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Setting up a wired media server

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Let me start this post by saying that I am not very knowledgeable about computer setups but I love the flexibility and accessibility a computer allows in accessing my music. I have a windows 7 laptop with about 1100 CD's burned in iTunes using apple lossless. I have been streaming through an airport express for the last couple of years with pretty good results but over the last several months I have been experiencing frequent dropouts while listening and I have been unable to find the cause. I have decided to try a wired approach but don't know where to start.


My current laptop is about 4 years old and internal memory is maxed out. I like the idea of a Mac mini as it would be small and unobtrusive in the room but going from windows to mac may present issues I am unaware of


What are my best options in the under $1000, and I would prefer to be way under that, range that would allow for good sounding and dependable playback?


I don't currently download music and have no plans at this point to do so. I like having a physical copy of my music purchases.

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One free and quick thing to try before buying new equipment.


Over time you often do not realize all the crap that was loaded and is running in the background which might be causing the stuttering as it is constantly checking the net and stealing cpu time and memory. Also check if you have enough free harddrive space, as this will cause issues too. At least 10gb free.


Try a freeware called CCleaner to delete the crap built up over time which is just hogging space. Then use it to check which programs are set to start at boot. Just disable them all. You can always enable them again later. Reboot.


In Task Manager check what is still running and kill anything not needed for your listening session. Try your music again.

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Thanks. I'll give that a shot before trying anything else. I really think it may be a network issue as the dropouts occur more often when everyone is home and the kids are online. I have tried resetting the modem, computer, airport express, and changed out the cable

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Seeing as you have a laptop which is portable, it would seem like the first thing to do would be to take laptop to your system and simply use either an optical or 1/8" to dual RCA cable straight into your amp or dac and see for yourself how it sounds. You can control the laptop and iTunes with Remote app on iPhone or iPad.


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Not 100% clear of what the question actually is, but here's an answer from my understanding of the question. BTW, I think the suggestion above is indeed what you should do first.


For a wired setup you need a DAC sitting by the preamp, with a USB to SPDIF converter sitting by the DAC (should you decide to use one), the mac mini sitting close to them (to avoid a long USB cable). Music would be stored on a HDD inside or sitting by the mini. And I would control the mini through an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch.


Please note I use PCs and an iPad, so not fully familiar with macs, but active wi-fi at the computer generally degrades the sound, so deactivating wifi and using instead a LAN cable to a wifi bridge tends to be better.


Dedicating the mini to server use only will also yield improved sound. Then there are very many improvements that can be done to the mini, upfront or over time. A linear power supply to replace the existing one, a SSD for the OS and a separate drive for the music, clean power to the OS SSD, etc. On a PC an audiophile USB card would be one of the first upgrades, but don't know if this can be done on a mini.


Oh, and software! People using macs report very good results with Audionirvana+.


So the physical setup is pretty simple, and you increase complexity as you choose to refine it.


Let us know if I completely misunderstood your question! :-)



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