Looking for advice on WDTV as music player

Hi everyone - first post here.  I’ve had my Live Hub since December and have a handful of photos plus a few home videos on it. 

I used to use an iPod classic 80GB to play music - I have select songs from 300 CDs ripped in Apple Lossless in iTunes, plus some play lists, and enjoyed being able to move the iPod from a HT dock to a boom box to the car, etc.  The HD died in it.  Or maybe the battery.  I’m not sure I want to dump $100 into it now that I see the weakness of this proprietary approach.  (Apple keeps prices high by raising capacities - I don’t need a 160GB iPod !) 

So I’ve got this WD TV Liv Hub and have found a thread here on how to do play lists on it and that sounds promising (can’t move it to use with the boom box but that’s another issue). 

Meanwhile, I know nothing of music management outside of iTunes.  Is Windows Media Player recommended for basic tasks & organizing ?  What’s a high quality audio format I should use (and any recommendations for software to convert Apple Lossless) ?  What if I’m interested in picking up an inexpensive portable media player to hold just some of my music - would your recommendations change ? 

Thanks for any & all advice,

  • Dennis

Actually Windows Media Player is not recommended for anything cause it simpy **bleep**. Why not keep using iTunes on Windows, it gets the job done. If you’re hellbent on losless just convert your files to FLAC though I still think that the LIVE is less then suitable as a music player.

There are a number of posts on this site regarding the audio performance of the WDTV Live. The WDTV Live was designed as a video streaming device that can play an embedded audio stream. Video audio and music audio are two different and distinct listening experiences. What works for one will not work for the other. For its designed application, the WDTV Live does a good job. As a stand alone audio player, there are better alternatives to the WDTV Live.

Panoguy - do you know any upnp devices that do audio well?

As for the WD TV devices, they currently suffer from these 2 issues which effect audio:



The WDTV ranges of boxes are primarily a video streaming device with an embedded audio stream. The video watching experience is different to an audio listening experience. An audio system optimised for video viewing will not perform adequately when used for purely audio listening; and the opposite is true. I have a pair of Klipsh SB 3 loudspeakers which are lively when reproducing audiophile grade CD music yet sound like cheap boom boxes when used for watching DVD movies.

There are dedicated audio forums discussing SPDIF / TOSLINK and digital to analogue clock jitter and methods to overcome the digital jitter. The best on the net is hydrogenaudio:   http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?act=idx

Wikipedia has a good explanation why the SPDIF / TOSLINK issue will never be resolved. The issue is due to the original SPDIF / TOSLINK specifications and not the fault of WD. In essence the digital clocks in the WDTV box and external amplifiers cannot synchronise using a SPDIF / TOSLINK connection.  A hard reset on the WDTV box will only give both digital clocks an initial synchronous pulse. Once the digital clocks drift and they do drift; there is no known method to physically maintain the digital clock synchronisation.

I used to build and modify audio equipment. I conducted a number of tests using a number of high quality CD’s, a Yamaha RXV 457 amplifier and a pair of Stax SRX Mark 3 electrostatic headphones. The analogue audio was reasonable for what the WDTV Live box was designed for; definitely not audiophile quality.

From the limited research I have done on streaming devices; it is my understanding that Sigma manufacture the majority of the chips used in streaming devices. Sigma is very secretive with their specifications. Sigma doesn’t publish the harmonic and inter-modulation distortion specification charts for their devices. Without those specifications it is almost impossible to match the Sigma device to an external amplifier and speakers.   

Based on past experience; regardless of the manufacturer marketing the streaming device, if it contains a Sigma chip the audio performance will be identical. In the past audio guys including myself have traced the circuits on consumer gear and replaced the discrete audio IC output with a higher quality IC. This has resulted in a reasonable audiophile grade HiFi performance at a minimal cost. I have not pursued that path because my WDTV Live box is still under warranty.

Purchasing a streaming box is not an easy decision. I can only give general advice. It depends on the region you live in, the cost and availability of the devices on the market and most important will the device perform adequately for the job it was purchased. I would suggest before anyone builds or purchases a dedicated audio streaming device, that they read the hydrogenaudio forums and ask the forum members for audio opinions. If people encounter valuable information applicable to the members of this forum; maybe they will share that information on this forum.

Wow - you guys sounds like you know your stuff … a bit over my head, but I’m willing to dive in.  I’ll check out the hydrogenaudio forums.  In any event, since I haven’t tried putting audio on the WDTV at all yet, it sounds like maybe I shouldn’t waste my time, as it’s  not an ideal alternative to a CD jukebox/iPod music player.  I wonder if I should have skipped the WDTV altogether and gone for a compact HTPC …

Thanks for the input

  • Dennis

@Panoguy - The excess gain issue effects HDMI as well as Toslink audio. You’re welcome to reproduce it yourself using the mp3 I posted under the first link above, but be sure to keep the volume down so you don’t damage your Stax, because this issue is for real.


Actually you’ll need an AV Receiver instead of a HD media player for enjoying high quality audio. By high quality I mean surround sound like Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and above.  And good speakers too.