Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27
  1. #1

    Music Server Options: Baetis, Musica Pristina, Music Vault? Please Help!

    I'm a newbie looking for a one-box solution that will provide ripping, storage, playback and excellent sound quality. I like Baetis, Musica Pristina, and Music Vault, as they all seem like nice units that can be had around $3k or less.

    Each of these companies have somewhat different takes on how to build a server for best SQ (i.e., USB vs SPDIF, fanless vs low-noise fan, minimal op systems vs browser-enabled to download directly). I have no idea if what they say is reasonable or just silly hype. There are so many experts here that know better than I do, would anyone mind taking a quick look at their website content and giving a quick opinion?

    The Baetis and Musica Pristina sites are pretty detailed about whats in their units, while the Music Vault site info is fairly limited. Might be enlightening or even amusing: According to another forum (AudioEnz), the Baetis website apparently makes some statements that may be a bit over the top. Here's some quotes that an AudioEnz poster found amusing:

    From one of the baetisaudio pages...
    "A good DAC is so sensitive that a standard coaxial RCA output will cause the music to “jump” if you step on the floor near the equipment rack."

    My god, reading further, the Baetis guy is a nutter!!!
    "Because the sound card is integrated, however, there are no latency issues that might arise
    from using a PCI or PCI-e soundcard to output the lossless audio file in its original,
    unprocessed state. Also, for all the music servers being reviewed, the audio file can be
    played from RAM, not from a spinning hard drive, thus eliminating “wow” associated with
    a turntable moving at inconstant speeds"

    Seriously - how does he thing that the motherboards onboard sound device is connected to the CPU? Just because its not going through a physical PCI or PCI-e connector it cant be going via the PCI-e bus?.......
    And as for getting wow from a hard drive....


    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
    Freshman Member Pale Rider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Bay Area, CA, USA
    Posts
    72
    Am looking at these sorts of things too. I think you're probably going to have to do some of your own research and thinking, but out of the three you mention here, I would tend to rank the Baetis as the most attractive to me. It's being used by the guys at Teresonic [almost bought their Ingenium speaker, and still might] in their shows, and it speaks best for me to the issue of creating a BluRay video and audio library. I already have a nice Synology NAS setup, that is accessible by my network players, but would sure love to have the same management capability for my BluRay audio and video.
    All the toys are in my profile.

  3. #3
    Freshman Member Pale Rider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Bay Area, CA, USA
    Posts
    72
    After some lengthy email exchanges, and then a great conversation with the Baetis designer, I decided to order a Baetis Revolution. Looking forward to this new experiment.
    All the toys are in my profile.

  4. #4
    I have done and continue to do as much research as I can as a newbie. However, the biggest hurdle, as a non-techie, is trying to weed through all the claims and counter claims as to what is important, not important, works better or not, and why. It is very frustrating to read how USB is the best output, then maybe spdif (as Baetis claims), how the sotm USB card brings great improvement, or none at all, how a good switch mode psu can be good but linear psu is much better, how playback from an SSD is better than HDD, yet I know of only one server maker who actually stores on HDD and moves the music over to SSD for playback to ensure quiet playback (this allows using cheaper HDD for storage, and quieter SSD for playback). Very frustrating.

    I like the Baetis for its price/value prop, especially the Revolution at 3k. It gives me every ripping/download option and playback (incl video), uses JRiver and DBpoweramp, and seems to be well thought out and supported. However, I don't like that it focuses on BNC/spdif output and really gives short shrift to USB, since I'm more than likely going to go with USB Dac like PWD. They actually say on their webpage that their USB output is about the same as a basic PC/Mac:
    Some 2-channel DACs, however, seem to be USB-centric – their internal DACs are tuned to sound best via USB output. For these DACs, our USB output sounds much like the USB output of the Macs that have dominated computer audio for the last decade – except that our USB outputs have somewhat lower Electro-Magnetic-Interference.
    That's a bit underwhelming, no, given that they supposedly are using a better PSU, mobo, chassis, etc? Shouldn't that in itself bring much better USB performance than a Mac? So this gives me some pause. They also don't think the sotm USB card offers any improvement, which is counter to what most everyone thinks here at CA. I am concerned that they either don't care or don't know how to make great USB output. Lastly, I dont like external PSU and external HDD. I don't want 3 boxes.

