Music Servers-Why so few?

With the explosion of Dacs and discussions of computer audio one would think the server market would flourish as well. Where are all of the "big" names and their offerings? They can certainly produce Dacs. With the exception of Bryston, it seems the small companies are the only ones who offer something and then its a crapshoot as to who will be able to answer an email or have a decent website with useful information. Where are they?
One reason may be that the record companies don't seem to be committed to cd res or better downloads.

They're fine with mp3s but they would rather have a system where you only rent the music and don't own a copy.
Speaking with a McIntosh person recently about as to whether they would be replacing their 750 model music server. His answer was no. Explaining for companies like Mac, with wanting to get a product right the first time and at their standards takes a good amount of time. Time in which in that area of technology the next new thing is out so fast, it is not worth it for them.

My take on it is that with smart and clever choices, one can have a music server with their laptop as the base which sounds great and is very convenient and is very inexpensive.

It is just not worth it for companies whose products cost into the thousands to try to complete in that arena. They stick to the heart and soul of a system.
As Glenfihi says, the ease of putting together a music server system using a PC or Mac, off-the-shelf hard drives, relatively inexpensive playback software and a DAC means that purpose-built servers have a hard time competing on price and inevitably are quickly behind the technology curve.
Its just going to take some time. From what I've read, there are already some very good servers out there and its always been the habit for companies to wait and see where the crowds are going before they jump in front and claim to be the leader, just like politicians.

There are also competing designs out there like this that just may be giving some people a headache as it would eliminate the PC as the playback medium.
I recommend to avoid the all-in-one servers unless you just cannot navigate a computer. They force you into using a certain playback software, ripping software, formats, resamplers, DSP etc.. These are usually not the latest and best performing available, such as the free tool XLD for ripping on Mac, Amarra, Jplay or Pure Music player, or the Izotope resampler. These will all be obsolete with in a year or two.

You are better off to just buy a Mac Mini and put the best software on it or pay someone like to do it for you. If you juse need a transport, then buy a good USB converter. Then you can upgrade both software and hardware over time as things improve.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Alot of people want the advantages of computer playback without a computer in the audio rack. I was set on a Mach2Server until it got more complicated as I kept looking into it. I dont care for Media Monkey and J River interfaces. I just need the basic ipod playback functions and a remote app for my ipad along with a great playback system. I dont want to have to tweak and play arond with just to keep the playback optimized.

Bryston seems to be the only one who has produced a stellar playback system without the PC. It looked like the Linux based systems would continue to evolve. They will play back bit perfect without a fuss. I was all set to get the Auraliti but never heard back from them.

I guess it will take more time for things to materialize. It should be interesting.
"One reason may be that the Record Companies don't seem to
be committed to CD Res., or better Downloads. They're fine
with MP3's, but they would rather have a System where you
only rent the Music- and don't have a copy". Again, how do
you keep the Record Companies honest if replacing CD with
Downloading? Record Companies will replace ALL Downloading with MP3 because of the reason stated above, and MP3 is far
more profitable! CD is on its way out, big mistake if most
of ALL Music becomes only available as MP3 Downloads! No more obfuscations, this is a problem as stated above! Blindly trust the Record Companies to provide High Res.
Downloads? Allow a thousand Foxes to guard the Hen House
benefits who-US????? We are NOT the Foxes here, and they are certainly NOT our freinds! Why make it easy for them?
Another option is a DIY but pre-designed server that can be upgraded. One that is a computer, is small, and made to go with your audio components.

