General PC Audio Set-Up Question

Hello everyone!

I am interested in moving to PC based audio as my CD collection leaves too much clutter and I often can’t find the music I want to play. It would also be nice to see my floor again too. My plan is to replace my CD player (an Audio Research CD2) and preamp (a Bel Canto Pre2) with a Macbook (with SSD) + Apple Time Capsule + DAC/Pre combo. I have not decided which DAC/preamp model to purchase (actually I might keep the Pre2, but I do like the simplicity of a combined DAC + Pre), but I am heavily leaning towards a Blue Circle product. The rest of the system comprises Parasound JC-1’s for power and Talon Raven C loudspeakers; the cabling is Stealth and Kimber. My power conditioning is both Blue Circle and Shunyata Hydra 8. I listen to all types of music (jazz, rock, classical, etc- have 1000’s of CD’s) but typically at elevated volumes much to my neighbours chagrin.

Anyhow, my question pertains to the set-up itself. Here is what I plan to do:

1) Rip my CD’s to AIFF using XLD or Itunes
2) Store all my music as AIFF files on a 2TB Apple Time Capsule Hard Drive
3) Stream the music from the Time Capsule to the Macbook
4) Have the Macbook connected to the DAC via USB or Toslink (I’ll try out both)
5) Use Itunes as the audio player

Is this an acceptable way to go? Is streaming acceptable or is it better to have a physical connection to the laptop? My apologies if these questions have been asked before. All responses, general or specific, would be appreciated!
You're on the right track, I'd say.

If you go USB, cables seem to matter (many people get good results wireless, apparently).

I would consider a RAID array for safer storage.

Pure Music a worthwhile and inexpensive (if somewhat twitchy) augment to iTunes. is a great source.

What's the reason for wanting to stream from a Time Capsule to your Macbook? If the Macbook is going to be co-located with your audio components, just attach a USB or Firewire hard drive to it and have that be the location of your iTunes music files.

The weak link in computer audio is the interface from computer to DAC. If you go Toslink, be sure to get a good glass fiber cable. If you want to go USB, either get a top-tier USB DAC (Ayre, Wavelength) or get a good USB to SPDIF converter, such as the HiFace, AR-T Legato, or Empirical Audio Offramp. That will open up your choices for DAC or Pre/DAC hugely. Be advised that most DACs that have USB inputs are doing a poor job of implementing and you will almost certainly be disappointed with the sound.
Thanks for the responses!

My reason for going the streaming route was only because my router and modem are currently in a different room than the rest of my audio system. I could change this set-up, but it would take a little bit of doing and might adversely affect the aesthetics of my house. But you raise a good point: perhaps any old hard drive would do and I needn't splurge on the Time Capsule; although the auto-backup feature is nice.

I am leaning towards a Toslink connection, but I really appreciate your advice on the USB. Thanks for pointing out the weak link of PC based audio; I wasn't sure what the challenges were.

I will also most definitely check out computeraudiophile and "Pure Music."

I am also astonished at the need for good cables; I thought digital info transfer would be much more robust given its ubiquity in transferring data.

Thanks again!
I use a LaCie 2TB 2big drive (two 1 TB drives in RAID 1) - after months of ripping CD's I decided I wanted backup. I also have a small portable drive. There are many ways to do it and they almost all work very well but my advice would be to ensure you have backup.
I'm not sure that you can stream the music from the Time Capsule, as you intend. I have one, and it doesn't allow you to do a whole lot, except for what it is intended. (It does that well, but that's another story.) I stream from a Mac Mini to an Airport Express, which is connected to my DAC. The actual music is on a connected external drive, which I back up manually every now and again, storing that drive away from my main rig, unplugged from everything in case of a power surge or lightning strike or whatever. Once you've ripped your first thousand CDs, you'll not look forward to doing it a second time. I use iTunes, with the music ripped using Apple Lossless. It sounds quite good. I haven't listened to a CD the old-fashioned way in forever. And the convenience is astonishing.
After all that, though, I still love vinyl. Just finished spinning a Madeleine Peyroux record.
Have fun, whichever way you go.
-- Howard