Looking for a Network Music Player

I am looking for a reasonably priced Network Music Player, or plans for one that I can build.

These are my requirements

1. App for tablet/cellphone, Android & iOS (required)
2. Ethernet (required)
3. WiFi (preferred, but with an ethernet input an Access Point in client mode could be used)
4. Analog outputs for pre-amp (required)
5. Digital output, coax to connect to my pre-amp or future DAC (required)
6. Built-in storage (preferred, but not required)
7. Built-in DAC (not required)

An example of such a Network Music Player is the Sony HAP-51, but there are a few reasons that I can’t/won’t purchase this unit.

1. Price ($1000 is more than I can spend for such a unit)

2. An amplifier is built-in (Although it has analog outputs so it can be used with a pre-amp, the fact that it comes with 40 watt/channel amplifier means that too much of the cost of the unit went into something I don’t want and wouldn’t use. If that money were spent on a better DAC, it would be more desirable to me.)

3. No digital output (The unit comes with a DAC, and even if it is halfway decent, at some point I would probably want to use another DAC. It can’t be done with this unit because there are not digital outputs.)

The things I like about the Sony HAP-51 are:

1. Connectivity (Ethernet & WiFi)

2. Storage (Although not a requirement for me, it does have 500 GB hard drive, and should be enough storage for me at this point in time.)

3. App, both Android and iOS (It does have a great app, which is one of my main requirements for such a unit.)

I don’t know if a reasonably priced unit such as this exists, or if there are plans for a computer to be used as Network Music Player. I think I could build such a unit using a computer right now, but the main problem would be that I don’t know how I could access the music from an android or iOS tablet.

I would appreciate any help you can give me along these lines.


D9828cff b3e0 4ae5 8b03 96f24aa178c1edincleve
That's a pretty long list of requirements!

A couple of points sort of contradict each other; #4 & #7. Output will be digital to a dac or the unit will include a dac and then it would have analog outputs. There's no way to have analog outputs without first converting the signal to analog within the unit. 

The Aurelic Aries Mini for $549 gets close to what you're after. It's got the dac built in but also digital out to use with a better dac. There is a path to later upgrade the power supply which reportedly makes a big difference too. The nicest thing is that it uses the same Lightning DS app as the more expensive Aurelic players, so you get the development support that is for a larger community including those who bought the pricier models. (That would give me a little more comfort). 

If you can live with USB digital output instead of coax, that will affect how many products meet your needs. Most are focusing on USB output.

Personally, I am more excited about tackling this problem with the approach used by Sonore in their Sonicorbiter SE and the pending microRendu. Basically small single-purpose linux-based computer 2" cube with ethernet input, small psu, USB & optical or USB output. You store your music on any NAS connected to your router. The $299 Sonicorbiter SE is based on Cubox. The $640 microRendu is new custom hardware that is basically a specialized USB output including Regen type tech designed by John Swenson. Both can be used in 5 different modes that allow control from tons of software including Squeezebox, Lumin, Linn Kazoo, HQ Player(computer needed for that one) and many others. Check out threads on computeraudiophile for the details if you are interested. Just too much detail to explain it all.

I have no interest in these, I'm just a future customer on the waiting list to get the microRendu when it's released in the next month or so. These products are potentially gamechangers in computer audio and have many folks a lot smarter than me very excited. cheers,
Couple of players comes to mind, Cambridge Audio's CXN and Cocktail Audio X12. 

I have owned Cambridge Audio's 851N for about 6 months before switching to Aurender N100H and then N10. The latter two units offer path to purist approach.  

Depending on your DAC budget, I would look at Auralic Aries, X12 or N100. All of these units leaves door open for future upgrades.  

My personal favorite would be N100 that offers amazing sound and excellent iOS app. Yes, it lot more money but it will be a solid foundation for what you are trying to build. 

