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Build or Buy?


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I am currently using a Toshiba laptop running JRiver hooked up to a Peachtree Nova Pre with an Audioquest USB cable. The laptop is accessing my music library wirelessly from a WD MyCloud 2TB on my network.

I would like to build or buy something that I can leave hooked up to my 2 channel stereo system using the USB input of the Nova Pre. This would be for MUSIC ONLY. No monitor when everything is set up. The JRiver ID looks interesting, but if I can build something better for less money, that would be perfect.

I am new to this, so any help (or links to help) would be apreciated.

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If you are comfortable with building a PC you can put together a "CAPS style" server for about half of what it costs to purchase one made. Be sure to add in the cost of the OS when figuring out the expense.

 

CAPS + Windows Server 2012 + Audiophile Optimizer will give you a true high-end front end...


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You can also easily build a "JRiver Id" from the motherboard and a fanless case for the same price which is a good solution. In that case you can customize how much ram, sdd, etc. to put in it. I bought a NUC and Akasa case for it and it has been a great server.

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You can also easily build a "JRiver Id" from the motherboard and a fanless case for the same price which is a good solution. In that case you can customize how much ram, sdd, etc. to put in it. I bought a NUC and Akasa case for it and it has been a great server.

 

Can I do it for less than $295? That is what the introductory price of the JRiver ID is right now.

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The NUC kit that is used for the id without any ram, SSD or software is running about $140. So depends on whether you can provision it with those for less. The difference if you go with the kit is that you can get the motherboard only and get a fanless case which the id does not have and also can specify ram and SSD accordingly. So think about it as a tuned or custom NUC versus an off the shelf one.

 

Depending on what you want out of this and the effort you are interested in putting in the id is a good option but could easily be made into a better option with some other choices. The actual cost is a slippery slope as there are always those little upgrades you can make and you will always find something cheaper after you have bought it.

 

I built a NUC and am very happy with it. I ended up getting all my parts from Logic Supply (i5 NUC motherboard, 8mb ram and 60gb SSD). I chose them because they were reputable, had reasonable prices and I could get everything in one place at one time. I got the case directly from Akasa as it was a new item at the time. I got a Windows 8 license as a door prize at a Microsoft event at a Microsoft store. I already had a license for JRiver. If I did it again I would get a larger SSD probably 128gb as I am bumping up against a full SSD with minimal software installed.

 

If you want to go for a slightly more complicated build you could go for a CAPs server. They have their own advantages as well. As I said slippery slope of upgrades...

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The NUC kit that is used for the id without any ram, SSD or software is running about $140. So depends on whether you can provision it with those for less. The difference if you go with the kit is that you can get the motherboard only and get a fanless case which the id does not have and also can specify ram and SSD accordingly. So think about it as a tuned or custom NUC versus an off the shelf one.

 

Depending on what you want out of this and the effort you are interested in putting in the id is a good option but could easily be made into a better option with some other choices. The actual cost is a slippery slope as there are always those little upgrades you can make and you will always find something cheaper after you have bought it.

 

I built a NUC and am very happy with it. I ended up getting all my parts from Logic Supply (i5 NUC motherboard, 8mb ram and 60gb SSD). I chose them because they were reputable, had reasonable prices and I could get everything in one place at one time. I got the case directly from Akasa as it was a new item at the time. I got a Windows 8 license as a door prize at a Microsoft event at a Microsoft store. I already had a license for JRiver. If I did it again I would get a larger SSD probably 128gb as I am bumping up against a full SSD with minimal software installed.

 

If you want to go for a slightly more complicated build you could go for a CAPs server. They have their own advantages as well. As I said slippery slope of upgrades...

 

That is great information. Thank you. A few more questions...

 

I've noticed that Linux (which the JRiver ID uses) is ALOT cheaper than Windows 8. I have never used Linux before. So, should I stick with Windows because I am more familiar with it even though it is much more expensive?

Will I be able to run Spotify or Google Play Music on the Jrive ID if I go that direction?

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That doesn't seem to have an SSD.

 

These don't have an SSD which means there is a spinning hard drive. Moving parts are sources of extraneous sound both electrical and mechanical which are not good for music. Also I am assuming that this will have a fan which also adds noise to the system.

 

There are two main reasons (lots more but I will deal with two) for going with a NUC or CAPS server. The idea with a music server is to minimize or even eliminate any mechanical parts as anything that moves makes noise. Thus the push towards fanless cases, SSD drives, etc. are about making the system solid state. The other things is to make the system as simple as possible to achieve what you want because anything else adds potential electrical noise and also will cause the computer to be doing other things that may detract from the sound quality. A NUC is step towards this and the CAPS server designs takes this even further and if you have the interest there are options which even go further than that. For me the NUC was a big step in the right direction with reasonable compromises in cost, simplicity versus a CAPS server.

 

With respect to operating systems there are a lot of opinions out there. Yes, Linux is cheap (as in free) but it will require more fiddling and cobbling of things together to get the best result. The current feeling of the best way to go is to use Windows server in a very stripped down mode which also requires a lot of fiddling and cost as it is not cheap to purchase it. Mac OSX, of course, has its fans but that means Apple hardware which has pros and cons to it. Windows is something that most of us are familiar with, is reasonably priced (you may already have a license for it) and provides a excellent solution with minimal fiddling. So from my perspective it provides the best value all things considered for me.

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The current feeling of the best way to go is to use Windows server in a very stripped down mode which also requires a lot of fiddling and cost as it is not cheap to purchase it.

Using Windows Server is not something I would ever recommend. Stock Win7 or Win8 are perfectly fine for audio or video.

Jim Hillegass / JRiver Media Center / jriver.com

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Using Windows Server is not something I would ever recommend. Stock Win7 or Win8 are perfectly fine for audio or video.

 

I agree fully with you. I am not recommending it either but it is an option and there is a contingent out there that believes that this is the best sound quality solution from an off the shelf operating system. Needs a lot of tweaks to optimize it though. Basically shutting down all unnecessary services and running it as stripped down as possible.

 

The point I am trying to make is that there are a lot of options out there and they all have pros and cons. Ultimately, each individual has to decide where their comfort level lies. For me, and I suspect a lot of others out there, Windows is what is best for us and I would recommend that for the vast majority of people.

 

However; if someone was very IT savvy and was fanatical about wringing every last bit of audio performance out an off the shelf operating system, I would probably suggest Windows Server.

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Just going to play with one of these tonight with the same intent.

 

That doesn't seem to have an SSD.

 

But it seems to work well. Preliminary audition is promising and no problems with up to 5.1 channels at 24/192 with the available equipment.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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But it seems to work well. Preliminary audition is promising and no problems with up to 5.1 channels at 24/192 with the available equipment.

 

I also noticed that it supports 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi ...

Custom Win10 Transport | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB | Lampizator Amber | Acoustic Portrait Thiyaga | ATC SCM20 PSL

 

 

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