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  1. #1

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    Default Recommend....Digital Media Server

    I'm looking for a solution to store about 200 CDs worth of music in an UNCOMPRESSED format so I can play them back on my home system. I've read people accomplishing this by turning a computer into such a server. However, I prefer not to have to power up a PC to play back the music.

    The system must have an interface where I can control the playlist without having a computer connected. Basically something like an iPOD for the home but without any form of compression. Then I would hook up the output of this device to an external DACs which then feeds a preamp.

    I'm browsing Crutchfield and it appears a product like the Escient FireBall MX-111 would be it. But such a device is pricey. Are there any other recommendations to get what I need? Can a PS3 be used? Thanks.
    Last edited by ivansfo; 11-06-2009 at 07:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    You could use an iPOD Classic ( with Apple Lossless files) Wadia transport combo.The Wadia extracts the digital data from the iPod which you would then connect to an outboard DAC. http://www.musicdirect.com/product/82178

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    I'm looking for a solution to store about 200 CDs worth of music in an UNCOMPRESSED format so I can play them back on my home system. I've read people accomplishing this by turning a computer into such a server. However, I prefer not to have to power up a PC to play back the music.

    The system must have an interface where I can control the playlist without having a computer connected. Basically something like an iPOD for the home but without any form of compression. Then I would hook up the output of this device to an external DACs which then feeds a preamp.

    I'm browsing Crutchfield and it appears a product like the Escient FireBall MX-111 would be it. But such a device is pricey. Are there any other recommendations to get what I need? Can a PS3 be used? Thanks.
    Yes, I would say that for what you want to do, a PS3 with an external HD attached would be ideal. PS3 won't do FLAC,(yet?) but it will do Apple lossless, and .wav files. You can rip into lossless, and it's truely that. It works like a .zip file, rather than an mp3, which degrades SQ.

    I have an HTPC that I leave on, and store all my music on a network drive in FLAC, using Media Monkey to serve them up via optical to a DAC. I couldn't be happier. I would use the PS3 for this, but as of now, it can't directly address a network drive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    You could use an iPOD Classic ( with Apple Lossless files) Wadia transport combo.The Wadia extracts the digital data from the iPod which you would then connect to an outboard DAC. http://www.musicdirect.com/product/82178
    Is Apple Lossless truely "lossless"? I've done researching on that it I'm reading that it may not be 100% lossless.

    Right now I use an 80GB iPOD classic storing my music ripped at 384k/bps. It's decent for use in the car and travel. But when I get home....I really want to hear the music uncompressed. And I don't want to go digging through my CDs every time I want a song. The Wadia transport looks pretty good but I will need a bigger iPOD too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LessisNevermore View Post
    Yes, I would say that for what you want to do, a PS3 with an external HD attached would be ideal. PS3 won't do FLAC,(yet?) but it will do Apple lossless, and .wav files. You can rip into lossless, and it's truely that. It works like a .zip file, rather than an mp3, which degrades SQ.
    I do like the idea of a PS3. Seems like a very popular choice these days that will allow me to play games and watch Blu-Ray too. However it isn't clear to me the interface needed to copy CD tracks into the PS3. Maybe the PS3 menu screen through a TV? Then for playback, I presume the PS3 would have a similar playback option like the iPOD where I can select songs by Artist, Title, Playlist, etc.... And again, use an interface on my TV? Copying to .wav file or equivalent is what I like.

    It would be great if Apple would build an iPOD like product with 500 GB of storage and have digital outputs like COAX or TOSLINK.
    Last edited by ivansfo; 11-06-2009 at 08:35 PM.

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    WD TV ($89) needs USB HDD, can support up to 2, does flac and just about everything else. I have mine connected to my PS Audio DAC over fiber and HDMI to TV for the GUI.

    http://www.wdtvlive.com/products/wdtv#/highlights

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    Is Apple Lossless truely "lossless"? I've done researching on that it I'm reading that it may not be 100% lossless.
    Yes, it is lossless. Why wouldn't it be? When sterophile reviewed the Wadia they compared uncompressed Apple lossless files to the uncompressed file and stated they were bit for bit identical.

