Yamaha makes an excellent one (I can't think of the model number but if you go to Yamaha's site i'm sureyou can find it) that retails for under 1K.
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The McIntosh server compresses the data, (FLAC lossless), the Yamaha does not. The Mac really does need not only a display, but an internet hook-up also for best use. It downloads cover art and text.
I own the Yammy and it too, for ease of use, needs a monitor, but you don't "really" need one. I simply purchased a cheap portable dvd player with a composit video in so as to view the self labeled discs.
The Yammy is $800.00, the Mac is over $3k I think. You decide!
Why no screen? The software interface for a hard drive system is a combo database/spreadsheet. It really inhibits the usefulness, particularlly when you store a large number of CDs, to not have at least a 12" monitor screen. One of the great benefits of hard disk systems is the ability to organize your music into customized playlists. It's just much easier to setup and access playlists when you're using a monitor. Also, if you get a dedicated hard disk player such as the Yamaha, be sure that you can readily expand its storage capacity. A 100 Gb system can store roughly 150-180 uncompressed CDs.
I'm not sure where Jtgale gets his info, but a Mac system with built in digital output (optical), software, monitor and external HD can be had for $1,800.
BTW, tremendous system. Have you considered the Linn or Goldmund HD systems?
I would get an Apple iBook and a USB DAC. The Wavelength Audio Brick is a good choice, but there are many more available. I agree that without a screen (and a big, big hard drive) a hard-drive based system is limited in capabilities. You could also simply get an iPod; simple, small and decent sound quality with Apple Lossless files. Use that with your stereo and use your computer to rip CDs and load the iPod.
The Yamaha can be tuned, too, as is done in Germany by Manfred Diestertich, chief of Audio Physic. It comes to 1650 Euros in this version, and sonically very close to the much more expensive McIntosh - at least this was the conclusion of German Stereoplay, when comparing these units recently. And there seems to be another quite interesting unit from British Zero One, see an essay-review on