Ready For Digital Source...Computer?

I have speakers and amplification all figured out, now I need a source. No vinyl and not concerned with CD's at this point.
Only steaming online. No Roon either, been there, done that. 

Honestly, (because I need a new computer anyway) I would really like to use a computer to play Spotify (hopefully CD-quality soon), Tidal, Qobuz, etc. but most say a computer is too "Noisy" to use for this purpose. Although, I have heard there are ways around this.

Rather than having to purchase a dedicated music server, does anyone know how to set up a computer as a high-quality music server? I can't really seem to find anything online.


It is  not really possible al . Of your attempt will be half measures ovet the years we tested many servers 

Just putting a linear power supply will help a pc so will a few good cards however a server manufacturer is designing an entire system and they have spent years making them quiet and maximizing sound quality 

We had an sotm server basically a good pc bord  and  sound card with a  linear power supply

 the innous sounded far better and our 432EVO servers soud even better then those.

Long story short it is harder then you think to build a really top server

Just by using good parts doesn't cut it
Wolf Audio Systems. There’s lots of info on Audiogon. They recently had some demos for sale.

hilde45 - I have seen the PS audio clip, but not the others. I didn't put in "Hight Quality" in my search.
I will check it out. Thanks.

audiotroy - kinda what I thought.

dalims4 - I have heard good things about Wolf here on AG in the past, I will give them a call. Thank you!
@high-amp If you don't necessarily want to spend a lot, consider a Raspberry Pi.
hilde45 - will do! Much cheaper than Wolf! Thanks
Yes but the wolf will sound better

Our 432evo servers sound amazing

They are also completely modular and fully upgradable

You can take our 3500 starterStandard server and upgrade it all the way to our 16k Master

The 7500 Aeon has been rated asthe Best sounding usb source Reviewer Ed Seally has heard,prac....

Used in the manner that 432 EVO intends, it’s also the best USB source I’ve tested to now and if I used one all the time, it would negate the presence of the SOtM I have in my setup as a head unit. Finally, the 432 software is capable of imparting genuine improvement to a wide selection of music and, on the occasions where the benefits are less clear cut, it’s easy enough to bypass. The Aeon shows that there are some intriguing further possibilities to audiophile storage and consequently it’s a device that will delight a great many listeners •


A fascinating addition to the ranks of audiophile storage that has unique benefits

  • Exceptional USB performance
  • network capability
  • fascinating plug-in
  • well made
  • Bulky PSUs
  • plug-in isn't universally beneficial
  • cost
Add your review | Read reviews and comments
How it compares

In 2TB form, the Innuos Zenith Mk3 (HFC 451) is cheaper than the Aeon and has its power supply on board, making it more elegant. The performance over network is broadly comparable. Via USB however, the Aeon has the edge. It delivers superb performance in bit-perfect mode and then has the option of its unique additional software. If you want the best means of feeding a single USB device going, the Aeon is the clear choice and doesn’t skimp on practicality at the price point.

Dave and Troy


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tvad - It depends on what’s included. I need a DAC as well and a lot of music servers come with DACs. I’d like to keep under $4k for both MS and DAC. Something Like a Raspberry pie would allow me to spend more on a good DAC or? I just have a lot of videos to watch on that.

I did have the Wyred 4 Sound music server art one time, but I found it so complicated to use, I sold it.

audiotroy - pricey, when you start adding in the options.
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tvad  - thanks, I'm all over it!
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5 USB Converter matched up with DAC of choice.

You can thank Steve Nugent after your 30 day trial. 


Op, I wish there were companies that sold a purely audiophile pc or lap. There are network players/servers being made but it is so much more convenient to be able to use the device as a computer and a player. The market need is there. In time, it will happen I hope. I use Audirvana to bypass my computers sound card and deliver a bit perfect stream to a stand alone DAC. It does an admirable job but could be better. Right now it costs around 3.5k for a Surface Studio 2 . Other options are the mac products and a stand alone 10TB SSD Drive. When I tested Audirvana vs Roon (that was a few editions back) vs the stream apps by Qobuz and Tidal the best sound was Qobuz--> Audirvana --> DAC in my system. Spotify was the worst.  

phcollie - Thanks for the info and I agree on the need for more PC/audio-related companies. 

I did find the videos by Darko (recommended by tvad) very helpful and am leaning towards the economical Raspberry Pi option with an Allo Digi One hat that supports coaxial out.

