Why are server setups so costly relative to CDP's?

I have a Rega Planet cdp that makes great music. It was about $1k new. Why do server setups cost so much more? A cdp must read a digital medium, correcting for errors and so forth, convert it to analog and put it out to an pre- or integrated amp. These are all things that a media server or some other digital solution a la Sonos-DAC must do, yet it seems that to match my cdp quality I have to spend a lot more. I figure there is a logical explanation for this and my ignorance is preventing me from seeing it. Can anyone help?
Because it's the latest direction for multi room play and people pay for it. It will drop over time and become better but the latest doesn't mean "better sound forever"......remember CD?
A CD player is a driver mechanisms, D/A converter and an analog output stage. A server is all that plus a computer CPU, memory, disk storage space, software, wireless connectivity and a display. For equivalent sound the server will cost more, but then again it does much more.
a mac mini with itunes and a musical fidelity v-dac will set you back 850 bucks. i would bet that will beat your rega without any trouble.
In my mind, the key to stellar digital sound is the DAC. The transport is secondary. Rega makes very solid transports and uses great DACs. Even so, you choose the sound of the CDP based on the DAC. A separate DAC will cost you more but accepts signals from multiple sources. I chose the PS AUdio DAC because of its sound. Now I can use any CDP as a transport, plus the benefits of computer USB, and any other digital source. That is worth a little more in cost. Within a very short time there will be so many great DACs at affordable prices, the cost will be roughly the same. Alternatively, CDP manufacturers will have to put digital inputs into their CDPs so you can use the DAC for other sources. If they don't, no one will buy them. Why buy a great DAC if you can only put play CDs with it?
One additional advantage of the server is that it allows to rip CD as data reading multiple times until proper checksum is obtained. Most CDPs cannot do this working in real time. It might be important with less than perfect CDs. CDs will get scratched but HD data with proper backups will last forever.

Server is also convenient/allowing other formats to be played and playlists or catalogs to be created. Finding CD on the server is a matter of seconds.
i disagree. i think the ps audio perfect wave transport is better transport than the ps audio perfect wave dac. i own both and am reviewing a dac which i prefer th that of the ps audio.

the most important component is the component followed by the transport and the dac is last. use logic it is obvious that if you have a master tape, you will recognize its sound over a boom box.

i would rather own a great recording and a poor stereo system than a great stereo syetm with a poor recording.
They're not. I guess it depends on what price point you're aiming. My headless Mac mini and external drive coupled to an Ayre Dac is a whole lot less than my Naim CD5x with Flatcap 2 PS. And the Ayre sounds incredible.
Mrtennis, I don't understand. "I think the ps audio perfect wave transport is better transport than the ps audio perfect wave dac". Do you mean that the ps transport is better as a transport than the ps dac is a DAC? Or do you mean that the ps audio transport is more important than the ps audio dac? We can agree to disagree, but I couldn't disagree more about transports vs DACs. If you run several different quality transports into the same DAC you might hear minor differences. If you take one transport into several different DACs of different designs you will hear large differences due to the output design of the DAC.
our disagreemnet stands. the transport is morer important than the dac. in adddition, the ps audio transport is a better transport relative to other transports than the ps audio dac is relative to other dacs. anotherwords the ps audio transport is a better invetsmnet than the ps audio dac. i can achieve "better" sound using the ps audio transport than i casn using the ps audio dac.

i think i have cleared up any ambiguity.

i am not overly impressed with the ps audio dac.

my reason for attaching importance to the transport is that it is the first device to come in contact with the recording.

does anyone think that differences between transports is insignificant.

there are "good" products of all genres--transports, dacs, preamps, amps, speakers, cable accessories and power conditioners.

the potential range of difference between products is a highly subjective opinion.

most believe that differences in speakers are greater than differences between amps. but such a position is based upon many variables and does not constitute knowledge.

i would rather state the position that there are differences between components and systems and not suggest that one class of components exhibits greater differences than another. my position is factually neutral.

You state:

"most believe that differences in speakers are greater than differences between amps. but such a position is based upon many variables and does not constitute knowledge."

This implies that you have a greater knowledge than others. If you believe this to be true, you are arrogant. Thereby only you know the truth.