    On the flip side there is the Musica Pristina, which is run by a team including some of the Spectron guys. I really like their products. I like that it is one box, including a linear PSU and internal storage, they do focus on USB output (although this is a "special sauce" scenario, whereby they say they have a custom solution but do not provide any explanation). However, now we've bumped the comparative server price (the Virtuoso) to $5500, which seems like way too much for the parts involved. I also don't like that they use Foobar instead of the CA-loved JRiver (for no good reason other than everyone here seems to prefer JRiver for both SQ and flexibility), and they don't identify what they use for ripping software. BTW, they also don't think the sotm USB card makes a difference.

    So, even though I've researched a lot within my technical limitations, I'm still confused. If Baetis was more committed to USB output, and offered linear PSU and storage inside the box, I might go their way. If MP was more appropriately priced and maybe used JRiver, I'd probably go their way. And what about things I don't understand, like is the sotm USB card something I really should insist be included?

    Still weeding through the murk and mud of computer audio. I know that most here are techies that build their own, but for myself and many others that don't truly understand and have difficulty wading through fact and fiction, we would appreciate any and all help, guidance and opinion.

  5. #5
    It doesn't seem like people here like to talk much about anything but the CAPS servers, mac minis, or parts for their DIY builds. Too bad. It would nice to have more interaction around third party, purpose built server options. Many of us newbies and non-techies would appreciate the advice and opinions of the incredible expertise embedded in the membership here.

  6. #6
    has anyone compared thee Baetis, music vault diamond or the SOTM 1000- looking at a server and as a newbie need some help- Or is it better to get the CAPS3 from green machine-thanks so much

  7. #7
    IMO those 3rd party boxes are so outrageously expensive for what you're actually getting it's ridiculous. It seems they double or triple the price over what would be reasonable just because they are the 'latest' audiophile toy. $4 - $6K+? Sheesh.... :^ /

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by auldiophile View Post
    IMO those 3rd party boxes are so outrageously expensive for what you're actually getting it's ridiculous. It seems they double or triple the price over what would be reasonable just because they are the 'latest' audiophile toy. $4 - $6K+? Sheesh.... :^ /
    Agreed at that price point, but no so bad at a ~$2500 price point, for a non-techie who wants an all-in-one box, pre-installed and setup solution. Given that the CAPS Carbon price list is roughly $1,100, plus you need to add cost of a good internal cd drive for ripping, and an HDD or SSD for storage, and we are probably at ~1500 in material cost. Now, add in the cost of time to optimize the OS, ripping and playback software, and add profit (they do deserve some profit after all ), and I would say that the mid 2k's is a reasonable price point. $3k is starting to push it depending on whether there are any additional, meaningful features (ie, I do not need the bluray capability, since I'm hapy to spin the physical disc as I'm likely going to sit with it for an hour or two, whereas with CDs, I'm probably making a playlist of numerous CDs). Above $3k, please tell me what is really being added that makes a difference in SQ that isnt already resolved by the basic server's internal filters, an outboard asynch USB converter or DAC with a good clock, and the USB powered internally as opposed to receiving power from the PC?

  9. #9
    This thread caught my eye today as the result of a Google search I did.

    Maybe because I work at Musica Pristina.

    Sorry I'm late to the game.

    I'd like to offer a few quick thoughts, if I may. You can get your hands on some low-end aluminum computer chassis for about $25 each. The "seams" are slightly imperfect. The fans are noisy. The feet look "chintzy." You can also buy a computer chassis that is made in substantially smaller batches, mechanically flawless, with all high-end electronic parts for $250. Ten Times as expensive.

    As a manufacturer, we decided that there are 5 issues we always want to keep in mind, in the following order:

    1. Sound Quality
    2. Ease of Operation
    3. Build Quality (Durability)
    4. Price
    5. Cosmetics

    After all, we're selling a high-end solution to a group of people with "phile" in their name. They demand the best. And we demand the best.

    Years ago, I tried a tweak I read online about installing some filter caps in the P4 line of my server. To my surprise, it worked. I noticed a slight drop in graininess. I was already using a Seasonic PSU with quite low ripple. I later bought almost a dozen linear power supplies, all from "industrial sources", to see if feeding linear power to that plug made a difference. What I learned was that some of those supplies sounded "better", and some sounded "worse." Let me be more clear and say some sounded more accurate and some less.

    Simon and I launched Musica Pristina in our own quests for the ultimate front-end music playback system. We have theories about what matters most from the sonic perspective, and what matters very little. I have exceptionally good hearing. (Again, to be more accurate, I can hear very faint sounds that some people do not hear. I'm not speaking in Audio Listening Terms.... my ears are not Golden!) From m y listening chair, I could hear the fan in our Virtuoso line. mind you, I tried 8 different heatsinks and several custom fans from various sources around the web. And the best I could obtain, I could hear. It drove me mad. It robbed me of some joy from my listening sessions. So, we set out to solve the problem. While we were at it, we took on a few other challenges, too.

