Best music server for the money

Looking to add a music server to my system. Current equipment is a Theta pre-amp and 5 channel amp Wilson Duettes and a JL Audio f113 sub. I love the ease and convenience of the Sooloos but not sure about the hardware or sound quality for the money. I really do not want to use a computer but would prefer to load rip and go.
Any help would be much appreciated

Thanks guys
Look at the Lumin. (‎)
Antipodes Audio. Looks like the best value for money at 3500.
Look into the Vortex Box products on the Small Green Computer site. The Vortex Box Audiophile unit looks to be a winner. I'm looking to purchase one myself when the funds become available.

Good Luck,

Since Logitech has stopped developing the Slimserver/Logitech Media Server/Squeezeserver/Squeezebox line of media players, those that remain in the channel are screaming bargains. You'll need an NAS with enough processing power (see Vortexbox/Small Green Computer). But the Logitch Touch and the Logitech Transporter can do an outstanding job of serving hi-rez music for very little money these days.

If you're into DIY audio, check the Computer Audio website for their choices (when they're not gushing about Auralita's etc.). Some solid choices there with long-term viability -- although obsolescence (sp) is guaranteed with any digital source. It's a moving target.
Sony HAP Z1ES. Computer Audio without the computer.

Also available modified by Modwright or RedWineAudio if you wish.
Please check out the Baetis Revolution; it is far superior to any options thus far listed and has more features and flexibility than the Antipodes for less money. I believe it was reviewed in the February Absolute Sound and received rave reviews. If you buy it, you will learn quickly that the rush to DSD DACs is premature and high resolution files including DSD files sound better through the Baetis BNC connection and played back in PCM than DSD and high resolution sound sent over a USB and played back in DSD format. This is the secret in audio that so few computer audio reviewers, let alone consumers have figured out. Baetis is educating the masses; please do your homework and call them to discuss my claims, they will explain it better than I ever could.
Every 1 of these options requires a computer. How are you going to rip music to a NAS drive? Also, how are you going to backup the NAS drive or any drive you use? If you go with any of these servers listed above with internal disks, you have to ask the questions since nobody lists these:
How do you backup the data
How do you increase disk capacity
If you buy 1 of these servers above that has a dac inside, how do you update the dac with new features that will be coming out? Dsd2 for example.
Because of all this, and with the quality of the output, I use a dedicated Mac mini with audirvana plus with multiple multi TB FireWire disks so there is fault tolerance with an external DAC all controlled thru ipad
Ripping CDs IMHO is a non issue. Even the new Minis don't have an optical drive anymore.

As for back ups, I agree that it could be an issue.

But the Sony does provide an app for you to make back ups of the music library. I personally like the ability of the Sony to run with local music files rather than trying to retrieve it off a network device.

FWIW I don't own the Sony but I see it as a way to get the computer out of computer audio. I too run a Mac Mini with JRiver and iTunes at the moment.
Very valid questions, thanks! got me thinking. BTW, the developer in Mojo Audio explains why NAS isn't that good an idea for audio and what is a much better alternative sound wise, cheaper too.
"There is a common misconception that NAS drives are best for media server performance. NAS drives are optimized for multi-user file storage. For a single-user media server an AV drive has better performance. "

it's somewhere towards the end of his lengthy text. He doesn't specifically mentions the sound quality but he means it from what I figured out researching the topic
I find the noise from a spinning HDD (even an external one) is quite noticeable.

A NAS allows you to put the discs in another room.
I have an AV drive feeding my Mac (Mojo) Mini. It's completely quiet, much quieter than a standard HDD external.
I second the Antipodes server. I have used it as shows and is the best I have heard. Even FLAC and wav sound identical. Not on a PC or Mac.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Rhanson739,

Can you share the name of that AV drive, please? Thanks!

Actually, I'm not sure. The drive went inside a standard OWC (Other World Computing) case. It was provided as part of an upgrade of my Mac Mini by Mojo Audio.

I'd recommend dropping a line to Benjamin at Mojo to ask him more about the drive. He's very helpful.

Sound Science Music Vault Diamond is much better than any of the above named servers. with raid 2 mirror image back up and ease of use with an ipad, it's unmatched
So reading these posts, it seems that in the sub 3k category the Sony HAP-Z1ES looks like a winner?

