"tutorial" on computer music servers

I have a very small disc collection at present, (less than 40).
I'm noticing that especially older rock and some jazz music I'm interested in buying, is no longer available as new (CD)s, in stores.
That the CD format in general, is on it's way out (?).
Forcing consumers to download music off the internet (?).
Therefore, someone in my situation, shouldn't buy a high quality CD transport, but rather buy a computer and subscribe to one or more of these online music servers (?).
If you are a bit computer savvy, then you could go the Oct 2009 Mac Mini route:



If you want it simpler, then I recommend that latest version of the Antipodes server:


If you are on a budget and want to keep it simple, then try a Sonos connected to a Synchro-Mesh driving any DAC. The Sonos can be controlled from a computer, iPad or iPhone etc..



All of these will deliver stellar sound quality.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I don't have a specific recommendation for you but have something to think about.

Sony wants to start selling high res downloads (DSD). According to Sony they are very serious about this and the other two major music groups, Universal and Warner, are also on board and plan to make a lot of music available as high res downloads.

This is great news but high res downloads take up a lot of hard drive space. If this all works out, it would be wise to have a server that you can easily attach more storage to (external hard drives or NAS) without diminishing sound quality.

Yes, that's the same Sony that brought us the SACD and then took it away. But I think they feel that if they can't get people interested in good sound quality music soon, they are going to be sitting on huge catalogues of music they can't use for the forseeable future. We'll see how it all works out. Just something to think about as you decide what to purchase.
However, if you are happy with the cd, and I enjoy many of them a great deal myself, you should be able to find more music than you can find time to listen to by buying used cds on ebay and Amazon at very good prices.
I use both a disk player and a computer as a server. I buy most of my CDs on amazon or ebay or from used CD stores. I don't yet believe that the CD is dead. I have never downloaded a file. I rip all my CDs to a MAC.

There are high quality CD players now available at about any budget. Many have SPDIF inputs so there DAC can be accessed by a server. Alternatively, many good sub $1000 DACs are available, new or used. These can mated to a lessor expensive player and in addition, used with a server.

Regarding the computer/server approach, they are not difficult to set up and if done right can out-preform a player at equal cost.
Mesch - Thanks for your response.

I already own DAC components: Audio Alchemy DTI PRO32 and Perpetual Tech P3a.

I don't as yet own a computer, having not much more use for one than doing research like this, and sending e-mails, so I use a library computer mostly.

I'm totally clueless when it comes to music servers: who they are, how they operate, how much they cost. Thus the request for a tutorial. Any on-line articles "for dummies"?

A major incentive for buying a computer, would be to get server music. I have heard that the MAC Minis are an excellent choice (?). Thanks
As Steve Nugent mentioned the 2009 MacMini would be a great start. His website has a lot of information on how to easily configure one for very good sound. I went this route with an Audiophilleo USB converter and my existing DAC. if you want to use iTunes as the interface Audirvana is a good music playback software choice. If you want to bypass iTunes I recommend Jriver. You could probably do all of this for under $1000.
Check out Bryston BDP-1 or BDP-2. It's basically a transport for digital music.

Just connect external USB Drive with your music to the Bryston. Since music is loaded into memory before play, quality of USB cable will not effect sound quality. Then connect the Bryston to your DAC.

There are many options where you can install an internal drive, control with iPad/iPhone ...

It's pricey so you pay for convenience/plug and play. Google reviews for more info.

I also recommend DLNA but requires some computer knowledge.
I second the Bryston. No comparison with the puter based systems, PC or Mac. It takes everything out of the equation (computer programing USB, upgrading the mini power supply, deciding on which $600 softwear package, driver & compatability issues,cant switch between redbook & hires problems...) except the MUSIC.

I am surprised at your comments on redbook CDs. I have CDs produced in the 80's, and except for a very few exceptions, I can get almost all my 400+s cds still today. I also have a vinyl collection of mostly 70's rock and have duplicated most of it in CD. There are a few rare albums like Marty Balin's Bodacious DF which is difficult to find in CD (although its available for big bucks). Spend some time on Amazon. You'll be amazed at what is still available on CD. The record companies have discovered many of the older stuff is still in demand and are releasing remastered versions (Boz Scaggs 1st album is an example).

You can also check on the SHM type Japanese pressings where the Japanese record companies are resurrecting late 60's and early 70's rock. Groups like Emmerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Savoy Brown, Brian Auger, etc are available in special pressings.

I second Knghifi re the Bryston products. I went to the Bryston BDA/BDP combo from a PS Audio PWT and I am not looking back. Ripped standard redbook CDs have never sounded better, and I am hearing things on ripped CD I have never heard before. I use dBpoweramp to do the ripping to .flac files. dBpoweramp also allows you to process older recordings with a digital equalizer and volume normalizer to improve those thin, old 60's recordings. I rip those to 24 bit with a bit of EQ and they sound amazing.