Internet radio via laptop or notebook computer utilizing standard stereo system

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Internet radio via laptop or notebook computer utilizing standard stereo system

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I want to listen to internet radio using my Onkyo SR805 receiver and playback through my Mirage speakers.  I can't get good reception using HD2 radio because of location and I prefer not to use satelite radio. I would like to have suggestions as to the best route to go. I am a novice at all this but would like to use a dedicated notebook or laptop computer to acquire the station and play it back through my receiver and speakers. Would it be best to connect through a UBS port or a game port as I do now with my Sansa MP3 player?   The MP3 player currently works with my Harmony One remote for on/off and volume control.  Will I be able to use the computer the same way? The SR805 does not support connection through devices such as the Sangean or other internet ourtboard radio tuners. This all became necessary when my local Orlando public radio station ceased to broadcast classical music via regular FM leaving me with no radio source for classical or jazz music. This has become a great inconvenience for many public radio listerners thoughout the US. Any suggestions for connections, computers etc. would be appreciated.

Verified Answer
  • This one is right up my alley!

    Using a computer as a dedicated music client is a great idea, and can provide more than just internet radio if you want it to.

    I'll address the Internet radio issues first since that is your priority.

    The first consideration is how you intend to connect to the internet. A wired LAN connection is always the most reliable method, so if it is at all possible to get a cable from your router to the location of your computer I would recommend doing so. If it isn't practical to use a wired connection, make sure your wireless connection has good bandwidth and signal strength. I would use 802.11n components with Wireless Multimedia (WMM) based Quality of Service (QoS) to insure uninterrupted playback. Also, make sure your wireless connection is encrypted and set up access restrictions in your router if you go with wireless.

    The next consideration is the connection between your computer and your receiver. TigerHeli is right that you can connect to the receivers analog inputs using an 1/8" to RCA cable. This solution has several drawbacks. The first is that the digital-to-analog conversion will take place in the computer, and the DAC's in computers are not very good, and the analog output sections are nothing to write home about either. Even "high-end" dedicated sound cards are pretty lame in this respect. Laptops/notebooks are even worse. In addition to poor sound quality, they tend to be noisy, and can have ground-loop issues. If the computer you choose to use has a dedicated digital audio output (coaxial or optical) you will get much better results by connecting the computer to the receiver that way and employing the DAC in the Onkyo. Another excellent option is to use a dedicated USB DAC. No need to spend a fortune on one. There are some excellent options available from HRT and Sumiko at reasonable prices.

    The final consideration is the software you will use to play your music. In my home audio system I am doing exactly what you want to do (plus a lot more) using Linux exclusively. There are several advantages to using Linux. Linux tends to be much less resource hungry than MS options so it can run reliably on older or less powerful hardware. There are a multitude of media players available for Linux. Many come pre-configured for Shoutcast and other streaming options. Most are easily configured and customized to include any streams you want to add. All are free as in speech and free as in beer, as are the Linux operating systems themselves. Linux does not impose the limitations that Windows (in all of its variations) does on sound reproduction. Most of the sophisticated music distribution systems on the market run Linux, and with good reason. I recommend Ubuntu or Kubuntu for those who are new to Linux. Both are excellent distributions that use slightly different user interfaces.

    Once you take the plunge you may find yourself using the PC for streaming High Definition video content, or as a primary music source for reproducing lossless music files from a server, or...who knows? The possibilities for PC based multimedia are vast. The latest version of Ubuntu will even include the Rhythmbox Music Player with an integrated music store.

    If you do choose to go the Linux route, I'll be happy to provide you with help via the forum should you need it.

     



    [edited by: Alex W at 12:33 AM (GMT -5) on Thu, Apr 8 2010]

         RESIma

All Replies
  • I think you could just use a mini-jack to RCA cable from the laptop line or headphone output to the RCA inputs on the SR805.

    Anyone else have suggestions?

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • This one is right up my alley!

    Using a computer as a dedicated music client is a great idea, and can provide more than just internet radio if you want it to.

    I'll address the Internet radio issues first since that is your priority.

    The first consideration is how you intend to connect to the internet. A wired LAN connection is always the most reliable method, so if it is at all possible to get a cable from your router to the location of your computer I would recommend doing so. If it isn't practical to use a wired connection, make sure your wireless connection has good bandwidth and signal strength. I would use 802.11n components with Wireless Multimedia (WMM) based Quality of Service (QoS) to insure uninterrupted playback. Also, make sure your wireless connection is encrypted and set up access restrictions in your router if you go with wireless.

    The next consideration is the connection between your computer and your receiver. TigerHeli is right that you can connect to the receivers analog inputs using an 1/8" to RCA cable. This solution has several drawbacks. The first is that the digital-to-analog conversion will take place in the computer, and the DAC's in computers are not very good, and the analog output sections are nothing to write home about either. Even "high-end" dedicated sound cards are pretty lame in this respect. Laptops/notebooks are even worse. In addition to poor sound quality, they tend to be noisy, and can have ground-loop issues. If the computer you choose to use has a dedicated digital audio output (coaxial or optical) you will get much better results by connecting the computer to the receiver that way and employing the DAC in the Onkyo. Another excellent option is to use a dedicated USB DAC. No need to spend a fortune on one. There are some excellent options available from HRT and Sumiko at reasonable prices.

    The final consideration is the software you will use to play your music. In my home audio system I am doing exactly what you want to do (plus a lot more) using Linux exclusively. There are several advantages to using Linux. Linux tends to be much less resource hungry than MS options so it can run reliably on older or less powerful hardware. There are a multitude of media players available for Linux. Many come pre-configured for Shoutcast and other streaming options. Most are easily configured and customized to include any streams you want to add. All are free as in speech and free as in beer, as are the Linux operating systems themselves. Linux does not impose the limitations that Windows (in all of its variations) does on sound reproduction. Most of the sophisticated music distribution systems on the market run Linux, and with good reason. I recommend Ubuntu or Kubuntu for those who are new to Linux. Both are excellent distributions that use slightly different user interfaces.

    Once you take the plunge you may find yourself using the PC for streaming High Definition video content, or as a primary music source for reproducing lossless music files from a server, or...who knows? The possibilities for PC based multimedia are vast. The latest version of Ubuntu will even include the Rhythmbox Music Player with an integrated music store.

    If you do choose to go the Linux route, I'll be happy to provide you with help via the forum should you need it.

     



    [edited by: Alex W at 12:33 AM (GMT -5) on Thu, Apr 8 2010]

         RESIma