HTPC as an All in One System

B

brombo

Audiophyte
I am designing and building an all in one system where the htpc is combined media server, surround sound preamp, and electronic crossover. I wish to find out if anyone else is interested in such a concept and welcome any suggestions, criticisms, etc. that other members might have of my current system and plans for a future system.

My current system is -

Projector: Optoma HD-25e
Screen: Elite Screens Sable Frame Series, 120-inch Diagonal 16:9, Fixed Frame Projection Screen (ER120WH1)

Loudspeakers:
Main Speakers: Craver Original Amazing Speakers
Center Speaker: Klipsch RC-62 II
Rear Speakers: B&W 600i
Subwoofer: Dayton Audio 18" Reference Series HO Subwoofer, Cabinet, and SPA 1000 plate amplifier

Amplififers:
L and R: Emotiva XPR-2
C: Dayton Audio APA150
RL and RR: Adcom GFA 5300

Pre-Amp: Emotiva UMC-200

A/V Sources:
PC (Ubuntu 14.04)
Hardware -
Asus M4A88T-M
AMD Phenom II X4 965 cpu
8 Gb memory
Samsung 850 Pro 256GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE256BW)(system drive)
Pioneer Electronics USA Internal Blu-Ray Writer (BDR-209DBK)
EVGA GeForce GT 740 2GB GDDR5
Ceton Infini TV 6 pcie turner card (Verizon Fios)
Asus Xonar D2 sound card (currently not being used)
Ortek Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver VRC-1100 (only using reciever)

Software -
Myth TV 0.27 backend
Kodi 16.0 beta frontend (media player)
Video Files
Audio Files
CD's
DVD's
Blu Rays (Play Commercial blu rays using Makemkv plugin for Kodi)
Live and Recorded TV (pvr myth tv plugin)

Remote: Iogear wireless keyboard with integral trackball.
Logitec Harmony 1100

Mainly because of the need to use dsp electronic crossovers with minimal adc-dac conversions for a new main speaker system

http://www.parts-express.com/audio-artistry-cbt36k-line-array-speaker-pair-kit--301-980

I would eliminate the Emotiva UMC-200 preamp and combine the room equalization and electronic crossover functions in software and a quality sound card (Asus Xonar D2).

Currently I envision no more than a 5.1 channel system with the new main speakers (Don Keele CBT's) biamplified so the single 7.1 channel sound card will suffice. If more channels are requires, either for 7.1 operation or for more crossover channels multiple sound cards could be used.

Additionally, the analog line-in of the sound card would be used for legacy analog stereo souces (I have a turntable with line level output and an open reel tape deck).

The main deficiences of such a system would be and inability to play SACD media and to tune any TV channel (I have Verizon Fios) with the CCI flag set. The CCI flag problem is due to that I am running Ubuntu with the Mythtv backend. On a windows system Kodi can use the Windows Media Center as a live TV video backend and would not have this problem.

The main problem I face in developing such a system is implementing the electronic crossover in software in a way that I can route the audio output of Kodi to the software (Kodi does not have a command line option for redirecting audio output). Since Kodi allows one to select any attached sound card as the audio output I can use the alsa loopback virtual sound card for the Kodi output and route the input to the loopback virtual sound card to the jack audio server and ecasound to implement the required filters.

As soon as I can implement and test the software for the electronic crossover I would purchase the CBT speakers.

The Kodi team is developing an audio dsp module for Kodi that will be able to equalize the room response (not automatically, REW probably needed).

When I change the main speakers I would also add a second subwoofer (same components as the first)

http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-18-reference-series-ho-subwoofer-and-cabinet-bundle--300-7094

plus the plate amplifier

http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-spa1000-1000w-subwoofer-plate-amplifier--300-809

The one other component I would need for the system is a 150W per channel (stereo) into 4 Ohms amplifier
to drive the tweeter sections of the CBT speakers (the bass/midrange section would be driven by the
Emotiva XPR-2). Any suggestions would be appreciated. Note since the amplifier is directly driving the
tweeters a quite turnon with very low dc offset is needed.

