You would probably need things like an operating system, keyboard, and monitor to accomplish that.
I recently picked up a used IBM ThinkPad laptop to use as a music server for the USB DAC in my main system. It can play any files from its own hard drive, CD/DVD-ROM drive, or USB ports (external hard drive or plug-in flash drive), plus it can stream Internet Radio from my wireless network. And the laptop is battery powered so it runs on pure power instead of dirty AC from the wall and is isolated from the rest of the audio system.
All that and it can download (and play) all types of music files directly from the Internet. I installed the free version of the MediaMonkey music server to facilitate the file managing and playback. MonkeyMedia will play the Chesky HD Tracks (and many other formats) without compression and it features Internet Radio as well. It plugs right into the USB input of my Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2.
The laptop is considerably smaller than my Oppo Blu-ray player and I can easily unplug it and take it elsewhere when I'm not using it for the stereo. Heck, I can even stream movies from Netflix on it. That said, it lacks a remote control. Good Luck.
Here's how I do it. Dac connected with usb cable to mac mini, mini connected to outboard hard drive.
Use Itunes and rip in Applelossless, error correction on.
Use Itouch for remote using Apple's free remote app (you must leave your computer on to access your library)
Finally, use the PURE MUSIC application to run with Itunes.....the sound beats cd's and it's really nice not to run back and forth to a cd player or stand in front of the cd rack trying to select some music.
Suggest you check out computer audiophile and well tempered computer websites...very helpful. have fun!
This is very new to me. You both are a great help. Thank you. You made it sound real simple. Computers can be picky. I do like the idea of having a battery powered laptop for maybe better sonics. I will look for a used one, I like that idea because I think this part of audio will have some nice progress in the near future and I won't be to invested in it right now that way. I also like the idea of sending it to hard drive for back up for all that good hi-rez I hope to get. I am going to work at this. Thanks a lot. Do you have any simple thoughts on how to keep the best signal through download to music system. Will media monkey work best? Thanks, and enjoy your music.
If you are going the Windows route, I would suggest Windows 7 rather than XP or Vista. If you use a used laptop, check to see if it has Windows 7. One of things you would like to have is a clean system with very few other applications running. I use a Netbook with Windows 7 Starter, which is a very stripped down version which means very few things are running. I do not even run anti-virus software, since it is very rarely on the network. Some people think you need bigger systems, but I am happy with my little Netbook with very little overhead.
You need to have either a DAC with USB input or a USB to S/PDIF converted to feed your DAC. There are lots of options here, depending on whether you want to use an existing DAC or purchase a new one.
Marqmike, I believe I saved all the Chesky files in the FLAC format via MediaMonkey (which was recommended to me by Chesky) and when I play them on the W4S DAC-2 it displays the incoming resolution (usually as 24-bit/96k).
As Larryken suggested, it's best not to run a lot of other applications on the laptop you will be using for the music playback. It would be best not to use antivirus if you're not planning to connect to the Internet. But I use the free version of Avast antivirus because it's fairly unobtrusive and I like to stream Internet radio and be able to download music files.
I switched from the "Norton Security Suite" to Avast because the Norton was always running scans in the background. When I switched I gained back about 120Mbs of useful RAM.
The Squeezebox Touch allows you to attach a USB storage device like a thumb drive or hard drive, without any other interface. The larger the library, the longer it will take to cataglogue via the Touch. I have not tried this with a larger hard drive, but it worked like a charm with a thumb drive with FLAC files on it. I believe that if you do use a hard drive it needs to be formatted in FAT16 FAT32 NTFS or ext2/ext3. If you are not computer savvy that may not be a simple solution, but it does eliminate the need for a computer interface (I actually still prefer to use one because control is more comprehensive via Squeezeserver on a laptop). You'd still need a computer interface to rip the files in the first place, of course.
itunes probably provides the most user-friendly interface for ripping, cataloguing, and playing music, but alas, it does have some drawbacks. The ripping component is not as vigorous as some other software - you mentioned Media Monkey, there's also EAC and Max (if you are using a Mac) that come to mind. Any one of those have a better error-correction built in than the one in iTunes. Also iTunes can not handle FLAC files, which I prefer to use, and also is a bit awkward in handling hi-rez audio files which require adjustment of the MIDI interface as opposed to adapting on the fly to whatever you choose to play (again, non computer-savvy need not apply here). If you do use iTunes I would rip files in AIFF or Apple Lossless (the latter taking up less space). Do not use WAV files or you may regret it down the road.
