Warren Systems, Inc.
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Onkyo's NC-500 Net-Tune Receiver

Onkyo's NC-500 Net-Tune Receiver, Click for a larger image

Nice, bleeding edge receiver that you connect to your local network, and listen to Internet Radio, and music from other computers on your network.

I am writing some software for it, and here are some notes I have taken towards that end, and also about its installation, limitations, and features. I have it on pretty much most of the time, so I suppose I like it enough.

Setting it up

I use Internet Connection Sharing under Windows XP Pro, and that was the first obstacle I ran into. Fixed IP addresses don't work! So I had to install the Net-Tune Central software on another box on the network. The Onkyo, or as I renamed it to in its Client menu, "Oinky", was up and running! I listen to Planet Rock most of the time.

Takes about 30 seconds to find the network, and another 15 seconds to complete buffering before INet-Radio will start. I find that I have to keep the receiver's volume down much lower than any other sources I have hooked up to my Denon AVR-3200 receiver. No problem changing from Music Server to iNet Radio during connecting phase after power up.

See what's in my music catalog!

Server Software

Everything is obtained by clicking or right-clicking on the icon "in the tray". Database, Title Editor, and Log Viewer are clicks, and right-clicks gives Settings, Restart, and Help, About, and Exit.

Program Notes

Here is what I am doing to make the Music Server coexist a little more peacefully in my environment. I have a VB program going (Sorry, its what I', working in these days.) and.....

  • Found that the .tsv files sitting in the "Program Files\Net-Tune Central" folder contains the goodies: libext for the tab-delimited Library that the Database option generated and the Title Editor option lets you manage.
    • The Catalog in libext.tsv contains the tab-delimited fields:
      1. file-path name
      2. title
      3. title index
      4. Artist name
      5. Artist index
      6. Album name
      7. Album index
      8. Genre index - Program puts in name, gotta change! (20Feb03)
      9. Album name
      10. Album index
      11. type
    • Names and Indexes. Hmmmm.... It generates a new index every time that it needs to during its database search. (Probably when you add via the Editor also. Haven't needed to do that.) So, the first Album it finds gets index zero, and all other albums it finds with the same name will get the same index. Likewise for Artists and Titles.
    • Most lists are displayed alphabetically, but it is important that the order of the titles on an album are correct. It won't figure it out just because of the relative value of title indexes. And don't just change the order, you have to change the title index as well!
    • The Genres are in genrefdef.tsv - this probably is not modifiable, some non-ASCII lines within the text. I have links to what the "industry standard" values are. If I crack the nut about the non-ASCII lines, perhaps I could trim the list down to the required stuff. No reason for the Onkyo to have this built in. File seems to duplicate the info quite a bit. (Concession to the different parts of the program???)
    • m3ulist.tsv is a little misnamed. It holds playlist index, probably doesn't care about filetype. Gonna add something to make playlist maintenance easier. Clumsy, got to answer yes to each file drop. Needs options about that. Playlist filenames are odd.
  • SeachFolder.wgs is the Search list that the Database uses. Just a list of search paths. You can add and delete from this.
  • Oddest thing was finding that it stores the files in memory! Activating the Editor did not cause the files to be re-read. Had to restart "Central" to get the new list accessible to the Editor, and to Oinky. Suppose this makes sense.
  • The albums I converted to MP3, did not get any useful information stored. So I have resorted to a rigid folder naming convention. Lacking defined info in/from the file, with the noteable exception of Genre, I assume that where the file is contains information as to what, who, etc it is as follows: //Server/folder.../Music/Genre/Artist/Album/Title.type. I parse right to left, grabbing the name and substituting it when the file is written. (Or, when I was manipulating the files that its Database generated, I substituted when I found "No Artist", "No Title", or "No Album". Genre was never a problem, it seemed to default to the first one it found, so mine were Funk in category 4.)
  • I also found it better to browse using UNC paths, rather than drive letter paths. This will allow a single set of master files to be shared amoung all boxes on the network.
  • Still don't know why it duplicates some fields in the Catalog. And, only Genre is without text support.
  • I harp about Genre, but even if there is a standard, why isn't this generated as well as the indexes used for Title/Artist/Album?
  • Keeps a backup folder. Not sure when it writes to it. Doesn't when you start the Editor, nor when you Refresh from its menu. Just what does Refresh do?
  • Not having a whole lot of luck looking at the mp3 files in TextPad (http://www.textpad.com/), my editor of choice. Neither in text, nor binary.
  • Stop the presses! Looking at ancient_voices.mp3, and I see that the last line/block of the file contains this information.
  • Links

    Amassed a set of links for the MP3 file format. I was thinking about editing the MP3 file directly, but will forgo that for a while. Probably keep with the "use the Genre/Artist/Album/Title in the path" scheme that works with my ripper(?) software.

