@bobfa I just love your blog and think that what you’re doing is wonderful for this hobby.
For those of us that might not be as technically versed as most on this site, IMHO, simplifying the whole process is sorely needed and can only benefit the customer and the industry. I struggled for years to figure this all out and while I’ve made my purchasing decisions (and am happy with my choices), I’m still not an expert by any means. I honestly believe that I only persisted due to my love of music and sound quality, while most in my camp would have given up long ago.
@boffore I wish you luck and courage to continue with your pursuit of your audio nirvana... it can be a fun journey, please be patient.
IMHO, this is how you should proceed for a simple system that doesn’t involve a conventional computer. But please, take everyone’s advice and try to make the best decision for yourself.
*Try to get a wired Ethernet connection into your music room for best results.
*Get a music server that’s has an internal SSD for your ripped files (e.g., Small Green Computer i5, about $1k, or Salk Streamer III, like I have, or if your budget allows, something like the Innous Zen Mk3 line of servers. Then run the Ethernet connection to it. If your ripped files are also available on your subscriptions to Tidal/Quobuz, then you can skip the internal storage. I rarely listen to my own old stuff anymore, and most of it is available via Tidal anyway. There is just so much new (and old, but new to me) music to explore and enjoy.
* invest In Roon, for what you’re doing music wise, it sounds like a no-brainer... you’ll love it for your music discovery... all from your iPad. Only $119.00 a year. Look for a server that has Roon Core installed (Roon Ready). It HAS to be a SERVER for the Roon Core though.
* If you’re looking at wireless speakers, you can skip the DAC/Amp search and go WiFi via your router to the active speakers like many have suggested. There are soooo many choices. Some nice ones have already been posted.
* For a purest audiophile approach, without any potential WiFi issues, run the server via USB to a DAC, like a Schitt, Mytek, (I went with a Benchmark DAC3), or one of the many dozens more, all at different price points.
*Then it’s either balanced or regular RCA cables (Bluejeans, monster, or what ever you want to spend) to an amplifier. Also numerous to choose from ( I went with the matching Benchmark AHB2). Also many choices.
Then it’s the best speaker you can afford, (I own Salk Encores), but again, many many choices. Conveniently wired via a quality speaker cable.
*Consider used equipment... many audiophiles like to upgrade. Yes, it’s a risk, but most rarely get burned when purchasing used equipment.
Again, best of luck in your pursuit, don’t be shy to ask questions.