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Media Players 102: Kodi for Multichannel Music Playback (features and hardware)

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The MadDane

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Hi Homer,

Been hovering here for a long........... time. Trying to figure out how to get all my wonderful DSF (from SACD's) to play as beautifully as they do through my Sony UBP-X800 but with some kind of media player that gives me artwork, cataloging etc. Everything I look at/try is either limited by Ethernet/WiFi ie, jriver etc., (Don't do MCH over Ethernet or WiFi). Or the limitation is my bank account. I can't afford a $13,000 multi channel DAC. So I've gotten to the point where i know i have to wait for TRUE reasonably priced multi channel DSF to come down in price. Can you message me your Nuc model setup and MCH flac/Kodi setup? I'm trying to get multi channel to my AVR without my wife divorcing me for spending "thousands of dollars on music". Her favorite quote is, what's wrong with Pandora or Spotify?!?

Thanks,

Claus
 

HomerJAU

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Welcome to QQ Claus.

I have two NUCs an older 4th gen and this one (latest 8th gen):

https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/index.php?threads/intel-nuc-nuc8i3beh-how-to-installation-of-parts.25705/

I’m using latest LibreElec (Linux os with Kodi) beta version (Leia/Kodi 18) via HDMI to Denon AVRs.

FLAC multi channel working at all usual bit rates/sample rates. I’ve not tried DSF but I’ve read it is working too. I’m also playing music videos and movies with DTS-HDMA, Atmos, TrueHD etc.

Let me know if you need more info
 

HomerJAU

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I'm trying to get multi channel to my AVR without my wife divorcing me for spending "thousands of dollars on music". Her favorite quote is, what's wrong with Pandora or Spotify?!?
My wife only just admitted a couple days ago ‘now I get it’ after a very long time. She originally wanted me to go iTunes after visiting friends a few years ago and seeing how easy it was to Jukebox songs using iTunes and an iPhone. Now we can do more using Kodi AND IN HIRES AND MULTICHANNEL!!
 

The MadDane

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Thanks!
On a side note I was considering using A QNAP TS-251+ (Dual Drive NAS) per LuvMyQuad's setup. Just seemed so simple to run Kodi right off of the NAS. Unfortunately QNAP does not support Kodi any more... see below:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emails to QNAP
Me:
Hi I'm looking at your TS-251+ for streaming Multi channel DSF to my receiver. I'm currently using a Sony X800 bluray player that streams without down conversion. Would it be possible to stream from your NAS using Kodi as others have done, also could I configure one of the drives as a raid/ mirror backup drive? Thanks, Claus

QNAP:
Yes, you can set up this appliance in RAID-1 which will mirror the two drives. That is not a problem at all.

You can run multi-channel DSF, here is a link to info to that effect:

https://www.qnap.com/en/how-to/tutorial/article/how-to-manage-and-play-music-with-music-station/


QNAP no longer supports Kodi, however.

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything else I can do.

Thanks,

Chris

And, please be sure to check out the rest of our 200+ product lines by going to: https://www.virtualgraffiti.com/partners.php
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is anyone familiar with "Music Station" software? If so pro's/cons? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Claus
 

HomerJAU

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I’m using a Synology NAS (12 bay - because I’m retired and have plenty of time to put everything I have on it, I’m just upgrading 3 x 4TB drives to 3 x 10TB drives as I write this).

You can buy cheaper media players that support Kodi MCH FLAC and DSF than an Intel NUC but some won’t play 24bit Audio (resamples to 16bit). If you want to reduce price you I’d stay with an i3 NUC but you could buy only 1 x4GB RAM module and a smaller M.2 capacity SSD drive. (Maybe 60GB or 120GB).

The Synology NAS Music app doesn’t play MCH music (last time I tried a few years back now. But it does support iTunes for stereo etc.
 

The MadDane

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Thanks Homer,

I'm 90% certain that's the way I'll go. I know you've stated multiple times that a i3 is all that"s needed. I'm having trouble finding anything but the newer NUC's, any suggestions? I've built many CPU's over the years.

Regards,

Claus
 

HomerJAU

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A NUC is very fast and responsive. I’d just bite the bullet and go for latest gen unless you’re really on a tight budget then look at the other NUC install thread here that contains links to an older/cheaper model. These are almost identical for audio but latest 8th gen adds HEVC/4K UHD hardware decoding for video (may be something you’d want in future?)

I bought the 8th gen NUC mainly to play 4K. I don’t need to find a new 4K/UHD disc player.
 

