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Need to spend money, Help!


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I need somebody to lay it down so I can pick it up. I am set on speakers and amps. I need to replace what I used to call the front-end. Traditionally I had a transport / DAC setup. Time to move on. I have a PC with XP. First, what program is best to rip and store?? I-tunes, windows media ect. Second, what format should I use for best sound quality? I don't care about space or speed. Third, do I need a sound card or does the DAC do all that is necessary? if so which one? What is the connection to the DAC? USB? Fourth, which DAC for about $1k should I get? Can anything be used for 2 different rooms? From the DAC I assume regular audio. I know some DAC's don't require a pre-amp, but I can figure which is best. Thanks for the help I'm almost lost.

My impressions from reading all the different posts is that a sound card doesn't matter if you run USB to a DAC. Media monkey seems to be well though of for the PC instead of using windows media player ( not sure why)? Can I just use a squeezebox to distribute the data to a DAC if if that's the case how 'bout the Transporter? There are way too many options for me to decipher without making a costly mistake. I don't understand all the file types available, but it seems as FLAC is lossless and slightly compressed. Why wouldn't I choose this as the format of choice? Just a few thoughts feel free to straighten me out with my errant ways. The DAC's that make sense seem to be the Transporter or the Benchmark? How close is the Cambridge for the second system?


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