FAQ - Computer-Based
Why would I wish to get a silent music server?
If you wish to play High Resolution files
such as the Reference Recordings HRx files then to our knowledge this is
one of the best sounding music servers available today. The reason is that
properly implemented this
will produce a very low level of jitter which will make digital audio
sound better. This is especially important for high resolution files as
they have higher sampling rates. It
is amply evident when playing with your CD files too.
The only real drawback is if you wish to
control your system with a Crestron remote control. At this point there
is no way that we're aware of to control these servers with a Crestron.
The other thing to consider is that while a music server from a company
such as ReQuest or Kaleidescape will have a better GUI interface and be
Crestron controllable, this music server will be a significantly less
UPDATE: There are now some more choices in
Music Servers. Here is a
link for more info.
What is the price of the Berkeley Alpha DAC?
For pricing and options information
What is the price of the silent computer?
And the price of the component-style computer
can be found here:
Where can I learn more about this?
Here is a link:
You can also read the review in the January
2009 issue of The Absolute Sound by the editor Robert Harley.
Note however that as of September 2011 we have reconfigured
the setup. We are now recommending using a USB output into
an outboard USB to AES-EBU converter/reclocker such as the
Berkeley Alpha USB.
What else do I need
to implement a music server solution? And what are the costs of
the hardware and software?
A list of both Hardware
and Software needed for a complete high end music server
- You will need to select Music Server software such
For Windows 7, the preferred connection is WASAPI which
provides a low-overhead, bit-perfect data output with
automatic sample rate switching—and
in our experience works quite well. Therefore
music server software that supports WASAPI such as JRiver
Media Center (version 17 or higher), Sonata, Media Monkey
(version 4.0 or higher) or Foobar should be used with Windows 7. (Estimated
cost: under $30-150) (Note: As of March 2012 currently we
are using JRiver in our soundrooms.)
- If you are using JRiver we
recommend using an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote
controller. Currently we are using the
app on an iPad with good results. There are a number of
other apps that you can choose from including ones for IOS,
Android, and Windows. For more info here is a
link. (Note: The most basic 16GB iPad model with the
"retina display" works fine as a remote control and is what
we use ourselves.) (Estimated cost $200-500.)
- Another potentially more purist approach
to Music Server software is
JPlay. To learn more here is the Beginner's
Guide. (Note: We started testing JPlay in January 2012
with the release of version 4.1 as a plug-in with JRiver.)
- Either onboard SSD's or an outboard NAS to store the
music files connected to the music server via a Gig Ethernet
switch. If you are using a NAS we suggest remoting it to another room,
closet, or basement so that no noise from the NAS interferes
with your music listening. (Note: We have been using various
models from both Synology and Netgear ReadyNAS which use Linux as the OS
and they have been reliable in our experience.) -
(Estimated cost: from a few hundred to over a thousand
dollars depending upon NAS model and type and number of hard
disks or SSD's)
- Silent computer (no moving
parts) running Windows 7 with a WASAPI driver. [Note: if you
are using a Berkeley Alpha USB (as a digital output
interface feeding your outboard DAC) there is a dedicated WASAPI
driver that needs to be installed.] - (Estimated cost:
$2000-5000 depending upon configuration plus whether or not
you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.) (Note: As
of March 2012 we are using Windows 7 64-bit.)
- An internal
SOtM tX-USB PCI USB Audio Output Card - (Estimated Cost:
approx. $300 + shipping)
- A good quality USB cable -
(Estimated cost: $50 to $700) (Note: As of March 2012 we are
using a WyWires USB cable.)
- An outboard USB to AES-EBU
converter/reclocker such as the
Berkeley Alpha USB ($1895) or the Audiophileo2 ($579).
(Note: as of March 2012 in our soundroom we are typically
using the Berkeley Alpha USB as the digital interface. And
if the outboard DAC accepts single-wire AES-EBU then that is
our configuration of choice as opposed to SPDIF, etc.)
- A good quality AES-EBU cable
- (Estimated Cost: $100-$4000)
- An outboard DAC such as the
Berkeley Alpha DAC
Series 2 - (There are DAC's available in a wide variety
of price ranges. One example is the Berkeley Alpha DAC
Series 2 which as of March 2012 is $4995.)