Good luck!
The Bluesound Node 2 fits the bill for you. The only thing it doesn't have is built-in storage which you said isn't required. If you want the storage, then the Bluesound Vault 2 works, but it costs considerably more than the Node 2 and also comes with a drive for ripping CDs. So, if you can do without the built-in storage and ripping capabilities, the Node 2 should work very well for  you. Disclosure: we are a Bluesound dealer.
Try Hollis Audio Labs, MS-3 server, $799. See Facebook or Audiocircle, http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=132170.0
The Squeezebox Touch, while no longer in production, can be had for approx. $350.  They can't be beat for the price.  I tried the Aurelic Aries, but was unable to get it to work... so I returned it 1 week later.
Sonos Connect would also fit the bill for $349,  no storage but an external drive can be had quite cheaply or you can also get a NAS drive which is what I use.
Aries Mini, Sonore products may also work well.
I have the Bluesound Vault and Node and agree that the Node would meet your requirement.  I would also point out that if you don't need High Resolution, Aplle Airport Express may do the job
I want to thank everyone who responded to my request for help.

After checking out all the suggestions, there seems to be two that meet my needs (and price point). They are the Auralic Aries Mini and the Bluesound Node2. The Cocktail Audio X12 might also fit my needs. I just have to determine which of these has the best app for controlling it with a tablet or cellphone.

Thanks again. There's a lot of knowledge and experience on this forum as well as very helpful people and I appreciate it.
I have experience with two network music players:
WDTV Live and Marantz 6005. 

The WD product is very inexpensive and effective.  Mine is an older model no longer in production.  The newer models will stream several internet sources but will no longer stream Netflix.  As for music it will play various video sites, Tune-in, Pandora, and music files from your network via either wireless or ethernet.  It will stream most formats including Flac 24/192 files.  It now has only HDMI and digital audio outputs.  Mine has analog audio as well.   I use the digital output through my separate DAC.  The internal DAC on mine sounds just okay.  What can you expect from a device that costs less than $100?  I guess the latest model doesn't even have a DAC.  The problem with streaming higher resolution files is that the digital output on my device is converted to 44.1 kHz.  These sound good through my external DAC but they are not the highest resolution.

I would try to find out if the newer models convert the higher resolution files or not.  For the money I would say the WDTV is a great value.  You might try a discontinued unit for more functionality. I've had mine for seven or eight years.  I had a Roku (mainly a Video streamer) that crapped out after two years.

Now for the Marantz 6005 media streamer.  It has lots of bells and whistles but the iinternal (infernal) software is buggy.  When it works it's great but I have spent hours trying to unlock it after it locks up without having to reset the unit to scratch and reenter all my information.  The service people are responsive but unhelpful.  I have had to reset it twice to factory settings and then reenter all my network info and music souces.   Highly unrecommended.
just got the Auralic Aeries mini a couple of weeks ago and I'm extremely happy with it, fits your requirements.  I use an outboard DAC.

I purchased the Aurlaic Aries Mini about a month ago. When it works, I love it. The problem is that it stops working every 2 or 3 days and then I have to do the setup again. It's driving me crazy! Now it won't even finish the setup procedure.

I just passed 30 days with it, so I guess I'm stuck with it.
edincleve do you sign out of Lightning DS every time you are finished listening? I do that and any issues with my Mini working seem to be gone. I leave the unit itself powered up and just log out of the app. So far mine's been pretty flawless and so much better than the Sonos it replaced.

I'm using an iPad, so I don't understand what you mean by logging out. When I am finished listening, I press the home button to leave the app. If I haven't finished listening for the day, I probably just press the sleep/wake button to turn off the display.

Am I doing something wrong?
edinclave I am using an ipad mini myself and what I mean is if you look at the Lightning DS app in the lower left corner there is an icon that looks like a human head. If you click that icon a box will open that says My Account, at the bottom of that box in red it says Log Off, just click that and it logs you off, then close the app. Doing this seems to work perfectly for me a few months into ownership.
Thanks jond, when I get it working again I will try that.
Have you tried unplugging the aries and plugging it back in to restart? If you are still having issues contact Auralic support I found them to be very responsive and helpful. Good luck!

Actually I have done that more than a few times. I contacted the tech support person, but he is supposed to be out of town and not able to assist for the next two weeks.

I'll try to be patient. :)
aha I guess its that time of year everywhere sorry to hear of your troubles and I wish you the best of luck. And I admire your patience I would be going crazy myself. Hang in there!

Thanks for all your responses.

I got the Aries Mini working a few hours ago. With a little luck it will continue to work for a few days.

edincleve that's great news I hope it keeps working for good! If not perhaps you need to send it back to Aurlic for a checkup.