Author Topic: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...  (Read 4678 times)

bulek

  • Administrator
  • wants to work for LinuxMCE
  • *****
  • Posts: 891
  • Living with LMCE
    • View Profile
Hi,

I'm thinking about possible ways of implementing whole house multichannel audio system under lmce.

What do I imagine under such system :
- black box with multiple inputs and outputs
- audio sources on inputs and audio sinks (audio cards) on outputs.

audio sources under LMCE:
- currently limited number - most known is Xine player wrapper and speech announcements (they can be separate audio source)
- the problem is cause you cannot run more media players on one Core, I vision that Audio only xine player thing is a good solution to this, so one can start more media players on core and get more sources on one machine (using more MDs to just get more audio sources is inefficient IMHO)...
- currently the problem is cause you cannot easily add another Xine player to LMCE system - I mean on creation of new audio zone and automatic creation of scenarios for control of such media player...

audio sinks:
- currently xine player is directly connected to sound output - aka sound card

Black box :
- I have found interesting project that could be what I'm looking for :
http://pulseaudio.org/ (I spotted it when Jim on MH mailing used it to connect Asterisk and PocketSphinx easily with it for speech recognition)

Maybe als Jack is candidate ? not sure, don't know much about it....

Black box in functionality must allow all kinds of switching,routing,mixing of audio inputs into several audio outputs. In this way we could much better implement also speech announcements, that are currently pretty unusable (media play is interrupted, not pause or faded out, after announcement, play is not restored from previous possition but with next song etc.. - the right way should be to fade out, pause media, make announcement and then fade in slowly to continue with media). I also spot that some applications under lmce are still trying to have exclusive acces of sound card (Embedded Phone used to do that if I remember correctly).... Using above mentioned project I think this could be helped a lot...


Any opinions, ideas ?

Regards,

Bulek.
Thanks in advance,

regards,

Bulek.

nswint

  • Regular Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 39
    • View Profile
Off-hand I would say pulse audio is probably the easiest to incorporate without an entire schema change.  It works with alsa, arts, and xine, and bluez. You can combine multiple soundcards into one.  I would suspect low cost usb sound cards as the easiest way to add expansion and multiple sources.  Then pipe that either over the tcp stack or back to the sound devices.  I was really excited that Fedora implemented this.  I've been playing around with this on Ubuntu 7.10 but I haven't been able to send audio to remote sources like a Squeezbox or another machine, but it does work with bluetooth.  When Linuxmce 7.10 is released I will get to test it out further with multiroom audio.

http://www.pulseaudio.org/wiki/PerfectSetup#ThirdPartyApplications
Mythtv is on the list of patched applications that can work with Pulseaudio

Check out the diagram

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Pulseaudio-diagram.png

jetrich

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
I've mentioned before that this type of function would be spectacular.

My business will be offering NuVo branded audio solutions for install. One of the devices offered by NuVo is the M3 Music Server. Said server has three discrete stereo audio outputs (RCA plugs) that send audio to the main amplifier for output to any of the zones which might like to listen to that particular stream. This server also communicates metadata about each audio track to the amplifier for display on compatible TouchPads in each zone.

I would love to see a system in which the LMCE core could communicate bidirectionally with the NuVo amplifier over RS232 essentially taking the place of the M3 Music Server. The serial protocol is available and rather well documented. I just need to learn more about Ruby before I attempt to begin coding the GSD to at least try and implement these functions. Oh, and of course there would need to be a practical way of outputting the streams from one Core/MD. All signs point to a tremendously difficult time of syncronizing the M3 Music Server with any OS other than Windows.

It would be great to be able to use these TouchPads as a method of controlling the audio streams outside the LMCE system. With the bidirectional control the TouchPads become, in a sense, Media Directors in their own right. Very low power MDs.

I realize that this is more geared to my desires, but I truly believe that NuVo offers a good system and I would love to offer this type of system to my clients. Several other manufacturers do produce good systems that could be implemented as well. My experience, however, lies with the NuVo systems and their capabilities.

There is documentation stating that the NuVo systems (Concerto) were made to function with the older version of PlutoHome. I have contacted Pluto about either obtaining the code for this functionality or at least getting it re-implemented into the current version of the software. I have yet to receive a response however.

All-in-all, I think the implementation of such a system would be a valuable addition to LMCE. I just wish I knew more about programming so I could help out. Perhaps someday...
Silverstone LC20M (silver)
Fiire Chief
Asus A8N-E
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Skystar 2
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE
PNY 7300GT
Sony XL1B3
Sherwood RVD-6090 (needs replaced)
32" RCA SDTV

Matthew

  • Douchebag
  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 567
    • View Profile
Why does an MD need multiple audio player SW instances running? Are you using a single MD to route different audio streams each to multiple rooms?

