Music server interface suggestions

I currently am running a music server (pc), ran via usb to a bel canto dac3, into bel canto ref1000s. The Dac3 is also used as my preamp. So my question is that I am looking into new possibilities for an interface to access my music server. At some point in time, I plan on getting a mac mini, and setting up a hard drive array in a NAS.
Currently though, I have my pc hooked up through my tv and is controlled through a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I really want to get away from having to turn the computer on and using a mouse to select which song I want to play.

One more issue I want to resolve, is exploring other inputs on the dac3 in place of the usb, as I want to get into 24/96 music files. As many of you know the usb is only 16/44.1 (or 48).

So here are a few options

1) Get a airport express using the optical out to connect to the dac3.
(Only issue is I still have to use my laptop (mac) to access music files, but I get the benefits of 24/96.

2) Get something like a slim devices duet, connecting the dac3 via optical again. Using the handheld remote, and at some point store all of my music files stored on a qnap nas, so i can access files without a computer being on.

3) mac mini connected w/ usb or optical with the remote program for the iphone.

Anyone know the positives or negatives of these things? Will the duet or airport change the sound at all??

*If I were to use the optical it would be with a cable such as the wireworld supernova.

**Oh yeah, I am aware of the 500 dollar usb update the the dac3 and would rather put my money in another direction I think.


Why would look at a MacMini and not the AppleTV? Cheaper, and does exactly what you want.
I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to computer audio... but I think your headed in the right direction with your "3)". Suggest you contact Steve Nugent @ Empirical Audio or research the Computer Audiophile website.
In response to the appletv suggestion, can you the remote application for the iphone/itouch with an appletv? If not thats not what I am looking for because I dont want the tv on while selecting which music to listen to.
I am a big fan of the Slim Devices solutions and I have upgraded from a Squeezebox 3 and a Bel Canto DAC2 to the Modwright Transporter. This is the best digital front end I have owned and the Slim Devices interface is simple to use. My music is stored on an iMac.

Good Luck!
Yes the iPhone/touch will control, as will your universal remote. Also, the AppleTV will take content off of all of your iTunes accounts, I think up to 5, and stream them wirelessly. I love mine, I switched from a MacMini because the interface was just so easy to use, and the other entertainment options are just awesome. Oh yeah, it was cheap too.
a few points and corrections

1. optical from the laptop and USB will both do 24/96
2. airport express is limited to 16/44.1
3. go to Wavelength audio site for info on setting it up
4. go to Audio Asylum and prowl around the PC Audio board
5. there are a lot of options to control the mini, see 4 above
6. everything changes the sound on a high resolution system
7. optical is likely to have more jitter and should be reclocked or use a DAC with good jitter rejection for optimum performance (Altmann Attraction DAC is very nice)

good luck, have fum
Good advice from Herman but I would also ad... check out the Apple Core group at Audio Circle. You'll find all things audio/video and apple.
Thanks to all who responded.
I think I have it narrowed down. I have ruled out the apple tv because, this will just be adding an interface, while I still will need a computer running somewhere for this all to operate well.
also the airport express is ruled out if it is in fact limited to 16/44.1

Making my top choice right now the mac mini, with a nas storage device put away in a closet or back room. I will also use the remote program for the iphone to control. After I get it all setup, I will get a Wireworld supernova glass toslink cable and do some critical listening vs. my kimber usb cable. Also hopefully then I can explore 24/96 which I have been very excited to listen to.

Thanks again for your input, this definitely helped me narrow down my decision.

* the only other thing I would think about is a transporter or modwright transporter. I would have to use it as a pre though also. i'll have to do some research on this.

Hello Tim.

I don't think your options will work for 24bit/96khz audio. Cos first of all the Duet doesn't support that bit rate, I know cos I tried it and I happen to use the DAC3 too. Neither does an airport express if I am not wrong. So the best bet will be getting the Olive Melody which happens to support 24bit/96khz and it looks way cooler than the Duet too.

Happy hunting!

Do your homework on which NAS to get... not all work well with ITunes.
So do you have any recommendations for a good nas to work with itunes?

NAS: 500 Gig Buffalo Technology BUFFALO HSDH500GL LinkStation Live Multimedia Storage Server