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Relatively Affordable Music Library and Player: The Brennan B2

Discussion in 'Source Components' started by Flint, May 21, 2018.

  1. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar



    This is a small Raspberry Pi based music library and player which has a built-in CD reader (can function as a CD Audio player) and a really nicely designed web UI for using the unit and programming playlists. It can rip CDs in MP3 or FLAC and play them as desired. I am impressed.

    The larger model (link to Amazon below) has a 2TB HDD and can store way more than I'd ever need in FLAC.

    The unit can also act like a NAS for Sonos and some have said they have turned on DNLA for other playback devices.

    Since I currently hand-load CDs in my main listening rig, this could be a great way to move beyond that practice. It would be WAY easier than every other option I've seen and the price is reasonable for the capabilities.

    It isn't perfect, but being a simple Pi board running a common Linux, more features can be added relatively easily.
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
    bmwuk and Randy like this.
  2. bmwuk

    bmwuk Well-Known Member

    I was looking at the ads in Absolute Sound and looking at music devices such as this. Then I googled pricing and laughed my a** off. All were insanely priced
  3. Randy

    Randy Well-Known Member Famous

    So does anybody run anything like this?

    How is playback?

    Is it user friendly and intuitive or clunky?
  4. heeman

    heeman Well-Known Member Famous

    Replacement for my SqueezeBoxes??
  5. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    $700.00 I'll continue to press play and eject. $500.00 and under and it starts to get my interest.
    mzpro5 likes this.
  6. Randy

    Randy Well-Known Member Famous

    I'm still looking for a workable solution for my boat without buying anything with a "I" prefix.
  7. Wardsweb

    Wardsweb Renaissance man

    I ran a Auralic Aries Mini for years and loved it. New they are around $500. You can pick one up used around $300-$350. It won't rip but plays any format and has a built in DAC. I use dBpoweramp to rip. You can use an external USB hard drive or install a laptop dive inside. I controlled it with the Lightening DS app on my iPad.

    I was gifted the Auralic Altair (more features and better DACs) and gave the Aries Mini to a local buddy, along with a 1T drive of music.
  8. team_tsp

    team_tsp Active Member

    Flint, didn't you used to use Squeezeboxes? Is there a reason this is catching your interest away from the Squeezebox ecosystem? Or is it because this Brennan consolidates a CD player, music player/streamer, and possibly fileserver all in one?
  9. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Squeezebox stopped working properly. So, I removed the server software from my pc.

    Also, I never used squeezebox for my main rig where I want the best fidelity.

    I am okay with opening a drawer, pulling out a disc, and plopping it into my disc player. No other solutions I've seen this farwere a reasonable alternative. This one meets most of goals.
  10. PaulyT

    PaulyT Behind the Curtain Staff Member Administrator Moderator Superstar

    Really? I'm still running squeezeboxes even after upgrading my main PC and moving the library, reinstalling all the software. Although I don't use the DAC stage of the squeezeboxes - I use optical outs to other components - I'm still running a duet and one of the original black classics.
  11. mcad64

    mcad64 Well-Known Member

    I don't understand this. If you use something like EAC with the AccurateRip add on, is it not a bit for bit copy of a CD? I always assumed it was?
    Also, when you plop it in the Brennan to listen to the cd would you then also use it to rip the CD I assume?
    PS: Chugging along with 4 squeezeboxes and looking for a 5th!!!
  12. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Wow, I didn't expect so much interest in this, but here's my thinking...

    I was never convinced the Squeezebox platform provided true fidelity across all media types. I could hear a difference between lossless audio played through my Squeezebox feeding my preamp's DAC versus a Disc player playing the same song from a CD also feeding my preamp's DAC. My research suggested that even FLAC was converted to a lossy format on the fly to transmit over the network, but I could never confirm that for certain. I did many single-blind listening tests and made a ton of measurements, and I just didn't find the platform acceptable for my critical listening needs. As such, I never considered it a "reference-grade" solution. So, I used it as a casual listening solution for the convenience. At one point I had four player units in my home and they worked fairly well.