I can't afford to drop 4-7k on a server, but I'm really not liking the mac-mini setup I have now. Just too clunky. (and I have to give the mac-mini back - was a loaner!)
If you are coming to Newport Beach show this weekend, you can hear the latest Antipodes server in Hilton 1001. You will not be disappointed.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
New Mac Mini with Amarra for less than $1,000.00
Septmous, in the sub $3k there is nothing even close to the Baetis Revelation II. The design of taking the sound right off the motherboard; the flexibility of 8 USB connectors; six of which are 3.0; a BNC out right from the mother board; wifi capable if you want it. Nothing comes close to design, quality and flexibility. If attending the Newport Show, please visit room 608 at the Hilton; the Baetis will be used as his digital server and Jonny Wilson can answer most questions about it. Steve N is a dealer for the Antipode, but it is rudimentary and obsolete in its design, but he pushes it anyway because he's a dealer. I have 11T of music attached to my Baetis now with room for one more 4T HD external drive. This player also plays back Blue Ray discs beautifully. Don't buy any of the other recommendations until you do your home work and research and listen to a Baetis. An updated Reference version is in the works and will be released sometime this fall.
Maniac, Are you sure Steve is a dealer for Antipodes. Antipodes lists Perotta Consulting as an authorized dealer, which is where I heard the Antipodes server.

I'm curious about both of these servers. Have you heard them both?

Have you AB tested your Baetis to other servers? I am asking because there seem to be very few people who heard more than one server let alone AB tested it, and every such experience and sharing of info is priceless in this underdeveloped and under reviewed area.

Do you own a MV server? I have been considering this server and would like to know how well you like this server?
Best value for what is needed is any decent PC with adequate USB disk storage for main and backup copies accessed via a network connection.

The server only serves data the same as any client/server computer application. No music is made on or by the server.

The client player device/streamer and its associated DAC and connection is where the music is made and difference in sound quality will occur, so this the place to focus on for good sound quality, assuming the rest of the audio component chain downstream is up to par already.
Mapman- You are correct, IF the user is well versed in setting up/running/maintaining a home network, getting the right software and integrating it correctly. That's a big IF for many of us. Add a wireless router into the mix and the IF gets even bigger.

If you're not real computer savvy, then a dedicated server may not be a bad idea. In that case, customer support is very important. Neal Van Berg, who builds and sells Music Vaults, is very good in that regard. The MVII is a pretty good unit, w built in auto back-up and wireless which some of the competition does not have.
Agree, the extent one can DIY with a computer is a big factor. If not, buy something with everything needed installed and integrated up front that also offers good customer support. It will likely cost a bit more but be worth it. There is nothing audiophile about a server though, its straight up computer nuts and bolts, so be careful about falling into the traditional audiophile mindset of more expensive means better sound quality, like often may be the case with actual sound making devices like turntables and even CD players or DACs. If done right, a server for music alone need not cost much in any case.
I can no longer stand it. I am not computer savvy. Yet I have an actual music server where I use a wireless router and jrivers. Not rocket science!. The issue with pc's is the noise. Noise from the cooling fans, main boards, power supply, hard drives, etc. You need a fan-less PC with plenty of quiet storage and a fast quiet mother board. A quiet power supply etc. just go to endpcnoise and check out their quiet PC servers. I have the monster. Install jrivers and Then rip or down load music. After a little practice it becomes a snap. I added a sotm USB with battery power. Why pay a lot for some server that is no better, has less storage and is a lot more money. So start your ripping and/or down load, it's fun. And really not that hard just takes a little effort.
There is nothing audiophile about a server though, its straight up computer nuts and bolts, so be careful about falling into the traditional audiophile mindset of more expensive means better sound quality, like often may be the case with actual sound making devices like turntables and even CD players or DACs.
True, that.
IMHO a proper music server isn't just a straight up computer.

Care has to be taken when choosing the components. I've found a big improvement going from a regular PC to one where I have removed moving parts (fans and HDDs).

And switching to a linear PSU vs a regular switch mode PSU also offers a huge performance improvement.

It is true that you can build such a machine on your own (look at the nofan and streacom range) but they are not for those familiar with DIY.

I don't know what you mean by computer savvy but if you built your fanless PC design, it probably excludes a large number of people. Most fanless CPU heatsinks are surprisingly difficult to install. I had a fair bit of trouble with my Zalman FX100 and I think the Streacom ones are much much harder to assemble.

For those who are daunted, they could probably just get smallgreencomputers or silentpc to build the complete computer for them. Doesn't cost a whole lot more either.

