It kinda depends on what the digital output device will be that feeds your system... PC, Mac, Sonos, Transporter, PS3, the list goes on and on. Do you have a stand alone DAC or will you need convert to analog?
One idea that worked for me :
Feed the digital files into a Sonos via a NAS harddrive - I would suggest a simple, single drive NAS plugged into your home router. They pretty much have a 1,2,3 setup and run 24/7. I can connect to it via my PC and copy the files just like any Windows share. I am running a gigabit link so files copy fast. The Sonos picked it up just like a Windows share. It works perfectly and the NAS is available all the time without having to boot a computer. I set it up so after 30 minutes in inactivity the NAS shuts the harddrive down to save energy and make the drive last longer. As soon as I play a file - it spins up in about 15 seconds. I can run digital or analog out of the connect box and I can add more connect devices if I want to expand the system. I can control the music with my smartphone or tablet so no PC needs to be on to play music. It's Mac and PC friendly as well, so you can control Sonos with just about any device. You can tie zones together and have the same song play all through the house. I picked up the NAS for about $140 with a 1TB drive and the sonos setup with the wireless bridge was about $600. If you wanted a backup you could pickup a second USB drive and have the whole thing backup in case of a catastophic drive failure. Your still under $1000.
One note... check your files for proper ID3 tagging when you rip from CD. It's essential when you setup the library that the tags are correct. Some of mine got messed up so I will have to go through my collection and re-rip the stuff that was messed up. Probably not a problem for ripping programs like DBPoweramp ... some of my files were ripped back in the stone age.
Just one way to go ...
Check out the Votexbox appliances. They run "headless" (i.e., no monitor or keyboard needed) and are controlled from your laptop, tablet, smartphone or other computer. They can output directly to an amp or DAC, or can stream to another device such as a Sonos or Squeezebox player. Ripping and tagging is handled automatically and the units are very low power usage.
For a 200 disc CD collection, you'll need roughly 100 GB of storage in the WAV format (less in FLAC) and the smallest Vortexbox drive is 1 TB, so you'll be able to expand your collection ten-fold or more before you have to worry about running out of drive space.
They start at $429 depending on which features you need. See smallgreencomputers.com. (My only interest is as a user.)
Mlsstl: can you help me with some further info on the Vortexbox. I looked at their website and did not see this info. For instance, if using the Vortexbox, is there a way of choosing/altering file format of ripped CDs, e.g., can one choose WAV, FLAC or any other format? Can one select a bit rate/word depth? Do you receive instructions on how to use the laptop/tablet to control the Vortexbox?
I am pretty new to this area of audio so my questions may be inane or ridiculous, and if so, I apologize. Regards, Rich
The best source of info is www.vortexbox.org. You'll find documentation, a wiki as well as a discussion forum there.
Thanks Misstl. I will check it out. Regards, Rich
I just learned the hard way: I ripped about 500 cd's to WMA and then switched DAC's. My new DAC won't read them. Conversion is a pain in the ____ but Format Factory does a good job.
Burn them right the first time. WAV seems to be best.
Thanks Misstl. I will check it out. Regards, Rich
I am using the Western Digital DX4000 in my network for a music server along with J River as a front end. So far it has been working out very well. I can also get to the system from anywhere as it gives me remote access.
Drrnc2 - Another vote for the Vortexbox appliance. You can alter the data ripped using any tagging program on a networked computer. Here's what I do: Everything is connected via my Verizon FiOS wireless home network. I have a Windows 7 laptop ($360) with dBPoweramp ripping software ($38). I rip the CDs using dBPoweramp, since it allows metadata retreival and editing prior to the rip. It rips directly to my Vortexbox 1TB appliance ($405), with 1TB USB drive backup ($70), and APC surge protector and battery backup ($45). I then review and edit the tags using MP3Tag (free download). Playback is via my Squeezebox Touch ($250) and from there to my DAC, preamp, amp and speakers. The only limit to sound quality is the quality of your DAC, preamp, amp, speakers and cabling, for which the sky is the limit. But for your budget, I cannot imagine a more turn-key, user-friendly solution. I update the Vortexbox software regularly, and have never had a playback glitch of any kind. However, software updates can require the temporary connection to the Vortexbox of a keyboard and monitor. I bought a used monitor on ebay for $40 and used an old keyboard I had lying around. Support via the Vortexbox forums is outstanding. Happy to answer any questions you might have.
Thanks Bondmanp. Interesting. My web connection is Verizon Broadband(cannot get FiOS way out here in the country) into a Dell desktop with Windows 7 64 .. I see no problems with using Broadband though.
Are you wired or wireless from your computer to the VB? My computer is not located in a way that would allow easy wired connection to the music system. I may have to get a laptop and dedicate it to the music system.
I had planned to get the J Rivers ripping/converting software, and I assume it would function the same as/as good as the dBPoweramp??
I also think my move would be to Go from the Vortexbox to my Cambridge Stream Magic 6 (it contains a DAC & pre-) to my amp. I assume it would be better to go from the VB to the SM6 via wire rather than wireless(if the VB is capable of wireless)
I have a SB Touch also, but as I see it, it would be an extra step to go VB to the Touch and then to SM6.
Again, I am not sure I understand all of this, being pretty new to it. Regards, Rich
Sorry for the delay, Drrnc2. My VBA is connected to my wireless router via ethernet cables, it cannot connect wirelessly, afaik. The SBT picks up the wifi signal from the router. I've never used JRiver, but it is very well-regarded in computer hifi circles. I tend to stick with what I like when I find it, so I am sticking with dBPoweramp. Wired is usually less prone to glitches than wireless. I have yet to have any glitches with my setup (some Squeezebox issues aside), although I haven't really done any hi-res file streaming yet. Not sure about your SM6. You need some way to control the Vortexbox. You can use a player on your laptop (wifi), an iphone or smart phone with the appropriate app, or a player like the Squeezebox. The SBT would connect to your DAC/pre. If you are going direct from the Vortexbox to the DAC/pre, and you have a laptop, iphone, or some way to navigate the files on the Vortexbox, I think you can go from the USB output on the Vortexbox right to the DAC/pre, unless you need a USB to S/PDIF converter.