- Alternatively there are
DAC's available that accept USB directly such as the
Simaudio Moon 100D ($600) as well as others which are too
numerous to list here.
- A pair of analog
interconnect cables. (Note: For the Alpha DAC Series 2 in most
systems we suggest that you use XLR-XLR cables. However in
some systems an RCA-RCA cable will need to be used.) -
(Estimated cost: $50 on up)
- Lastly we definitely suggest
that you get some high resolution files so you can hear how
amazing they sound for yourself on your new music server!
For high resolution files we are currently offering the
HRx files which are bit for bit copies of the 176.4/24
masters. These really are extraordinarily good sounding
files! - (Estimated cost: $45). There are also a plethora of
high resolution files available from other sources. For more
info here is a link.
What if I want to
use an internal sound card like the Lynx AES16?
If you would like to go with an
internal digital audio sound card with a AES-EBU output,
in addition to the computer you need
the Lynx AES16 card which is $695 plus a digital output
cable. There is one that is available that has the
proper connectors on each end and it is $60.
If you would like us to set up the computer for you — by
installing the Lynx card and configuring all of the software and
finally testing it to make sure that it is locking to word clock
properly and that it sounds good—our labor charge to do that
would be a flat fee of $500.
So to summarize, those costs
(the computer prices have just come down) would be
approximately as follows:
Silent computer in the basic configuration: approx
$1-3000 (plus keyboard, mouse, &
Labor 500 (or
setup it up yourself in which case that is no cost)
Keyboard and mouse are of course personal
choices. You may have a keyboard preferences with regard to variables
such as wired vs wireless, key layout, key feel, click or
non-click. A mouse also has options like wired or wireless
and the number of buttons.
(For long term reliability we recommend wired as you can use really long cables to
extend them--but some people prefer wireless for obvious
reasons.) Note: once your music server is set up you will not
normally use a keyboard, only the mouse. Or if you use a
touchscreen you don't even need to use a mouse.
You will also need some software so that this computer can
function as a music server. We used to use Media Monkey
Gold ($40) on Windows XP which is available at
However we are now using
J. River Media
Center music server software ($50) on Windows 7 (64 bit).
Also if you would like to purchase a Reference Recordings HRx
file (176.4kHz /24 bit) it would be $45 per file. The HRx
files have top quality sound—and you owe it to yourself to hear
at least one!
Lastly shipping to wherever you are would probably be somewhere
in the neighborhood of $100 plus or minus—depending upon where
you live and how fast you want it shipped, cost of shipping
UPDATE: As of September
2011 there is a new and better way to set up a music
server--namely using the Berkeley Alpha USB instead of the
Lynx card. Not only is it superior sonically but it is also
easier to set-up.
Note: You can read a review
by Robert Harley of a production prototype of the Alpha USB
in the July 2011 issue of The Absolute Sound. However you'll
be happy to know that the
production version of the Alpha USB has been sonically improved over
that production prototype.
Which size and type of
flat panel computer monitor would you recommend?
Which monitor to choose obviously comes down to personal
choice, as there are many variables to consider.
First you should choose the size, aspect ratio, and pixel
pitch. (Note: larger pixels means larger letters for
Here are some various representative monitor sizes in different aspect
ratios with typical pixel pitches. Please note that some
monitors of the same size may have different pixel
pixels pixel pitch
21.5" 1920 x 1080 0.248
1920 x 1080 .248 or .265
1920 x 1080 .282 or .27 or .276 or
2560 x 1440
16:10 wide aspect ratio
pixels pixel pitch
17" 1440 x 900 0.255
19" 1440 x 900
.282 - .285
1680 x 1050 .282
24" 1920 x 1200
26" 1920 x 1200
.2865 - .292
1920 x 1200 .3029
1920 x 1200
30" 2560 x 1600
4:3 aspect ratio
size pixels pixel pitch
5:4 aspect ratio
size pixels pixel pitch
17" 1280 x 1024
1280 x 1024 .294
Obviously for a given size, the viewing area of wider
aspect ratio monitors is not as high. As for the number of
horizontal pixels, a larger number of them means that you
can show more columns if you should wish to. However for
some applications it is also important how many
vertical pixels there are—as
well as the size of those pixels. Generally speaking for
computer displays most people prefer a 16:10 aspect ratio
monitor over a 16:9 one.
