SPHINX

Getting, Installing and configuring ConvoFS

Installing on Synology

To install ConvoFS, you will due to problems with digital signature have to go to Package Center again, click Settings and select “any publisher” as Trust Level. Afterward, click “Manual Install”, select the downloaded ConvoFS SPK file and continue from there. After installation, ConvoFS should appear among any other installed packages. Click on the icon and check that it is running. Otherwise, start it using the ‘Action’ menu. There should be an “URL” link which leads you to the ConvoFS admin interface. Check that there are no red warnings on the bottom of that page.

The Synology installation procedure requires you to download two .SPK files from the ConvoFS.net download section. First, download and install the latest & greatest ‘ConvoFS-base’ package. It is quite large (80+ mbytes) but rarely requires updating. If your ConvoFS-base version is too old or missing, ConvoFS will refuse to install. After having installed the base package, download and install the latest & greatest ConvoFS non-base SPK file.

The ConvoFS installer adds a new share: ‘ConvoFS’. Here, convolved files are to be accessed. Due to technical reasons, they are located under a subfolder ‘mount’ in that share. No file service access rights are added during installation, you can add them manually, should you want so. Per default ConvoFS is read-only, but it can be configured to allow write-thru of non-FLAC data to the underlying music data directory.

Note1: to ensure a problem-free installation process, please stop your music streamer/music playback program, media server (e.g. MinimServer) and ConvoFS in that order before installing/updating ConvoFS. Afterward, start things in the reverse order.

Note2: if you upgrade ConvoFS from a 1.x release to another 1.x release or from a 2.x to another 2.x release, all your settings/filters are preserved. If you upgrade from 1.x to 2.x, your music dir and mount point settings are preserved as well as your filters. Your attenuation setting etc. are lost.

Note3: if you uninstall ConvoFS for whatever reason including if you’re going to reinstall it, please afterward go to the ‘Shared folder’ section of ‘Control Panel’ and manually remove the ‘ConvoFS’ share. Don’t be frightened by warnings about data being deleted – the ConvoFS share holds no real data. Also, note that uninstalling ConvoFS means that your filter/ConvoFS settings are lost. So please back them up or check that you have access to them elsewhere.

Installing on Linux

Installing on Linux is done by running an installer ‘install-ConvoFS.sh’, answering a few questions, and hitting return a couple of times. During installation, the installer temporarily needs superuser (“sudo”) access to your Linux box. ConvoFS does not - while running - require extended privileges, but a couple of things need to be set up during installation.

To install it, download the latest & greatest ‘.tar.gz’ file from ConvoFS.net to your account on the Linux box and run the following commands (for x and y and ‘z’ substitute the actual version numbers of the downloaded software):

tar -xzvf ConvoFS-x.y.z.tar.gz
cd ConvoFS-x.y.z
./install-ConvoFS.sh

The installer prompts you for your password to perform the installation. It will install any additional Ubuntu software needed to install and run ConvoFS.

The installer creates a directory ‘ConvoFS-data’ in the directory above the one containing the installer. During operation, this directory may grow to some gigabytes depending on the size of your music collection.

After installation has hopefully completed OK, you can stop/start/restart the ConvoFS software by running command

sudo /etc/init.d/ConvoFS stop
sudo /etc/init.d/ConvoFS start
        or
sudo /etc/init.d/ConvoFS restart

The basics

After having installed ConvoFS, direct your browser to http://the-address-of-your-computer-or-Synology-box:8999/. E.g. http://192.168.1.200:8999. From there, create a filter bank with a suitable name reflecting the filters you are going to upload to it. Then upload filters into it by clicking the green upwards arrow. Note: you can upload multiple filters at one time. On a Windows PC by using ‘control-left-click’ rather than just ‘left-click’ to select. After having uploaded filters, you can activate the bank by clicking the green ‘OK’ button.

Now is the time to specify the location of your music files. Do this by clicking the Perform maintenance functions link which opens another tab/window in your browser. Specify the music directory and click ‘Submit’. You can also change the ConvoFS “mount directory” but better leave it at its preselected value.

Now you should change the “Music Directory” in your media server to the value of the ConvoFS mount directory. After this, request it to index your music again. Depending on the size (#tracks) of your music collection, this may take considerable time. You may follow the progress by refreshing the maintenance tab – look for the string ‘Meta database: xxx tracks in yyy mb’. When it is done, ‘xxx’ should approximately equal the size of the music collection.

The reason it is slow is that ConvoFS builds an internal cache/database of FLAC header/metadata of your music. You may choose to have ConvoFS perform this step before initiating the media server rescan. Do this by clicking ‘Rebuild metadb’ button. You probably never have an occasion to click it again.

When you get new music in the future, rescanning will be much faster.

After your music server has completed scanning, you should be ready to go. Remember to enable DRC on the ConvoFS main screen.

Web interface in more detail

See below for a more detailed description of the tabs of the web interface.

  • Main tab: You are going to spend most of the time you interact with ConvoFS here. It will show you the current ConvoFS operating mode and parameters and has buttons for changing them. New in version 2.1.x is a colored indicator which automatically goes red when the convolver is active (no need to refresh the browser window). Otherwise, is it is green.

  • Online documentation tab: That’s where you are right now.

  • Maintenance tab. Set up ConvoFS initially. Hopefully, you won’t use much time there afterward. An important function, though, is a button do download a log+config bundle. If you run into problems and contact me, I may request such a bundle. It contains ConvoFS logs for the past three days, ConvoFS configurations and operational information about your system.

    You can also find the ‘Rebuild metadb’ button here, see above.