    "Footnote 2: I recorded the bits coming from the Wadia's coaxial S/PDIF output to my lab PC via the digital input of an RME soundcard, with Wes's iPod Nano playing a losslessly compressed file. I then compared that recording with a WAV rip from the original CD. The files were bit-for-bit identical..."

    http://www.stereophile.com/budgetcom...wad/index.html


    I love my 120GB iPod Classic/Wadia combination. I started out with the Benchmark DAC1 and later upgraded to the Bryston DAC. I have classical music on the iPod and currently have 1800 "songs" in Apple Lossless. Since these are classical songs many are in the 10-20 minute range, and I still have 60GB of free space.

    Without a doubt, for me, this has been my best equipment purchase since it has really gotten back into listening to music. I just spent $100 at lunch buying more CDs to listen to tonight and over the weekend, and the ones that make the grade will be loaded onto the iPod.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    . . . is Apple Lossless truely "lossless"? . . .
    In another thread similar to this one, I asked a member who has iTunes but mostly used MM (Media Monkey) to rip to FLAC to compare . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by LessisNevermore View Post
    I used MM to rip a FLAC track at the highest compression setting (8), and iTunes' ALAC default (no option to change?).

    ALAC=18.2MB
    FLAC=17.8MB
    Although it is only one example, it looks like Apple Lossless (ALAC) keeps more data than FLAC?

    ##############

    Just last Saturday I hooked my laptop with iTunes to my system. I've been ripping CD's into iTunes using Apple Lossless and then doing A/B comparisons between iTunes from my laptop and my CD player. The soundstage is wider and deeper, and image more tightly focused from the CD player, but only by a small margin.

    I'm sure there are better solutions out there, but Apple Lossless trhough iTunes is very, very good.

    I will be following this thread closely as I too am looking for a media server solution to hold about 2,000 CD's which will equate to about 1-1/2 to 2 terabytes of lossless data files.
    Last edited by inspiredsports; 11-06-2009 at 09:16 PM.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    It would be great if Apple would build an iPOD like product with 500 GB of storage and have digital outputs like COAX or TOSLINK.
    Or anybody else build it. That is what I am waiting for, a 17" wide music server that sits on the shelf with the other equipment. It needs an LCD screen to display song playing, album art, and other data, along with a remote control, and SPDIF, coax, and optical outputs, along with an Ethernet connection for downloading. Instead of a hard drive it should use flash memory, or some other solid state emory, for quieter operation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    In another thread similar to this one, I asked a member who has iTunes but mostly used MM (Media Monkey) to rip to FLAC to compare . . .



    Although it is only one example, it looks like Apple Lossless (ALAC) keeps more data than FLAC.

    No, differant compression algorithims will have differant compressed sizes, but give back the original file when uncompressed. They both keep the same data, but one is more efficient in its compression.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    That is what I am waiting for, a 17" wide music server that sits on the shelf with the other equipment. It needs an LCD screen to display song playing, album art, and other data, along with a remote control, and SPDIF, coax, and optical outputs, along with an Ethernet connection for downloading. Instead of a hard drive it should use flash memory, or some other solid state emory, for quieter operation.
    Something like this. http://www.naim-audio.com/products/hdx.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    Is Apple Lossless truely "lossless"? I've done researching on that it I'm reading that it may not be 100% lossless.

    Right now I use an 80GB iPOD classic storing my music ripped at 384k/bps. It's decent for use in the car and travel. But when I get home....I really want to hear the music uncompressed. And I don't want to go digging through my CDs every time I want a song. The Wadia transport looks pretty good but I will need a bigger iPOD too.
    I coudn't find anything to support that ALAC isn't 100% lossless. Two important reasons IMO, to use a lossless format: 1, tagging. WAV doesn't support it, so you'll have to use FreeDB, or similar to read track info. 2, Size.

    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    I do like the idea of a PS3. Seems like a very popular choice these days that will allow me to play games and watch Blu-Ray too. However it isn't clear to me the interface needed to copy CD tracks into the PS3. Maybe the PS3 menu screen through a TV? Then for playback, I presume the PS3 would have a similar playback option like the iPOD where I can select songs by Artist, Title, Playlist, etc.... And again, use an interface on my TV? Copying to .wav file or equivalent is what I like.