Another choice to be considered is the type of LCD panel. Various types
available include: TN or
TN Panels are the least expensive but suffer from limited viewing
angles, especially vertically—not
to mention inferior color reproduction and contrast ratio.
PVA or MVA or AMVA Panels offer better viewing angles than TN panels--as
well as better color reproduction.
offer better viewing angles than either TN--as
well as potentially better color reproduction than either
S-IPS/H-IPS Panels have the best viewing angles and are
generally considered the best all around panel in terms of
image quality, but
they are more expensive.
If you would like to see a listing of various models of
IPS monitors here is a
Note: Flat-panel LCDs are available with either glossy or
matte antiglare screens.
As of November 2012--after
trying out a number of different makes, models, and aspect
ratios--we have found that 24" 1920x1200 LCD's can be a
suitable way to go. And in our experience we have found NEC
makes some very good IPS monitors. Models that we have used
include the NEC LCD2490WUXi2, P241W, and PA-241W. Note, of
the latter two,
the P241W is a better choice for most systems as it is sRGB
whereas the PA-241 has a wider color space than sRGB which
is not necessary for most applications (outside of photo
processing software). However if you are
not really going to be using a monitor much then you may
decide that you don't need such a high quality monitor.
In 2013 we expect to possibly see OLED monitors introduced
as an alternative display technology.
Also starting in 2013
and going forward higher resolution monitors are expected to
become available. According to
Tom's Hardware Intel projects that within the 2013-2015
timeframe that resolutions for tablets will reach 2560x1600—which
is even more pixels than the 2048x1536 of the iPad3 "retina
display". (Note that the former is a 16:10 aspect ratio whereas
the latter is a 4:3 aspect ratio.) Also that notebooks will
reach resolutions of 3200x2000 and 3840x2160. And that
desktop monitors will reach resolutions of 3840x2160,
4096x2304, and 4800x2700. These higher pixel count
resolutions of course have the potential to enhance the
display of cover art.
If you would like to read some monitor reviews here are
With regard to selecting the type of monitor panel for a
music server, most people will consider that application to
be non-critical in terms of monitor performance so it may
not be of much concern to them.
If you are going to use an LCD monitor something else to consider is
the type of backlighting. The three common types available
- CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps)
- White LED
- RGB LED
backlighting is a
superior solution to white LED however it is also more expensive.
Environmentally LED backlighting is
more desirable as it is more energy efficient than CCFL. In
addition CCFL's contain mercury which is environmentally
harmful which is yet another reason to choose LED
backlighting. LED should also last longer than CCFL's.
(Although as of early 2012 there can still be certain
technical superiorities for graphics and photography
professionals to choose CCFL's over the current crop of LED
Then there is bezel size, shape, and color—plus
the quality, adjustability, and styling of the monitor stand
Alternatively you can also get a
touchscreen which you can use without a mouse. For instance 17" or
19" 5:4 1280x1024 or a 20.1" 4:3 1600x1200 touchscreens
are available. Widescreen touchscreens are also available.
What type of keyboard and mouse
Personal preference obviously plays a role here. Some people prefer
wired and some wireless. Obviously wired will be more reliable long term
as you are not dependent on batteries that way.
If you would like a waterproof and spill-proof keyboard and mouse, either wired or wireless, that
can be cleaned in the dishwasher here is a
How can I transfer my library of
CD's into my Music Server?
Extracting music from your CD's so the music can be transferred to your
computer or music server can be very time consuming if you wish to do a
for classical music. So if you would like to set up a music server but don't want
to spend the time necessary to get your CD library transferred you can
simply call us and we will take care of getting it done for you.
However if you wish to do it yourself click
here for some suggestions.
How much storage space
is required for CD's?
The table below shows approximately how much storage
space is need for 1000 CD's in various
Bit Rate kbit/s
Storage Estimate (GB)
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
1411 - Uncompressed
Variable Bit Rate, typically
650-1100 - Lossless Compressed
1411 - Uncompressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
1411 - Uncompressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
- lossy compressed
However because storage is quite inexpensive there really
is no reason to use lossy or lossless files anymore. For high end
audio playback we recommend the following formats
which are highlighted in bright yellow above: WAV or
AIFF or Uncompressed FLAC.
