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Ok so I spent a fair amount of time just making sure it was worth the effort to try to do this, but based on my tests, it seems like a 'must do' at this point. Quick background for anyone not well versed in digital music and the quality that you get from typical sources. Most audio sources are at best considered 'CD' quality, or less. In many cases such as FM Radio or Satellite radio, it is more often than not, lower quality than this. Many of us don't notice or don't care, but many of us do. For anyone who recalls the really good sound we got from LP records, this is a source of frustration, but there really wasn't much you could do about it. Anyone who ripped all their CD's to mp3 or some other format, might have noticed that it makes a really big difference what sampling rate you decided to set when you ripped them, and how much space they took up. Bottom line, There is no way I can fit all of my digital audio on my phone or even my large capacity iPod at the high sampling rates that provide the best audio. I won't go into details but the only way that I can bring that much HD audio with me in the car in on a high capacity disk in my laptop. So, this thread is about just that, and how I got it to work in a way that seems reasonable when the quest is to have lots (all) of my HD digital audio available in my 2006 300c with a nice interface to go along with it. Here is the short version:

1. Dell E6400 laptop with over 300GB of HD digital music on 2 SSD drives. It's an older laptop but performs nicely with the SSD's
2. JRiver media center running as a service (kinda) suffice to say it starts without me needing to login to the machine so it can just sit there and only needs power while the car is on and I am listing to music from it.
3. Dragonfly USB digital to analog converter specifically built to take any digital audio file and optimize it during playback. Playback is thru the Dragonly USB device into a 3.5 mm cable to the Aux In port on the mygig (for now) more on this later.
4. RAVPower multipurpose wifi device to provide wifi access to up to 5 devices while providing a power port for a 4G phone to get Internet access in the car for those devices on the wifi network provided by the RAVPower device.
5. Android phone that provides the interface (via wifi) to the JRiver media center on the laptop. The app is called Gizmo and it is a very cool UI that easily allows me to control what the laptop plays (essentially the laptop is a jukebox, controlled by the app on my android phone over wifi)

There are other details that are important, but the most important one is the sound that comes from this setup and the (mostly stock for now) 8 speaker BA system in the car, simply put, it is incredible. The quality of sound can't be touched by Sattelite or FM radio. Well mastered CD's sound very good on the system but how many CD's do you want to haul around? The mygig can store some music on the HDD, but not that much unless you upgrade the drive, and even then it has some upper limits. I really like the results I am getting, so I wanted to share. I'll post some pics of this stuff once it is all installed and hooked up, but I wanted to get anyone who. Is interested involved in a discussion as I am sure I am not the only one who has done this, and I am sure I haven't figured out everything. My biggest challenge right now is that I would much rather NOT have to use the aux in port but so far my tests have shown that this yields the best sound quality from the system by a huge margin. Maybe some has a better solution?

Thanks for reading!


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Basically anything you can do to improve the DAC and the quality of the source is going to pay dividends in sound quality. I think you've identified some of the limitations with the system in our cars. One of the largest ones is still there and that's the amp. The stock amp is "digital" meaning it also possesses DACs which would convert between digital and analog between the input and output stages.

Normally this isn't much of a problem in the car environment. But you've identified most of the issues that we would see in the car. Basically Satellite radio is my least favorite in terms of sound quality as they've managed to take a clean medium and overly compress it to the point that it actually sounds worse than terrestrial radio. In many cases, you'll find FM far surpasses Satellite in terms of sound quality.

I like the solution in terms that you've actually got the makings of a music cloud in your car (I'm not sure if that was one of your goals), plus you've managed to find a way to be able to play higher quality music files and managed to find storage for them.

I have a 2 TB array at home for music storage so there's no way I could haul my library around in my car, so for now I usually use a few USB drives that I take turns plugging into the car.

As far as the aux in, that's going to be the optimal solution for sound quality unless you have plans to replace the entire system in the car. But be aware that most aftermarkets pale in comparison when it comes to output signal strength of your myGig unit. They may have better DACs and what not, so the trade-off wouldn't be too bad, but by having an external DAC and feeding that into the aux in, you are getting the maximum improvement available to you.

I know it's a long and possibly useless post by me, but in a long winded way I'd like to say good job on this!
 

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I wondered if this was doable.

Have you thought about using a tablet and a portable HD vs. the laptop?

Once the decoding is done, using the aux in is probably your best bet as it won't cause any further processing of the music file.

My solution was to purchase a small Astell & Kern high resolution media player (similar to an iPod but handles up to 24 bit / 192 kHz lossless FLAC files) and use an aux in harness from PacAudio. The unit has an internal DAC and provides 96GB of storage.
 

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One additional suggestion is to go "whole hog" by getting some aftermarket amps into the system with some truly high quality speakers to match what you've done on the source side. :)

You can pretty much do this without touching the mygig and the stock amp, even though the stock amp by far is the weak link.

You'd just add LOC type equipment to the outputs of the stock amps and feed that to the aftermarket amps.

Contrary to what I said about the mygig, practically every aftermarket amp would be superior to the stock amp in terms of sound quality.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the feedback. I am ok with the aux in solution since the result is very good, but it would be nice if there was a way to feed the unit with the signal in a non-visible way. Seems like it should be trivial, but maybe not. As far as the 'music cloud' yes that is a nice side benefit. Just one note on your 2tb music archive. As far as I can see as long as you can put it on a potable drive that doesn't require AC power, you can absolutely take it in the car and have jriver manage it. Just plug the drive into your laptop or the ravpower device and point jriver at it.


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I wondered if this was doable.

Have you thought about using a tablet and a portable HD vs. the laptop?

Once the decoding is done, using the aux in is probably your best bet as it won't cause any further processing of the music file.

My solution was to purchase a small Astell & Kern high resolution media player (similar to an iPod but handles up to 24 bit / 192 kHz lossless FLAC files) and use an aux in harness from PacAudio. The unit has an internal DAC and provides 96GB of storage.

I've actually seen an install that employed a tablet as the central source and control, so that would definitely work a an alternative. I think jaminmon was going for the laptop's ability to control multiple storage arrays so he could use the highest quality music files and also support his 300GB library.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ha. I already have the new loc, new 6x9's, amp and subwoofer ready to install. But before I did that I needed to know if I was going to see a difference from the new hardware or the better quality audio source. It looks like I will get an improvement from both. What more could I ask? (Don't answer that!) lol


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Thanks for the feedback. I am ok with the aux in solution since the result is very good, but it would be nice if there was a way to feed the unit with the signal in a non-visible way. Seems like it should be trivial, but maybe not. As far as the 'music cloud' yes that is a nice side benefit. Just one note on your 2tb music archive. As far as I can see as long as you can put it on a potable drive that doesn't require AC power, you can absolutely take it in the car and have jriver manage it. Just plug the drive into your laptop or the ravpower device and point jriver at it.


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The PAC AAI-CHY could be your option to fit the bill. You could fashion the RCA connectors into the console and run any wiring so that nothing is visible. I know someone did just this with very clean results.
 

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You have room right next door in the glovebox for a portable HD (which you can connect and disconnect as needed, say for loading new music you've downloaded) and use a tablet as your front end, mounted in the dash. I've seen it locally and it's cool. The tablet also supports DVD playback off the HD, navigation (not sure what the backend was) and a whole host of other goodies to play with.

You did ask what else you could ask for....

Oh, and the new Alpine head units will support this as well I believe. Just sayin'.... :D
 
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