Thanks for your help. I going out soon with your suggestings and I will get a new notebook with as clean a slate as I can then come home a get media monkey on there. I read in computer audiophile to cut out the mixer or something like that, so I will probably go over to there and put together any suggestions on set up and using media monkey with my notebook. I just thought I would warn you guys just in case this side of the country disapears because of something I connect wrong. Thank you everyone.
Wouldn't the best solution for you be this?
1) Rip your music to your PC using EAC with the FLAC add on
2) Save the files on a RAID 1 configured USB hard drive with 2 ITB modules
3) When done putting your music on the HD, connect it to a Logitech Touch for the interfacr control
4) Run the output of the Touch to your DAC
In this way you aren't using any PC except for the initial rip, the RAID 1 has built-in back up in case one of the drives crashes, and you can move the HD from wherever your PC is to where you listen to music and all you have there is the HD, the Touch, and your DAC.
I dunno' seems way better than messing around with a laptop and a bunch of other crap.
SB Touch runs a stripped down version of the server software. No way can it handle a RAID array.
Big bucks5 thanks that is what I was hoping to do keep it simple over by the sound system and off a computer after downloading. Why? It just sound good and simple. I am not very sharp with computer stuff. Prpixel thanks for the help before I took that step. I went out this afternoon and looked for a computer/laptop to dedicate music to and then I started thinking about and got caught up in all the little things and I didn,t get one yet. Ineed some time to figure it out. Everybody I talk to at the stores has different ideas and really doesn't know much about what I am trying to do. But other than that their nice and try to be helpful. Thanks again. Enjoy your music.
I have no idea what Prpixel is talking about. The Touch interfaces with a USB drive. A USB RAID 1 configured HD is a still a USB drive. From an external point of view, the Touch has no idea if the HS is RAID 1 or not. You can always pull one of the drives out if there was some kind of issue, and then reinsert it to mirror the drive inside the case when you add more music.
Get yourself a LaCie 2 Big USB HD with 2 1TB drives configured as a mirror array and a Logitech Touch. I think that's all you need (plus your DAC).
Bigbucks5 Thanks. I am doing what you provided me because that is what I wanted to do. Thanks for all the specifics too. Thanks for the help. Enjoy your music.
"...how to store downloaded hi-rez digital... "
I believe almost no one actually addressed your question but rather described how they use computer audio.
I am not the expert and, thus, don;t want to give any advice but hi-res download is mostly in 24/96, 24/176 and 24/192 formats. I don't believe that Logitech can handle last two as well as iTune and many other suggested software and hardware solutions.
In your shoes, I would consider (and discuss with expert):
1 - labtop with minimum OP and run it on battary when listening to music - exactly as suggested above.
2 - Downoald music managment software capable to deal with hi-rez and lossless downloads and probably classic music library (a bit more compex then rock, I believe)
3A -Use Asycronius USB/S/PDIF 24/192 device connected to
3B - your DAC with regular S/PDIF input or
4 - DAC with Asycronius USB 24/192 input
Still, Buyer Beware !
Dob thanks for that input. I think I have picked out 'HQPlayer' to deal with the hi-rez digital files and I do have a Sim Audio Moon 100 dac(great dac)so I still need to get computer side usb-coax adapter for 24-192 files. I think then I will be ready to go. Thank you all for your input and direction it really helped this 'green hat' to computer source music.
What I mean is the SB Touch doesn't have the horse power to manage a large library. If the library gets too big the searches and indexing just time out. I have a touch here and the plan was to just plug in a usb drive and use it as both a playback device and a server for the rest of my Squeezeboxes. I plugged in a 1TB drive with about 2600 CD's (26000 tracks) ripped to it and it could not index it. The built in server can only handle a couple of hundred CD's before the indexing and searches get too slow. Even scrolling through your collection becomes unbearably slow.
The idea behind the built in server was for people with smaller libraries (<100 cd's) to be able to stick them on a thumb drive and have a standalone server/player. Or for your friend to be able to bring over some tunes on a thumb drive for a listening session. If you check out the squeezebox forums, you'll find a lot of discussions on the capabilities of the built in server.
"I think I have picked out 'HQPlayer' to deal with the hi-rez digital files "
What is HQPlayer?
I told you I am not the expert... I am searching myself for good and user-freindly and not too expensive Hi-rez server (I have APL HiFi DAC with hi-rez digital input to use with this server....this DAC is a part of NWO-S1 SACD/CD Player I need to play my SACDs)
HQPlayer is a hi-rez management software. If you are looking just google 'HQPlayer'. Thanks.