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Advise on Conceptual Design

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I have been monitoring this site for some time but have not posted in a long time. I have developed a conceptual design for a music server and am soliciting advise. My objective is to improve the visual interface with the CD collection which is currently in a Sony 300 disc player. The problem with the present setup is you have to refer to a notebook of the CD covers to determine which CD to play. So, in addition to improving the quality of the playback, a major objective is the visual interface and ease in preparing playlists, etc.


Although I am pro-mac, my recent experience is with PC's because of software considerations, particularly at work. I have an older Dell machine attached to the internet using a Apple Extreme router. I plan to attach a large external HD to the router and limit storage to i-tunes ripped with AIFF lossless. The router is hardwired using ethernet powerline and it works great with a print server, 2 HD Tivo's and a blueray OPPO. I have it wired to attach an AppleTv in the AV rack running to a Denon AVR 4306. I am considering adding a DAC between the AppleTV and the Denon using Optical Digital (the USB out on the AppleTv isn't usable unless hacked and not sure it would output audio even if hacked). I considered a Mac Mini but I am influence by the HDMI interface and the ease of use in favor of the AppleTv. I am not one who wants to spend time tinkering with a computer which seems to be required to get a Mac Min to work in a home theater environment. I plan to control the i-tunes using an RTI remote system which can learn the AppleTV remote codes. I am favorably impressed with the AppleTv visual interface which, I understand, is a modified version of the Frontrow from the Mac Mini.


The AppleTv will be in a home theater environment not a listening room. The objective is to improve the audio experience by being able to make music selections on the TV screen with improvement of the audio quality not being the most important consideration.



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Sounds like you're all set except for a DAC, and glass Toslink cable.

I have an Apple TV, and if you like the interface, you need look no further.


Current generation of Apple TV is limited to native playback of regular CDs at 16bit / 44.1khz files (aka Redbook CD). Hiresolution files (24 bit with sample rates of 88.1kHz to 192 kHz) could be played but would be downsampled first, thereby theoretically losing some of the benefits of the higher resolution used in recording, which you may or not notice.


While not a genius when it comes to digital audio, Steven Stone reported in TAS that the Apple TV was an exceptional sounding digital audio playback device. It should be more than adequate for your needs.


What's your budget for a DAC?








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I guess the site was relatively new when I first signed up. It has grown but still seems to be one of the more civil and helpful sites around. I was thinking of a budget for a DAC to be up to $500. I have seen good things printed about the Cambridge DAC Magic and the Bereford TC 75 which are in the price range.



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your conceptual design is fine.


with respect to DACs, you need one with Toslink, but I'd also recommend that you pick one with a good USB input as well, as you may well want to use the DAC in other circumstances in the future. Unless you have a CD transport now (or plan to buy one), you won't likely need S/PDIF (aka coax) or AES/EBU inputs.


You won't get top of the line USB (Async or CEntrace-based) performance at that price, but do look for something with a decent USB pedigree, if possible.


There were reports (in Stereophile testing) that the DAC Magic has rather poor USB performance, even for this price range. Cambridge responded that the poor performance was likely related to mains use by the laptop being tested, or something similar, as I recall.


I'd put the Musical Fidelity V-DAC on your shortlist.


don't forget to have fun with your search. :)






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