Then I found this at $899 - that would hook up via USB. Or supposedly, better yet, this: for $1395 which is supposed to be dead quit due to the optical connection. There are a bunch of other components that you need to purchase as well to make it all work.

Raspberry Pi is lookin’ good!

If you budget is less thank $5k, I'd also look at the Moon 280D...its ~$3k and has a streaming module and DAC.

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mrklas -The Moon 280D definitely looks interesting. They don't elaborate much about their DAC on the website. Do you have this unit? How is the DAC, have you compared it to others?

Will do tvad, thanks again

Allo digital signature 

I have two  really like it 

it use USB out to your preamp






lordrootman (love the handle) - Yes, but Darko suggests the Coaxial (or BNC) connection does produce a better sound quality:

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Steaming grotecakes!

If you can’t figure out how to stream from a PC (which sucks) you’ll never get here without some homework.



There are no ways "around." You can put lipstick on the hog with foobar and Fidelizer. Not worth the bother. I can't get the time invested back.

fuzztone - 15 years ago I was streaming music from my newly purchased MacBook Pro with a bit perfect app going USB to my Wyred 4 Sound DAC No problem. Then came the rant about computers being noisy, so I purchased a Roon Nucleus. Then, along came the pandemic and my wife and I were out of work for a while so I sold the Nucleus and dropped the Tidal & Roon subscriptions in order to save a bit of cash.
Not wishing to get tied up into to a bunch of monthly Subscriptions again, I am looking for an alternative and would really like to get back to just using a computer as a MS as I did in the past.
I'm just trying to research the best and simplest way to do that.
Thanks for the link!

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If you're insistent upon computer server there is the option of Mac mini. You could get linear power supply from Uptone or Mojo, the linear power supply alone will make this best computer solution. While this wouldn't get you to an optimized mac mini as server solution, which requires many systems to be disabled, this is likely the best sounding computer/server option you're going to find.

@high-amp yes I have the Moon 280D.  I initially started my digital journey with Node 2i and as I upgraded my system including analog I explored upgrading the DAC.  I noticed an upgrade in using the internal DAC of my McIntosh  2600 and decided to explore external DACs

I sampled Moon 280D and Linn Majik.  There was a significant improvement over both Node and the McIntosh DAC.  I went with the 280D - because I felt the improvement was worth the cost and I have been pleased with its perofrmance as well as the utility of the MiND 2 app.  I've done the trial for Roon and since I have one system it didn't impress me enough to pay for the subscription.


In one of Paul McGowan's YouTube videos, says he’s been using a Mac mini as a music server for years. Must be something to it?

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I have streamed from MacBooks, iPads, phones, and PCs as well as a number of dedicated streamers. If you need this as an intermediary step to get to a good streamer (while you save up)... than it makes sense. But if you want high quality sound, a PC or Mac is not the place to get it.


You need a streamer built from the ground as one. Most of use with great systems will invest as much in the streamer as in the DAC and preamp. If you are working towards a great system I would recommend starting this way. Even if you have to go budget, Bluesound seems to be popular on that end of the spectrum.

You need a high quality dac for starters.

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Gdhprentice, I already had the BS Node, thanks.
Not building but finishing my last system. Open to any suggestions on decent music servers/Dacs.

audioman58, Agree on the DAC. I’m also looking for that as well but we don’t have to get into that here there’s enough threads on DACs to choke a giraffe!

Through all the reading I have done it seems like the Denafrips family of DACs seems to be a decent choice. Probably the Pontus, that is unless of course there is a good DAC/Steamer combo that would satisfy both Requirements. I’m not into a complete one box solution but I’m going with an integrated amplifier So just one more, standalone component would be nice. Although it seems DAC technology is changing so fast I guess it would be nice to have a separate DAC so you can change it out time to time. They seem to be getting cheaper too.

A high quality laptop is a superb music server, and most are easy peasy to run remotely from a tablet in your listening chair.  Just saying there's a noise problem that pollutes and distorts the USB output doesn't make it so.

If you are using usb to the dac, you will never get the best performance. All music servers are computers usually with a proprietary OS which is a bad approach for support.  Some vendors will also tell you that certain hard drives or ssd/nvme devices make a difference in SQ, which isn't true either.

A lot of the music servers try to make USB sound better which will never work.

your best option is to get a great dac with an internet (not wifi) connection or i2s and your music server choices won't be so critical or expensive. 
software running on a computer to read/manage your music will make more of a difference than hardware after you reach a certain hardware minimum

Computers and USB belong same league as phones. I doubt any true audiophile would ever consider them for anything more than a millisecond before breaking up in fits of laughter.

