Need help with digital music setup for house

All, thanks in advance for any help.
I am looking to change to a digital based music library, just cd's and some iTunes now. If anyone can point me to articles or other place to read up, I willing to do, just difficult to find comprehensive direction.

Goal is to have digital library of music available on all 4 floors of house. Attic room is where best permanent system is. First floor is next most important. Not likely I can hardwire all locations together. Will give up on networked solution, if updating each location with expanding library is fairly straight forward


Attic room equipment:
Musical Fidelity A5 amp and cd player;
Anthony Galloway 3.1 speakers;
Power conditioner:
Apple tv;
Pioneer Kuro 60 "plasma:
Cable TV box, and wireless internet;
DELL laptop that can be dedicated to music.

Goal: best quality flac, dsd sound, add turntable, NAS. Ideally have similar convenience of preview/downloading music on TV with apple remote.
preliminary thoughts: ifi dac or pro, teac or marantanz dac. Does copter based system limit tv monitor use with a remote.?

2nd floor bathroom;
Built-in ceiling speakers,
Outlaw audio receiver;
Multi disc cd changer (poor condition)
Goal:play digital music from same digital library )
3rd on priority list and doesn't factor into budget.

1st floor:

Building book shelves (think library style) for wife. Want to build in wall speakers for clean look (Martin logan).

Wife will want cean, compact, fewest pieces of equipment with easy to use and sort/select music system, with display to see selection. Play digital music from same library.
Preliminary thoughts: integrated music server (with amp, dac, and storage)

Utilize old, but working nakamichi 40 watt receiver to,play digital library.This is 4th on priority list and doesn't factor into budget.

Budget for Attic and 1st floor: $2500-3k.
other rooms , later at least expensive cost.

Thanks again.
I have a similar situation to you, so I'll pass on my experience and suggestions.

I live in a 4-story rowhouse, and have three televisions / home theaters, a small stereo in my office downstairs, and my nice rig in the living room. They're all connected by the (unfortunately discontinued) Logitech Squeezebox system. It works great. I can stream audio to each and any system in my house. They can play the same music or get entirely independent feeds, or can utilize Internet radio or streaming services. I have a media server in my IT closet that powers it all.

Your best bet of the currently available products is probably Sonos, although there are now new companies such as Bluesound in the mix.

Two major points:

1) You say that it is "not likely I can hardwire all locations together". Why? Something many people fail to realize, especially in a 4-story house, is that their digital media system depends ENTIRELY on the network. In addition, you will want to use streaming media for your home theater, and other Internet-enabled functions. Don't ignore the importance of a network to bring this.

For all but the smallest areas, a single wireless router is woefully inadequate in my option. Instead, YOU NEED WIRED ETHERNET TO EACH ROOM. My advise is to run 2 wires to each room. One will be to mount a wireless access point. The other can feed your sound system directly.

Something many people fail to realize is that for all but the simplest situations, AN EFFECTIVE WIRELESS NETWORK DEPENDS ON A WIRED NETWORK. This enables you to have multiple access points, which allows you to roam throughout the house and also have strong signals everywhere. You can do this on a budget with Ubiquiti Networks' products (, or more enterprise-grade like what I use, Ruckus wireless. (Not cheap, but INSANELY EFFECTIVE.)

It's not that expensive to hire a low-voltage network specialist who can do all of this for you. You don't need to run electricity with the network because the access points can be powered by power over ethernet (PoE). Just run all of your wires to the basement where they will all hook into a PoE-enabled switch.

Remember, your network is your future-proofing, and the network is 80% of the battle in streaming audio and/or video to different parts of the house. Again, don't discount the importance of this. You will thank me later.

2) The Media Server

I'm a former software engineer, so my solution is overkill for most people. I use a Linux server that runs both Logitech Media Server and Plex Media Server. I rip files into FLAC format can put them onto the server. I wrote a program that makes low-quality MP3 equivalent files to the FLAC files and those are what go on the phone and iPod.

FLAC is a good format, because it's well supported (virtually everything except iTunes supports it) and has full support for tagging. Some people will tell you that WAV files sound better. I can't tell the difference. But the ability to tag them with Artist, song name, composer, date, genre, etc is so much better than WAV. And, ultimately, if you can't get something on demand when you want it, then what's the point of having a media server?

For most people, a Mac mini (or iMac) or a basic Windows PC that runs 24/7 can function just fine as your media server. Just make absolutely sure that you have both local and cloud-based backups. I use Crashplan for my remote backups, and it works for all of my computers. (They also have unlimited data.)

Ultimately you're going to want the ability to play files locally and able to stream things from services like Spotify, Pandora, or Tidal. This is where that network infrastructure that I mentioned above will really come in handy. I really think this is the future.

Another interesting twist on this is the Amazon Echo/Alexa. It's really only useful for Amazon Prime members, but it's a great voice-activated device that can play a wide range of music. It's not exactly audiophile-grade sound, but it sounds decent for what it is . I can say, "Alexa, play New Age music", "Alexa, play music by Pearl Jam", or "Alexa, play Calypso by John Denver" and it will do it. It won't power your big rigs but it will do a good job in the bedroom or office. Think of it as a tabletop Siri. (Like Siri, you can ask it a variety of things, like asking about the news or the weather or how your favorite sports team is doing.)