In our listening tests so far we have found that WAV
and AIFF files sound slightly better than
Uncompressed FLAC. However this may be a function of the
hardware/software that we have been listening with. In the
future we will continue to do some more listening
comparisons in this regard. However because of the good
metadata support, at this point we think that AIFF is
best format choice as it sounds either identical or
virtually identical to WAV. And WAV is not as good in terms
of metadata. But either WAV of AIFF can be made to work
quite well depending on the type of music you listen to and
the software/hardware that comprises your music server.
Testing the various file types on your music server of
choice, in terms of both sound quality and metadata, is of
course always recommended. And for your testing purposes
dBpoweramp can rip a CD to all of the formats discussed
here: WAV, AIFF, Uncompressed FLAC, and Compressed Lossless
Note: We would recommend Uncompressed FLAC over
Compressed Lossless FLAC.
Note: AIF is the same as AIFF.
Where can I get high
For a link to a listing of various companies now
offering high resolution files
Click here :
UPDATE: One of our clients told us that he has
transferred his music from his collection of
DualDisc to his music server
using some software called "DVD-Audio Explorer 2008".
Many of these formats contain tracks at 96/24—while some are
48/24 or even 192/24.
From a DVD-A there are two ways to rip to stereo. The best
way would be to have DVDAexplorer use the "get stereo
downmix" button/function which uses a hidden SMARTS table
encoded on the disc. This SMARTS TOC, which is on most discs
that don't have a dedicated stereo layer, tells the hardware
downmix how to mix correctly. The other less desirable way
to do a two-channel rip would be to pull up the DVD-V
portion (Video_TS folder) in DVDAexplorer and rip the PCM
stereo mix, which unfortunately is limited to only 48kHz/16
FYI DVD’s can contain two folders:
Audio_TS – contains the high resolution music
Video_TS – contains the standard DVD material
Click the links above for more information and some listings of
Where can I get CD
resolution 44.1/16 files? Where can I get
HDCD encoded CD's which when decoded are 44.1/20?
The easy answer
is to purchase CD's or
HDCD-encoded CD's and then transfer them to your music server.
That way you always have a backup on CD—plus you have the CD
booklet which can also be nice to have for reference. If you would prefer to not
have to do the transferring yourself we can have your whole CD
collection transferred to hard disk or SSD—and as part of that service
all of the metadata will be done too. Even though metadata can
usually be downloaded, all too often certain things need to be
corrected by hand. Also some obscure albums don't have the
metadata available for download so then the whole album's
metadata has to be typed in by hand.
If you would like to download some CD files here is a link:
How can I get the best
possible transfer of my music CD's into my music
The goal is to make a bit-for-bit copy of the music
data—and the best way to do that is to use either
or Exact Audio Copy with AccurateRip. You can do this yourself—or you
can send us your CD's if you don't wish to bother as it is time
consuming to do. If you wish to have it done for you
can also have the metadata
entered or corrected if needed. For more details on this service
click here for details (and scroll all the way to the
bottom of the page). Of course you can start off doing it yourself and
then if you get tired of doing it you can always send us the
rest of your CD collection.
If you are going to transfer music from an
HDCD-encoded CD's to a music server,
dBpoweramp CDGrabber has a
DSP effect that allows tracks from HDCDs to
be ripped to 24-bit WAV files. The files have a
bit rate of 2116.8 kbit/x and are about 1.5
times as large as 16-bit WAV files. For example
16-bit WAV file was 60 MB in size, then that
same file in 24-bit
WAV file would be about 90 MB. Not that this will affect
anything, but you might be interested to know
that while the files will be listed as 24-bit,
technically speaking only 20 bits per sample
will contain actual data.
However, if your D-A converter will decode HDCD
there is no need to do this. The only
reason to do this is if your D-A converter will
not decode HDCD. In fact there is a distinct
advantage in not doing this, as if your D-A will
decode HDCD the HDCD light will be illuminated
when decoding HDCD, and when it does that is an
excellent indicator that you have an accurate file
transfer to your music server.
Note: The Berkeley Audio Design
which has been by far our most popular DAC,
will decode HDCD. (We also expect that the
forthcoming Spectral SDR-5000 will be able
to decode HDCD-encoded recordings.)