    It would be great if Apple would build an iPOD like product with 500 GB of storage and have digital outputs like COAX or TOSLINK.
    I believe the only formats it will import directly, are WMA, AAC, and Sony's format. I would rip the cd's on a computer-to the external drive, then take the drive over to the PS3, plug it in, and go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    In another thread similar to this one, I asked a member who has iTunes but mostly used MM (Media Monkey) to rip to FLAC to compare . . .



    Although it is only one example, it looks like Apple Lossless (ALAC) keeps more data than FLAC.

    ##############

    Just last Saturday I hooked my laptop with iTunes to my system. I've been ripping CD's into iTunes using Apple Lossless and then doing A/B comparisons between iTunes from my laptop and my CD player. The soundstage is wider and deeper, and image more tightly focused from the CD player, but only by a small margin.

    I'm sure there are better solutions out there, but Apple Lossless trhough iTunes is very, very good.

    I will be following this thread closely as I too am looking for a media server solution to hold about 2,000 CD's which will equate to about 1-1/2 to 2 terabytes of lossless data files.
    No, FLAC's compression is slightly more efficient, that's all. (and non-proprietary) All the bits come back in both formats. I listened to both, and they are equals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    Damn. I have to quit reading your posts. Between the Bryston DAC and now this, they are costing me to much money. ;)

    I need to take a serious look, and research this device. After a quick look it looks like something to consider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    . . . that is what I am waiting for, a 17" wide music server that sits on the shelf with the other equipment . . .
    Great idea! You should patent it before someone else does. :) I never thought I would be intrigued by digital as I still listen to vinyl about 85% of the time, but I must say that a media server is in my future and I'll bet for many, many more with higher quality audio systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Damn. I have to quit reading your posts. Between the Bryston DAC and now this, they are costing me to much money. ;)

    I need to take a serious look, and research this device. After a quick look it looks like something to consider.
    LOT$$ to consider.....$9k

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Damn. I have to quit reading your posts. Between the Bryston DAC and now this, they are costing me to much money. ;)
    Hey I'm just handing you the needle,your pushing the plunger:D:D

    I need to take a serious look, and research this device. After a quick look it looks like something to consider.
    As Less points out it's spendy,but I suspect there will be a number of similar in concept but more economical units hit the market in the near future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LessisNevermore View Post
    LOT$$ to consider.....$9k
    Double yikes.

    Its for the early adopters. I need the 2nd generation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Damn. I have to quit reading your posts. Between the Bryston DAC and now this, they are costing me to much money. ;)

    I need to take a serious look, and research this device. After a quick look it looks like something to consider.
    Funny you mention the Bryston DAC because that's the exact piece I had my sights on. I just didn't know what to feed it. Now you've all given me a lot of ideas. That Naim is exactly what I want with the LCD displat and all but not at $6k!! Wow. Even at $1k it would be too expensive.

    I think switching to lossless on my current iPOD with the Wadia would be pretty sweet. The WD TV product looks great too at a lower cost. I'll research both ideas a bit more.

    Many thanks for all the replies.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    The WD TV product looks great too at a lower cost. I'll research both ideas a bit more.
    I don't see a digital output on the WD unit so you would be resigned to it's internal D-A and analog stages.While it looks interesting and an economical choice I would think it would comprimised as far as sound quality is concerned and a far cry below the potential of the iPOD/Wadia/BDA1 combo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    I don't see a digital output on the WD unit so you would be resigned to it's internal D-A and analog stages.While it looks interesting and an economical choice I would think it would comprimised as far as sound quality is concerned and a far cry below the potential of the iPOD/Wadia/BDA1 combo.
    Thanks GV. Then the WD is off the list.
    Reripping my CDs now from 320K/bps to the Apple Lossless. Hope it all will fit on my 80GB iPOD. If not looks like the new 160GB version for sale is cheaper than what I paid for my 5th gen version. ARgg... Will start shopping for a Wadia too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivansfo View Post
    Will start shopping for a Wadia too.
    Everywhere I have looked, except used, the Wadia is $379. Unfortunately, while the stock Wadia sounds great, like everything else in this addiction, there is room for improvement.