Feel free to send me a message if you'd like a little more guidance, but this has been a 15+ year evolution in progress for me, and the biggest thing I came to realize is that none of this works without effective computer networking.

Good luck with your move into digital music!

First, thanks for the very detailed and thorough reply! I have been trying to read up and get educated. I just had read an audiostream article on NAS networked for whole house music. Your view supports what they are saying on a solid network. I've given more thought and think I can hardwire to all locations with a little bit of effort. My house is a 100 year old tudor. However....I has been looking at products like Auralic Aries and their mini, which can do pcm and dsd wireless. I want to future proof my system to extent possible and liked the thought of dsd capability and wireless no less. Are you saying that the dacs in the system should all be hardwired back to NAS or the streamers also? I was orginally thinking computer based, but like the thought of a pupose built streamer. I really want, phone, tablet or TV monitor to display and control selection wirelessly.

Thanks again as there is a lot to absorb and I have to research every new term and meaning and not all equipment manufacturers are transparent as to what there products actually are or do. Any additional thoughts are much appreciated.
As to whether DAC's need to be hardwired, I think it's optional provided that you have a robust wireless network. And this usually means that you've hard-wired access points throughout the house to allow for high-reliability wireless connections with the DAC. Music doesn't require a tremendous amount of bandwidth, so I would definitely stop short of saying that wired ethernet would be mandatory, although it is more reliable (and secure). It's taken me 15+ years to fully learn this, but having the infrastructure of a wired network is what allows you to have a robust wireless network. You will also thank me when you and your family members roam throughout the house on your tablets and laptops completely seamlessly and with good transfer rates.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "purpose built streamer". Do you mean a media server that you build yourself and load software on it (such as Plex Media Server)? If so, then yes, that's a great way to go. Just remember that backups (both local and cloud-based) are critical. For local backups, I use the Macintosh Time Machine, and for cloud backups I use Crashplan (since they have no data limit, so I have literally terabytes of data backed up to their central facility at no extra cost).

It sounds confusing, but the research you do now will save you considerable headaches in the future. You don't want to make early decisions that will severely limit your capabilities not only today but also a couple years from now.

Another option is Powerline adapters for your networking needs, if you have fairly clean power this option is legit, I've had situations in the past where this was the only option and it was better than I suspected it would be and 100% better than nothing!

For music storage you might look into a NAS (network attached storage) there are a few solid contenders, I chose Synology for my needs and as the multi disk platform is redundant it keeps a backup so the risk of loosing your music is reduced. I also purchased an inexpensive 3TB external hard drive that I back up to a few times a year just to be belt and suspenders.

I run a Mac and with that I use XLD for my ripping software and rip to FLAC

For a music server I have two options that I'm plying with. The first and what I typically use is Minimserver which lives on the synology and with that Linn Kinksy. The second is Linn Kazoo which is a server and UI all in one. I will use Kazoo when I want to stream "tidal" as the music library is vast and the most important thing, to me, is that they stream "lossless".

For a streamer you have l alot of options and are limited only by your bank account. Its like motor racing, how fast do you want to go = how much money do you want to spend. How good do you need it to sound? Thing like Sonos is a great option for 90% of the folks but its limit on file type and resolution are deal breakers for the other 10%
Good luck finding a comprehensive guide. There seems to be no standard way to do this.
I'll weigh in here with what are probably contrary opinions on this forum but have worked well for me.

First off, unless you cannot propagate a wireless signal due to interference in your house there is no need for wiring. High res audio (like FLAC) is actually low bandwith so a wireless N or AC router will handle the load with ease. Even with interference you may be able to solve the problem with repeaters. I have a very large 3 story house and my N router works just fine even where the signal is less than ideal (since you do not require much bandwidth)

Secondly a NAS based music server can be set up very cheaply. Currently I am using a 3TB WD MyCloud NAS device that comes pre loaded with Twonky (a DNLA server) for serving up music. This can be bought on Amazon for $150. It will serve up FLAC or lossless AAC (if you use iTunes this is equivalent to FLAC). You can even host your itunes on the NAS. There is no reason to spend a ton of money on something to dish up bits on the network. Prior to this I had a dedicated computer, the NAS is cheaper and uses less power. The NAS does need to be wired to your router.

Now you will need a device to play your streamed music. Here is where it starts to get tricky and you can wind up spending as much money as you have. As another poster has mentioned you could go with a SONOS system. However you have to live with it's limitations. In particular it does not support 96 or 192khz audio (although there is a good argument that there is no difference above 44.1 hz anyway). My solution was to buy an inexpensive streaming device that handles hi res audio with digital outputs (I use a Grace Digital GDI-IRDT200 Hi-Fi Internet Radio Tuner - $189 on Amazon). I have this device directly feed either a DAC or a digital amplifier. I chose to spend my money on the DAC and the Amp.

I have this setup in 2 rooms and could not be happier.