Originally Posted by orologio
My understanding is that there are two basic way to create a music server, please correct me if I am wrong: one is a pc/mac based storage system and the other one is a standalone system like Macintosh ms750 (way too expensive for me) and Opus ( i remember an article I recently read on the NY Times). Could you briefly tell what's the pros and cons are in these approaches? My last concern is how do I know whether or not whatever device support 24bit/96hz .flac?
That's pretty close. I think of three possibilities though. (#1 and #3 are similar, but different enough in practice that I consider them different solutions.)
- A PC/Mac computer. This is a computer that you actually use where you also store your music files. Pro: it's the cheapest approach since you already have the computer. Con: that computer needs to be running whenever you want to play your music, and doing double duty as server & computer can compromise its performance as both.
- A music server system, such as Escient or the Macintosh. Pro: these are dedicated music servers designed specifically in both hardware and software to integrate with your AV system as a complete, self-contained solution. Con: they're really expensive and you can't use their space for other digital storage.
- A network attached storage device (NAS). This can be an old computer revamped for the purpose, or a dedicated NAS unit like the one I have. A NAS is essentially a specialized computer designed to make data on its hard drive(s) available over a network. Pro: it's flexible, in that you can store all types of digital files on it, such as data & photos, it's smaller than a PC or music server so your placement options are broader (mine's about the size of a toaster), and it can be on all the time without interfering with other computers. Cons: expensive, though not nearly in the range of Escient-type systems, and requires some networking knowledge to set up and maintain.
These descriptions are not comprehensive, but I hope give you an outline of the three directions you can go with this. As for file types and support, you really have to look into the specific device you're interested in. Page 64 of the AVP manual specifies which formats it can play, and it does not appear to directly accept files with a 96kHz sampling frequency. (For reference, that is
an unusual format; most files will be 44.1kHz, as that's the sampling frequency at which CDs are recorded.)
Originally Posted by MarkB
As a slight aside, you say that the server should not be wireless. What are the pitfalls if this has to be the case? I want a media server, and I have a spare powerful PC, but it makes lots of noise and it is large. I want to place it somewhere where it cannot be seen or heard and this most likely means upstairs!
work, but has all the potential pitfalls of any wireless device- interference, dropouts, competition for signal with other wireless devices on the network, etc. Playback devices vary in their buffers-sizes, so some are a more sensitive to break-ups in the data stream, and one that I tried (the Squeezebox) even had a tendency to completely freeze-up when the wireless signal became erratic. And man, it really sucks to have dropouts while your music is playing! I like the security of a good, hardwired connection.
Comment: Ethernet cable is cheap, and it's skinny enough to run under baseboards and through little holes between floors, etc. It's not as daunting as it might seem, and you only have to do it once. But all that said, I don't want to imply that a wireless option isn't viable. With a strong, reliable signal, it can
indeed work well.