Building a music server - newbie

OK - there are probably posts already. Old guy wants to build a music server. From what I understand I just need a computer, sound card and some software. Waiting for Window 7 to come out & will get a PC.

Sound card. Looks like the Lynx is highly rated but it's $700.00. Any comments on the ASUS card for $175.00.

Software. Looks like a lot out there. Seems like J River or Monkey Media? comments.

I am just going to hook this up to my stereo preamp to run it through my speakers.

Any suggestions welcome as I am trying to educate myself and am not overly technical.

I use a 2.4 gig dual core with 8 gigs of out to a monarchy M-24 Dac/preamp.

I use dbpoweramp software as my ripper (wav file, and it gets all the album covers for display in Media Center)....and I use Windows media center for playback.

And of course....I've been using Windows 7 for months....I love it, best operating system ever! (and I'm a linux guy)
The s.e.a.r.c.h function is your friend.
Use one of the several USB DACs out there and avoid using the sound card altogether. This gets the critical circuitry out of the RF hell inside the computer case. I've thought about putting together a hybrid solution where the USB DAC sits on your equipment rack connected to the preamp. If your music is on a laptop, you just plug in the USB on the laptop when you want to listen to music. You have the laptop to use for normal computer tasks AND you have your music collection with you when you're away from your main system.

good resource is
I'm with Dick, use a USB DAC, or one of those USB/Optical converters to a DAC, and then to your preamp. It's much simpler than going for a soundcard, and probably cheaper too. Studio soundcards have many features unnecessary for audio; matrixing your channels might be fun to do if you have multiple systems and switch speakers around often, but it's mainly for studio use in mixing.

Here's another tip. I recommend you go with a network attached storage, so you can move your hard drive -- the noisiest component -- away from your system. You should also consider a RAID backup, because it's only a matter of time before hard drives will fail.

As for software, use anythings; it's a graphical, and ergonomic preference thing. The only thing that matters is that the software allows for correct drivers, which is pretty much damn near all of them. Windows Vista and above the default drivers are perfect, so it's not a complicated process at all. I recommend foobar2000 for it's customizable interface -- and it's free. Monkey Media costs money I think, and offers no real advantages over foobar2000. J Rivers is a bit on the simplistic side for me, it's nothing much to look at, and feels "clunky" to use.
I have been running Rakuennow method for over a year, laptop to USB DAC with all files on Buffalo NAS running RAID 1. will add a 2nd Buffalo when I run out of space, running RAID 1 does cut the storage space by half but I have more than music in that server.

Microsoft also has network storage solution running Intel Atom, that can be another option and much more flexible than Buffalo NAS but cost is also higher.
Wow, Sounds like a bunch of options. OK, I give up on the sound card and will try to DAC. Have never used or bought one. What about an external hard drive? Looks like I can get one for $100.00. I only have 1,000 cds , so, from what I understand, I could store them all on it in the original file format. And buy a second one for backup. What's the advantage of a NAS? I only have one room where my stereo is and will just run the audio through the one system.

Thank each of you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Hello All,

Any one can explain How will be the noice/jitter level while playing laptop as the transport? Is there any other way to play the music to avoid such problems.

Has anyone used Windows Home Server to set up they're computer based system? How well does it work?
I'm in in this process now, with MAC. I'm really happy I made the move. A few thoughts (although there are lots of helpful threads here already).

1. I had bad luck trying to set up a Buffalo Technology NAS; poor customer service. I'm currently ripping to a Lacie Quattro hard drive; quiet and relatively attractive, a bit under 150 for a TB.

2. The USB cord from PC to DAC seems to matter; it's worth considering upgrade from stock.

3. The PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC is worth a look; I'm enjoying mine.

4. ComputerAudiophile is an extremely helpful site, though somewhat MAC-centric.

My MAC Book Pro computer is connected to the Furman AC-215 power conditioner. The MAC has 4 GB RAM and the 120GB solid state drive. I am using the Seaport Free Agent Go Pro 500GB external hard drive to store my music files (a 2nd one for backup). The Furman is required so the MAC does not interfere with the audio components. See

The MAC USB output is connected to my Ayre USB DAC. Wow! I was very impressed with the way it sounds. It is better sounding then my Ayre CX-7e CD player. The highs are better and so is the bass. The music is clearer and more engaging. The unit still has to burn in and so do my new Synergistic Research TESLA Quad speaker cables. Music Lovers Audio (Berkeley, CA) said everything will sound better after some time.

I am using the Transparent USB Cable from the computer to the Ayre DAC. My retailer reports the Synergistic Research's Tesla Tricon USB cable is excellent but the Synergistic Research USB Cable is $550. He said my Transparent USB cable is an amazing performer and the Synergistic USB is the next step up and it provides significant improvement. This is a very expensive cable so I am going to keep the Transparent USB Cable and review again in 4 months.

I have about 60 CD's loaded into my MAC Book Pro computer and many more to go. It takes between 3 to 5+ minutes per CD using the AIFF format. This is a very boring time consuming process.

I followed Ayre's MAC Book setup instructions and they worked. The Audio MIDI setup was a little different from their instructions but we finally figured it out. The QB-9 is connected (balanced cables) to my Ayre AX-7e Integrated amp connected to my Sonus Faber Auditor M Speakers.

The major issue was the computer in terms of what model, how much RAM, hard drive and external drives. Ayre was very helpful ( and so was my audio store, Music Lovers Audio in Berkeley, CA.

I checked and double checked everything to ensure I made no mistakes. Everyone I talked said to get the MAC and not a PC. Ayre recommended I use the external drives for better music quality and not the hard drive on the computer.

If you decide to move in this direction, I suggest working with a high quality audio store to help you configure the needed components.

I am a PC person and this is my first MAC computer. It is very easy to use and iTunes does a great job of managing the music. Please email me if you have any questions.
I forgot to state that I use a 1tb usb drive to store my music...and a program called "Orb" to stream my music to other computers in my home.

Any one can explain How will be the noice/jitter level while playing laptop as the transport? Is there any other way to play the music to avoid such problems.

Very difficult to predict. Connecting your laptop to a Benchmark DAC1 would be a solution if you suspect you have jitter.

Jitter is common but not always audible. Random jitter is the least audible. Correlated jitter (related to a signal of some sort) is much more audible. More than 250 psecs is roughly the threshold where it can become audible on most music when it is random (but many people might not hear it until it got to 1 nanosec). For correlated jitter it is probably much worse and some have suggested as low as 20 psecs (but of course it all depends very critically on the frequencies involved and many types of correlated jitter may not be audible so easily). Correlated jitter seems likely when you have electronics, data and a spinning transport involved.

Benchmark DAC1 is around 7 psecs - it seems very much designed around eliminating the jitter problem but that is no help unless it works well (synergy) with your speakers.
You better use a core 2 quad computer for optimized performance, or at least a core 2 duo computer, be sure to have enough storage space for your files. Creative labs soundcards are pretty good. Look for the high end ReakTek/NVidia onboard audio processors, such as supplied with ASUS. These probably outperform low end audio cards such as Creative Labs Audigy.
I would second the comments about using a USB DAC. I have a PS Audio Link DAC III and it works very well.

Alternatively, a friend of mine has a Logitech Transporter--no computer required. For the same price as a dedicated music computer and a DAC you get a very good sounding device that pulls music off of a hard drive (even over you home network). Sound is wonderful and it looks pretty too!