Seems to me that what's needed is the Core running multiple audio servers, streaming audio data packets to whichever MD requests each stream. I believe the SlimServer can already do that. If you want to use Xine to play the audio stream to the MD soundcard, you need to add to the Xine wrapper code that starts up the SlimServer and requests from it. Or make a DCE wrapper for the SoftSqueeze that offers that control and requesting.

At least that's what I gathered from my research in these forums into getting a Bluetooth speaker running. So I'd also mention that the audio sink might not even be a "soundcard" per se, but perhaps a Bluetooth dongle running A2DP which sends the audio to the BT A2DP speaker.

ddamron

  • Alumni
  • wants to work for LinuxMCE
  • *
  • Posts: 962
    • View Profile
    • My LinuxMCE User Page
I've mentioned before that this type of function would be spectacular.

My business will be offering NuVo branded audio solutions for install. One of the devices offered by NuVo is the M3 Music Server. Said server has three discrete stereo audio outputs (RCA plugs) that send audio to the main amplifier for output to any of the zones which might like to listen to that particular stream. This server also communicates metadata about each audio track to the amplifier for display on compatible TouchPads in each zone.

I would love to see a system in which the LMCE core could communicate bidirectionally with the NuVo amplifier over RS232 essentially taking the place of the M3 Music Server. The serial protocol is available and rather well documented. I just need to learn more about Ruby before I attempt to begin coding the GSD to at least try and implement these functions. Oh, and of course there would need to be a practical way of outputting the streams from one Core/MD. All signs point to a tremendously difficult time of syncronizing the M3 Music Server with any OS other than Windows.

It would be great to be able to use these TouchPads as a method of controlling the audio streams outside the LMCE system. With the bidirectional control the TouchPads become, in a sense, Media Directors in their own right. Very low power MDs.

I realize that this is more geared to my desires, but I truly believe that NuVo offers a good system and I would love to offer this type of system to my clients. Several other manufacturers do produce good systems that could be implemented as well. My experience, however, lies with the NuVo systems and their capabilities.

There is documentation stating that the NuVo systems (Concerto) were made to function with the older version of PlutoHome. I have contacted Pluto about either obtaining the code for this functionality or at least getting it re-implemented into the current version of the software. I have yet to receive a response however.

All-in-all, I think the implementation of such a system would be a valuable addition to LMCE. I just wish I knew more about programming so I could help out. Perhaps someday...

Jetrich, Can you point me in the right direction to the protocols?  This looks like a perfect fit to my ThreadedRuby code.

Regards,

Dan
The only intuitive interface is the nipple.  After that it's all learned.
My other computer is your windows box.
I'm out of my mind.  Back in 5 minutes.
Q:  What's Red and smells like blue paint?

A:  Red Paint.

jetrich

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
Dan,
I sent you a PM with the location.
Silverstone LC20M (silver)
Fiire Chief
Asus A8N-E
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Skystar 2
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE
PNY 7300GT
Sony XL1B3
Sherwood RVD-6090 (needs replaced)
32" RCA SDTV

jetrich

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
Why does an MD need multiple audio player SW instances running? Are you using a single MD to route different audio streams each to multiple rooms?

That is what I envision.

Quote
Seems to me that what's needed is the Core running multiple audio servers, streaming audio data packets to whichever MD requests each stream.

That would be great _IF_ I wanted to have MDs for each zone, but I don't. Not sure if that is the intention of the other posters however.

Quote
I believe the SlimServer can already do that. If you want to use Xine to play the audio stream to the MD soundcard, you need to add to the Xine wrapper code that starts up the SlimServer and requests from it. Or make a DCE wrapper for the SoftSqueeze that offers that control and requesting.

If only I knew how to do that, perhaps that would get us somewhere...as long as the MD could play three or more sources at the same time without three different hardware MDs.

Actually my original thought was to use Squeezbox units for each desired music input to the multi-zone amplifier. I decided that it would be cleaner if this could be integrated into LMCE somehow.

My particular systems would have only a keypad in the zones where video is unnecessary. This way there is not a requirement to have more hardware than is required, yet still retaining the master control, from rooms or zones with MDs, with information about what content is playing in those rooms or zones which do not contain a true MD. Thus, one could redirect content and maintain zone status, etc. from a MD outside the keypad system while also having the ability to change content from a keypad (uber-thin-client). My intention would be to have the capability to replace the music server, which is Windows only, with LMCE core or MD.

The new NuVo system named Essentia is EnergyStar compliant, so one would suppose this would be a better option than having multiple MDs (12 or more) to control said zones. Especially by the time you add televisions, monitors, remotes, etc. to each zone.

Hope that was clear as mud. I'll read this again tomorrow and see if I made any sense to myself.

