I've been away from audio for a number of years after putting together a system* that I was mostly satisfied with. I took the system apart for a couple years for a living room remodel, then shortly after I set it up, my SOny ES CD player I was using as a transport died. I now realize that I no longer know how to play music. I would like to use some sort of computer server rather than a disc spinner for the convenience, but am overwhelmed by the choices available. I want something simple with excellent sound quality. Right now, I mainly want to rip my CDs to a hard drive. I recognize that at some point in the future, I may want to use some sort of streaming, but right now, I'm not interested. Having been to a few shops, candidates include the Cambridge CXN V2, Aurender N100C, and Naim Uniti Core. The Aurender seems hobbled by a new change that sacrifices sound quality of non-MQA files, the Naim seems like it can't accept files downloaded from the internet. The Cambridge seems to not have any identified problems, but I wonder if it's possible for a machine that is so affordable to provide sound quality on par with the others (although if it can, that would be great). I have no idea what to do. *Theta Gen VIII s3 DAC/Pre, AtmaSphere MA1 amps, Ascendo ZF3 speakers, Kubala-Sosna EMotion interconnects, Entec LF-20 subwoofers.
We sell all the servers you have enquired about and each has its weakness.
We are very big on computer audio and we sell five different server lines:
1:Innous 2:Baetis 3:Naim 4:Aurender 5:NAD
The product we are selling the most of is the Innuous Zen and Zenith.
1: These devices are designed to Roon Roon as a Roon core, (Roon’s music management software is fantastic and it integrates Tidal and Internet radio into one easy to use compreshensive interface, therefore the box will output MQA as well.
2: Built for music reproduction, Innous builds their onw motherboard, and propreitary USB soundcard. add in an ethernet filter shock mounted hard drives and custom designed operating system you have a box designed specifically to derive a clean data stream to your dac.
3: Excellent reliablity and customer support
4: Burns CD
5: Reasonable pricing from $1,250-$4,200.00 for their most popular models.
1: Requires an ethernet connection which can be overcome with a $69 wireless bridge
2: Higher end models only USB again overcome by a usb to spdif adapter if required.
The Naim doesn’t do Tidal or add any other streaming services The NAD 50.2 is very good as a hard drive server with Raid but sound quality is not as good as the Innous. Baetis is very good but expensive. Aurender doesn’t do Roon and does not have a CD ripper.
Computer audio is are speciality along with a great selection of Dacs, Lumin, Mytek, Naim, Nad, Nuprime, LH Labs, Aqua Hifi, and a few others, we are a shop that although we love vinyl we really roll with high end digital.
If you are pretty computer literate , you can build a Music Sever running JRiver media center .It is hard to beat . The software is like under $50.You can rip your cds to the drive in the PC. Get a Server type of pc ,like the Dell Precsion T5400 or higher. You can use the internal drives as well as a Nice big USB harddrive hooked to the PC. Personally i would rip into .wav format from your Cds. people will tell you that they hear no difference in lossless vs The Full original "whats on the cd format" That original format on the cd is .wav. I have tried it . You can hear a difference. It really depends on how resolute and detailed your audio equipment is. I also use the ROKU Ultra Device . I can get Pandora from there and Netflix as well as a lot of other stuff. Pandora Plus sound really good. https://jriver.com/ Good Luck in which ever direction you go. Oh BTW .There is a lot of streaming available through JRiver these days and you can use the pc like a normal PC ..to do anything you can do with a normal PC or get from the internet.These other servers from the guy above are running proprietary software that i am pretty sure does not let you use the server as a Pc .All of this for like $400-900 bucks depending on the PC that you buy
Thanks for the inputs. I do not feel computer literate enough to put together a server on my own. The Innuos sounds interesting, and looks cool as a bonus, but I'm concerned about the lack of SPDIF outputs. Does it make sense to take something so highly specialized and refined and hang some random adapter off of it? How good are such adapters? Regarding Aurender, what's going on with it's implementation of MQA? The Stereophile review indicated it was applying MQA filters to non-MQA data, which would reduce the SQ of such files. If you have anold one, you can revert to the non-MQA software, but not so new production Aurenders. Have they changed this, or is this still an issue? I'm not really interested in ROON at this point. From what I've seen of it, it is very computer-y, something I don't want in my music system. No constant upgrades that may or may not work. No changes to the GUI where they just shuffle everything around for no good reason, making you re-earn how to use it. No wondering when they might make my favorite music inaccessible. No constant slow trickle out of my bank account for a monthly subscription. I could go on. I really just want something like a regular HiFi component that I can plug in and use for many years without the use of it becoming a hobby in itself.