    A related button is ‘Trigger music server re-index’. Each time it is clicked, it permanently adds one second to the timestamps of all convolved music files as presented by ConvoFS. It tricks your music server into thinking that the entire music collection has been updated and re-index everything.

    At the bottom of the screen, you can select which upsampling levels should be active.

  • Statistics tab: Another screen where you will probably not spend much time. Its primary purpose is for development/debugging.

  • Clipping tab: If you suspect that you have digital clipping going on inside ConvoFS, this is where you should go. It will show you the 25 last such reports from the internal ConvoFS logs.

  • DRC filters tab: where you define filter banks and upload room corrections filters.

  • Manage LoCo filters: it appears if you enable the extended web interface. It allows you to define LoCo filter banks in addition to the built-in one and upload filters to them.

Operational modes

ConvoFS 2.1.x defines two modes of operation with corresponding web interfaces. The modes determine how ConvoFS when playing back tracks, determine basic parameters: phase, attenuation parameters, LoCo mode and filters.

  • Basic mode: ConvoFS will offer the selection of only one set of parameters: phase (normal/inverted/reverse ) and LoCo filter (Disabled/built-in filter bank). These parameters apply to all tracks played back. Basic mode is the default in 2.1.x installations whether fresh installs/upgraded installations, but can be easily be changed.
  • Extended mode: offer a lot more functionality (and quite some complexity). When starting delivering a track, ConvoFS searches up to 4 places for determining parameters. The sources are - in the order searched:
  1. Stored album preferences if present. They are set and stored from the ConvoFS main page.
  2. The preferences which were active the last time a track from the album was played. The item only appears if you allow ConvoFS to continually store the info (done in the maintenance tab).
  3. The preferences of the active DRC filter bank. Set these parameters in the DRC filter tab or from the main page.
  4. The global preferences. Set in the maintenance tab.

Each of the three first sources of information can be disabled individually.

When in extended mode, ConvoFS informs you of the settings used and how they are located. In both modes, ConvoFS will inform you of the last played album. The info is not refreshed automatically. If you store changed parameters into the current album preferences, the album stored into is the one you see listed in the tab.

The values you can choose from the Phase/LoCo menus include a pseudo value “NotSet”. When stored as a parameter value, it will make ConvoFS proceed to the next information source to get the parameter value.

To get a deeper understanding, experiment a little with the possibilities and see how they affect the effective settings. Or you may decide to return to basic mode. Keep in mind that basic versus extended mode is just a matter of fine-tuning things.

Extended mode, additional notes

When you allow ConvoFS to store the parameters of the last playback, it stores them in a file ‘ConvoFS-last-prefs.txt’ located in the catalog where ConvoFS found the track. You may delete these files at will, but you are not advised to edit them. If you explicitly store preference values for an album, they end up in files called ‘.ConvoFS-album-prefs.txt”’. They are in a simple “key-value” format, and you may choose to manipulate them by hand. Note that this is low-level details and subject to change. A last note: The two per-album preference files are stored along with your music collection. However, ConvoFS filters them out when presenting the album in the ConvoFS share.

Log levels

You can select four levels of internal logging. The default is 0 which is not very talkative but gives small log bundles which are easy to email. Internal error messages are still logged. If you’re a happy convolver, there’s no reason to change it. In the case of problems, it may be necessary to bump it up to 2 or 3 producing a lot of messages. If ConvoFS is run for at a long time at logging level 2 or 3, log bundles may grow very large. Furthermore, the logging activity _may_ have negative consequences for the sound quality.

Media server specific info

As noticed, ConvoFS does not know/care about what’s accessing it. That been said, you may profit from making minor adjustments depending on what media server your use.

  • Using ConvoFS with Minimserver: ConvoFS was initially built for use with Minim Server and still works very fine with it. Indexing is very fast. You will want to make one single adjustment to the MinimServer setup. On e.g. a Synology NAS, you cannot be sure if ConvoFS will start up before/after Minim Server. As Minim Server defaults to scanning the music collection on startup, this may lead to it seeing an empty collection and removing its index of your music. To avoid this, you can set the Advanced Minim Server option ‘startupScan’ to false. You will then have to manually request a rescan of your music collection when you add music.
  • Using ConvoFS with Logitech Media Server (LMS): ConvoFS works OK with LMS, and no special setup is needed.
  • Using ConvoFS with Roon: With some adjustments, ConvoFS works OK with Roon too. One user has 100,000+ tracks and is happy with this setup. As is the case with the AURALiC media server, you are advised to put ConvoFS into Index mode when doing the initial and later rescans. Also, you will want to adjust the Roon configuration, setting two parameters to false. Please refer to this screen dump:
_images/roon.png
  • After having installed Roon and made the config adjustments, go the Roon ‘Storage’ tab and add a Network Folder under the Watched Folder section. As NetWork Path, specify the IP address or network name of your NAS/Linux box running ConvoFS. E.g. \\MyNAS\ConvoFS or \\192.168.100.27\ConvoFS. You will also have to specify the username and password you’ve configured on the NAS. If everything is set up OK, Roon will start scanning your music collection. Roon indexing takes time – on my not very fast Synology NAS, Roon can index about 2500 tracks per hour. If you have a newer NAS, it will probably go faster.
  • Using ConvoFS with AURALiC Lightning Server: The AURALiC Lightning media server will read a little more than just the headers of your FLAC files when scanning, triggering partial convolution which is expensive, time-wise. To make this go considerably faster, it is suggested putting ConvoFS into Index mode before starting the scan. Unfortunately, the initial scan will still take time. You can follow the progress in the AURALiC app.