Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cloudbeats, the iOS app to stream audio files from the gdrive (flac and other formats)

Cloudbeats is the only one iOS app so far which allows streaming of audio files from Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, Mediafire, ownCloud.

You save a lot of mobile storage space on your mobile device by storing audio files such as flac / mp3 in the cloud (see my blog post). Then you can hear your music by multiple devices on all operating systems. For iOS the cloudbeats app is needed which does a nice job. Chromebooks can read it nativly, for windows and mac there are many players available.

I use it to enjoy lossless sound in the office / bed or other areas with WIFI access (the app can copy files for offline usage though)  from my library on my gdrive. No need to sync files anymore.

You can get cloudbeats from the Apple app store.

Use cases of gdrive storage space: audio streaming

With your chromebook you probably received a lot of storage space on googles gdrive. Either 100 GB or recently 1 TB as mentioned in my blog. This is a lot of space. I would like to give you some ideas for use cases.

Todays use case it is about storing your audio flac files (uncompressed audio format which can even hold high definition audio with sampling frequency and resolutions higher than CD, which is 44.1kHZ / 16 bit). MP3 was invented to reduce storage space as it was limited that time (in the ninetees). Bandwidths of streaming were limited as well (I just remember my modem with 56kbaud). MP3 sounds great considering the 11times compression factor, but today we can afford to store and stream full quality of the audio information.

For mobile devices the flac files are still huge. An CD music album can be up to about 500 MB / 0.5 GB big (with high definition audio the number is growing even more). For an iphone or other mobile device with limited memory space you can store not too many albums. Same situation we have with the chromebook. They are usually equipped with 16/32 GB SSDs only. So, better do not use as your flac library. If you cam limit your flac consumption to WIFI equipped area there is one nice solution to the issue: cloud storage.

If you rip the CDs to your gdrive you do not stress your storage capabilities on your devices. Unfortunately so far it is not possible to RIP CDs on a chromebook. But other OS can rip CDs with free software like foobar to the gdrive. Then you can enjoy it on your chromebook by using the internal audio player (see my blog) by streaming it from the gdrive directly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The cheapest DAC and smallest solution for digital audio on iOS devices (ipad, iphone) with lighting connection?

I already reported here in this blog about my FiiO E17 Alpen Portable Headphone Amplifier USB DAC which can be used as a very audiophile USB soundcard and headphone amplifier, even on chromebooks.

The issue so far was, that it was not easy to connect it to recent iOS (ipad, ipod, iphone) devices. They all complained with an error message, that the device is draining too much power after the direct connection between the 2 devices by a regular USB cable.

There are several solutions to it, which all add a lot of weight and inconvenience. One is to convert the digital audio to SPDIF signals (needs an additional adapter which costs 50 bucks) or use a powered USB hub (needs a power source which is not available usually during mobile usage, or a battery needs to be attached).
I think I found an even better solution now.

There is a very compact passive hub which has no housing (just cables, see picture on the right). It is sold by Conrad Electronics e.g. in Germany or Switzerland and probably in other countries as well. It cost 6 EUR only. If the 3 "hubs" are cut away it even looks like a cable. I have not cut them yet on the picture below, I will cut them soon to have a very small and compact adapter.

The adapter has even the right USB connector to the Fiio E17, so there is no addtional cable needed.

To make it work, the USB charging function on the E17 has to be switched off and the hub can be directly connected. Then the music can be enjoyed. See my full setup in the picture below. Very compact, isn't it? With the removal of the non used 3 hub connectors it will behave like a short additional cable (for 6 EUR only).

If you find other sources to purchase the cable globally, please post them in the comments. I was looking for such a solution a long time and found it by accident.

The headphone in the picture below is a Philips Fidelio X1 which I recently purchased. It is one of the best in his price-class. I really like it. To be perfect it is just enhancing a bit too much the bass, but a more perfect headphone (like Sennheiser Sennheiser HD 800 costs 6 times more).