If you use Exact Audio Copy make sure that you read the
website thoroughly as there are a number of important things to
know before using the program in order to obtain optimal
results. Here are the links:
You will need something like WinZip to unzip Exact Audio Copy
which you can get here:
However we would recommend dBpoweramp over
Exact Audio Copy because the metadata is superior.
Can I rip files
on my music server?
Normally we recommend that ripping be
done on another computer—although it can be done on the
music server itself. However what some clients do is
they send us their entire CD collection and we get it
ripped and install it on the music server for them so
when they receive their music server it is ready to go
with all of their music pre-installed. If you have
several hundred or several thousand CD's it would take
quite a bit of your time to rip if you do it yourself,
especially if you have classical music because of the
greater amount of metadata fields required!
Once your collection is in place of course then you
could rip any new CD's or install any new files going
forward—it is up to you. From our perspective, in order
to keep it working in a pristine state, the ideal
for the music server computer is to keep it functioning
solely as a music server and have it do nothing else.
However once you own the server you could of course rip
CD's from that computer if you decided to do so and also
do whatever else you wish on it.
As stated above, if you choose to
rip your own CD's we recommend
(If you are using a Mac as a music server you can
use this in Bootcamp.) Alternatively if you
would like a free program you could choose
Exact Audio Copy with AccurateRip. (Note: AccurateRip is included as a part of the
normal EAC download). If you rip
on another computer then you can easily transfer the files
into the music server either over a network or with an
external USB hard drive by simply dragging the
How much storage can an SSD can
provide? How can I add more storage space?
As of 2012 SSD's (solid state drives) are now available
in capacities up to 600GB and beyond. We recommend using
Intel SSD's for reliability and support reasons. And if you
have an Intel SSD here is a link to the page where you can
find the Intel
SSD Toolbox 3.x download.
With regard to adding more storage space, right now you
can go to the configuration webpage (click the link below) and
add another internal SSD (solid state drive).
Alternatively you could add a hard
disk as an additional internal drive. However if you add a spinning hard drive instead of an SSD as
the 2nd drive please understand that a spinning internal
hard drive will make some noise, however small (or not!) it might be. Also in the future there will
be larger SSD's available which could be installed later—as
of March 2012 there are 1TB or larger SSD's available with
larger capacities forthcoming in the not-to-distant future.
Another alternative is a remoted NAS
(network attached storage box). We have been using either
Synology or Netgear ReadyNAS brands of NAS in our demo
properly setup they has been able to
deliver Red Book (CD quality at 44.1kHz 16 bit) and high
resolution files at up to 192kHz 24 bit without dropouts to
multiple music servers simultaneously.
The final price of the NAS will of course
depend upon how many TB (terabytes) of storage you would wish to
have inside. For example, a ReadyNAS Pro with
close to 4TB (4x1TB or 2x2TB) of raw hard drive space would one
way of going—although this can
also be configured to hold far more if you utilize the maximum
of 6 hard disks.
(Note raw space per hard disk is actually a bit less in actual
use. For instance a 2TB hard disk actually is about 1.81TB.) Please understand though that if this is
setup as RAID 1 that that would roughly cut the available
storage space in half. There are other RAID configurations
however which would use the storage space more efficiently of
course such as X-RAID. One advantage to the NAS approach to
adding more storage is that in theory you can run an Ethernet cable up to
about 100 meters (328 feet).
December 2009 UPDATE: We are now
looking at using 2TB hard drives
as Western Digital is now
shipping 2TB RE4-GP WD2002FYPS 5400 RPM drives (with
link or later) (firmware
link -- use at your own risk of course) which means that storage space in RAID could be increased to
something in the neighborhood of 9TB. [Note: The WD 2TB RE4-GP
WD2002FYPS drive has been qualified by Netgear for the
ReadyNAS Pro Business and Pro Pioneer as well as other
Here is a Netgear ReadyNAS
March 2010 UPDATE: We have
recently seen several 2TB Western Digital
RE4-GP WD2002FYPS 5400 RPM drives fail. At first we thought
that maybe they were not being sufficiently cooled and
therefore that was a contributing factor. However after some
research, including the Google white paper on
hard drive reliability (just google it!), it would seem that drive
temperatures, unless they are extreme are probably not the
cause. So it would appear that some percentage of these drives
have indeed been
our sample size is too small to draw any valid overall
conclusions. Going forward we will continue to
monitor the reliability of these hard drives. If we continue
to see problems we may
alternatively try the 2TB Hitachi
Ultrastar A7K2000 HUA722020ALA330 drives (an Enterprise
level drive). However any drive from any manufacturer can
fail which is why of course all data on every system needs
to be backed up. In any case, for now we are
continuing to use Western Digital RE (RAID Edition) drives at the 2TB size—especially
as we have heard that Western Digital tech support is better
than that of Hitachi here in the US.
