In thinking about how I listen to my music at work, I realized that just about any way you slice it the source components are my biggest issue. Most iPod's either are old and dont allow lots of flexibility for navigating easy (compared to the Touch or iPhone), or are limited in HDD space. Even with expensive doc's you still need lossless files which are large by nature.
So I thought in my head, why not just build a nice small powered HTPC that uses a touchscreen for your source. Pair that with a decent USB DAC to a headphone amp and you can have a very small stack of components capable of very good sound. Best part is you can scale up the HDD's as needed. Now I do realize I could just get a Squeezebox Touch and connect a HDD to it, but thats no fun
In looking at the market I know some folks would just add in a soundcard with a built in headphone amp and then just let the PC do all the work, but I know that separating out your components allows you the most flexibility to swap things in and out. That and a soundcard in a computer isnt the most ideal setting for ensuring you dont have any noise.
So I am embarking upon a little quest to build a nice small mini-itx computer. I decided upon the ATX Hudson platform because its a total CPU, GPU setup and in theory it can run HD video, but I dont need that. Its got a dual core CPU and uses DDR3 memory. I am not totally locked in on the platform so feel free to make some suggestions, but keep it mini itx or smaller.
Here is what I have so far for components:
ASRock E35LM1 - I like this because its got a small heatsink fan (which I would replace with a more quiet one) and has SPDIF out so I have more options later on for a DAC. Its also got support for 6 gig per second HDD for future use.
ASUS C60M1-I - I like this one because its passive, but I lose the SPDIF output so I would be stuck using USB DAC's unless I were to add a soundcard on using the PCI Express x 16
Crucial 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066
I will be reusing a 320 gig HDD I have currently for this project to save a buck or two.
SilenX LX-HDSS - I am not necessarily stuck on this particular one, but I will be incorporating one to cut down on any seeking noise as well as keep the HDD cool so I can keep any fans running low.
Cases: Here is where I am having trouble. I want to keep the cost low initially and later on get a good case with a good power-supply but for now I am trying to go cheap here. I need a 5.25 bay for the HDD cooler initially as well as the fact that having a 5.25 bay opens up the option later on of adding a burner to copy music direct to the device rather than having to transfer it. Here are the cases that currently meet my criteria
Thermaltake Element Q - I like this one as I know you can modify it to hold a 120mm fan which would provide more than adequate cooling at a v
IN WIN BP655.200BL
Most of these configurations come in at under 150 bucks not including shipping. For what I get out of it I dont think thats a bad idea.
Now the most expensive part will be the touchscreen and I am looking at some of the 7" options as I dont need it to be super big. Those seem to be almost as much as the actual system itself.
I will still need to acquire a Operating system and I haven't decided if I want to stick with the Windows OS and go Windows 7 or if I want to go more open source and go with XMBC. Both motherboards should be able to handle that with no problem, but I am not sure how the output will look over a USB touchscreen.
I am curious as to everyone's thoughts out there on just this aspect of it, building the computer based storage part.