    The two things I have done to the Wadia have both made a postive audible improvement. They are upgrading the stock SPDIF cable, and the external power supply.

    While there are countless cables to buy, I have only seen one power supply. The power supply I bought is the CIAUDIO, and the digital IC is a Mapleshade. The benefit to these upgrades is they made the sound so much better. The drawback is they turned a $379 product into a $1000 product. C'est la vie.

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    For what it's worth, I'm a big Apple computer user. My server is a souped up (larger, faster, hard drive, maxed out in RAM) Macmini. I love the thing. It's small and compact is very peppy. I is my itunes library and I also enjoy watching movies with it. I've got it connected to my 52" Sammy display and it looks gorgeous. Front row is really pretty. To make things even more fun I use my Itouch as a remote control for all of my tunes-way cool. I also have the Wadia/Ipod, PS Audio DAC, combo in another room and that sounds fantastic. The only thing I miss with that you can only shuffle music or play a playlist. To choose a specific tune you have to do it manually with the ipod docked, which is a pain. Suppose I've become spoiled using the Itouch as a remote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    I don't see a digital output on the WD unit so you would be resigned to it's internal D-A and analog stages.While it looks interesting and an economical choice I would think it would comprimised as far as sound quality is concerned and a far cry below the potential of the iPOD/Wadia/BDA1 combo.
    WD TV has toslink, that is digital.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thsmith View Post
    WD TV has toslink, that is digital.
    Thanks I'm aware Toslink is Digital,but looking at the pic I didn't see one.I looked again and it's hard to tell for sure but that could be a Optical port beside the yellow RCA video out?Ofcourse it does have HDMI but that won't help him with his 2 ch DAC.

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    Yes, the WD TV does have toslink. I use it with great success. I second thsmith on this one. I have the WD TV with two 2TB hard drives hooked up. It pretty much plays everything you throw at it from my experience:) I use it primarily for movies, but it can handle the music end to. I use the PS3 for music. I have a 500 gig hard drive in it, so it's got plenty of room for the tunes. The WD TV handles my movies. You need A LOT of space if you are going to do movies uncompressed. You can get around 425 movies on a 2TB drive give or take.. I hope this helps:)
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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    Thanks I'm aware Toslink is Digital,but looking at the pic I didn't see one.I looked again and it's hard to tell for sure but that could be a Optical port beside the yellow RCA video out?Ofcourse it does have HDMI but that won't help him with his 2 ch DAC.
    Like I said up top I have mine connected to my PS Audio DAC III and it works great. THe only problem I have is I have to put the WD TV on a 12v trigger because even when it is off the laser is still hot and my DAC never powers off. Most componetnts with Optical behave the same way, easy fix.

    I rip DVDs to it instead of putting then on DVD-Rs. For the cost and what it is it does great. The OP wanted something that does not connect to his PC.

    I use a portable 500g HDD that is USB powered eleminating a wall wort.

    WD TV is not the end all to be all but for me it works great.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thsmith View Post
    Like I said up top I have mine connected to my PS Audio DAC III and it works great.
    Ooops,sorry I missed that part:o And my comment regarding compromised SQ was if it's internal D-A and analog sections were used.I would think having the ability to send the data to an outboard DAC like your PS Audio would prove a signifcant upgrade,and make it a much more attractive device.Especially so considering it's budget price.
    Last edited by GV#27; 11-07-2009 at 05:01 PM.

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    The talk of WD TV got me looking around for similar devices.

    Anybody have an Apple TV? There's a 160GB version and it and that thing has a TOSLINK port.

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    Default Re Media Server: iPod Apple Lossless etc

    If you want TOTALLY UNCOMPRESSED music for your iPod you can burn your music as AIFF (this is Apple's totally uncompressed format). But frankly I've never found anyone able to hear the difference (have tested on quite a few audiosnobs er...philes).

    PS: Until someone comes up with as seemless a way to create personalized playlist and sync music. I'll probably stick with iPod as my main music server.
    I'm also pretty addicted to using my laptop with Airport Express but I doubt the audio quality would be as good as the Wadia's.
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