    The ultimate (current) solution required a more expensive chassis, a second chassis to house the PSU (better heat management, and more space for a new style of filter I had been experimenting with), improved DC Power cabling (since cables do not know that they are not antennae).

    Is it worth it? I think so. Our customers think so. But, in our opinion: you need to think so! It's your money that you are trading for pleasure in your listening room. Many manufacturers will let you buy their system, listen to it in your own home, and if you do not like it... return it for a full refund. It could cost us money if someone did return a unit; but, lucky for us, nobody has. (Actually, one guy traded in his lower-end unit for a higher end one).

    We're always willing to spend time on the phone with a potential customer, educating them on the aspects of music reproduction that we have found meaningful and most impactful. Science's understanding of the electron is horribly simplistic, and though we are capable of making incredibly complex devices (like computers) that do incredibly complex tasks (like playing music), our theories for how and why they work are just that: theories. Noise, heat, jitter, EMI/RFI - all these things, and more, play a role in the final sound you hear.

    As for "what is really being added that makes a difference in SQ that isn't already resolved by the basic server's internal filters, an outboard asynch USB converter or DAC with a good clock, and the USB powered internally as opposed to receiving power from the PC" - so very much is. If you are like me, your curiosity will move you to try for yourself. To listen to various hardware and software configurations and determine what you hear.

    I've not been very active in online forums, so please be gentle with me if I am crossing any bounds.
    Musica Pristina A Cappella (R&D model) + Win8x64 > Musica Pristina Transducer DAC > Quad II Eighty > Quad ESL 2905 > Happy Ears

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by kdubious View Post
    This thread caught my eye today as the result of a Google search I did.

    Maybe because I work at Musica Pristina.

    Sorry I'm late to the game.

    I'd like to offer a few quick thoughts, if I may. You can get your hands on some low-end aluminum computer chassis for about $25 each. The "seams" are slightly imperfect. The fans are noisy. The feet look "chintzy." You can also buy a computer chassis that is made in substantially smaller batches, mechanically flawless, with all high-end electronic parts for $250. Ten Times as expensive.

    As a manufacturer, we decided that there are 5 issues we always want to keep in mind, in the following order:

    1. Sound Quality
    2. Ease of Operation
    3. Build Quality (Durability)
    4. Price
    5. Cosmetics

    After all, we're selling a high-end solution to a group of people with "phile" in their name. They demand the best. And we demand the best.

    Years ago, I tried a tweak I read online about installing some filter caps in the P4 line of my server. To my surprise, it worked. I noticed a slight drop in graininess. I was already using a Seasonic PSU with quite low ripple. I later bought almost a dozen linear power supplies, all from "industrial sources", to see if feeding linear power to that plug made a difference. What I learned was that some of those supplies sounded "better", and some sounded "worse." Let me be more clear and say some sounded more accurate and some less.

    Simon and I launched Musica Pristina in our own quests for the ultimate front-end music playback system. We have theories about what matters most from the sonic perspective, and what matters very little. I have exceptionally good hearing. (Again, to be more accurate, I can hear very faint sounds that some people do not hear. I'm not speaking in Audio Listening Terms.... my ears are not Golden!) From m y listening chair, I could hear the fan in our Virtuoso line. mind you, I tried 8 different heatsinks and several custom fans from various sources around the web. And the best I could obtain, I could hear. It drove me mad. It robbed me of some joy from my listening sessions. So, we set out to solve the problem. While we were at it, we took on a few other challenges, too.

    The ultimate (current) solution required a more expensive chassis, a second chassis to house the PSU (better heat management, and more space for a new style of filter I had been experimenting with), improved DC Power cabling (since cables do not know that they are not antennae).

    Is it worth it? I think so. Our customers think so. But, in our opinion: you need to think so! It's your money that you are trading for pleasure in your listening room. Many manufacturers will let you buy their system, listen to it in your own home, and if you do not like it... return it for a full refund. It could cost us money if someone did return a unit; but, lucky for us, nobody has. (Actually, one guy traded in his lower-end unit for a higher end one).

