Glad to see some of the audiophiles starting to realize what us rippers and streamers figured out a long time ago, welcome!
For my own setup I use a ReadyNAS Pro in RAID6. I use RAID6 for redundancy, to keep my data as safe as possible and for the massive amounts of storage available to me. The built-in streaming for SlimDevices (Logitech) products is icing on the cake with this NAS. Of course I still back it up, but it is redundant & reliable storage. It also incorporates a few "fail-safe" (if you will) features, informing me if any drives are overheating or failing. To me there is no such thing as a "high-end music server", it has to do much more with the interface. Let me explain.
All of my CDs have been ripped by me using either EAC is secure mode + the AccurateRip plugin, or else using dbpoweramp. Either way I know that the FLAC files produced by these rips represent 100% accurate bit-for-bit rips from my CDs, something no transport in the world, regardless of price, can truthfully claim. A one-time on the fly read of an optical disc simply cannot be as accurate as multiple reads that are compared to each other and to online databases to ensure accuracy.
My ReadyNAS Pro does a superb job of streaming this data over ethernet to my various devices. Any CAT5, 5e or CAT6 cabling will do, there is no difference as long as the cable is not damaged. If the receiving device does not get the correct data, it is simply sent again. At the other end there are numerous devices available to "transcode" the ethernet stream into a digital audio signal that you can then send to the DAC + Amp of your choice using your preferences for cabling, speakers, etc... A big name super expensive media server will not send the ethernet data any more accurately (or audibly differentl) than a home built NAS made from spare parts as long as it has a properly functioning network card and cabling. Period!
Now, the super high-end media streamer may have a really cool or easy to use interface or superb support and customer service from the manufacturer that make it stand out as a desireable component, but I personally really love the simple functionality of my SlimDevice SB3s and my Transporter. The Sonos is another popular product. I also know that the DAC inside the Transporter is truly state of the art and it has been very favorably reviewed by various "audiophile" publications, and it can decode 24/96 FLAC files! To me there would be little to gain from using an outboard DAC, but I'm certain there are inumerable audiophiles who would dispute this. I am totally satisfied with the sound the Transporter puts out, but folks have even modified them by adding tubes, etc...go figure... To each their own I guess.
So my "audio chain" goes something like this:
CDs ripped accurately and compressed into FLAC* format > Stored and streamed via ReadyNAS > Dell gigabit switch > Transporter > amp > speakers, Viola' (see photo below for my 'audio' setup)
(* = some purists will tell you that WAV is more accurate, it is simply uncompressed lossless music vs. FLAC which is compressed lossless. The big problem is you cannot tag WAV files. Each of my FLAC files are still 100% lossless, they just take up less storage space than WAV and they are all tagged not only with all of the relevant data and liner notes, but also an embedded photo of the CD cover. None of this very convenient data affects the audio quality in any way.)
My setup (FLAC files stored and served by my ReadyNAS Pro to my Squeezeboxes and Transporter) allows me immediate access to any track, disc, playlist, genre, artist (you get the idea) in my entire collection, not to mention all of the streaming options available via the internet. I truly have 100% accurate CD sound from any CD in my collection available immediately at the click of a button, nice! Imagine being able to listen to any music in your entire collection without ever having to get out of your chair to change a CD, and you can have this convenience available throughout your home, garage, patio, etc.
p.s. this represents my outlook on streamed media, not any sort of attack so constructive comments and differing opinions are always welcome, keep the flames to yourself please.
PHOTO: ReadyNAS Pro, D-Link gigabit firewall/router, Motorola cable modem, Dell PowerConnect 2416 Gigabit switch, Linksys G WIFI (running modded FW), all connected to an APC UPS and kept safely and out of the way in a cool basement storage room.