@high-amp What is an electrically noisy computer doing that is bad? It is sending that noise into the DAC. Now what if you block that noise from getting into the DAC. Some magic shield. I use the following: Ubiquiti Networks Networks UniFi Switch 8-Port 150 Watts, White : Electronics (you can get this from Ubiquiti for $199)

Sonore - opticalRendu (I have 2 of these for 2 DACs)

Fibre Optical cable cannot carry the noise


BTW - my noisy computer is wired by Ethernet and hidden in the closet of a bedroom, no where near my office or living room systems.



Thanks for all these guys! A lot to digest. Have to start dinner and spend a little time with the wife. I'll Definitely get back to you guys tomorrow on some of the stuff. 

Thanks for all this guys! Great info & a lot to digest. Have to start dinner and spend a little time with the wife. I'll Definitely get back onboard tomorrow. 

I send a digital stream over wi-fi to a DAC. The quality of the DAC is what counts.
Some streams are directly off the Web, so their encoding can make a difference. Other streams are .flac or other files on the PC hard drive, sent out by wi-fi; Minimserver software does that.

The wi-fi receiving box, a Denon HEOS Link, has a digital signal path spec'ed at 2-channel Linear PCM:2-channel, 32 kHz – 192 kHz, 16/20/24 bit. That's good enough for my ears. Its optical output goes into the DAC. (The Denon has a DAC inside it, feeding line output, but my separate DAC sounds a little better.)

One can purpose-build a ’puter for audio, Yes. Follow the previous suggestions and dive into the project. It’s not that more complex than one can spend setting up their audio system, but care in selections is still the Prime Directive.

’Gaming’ MBs’ tend towards ’better audio’, for the audible ’ques’ one needs to not be vanquished from behind; dig deep enough, and you’ll find specs on the audio portions of the various boards.

A nimble CPU can be had with shopping skill....pcpartpicker dot com is a daily source for price points...AMD fan, myself...

Go for fast RAM...not necessarily the largest, but as quick as can be afforded.

Make you C: drive solid state; 500G is nice and affordable now.

A 1T hard drive ought to hold ’enough’, but 2T drives are dropping in prices of late. There is the siren call of large SS drives, and their pricing is beginning to drop as well....

One can opt for a ’high-end’ sound card, but there’s not many about. One can opt for a ’pro’ card, but one will definitely pay for the privilege... May be better off with an ’outboard’ DAC of your taste.

Cases are....mostly ghastly, lights, bells ’n whistles... Better off spending for water-cooling the CPU and upping the clock time....I’m lucky to have an older horizontal case that has rack ears and 2 horizontal covers on the faceplate to let it ’blend into’ the scenery....ends up looking like an amp armed with 2 DVD/RW drives above and the front IC pluggery below.

mATX board, btw...runs cool, but I’m not ’clocking’, either. It’s quick enough. ;)

Good luck, J

....y'all can hold the laughter and snidery.....

What do you think studios are using to track and record 'music', anyway?

Wax cylinders?  Lacquered discs?  Master tapes, perhaps.....but given the width of mastering boards of late, most are going D2D.....

...and some of us just prefer to 'go with the flow'....since fighting it is just tiring anyway.... *s*

Burned all my CDs to my Mac tower.

Run the audio to my AppleTV 3 via WiFi, and send from the AppleTV to my DAC via optical. 

Granted, I rarely listen to digital sources and I don't use a streaming service...

This is just a way for me to fill the room with sound, and it can be controlled via my iPad or phone.

The convenience and low cost works for my needs.

My interest in digital will change one day I'm sure, and at that point I'll look to upgrade, but for now, this is fine for me.




@perkri , "To each, his/her/either their own..." ;)

I can enjoy a SET as well as most, but prefer to roll papers (or valve lifter pushrods, once upon a fender) as opposed to tubes....;)

I've been using my MacBook Pro as my source for a few years. Used a USB/SPIDF converter to convert the USB to coax to go into my Dac.

Was pretty happy with that setup.


I migrated (in a few steps) from computer (been there....done that) to a streamer with DAC on board. If you can afford to pony up for such the SQ is so much better. Leave the computer for computing. A used Brooklyn bridge might be the ticket? 


Computers are not noisy. Get a good usb DAC and you're good.

i use a raspberry pi with LMS Qobuz plugin and it sounds great.