointed with more expensive cables. At least there are other features beyond 2 chan audio that this device could be used for.
If it supports USB audio, there should be no difference between this device and a Mac Mini. All the processor is doing is decoding FLAC files and then sending PCM data to the DAC. It may be less likely to be affected by EMI than a full computer as there is less power flowing through it and no fans, hard drives, or powerful video processing chips.
Do me a favor and plug it in and crank the volume while nothing is playing. I'm looking for exactly something like this as my computer is very noisy and leaks through a ton of EMI(not a ground loop, it's a higher whine and opening programs/moving the mouse makes discrete noises.). You can hear it with the volume turned up.
"I am unsure of what negative influences there may be on the digital signal of this device in its current configuration (chipset, firmware, power source, etc.) However, I am certain that one of the best things going for it is the fact that it is essentially a quiet PC."
That's an important thing and could well be it.
Even my old Roku Soundbridge (similar Wifi connection to remote noisycomputer, similar to TOuch) to external DAC sounded very good. I really did not notice a difference switching to Touch and I think my TOuch digital currently is still just about as good as most anything I have heard, at least on my main audio system.
"If it supports USB audio, there should be no difference between this device and a Mac Mini"
Actually, there would appear to be many technical differences between the two. ALso the price is way different. IS there a sound quality difference or other performance differences in the end? I would not expect much of one there in a normal scenario.
What other similar devices are out there these days? How about the newer Roku boxes? I always figured these would pick up for the old SOundbridges for audio among all the rest but was never quite sure and ended up switching to SB (which soon after also became history).
Binkleyc, I did what you asked and it was dead silent.
Lindstad, I'm not familiar with Mac gear at all, unfortunately. Perhaps you can find the specifics of this I/O on the Mac and compare it to what is detailed in the Datasheet linked above? A lot of it is Greek to me.
Mapman, I think the majority of these devices attempt to do a lot of things, just not one particular thing very well. The beauty of Android is that the majority of these streaming apps are well supported and feature rich in comparison to the other stand alone boxes that have shoehorned apps running on proprietary firmware. Also, you have the opportunity to reuse applications that you have already invested in. There's a lot of gear out there that is just starting to happen. I'm sure we will see a lot more based on response to CES.
Here's something neat. Apparently it may be possible on this MINIX device and similar ones to dual boot a trimmed down Linux OS and perhaps increase it's versatility further. Check out this link.
Hmm, I wonder which OS sounds better, Linux or Android? :-)
PErsonally I don't think it matters so much as that the whole concept is implemented well.
Awesome. The problem with Mac Minis and DIY servers is it is very hard to limit electrical noise. In my experience something bleeds somewhere. For instance, I read the Computer Audiophile guy is experimenting with using batteries for his server, as this eliminates any EMI generated by the power supply and totally avoids the issue of ground loops. Ground loops are awful and very hard to troubleshoot.
Android is not officially compatible with USB audio yet, but some manufacturers are implementing it. I know the Galaxy S3 works with some, but not all, for instance.
Ideally, one would like it to do video better, but honestly, I have a high-powered graphics card for gaming, and if you're an audiophile, you probably want the lowest voltage, lowest clock rate possible. I do not believe digital audio is affected by components unless there is a ground loop or other EMI bleed through. Once the PCM data gets to the DAC, there should be no difference whether that DAC is hooked up to a Mac, a PC, or any other device AS FAR AS DIGITAL INFORMATION IS CONCERNED. However, if the components are passing enough current, there is always a chance the analog portion of the DAC may pick up that current if not shielded properly, amplify it, and make that noise audible.
Ie., you just want well-shielded cables and components. No USB cable or optical cable will ever, ever change the sound itself (or imaging, the sweetness of the midrange, or whatever audiophile descriptive word you want). The type of computer doing the processing does not matter either. All the computer is doing is decoding and transporting digital information. Cables and computer parts will only allow or disallow analog electric noise. I will admit some may perceive this as changing the sound (it does, but only in the most literal sense - there's some noise.)
