seeking feedback on music streaming, and perhaps server, devices
The forum doesn't seem to have a category that fits questions related to music servers/streaming devices, which is presumably how an increasing number of folks are getting their content. I mulled putting this in the CD player category, but ultimately decided to post it here.
I'm looking for a device to stream Pandora and Amazon Prime music through my mid-fi system (Denon AVR feeding Focal towers and a pretty musical sub). I don't mind if it also serves as a music server from which I can play my Apple lossless-encoded music, but I have an old iPod Classic that's still covering that for me for now. I was using my iPhone, but I don't want my phone tied up delivering music, and Pandora limits phones to a measly 64kbps. I have used a Kindle Fire, but it has sporadic issues with electrical interference, and Pandora limits it to 128k I believe (depends whether it's classified as a mobile device). Why Pandora limits non-computers to 128k I don't get. I think there are ways to play Flash content on a Kindle or an iPad so that you can get the full 196k Pandora quality, but they're workarounds that seem to have issues, since their not supported.
I'm starting to think I need to designate a computer for this function, perhaps outputting via USB to a separate DAC, since the headphone port sound quality isn't likely to be great. I'm not sure whether a Chromebook might be an inexpensive, effective solution, though not with regard to playing local files. Or perhaps a Windows-based tablet or one of those convertible tablet/laptop hybrids? Or just a desktop computer. I've historically been a PC user, and it's what I use at work, but every PC I've ever used developed BSODs after a few years, and I'm tired of dealing with that, so my next laptop will probably be a Macbook (but not a fan of the keyboards--spoiled by years of ThinkPads--oh well, always a trade-off, I guess). But I don't think I want that laptop to be tied up as a music server.
So this is really a question about what I should be considering as music streaming and perhaps server options. Maybe the answer is something like a Mac Mini and monitor? That's spendier than I'd like, but I'm at least open to considering it. Are there other options, either at lesser or similar price ranges, that should be on my radar. I feel like we're in a period of flux in terms of music delivery, and while there are various options, everything seems to involve some trade-offs.
Benq W1070 projector w/ Chief RSM mount with custom interface bracket
119" Da-Lite Cinema Contour with High-Contrast (gray) Da-Mat screen
Denon X2000 receiver fed by Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Bluray player
Focal Chorus 700-series towers and center, JMLab Tantal 500-series bookshelf rears
Rythmik FV15HP sub