Paul McGowan writes:
Music servers are little more than computers in fancy boxes. So, what’s stopping us from simply buying a computer, installing some software and building our own media server at far lower prices than what we might pay a high-end audio company?
Not too much, actually, but it turns out that won’t be as easy as you might expect—depending on your expectations.
When I put together my own music server, I posted a How To here. A few of you have actually followed those instructions with good success—others had their eye cross daunted by the thought of futzing with a computer for a week.
The necessary elements that make up a server are threefold: a music management program, playback software, controller. One of the simplest trios of server elements we’re likely to be familiar with is Apple’s iTunes. This free program makes it possible to serve, control, manage, and playback music on just about any computer platform. I can’t think of a decent mobile phone that doesn’t also have a server/player/controller built into it as well.
Those examples aside, few of us would consider using any of the aforementioned programs in our high-end audio setups. After all, the convenience and fun of scrolling through your library at the touch of a finger will never outweigh a loss of sound quality inherent in these low-end server solutions.
To make an effective high-end quality server one must appreciate the hardware challenges as well as the software hurdles. In the case of PS Audio’s upcoming server, the computer board inside the device is the least of our worries. Isolating that board and its noise from the purity of the digital audio stream is one hell of a major challenge relative to just throwing a USB cable into a Mac Mini and calling it high-end.
Still, careful execution of building a server can offer impressive results even with a little Windows NUC or an Apple Mac Mini.
If you’d like to learn more on the subject, watch THIS VIDEO.