I have ave been considering using a Lumin D2 to replace my laptop to stream tidal to my Classé Sigma SSP. Although the Sigma and the Lumin use the same DAC, am I correct that the Lumin will give me better audio?
I see there is a notation that says there have been 8 responses to this thread, the last one by Audiotroy, but I only see 6 responses, the last one by Ricred. Does anyone else see 8 responses, or know why it says there are 8 when I only see 6?
@honest1 when you say you want to rip CDs to your hard disk, is it that:
a) You want to also use your computer to play the music back into your audio system but your computer isn't nearby so you can't simply connect a DAC to your computer?
b) You want to rip CDs from your computer but don't really care if your computer to be in use or not when playing back music for your audio system?
c) You want to rip CDs from your computer but then you do not want your computer to be used at all when playing back music? In other words you need the ripped files to be stored somewhere else so you can turn off your computer.
I want my audio system to be free from my computer as much as possible. I've been debating whether I'd prefer to load everything from my computer onto an outboard hard drive, or have the music server rip them from an internal CD drive to internal storage. It would certainly be easier to have one machine do it, like the Naim Uniti, but then I'd have to connect it to the internet to get cover art and such, and I"m not sure if the files would be transferable from the Uniti or the Innuous mentioned above to some other HD to use in a different room, or if I decide to change servers. But I do not want my main computer to be used in normal operation, only when loading new music. Part of this is my deep distrust of computers and the internet. Every few years, my computer starts getting slow and I have to replace it, presumably due to junk files picked up from the internet. I do not want to have to go through this for my music system also. Part of it is also the awkwardness of stringing cables from my computer to my music system. I would like to control the server from a tablet that is dedicated to just the music system.
Download and use the free Glary Utilities, free for home use. and run it once a week. I am not affiliated in any way. This is the only program of this type that i use... nothing else. You can trust it . Kim Komando recommends it.
@honest1 In your case, it may make sense to pay the premium for stellar support from an appropriate manufacturer and dealer. Once you are familiar with this area you can move forward with more independent choices, should you want to.
@honest1 you could consider storing your music files on an external hard disk or network server, so it is separate from both your music server and from your computer. That way, if you decide to change music servers that has nothing to do with your ripped music, and if your main computer crashes or needs to be upgraded, you can do so without it having any impact on your saved music files.
We're doing something similar ourselves, with music ripped from an iMac onto a Synology NAS running Minimserver. The LUMIN network streaming hardware loads and plays the music directly from the NAS, even if the iMac is turned off. You can also get a LUMIN L1 NAS that is preconfigured to serve music files.
Many of the other network streamers will support similar setups, even some of those that also have internal hard disks (although in that case you won't be using the network streamer's internal hard disk). So you do have options.
The other benefit to using something like a NAS is they can be set up with RAID which protects against data loss in the event of a hard disk failure. So you won't have to re-rip all your files. It won't prevent loss in the event of a catastrophic disaster, or if your computer gets infected by malware that deletes files, but it's better than a typical setup.
As @david_ten said, getting help from a local dealer or the manufacturer could be your best bet.
OP, send a pm to Mike Powell (@mikepowellaudio) regarding server options. He’s got a number of YouTube videos devoted to the topic. His YouTube handle is OCD HiFi Guy. Mike is a dealer of audio gear and an expert server designer.