This guest post is by William Bravin.
I would like to share my experience in building my HT environment with you.
I must pre-empt this blurb by saying I’m not an audiophile nor am I a computer wizard or rich.
Now that I am retired I have only 3 passions in my life besides my Family. They are; riding my motorcycle on long rides, eating good food, enjoying my media with friends and family.
I was happy with my HIFI Stereo architecture which include;
- McIntosh MC 7205 Amplifier
- Citation Pre-amp
- Thorens TD150 Turntable
- Magnapan Electrostatic Speakers
- A CD player and a VHS Player
- A laptop and a 1TB NAS
- Using Win Amp Pro and VLC to play my media
I have very eclectic tastes in music (3700 Songs mostly from iTunes) and videos (about 250 movies from VHS or DVD) and about 100 vinyl LPs .
I still need to load circa 100 CD and 75 more DVDs on the NAS.
All my stereo equipment is more than 20 years old and I love it.
Moving to a Multichannel Environment
However; now I want to move to a 5.1 environment.
This meant upgrading my Pre-Amp to a multichannel environment and getting a better solution to manage my Media.
Instead of purchasing a good pre-amp and a computer for my media and in an effort to save money I decide to build a HTPC.
I muddled over this for several months and laid out a roadmap for my Media Centre environment. I talked to friends, listen a lot and downloaded the free white book on building an HTPC from mymediaexperience.com.
Listing the Requirements
First I listed my major requirements which were: Play my Digital music, from my NAS. Play my LP’s, Play my movies and be able to continue to convert my VHS library, needed a preamp to manage my environment and continue to listen at the same to music with the same quality as I did with my stereo. Hence I needed both a digital and an analogue environment to play my media.
As I do not play many games I just needed a good Video card and or the moment I do not need to invest in 3D. However I did require a good sound card that would play both digital and analogue music.
Easily Upgradable and Silent HTPC
I needed an environment that would be easily upgradable and silent.
Hence these are the components I went with;
- Thermaltake Case
- Asus M4A87 TD EVO
- AMD Phenom 4 965 CPU
- 4 GB ram
- NVidia GTX 450
- M-Audio Delta LT1010 sound card
- WinTV tuner card
My media on a fully redundant Buffalo 4TB NAS via my LAN network.
This was the simple part of the build and now, the fun and frustrating parts.
Searching Media Management Software
As mentioned I use WinAmp (for my Music) and VLC (for my Videos) to play my media. I love that VLC can play any of my Videos and I loved the media management capabilities of Winamp. I did not want to sacrifice any functionality I already had.
I tried many of the more popular media centre SW. However I found that I always had to compromise on the functionality or on the ability to play all my media. Since I am one who likes things to be automated, I am always looking for better SW.
Introducing JRiver Media Center
Thanks to Tuukka at Media Experience, who introduced me to JRiver, which I Installed.
I find that it is playing all my media files and is fairly robust with the media and Meta data management.
- Good functionality
- Ability to manage large media files
- Very customizable it has the ability to manage playing through my M-Audio Card to my speaker and to play through my headphones through my on-board sound card (which is managed by a realtek HD audio driver managed by a Via audio management SW) with different audio playing configurations
- It has a theatre view and a data manipulation view to enable to TAG, edit files Sync with other devices and it is highly customisable ability to function very well with a mouse multi zone functionality, manage the volume levels by Song, album playlist and output device.
- Pricing policy
- Internal processes need to be harmonized and simplified
- File and Meta Data editing processes and integrations need to be improved
- Does not operate with all MCE RC6 remotes
- Long learning curve
- Minimal skin and plugin development
For now I love listening to my music from my system, watching the videos and picture from one environment.
By no means do I consider my experience or analysis with the JRiver MC complete.
However I will purchase the JRiver MC because it is a big step forward in my environment. However I will not only purchase the upgrades unless a substantial improvement is made to features and functionality.
My next steps in my HT development; developing multi zone paying capability, getting 1 or 2 powered front facing Subwoofers (Velodyne or REL), upgrade my Thorens with a SME 312 tone arm and a granite plinth better isolation and wiring, get a 60in LED TV (when they become cheaper) or a HD projector and Screen, update all my Video files to HD, finalise allocating all my music files into playlists and video files in genres.
About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest writer. You can find the details at the beginning of this post.