    MP3 File Format Specification
    MP3tools
    cat297
    mpgtools
    MPEG Audio Frame HeaderThis describes where the file information (name, title, genre, artist, time) can be located. The standard Genres are defined also.

    Getting it to run back on the ICS server

    I would like to force it to find the second NIC I put in. Removed everything, swapped the NIC slots, moving it ahead of the Fixed-IP NIC, and re-installed the software. Restarted the server a couple of times, (because this is in the Startup group, and if it finds the "wrong" NIC, it displays the big Red-X with the message about global IP and copyrights, and will not run). It is back to Planet Rock. I will restart the server and see how the Onkyo picks back up. Didn't, I hit the Display button, and selected Genre, and it displayed "Searching..." and came back to the last spot I had searched to before. Got PlanetRock back, hit play, and it connected and buffered and played! Now to get one of the other boxes up that also has the software, and see if it stays on Norman, or gets an attitude. Odd thing about this additional NIC, is that there is no network activity on it. It uses the ADSL card and the Original NIC.

    After other box came up, I turned Oinky off and back on. It picked "Warren"; I went into Server, and changed to Norman. No apparent change in playback, because this simply sets the "Prefered Server", the one it will look for first when it searches. Changed back to Warren, and it lost both servers! Just for a few seconds, then it selected Warren. Still no activity on Warren's NIC, and Settings on Norman show the Current Name as Norman, but a Jinglish comment on the bottom implies a reset is required to update the info Oh well, back to Norman as the prefered server, and some more restarts to see if the NICs will stick for a while.

    Some challenges here, it wouldn't find either server once. Doesn't seem to like not being able to find a server much. So, I am removing the software from starting up on Warren, and sticking with Norman, which was the original intent.

    I copied the files I made to define its database of music to the proper spot, restarted the software, powered up Oinky, and listened to PlanetRock after the usual delay. Went to Music Server, and started to play from the copied files!

    25Mar03 - Oinky was off, stopped the server process on Norman, and copied my latest libext.tsv to Program Files, and restarted Net-Tune Central. Got the IP address error. Shut down Warren, restarted Central, without error, but did not find the server. Shut down Oinky. Rebooted Norman, No error, but Oinky still stayed trying to connect. Setup no good. Cycled power on Oinky, and all was well. Hmmm... Took a while for Planet Rock. Presets were not there. After going to another station (which did not work), I selected it from Genre, and it worked.

    27Mar03 - Have to reboot if I Exit. We also lost power the other day, and the presets on the radio disappeared! The Power Wedge I bought a few years ago has never lived up to its promise. Probably should hook everything to a UPS.

    Propoganda

    MFR. PART # NC-500

    • Internet radio receiver / 20 Internet radio presets / MP3, WMA & A/V decoding / 25W x 2 / Ethernet jack / Includes remote
    • ONKYO NC-500 Access PC-based Audio via Ethernet with this Net-Tune series client.
    • This executive mini-receiver uses an Ethernet connection to access Digital Music files stored in a networked home PC
    • Also tunes in Internet radio stations, which webcast MP3 or Windows Media Audio ( WMA ) files by network Broadband connection
    • Simple and intuitive to set up and use, and makes thousands of hours of stored and webcast audio available instantly over wired or wireless home networks
    • Up to 12 users can use individual NC-500s to independently access a central music library and Internet radio
    • Installing Net-Tune Central Software on your home PC allows it to function as a server, without interrupting other uses
    • MP3, WMA & A/V decodi
    • 20 Watt per Channel WRAT ( Wide Range Amplifier Technology ) amplifier
    • Sensitive AM/FM Tuner
    • Auxiliary inputs for external CD player, MiniDisc or cassette
    • Programmable clock and timer functions
    • Line level outputs for connection to preamp or receiver
    • 3-9/16"H x 8-1/16"W x 11"D; weighs 8.6 pounds
    • Includes remote

    Bitches

    Wish it worked with my universal remote. First device that has failed miserably.

    Too bad a momentary power failure made the radio presets disappear.

    Doesn't automatically come back if the server is rebooted.

    Radio Presets

    How do I program the presets? Ought to be a way. but, seems like that is local, while music server is, well, a server!


    Comments to: Webmaster@WarrenSystems.com
    April 5, 2003
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