That said, I can't say I am a big fan of the way Microsoft Windows requires patches and updates at such regular intervals, especially when the updates seem to slow the machine down progressively.
Yes, I do own the Music Vault Diamond. It has been an excellent server. I previously owned a Mach2Music modified MacMini and the Music Vault widely trumps it in ease of use, sound quality and customer service. Neal is a pleasure to deal with and is right there if you need him.
Doggiehowser, did you not read the post? I bought mine from endpcnoise. If you had a zalman I am guessing you had a problem with the power supply which is no longer available. My server came to me built with all soft wear installed. All I did was download jrivers follow instruction and install my large digital library. Up in going in literally minutes. I know the basics in using a computer that's what I call not tech savy. I will tell you ALL music severs are computers. You need to learn as you go a little but as I said not rocket science.
That's why I recommended getting from companies such as silentpc or smallgreencomputers unless you are computer savvy enough to install. I guess you and I have different yardsticks :)

FWIW The Zalman FX100 needed a super long screw driver that could reach beyond the heatsink to secure the huge contraption to the motherboard. I am using a Seasonic fanless PSU.

SmallGreenComputers provide a way to use linear mode power supplies. Again these aren't stuff you can just pick up from your local computer store.

And as for running Windows - yes, it doesn't take a lot of effort to get it working - but understanding back ups, maintenance/patches etc can be quite frustrating for newbies.
Do not agree. As I said I am NOT a computer geek. You should check out endpcnoise as well. They make it easy. Takes a little patients. More importantly all these other servers are computers as well. Just paying more for the memory and the hard drives. Also if any issues arise you are at their mercy. Endpcnoise knows what they are doing. It is all they do. They do not sell sotm or dac's or any other non computer items. We live in the computer age and if you have issues using their server chance are you will have issues with any of the other ones. As far as your special screw driver you would have probably have to send back one of these other units to the manufacture. Also you have to use their library soft wear. Nothing I have seen beats jrivers. And, they are constantly improving on it. I am a vinyl guy who loves his digital music server. Do as you wish but for your own sake check it out. If you decide to get one you can contact me through audiogon for any info you may need. I am not in anyway connected with endpcnoise just a happy customer. My final impute on the issue.
Most computers are not built for sound and surely not high audio quality sound. The Baetis is the first to built with sound in mind first. The Baetis team listened to the sound of different mother boards and decided which to use first. There is not sound card in the Baetis like a computer. The sound comes directly off the mother board to a BNC out connection. The Baetis has a fan inside, but again, they chose carefully which to use and you can't hear it unless you are a foot away. They measured the sound decibels from the unit to be sure it would not be distracting from the listening seat like some computers are. On the back you have toslink, USB and BNC outs from the unit. Computers don't have these unless you install them custom. The Baetis does have a solid state internal drive but has 6 USB connections on the back and 2 on the front with six being 3.0. There is also WiFi capability if you want or an ethernet if you want a hard internet connection. I put my Baetis against my friend's computer audio systems anytime and think I will have the better sounding unit since its goal is good sound first and a good computer second.
Hifimaniac, very nice system. I have the emm lab dac2x as well. You are right most computers are not built for sound. You can put your ear right up to mine while running and you hear nothing. NO FAN, no noise from drive or CPU or power supplies etc. My cpu is a Core i7 processor which your builder put in their $5000 unit. I have eight 3.0 USB and eight 2.0 USB not that that matters. Not criticizing but yours is also a computer and I am certain operates and sounds great. But mine has more and costs less. I do not mean to imply mine sounds better. Just completely silent and fast. Very fast. Assuming we have the same exact down load what comes out of our computers is exactly the same less or plus any computer created noise. The real differences occur down stream. All the best and I really like your set up.
Yes I readyour post. But it wasn't immediately clear if you bought the components and assembled it yourself or got the seller to build it.

If it is the former, it's IMHO not something I'd recommend a non computer savvy person to embark on. If it is the latter, then it is no different from my original recommendation - to buy it from a company that specialises in building and selling optimised music server PCs.
Had it and dumped it! Sounded thin and 2 dimensional compared to my Krell SACD player.
Maybe someone can explain to me the point of starting a thread and then just walking away from it? The OP posts his request for help in April and then never even comment or thanks folks for their input, and then 4 months later it gets revived??
Value for money is such a relative term. Probably a cheap laptop would be best value for money to 95% of the population...

Anyway, wanted to chime in about the DIY route. I am certainly not a computer savvy person. I use computers for work every day, but my biz is far and away from anything computer-related. But I'm DIY inclined, and at times brave...and at times stupid! :-)

Last February I built my first computer EVER. I did a lot of homework to understand what were the parts I needed to source and trusted I would be able to figure out how to assemble them. And sure enough it wasn't that difficult, with a little help from the suppliers.

My server: Streacom FC8 Evo fanless case, Intel S1200KPR mobo, Xeon 1265l v2 processor, Crucial 8GB ECC RAM, Crucial v4 64GB SSD for OS and PPA red slim SATA cable, WD Green 1TB HDD for music fed from independent SMPS (cheap) and generic SATA cable, PPA USB v2 card, lab linear PS. Windows Server 2012 R2, AudioPhil's Optimizer, JRiver MC 19, JRemote. No moving parts, except the music HDD that actually sits outside the case.

