Digital Audio Server

I need help. I want to build a digital audio server to store about 600 cd on. I have a couple of requirements.
What is the best platform (Mac or PC), processor, memory and hard drive size

What sound card?

Is there a program that automatically has all the songs, I don't want to type the stuff in

I don't want to lose sound quality what is the best setup?

THX Frank
I think that the best way to accomplish this is to set up a remote audio server and spool the audio files to your amp or dac with a digital audio receiver. They range in quality and stability, but one that I have used flawlessly for a couple of years (and indecently runs on Linux so no windows or Mac) is an Audiotron. A complete list of DAR’s currently on the market can be found here
There are a number of major advantages to this setup:
1. All files are stored on a remote computer or NAS network storage device such as by lacie, thereby allowing for easy upgrades and additions in memory. Having plug and play storage devices is essential if you wan to keep you files in WAV format to avoid sound degradation. A number of NAS come with auto file backup so you can rest easy at night knowing that your 80 gigs of sound files are safe and secure. Incidentally 600 CD’s stored in there native format is around 360 Gigs. Even more reason for you to go with an NAS
2. No distracting fan noise. If you do however want to locate a PC close to your audio gear there are quite or fanless PC such as this one made by Hush
3. A digital audio receiver allows you to use a high quality DAC to convert digital to analog. The worse thing you can do to sound quality is to use an internal PC sound card. A CPU produces so much electronic noise that with a good set of head phones you can hear your hard drive startup up with an audible buzz even whilst listening to the sex pistols.
4. A number of DAR’s can be controlled through third party hardware such as PDA’s or for that matter any PC on you network
I have a pretty rudementary setup but it should give you an idea of wahts possible
Get a Mcintosh and use iTunes. It's the easiest and best option. You can go with a G5 desktop with a large hard drive. It has an optical digital out. But what I would recommend is get a basic iBook and a large external hard drive (I would start with at least 200 GBs, you can always expand the storage space in the future by simply getting a larger hard drive). The iBook takes up a lot less space than the G5. You don't need a ton of RAM since presumably all you will be running is iTunes which comes with the iBook and will meet your needs perfectly. When you rip or play a CD it connects to an internet database to look up the album info and enter it for you. You set iTunes to rip the CD to the external hard drive and turn off all of iTunes default equalization so the sound is not touched. With the iBook you can output through the headphone jack (the lesser quality option, but still adequate) or use a USB DAC which is the better option (there are a few currently available, but more on the way soon). Wavelength Audio makes a great tube-based, zero sampling USB DAC, but it is pricey ($3500). There are far cheaper USB DACs available.

This system is not expensive and is easy to use, fully expandable and very convenient. I've set this up in my home office and have really fallen for it because it is so convenient. I can play any CD instantly.
I tried to use laptop with a M-Audio Sonica Theater USB card with my DAC. I find the sound is not comparable to Theata transport.

My long term solution is to use an external HD (200G) with laptop as an alternative audio source, but seems I need to reconsider it.
You definitely want to use a higher-end sound card. I recommend the audiophile 2496 from m-audio. The quality of the pci card vs a usb connection is immeasurable. An inexpensive set up is to pick up an older Macintosh tower on ebay just make sure it’s a model with Firewire connections and that it’s Airport ready (for wireless) -- you should be able to get one for around $300. Buy the sound card ($150). Then buy external Firewire hard drives to plug into the tower. Buy a wireless card ($60) buy a wireless router ($50). Apple makes software called “apple remote desktop” which allows you to control computers remotely and wirelessly (around $300).

Here’s my set up. I have my old tower as described above running Apple remote desktop with no monitor. It’s just sitting next to my rack plugged into my pre amp. I control the unit from anywhere in my house from my laptop running the Apple Remote Desktop client software. Your entire music collection is only a click away.
I would run a PC platform. Mac no longer maintains a software advantage and certainly doesnt have a hardware advantage. As a matter of fact, Macs use converted PC technology in every hardware aspect except for CPU and motherboard. Upgrades, parts, and initial purchase will all be cheaper with the PC platform.

M-Audio makes very popular soundcards at attractive prices. My recommendation would be use an outboard DAC and feed it via the Digital out (spdif) from the computer. So the ultimate soundcard wont be an absolute. Of course if you dont plan on a DAC, then the better cards will provide better analog outs. I use a lowly Audigy 2/Theta DAC at the moment and cant really complain.

Memory is more of persoanl preference. Basic sound reproduction doesnt require a lot of system resources.

If this server is to be located in your listening area I would recommend a quiet approach. Maybe a low core voltage CPU that wil run cool and wont require CPU fans or case fans. Whirring fans you probably dont want. Check out the powersupply as well, they usually have built in fans.

As of right now I use an old program called "Siren" it was from a sound engineering software company called "Sonic foundry." They may still make it, it is OK. There are probably better music serving programs available now. It can call up the names from the internet so you dont have to type them all in. I think that is a paid service, though I am not sure.

I hope this helps...
I forgot to talk about hardrives. Sorry.

Bigger is better in this case. Music is just under 10 megs a minute in its native format. Just as stated above 600 CDs will require a lot of storage, probably multiple harddrives. I would recommend tried and true IDE ADA/66/100 Harddrives. Ther is no need for cutting edge technology, music data transfer wont require high data transfer rates. The best deals on HDs are in the 60-120 GB size right now. Although, they do make bigger ones, they come at a cost.
I'm running a g5 with iTunes, using the digital optical out via an audioquest OptiLink 1 (12m) to an external cal-audio sigma DAC...

LOVE it... and i've got almost 2000 songs (all AIFF / uncomressed, ripped from my CDs) on a 160gb drive. g5 is AMAZINGLY quiet (don't even know it's on except the little white light) and apple's iTunes works w/ a cheap $25 remote-IR unit (pre-configured and all) so I can control it all from my Rotel (preamp) remote which is nice (aka don't have to touch the computer). To top it off, a sub-$20 adaptor let me run video out of the mac to my TV so i can even scroll thru songs etc - it's like having an AudioRequest at a 10th of the price (for that capacity). Plus, i can easily convert to m4a for my iPod :D
AIFF and WAV are virtually identical. Both are PCM, bit rate encodable, and sampling rate flexible.

Uncompressed each minute of music (AIFF or WAV) takes approximately 10 megs.