April 2010 UPDATE: So far the 1TB WD RE3 drives have continued to
work reliably long term so at present that is our top recommendation
unless you need the larger 2TB size.
June 2010 UPDATE: We haven't seen any of
the above mentioned 1TB or 2TB Western Digital drives have
any problems over the past few months.
November 2010 UPDATE: We still haven't
seen any of the above mentioned 1TB or 2TB Western Digital
drives have any problems since we started using them.
September 2011 UPDATE: Certain models of
3TB drives are now approved for use in ReadyNAS. 4TB models
have just been introduced so those should be soon to follow.
March 2012 UPDATE: After doing some
testing, for UPnP output from a NAS we are now using a
Synology NAS instead of a Netgear ReadyNAS. Specifically the
model that we are using for demo is the Synology DS1512+. We
have also tested the DS411+ II which is a last generation
model. However, with the exception
of speed and capacity, we would expect that all of the Synology models would work the same as they all use the same
software. In addition various Synology NAS models have now
been certified for certain models of 3TB and 4TB hard
drives--and you can see the compatibility list
May 2012 UPDATE: At this point we have
switched over to Hitachi brand hard disks for library
storage. Hitachi now has 2TB to 4TB hard drives. Though more
expensive, the best ones are the models for "enterprise". We
still recommend an Intel brand SSD for the boot drive of the
As of 2012 we
have also started using internal SSD's for music storage—at
least for collections that aren't too massive. At some point In the future we will also be testing an
eSATA SSD RAID array. However in the near future a NAS (Network
Attached Storage) will still be a less
expensive proposition if you have a large music library. Plus
you should know that eSATA is limited to a cable
length of about 2 meters—whereas,
as previously mentioned, the NAS can have an ethernet cable that is
up to 100 meters (328 feet) long.
What NAS/hard disk configurations
A NAS can be obtained with or without hard
drives preinstalled. The minimum number of hard drives to
use is two for RAID 1 which means that the 2nd drive mirrors
the first one. A small NAS will hold 2 hard drives. Depending upon the NAS that you choose larger
ones will typically hold anywhere from 4-7 drives. There are
of course a plethora of NAS models and new ones
are introduced regularly. As of 2012 you can get a NAS for as
little as a
few hundred dollars.
Western Digital 1TB RE3 hard
drives are relatively inexpensive--and the Western Digital 2TB RE4-GP
hard drives (firmware version 04.05G05 or later) are
typically double the price or the 1TB. As a reminder, for redundancy a minimum 2 hard drives is
necessary to start.
If you would like us to set up
the NAS for you we can do so for a flat fee to do the
following: install the
hard drives, set up the software, and test it here with your
music server. However if you are savvy with regard to NAS
and networking this is something that you can do yourself.
You also will need a Router and Gig Ethernet switch as
Ethernet cables to hook up the NAS to the music server
computer. For highest reliability we recommend using wired
connections rather than wireless for connecting the music
server to the NAS for accessing music files.
If I order a complete
setup how long will it take before I actually have it in
Assuming that all parts are in stock, it
a minimum of about 7-10 days to have the computer built.
Then it takes about a week for ground shipping for it to arrive
here. Then, depending
upon how busy we are, it
usually takes us about a week or two to set it up and test it.
Then add in however long it takes to ship or deliver it to you.
So an estimate of the total time it would take could be
approximately 4 weeks or more from time of order.
For a Windows music
server is Windows 7 or Windows 8 preferred?
If you would like to use Windows 8 rather than Windows 7
that is your perogative.
As of late November 2012, while we have used Windows 8
Pro on several machines to test it out, we are still using
Windows 7 on our music servers. At some point we may change
to Windows 8, but at this point we can recommend Windows 7
as we have been using it far longer.
For a Windows music
server, in terms of watts, what size power supply is
Typically anywhere between 300-800 watts is usual,
depending upon the configuration. Here is a calculator that
you can use to estimate the
How much RAM is
recommended for a Windows music server?
