Re: I am thinking of getting an Audiophile only server
I know that most of you do not want a full blown computer controlling your system, but the fact that you're members of this forum tells me that you do have computers. The next time you get the bug for a faster computer, use your old one for a music server. Laptops are the best for this application (IMO). You don't need a screamer computer to have a very nice music server. You don't even need a badass sound card. You just need one that can output a digital bit stream.
For storage get a lacie USB hard drive. You can get a terabyte drive for less than $500.00. A 500 GB Lacie drive is less than $200.00.
For play back, download the latest version of Foobar2000. This is a great player that has the ability to bypass the Windows kernal mixer and just streams the digital data out to your DAC or receiver/pre-pro. The user interface, though text based, is flexible to a fault. The following is excerpted from their web site. (foobar2000.org)
# Audio formats supported natively: MP1, MP2, MP3, MP4, MPC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC / Ogg FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF, AU, SND, CDDA, WMA.
# More audio formats supported through optional components, official or third-party.
As you can see, nearly every audio format is supported. I lean toward FLAC because its a lossless format, although with the availability of cheap storage I don't know why anyone would use compression at all. Foobar2000 can handle any bit rate your sound card can.
You also need a CD ripper. EAC is the one to have. If you install FLAC it automatically integrates itself with EAC for seamless compression.
So, you start with a $200.00 used laptop. Add a $200.00 disk drive. Get a DAC if you're into audiophilia. The rest is free. There you have it. An audiophile quality music server for less than a grand.