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Sondigo Sirocco: Wireless Audio Streaming with a DRM detour

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October 31, 2006 3:27:49 PM

DRM tends to put a crimp in wireless audio streaming flexibility. But Jim Buzbee found that Sondigo's Sirocco handily works around the problem.
October 31, 2006 7:56:02 PM

Good review - I also use an Airport Express for music streaming but there are other features and ways around it's limitations that you didn't mention. Rogue Amoeba sells Airfoil for $ 25 on both Mac and Windows that allows you to send any audio source to one or more Airport Express units. I haven't done more than play with it but it seems to work great (the trial version overlays noise on the music after 10 minutes).

Also I use a Keyspan URM-17A Express Remote Control (about $47 on Amazon although I got one for $15 on eBay) to overcome the lack of a local interface to control playback. It plugs into the USB port of the AE and allows you to control the playback of music no matter which computer is driving it. It uses an IR remote (a small one is included) so it requires line of sight to the sensor unit but you can also use its remote to program a universal remote (which I did) to control iTunes playback. I notice see that the Keyspan was covered in the AE review.

I haven't tried to see if the Keyspan remote would work with Airfoil yet.
November 1, 2006 1:16:17 AM

Quote:
Good review - I also use an Airport Express for music streaming but there are other features and ways around it's limitations that you didn't mention. Rogue Amoeba sells Airfoil for $ 25 on both Mac and Windows that allows you to send any audio source to one or more Airport Express units. I haven't done more than play with it but it seems to work great (the trial version overlays noise on the music after 10 minutes).


Thanks for the reminder, I'd forgotten that someone was selling a program that expanded the capabilities of the Airport Express. I'll have to check it out.

Jim
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November 1, 2006 1:23:15 AM

This sounds like a great device but I am wondering if digital output can pass a "bit-perfect" stream. Most sound cards for computers take a 44.1khz CD-quality audio stream & up-convert it to 48khz, then sending the resulting stream to a receiver. I like to play DTS-CDs but it will not work unless the stream is sent to the receiver exactly as read from the CD. If you can find out if this device can play back DTS CDs or DTS-encoded wav or flac files I'd like to know.

Thanks!
November 1, 2006 3:15:25 PM

Tim,

Airport Express also does s/pdif out, review well beyond my comprehension here:

http://www.stereophile.com/budgetcomponents/505apple/

which might answer JadedMan' query about the "bit-perfect" stream at least in relation to the A/E (no idea on DTS wav / flac though)

wysi
November 2, 2006 3:46:33 PM

Did I miss something? I didn't see an estimated price noted in the review.
November 2, 2006 4:25:57 PM

Quote:
Did I miss something? I didn't see an estimated price noted in the review.


Sorry. Right now, the product has limited availability via Cyberguys.com, x-tremegeek.com, thinkgeeks.com and kellysmusic.ca.

The Sirocco is $139.99 MSRP
November 2, 2006 5:51:25 PM

Hopefully Sondigo will keep the AP functionality, as it is currently 10 dollars USD more than the Airport Express.

Two things that it DOES have going for it is analog suround connectors and the external antenna - the AE has one side shielded, so dpending on its orientation, the AE will lose wireless packets, which is really annoying for streaming music. I spent two days fighting with the AE, thinking it was somehow elctrically damaged, by trying updates, the latest itunes, a wired connection (which defeated the purpose of the AE in the first place) and performing a hardware reboot many time.

I had to stick a wok cover behind the AE to get a stable stream. I verified that the cover was making a difference by removing it from behind the AE and presto - I'd hear about a second and a half of music, then silence,.. when the wok cover was replaced, I recieved a steady stream again. Once my AE goes out of warranty, I'm cracking it open to add an extrenal antenna (it has a connector on the board inside).

There is another application other than Airfoil called JustePort, made by the infamous DVD Jon. He supplies a windows executable and source code for linux lovers - it'd be interesting to see if it would work with Sondigo. From the looks of it, if one knows the port that Sondigo uses to receive music on, it'd just be a matter of editing the source code.
November 2, 2006 6:18:06 PM

Ahh, cool. Thanks. Figured it might have been due to limited availability.
November 2, 2006 7:10:31 PM

ahhh - I've had the same problems with wireless reception on the AE - and this with an access point (tried both a 3Com and a 2Wire access point) only 20-30 feet away. Ended up running an Ethernet cable to the AE which wasn't a real problem in my case (there was already a switch under the stereo for other things to connect to).

What side of the AE did you put the Wok cover on?
November 2, 2006 7:16:54 PM

The unshielded side :D 


With the LED side facing you, it is sitting on the left side.

EDIT: This makes sense as the antenna connector is loacated and unshielded there. The intermal shielding between the PCBs must be degrading my signal.

Here is a tear down of the innards: http://www.vonwentzel.net/ABS/Dissection-Express/
November 3, 2006 12:19:12 AM

The Stereophile article answered the question about "bit-perfect" digital output stream, but will this thing alow you to stream SACD or DVD-A data through the network?

In fact, I would like to know if i can stream multi-zone SACD or DVD-A signals over a wired gigbit ethernet. Can someone point me in the right direction for researching this?
November 3, 2006 2:42:53 PM

doublepost.. :S
November 3, 2006 2:43:44 PM

I'm not sure about the Sondigo, but AE converts the data type into a RAW audio format, then pipes it out.

As long as you can find a data converting codec from SACD/DVD-A to RAw, you should be fine. I would suspect that this reviewed device would be performing the same method.
January 12, 2007 8:51:59 PM

I've recently started researching media streaming. The Sondigo seems to be the most interesting device I have found yet but still falls short. I have concluded that for future proofing, and because I have three established mutimedia sytems, I want to be able to base a system on PCs and/or NAS - so no fancy all in systems. I want a cheap way to stream high quality audio, but would spend a bit more for HD video. My laptop can be the remote and/or server as it is better than a Sqeezebox etc. TV interface DMAs seem either flakey and format limited and/or expensive. Sonos looks great but is expensive, and will be old news before we know it - what no video??

Sondigo has
- Ethernet and wireless - perfect
- Dolby 5.1 and optical out - superb
- can be driven by my laptop 'remote'
- is cheap enough for audio only
- handles anything my PC can play - hard luck Apple

but.....
without the ability to synchronise (perfectly) on multiple units for simultaneously playing in multiple rooms (for parties and housework), it offers nothing much over plugging my MP3 player into a hifi with a 3.5mm cable connector.

My research tells me that I cannot get what I want yet without spending thousands for 3 systems, or £600 on three Swqeezeboxes, which I'll regret in a year when they or someone else brings outs a version with HD video, HDMI and a remote as good as the Sonos.

Have I come to the end of the road? Do I have to keep moving my MP3 around and just wait for the technology to get there?

p.s. Just joined - great website - excellent reviews for intelligent readers with genuinely useful and in depth information. Thanks.
!