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Suggestions for cheap/simple computer to stream music

Posted on 2009-07-09
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Hello Experts,

I'm looking to purchase simple, inexpensive, preferably small computers/devices that will simply stream music from to the web. It needs to be able to run something as simple as winamp or winamp/shoutcast and have an audio hookup with network connectivity. It doesn't need to be powerful at all. I'm looking for something that would be in the range of $100-200. Any ideas?
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Question by:andrewc2189
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by:andoss
andoss earned 20 total points
ID: 24820307
Old computers of EBay or an IPOD (if you have access to wireless network)
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kode99 earned 300 total points
ID: 24820628
There are quite a few compact and inexpensive systems based off the Intel Atom and are typically mini-ITX form factor.   These also have low power requirements as a side bonus and are usually quiet (compared to a typical PC).

These systems will run windows or linux just fine.  For video I find them a bit underpowered but would be just fine for audio.

Here's some barebone systems,  just add disk and memory

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=309&name=Mini-Booksize-Barebone-Systems

Full system with OS,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883228014

Full system built to spec,
http://www.logicsupply.com/products/atom_pc78131

These are the sort of thing that you can get with the kind of budget you are talking about.  The OS cost is going to push it over the $200 mark unless you go with linux (which runs fine on these types of boxes).

Used systems that include a copy of the OS are often a good deal.
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by:andrewc2189
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Thanks for your complete reply kode99. Those little boxes are pretty cool! The barebones computer just needs a hard drive and ram right? Just so I am not mistaken, I would need to get a SATA (nothing special for that little guy right?) and DDR2 533/400 RAM?

Thanks for your suggestion. I haven't had to buy really low end small computers before so it was definitely not my area of knowledge.
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by:kode99
ID: 24826286
Check the specs on any system you are going to buy because barebones in desktop usually means processor, memory and hard drive required.  These are units like the Shuttle boxes and other units that are often small but not actually mini-ITX.  Usually it will specify a socket type if it needs a processor.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856101070

Most of the mini-ITX stuff has the processor built directly on (anything Atom based will) but there are few mini-itx boards that take regular processors.  In the systems from newegg in my first post I think two of the Jetway units have AMD sockets.

You also want to watch for the form factor on hard drives and optical media(if you need it).  The small boxes may only have room for 2.5" drives and slimline CD/DVD so you might want something a bit larger.  So also check the bays available.

Here's an example of a case that is about as small as you get and still can take a 3.5 " hard drive and regular sized CD drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154091
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by:fredshovel
ID: 24836340
Speaking of old computers: Univac, built in 1951stood 25 feet high and was 50 feet in length. It weighed 13 metric tons and had a storage capacity of 1000 words (that's not even half a page on Microsoft Word).
It cost USD$1.5m -- and whoops, sorry it can't stream songs. Sorry about that!


univac.gif
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by:andrewc2189
ID: 24841637
Haha thanks for that fredshovel.

Kode99 you have given me some great ideas. Before I close it do you have any good suggestion for this. I want to stream from 10 different sources (10 different inputs) and the cheapest way to do that was to have 10 different mini-computers. Can you think of a single computer option that I can have 10 seperate sources hook up to it for the same price or less(total of 10 of the mini ones of course)?
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by:Joe
Joe earned 40 total points
ID: 24843212
Would workstation virtualization work for you? You could run VMware with a linux distro with all 10 instances and allocate minimal amounts of system resources. It would probably be cheaper to throw is a couple gigs of extra ram to get things working.

If you need a physical box, look on Craigslist. I've seen people selling some hardware pretty cheap on there in my local area.


Vistualization Software

http://www.virtualbox.org/

http://www.vmware.com/products/server/

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=04D26402-3199-48A3-AFA2-2DC0B40A73B6&displaylang=en

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by:andrewc2189
ID: 24843252
Virtualization could work, but it wouldn't really solve the issue. The 10 seperate streams would need 10 seperate audio inputs. The issue isn't so much 10 seperate operating systems as 10 seperate audio inputs. Either the solution is 10 really cheap small computers or 1 simple server with a way to get 10 audio inputs.
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by:fredshovel
fredshovel earned 120 total points
ID: 24843494
Not sure where your source audio is coming from but you seem to indicate that it's outside the PC. If that's the case I would recommend something like the Mackie Onyx mixing system. The Mackie Onyx 1220 will stream "either 12 or 16 independent channels of 24-bit/96k audio, plus a stereo mix, directly to your Mac or PC. Then it's your job to assign the independent streams to your streaming server.
The Mackie uses a Firewire connection (about a $20 card) and is broadcast standard audio.
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by:fredshovel
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by:kode99
ID: 24845076
Lowest multiple input card I know of is the M-Audio 1010,

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829121011

This card has both input and output so if you are streaming from the web to analog audio or to the web from analog sources would be possible.

The simplicity of one box for streaming one source is attractive but for 10 systems it does add up.  Doing all 10 streams on a single system would likely need a more powerful system than the typical mini ITX Atom box but not a high performance system.

There are also similar 4 channel cards if you wanted to setup a few systems instead of just a single system.  


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by:bullmonkey
bullmonkey earned 20 total points
ID: 24845631
i odnt know if i have missed the point somewhere but the smallest and cheapest way to stream and hook up to your audio equipment would be a pda running windows mobile 5 or 6. pda's runnning wm5 cost $60, i keep mine next to my bad and it connects wirelessly to my router and runs winamp fine. i usually use realplayer though since it streams stuff from the BBC just fine
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by:andrewc2189
ID: 31603257
Thanks for all your help guys. I just realized I had confusing wording in the original question "streaming from to the web". It was meant to say streaming TO the web. I gave out a couple points to those of you who gave me suggestions on how to stream from the web because I can use that info elsewhere and I was misleading in my typo!

I got some great ideas and I'm not sure what route I'm going to take yet! Probably the card with 10 input/output and a decent desktop that could handle all of them. I'm going to open up a separate thread on a free program that can handle 10 separate output streams. (I think winamp can only hold 5). Feel free to hop over if you have an idea on that!
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by:andrewc2189
ID: 24852326
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/MultiMedia_Applications/Q_24568766.html

There's the new thread on what program could handle 10 streams.
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