Well...I'm probably not the audiophile you are, but here's my humble setup.
I have...well...a couple of servers that handle my media storage/conversion/streaming etc. Specifically:
- A Windows Home Server 2011 based storage server for storing all media. This has about 45TB of space available to it. All it does is provide a pooled storage model to dump my media into.
- A "streaming" server - This handles my streaming needs when I'm away from the house and need to access my media. I run a couple of streaming apps on it, like Air Video, Air Playit etc.
- A "tuner" server - This hosts my two Ceton tuner cards. This is a separate server for a number of reasons, but networking issues are the main reason apart from keeping the TV traffic dedicated to it.
- A "conversion" server. This does my video transcoding, comskip, format conversion etc. I run a home brew engine on this that is somewhat similar to the Windows Scheduler (in fact it uses it), but it extends the task handling by adding in rules based processing, that allows it to chain tasks together. Even though it's kinda clunky, it still works.
I just finished a revamp of the servers, since I had to migrate from WHS v1 to WHS 2011, and in the process I wanted to rework some of the servers. The servers are all S3 sleep enabled, and sleep most of the time, but wake up (based on static IP access) as soon as they are accessed. I used to shut down my servers before and/or use programmed turn on/off times. The new setup is heaven.
Almost instantaneous access, low standby power draw (all four of the servers when sleeping, consume about 22 watts), not having to worry about whether the server is on or not - priceless.
On the client side, I pretty much have HTPCs throughout the house. I'm running 6 right now (not counting the carpc) and counting. I considered going to Extenders, but we have Fios, and with Fios, other than the premium movie channels, everything else is "copy freely", which makes the extenders kinda a moot point. I have looked at media "streamers", but since I'm running HTPCs at all locations, they can do everything that a streamer can.
In the main theater, I was running a custom modded Auzentech X-Meridian connected to a Fosgate FAP T1 connected to a Sunfire 7 channel amp out to Axiom speakers. Since then, I have gone HDMI out from the HTPC to a Denon 4311 to Behringer amps out to JBL Cinema series speakers. The JBLs are better than the Axioms...I think.
Other than the HTPCs around the house, everything is contained in my equipment rack, and I have hard wired CAT6 running throughout the house. Since the heavy duty stuff is in the rack, I don't have to worry about "AV like" cases etc.
I just use heavy duty rack mount cases. No worries about cooling in these cases.
I'm running a pfsense based router, and that offers way more functionality than your typical consumer router. With that, I run specific port based rules, as well as a VPN, that allows me to access this entire setup away from home, on my phone, in the car (dedicated carpc), on my iPad etc.
I'm rambling now....