    We're always willing to spend time on the phone with a potential customer, educating them on the aspects of music reproduction that we have found meaningful and most impactful. Science's understanding of the electron is horribly simplistic, and though we are capable of making incredibly complex devices (like computers) that do incredibly complex tasks (like playing music), our theories for how and why they work are just that: theories. Noise, heat, jitter, EMI/RFI - all these things, and more, play a role in the final sound you hear.

    As for "what is really being added that makes a difference in SQ that isn't already resolved by the basic server's internal filters, an outboard asynch USB converter or DAC with a good clock, and the USB powered internally as opposed to receiving power from the PC" - so very much is. If you are like me, your curiosity will move you to try for yourself. To listen to various hardware and software configurations and determine what you hear.

    I've not been very active in online forums, so please be gentle with me if I am crossing any bounds.
    The problem I have with these solutions are the exorbitant price. We're not talking about recovering R&D costs or anything, we're basically talking about a chosen set of supposedly optimal hardware that is pre-assembled for the consumer at an obscene mark-up.

  11. #11
    What would be a "G Rated" markup, in your opinion?

    I can't speak for everyone. Our systems are not "just computer parts." We use a heat-sink chassis, purpose built PSU, quality hookup wire, hand made DC cable (in multi-chassis units) with locking plugs, etc.

    And, the computer parts we do use are of the highest quality (currently Haswell i7's [4770-T], Intel SSD for the OS, Win 8 Pro) and, unfortunately, price.

    But there's more to the "price" than just material costs: shipping, advertising expenses, manufacturing expenses, custom boxes & packing tape, audio show expenses, owner's manuals, installation support staff, rent, R&D, etc.

    In all seriousness, what would you (or anyone) like to see from us--or any manufacturer--in terms of model features and pricing? I'm genuinely curious.
    Musica Pristina A Cappella (R&D model) + Win8x64 > Musica Pristina Transducer DAC > Quad II Eighty > Quad ESL 2905 > Happy Ears

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by kdubious View Post
    What would be a "G Rated" markup, in your opinion?


    In all seriousness, what would you (or anyone) like to see from us--or any manufacturer--in terms of model features and pricing? I'm genuinely curious.
    OK, I'll weigh in. I want to see a solution that does a great job at things that should be unique to the provider. For me, that is not so much providing me with the storage pieces, but a good D to A converter, a great UI that makes it easy for me to integrate my existing music regardless of source. I want unlimited expandability with drives I can provide, or storage solutions like Drobo or others. There is nothing worse than a hardware box that doesn't allow for media expansion with off the shelf USB, Firewire, SATA, or Thunderbolt drives. Add value where it is obvious, not where it isn't that you are adding value. I want the software to adapt to new audio standards and video storage as well, but for me personally, that is a lower priority. Take advantage of mass manufacturers economies of scale, and focus on the proprietary software pieces.

  13. #13
    Kdubious, you raise an interesting question. Most of us are prepared to pay for off-the-shelf parts, labor, and an efficient manufacturer's overhead, plus normal industry markups. (Since we are looking more at computer parts and less at dedicated audio parts for servers, I'd say that 25% is a fair add-on towards the sales price, as that makes the burdened ROI about one-third. With a decent volume, an efficient manufacturer should be okay with that.) Adding real IP, even if it's just know-how, often raises the margins in both audio and computers beyond that. At the end of the day, though, most of us would be hard-pressed to pay someone to pay a few grand for a product that does merely an incrementally better job than a $500 notebook from Dell or Best Buy.

    Regarding the feature set, here's what I want, even though they admittedly create cost or noise or simplicity impacts; others' mileage may vary, clearly: (

    (1) If I buy an appliance, even one that needs a network to do much, I want to be able to minimize the network dependency in at least the following ways:

    (a) I want a local hard drive, preferably internal and larger than 2 tb, from which to play hi-res, uncompressed and lossless files because they are just getting way too large to transmit wirelessly in any reasonable way and, given that my router and NAS are in my basement and my appliance will be in an upstairs audio cabinet, wireless is the only network I am going to be able to access. (I can do ethernet only, using an access point, but I still don't want to rely only on streaming.

    (b) I want to rip locally, as well, for the same reason. If I use my computer downstairs, it will take forever to get the usable copy of the file to the appliance if I am limited to copying from the drive I use as I rip CDs.

