Re: Which Music Server Do/Would You Use?
So there are a couple of questions here - what server do you use and what streaming client do you use...
Personally, I have great luck with my HP Mediasmart server. You can add tons of drive space cheaply and easily. In addition to streaming music, pictures, and video, it will backup all your Windows boxes (I think it can do Macs as well, but not sure), and it can share the iTunes library of any machine on your network. Mine has been incredibly stable, it's small, and pretty quiet. I keep mine in my office anyway. Frankly, it's cheaper and more capable than many NAS devices that are marketed for music streaming.
As for streaming clients, I personally have no shortage and have experimented with quite a few. I currently have a Squeezebox Duet, but only consider it acceptable because I can use the digital out...the analogue sound isn't very involving to me personally. But it is very usable w/ the included remote, and there is an iPhone/iPod app that also provides very nice control.
I also have a PS3 and an Xbox. The Xbox doesn't make a good streaming device IMHO, because if you use the best digital out for gaming and movies, you are stuck with Dolby Digital for your music...not acceptable.
Believe it or not, the PS3 makes an excellent streaming device. The new ones are quiet, and they output hi-res digital from both toslink nad HDMI. But you may need to install server software on your server that will transcode on the fly (Tversity is a good option) for maximum file type compatibility, especially if you use lossless encoding. A nice plus is the beautiful visualizations that are available if you chose to leave your monitor on for a bit.
Another cheap option is to use an Apple Airport Express, connecting to iTunes. Again, a separate DA or a good DA in your preamp/receiver is mandatory, but if you install iTunes on your server, you are good to go, so long as you have an iPod Touch or iPhone. In that case, you get a fantastic interface that doesn't require a TV. No hi-res digital though, only 16bit, 44.1kHz.
In fact, if you already have an iPod Touch or iPhone, I'd look for an Airport Express (cheap @ $100), and look for a nice quality used DAC, which I bet you can find for < $1K. You are good to go at that point!