My 18 year old son and I went to the local HiFi dealer last December and discovered that there is no reason to play a CD in 2011. When the local Audio Research, McIntosh, Watt Puppy dealer is playing music from a Mac Pro notebook it is time to listen up! I am as old school, puriest as anyone and a natual skepic of digital anything. I talked with audio pros around the country, everyone at CES 2011 was thinking digital to analog. Vinyl is great, expensive and it's not quick and clean. So, after weeks of detailed research I have taken my 20 year old stuff to the shed. The new "music server" is simply rediculious sounding. My CD collection never sounded so dynamic. Here is what I put together as a system:
On the front-end, I have a Apple mini Mac very quiet)and a seperate 2-TB Western Digital running itunes. Some people recommend Media Monkey. The key to this digital content business is Loss-less, CD quality files or better. MP3 and compressed files are for pocket players. On the advice of a west coast expert, I burned all my CDs on the dedicated hard drive in AIFF format (no compression). So the music files are on a hard dive and all the flexability of the software, genres, artist, albums and mixes make selecting music much easier than CD's. If you have an iphone a free app allows you to use it as your remote! I am not an Apple fan, but this is a no brainer for $400 if you buy a used mini mac. The digital part is a bargin compared to the analog...
I connected the optical output on the mini Mac (toslink) to a new Rega DAC. The Dac is connecet via RCA's to the Dynaco ST-120 amp and the speakers are DIY http://www.zaphaudio.com/ZRT.html and out comes the juice.
I play my system more than ever because it is easy to mix music and access. I also listen to the digital internet radio (iTunes) from around the world. There are great stations of all interest and they are all free to the pubic.
Sometimes it takes listening to the kids to keep advancing.... Anyone want to buy an old Rotel CD player?