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PC-less Music Server?


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Hallo to everybody,


I'm new to the forum, I'm Italian (so please forgive my language mistakes) and I hope to share with you a lot ok knowledge about Computer music!


I think that all of us know that is possible to build a music server without a PC.


There are several ways, from a simple Multimedi hard Disk connecte to an external DAC to a greately sophisticated multi disk NAS server.


I'll go in this direction though the following architecture and components


- NAS adapter (the linksys NSLU2, in my setup)

- Silent 3.5"/1 TB External Hard Disk

- Network Music Player that supports UpnP protocol and that is able to play 192khz/24bit FLAC files (eg. Olive Melody n.2)

- External DAC connected to the digital output of the Network Music Player (I'll use an RME Fireface 400).


The NAS, The Network player and the HD file system are linux based.


My question is:


Beside the setup aspects and the inner sond quality of the DAC (that should be not bad, by the way), may I expect a "reference" sound from such a "PC-Less" Music Network Player?






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Hi Antonio,


To clarify, your "PC-Less" simply means "Not running Windows" right?


From my experience with Windows vs Linux vs FreeBSD under same hardware, I found that FreeBSD sounds best while Linux is just slightly better than Windows. Probably because I was running foobar2000 v0.8.3 under Wine. Not sure that's a fair comparo.





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The performance of music playback depends on the quality of the digital output (AES or S/PDIF) of the music server, either PC or non-PC.


In addition, it mainly depends on the ability to minize jitter and the components inside the DAC, i.e. jitter reduction, power supply noise filtering, the analog output stage, etc.


It seems you already decided on your DAC - the RME Fireface 400 ? There are a number of quality DACs to choose. Some are more musical while some deliver monitor-typed sounds. I've auditioned a modded FF400 (heavily modified) and personally think my Metric Halo ULN-2 sounds more musical.


However, you don't use PC during playback, but you still need a PC to change settings of your FF400 any way.


Last but not least, don't forget about the effects of the digital cable.


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I already have the FF400 in my PRO setup, that's why I'm thinking about using it.

By the way, I also have (in my HIFI setup) a TACT 2.0 S AAA , which is a Digital Pre with A/D and D/A converters and with a software for digital room correction. This pre is full of digital input...

I can make some comparaison on which performs best. Both the DAC are 192khz/24bit capable. So, the two important things that I have to keep in mind are digital output quality of the Player and the jitter reduction capability of the DAC...

For the first thing I think that the Olive melody n.2 should be the best option...

Other tips?

Thanks for your reply.



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Well... PC-less means that neither a PC nor a MAC is running when the music is played;


Of course I need a PC or a MAC to rip/download/store the music files and to configure the NAS, but it is not necessary to play the music. SO, I do not need any "audiophile" o "silent" PC to do file management, and I can save good money to invest in the quality of other components (Music Player and DAC).


By the way, the NAS itself is a small Linux based PC. It has a small CPU and a Linux operating system inside. The good thing is that it costs only 80 euros...






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