A final other upgrade would be to replace the Xonar D2 with a Xonar Essence STX II 7.1 - 124dB SNR Audio Card / MUSES op-amps

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Essence-STX-II-7-1/dp/B00KTFJ0Z2/ref=pd_sim_sbs_147_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1YGFB833F06YMSDZNGYX

or use an external USB dac (again suggestions would be welcome).
 
rojo

rojo

Audioholic Samurai
I've got a few suggestions for the PC hardware.

#1: If you had planned to use the heatsink and fan that comes with your Phenom, don't. Get a heat sink with a 120mm fan. I've been using a Thermaltake Blue Orb for the better part of a decade in the same system, and it's still as quiet as the day I first installed it. Also, look for a PSU with a 120mm fan. Larger fans don't have to spin as fast, and are therefore quieter than 80mm fans.

#2: Instead of the EVGA video card, consider a fanless video card. The ASUS GT610-SL-1GD3-L has served me well since last March, handling x264 video at 1080p@60fps without a hiccup while being completely silent. By now there are probably fanless choices in that same price range but with a newer chipset, so shopping around would still be a good idea.

#3: For an HTPC, you will probably find yourself trying to use your keyboard in the dark. Even if you're a competent touch typist, you'd still benefit from an illuminated keyboard. Consider the Logitech K830.
 
B

brombo

Audiophyte
The cpu cooler and case have been using bigger fans for some months. The sound of the video card fan is not noticeable compared to the fan of the projector (right above my head) which itself is not bad. The logitech harmony 1100 remote is for the dark (it is backlite) and has been programmed to do all the needed operations for Kodi. If I need to use the keyboard there is a bookcase with a swingarm led lamp right behind my chair that I can use (I hate trackpads and for me having a wireless keyboard with a trackball and wheel is more important than a backlite keyboard). Note that iogear make a micro wireless keyboard with trackball and scroll wheel that is backlite, but it is too small for my fat fingers.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Instead of Ubuntu 14, you could get away with OpenElec, with MythTV backend plugin.
But the biggest issue I see with Ceton Infini TV 6 pcie card - Afaik for decoding premium channels you must use Windows Media center

Also where is the media storage in this system? I don't see any hds or mention of nas
 
B

brombo

Audiophyte
Mythtv 0.27 backend supports the Centon Infinitv 6. I don't get any premium channels (no HBO, since I refuse to subscribe to a channel that will not let me download and save the stream) where the CCI flag is set (I do get Starz, Epix, etc. thank you Verizon for not setting the CCI flag). Main storage is on my main computer (Hardware RAID drive) and connected via smb network (since Kodi make this very easy). Using ubuntu makes things like running Firefox from Kodi possible (advance program launcher addon) and it is just easier to use code development tools on ubuntu (cpu and motherboard are more than powerful enough to run Kodi under ubuntu) and install software such as Jack, Ecasound, Ladspa, MakeMKV, Mythtv, and a nice widowed code editor such as geany.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
you seem to know what you doing. One rec is to swap your Main PC hardware raid storage for much larger Freenas system, with idea of running low power and noise 24/7.
You're going to need a bigger storage
 
B

brombo

Audiophyte
Currently the RAID drive is 4 Tb (the drives are old and only 2 Tb and I should expand them to 4 Tb apice) and I use it for Movies and Music. I also have a 4 Tb single drive for archiving television shows. My main computer is always on anyway when I am using the htpc (my wife is always using it to google crossword clues and other things). I also use the main computer for ripping videos with MakeMKV and Handbrake since it has a fast six core i7 cpu.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Currently the RAID drive is 4 Tb (the drives are old and only 2 Tb and I should expand them to 4 Tb apice) and I use it for Movies and Music. I also have a 4 Tb single drive for archiving television shows. My main computer is always on anyway when I am using the htpc (my wife is always using it to google crossword clues and other things). I also use the main computer for ripping videos with MakeMKV and Handbrake since it has a fast six core i7 cpu.
How many of 2 tb drives you have in your 4Tb raid? I'm almost afraid to guess (please don't say two)
 
B

brombo

Audiophyte
4 x 2 Tb drives in the RAID. One is a hot spare. I also have to look but I think the RAID controller is a 3com.
 
T

theJay

Audioholic Intern
I realise this is an old thread but I'm interested in doing something similar and want to know how this worked out.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I realise this is an old thread but I'm interested in doing something similar and want to know how this worked out.
You mean build a PC that can serve as a Pre-pro to output to an Amp?