ParkerJon

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I use an NVidia Shield with Kodi 18.1 for FLACs and DSF files. The output from the Shield is via HDMI to a Marantz receiver. Files come from a Windows based computer via Ethernet. It handles everything I've thrown at it regarding including some FLACs with ATMOS: it passes the data to the receiver as is. The only wrinkle with the setup is that some FLACs weren't being interpreted as being surround encoded. I had several FLACs:

4.0 + silent center channel
5.0

That were playing in stereo. This almost caused me to go back to a Windows 7 computer with Media Center but luckily I found the workaround. I found that if I add a silent LFE channel to the FLAC file it is then interpreted correctly. Perhaps the logic to the player is to check to see if there is an LFE channel if so pass the data through to receiver unchanged. I used Audacity to add a channel and move it up to the fourth channel (after the center) and then export it back to a FLAC file.

I wish the Shield had a touch more horsepower: it can hiccup momentarily if I switch back to the Android menu but as long as I stay in Kodi everything works fine even with relatively huge 24/192 surround FLACs. I put (Surround) in the title of any surround albums and created a Playlist that looks for (Surround) so that can play just surround tracks if I want.
We also have a Plex server but had no joy with surround FLACs using the Plex client on the Shield.

Maybe the LFE trick may help some people having challenges with Kodi.
 

LuvMyQuad

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Welcome to the forum. I recently ran into the same 4 CH FLAC problem when setting up my son's system. I'm using Homer's (the mod for this thread section) MediaMusicHelper program to correct it. You can find threads discussing it on this site. Among its many functions, you can set it to look for 4 channel recordings in your entire music library and then add empty center and LFE channels automatically.

My Emotiva pre/pro apparently knows what to do with a 4 channel recording, but my son's new Pioneer AVR would only play the front stereo channels. This first became apparent when trying to play back a Quad reel transfer of ZZ Top's Tres Hombres album. The guitars of the leadoff track are all discreetly in the rear channels. Ever try listening to ZZ Top with no guitar?
 

HomerJAU

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Welcome ParkerJon!

Seems there're a few players that don't like 4.0 (and 5.0). My Denon is ok with 5.0 using Kodi but won't play any MCH FLAC file directly via the Denon file menu.

I put (Surround) in the title of any surround albums and created a Playlist that looks for (Surround) so that can play just surround
In Kodi 18 there's a new feature where you can filter and display music by 'Source'. So you can have two source folders, one 'Surround' and one 'Stereo' for example and display, sort play by the new Source property no need to tag.
 

ParkerJon

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Welcome ParkerJon!

Seems there're a few players that don't like 4.0 (and 5.0). My Denon is ok with 5.0 using Kodi but won't play any MCH FLAC file directly via the Denon file menu.



In Kodi 18 there's a new feature where you can filter and display music by 'Source'. So you can have two source folders, one 'Surround' and one 'Stereo' for example and display, sort play by the new Source property no need to tag.
Playing the 4.0/5.0 to the Marantz receiver from a PC (via HDMI) works fine so am convinced it is the Kodi/Shield combination.

When I use my PC I have an Exasound 7.1 USB DAC using the analog in on the receiver (Winyl/Foobar) though am getting to appreciate the simplicity of using Kodi (and a remote) to find music in my library. I tried JRiver with my DAC and found it a little clunky. The DAC in the Marantz receiver isn't as esoteric though ultimately I needed to find the right balance of quality and functionality (for me). Kodi/Shield also handles any of the 4K and concerts I've thrown at it.

I also have some high bit rate stereo FLAC and DSF files in my HD source share and having surround/DSF in the title assists when choosing which version of the album to listen to.
 

steelydave

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I wish there was a way to filter by number of channels, ie create a node that only displayed files that were 4 channels are greater. I have all my music sorted in a folder structure that goes /Artist/Year - Album Name and then inside that folder, i have folders for the various mixes, /5.1, /4.0, /2.0 etc and I don't want to reorganise 20,000 files.
 

GOS

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I wish there was a way to filter by number of channels, ie create a node that only displayed files that were 4 channels are greater. I have all my music sorted in a folder structure that goes /Artist/Year - Album Name and then inside that folder, i have folders for the various mixes, /5.1, /4.0, /2.0 etc and I don't want to reorganise 20,000 files.
I have often desired the exact same thing!
 

ParkerJon

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Welcome to the forum. I recently ran into the same 4 CH FLAC problem when setting up my son's system. I'm using Homer's (the mod for this thread section) MediaMusicHelper program to correct it. You can find threads discussing it on this site. Among its many functions, you can set it to look for 4 channel recordings in your entire music library and then add empty center and LFE channels automatically.

