For many people their prime listening source will be a music server containing their music library (transferred from their CD collection losslessly, etc.) in combination with a high quality outboard D-A converter such as a Berkeley or a dCS. In particular this approach when properly setup has the potential to produce rather stunning results with high resolution files. Couple that with the ability to listen to any musical selection instantly from any room makes this a very compelling proposition.
One thing in particular that this is ideal for is comparing different interpretations. For instance if you like Bach you might wish to compare three different pianists playing Goldberg Variation No. 16 in order to see how each artist treats it differently and to see what your preferences are! Or you could compare different vocalists singing "Stormy Weather"—which can be a fascinating and moving experience!
If you would like to pair an outboard D-A converter with a Music Server below are four options for your consideration:
Music Server Option #1 – A Music Server built by a Music Server company
In theory this is the best choice. But unfortunately most music servers don't sound as good as we would like them to. However after many years of auditioning various models from a variety of manufacturers, as of Fall 2014 we have finally found a music server that meets our standards. Baetis Audio makes several different models and these are now what we recommend.
Music Server Option #2 – A Custom-Built Windows Music Server
This approach used to offer the best sound quality as compared to what was available from the various music server companies. However the Baetis Audio music servers offer obvioiusly superior sound quality. That coupled with the fact that there isn't any really good support for this approach means that this is no longer the approach that we recommend taking.
Music Server Option #3 — A Mac-based Music Server
While we could never get a Mac computer to sound quite as good as Option #2, for the same reasons we no longer recommend this approach for both sound quality and suppport reasons. But if you wish to take this approach click here for more information.
Music Server Option #4 — Assemble a computer-based Music Server from component parts
If you are an experienced builder of computers and you wish to undertake building your own then you can click here for more information. However this is not an approach that we recommend as the sonic results aren't as good and there is no support.
If you would like to upgrade your present system with a music server and an outboard DAC, or build a completely new system around this approach, please call us at 781-893-9000 as we would be happy to discuss your individual requirements with you.
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