You state:

"i would rather state the position that there are differences between components and systems and not suggest that one class of components exhibits greater differences than another. my position is factually neutral."

If your position is factually neutral, you would not have stated that the transport is more important than the DAC. I believe that each component has its importance and it is the synergy of the individual pieces, like a recipe, that determines the end result-a transforming event in which you are brought into the performance and imagine that you are there.

We can disagree on many things as long as we agree on our love of music!
hi tgrisham:

the first sentence you quote does not imply i have knowledge,. stating that .... does not constitute knowledge does not mean that i have knowledge.

nowhere in any staement have i stated that i have knowledge.

stating that there is a range of difference between components of the same genre is factual.

i apologize for any ambiguity.
Mrtennis - It depends on the DAC. Jitter rejecting DACs like Benchmark DAC1 might sound different with different transports but perhaps not because of jitter. It was reported many times that it often sounds better with cheap DVD player than expensive transport (that has lower jitter). It might be that cheap DVD player have more sensitive laser optics (DVD players have good tracking) or transport is not bit-transparent (DSP, digital volume control etc) or one of the creates ground loops in the system etc.

For DACs other than asynchronous-upsampling (jitter rejecting) transport is very important - I agree.
This is such a fun hobby/addiction that we do get lost in the small details. To return to the original question...there will always be a debate regarding which road to choose to bring us to the "best sound" and before it was (and is) vinyl vs CD, and now computer vs CDP. It all depends on the implementation and what sounds good to you. As a beginner in the exploration of computer based audio my experience tells me that for less than $1000 a dedicated CDP is better (today's dollars). Over that it is possible to expand into computer audio and achieve better results using computers. Just like with vinyl, there is a point in which CDs can closely approximate the sound of good vinyl, but it costs more.
if you take out the computer cost I thin it's actually cheaper.You can get a $3K system that will rival a $20K Lin Or Meridian CDP.But if you want a Sooloos and to spend you can.And when you look at what you can do with it functionally you get more.I see a number of companies like Linn that are integrating a whole CD player with a wireless system which is fun and can save huge amounts of hard wiring a house
I have SlimServer installed on my PC in another room. All my seedees have been ripped to the PC (the hardest part of the process). I have a SqueezeBox attached to the DAC on my Wadia seedee player through a S/PDIF optical fiber. Music is wifi'd from the PC to the DAC.

Can't tell the difference between this and a seedee played directly on the Wadia.
Regards the OP, one can get under 1k with a PC set up, using one of the numerous inexpensive but well regarded USB dacs (which I've not auditioned). But it is worth pointing out that things can add up pretty fast, with cabling, and an external hard drive (at least 1 TB for many of our collections), preferably set up in raid array. So my hunch is that one could do better price wise, at the "entry level," with a well-regarded CDP: eg, a used Jolida (which I used and enjoyed) could be be had for 500 bucks or so, and it would be hard to go lower than that for a PC rig, unless you had most of the computer stuff you needed around. That said, I've found my PC system to be a lot more fun to use than a CDP, particularly regards to accessing my (not too big) collection of music, and I'd not go back.

Regards the tangential discussion, I very much enjoy my Perfect Wave DAC, and certainly recommend that people contemplating a PC system give it a listen, but now we're talking a good bit more $ than the OP.

Just for fun I configured a Dell laptop with Windows 7, 4 GB RAM, 500 Gig SATA hard drive, CD/DVD optical drive. Adding a Cambridge DACMagic the total is ($440 + $400) $840. I am curious as to which stand-alone CDPs would be better than this for $840. Pushing the cost of the DAC up to $600 for the PS Audio Digital Link III would be $1040 and I have compared that to several CDPs and it is definitely better. That is why eventually all music will be downloaded (because it will cost less) and stored on computers while CD players will die off or be the multi-thousand dollar players for those that want and can afford them. I think it is amazing what you can get for $1000 for music playback these days.
Tgrisham - I have Mac Mini + Airport Express + Benchmark DAC1 + Power Amp. It really cost me $100 (Airport Express) since I have/use computer anyway and My Benchmark DAC1 serves as a Preamp (has volume control).