You can check out the C.A.P.S. v2.0 that was designed by Chris Connaker, the founder of Computer Audiophile. It looks like a fun and rewarding project and something I may do as well. There is quite the ongoing thread with this post.
I heard a demo of the Lessloss Laminar Streamer at RMAF. It is very promising IMO. Not sure where it will fall price wise though.
Forgot to mention, that the C.A.P.S v2.0 can be purchased pre-built from Small Green Computer, and you can use an app to control it from different pads, etc.
I suspect reasons are that the technology is still evolving rapidly (hence products become outdated rapidly) and the uniform standards needed to make such a product work well for a large and diverse market are not fully in place yet. Give it time. In the meantime, there are many cost effective and robust options for those motivated to put their own music server together. The Logitech Squeeze system is the one I am most familiar with and can recommend. A fair degree of computer literacy and motivation is recommended before undertaking though still. Music servers are great when they work but there are still many snafus that can come up and make things things head south. Dealing with Terabytes of data fast and reliably is always a challenge.
Maybe a Music Server whose Media Player Software/ Ripping
Software can be updated or replaced? Still concerned about
what Tomcy6 claims about the Record Companies and MP3. It
seems that mostly Classical, and Jazz are being made available on High Res. Downloads- general assumption that
Music Selection for other fields will soon follow. Pop,
Rock, and Country ( 70% of Music ) are going in the opposite direction. Mostly being killed off in the CD
Market, and availability being painted into the corner of
MP3 Download ONLY availability. Not holding my breath for
High Res. Downloads of the Carpenters, Heart, Enya, ABBA,
Bangles, John Barry, Howard Hanson, Jerry Goldsmith, Peter-
Paul-Mary, Mamas and Papas, Gerry Rafferty, Wilson Phillips, Gustav Holst, Juice Newton, Nancy Sinatra, Henri
Mancini, Kate Bush, Alanis Morissette, Bernard Herrmann,
and Ennio Morricone. No accounting for taste, but to pull
the 16/44.1 CD version of this Music only to replace it
with- agast lower Res. MP3 Downloads???? Guess that Record Company Profits/ Greed have no boundaries. Great idea
giving absolute control over our Music back to the Record
Companies thru MP3 Downloading, and removing CD as last
Stumbling block. Can't wait for the High Res. Downloads to
become available for this Music- how long do I wait???
The people at Auraliti might not be able to respond to all questions, but the PK90 is a fantastic device that removes all the settings and guesswork from a computer based setup. I have had mine running since September and I love it. It's a small box, and you hook up a hard drive and a DAC along with a router and laptop. Well, I guess it's a bit more complicated than a "turn-key" all-in-one, but it is just like the Bryston only 1/3 the cost. These guys actually helped Bryston develop theirs. Oh, BTW I have no affiliation to Auraliti.
Koestner- Glad to hear the PK90 is working out. Its the one I have the most interest in. I did hear back from Auraliti, a very nice reply about 7 business days later. I asked some followup questions and am still waiting....

I think about $800 is the max a server should cost without the ripper which I do on my pc using DB Poweramp. I guess the most recent alternative to this server is using my laptop with Jplay which has emerged as a front runner in the PC software arena.

I dont really want the PC in my rack and like the simplicity and purpose of a dedicated server.
Kenneythekey- How much can be saved building yourself? The turnkey version is certainly no bargain cost wise. The downside is running windows IMO. I would rather have a rudimentary interface and have linux do the work in the background knowing that I dont have to optimize settings or check to see nothing has changed.
I have been very pleased with my VortexBox appliance, a dedicated Linux computer that rips, stores and plays FLAC files. It costs about $400, but if you have an old computer, and you know what you're doing, the software is free. There is excellent support via the VortexBox on line forums, which I have gone to for help and gotten it many times. I have mine networked onto my home router, and playback is through a Squeezebox Touch, and coaxial DAC. No USB issues to worry about. The biggest PITA is editing the tags, which are a problem on my many home-made CD-Rs. But I use MP3tag on a laptop, and type away while I listen to music. Not so bad. Perhaps formats will change again, but I will live only so long.
Stl114_nj - I think the built price is competitive with DIY costs. Some opt for DIY for the experience and later have no trouble with doing upgrades.

I also use a Squeezebox Touch as a player, and I'm in the process of adding a 2-bay NAS to store my audio files. I will then use any one of my existing computers to download and/or rip my files to the NAS for playback by SBT.

Down the road, I may add an external HDD that the NAS will backup to, and play the files from the HDD that's directly connected to a new music server. However, I'm liking the Touch and I use coax to my DAC.
Bondmanp= How does the Vortexbox integrate with the Squeezebox? I kind of dismissed the SB as I thought the resolution maxed at 24/96. I dont have much higher res stuff, mostly ripped CD's but still want to hear what the highest rez sounds like.

Kennythekey-so the SB will pull the music from the NAS? Just trying to picture what I need to go with the SB. I have a nice DAC with USB, coas and toslink. I need a computer running SB and does it stream wireless?

Guess I need to do some more research....
The SBT plugs into your router directly or wirelessly. It then can find any drives connected to your router and play music from them. Right now, it plays music in my listening room from files that are stored in my Music folder of my computer in my office.

I will add a NAS and hang it off my router where I will store my audio files and redirect the SBT to play from there.

The SBT has a built-in DAC but I don't use it because its sound is not very good. However, the SBT has digital outputs that bypass its internal DAC to hook to your own DAC. I use the coax one.

Logitech now has Media Server for the SBT that is installed on a computer such as the one in my office. This means that the SBT only works if Media Server is running, so your computer must be turned on to play the SBT. There is an option, for installing a Squeezebox Server module directly on the NAS, so you do not need to have your computer turned on.
The Cambridge NP30 seems like a great way to accomplish computer music without a computer being on. From what I gather, it's very similar to the Bryston BDP-1 in that you can connect a USB drive and control it through an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app. Unlike the BDP-1, it has an internal DAC and can do internet radio. Not sure about services like Pandora and the like though.