My Emotiva pre/pro apparently knows what to do with a 4 channel recording, but my son's new Pioneer AVR would only play the front stereo channels. This first became apparent when trying to play back a Quad reel transfer of ZZ Top's Tres Hombres album. The guitars of the leadoff track are all discreetly in the rear channels. Ever try listening to ZZ Top with no guitar?
Thanks for the heads-up on the MediaMusicHelper tool: I was wondering how I was going to do a scan of my library. I had so far encountered the problem with Brubeck and Black Sabbath and thought I'd have to check out the other letters at some point.
 

steelydave

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It seems like implementing that kind of thing (being able to create playlists/nodes based on any tag value) could have a lot more usefulness beyond just making a surround playback node - 15 years ago, Windows Media Player used to have a thing called 'smart playlists' where you could create any kind of playlist using any tag values and then operators (equals, greater than, less than, etc.) to narrow down what was selected. So I had playlists like 'added in the last week', 'added in the last month' to keep track of 'new' music (already better than kodi's primitive 'recently added' node, which only shows stuff added in the most recent library scan, and whatever's there is wiped out by the next scan even if it's new.

I know music in general isn't Kodi's main focus, and given that it's free software (even if it wasn't, it's remarkably full-featured and would be worth a purchase) beggars can't be choosers, but I really think that a more robust support for smart/dynamic playlist/node creation would make it all the more useful...at least to me. ;)
 

HomerJAU

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I was thinking a workaround for smart play lists to filter on number of channels would be to use the album’s or song’s Rating or Userrating music database tag to hold the channel count value (e.g. 2, 4, 5). I could add a new tool in MMH to scan your music folders and auto update the Rating field in the music database. Of course MMH is a Windows only app so you’d need to run it on a Windows machine but it would update any Kodi db even Linux/LibreElec etc. What do you think?

You can use the AdvancedSettings.xml file to increase the number of files displayed in RecentlyAdded albums. Mine is 150 so I can go back further than last 25 or whatever the default is in Kodi.
 

marpow

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I wish there was a way to filter by number of channels, ie create a node that only displayed files that were 4 channels are greater. I have all my music sorted in a folder structure that goes /Artist/Year - Album Name and then inside that folder, i have folders for the various mixes, /5.1, /4.0, /2.0 etc and I don't want to reorganise 20,000 files.
I am glad I started from day one 7-8 months ago. I have JRiver, every time I rip add a disc to the library, NAS,NUC, etc I tag the album name either 4.0, 5.1, or 3.0. I don't tag 2.0. Then when I am in JRiver and whatever file page I am on, Artist, Album , etc I just type 4.0 or the others in the search box and bam there they all are. JRiver is very easy to tag, highlight all tracks, rename the top track, click and all track, album name are done, so even with 20000 files it could be done relatively fast over a few weeks. Assuming you are just sitting and listening.
 

LuvMyQuad

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I completed the process of adding empty Center and LFE channels to all the 4 channel files I have. All went perfectly.

I have about 250 5 channel files. A few I know are 4.1 like Tull's This Was and the AP mix of Dark Side of the Moon. Others are Audio Fidelity 4.0 SACD conversions. Those show up as 5 channels in MMH but I cant tell if they are 4.1 or 5.0. In other words, have they added a silent center or silent LFE? In MMH the same list comes up regardless if I look to add a CC or LFE. When I look at them in Audacity, only the blank channel shows up with no designation.

My question is, is it safe to simply treat them all as if they are 4.1 and tell MMH to add an empty center? There are a few surprises like ELPs Brain Salad Surgery came up as 5 channels. I would have to confirm that title (and any others like it) as having an active LFE and not an active CC before processing. All this time I thought it was ripped as true 5.1.

Is there even a need for this? Will these modern AVRs play in surround if there is either a CC, LFE, or both?
 

HomerJAU

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My question is, is it safe to simply treat them all as if they are 4.1
All the players I’ve seen seem to ignore the ChannelLayout tags and play based on SMTE standards for No. of Channels in following channel positions:

5 channels = 5.0 FL FR C SL SR
6 channels = 5.1 FL FR C LFE SL SR

MMH just adds a silent channel at the 3rd (C) or 4th (LFE) position based on your selected remix option.

If you’re sure the 5 channel files you have contain LFE then you can add a silent centre.

I had some 5 channel files but they seemed to contain either a silent centre already or the extra channel was actually a centre, not sub. Although I remember at least one was an LFE. I guess you could try and isolate the fifth channel and listen to what’s there to be sure. )I think you could assume all files from same album are mixed the same)
 
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