Oh also - I did look at the changelogs for XMBC (which I use) and they do now allow WASAPI output, bypassing the Windows mixer. So there should be no difference in the digital output of XMBC, Foobar or one of the pricey "audiophile" programs. I would like to see this tested though, I'm not sure how one would go about it. ie., grab the PCM stream on the USB or light-pipe and compare the outputs of the different software unless the software is doing something to it (like using a software EQ or what have you.) There should be no differences.
Can the Android box do 24/96? Also, can you create your own menus like Custom Browse?
In summary, this was all an exercise in music listening convenience for me and obviously NOT an audiophile quest. However, I do believe that devices such as these and the applications being developed are on the verge of further revolutionizing this hobby in a big way soon. After my initial experience with this (basic) media box, I can certainly see why Logitech decided to kick the SB Touch to the curb.
Since you don't have hi-rez files, I'm not sure this device is better than a Sonos device for convenience, though it is less expensive. I don't think it was these niche devices that scared off Logitech, but rather devices like Sonos that already have a decent market share and that work better and more intuitively that Squeezebox ever thought about...
Daverz - according to the manual posted in the OP, I believe the device does support 24/96, however I believe the current firmware does not. They do appear to be working diligently to address issues. They are about to post a 2nd firmware release that I have seen within a week of owning the device. They have been focused on addressing video issues above all else. I will be happy to see the high resolution audio and video issues be resolved, however in its current configuration I am able to listen to 100 percent of my preferred streaming services and redbook content.
Cruz123 - I'm sure the Sonos does a lot of things exceptionally well, and I wouldn't challenge that fact without ever using the device myself. I do have the Squeezebox Touch and (personally) prefer the convenience and interface that the MINIX device provides me. Also enjoy the fact that there are ton of apps available on Google Market to further enhance its versatility. Loads of fun with this device at this price point. I'm sure there are more to come.
I started dabbling with xbmc media server (on Windows) and using my android tablet to control it. Looks promising early on. Not quite ready to dump my Squeezebox devices yet, though I am interested in forging ahead to perhaps at least try a device like the MINUX. I also created a complete FLAC copy of my music library, which is currently mostly WAV, to dabble with and see how WAV versus FLAC shakes out with XBMC.
Regarding a device like MINIX to run a replacement on, my main concern regarding sound quality using an external DAC would be RFI noise levels associated with any general purpose computing device like this in close proximity to the rest of my audio gear. I have found a little physical and electronic isolation between computers and audio gear goes a long way towards delivering excellent sound quality.
This is interesting and see if I can get one to compare to my SB Touch.
Mapman, since you already have a Squeezebox Mediaserver setup, you could use the SqueezePlayer app to turn the MINIX into a Squeezebox. Then you should be able to still use any Squeezebox controller like SqueezeCommander or Logitech's app.
"Mapman, since you already have a Squeezebox Mediaserver setup, you could use the SqueezePlayer app to turn the MINIX into a Squeezebox. Then you should be able to still use any Squeezebox controller like SqueezeCommander or Logitech's app."
That's a really good point!
I use Squeezeplayer already on my Visio Android tablet, essentially turning it into a Squeezebox and/or SB remote controller, so not a stretch to use it on another Android device to make it a Squeezebox. In addition to existing remote controllers I already use (laptops and handheld PC via browser, android tablet via Squeezebox Controller or Squeezeplayer apps) I could then use SB Controller or Squeezeplayer apps on the Android media box using TV as display.
That would be cool....
I had not thought about it but I might buy stock in whoever owns the Squeezeplayer app. That solves the problem of hard SB devices no longer being made, as long as Logitech MEdia server continues to run. It may be able to control other media software servers now or in the future as well, which would be very nice indeed!
I would like to know what Valab model is working. Thank you.
I would like to know what Valab model is working. Thank you.
One of the earlier models from late 2009 perhaps. Valab NOS 8x TDA-1543 DAC. Sounds wonderful.
So I think it is using TENOR TE7022L as USB input receiver, right?
Should be almost the same as this:
Olmeda - I think the one I have is a previous model to that one. I may be off on my dates. There is no labeling on the housing that offers any more information. I do recall that there was an early version that did not have vent holes on the top of the casing (reviewed here
) and I think this model followed that one with 8 vents holes drilled into the top. Don't know if that helps.