I'd imagine the BDP-1 sounds better and is built better, knowing both Bryston and Cambridge. Not that Cambridge is a slouch by any means, but Bryston is in a higher class for many reasons.

No experience with the Cambridge and only heard the BDP-1 once, so no comparisons beyond features from me.
Same with the SBT, the server module is on a NAS, for example, and then you can install an App to control the SBT from a Pad device. You can also you the Touch's touch screen to control it directly and it comes with a remote as well.
Well - I know nothing about the Bryston - except they make really good gear.

Don't really know anything about the NP-30 - except it will play 24/96kHz music - if you can find a source.

But I'm seriously looking at getting one!

I do own the old DACMAGIC and the 640p phono stage, both with upgraded power supplies and they are amazing. So I believe the NP-30 will perform to a similar level with similar cabling choices

Based on their performance, I feel confident that the NP-30 will actually perform way above expectations if fitted with a really good power cord and really good Interconnects like those offered by DH Labs (i.e. the BL-1 Interconnect and both Encore or Power Plus power cables)

If you want more resolution step up to the Stream magic 6, which up-samples to 24/384kHz.

I have spoken to stores that reported no problems with playback and only really happy CA customers

if you have an Apple computer you will need uPNP software that allows the NP-30 to see files kept on it - that's about the only caveat I have found so far

If you are budget minded (like me) but still want amazing sound - the NP-30 is about as good as it gets WRT "Bang For The Buck"

Hope this helps
Auraliti designer
D most of a Brystons player,the pk-90 is great and much cheaper then the Bryston they do need to get their act together though for email
Customer service is lousy.several of us have ordered their New powersupply which really steps up performance 2 months later, and told they are ready to ship but still nothing ,hello Auraliti we could have bought from others ,why don't you practice good customer service and respond
Like a professional company as to when you will get the product out.
There is nothing worse then to ignore your Customers especially payed customers Raymond Burnam Listen Up.
The Auraliti likes only quality no garbage like mpegs or or internet radio.
Flac,wav, Hirez, and up to 128 DSD files from your external Hardrive.
Ripping cds using DB poweramp is an excellent medium.
This player allows you to use wifi for controlling your library
Through a IPad,or droid. Your whole Hirez library at your fingertips.
The external $400 power supply is a must if you want your recordings to sound their best.i am Still waiting on mine ,but heardt it with wall wart supply And then 3 lb supply ,no contest Daimen designed it.
Auralitit get your Shite together and ship it. The pk-90
Is better then the 100 for it has asynchronous USB, and do buy Good
USB cables spend at least $200 minimum X2 for best results. I use a Wireworld 7 a Platinum,and Silver a Starlight usb -Excellent cables.
I finally found a really good server that competes with my Mac Mini/Hynes supply. It is from New Zealand, the Antipodes. Even sounds the same playing .wav and FLAC files.

Personally I have found that most of the "Large" well-known companies don't do a good job anyway. The results are mediocre at best. The Bryston is an exception. Quite good.

I would not even consider one that will not stream out the USB ports. Get the Master Clock out of it and you will potentially have something very fine.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Auraliti uses Asyncronus usb,as well as separate isolation on a separate
Card, and they have a new 3 plus lb separate power supply they designed
I have been waiting 2 months for it to finally arrive .for $1k with upgraded power supply ,a very good player that also plays DSD with wifi to playback your library from a separate hard drive you control your whole library
From your IPad ,or droid ,and Auraliti helped design the Bryston bdp.
For less then half the price the Auraliti does everything ,as well.
I owned an Auraliti and its quite good - but my Mac Mini running Audirvana was clearly better as a source.

The reason I think there are so few Music Servers is a Mac Mini and a Ipad Mini as remote is really good, very convenient, fairly cheap and a lot of work has been done in producing high quality players like Audirvana. Why bother with anything else?

IMO, Auralic and Aurender pushing the envelope in ease, quality and wide range of price levels. 

The Aurender N100H is practically a 'steal' for anyone wants to own a high quality streamer as an alternate to mac/windows based system.  

Agree with Audioengr, the Antipodes DX was a significant improvement over a pretty good Mojo mini in my system.  Better body, tonal density, dimensionality and quieter.  The DX has two USB outputs, one that is powered and the unpowered output I use since my DAC powers the USB internally.
If I had the free cash, I would go with the Antipodes as well into a good USB interface.  Granted, the Antipodes is a glorified Vortexbox with very good dedicated hardware, but there is something to be appreciated about that sort of refinement.

Sadly, new speakers will eat up most of my budget next year.

P.S.  Another Squeezebox Touch into a good DAC user.
I agree with lalitik, at $2700 the Aurender N100 is a steal; it was significant upgrade over my previous Mac Mini/Audirvana/NAS solution. 

The Aurender app is incredibly well thought out, the integration with Tidal is really nice too.