It is currently Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:40 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: my first silent media jukebox
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:50 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:51 am
Posts: 2
Hello,

After reading a lot about silent pcs at this forum I hope I'm finally ready for building my first own media jukebox that replaces my cd and dvd player in the living room.

I have collected a list of needed hardware components. This list is a result of what I have learned from the impressive knowledge on this forum. Further below you will find the requirements I put together during my "planning phase".

I thought I post everything here, maybe other people with similar requirements can benefit from it. After the PC is finished I will also post my results regarding noise, heat, performance and conformance to my requirements.

Please feel free to review and comment!

Hardware Component List

Possible problems
    The case has an external power supply (60W DC to DC adapter). I am not yet sure if this is enough power. It should because both the motherboard and the hard drive don't draw a lot of power.

    The motherboard has a CPU fan. If this fan is too loud I should be able to replace it with a more quiet one. Maybe it is even possible to passively cool it.

    The harddrive should be very quiet. If it is too loud it should be possible to put it in a detached Silentdrive to quiet it.

    On the motherboard is one PCI slot left. If the tv-out of the epia is not good enough this slot could be used for a graphics card with a better tv-out (Matrox G400).

    The infrared receiver must be placed in the line of sight of the remote control. I need only one USB port and no audio ports at the front of the case. Maybe the infrared receiver can be placed there after some modding.

    The s-video to cinch adapter is used for tv-out. The standard cinch tv-out of the epia is used as an SPDIF port in my configuration, so only the s-video port is left. But my tv needs a cinch connection. Hopefully the adapter will not degrade the video quality.

    The only requirement below that could create problems performance wise is DivX with AC3 audio. If it does not work properly this is not a "show stopper", because it is not that important to me.

Requirements

This pc will be located in the living room. It must be very quiet, almost silent. It should blend well into the living room environment so a HTPC-Case will be used.

For video it will be connected to the tv, so the graphic card needs a tv out with good quality. For audio a digital home cinema receiver is used. To connect the pc to the receiver a digital SPDIF or optical out is needed.

It will be controlled by a infrared remote control and a small wireless keyboard with a integrated track ball or touchpad. This means a infrared receiver, connected to a serial/parallel port and ps2 mouse/keyboard ports or a usb port for the keyboard.

It will use a wireless lan for networking, so a wireless ethernet card is needed.

From time to time a hard driver mp3 player and a digital camera will be connected to the pc both using USB. These USB ports should be accessible at the front of the htpc case.



The tasks this pc will be used for from most important to less important:

    Play and stream mp3 files (multi room audio finally!). All encodings and bitrates. For audio streaming a 54Mbit wireless lan with WPA encryption will be used.

    Manage a library of around 3200 mp3 files. Encode and tag new CDs, search for songs by ID3 tags and create playlists.

    Play DVDs. The audio will be passed through unchanged to a home cinema receiver. There will be no need to downmix the audio to two channels.

    Play audio CDs.

    Show pictures. These are jpeg files shot with a digital camera at fairly high resolutions, e.g. 1024x768 pixels.

    Play DivX, XVid, etc. The pc should be fast enough for showing movies with ac3 audio that will be passed through to a home cinema receiver.

    Web browsing, email, rss news feeds.

The tasks this pc will not be used to:

    Gaming
    Video streaming
    TV Broadcast Receiver, Timeshifting etc.
    DivX Encoding
    DVD/CD Burning


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 7:56 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 12:36 pm
Posts: 320
Location: USA
Here's the IR keyboard I chose. Has an eraserhead not trackball, but is meant to be used handheld, on a table, or in your lap...and the price is right.

The VIA EPIA appears to be just powerful enough for your intended use and it certiainly is low power and compact, but it wouldn't be my first choice for the following reasons:

1. Embedded VGA only, no PCIE or AGP, thus upgrade video adaptors limited to legacy PCI cards.
2. Marginal power for video encoding and as you pointed out divx/xvid decoding.
3. Only one PCI slot.