Jason
Silverstone LC20M (silver)
Fiire Chief
Asus A8N-E
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Skystar 2
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE
PNY 7300GT
Sony XL1B3
Sherwood RVD-6090 (needs replaced)
32" RCA SDTV

Matthew

  • Douchebag
  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 567
    • View Profile
Why does an MD need multiple audio player SW instances running? Are you using a single MD to route different audio streams each to multiple rooms?

That is what I envision.

That's different from my preferred architecture, so my comments will be relevant for the other way, which is probably closer to the basic LMCE media distribution architecture, for future reference.


I believe the SlimServer can already do that. If you want to use Xine to play the audio stream to the MD soundcard, you need to add to the Xine wrapper code that starts up the SlimServer and requests from it. Or make a DCE wrapper for the SoftSqueeze that offers that control and requesting.

If only I knew how to do that, perhaps that would get us somewhere...as long as the MD could play three or more sources at the same time without three different hardware MDs.

Actually my original thought was to use Squeezbox units for each desired music input to the multi-zone amplifier. I decided that it would be cleaner if this could be integrated into LMCE somehow.
(...)
The new NuVo system named Essentia is EnergyStar compliant, so one would suppose this would be a better option than having multiple MDs (12 or more) to control said zones. Especially by the time you add televisions, monitors, remotes, etc. to each zone.

I prefer to have the audio kept digital as close to the speaker as possible. A multi-zone amp would send long speaker wires into each zone, which is the weak link in the audio quality chain (even with very expensive speaker wire, more than 5-10m will be worse than inexpensive DACs). Even relatively (to speaker wire) cheap soundcards/DACs are better. The cheapest MD in each room can pump audio from ethernet probably for $50. Or a series of 5m USB cables on hubs, or maybe an optical USB extender. Those ways still require an amp in each room, but preserve the digital quality.

In fact, what I'm hoping is that Bluetooth speakers, which have fairly hifi A2DP digital streams already, will upgrade their fairly lofi DACs, small amps and cheap speakers. Or a Bluetooth amplifier that powers regular speakers. All that Bluetooth could run off a single MD with Bluetooth dongles that can reach multiple rooms.

I'm working on getting Bluetooth speakers that appear in range (get powered on) to trigger starting up a SoftSqueeze on the BT MD, the same way a SqueezeBox's DHCP events trigger starting up a SlimServer on the Core. And then getting the SoftSqueeze to also trigger starting up the SlimServer the same way.

My preferred energy management is to put each device on a home automation controller, maybe as simple as a $5 X10 power controller module. I'd like to wrap the LMCE device that controls them with logic that ensures they're powered on in time to receive the command. And also powers them off when a presence server says there's no one near to hear them.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2008, 03:54:16 pm by Matthew »

jetrich

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
Why does an MD need multiple audio player SW instances running? Are you using a single MD to route different audio streams each to multiple rooms?

That is what I envision.

That's different from my preferred architecture, so my comments will be relevant for the other way, which is probably closer to the basic LMCE media distribution architecture, for future reference.

But outside the gamut of simplicity regarding amount of required energy sucking computers with additional latency in startup times for audio output.

I believe the SlimServer can already do that. If you want to use Xine to play the audio stream to the MD soundcard, you need to add to the Xine wrapper code that starts up the SlimServer and requests from it. Or make a DCE wrapper for the SoftSqueeze that offers that control and requesting.

...
Actually my original thought was to use Squeezbox units for each desired music input to the multi-zone amplifier. I decided that it would be cleaner if this could be integrated into LMCE somehow.
(...)
The new NuVo system named Essentia is EnergyStar compliant, so one would suppose this would be a better option than having multiple MDs (12 or more) to control said zones. Especially by the time you add televisions, monitors, remotes, etc. to each zone.

I prefer to have the audio kept digital as close to the speaker as possible. A multi-zone amp would send long speaker wires into each zone, which is the weak link in the audio quality chain (even with very expensive speaker wire, more than 5-10m will be worse than inexpensive DACs). Even relatively (to speaker wire) cheap soundcards/DACs are better. The cheapest MD in each room can pump audio from ethernet probably for $50. Or a series of 5m USB cables on hubs, or maybe an optical USB extender. Those ways still require an amp in each room, but preserve the digital quality.
(...)
My preferred energy management is to put each device on a home automation controller, maybe as simple as a $5 X10 power controller module. I'd like to wrap the LMCE device that controls them with logic that ensures they're powered on in time to receive the command. And also powers them off when a presence server says there's no one near to hear them.

I think that perhaps this is picking nits...or maybe I'm off my rocker. I could see the demand for such a system in an installation which required the highest possible audiophile quality sound in each room, but for most installations this won't be required or desired. In fact most people (that I've talked to anyway) would rather have an unobtrusive system that blends away, not have televisions, amplifiers, etc. in each room. A simple keypad is much cleaner.

