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Long Question, Short answer?

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Ok bear with me this could be a bit long winded


Current Main Music Setup

Shanling CDT100C---SPDIF (coax)---Musical fidelity Tri-Vista DAC---Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista Amp---Anthony Gallo ReferenceII---Air---Ears


Other stuff that may or may not be relevant

Windows PC, Dual core with around 400GB of spare HDD space, networked to router with CAT5

230GB NAS storage on CAT5 to router (currently used for backups, located in garage so if house is burgled or burnt down I still have my stuff)

Shuttle PC AMD64 3000Mhz, Windows, 200GB of spare HDD.

I am considering swapping this for the NAS in Garage as I have a plan to mount wireless security cameras on front, rear and inside garage.Then use Shuttle as digital video recorder as well as sending backups to it.

Most rooms have CAT5 cables waiting under the floor ready for connection (unfortunately not in the room with the main listening system)

Router is Draft 802.11n with decent signal throughout the house

An IPAQ PDA with wireless card.


OK Now to what I want to achieve how I intend to achieve it.

The main music system is next door to the study with my main PC so I could use this PC as a music server running a long USB cable to a USB to SPDIF converter (USB Off-Ramp Turbo 2) direct to the DAC. Control would be with relevant software on PDA.


The negatives

The PC is windows,

I would have to power it up every time I wanted to listen to music.

Some taking up of floorboards would be required to run the USB cable


The positives:

The only expense incurred would be the USB to SPDIF converter.




Or I could purchase a MiniMac and a USB to SPDIF converter, place the MiniMac where the CD transport currently sits. Sound files would be stored on the aforementioned shuttle PC in the garage delivered to MiniMac wirelessly. Control would be with relevant software on PDA.


The Negatives

Cost of MiniMac (probably offset by sale of Shanling CD)

Shuttle has only one drive bay and I would have to upgrade the HDD, or convert its CD bay to take an additional HDD

Shuttle could be performing recording from cameras at same time as I am listening to Music.


The positives

Mac so no hassle with USB

Shuttle PC would be on 24/7 as a DVR so always available as a file store

No additional wiring required.


Ok following me so far……good because this is where I will start complicating things. I would eventually like to have access to my music files in all rooms. The kitchen, bathroom, dining room and bedrooms do not need to be of Audiophile quality so I may get away with an Airport Express and cheap DAC in each room. (How bad is the jitter?) The living room will probably get a 5.1 amp/DAC and some decent speakers (possibly Anthony Gallo again). Therefore an Airport Express will fall short of the mark, but I am stuck as to how to supply a quality data stream to this room without having yet another MiniMac or similar.


All this will happen over time starting with the main music room, what I do not want to do is wrong foot myself at the start and find run in to loads of trouble (expense) as I move on to other rooms.

I appreciate that having the shuttle PC in the garage as both a DVR and file store is not ideal, but I am trying not to have the carbon footprint of a 3rd world country.


Well I think that just about covers it.


I look forward to your comments/suggestions





Are all audiophiles obsessive compulsives or is this just a Stereo Type? Yorkshire UK

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Hey Thunktank - Wow that was quite the description! At least you know what you want which is half the battle for many people.


I think I followed the whole story above, but we may need to start a conversation back and forth here to get to all your questions or to discuss all the options. It sounds like you probably have some good ideas for others around here as well.


In the long run I am certain a Mac is the way to go. I would probably get a MacBook if this is going to be your main music server long term and push music out to Airport Express units etc... I may just be a little more convenient to have the monitor connected. It's certainly up to you though. The airport express is by no means an audiophile component by itself, but it will work great in the situations you described. For your better system, living room?, you could always use the Airport Express but send the music into a reclocker like the Pace Car from Empirical Audio. You could also think about using an AppleTV as it has an optical out, but I don't consider this to be very "audiophile" either.


On the other hand you could start very small with only one piece of gear that you'll be able to use down the road. Like the Off Ramp you mentioned. Definitely not a bad component to have in your system.


I think you may have to steer this conversation a little bit at a time. I will surely work with you to come up with a great plan. I think you know what you are doing for the most part so we should be able to get there without too much pain.


Thanks for the detailed post!


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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As I live in an audiophile wasteland auditioning new gear can be very difficult, I would imagine trying to find a USB DAC to audition would be near impossible. This and the fact that my existing DAC can cope with 8 to 108kHz 16,20,24 bit word, (sounds great as well) has persuaded me to keep the existing DAC and use a USB to SPDIF converter.


I will consider a MacBook as it probably would be more convenient for the listening room, I was just going to go headless with the PDA as a remote and use my PC for wireless terminal sessions when more tinkering was required (Tinkering=laymans term for F***ing about).


I had considered the Pace Car but considering the price I may as well just use another Mac. This will require more research as an when I get round to kitting out the living room, but a Mac or PC would give me a media centre (Cable TV card for HDD recording, Blueray etc) and still allow me to send bit perfect data to a DAC or 5.1 DAC combo.


I suggested the "Off Ramp" as it is the only device I have found that can cope with 24/96 and has a number of good reviews under it's belt. Of course I would be happier if I could find something with a similar reputation but lower price tag, suggestions for alternatives more than welcome. This has to be the first puchase as I can go no futher without it. After that I can borrow a laptop just to test things out before I committ to any more outlaying of cash.


My only concern at the moment is can the Shuttle PC I am proposing to use as a DVR recorder and file server cope with the demands of recording from security cameras as well as delivering music files at the same time. As I said in my opening post I like this Idea because this PC will be on 24/7 in order to monitor the cameras it may as well be the main data store for media files as well. I may as well just try it, as it will cost nothing more than time to test the idea. More Tinkering ;-)


I had considered an Apple TV but I am not a fan of optical (Toslink) based on the results of trying both on my existing DAC. Though to be fair I was comparing an expensive SPDIF to a cheap TOSLINK.


As soon as I have selected and purchased a USB SPDIF i will be in a better position to make the other descisions.







Are all audiophiles obsessive compulsives or is this just a Stereo Type? Yorkshire UK

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