All depends on what you want to do with the HTPC, but there is a huge text legibility/picture quality benefit to HDTV as a HTPC display, and the best quality is via a direct digital connection, i.e. DVI to a compatible display device like DLP, plasma, LCOS. IMO, the missing link for HTPC's (at least in the US) at this time is the lack of a cable card device so that the PC can act as a HDTV tuner/decoder/PVR for cable and satellite HDTV in addition to OTA. As legal DRM issues are resolved, I expect this technology to become available for the HTPC and I would like my HTPC to be ready, i.e. powerful enough.

But that said, for the usage you have identified, your configuration appears to be very well conceived. By using a laptop drive, elastic suspension should be easily achieved.

What software are you planning to use, XP Media Center Edition 2005 requires DX9 compliant graphics?

Streaming mp3's on your network may result in variable delays between playback devices, have you considered this and/or found a synchronizing solution?

Regarding web browsing and other text usage, a digital moderate to hi-res display will make your experience much more enjoyable. I assume you are in Europe from your comment about cinch adapter, and I have no idea what TV resolution you plan to use or have available, perhaps some additional info would be helpful.

_________________
Luddite w/ old-skool P4 desktop rigs, incl. custom home server w/ 8 fanless/trayless hot-swap SATA bays in a mid-tower case w/ single 120mm fan.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:11 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:51 am
Posts: 2
bomba wrote:
Here's the IR keyboard I chose. Has an eraserhead not trackball, but is meant to be used handheld, on a table, or in your lap...and the price is right.


This keyboard looks very interesting to me. But I was not able to locate a dealer in germany who sells it yet. Maybe after some more searching I can find one.

Quote:
I have no idea what TV resolution you plan to use or have available, perhaps some additional info would be helpful.


You have identified the weakest part of my setup ;-)

I only have an old 4:3 analog tv. The connection I must use is composite video. The jack is called RCA port in the US I think. Here is a short description http://www.monstercables.com/hookup_learning/csg/standard_tv/standard_tv.asp.

I don't plan to buy a LCD TV for another 1-2 years until HDTV has been established in mainstream consumer products and the tv networks are broadcasting a lot of movies in this format. The new LCD TVs are HDTV ready but as you said, support on the computer side is missing especially if you want to watch pay tv over cable. Because a LCD TV is such a big investement I don't plan buy a LCD TV only for the better digital connection between the HTPC and the pc. Only the added value of HDTV over cable would get me going.

1-2 years is a long time in terms of computer products, so I thought when I replace the tv I will also replace the motherboard of my HTPC with one which is able to use a HDTV DVI connection and which is fast enough for high quality decoding of the HDTV movies.

For analog tv-out the matrox g400 (legacy :-) ) graphics card is highly recommended. It is supposed to have one of the best tv-outs ever made. This should improve the tv-out quality enough to get a decent picture quality if I have a problem there. It is not manufactured anymore so if I must get one I must do it fast especially because as you pointed out only a pci card will do.

Quote:
What software are you planning to use, XP Media Center Edition 2005 requires DX9 compliant graphics?


I am planning a windows xp based system.

XP Media Center Edition 2005 was on my list to evaluate. Actually as the first system to try. I always thought it should be possible to install DX9 with any graphics card? There will be no hardware acceleration with a legacy graphics card though.

Other systems on my list are myhtpc (http://www.meedio.com/ and mediaportal (http://mediaportal.sourceforge.net). If everything fails I will put together a system of unrelated software for mp3 playing / streaming, dvds and divx.

Quote:
Streaming mp3's on your network may result in variable delays between playback devices, have you considered this and/or found a synchronizing solution?


Ooops. I was not aware of that. This is a software problem though. Hopefully I can sort this out when I play around with mp3 streaming. Now I wonder how the squeezebox (http://www.slimdevices.com/index.html) or the roku soundbridge (http://www.rokulabs.com/products/soundbridge/index.php) are able to do multi room audio. The server software of squeezebox is open source (http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_features.html), maybe this would be a good first try for multi room audio streaming.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2003 3:03 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Streamwood, IL
My only suggestion would be to use a seperate video card.

I have a M10000 and I have found the on-board video quality poor and the drivers worse.

I just added a Radeon 7000 PCI to mine, and for the ~$40US, it was well worth it. The video quality is improved, and there is still improvements being made to the video drivers.

Brent

_________________
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group