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Author Topic: Multi-zone playback  (Read 16321 times)

hyslopc

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Multi-zone playback
« on: February 05, 2002, 11:30:14 am »

Hi - this is my first post here.  I came over here following jriver's posts on the AVS HTPC (Home Theater PC) Forum.  A lot of people in that forum (including myself) are looking for an MP3 software player that supports multi-zone playback.  AFAIK, no such player exists, so I thought I'd post here to see if there's any chance of getting this added to MJ in the future.

Basically what we're looking for is the ability to play multiple stereo streams simultaneously, and especially to be able to route any stream to one or more stereo outputs.

I know that you can start multiple instances of (eg) WinAMP, link each one to its own sound card (or 2 channels of a multi-channel card), and play a different song in each room. However this does not allow what most people want most of the time - to play the same song in many zones. In fact quite often you want the same song playing in every zone, and running multiple instances of a program can't do this.

So - any chance of getting something like this added to MJ?  I'd definitely be willing to pay $ for something like this.
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gateley

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2002, 06:53:37 pm »

How many input streams (and where do they come from)? How many output streams?

Are you using a multi-zone amplifier to drive the speakers in each zone? Are you interested in wireless transmission of the sound to the zones.

Would you consider a solution where each zone had a cheap PC?

Do you care if the music is kept digital until it is almost at the speakers, or is a reduced quality (albeit perhaps unnoticeable) acceptable?

We are interested in this and similar needs, but I can't promise anything (that's for others, I get stuck delivering :^).

j
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hyslopc

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2002, 08:19:19 pm »

For me, (max) 3 inputs and (max) 3 outputs would be perfect.

Yes, I'd be using a multi-channel amp to drive the speakers.  Today all of the speakers are wired individually to the PC closet, where they are then bundled together onto one pair of outputs (a big amp, to handle that sort of impendence).  I want to move each pair of speakers onto its own pair of outputs, but first I need the software to drive them that way.

I would consider a solution where each zone had its own PC, but would prefer it if one PC could drive all 3 zones.  I could only accept a multi-PC solution if it enabled all of the PCs to play perfectly (and automatically) in sync with each other, and if the remote control capability still worked.  I tend to think it'd be simpler to do it all on one PC (from your perspective).

Whether the output is analog or digital isn't really important, although it'd be nice if it supported both.  My testing with M-Audio 1010 and Proceed AVP shows that the best sound cards these days have just as good sound quality as the best preamps.
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hyslopc

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2002, 10:46:42 pm »

Is this anything we might see support for in MJ in the future?
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JimH

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2002, 04:04:23 am »

We're thinking.  Feel free to remind us.  It's possible.
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Jim Hillegass
JRiver Media Center / Media Jukebox

hyslopc

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2002, 01:40:48 am »

Here is a reminder.  There's been a big discussion about this over at the AVS Forums, with the result that one of the guys over there has decided to write his own player in order to get this, plus a few other things that all of the players are ignoring.  You can find that thread here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=114485

I thought perhaps that it would be possible to write an MJ DSP plug-in to at least route MJ's output to many zones at varying volume levels, but after downloading the DSP SDK, it seems like that's not easily possible.  Or am I missing something?  I also tried running multiple instances of MJ, but it seems like that's no possible either.
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Matt

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2002, 07:29:43 am »

Hi there,

We'd love to add multi-zone output, but it's not real easy unless we get help from hardware.

The problem is that there's no way to perfectly synchronize the output of multiple sound cards in software.  It has to be done in hardware.

One way around this would be to make a master switch board so each zone could pick what soundcard it was playing from.  Then if there's only one stream, they could all switch to the same soundcard.  I'm not sure how slick that could be though.


I thought perhaps that it would be possible to write an MJ DSP plug-in to at least route MJ's output to many zones at varying volume levels, but after downloading the DSP SDK, it seems like that's not easily possible.


Yeah, I don't think you'll have much luck with the DSP SDK.  It'll give you the data, but routing it to outside programs will be complicated. (especially once you consider synchronization)

Anyway, just some thoughts.  Hoping we can figure something out...

-Matt
JRiver, Inc.
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Matt Ashland, JRiver Media Center

hyslopc

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RE:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2002, 11:05:34 am »

>The problem is that there's no way to perfectly synchronize the output of multiple sound cards in software. It has to be done in hardware.

Actually, my requirement isn't to support multiple soundcards - I was planning on using a single 10-channel soundcard to handle all zones (the Delta 1010).  Maybe that doesn't make any difference, but thought I should mention it.

As I understand it, Steinberg's "ASIO" API supports exact synchronization of multiple streams.  All soundcards aimed at the pro industry come with ASIO drivers, so I don't think it'd be a big deal saying that multi-zone requires an ASIO soundcard.  Maybe you could check it out?  You can download the SDK at http://www.steinberg.net/developers/ASIO2SDKAbout.phtml
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Couch

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Re:Multi-zone playback
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2004, 12:55:46 am »

I have a similar concern/request:

I DO have a PC in every 'Zone' I want sound in; is it possible to utilize the Client/Server aspect of MC to support control (as well as through NetRemote) of Independant and/or simultaneous playback per 'Zone'?

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wisdenb

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Re: Multi-zone playback
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2005, 09:59:55 am »

I have a similar request - might be more easily achievable, though. I have multiple media renderers, with a central media server. I want to be able to schedule the playing of media on any of the renderers from any suitable device. (e.g. control the queueing of music from a laptop in the garden to be played from the central server to an MP101 on the patio, send video from the same central server to a Streamium in the lounge controlled by a PDA or another laptop). Can I do this with the J River Media Center? If so, how?
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JimH

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Re: Multi-zone playback
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2005, 03:12:46 pm »

Multi-zone is best addressed in JRiver Media Center.  Please use that board for more info.  User Mastiff has a lot of practical information on his web site.  You can find it in the FAQ on the MC board.
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