Interaction with music server while listening?

I'm only just now starting to investigate music servers, so please pardon my ignorance. I'm interested in a silent computer-based server with AES ouput and hi-rez capacity, which will also rip my CDs, for use with an outboard DAC like Berkeley alpha. (Similar to servers offered at endpcnoise; but any other suggestions are welcome). My main question: What types of remotes are people finding most useful with such systems? I've seen units like the Logitech remotes, and also the small wireless netbook offered with Music Vault Diamond, but there must be many choices....
If you plan to use an in room display to view your info. This one looks like fun Gyration Remote.
I like the squeezebox duet remote. Nice screen and very flexible and expandable.
Why not a mac mini for server and an iPod touch for remote?
Mac > Itunes > ipod or iphone
I have the Music Vault Diamond. The netbook, paired with a wireless trackball, has proven to be an excellent solution.
Curriemt11 - Do you find the netbook+trackball easy to operate while you are sitting in your "listening chair", or do you have them sitting on a table?
Hi Ral,

Either way, actually. The netbook itself is very small and light, so it can go nearly anywhere. Likewise, the trackball is not placement critical. My seats are three across, with the prime listening position in the center, of course. I generally leave the trackball on the arm of the chair to my right. The only fiddly part is the size of the wireless receiver, of all things. I really have no idea why Logitech made this thing as large as they did. I'm considering using Velcro to attach it to the top of the netbook, just to get it out of the way.

In any event, apart from this last bit, I'm liking the trackball more and more every day.
Hi Ral,

I am copying my answer here that I put in the Computer Audio forum, now that I see this is where the discussion is taking place.

I think the first question to ask is how much computer experience you have. Are you comfortable installing PC hardware and configuring software? The Music Vault Diamond looks interesting but it also looks like you could save a couple of thousand dollars by building your own server. It looks like the Music Vault Diamond is a quiet PC with a Lynx Studio sound card (I've built one of these myself, but no longer use it as a music server).

The next question is what do want to control with the remote control? If it is only volume, and choosing next and previous songs then you can do that with something as simple as the iMon remote control packages.

If you want a remote with a screen to pick out music and build play lists without having to look at the computer monitor, then you should decide which software package you will use as a media server then see what remotes they support. Some media servers have iPod Touch and iPhone applications that are useful for such. The netbook laptop solution that Music Vault is using is applicable to any solution as long as you have a wireless network set up in your home. You can install Free VNC Server on the music server and use the netbook to remotely control the server via Free VNC viewer.

You can also rig up a computer to be controlled by the Squeezebox Duet remote controller, but this solution does not allow high resolution playback. I am running something called Music Player Daemon as a music server, which does allow high resolution playback, and I use an iPod touch to choose music and control playback. However, MPD runs under Linux and requires a fair amount of Linux experience to configure properly.

An excellent all-in-one Windows software package that allows secure ripping, a good user interface, and high resolution playback is J River Media Center.

Good morning Alan

Thanks for your detailed post. I'm wondering if you could point me in the right direction to the Free VNC Server software. Just did a google search but none of the results were called Free VNC Server.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Hi Eddie,

You can get free vnc server at
and free vnc viewer at

Thanks Alan! Gonna give it a shot....
Ral, you have many choices, and as someone noted, you need to take into account your computer hardware and software literacy in deciding which path to take.

After alot of research and experimentation, I built my own silent PC music server using the fanless Zalman TNN-300 chassis with solid state drives and a Lynx AES16 PCI card running Windows 7 64 bit. I use the XXHE player software and the Berkeley Alpha DAC. I am pretty PC and MAC literate so building my own PC was no big deal. I use a netbook running Remote Desktop Connection to talk to my music server. It works great and you have total control over the machine.

I was after the best possible sound quality. While I use and prefer Apple Mac products, to my ears the fanless PC running Win7 64 and using WASAPI to talk to the Lynx card gives better SQ than the Mac. That being said, I do think that a Linux music server has the potential for even better SQ, but then you really need to have Linux specific computer skills.