Building a Music Server that will play all formats

I'm a mac person but want to build a stand alone music server for my hifi that will play all my MP3 and loss less files BUT most importantly will play flac files all in one simple player. I was thinking a Dell Zino connected to a TBD DAC. Any thoughts on this plan? Thoughts on player? Media Monkey or Songbird?

System: Vandersteen 5A, Rogue 180 monoblocks, Rogue Pre, VPI Classic.

There are Mac players that play FLAC (Fidelia, Pure Music, Decibel, Audirvana), but why not convert them to ALAC or AIFF?

Songbird is ported to Mac as well.
I was under the impression that any conversion basically defeats the purpose of the hi rez file... and I'd rather not spend the time converting. I literally want to load up every digital file I own regardless of type and have it accessible by a a media player. I will look into these players though, Thanks.
Try Logitech Squeezebox Touch.
Rather than buy a desktop box, why not consider a nice laptop? Simply install Foobar2000 as the DLNA Server and some of its many plug-ins and you're good to go. Foobar2000 will play back virtually every file format and it does so quite well...

Last three months been using Mac Mini- add'd Calyx Dac, and run it with Amarra software or/and itunes. Use phone as remote- couldn't be happier -for this week anyway!
Arguably the conversion from from one lossless file type to another should be identical as long as you do not change sampling rate and bit depth. Meaning it is still hi rez. FLAC = ALAC, WAV= AIFF.
Why not buy a oppo 93 and go usb in from a hard drive. Also,why not forget about FLAC or any compression. With today's hardrive costing very little it seems unnecessary. You can get 2-3TB hard drives for $120-225. Back a few years ago when the same was not available or would have cost you $1000-1500, then it made sense. Today?....
Foobar 2000 or JRiver playing in wasapi mode are normally considered the best sounding players. Also, I've read fairly consitantly that Windows 7 has a better driver base and is typically thought of as the best sounding. Big argument between wav and flac files, then ASIO/Kernel streaming or wasapi. I am using wav, but haven't campared to flac. I went that way after reading several hundred forum threads, most thought they were equal, but a few held firm that wav had more air. Most, seem to think that wasapi was the way to go.
This should be enough to give you food for thought.
Good Listening, Tim
Thanks for all the helpful advice. To break it down:

Songbird or
MediaMOnkey or
Foobar 2000 or

Which is the simplest, most itunes like player that handles all audio media formats?

Cast your votes!
Re the Oppo. How would you organize the music Itunes style... and how is the DAC?
About a month ago I bought a Music Vault Emerald from Sound Science [google soundscience audio] Neal has devised some beautiful PCs expressly for audiophiles. I piked his middle piece because it has very good DAC in its sound card. AB comparison's show up the DAC in my 14K Lexicon preamp. 2TB hd for storage, a second one for mirror back up. Solid state hd for operating. 17" wide fits nicely in rack. Very quiet, except when ripping cds. Runs cool. HDMI out so you can put its video interface anywhere. Cordless keyboard/trackball. Windows IR remote to teach my RF universal. Redbook cd's sound way better than from a transport. Decodes downloaded 24 bit music from HDTracks and WAV copies of hi-res DVD's fm Reference Recordings. Media Monkey will convert anything to MP3 or iTunes, if needed. USB port on front and several in back. Digital out/Anal out, wireless to your network but also enternet ports, so it also replaces my Sonos system since its sound is better. Just takes some work ripping, correcting megadata, setting up favs on internet. If you want your music to sound the way you used to think it should, this is IT. And all the music is instantly accessible. Nirvana.
Just buy a Mac Mini or macbook pro and put Amarra or Pure Music on it. XLD for ripping. Done. Then you just need a good USB DAC or a USB converter to go with your current DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I would check out the discussions at

They do not recommend connecting outboard DACs to standard computer hardware. There are numerous problems effecting the quality of the digital data (the USB being a major one). After reading some stuff there, I have put off consideration of a commercial PC or Mac for a music server. The OS also plays a major role with some file formats (like Win 7).
Dhl93449 - the article you linked to is one of many possible solutions. There are lots of people who have built very good computer based systems without building a system like Chris' system. Using a quality player along with an async USB connection can provide excellent results using a standard desktop or laptop. If you want to try a simple system, you can get a HRT Streamer II for $150, add a player (Foobar, J River, iTunes on MAC) and you are good to go. Like everything, it can take some time to build up to your "final" system, but you need to start somewhere. Chris' article is a perfectionist view. Don't let it scare you off.
100% agreement with DTC
Neal here from Sound Science.
The Music Vault series of Servers solve all the problems you want to avoid in Digital Playback.

I provide USB 3.0 for USB DACs on all the units but The Pearl is all you need to work with the Empirical Audio or other exclusive USB input DACs. The Emerald has a great SPDIF output and analog out as well and then the Diamond provides the ultimate balanced Digital Outputs.

The OS is taken out of the Audio Path, buffering is optimized and so is the play back software.

Storage is internal which sounds better than external storage and auto duplication is standard on all models.

The Diamond includes a Plextor Blue Ray Drive for ultimate CD ripping and all units come with DB Power amp as the ripper and HDMI out if you want to watch movies on your Music Vault or attach to your flat panel to see your music selections.

I install software on all the units that allow me to logon remotely to help you learn or to solve problems that pop up later on.

The Music Vaults are future proof and come complete, you don't need additional software or any of the programs a mac needs to attempt to sound as good as a Music Vault.