We have used both 8GB and 16GB of RAM with
good results with Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Pro. Note
that there are RAM limits that vary depending upon the OS
(Operating System) that you are using. With Windows 7 Home
Premium 64 bit you can use 16GB max. With Windows 7 Pro 64
bit the limit is 192GB. Whereas the 32 bit versions of both
above are limited to 4GB.
For more info here is a link:
With Windows 8 the limit is 192GB and for
Windows 8 Pro the upper limit is 512GB. However for the 32
bit versions the limit is 4GB.
Can this play encoded
formats such as Dolby True HD or DTS-HD Master?
As for what formats can be played, any format for
which there is computer software available can be played as long
as it can be outputted over AES-EBU which is the recommended
type of digital cable connection. (We recommend AES-EBU in this
configuration as that has the lowest jitter. To make a
long story short, the lower the jitter the better the sound
quality. In case you don't know jitter is defined as
timing errors in the digital domain and is measured in
picoseconds.) We are not familiar with what software there
currently is that would play Dolby True-HD — however it may
exist either now or in the future. However please
understand that currently Dolby True
HD as well as encoded formats such as DTS-HD Master are limited to HDMI which
What type of files can this play?
It depends on the music server software of
course, but most good music server software will play audio Wave files
that range from 44.1/16 up to 192/24. However you can also use
it for lossy compressed files such as MP3 or lossless compressed
files such as FLAC.
Here is a list of file formats that J.
River will play:
There is also a fairly complete list of
file types that are supported on Media Monkey that you can find
on their website:
AIFF (which can be also tagged as AIF)
files can be played with a plug-in which is available from
the aforementioned Media Monkey website. Click this
link and scroll down to "WAVE Input Plug-in 2.07" and
follow the instructions.
SHD files also can be played—though we haven't
tested this file type yet.
Can other Operating
Systems besides Windows 7 be used?
You have the option of buying the computer with no
OS (operating system) and then installing whichever OS you wish.
For instance using some version of Linux plus
whatever music server software that would run on it if that were your
choice. In theory you might even be able to put the Mac OS
on it if you so chose—however we have never attempted to do
that and we don't recommend going the "Hackintosh" route as it
violates the Apple OS X EULA (software agreement) and
obviously is completely unsupported. We do not recommend using Vista
as it has been superseded by Win 7.
However Windows 7 (32 bit or 64 bit) with
Center music server software is a combination that
many people have chosen to go with. For ourselves we have
been using JRiver with Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium or Pro. (Note:
In the past
Media Monkey 4.x running on either Windows XP or Windows 7.)
How can I optimize the
setup of JRiver music server software when used in
conjunction with the JRemote IOS app?
"As an audiophile you will be concerned about putting the
least amount of stress on your computer while playing back
music. JRemote will not send any requests to your computer
if you are not browsing. The “Now Playing” view however will
poll your computer in short intervals.
If you are only listening to music we also recommend running
JRiver Media Center in server mode. You will find this
option under Tools > Advanced Tools > Media Server. After
selecting this option JRiver will run as a service so you
can shut down the program and still be able to control the
program from JRemote."
UPDATE, March 2012: Apple
IOS 5.1 upgrade warning. We just identified a glitch for
those of you who are using an iPod Touch or iPhone with
JRemote as a remote control app for a music server running
JRiver 17 software. After upgrading to IOS 5.1 the JRemote
app will crash. So it is necessary to upgrade the JRemote
app to the latest release which cures the problem.
UPDATE, July 2012: We have been running a number of music
servers with JRiver Media Center 17 and JRemote and they
have been working well.
Can other Music Server
software be used?
Yes you can use any Music Server software that you
choose. Alternatives include:
If I wish to use Windows XP
with the Lynx AES16 digital audio output card, how
can I tweak that setup?
link to an article on this subject. However though this
article does talk about ASIO drivers, we are not
recommending using ASIO drivers for the Lynx AES-16.
How do I set up Media
Monkey on Windows XP with a Lynx AES16 digital audio
soundcard for best sonic results?
If you would like to do it yourself here is a
link. It is recommended that you follow the instructions
How do I set up the PCI
version of the Lynx
AES16 digital audio card on Windows XP for best sonic results?