Would be nice. But it's a lot more difficult than any of us can do.

Most of our HTPCs serve as storage devices and playback videos and music on Kodi and Plex.

But I doubt any of our HTPCs can replace Pre-pros like the Yamaha CX-A5100 and Marantz AV8805.

Would be nice if some geniuses could make a HTPC-to-order to replace all these high-end pre-pros that cost $4K-$20K.

And then all we would do is customize the build to include things like

1. HDMI board - 4K vs 8K video
2. Sound board - DTSX Pro, Atmos, Auro3D
3. EQ board - Dirac vs Trinnov vs Audyssey
4. DAC board
5. Input/Output board - XLR vs RCA

And the entire HTPC/Pre-pro would cost less than $2K. :D

That would put a few companies out of business. :D
 
Bucknekked

Bucknekked

Audioholic Field Marshall
I realise this is an old thread but I'm interested in doing something similar and want to know how this worked out.
Geez. Just like you I'm reading the thread and didn't notice its 5 years old. Stupid me.

I dunno how his turned out but I have a system put together that is centered around a Mac Mini, Synology NAS, and Plex. It serves all my music, movies and whatever in a lovely fashion. Without making a big list, its an all in one HTPC setup that works great. I realize that now, in 2020, the HTPC has become passe and there are other ways of building a solution. But mine is built, works great, and I use it every day in one form or another.

Its the small comments and helps from some of the brethren that make a lot of difference. One comment was to get a backlit keyboard since you'll be in the dark a lot and even if you don't use a keyboard most of the time you'll really want one when you do. Perfect advice. I don't use a keyboard often but I have a mechanical backlit one now.

@BoredSysAdmin advice on more storage is also a winner. I started with just external drives in an enclosure. Moved to RAID. Then upgraded to a Synology NAS. All as an organic path. I don't care how much storage you have, more is always handy. Having a storage "plan" for backups, replication, deleting dups, and how you will manage it over time is also pretty important. A NAS solves a lot of those issues or makes them easier.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
I wouldn't waste time in 2020 building your own media pc. My advice for simplest home media setup is Nvidia shield TV pro (for plex server) and soho nas like qnap 6-8 bays. Hard drives can be shucked out of bestbuy wd easy store drives (8-10tb)

Additional clients can be cheaper like roku or firetv.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 
Bucknekked

Bucknekked

Audioholic Field Marshall
I wouldn't waste time in 2020 building your own media pc. My advice for simplest home media setup is Nvidia shield TV pro (for plex server) and soho nas like qnap 6-8 bays. Hard drives can be shucked out of bestbuy wd easy store drives (8-10tb)

Additional clients can be cheaper like roku or firetv.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
If I was starting over from scratch, I wouldn't build the HTPC either. Since its up and running, I simply keep it running and enjoy what it does. Tech just keeps getting cooler and cooler all the time. Who knows what's next?
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
I'm virtualizing my HTPC since my server closet is too hot for the big media server. No the server will be in the upstairs rack and an extra video card is all it took. Now I have fewer PCs running.

If I had a 4k projector, I wouldn't even bother with the HTPC since the Shield is already up there, but it fixes a very specific issue I don't want to deal with so for now, it's all good.

Also, I had my PC as my Pre/Pro for quite awhile before upgrading my receiver. Don't do it. Not worth it and you're pretty much intentionally downgrading your capability/sound quality since a PC is a horrible environment for RF noise. Even if you go with a very high quality outboard DAC/interface you are still missing out on SO MUCH. Being forced to decode everything into PCM just to output works, but you have to know what your doing and deal with all the other potential headaches that come with a PC.
 
T

theJay

Audioholic Intern
It's all well and good saying you would go for an Nvidia product (which does look good) but it can't power a 7.1surrpund system. That's the problem. I really wish there were PC AMP combos.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
It's all well and good saying you would go for an Nvidia product (which does look good) but it can't power a 7.1surrpund system. That's the problem. I really wish there were PC AMP combos.
No PC can power a 7.1 system either, so not sure why you're holding that against an Nvidia Shield TV.
 
T

theJay

Audioholic Intern
I'm not against it, it's just that's the whole point of this what I am talking about. A PC and amp combined.
 

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