Exactly. Most people have computers and don't know how to configure them for their music. The Benchmark is a great example of a one-time expense that opens up the world of computer based music for the average audiophile. Instead of discussing which CDP to buy, most music lovers should be talking about which DAC to buy so that their computers can be servers. I recently compared a new Emotiva CDP to my Mac Mini>M2Tech Hiface>Dac and the mini won. I had the PS Audio DAC already so adding the mini cost $600 and the Hiface cost $150. That is a bargain for me. There will be an explosion of great DACs this year. ALthough many of them will be expensive, the following year the prices will come down. I also own the Cambridge DacMagic for use in a second system. It is truly remarkable for the money. The Benchmark can function as a pre-amp, saving money, and has a remote. I think we are in good times as far as music reproduction is concerned. I feel deeply for those who are struggling financially. I feel blessed to be able to even talk about these esoteric subjects. Computer audio is in its infancy and we are at the cusp of some remarkable developments.
Here is my music server configuration and cost breakdown using estimated retail prices:

Gateway Laptop (4 Gb, dual processor) - $600
!.5 and 2 Gb Seagate External USB Drives - $300
Roku Soundbridge - $200
Netgear Router - $160
mhdt Constantine DAC (optional for sound quality upgrade over DAC in Roku) - $700

total estimated list price: $1760
estimated actual cost - $1220

I use the laptop and router for other common home applications as well as needed so there is additional value there beyond just serving up tunes.

The resulting sound quality is quite top notch and I would assess compares very favorably to the best rigs I have heard out there many at much higher cost.

A second Roku + DAC in my second system lets me listen to music off this shared server on two separate systems.
Here is mine:
Mac Mini 2007 (mid year model) $799.00
4Gig mem upgrade $114.00
M2Tech Hiface (BNC) $180.00
Western Digital World Book Edition (horrible naming) 1TB NAS
Airport Extreme Router $179.00
ChannlD Pure Music Software $129.00
iTunes (included with Mac purchase)
As I bought everything as it came out, I paid pretty much retail. But heck, when you can pay $3000.00 for a power cord all day long, I am not complaining.

Not going to include the cost of my dacs, because I owned them already :)

This combination sounds better or as good as any source I have ever owned including a former Wadia 7 and Levison 31.5 as well as many others. I have it connected to a 42" plasma and I also watch Netflix/Hulu and my nearly 250 movies which are on the HDD using PLEX all controlled from my iPhone or iPad.

There is NO reason to buy these so-called Music server which are nothing more (99% of the time) than a repackaged pc runnning XP or Linux. But they want to charge you $20k for them. My system using Pure Music when in memory mode completely buffers the ENTIRE song to memory before ever playing the track.

I am building a second system based on a 2009 Mac Mini with a 400GB SSD drive and 8GB of ram, and it will still be under $2800.00. To quote l.Fishburn from the movie School Daze... Wake UP!!!!! LOL! :)
I meant to say "when power cords are being sold for $3K all day..."


If the budget benchmark is $1K…. ONLY… music servers from scratch can seem pricey, given one needs to acquire a DAC and a PC which will output into a wideband interface.

If you own a $8K CDP.... servers might seem too cheap to bother with and merely toys.

All of this is about perspective. I've heard of CDPs costing over $15K! I've yet to hear of a home music server going for that kind of money!

Normally, merely adding a good DAC to ANY CDP, will be a step up all by itself.

Buying a more expensive CDP say in the $3-$4K range is the next logical step for bona fide or marked gains in digital sound. So… If you sell the current CDP, the costs for slipping into the ‘server world’ becomes more palatable.

The point of actual conversion from digital to analog is vitally important. The points where the info is transmitted are almost as vital and have their own criteria and higher hierarchy .

To date, I’m in for roughly $3K. Including DAC, converter, PC, 2TB of networked Storage, cabling, and software. The performance levels I’m getting are subjectively on par with those CDPs ranging from $4-6K & up….. and the flexibility I have is beyond any CDP capabilities.

But here’s the real thing… the true issue… if you like what you’re getting then keep doing what you’re doing! If you don’t like what you’re getting and/or want to improve on it, change what you can…. When you can.. as much as you can. It’s really simple.

Want increased performance and your entire library at your fingertips? It’s server time! If not, then you’re already there!