i was a diehard, reactionary cd guy; i still own gazillions of cds and like the tactile feel of a physical medium. however, since buying a squeezebox touch 3 years ago i rarely actually play a cd--mostly i just ogle the covers. we can debate whether the music sounds better on a high end cdp vs. lossless files on a network player, but even the purists would conceded that the differences are marginal at best. the convenience and flexibility of having all my music on a hard drive ultimately trumped my purist sensibilities.
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I think I got the best of both worlds. Since like you I am still committed to Cd's I bought an ARC CD9. This is a true reference CD player as well as a wonderful DAC. Tube based providing warmth with incredible detail.
Sounds equal playing cd's or using as a DAC streaming through my IPAD or playing high quality files also through the IPAD.
Quite satisfied with the purchase.
Vpm, I think you've answered your own question in your post. For you, a turntable does makes the most sense, a CD player comes in a reasonably close second, and a network music player is a very, very distant third. It makes no sense for someone with your music interests to jump on the digital audio file bandwagon by acquiring any of the many pricey digital file players now on the market.
An Oppo 105 at $1200 will give you a very good CD player without breaking the bank (it will be a solid step up from your current Sony CD player), and you can also use it to play digital audio files if you so desire. It's the obvious solution for you.
You can beat that for a lot less money and get more functions.
I also like classic rock, particularly in the afternoon. I rip mostly CDs and I expect my 44.1kHz redbook digital to match the performance of vinyl. I want detail, imaging, smoothness in vocals and particularly dynamics that make the hair on your neck stand up. The dynamics actually beat vinyl BTW. IF you know what the CD rip of the stones LET IT BLEED sounds like, you know what a challenge this is. The first cut, Gimme Shelter is a wonderful track, but a terrible recording. I can make this sound amazing. Monkey Man sounds even better. Same with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
You can have your cake and eat it too. Its called the Overdrive DAC. It is a DAC, not a server, but you can add the Antipodes music server and drive the DAC using USB cable. This puts the master clock into the DAC, not the server. Very important.
You don't need a preamp with this DAC either. Instead, you use a transformer buffer/selector called the Final Drive. This allows you to drive your amps directly from the DAC and still bring-in your vinyl preamp AFTER the DAC. You can also use it to bring-in your SS process for home theater. This is what I do.
I don't believe I've played many discs since I started using computer audio...mechanical transports require a huge expense to compete with what computer audio can do. I think you would be very happy with a Naim UPNP streamer, a laptop to rip your discs, and a Synology or QNAP NAS to store/serve up your media to the Naim streamer. And don't forget an iPad for music library eye candy :<)
You can also buy a pc and use something like jRivermedia Player.http://www.jriver.com/audio.html You can rip discs to the hard drives(s). You can also play music from networked drives or any device connected to your network, wirelessly or attached or any drive or storage format that is on the network.
I bought a dell precision T5400 and did this. It works Great.
you will need a seperate Dac and it would sound best with a Usb to SPDIF convertor like this http://www.amazon.com/Musical-Fidelity-V-LINKII-24bit-Converter/dp/B006JH2XQ2
grey9hound, I don't think you looked at the op's system quality and stated intentions. What you describe would be a downgrade, closer in sound to the Linn Genki I have that's gathering dust. If the OP wanted to go the route of async usb, they should be looking at a CAPS Zuma media server and at least an audiophilleo async usb converter. Personally I prefer streamers as less trouble to get the best sound. After 2 years of tweaking PC's with Jriver, I'm fed up with it, the only role left in my system for one is CD ripper, music downloads, and "super NAS" feeding my streamer while I sit back with Kinsky remote control and choose my music without the annoyance of Gizmo limitations.
I am a big fan of using a music server. The ease of access is much more than a matter of not having to get up every hour or so to change the music. I like the ease of browsing my collection on my iPad and "discovering" recordings I have long forgotten that I even have in my collection; I can easily sample these recordings by playing a track or two. I also like making temporary playlists of selected tracks and albums. My server, a Naim NDS, also links to a music data base that provides a constantly updated "booklet" on most of the CDs in my collection (includes description of the album and artist, reviews of the disc, and a constantly updated discography of the artists). These features are particularly useful for a larger collection (I have nearly 4,000 CDs loaded on my server).
The downside is that it really doesn't quite sound as good, to me, as my old CD player. The Naim server is their current top-of-the-line server. My player is the Naim CDP555, their top CD player. I actually prefer the sound of the CDP555 (more weight in the sound).
larryi, consider these steps (1) make sure your NAS is on gigabit wired network with the Naim as wifi will degrade your sound (2) consider using a CAP's Zuma as media server with asset UPNP and a Red Wine Lightening battery power supply to fix the power supply issues that leach low bass for a media server. Just a $50 Ankar battery
powering the 2 2.5" HD's in my media server makes an audible difference in low bass weight.
grey9hound, I don't think you looked at the op's system quality and stated intentions.The Op's thread title does say opinions wanted.
Network Music Player or CD Player-Opinions WantedMy pc running jRivermedia with the McCormack DAC-1 Deluxe sound really good. You are welcome to come and hear it for yourself. Then you can give your opinion.
if you do a search for 'Lumin Network Music Player'...you will see why, almost everyone who owns one, thinks it is much better then any of the CD / SACD players they HAD. i owned a Meitner CDSA-SE and the Lumin is much better. i have read owners that owned Esoteric K-01 players that sold them to use the Lumin. i now have only the Lumin and my SET mono blocks as i take the Lumin directly into my amps. the sound is as close to the best analogue as you can get and much better than most.it is so very simple to use, especially with the MinimServer, that is one of the best music servers on the net. i can sit at my listening position and in 5 minutes create a playlist,as long as i want, and hit play and put my iPad down and close my eyes and listen all day to superb music without ever having to get up to change a disc. i have all my cds and am almost through with ripping all my SACDs to my iMac and being able to play them also. the HD downloads on the net are superb and the Lumin does DSD also. just my thoughts....