If you would like to do it yourself here is a
link. It is recommended
that you follow the instructions precisely!
What other ports are
on the silent computer?
The computer also has the
normal ports such as Gig Ethernet and USB.
How can I control the music server from my listening
position without using a wireless remote control?
What we have in our soundroom is a long extension
cable for the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. That way the music
server is sitting by the equipment rack right next to the DAC so
the digital cable is nice and short. And the user
interface hardware (monitor, keyboard, and mouse) can be on a side
table right next to the listening chair. (For normal use we only use the mouse and the monitor
for operating the music server. The keyboard is only used
for set-up, certain types of searches, and inputting
metadata.) However for home use an iPad or iPod Touch
utilized as a remote controller makes the monitor, keyboard,
and mouse unnecessary. That way they can be placed out of
I use an app to control JRiver Media Center via an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch,
Yes you can use JRemote or Bitremote or RiverMote to use an Apple iPhone, iPod
Touch, or iPad as a wireless remote control via WiFi.
Although there may be future updates, at this point we think
most people would prefer JRemote:
use the wireless remote control MonkeyTunes or iMonkey software apps to control MediaMonkey with the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch,
The Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad can be used as remotes to control
MediaMonkey, though unlike traditional remote controls these devices
will send commands to MediaMonkey through a Wi-Fi signal instead of
infrared transmission. With either the iMonkey or
MonkeyTunes applications available from the
iPhone app store, you can control MediaMonkey on your PC from your
iPhone or iPod touch!
After you purchase the iMonkey application from the Apple AppStore, all
that's needed is to make a quick download of the iMonkey server from:
http://melloware.com/products/imonkey/ You'll have to start
MediaMonkey with this modified MediaMonkey.exe file so that the iPhone
or Touch can access MediaMonkey (no installation needed, just extract
and double click the downloaded MediaMonkey.exe file).
Please note that when using iMonkey
software that it only allows you to select from playlists.
And it shows you lots of info on the current playlist
(artist, song, bitrate, length).
Whereas MonkeyTunes uses an iTunes
interface so you can navigate/search your whole library not
just playlists. However it only shows the song title and
cover art when playing the song--but you can also "turn the
screen over" and on the "back" is the Album name and list of
tracks of the album playing. Nevertheless it offers a lot
more than iMonkey does in terms of control.
April 2010 UPDATE: We have tested the iPad
with iMonkey and MonkeyTunes they both work like charm via WiFi--as long as
you are in range of course. Please note that there have been
reports of iPad having somewhat weak WiFi—although in our initial testing
of several different iPads we
haven't experienced this. However if you do experience a
problem here is a link for info on WiFi connectivity problem
Apple. Or if you should experience a firewall blocking
issue here is some
information on how to fix it.
Note: In case you don't already know,
you should be aware that like the iPod Touch, the iPad battery is not designed to be user replaceable--for more
info see this
What if my Apple iPhone, iPod Touch,
or iPad freezes or the screen appears just to be
blank or it isn't acting right? How do I do a hard reboot?
First of all, as an Apple
technician will readily tell you, all of these devices are
computers. So therefore sometimes they may need a hard reboot!
1) Press and hold the
Home button (big circle below the screen) and the Sleep/Wake
button (on top of the iPhone, iPod Touch) simultaneously.
2) Continue holding both buttons (Ignore the "Slide to power
off") until the iPhone shuts off and begins to restart. This
takes about 10 seconds or so.
3) You may let go when you see the silver Apple logo.
4) You have completed a hard reset successfully.
5) Note that it takes quite a while to load from the Apple
logo to the main screen. This is normal.
For an iPad reboot here is a
How else can I control
MediaMonkey with a wireless remote?
There are other ways to do so and you can
find them on the MediaMonkey site
that we have not tested any of the other wireless remote
controls so we can't vouch for how well they work or if there could possibly be any sonic
consequences from using any of them.
How do can I setup a
Occasionally we are asked
about playing files from a RAMDisk. While we ourselves
haven't done this, if you have the requisite level of
computer expertise required in order implement this approach
here are two links that have been recommended to us
However the better way to
implement this is within JRiver or Sonata which can play
files from RAM. In addition JPlay can also play from memory.
If you have any
further questions please let us know.
You can reach us at
781-893-9000 if you have any further questions.