Get a dedicated network player instead of a multi purpose computer.
That is where you will end up.
I was in the same boat as you a while back, but I did not want to build my own system, deal with third-party software, I did not want to use my MAC/laptop/PC, so I got the Bluesound Vault to get me started. Built in DAC, easy to load your CD's or HD downloads, and even old MP3's. Has the software to manage your library built-in, very good support, and also streaming so you can get an idea if you like it or not. Basically its a good introduction to everything digital.
Fuzztone is right, you'll end up spending a good chunk of money and time building out your own and still end up with a dedicated network player in the end. There are others beside Bluesound, but it's what I started with and it worked out well or me.
Thanks for your help.
I have spent the money already. My neighbor has a Bluesound vault and I am very unimpressed with sound and smartphone interface is a turnoff.
Have read nothing but software horror stories about Cocktail Audio products etc.
So, again, I got all the pieces, I think?. If anyone is using their PC/Mac as a server/player I could use some expertise!
Thanks again in advanced!
If your goal is to build high resolution library then I would pick a better server than Mac desktop. You have a nice DAC, pair it with a better server or streamer and keep the door open for streaming options whenever you’re ready.
Vault 2 is a good start up option but certainly not long term. I would look into something like used Aurender N100H which has 2TB storage on board. The Aurender’s conductor app is solid and easy to follow. Use your Mac to download music and then transfer it to N100H internal drive. The files on internal drive will sound slightly better than any external storage on your network.
And lastly, I recommend NativeDSD or ProStudioMasters for DSD and high resolution files over HDTracks. HDTracks are notorious for upscaling lower resolution files and selling them as DSD’s. They have not been transparent about provenance of original file or resolution.
I can’t help you with a Mac player as I’m a PC guy but Foobar and Fidelizer sound great. Foobar is pretty intimidatingly to get up and running but once set up works great just doesn't look as pretty as some of the other non free options. You also may want to rethink a streaming service at least for the short term if for no other reason that to get easier access to to digital downloads. Qobuz and Amazon HD allow you to purchase directly from the app and Qobuz actually discounts the downloads if you go with the higher tier services. Building your library you might actually save enough to pay for the services and you can then stop if once you’re library is adequate.
Just my opinion but if your internet connection is good enough being able to hear it before you buy it is a pretty valuable service.
Robot I am and Robot I’ll always be.
I have been using a home built PC for a few years now and have never even thought of a network player as what I have is as good and a lot better than most. Most importantly you have to put very good components in it. Use a good gaming board with your main drive split between an OS on one partition and the playback of files on another partition of the same SSD Drive ( Very Important ). Platter drives are fine for storage but SSD's are much better for playback as they are better dither wise. You will need to buy a couple of J Play cards to replace the motherboard USB and Ethernet ports. Also for those two drives you will need a Linear Power Supply as a switching supply from the normal PC supply just won't cut it. The operating system I would suggest would be Windows 10 Pro 10 which has a lot of the annoying Windows apps cut out of it . After that you need a program like fidelizer or Audiophile Optimiser (my preference). The most important thing in computer music systems is getting the Dither down as low as you can and those two cards are great for that and also J Play make a great desktop player which I recommend and also use. Good luck and in the end you should have a system that can stand up to most.
Hello Howie G in NYC! If you haven't bought the Bluesound Vault yet, there are certainly cheaper ways to go. I have been using PCs (desktops & laptops) for years for recording and playing sound recordings. I have used many DACs and never had a problem with odd noises or bad sound. The software you use to play the music is important. I use WavePad and Media Monkey. Both have free versions. Either is much better than Microsoft's sound players. Keep the software's player at full volume and use a DAC with a volume control. The USB cable is CRITICAL and there are HUGE differences between them. Contact me for more on my discovery of this sad fact. My best results are with Wireworld's best and Furutech's best. Some well advertised products make the music shriek! Unbelievable! The old style USB cables that worked fine on our printers will NOT do audio. Get a great cable first. It's much cheaper. Happy Listening!
I would certainly go with @boomerbillone post and say that USB cables have shot up in quality lately. My recommendation would be the CAD 11 cable. It is very expensive but has lifted my playback quality to levels I have not heard from streaming before. Yes the old style USB printer wires just will not do anymore.
Thank you all for the help. There seems to be 2 camps out there. One saying the PC route is dreadful and get a server and the others who say a computer with a good DAC is fine. Since I have all the pieces for the PC ( Mac) route I'm going to give that a try first. If the sound is comparable to that of my SACD player then that will hold me for now.
Thank you ALL for your helpful insights!
All the best in '22