Sonic advantages of a music server over a laptop?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Bachtoven, Jun 26, 2022.

  1. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    For those of you who switched from a laptop connected to an external DAC to a dedicated music server, did you hear any audible improvements? I’m considering an Aurender N150, but it’s $3200, then I’d need an internal hard drive for file storage (a 4TB SSD is about $320), then I’d need a router extender since the Aurender is not wireless, so another $150 or so. Altogether that’s a chunk of change, and I’d hope for some level of improvement.
     
    bluemooze, Bingo Bongo and Kjasonl like this.
  2. George Blair

    George Blair Senior Member

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I found loading files onto a dedicated Mac mini into a good DAC is really all you need. Unless you plan to use streaming rather than native files, it'll do the job for way less $$.
     
  3. smith6552

    smith6552 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago-ish
    If you're nervous about the cost of the Aurender you could always try a Bluesound Node first. I have one and it's honestly the first time my ripped cds sounded as good as the cds themselves. Plus, it fits right into your system, is out of sight and is easily controlled from the app on your phone/ipad. I don't have the Aurender but I'm sure it would sound even sweeter than my Bluesound.
     
    jonwoody, Vintage Luxman and Kjasonl like this.
  4. CatManDude

    CatManDude Forum Revenant

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    I'm using a mini PC running JRiver Media Server through a Schiit Modius DAC and I think it sounds fantastic. CD's ripped to FLAC sound like the original CD and HD audio files sound incredible.

    Besides the excellent sound reproduction, I love the flexibility it provides. I typically control it through the TV...

    [​IMG]

    Using a mini keyboard...

    [​IMG]

    But can also control it from my laptop or IPad...

    [​IMG]

    I even created a McIntosh theme to match my system...

    [​IMG]
     
    wolfram, hifisoup, anorak2 and 5 others like this.
  5. wolfyboy3

    wolfyboy3 Over thinking it

    Location:
    Indiana
    Nice setup! I have a similar one and love it. Our tv's are even twinsies!
     
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  6. cdash99

    cdash99 Senior Member

    Location:
    Mass
    Unless the laptop is dedicated solely to music, I'd recommend a server of some sort, simply because using the laptop for other tasks will compromise playback in some manner (however minuscule). In my case I have my collection stored on a Synology server that is wifi accessible by both the Bluesound Node in my system and Sonos elsewhere in the house.
     
  7. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    Location:
    London
    Apple AirPort Express - $5, lossless streaming of my entire library to my DAC.
     
  8. jonwoody

    jonwoody Tragically Unhip

    Location:
    Washington DC
    As mentioned above there are plenty of streamer alternatives to Aurender many of which are less $$. I went the Auralic route and glad I did as I like their product, in my case an Aries Mini, but just as importantly I love their LDS app. I did find that going from using storage attached to my laptop to an outboard Synology NAS was a nice jump in sound quality.
     
  9. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    The Mac mini is out--needs a monitor and keyboard plus the memory is too small except for the Mac Studio Mini, but a 4tb version of that is the same price as the Aurender. It also needs to play up to DSD 256. I'll look into other servers that have built-in or user addable HDs.

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  10. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    A Synology NAS and Bluesound node is all you need. No limitations on number of music files, which is my issue with Sonos, plus hi-res playback.
     
    Dave112, jonwoody and Old Zorki II like this.
  11. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    I want to use my Chord DAC.
     
  12. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    I would think, for as many benefits as a server offers in distribution and storage and ergonomics, expecting an audio benefit as well?
    That's like buying a luxury vehicle and expecting to arrive at a better destination than you could with your old Ford Focus.
    Nicer drive, but the grocery store parking lot doesn't change (although, maybe you could pick up somebody in Produce easier...)
     
  13. jonwoody

    jonwoody Tragically Unhip

    Location:
    Washington DC
    You can use your Chord Dac with the Bluesound or most any other streamer they pretty much all have digital outs.
     
  14. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    Location:
    near Tampa, FL
    I think Blusound has optical out..
    I owe Auralic Aries Femto, it got server software and there own client for iPad/iPhone. You alco can use it as a I client.
    It has myriads of choices, USB, AES/EBU, coax and optical out, on the flight DSD and other conversion, equalization if you care, support for MQA if you care (proprietary unpacking), etc, etc and less then 1K on used market.
    And you save tons of money on Synology or other NAS. which is better and safer way to store music. Or attach a drive to it.
     
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  15. smith6552

    smith6552 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago-ish
    The node 2i which i have has both optical and coax outputs. You can plug it right into your chord
     
    Old Zorki II likes this.
  16. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    Shouldn't be an issue as others have said. In any case, I doubt there is any innate sonic advantage using a server instead of a laptop. Where the signal goes to or through is far more important. But a server gives you more options and flexibility, including for a multi-room setup.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2022
  17. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    I recall reading that optical and coax outputs can't pass DSD.
     
    wolfyboy3 likes this.
  18. wolfyboy3

    wolfyboy3 Over thinking it

    Location:
    Indiana
    That is correct. You would have to convert to PCM if the Node supports that. IDK.
     
  19. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    Then that's a non-starter.
     
  20. wolfyboy3

    wolfyboy3 Over thinking it

    Location:
    Indiana
    Now we know.
     
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  21. wolfyboy3

    wolfyboy3 Over thinking it

    Location:
    Indiana
  22. CBackley

    CBackley Chairman of the Bored


    I have an old 1st generation Airport Express. How do I use it for streaming?
     
  23. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Old Zorki II likes this.
  24. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calgary
    I upgraded my music server 3 times.
    Each time, I thought there were positive improvements.

    Of course they could be purely psychological.

    I believe that every piece of equipment matters... So I think you should upgrade.

    It's only money.
     
    Old Zorki II likes this.
  25. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    I use a Lindemann Limetree as a bridge between my Portable Hard Drive and Amp.
    Using a high quality interconnects.
    Advantage is I can operate it using the Limetree app via my iphone or ipad.
    Limetree will also stream from Spotty, Qbuzzy, Tidal & Roon.

    I rip all my CD to the hard drive and they sound better than on my CD player.
     

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