I didn't find the heat-exchange assembly on the Streacom that hard. Sure one needs to be careful and think before acting, but it wasn't super hard.

And this was the first time I installed the operating system on a computer too! A very good aid for this, if using Win Server 2012 is the guide for the Audiophile Optimizer, that takes you step by step on doing so. And it worked perfectly for me. has the guides to assembling the CAPS, one of which needs a fanless case similar to the one I used. That's also good reference reading.

All in all, if you enjoy DIY and are brave enough to live through the uncertainty until you see things work - not a minor factor! - I'd say is not THAT hard!

And since you were DIY, this offers endless options to try optimizations thru battery power, etc. I have tried some but would be too long to get into.

Oh, and sound is fantastic and operation is rock-solid. Apparently these server motherboards and operating system are super stable.
Doesn't Windows Server need 160GB of HDD space before you can install the OS? How did you install it on a 60GB SSD?
It doesn't need that space. In fact, most of my SSD is unused. I would have purchased a smaller one should they had been available.
Yes I know it doesn't. Just curious how you bypassed the requirement for the 160GB - it just stopped b4 installation
I didn't. It just flowed through the regular installation process. I did have another drive, a 1 TB HDD, for music also connected...but I doubt it had anything to do with it not quitting on me.

I installed from a USB pen drive, if that makes any difference.

I'm clueless, but trying to help...

Which Windows Server 2012 did you use?
Is this what you are referring to?
There are different Server variants I thought.

Right. Essentials came out later and provided a way to make it cheaper or something. At the time it seemed to me that was the only reason why people were trying it out.

Mine is Windows Server 2012 R2. I'm certainly no computer expert and I'm just agnostic about operating system, but in my experience running the Audiophile Optimizer (designed for WS2012) made the largest software-or-format-related difference so far. Meaning the impact for me was larger than going from 16/44 to 24/96 or 24/192 or DSD at 5.6MHz. On top of that, WS allows running in core mode, which made another significant difference on top of that made by the Optimizer. So in my case and with my setup, WS2012 + Audiophile Optimizer are keepers.

Unfortunately that kills the option to use HQPlayer, which does sound very good despite the user interface that doesn't fit my needs. But JRiver run with the above configuration and controlled with an iPad and driving my Audiophilleo and Metrum Octave sounds as good as HQPlayer upconverting to DSD at 5.6MHz and feeding my exaSound e22 natively.

I guess I now should try JPlay, which works with WS+Optimizer.
BTW, there is a new version of the Optimizer (1.30 I believe) people are raving about, but I have not tried it as I was exploring DSD/exaSound/HQPlayer.

I encourage you to contact AudioPhil, maker of the Optimizer. He's super helpful and will likely know why you are having the issue you do. Of course, in good faith the end game should be buying the Optimizer from him. His website is Feel free to use my ID. BTW, I have no affiliation whatsoever; just a happy customer.

05-31-14: Pkoegz
I can no longer stand it. I am not computer savvy. Yet I have an actual music server where I use a wireless router and jrivers. Not rocket science!. The issue with pc's is the noise. Noise from the cooling fans, main boards, power supply, hard drives, etc. You need a fan-less PC with plenty of quiet storage and a fast quiet mother board. A quiet power supply etc. just go to endpcnoise and check out their quiet PC servers. I have the monster. Install jrivers and Then rip or down load music. After a little practice it becomes a snap. I added a sotm USB with battery power. Why pay a lot for some server that is no better, has less storage and is a lot more money. So start your ripping and/or down load, it's fun. And really not that hard just takes a little effort.
Pkoegz (Threads | Answers | This Thread)
I agree wit this i am running windows 7 on a Dell precision 5400 that has Xeon processors and 2 hard drives. I have room for 4 drives.
I am running jRiverMedia.
It is the best for the money . I have it hooked up to my 55 inch tv(for video only . I am running a Musical Fidelity V-link2 USB to SPDIF converter(not bad for the money)
Using a McCormack Dac-1 Deluxe . I am using the Coaxial output of the V-Link2 to the McCormack DAC-1.
I have ripped ALl of my Cds in Their original high quality format .
The initial ripping of the Cds takes a long time... but it is well worth it. It sounds much better than any lossless or compressed format.Sounds Much better than any iPOd Ipad or i anything.I know.... people have tested and say it is bit for bit(lossless vs Cd Quality 44.1K), but i promise i hear a difference.
JRivermedia and a Dell Precison with XEON processor
You will be happy
You can dowload and try JRiver for free.
Also you can use a windows media remote with J River.
Works great for changing songs and Volume