The systems do use digital amplification to reduce power usage and increased sound quality.
For more information see the page for the Essentia system.
http://www.nuvotechnologies.com/essentia.htm

Would it also not be a good thing to have the option to build YOUR system the way YOU want to build it? Perhaps using LMCE "build it with X10 sensors, extra amplifiers, etc.", or NuVo, or Russound, or http://www.zonaudio.com/home/, or Niles, or http://www.htd.com/.... I don't see why having the option is a bad thing. Unless of course there is a "my plan is better than your plan" issue.

Jason
Silverstone LC20M (silver)
Fiire Chief
Asus A8N-E
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Skystar 2
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE
PNY 7300GT
Sony XL1B3
Sherwood RVD-6090 (needs replaced)
32" RCA SDTV

Matthew

  • Douchebag
  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 567
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2008, 05:36:54 pm »
If the remote keypad for the amp really works, that's great. If it can somehow be controlled by a remote without an MD in the room in which the media is being controlled, that's great, too. If that can be a single universal remote controlling all of LMCE, that's really great. I think a Bluetooth remote could work, especially with some repeaters (not necessarily in every room).


Would it also not be a good thing to have the option to build YOUR system the way YOU want to build it? Perhaps using LMCE "build it with X10 sensors, extra amplifiers, etc.", or NuVo, or Russound, or http://www.zonaudio.com/home/, or Niles, or http://www.htd.com/.... I don't see why having the option is a bad thing. Unless of course there is a "my plan is better than your plan" issue.

I'm not saying my plan is better than yours. I'm just presenting my plan and pointing out how it's different. One of the best features of LMCE is its flexibility. Comparing the different solutions built on the platform helps pick the right one for each of us.

sk1

  • Regular Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2008, 11:23:13 pm »
So what is the best way to hack together your idea, Jason?  I need speakers in rooms that I don't want a MD, specifically the dining room and bathrooms, but I still want wall mounted volume controls.  I've been wrestling with this idea for a couple weeks now cuz I am in the middle of building a house.  Just thinking about the zone amp and how to input multiple outputs from the core and keep it all clean is driving me crazy...

skip

teedge77

  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 591
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2008, 11:30:11 pm »
the cav 6.6 is supposed to be supported already.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
Asus M2V Via AM2 ATX
Lite-On LH-20A1S SATA DVD Burner
80GB  SATA-150
EVGA GeForce 7300 GT 512MB DDR2 PCI Express
Sound Blaster Audigy SE
Kingston 2 GB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz
Ultra X-Finity 800-Watt
ZCU000
Cisco 7970
TDM400P

jetrich

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2008, 03:23:55 am »
So what is the best way to hack together your idea, Jason?  I need speakers in rooms that I don't want a MD, specifically the dining room and bathrooms, but I still want wall mounted volume controls.  I've been wrestling with this idea for a couple weeks now cuz I am in the middle of building a house.  Just thinking about the zone amp and how to input multiple outputs from the core and keep it all clean is driving me crazy...

skip
The NuVo brand Concerto system was reported to work with an earlier version of Pluto software, but I have yet to find the coding. If LMCE could natively control $SYSTEM_X via RS232 and output the multiple audio streams it would work best.

Getting the audio stream(s) to output from the core as a sort of ghost zone would be the most difficult part of this project I would suppose. One _could_ use multiple Squeezebox units to create the same effect, well, in a manner of speaking.

The RS232 protocol is available from NuVo for their system and I would assume could be had for the multitude of other systems on the market. One could then create the GSD device templates for control of these units and away we go. Of course there is still the issue of multiple sound outputs to handle....

Unfortunately, I am nowhere near capable of handling such a feat at this time. I was hoping that Pluto would be willing to reinstate their functional code and allow the expansion of said code. I have yet to receive a response from Pluto as to the whereabouts of the code or it's status.

I would say to go ahead and wire for the system of choice. That way you would have some motivation and the installation in place to take advantage of for testing.

Hopefully that was of some assistance.

Jason
Silverstone LC20M (silver)
Fiire Chief
Asus A8N-E
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Skystar 2
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE
PNY 7300GT
Sony XL1B3
Sherwood RVD-6090 (needs replaced)
32" RCA SDTV

1audio

  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 552
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2008, 03:59:59 am »
The new headless Squeezebox is $150 but you would still need an amp for it. And some type of controller. You could use the 6 button ZWave in wall controller e.g. http://www.smarthomeusa.com/Shop/ZWave/Leviton-zwave/Item/RZCZ4-1LX/ and take two buttons to control the audio back through the system. It would take some coding to implement but the structure is there.

tschak909

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 5505
  • DOES work for LinuxMCE.
    • View Profile
Re: Thinking about whole house multichannel audio solution in SW for LMCE ...
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2008, 04:48:00 am »
why wouldn't you stick an N800 nearby, instead?

-Thom