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OK, I'm really green here but I need some advice!


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Well I've been into this Itunes thing lately and have been recording all of my CDs onto my PC.

Thing is, I would eventually like to use a USB Dac to play the music through my high end home stereo.

I really like the look of the Ayre Dac, Bryston Dac and maybe just for starters the Firestone USB Dac.

Now with this in mind I DONT really want my PC on all the time to make this work but was wondering if any of those "media player" boxes would work as a possible GUI, provided they have USB out on them. The Western Digital WD TV comes to mind or something similar. Would this not be so much easier than running a PC? They will playback AIFF files will they not? I don't really know the in's and outs of PC audio (even though I've been lurking here for a while). It seems that it's just data that needs to be sent to a USB port but maybe I'm waaayyyy off target here.

If somebody could enlighten me in this dept. it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

 

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Welcome to CA. If you have a DAC that can pull content directly from a NAS drive then you don't need a computer to be an intermediary. If you have a DAC that requires a USB or Firewire interface then, by definition you need a computer to manage the transfer of content from a drive to the DAC, but said computer only needs to be on when you want to listen to music of course.

 

Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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You may find the Apple TV is the device you need: it will sync (upto 160gb of) your iTunes library to it's local hard drive (more if you are willing to do a bit of hacking) so it can access this while your computer is turned off. The Apple TV can then be connected to a DAC via TOSLink SPDIF.

 

The rest of your music is available via streaming when you have the computer turned on.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The WDTV interface is fine to pick a movie you will watch for 2 hours but would get really old, really fast trying to play music - a total non starter in my mind.

 

In addition, you have to leave it on all of the time to get it to work - it goes into some sort of sleep mode when you "turn it off" with the remote BUT it is till generating heat, etc and is thus is not really turned off. If you unplug it, the device reboots and reexamines the drives for content - very time consuming. You must have a monitor to select music (possibly a TV) and thus are consuming lots of power.

 

Use your PC would be my vote and put it to sleep between listening sessions.

 

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I'm with you about creating a single-source digital audio system that doesn't require some kind of computer/server to power on and boot up. I really think the NAS doubling as a media server is going to be an increasingly popular way to achieve this. Hardcore audiophiles will probably always want a dedicated music server, but many others are willing to sacrifice the Nth degree of sound reproduction for a more practical and cost-effective way to store/play digitized music. A good NAS is a true multi-tasker: it can also be a backup destination, FTP server, and file sharer. An awful lot of computer users could use one or more of those functions. Also, most NASes can be left on in a low-power state.

 

 

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Does a NAS system not require a computer as an interface?

 

I do see the squeezebox idea here and that seems pretty nice, but does it work with ITUNES?

I'm suprised Apple doesn't make a stand alone unit with digital or USB outputs. I realise that the IPOD is this idea but not really a desktop device so to speak.

 

Thanks to all of those who offered advice. This will be an interesting road indeed.

 

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"Does a NAS system not require a computer as an interface?"

 

No.

 

If you read the PS Audio newsletter, you'll see that the PWD/Bridge combo doesn't even need a NAS. It will work with

an inexpensive UPnP router with USB share

 

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However it's pretty expensive, not much more than the Ayre though. I can see the potential here and that more and more companies will be making server units. Olive is another great example as is the new Bryston unit (definately tempting)

I think for now I'll just get myself a quiet PC or Mac Mini and go that route. I've listened to an Ayre system with a PC front end, IPod Touch for remote and the USB DAC. Seems pretty easy.

I don't know if it works that well but some PC's can be set up to "wake on USB" if thats the case then maybe it would work well to set it up this way. The pC can rest in "sleep" mode until activated.

Too much fun!

 

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"Does a NAS system not require a computer as an interface?"

 

No and yes...

 

As kana commented about, you don't need a computer as the interface, and a router supporting UPnP AV and USB drive will work, however how well that setup works is not yet known as (AFAIK) the Bridge is not yet available. Going on the Linn system though a high quality NAS IS beneficial to ensuring a UPnP AV system works reliably and well.

 

You will also need some form of "computer" device to be able to easily choose tracks. The Bridge may have some front pannel controls, but scrolling through a list of even a 100 artists would not be pleasent on a 1-3 line display. You will also need a computer to extract the music from your CDs in the first place.

 

For more complete description of how UPnP works and how different parts of the system relate to each other, take a look at Chris' review of the Linn DS-i from a few weeks ago.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Just to wet my appetite for trying this out, I'm giving the Firestone usb a try. For the money I don't think I can go wrong, and it will help me learn a bit about this new tech (new to me that is!). I'm pretty excited actually and I'm thinking of purchasing a Mac MINI or building a small form factor PC to operate the GUI. It should be easy enough. Maybe even a touch screen monitor to mount next to my stereo.

Thank's for everyones input here. I'm sure I'll need more help along the way and it's very nice to see this website.

Cheers everyone!

 

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