    Then, a series of annoyances started popping up:
    • I had to reprogram the network settings far too often for my tastes. For some stupid reason they would get all messed up and not connect.
    • At one point I had become very fond of playing music from a streaming station from "Jazz Radio" and the provider dropped support for the platform and my favorite streaming channels were taken away from me.
    • At strange and unpredictable times one unit I wanted to use would lose connectivity to the server which was remedied by rebooting my host computer and resetting the playback device. Often that process would cause the other units to fail to connect to the server until they who reboot / reset process was repeated.
    • The final nail in the coffin was when I got into listening to streaming stations and my entire music collection plus the entire catalog from Amazon Music's subscription service on Amazon's Echo products and installing 8 of their smart devices in my home, most of them connected to high quality audio systems.

    I simply stopped using the Squeezebox system as the headaches discouraged me. So, one day I disconnected all my players and uninstalled the server software.

    However, I have always been intrigued by the high end music libraries for critical listening as they would meet my requirements for critical listening in my main room. Amazon Echo does not support my needs in that situation, neither did Squeezebox. I had gear envy for those who forked out the big bucks on what I saw as overpriced media player/libraries as I was still playing music on my disc player.

    The Brennan device is nearly everything I could want. Plus... and I didn't say this before but it is one of my main selling points, it supports audio via HDMI.

    I can achieve my dream of have as few source components as possible with a single streaming player and the music player and nothing else. I don't care about playing BluRay discs (though I may keep a player installed for legacy needs). I could, in theory, run all the my sources through a TV and buy a simple HDMI to 11 or 13 output decoder with volume control, like the Dirac products from miniDSP, and do away with that HUGE preamp. I hate that every preamp which has the features I desire also has to be massive with billions of completely unnecessary inputs.

    So, this is an intriguing possibility - I would not be using the built in DAC, but feed my system via Toslink or HDMI. I could slowly introduce my discs to the platform as I get motivated because I could just rip each disc as I desire listening to them. The user interface via the Web UI is incredible looking. That has always been my biggest complaint of damn near every library player out there - like my BD player from Sony which can stream my library but finding an artist, album, or track takes forever with its very clunky UI. I don't have to convert or transfer any of current library which are nearly all in the less compatible WMA Lossless format. That works perfectly for my phone and playing from my PCs, but it doesn't work with many of the new streaming devices. I imagine the developer of the Brennan will add support for DNLA where this library could stream to other compatible players, like smart TVs, smart disc players, and so on.

    So, this little unit might solve all my reference grade listening needs in my main rig for less than $700. That's half the price of similar library players I've seen out there which seem to meet all my needs and desires (but which often support crap I don't need like having an overpriced reference grade headphone amp, or strange vacuum tubes in the buffer amp).
  13. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    1) Pick a favorite recording.
    2) Place on turntable.
    3) Enjoy the music and album art.

    No reboots required.
    Randy and Flint like this.
  14. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    I was really hoping to avoid the snark. But, it was inevitable with this group.
    Randy likes this.
  15. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    Sorry to not meet your rigid specifications and expectations. I will research ways in which I can improve.
    Flint likes this.
  16. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    You should read my 1004 point guideline to responding to posts and make sure you stick to it else I'll be snarky back.
  17. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    I've tried to Google the guidelines, but nothing came up in the search. Perhaps my Google apparatus needs re-calibration. :crying:
    Flint likes this.
  18. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Google is taking over the world, and this is how they are doing it.
  19. apcarandang

    apcarandang Well-Known Member

    I use a NAS running Linux to store all my movies and music (FLAC) and use my oldest Mac mini to share all media files to other Macs and AppleTv's at home. I still load CD's, SACD's and DVD-Audio into my older trusty Oppo universal player for critical music listening though.
  20. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    I switched from Squeezebox to Plex, which will stream FLAC without transcoding to any client that supports it. The NVidia Shield runs both the client and the server and supports FLAC. It is a one-box solution that should perform at least as well as for 1/3 the price.

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