    (c) I want local backup connected to the same appliance for the same reason: even if I can access other drives on the network, I am going to have to move data wirelessly. If there is no internal drive, then I want a second USB or similar port for use in attaching Drive 2. Again, wireless transmission of very large files takes forever and a day. I want to be certain that I can have data redundancy as soon as I load the file and there's nothing as fast as a cabled connection. Proper backup software also should be built into the firmware, so that the same file structure exists on both data and backup drives. The backup needs to be unencrypted so that, if the appliance craters, I can shop for different brand replacement products, not merely the same manufacturer's. (Yes, screw you, Olive.) I also don't want to have to disconnect the backup drive every time i reboot the device; my Olive Musica, which was a Linux box, never had an issue booting up even when the USB drive was connected.

    (d) I would prefer something like an LCD or other small screen so that, if my network is down, my phone or tablet is uncharged, or I am too lazy to go to the other end of the house to find a computer or phone screen, I can still see enough of the file tree to choose what I want to play and to play it without being dependent on the network or a network control device.

    (2) I want enough RAM in the system for it to be able to load large playlists or to load and play from large collections. (I am assuming that a serious collector can rack up 2 Tb pretty easily these days, especially with hi-res files. I have had low-horsepower devices like tablets choke when trying to load a library on startup.)

    (3) I want a variety of digital outputs, to allow me to choose a DAC without limiting my options unduly. My upgraded Wyred4Sound DAC2SE supposedly "wants" a USB connection in preference to others, whereas the Musical Fidelity DAC it replaces had no USB port at all. Ideally, the box will build the USB out on a different bus than the USB ports used for data and backup drives.

    (4) I want the thing to look like an audio component, not something a kid built in a garage. I am glad to say that most of the servers on the market seem to be moving in that direction.

    (5) Even though I don't want to rely only on the network for loading and backup, preferring old-fashioned cables for the reasons above, I also want to be able to stream compressed files from various sources around the house. Therefore, I want UPnP/DLNA capability. It's the standard, it's easy to implement, and it handles nearly all file formats. Why someone would build in streaming capability and then rely only on the sorts of protocols you won't find in many NASes is beyond me. (Up yours, NAD.)

    (6) If there's an internal drive, I want the option of using a large storage one rather than just the quieter SSD's that are the rage today. I also prefer 3.5 inch drives, which now come with capacities up to 4 TB, to 2.5 inch drives, which are quirky when they are as large as 2 TB. I also want a single drive rather than a striped array, for cost, simplicity, performance, and reliability reasons. If the drive is 2 TB or less, it also should be user-replaceable, to guard against the appliance becoming a deadend solution when the drive capacity is reached.

    As mentioned, I know that some of the things I prefer may have an adverse effect on SQ. However, I note that most of these features exist on my recently-deceased Red Wine modded Olive Musica, except that, because it uses a PATA drive, capacity of the internal box was limited to 750 GB, which no longer is large enough. Even with all those features, the unit ran coolly without fans, and, frankly, it was the best-sounding component I've ever owned by a measure of several. Even if its SQ could have been "better" by ditching the LCD, the mechanical drive, the pair of USB ports, and the wifi radio, it was adequate for me and much more user friendly and flexible than whatever replaces it will be.

    Just my two cents' worth. What I like seems to be dealkillers for a lot of people in the server space, since every device I've checked out lately requires greater or smaller compromises. If I was willing to compromise greatly enough, I'd just put a small computer in the rack, since that's the most flexible and extensible solution, but, having had a decent appliance for nearly a decade, I can say unequivocally that it's quite possible to construct an appliance that does what I want at a price that is less than what most people charge now.

  14. #14
    I would like genuine comparisons of the sonic differences between all these music servers, including the CAP,s.
    Then if the general consensus was that player A is worth the extra outlay it would be easier to justify the price {to some}.

    As with all products in audio at present, the cost in no way reflects the performance.

    I recently was part of a very thorough shootout between music servers ranging in price from $500 thru to $10000 and was shocked at the results.

    As for the unit itself I would like a product that simply read my hard drive and output the best digital possible. A screen would be nice but necessary. Spdif and balanced would be nice.

    But most of all I want to know that what I am hearing is as good as it gets until the next development.

  15. #15
    I generally don't reply to these Forums or even read them because I'm too busy trying to make the best media servers we can. I think that Chris is the only guy I know that could really do a good job in comparing all of these servers. I did want to reply in general to this thread to make several points as we see them:
    a) This forum largely serves the DIY crowd. We serve people who not only don't want to build the server, but also need help in learning JRiver. Thus we sell two things -- our servers, and 1-year of complete telephone support along with remote desktop control. We estimate that this service costs us on average about $1500 per server! And we still aren't making enough revenue to pay me a salary! Thus, our prices will go up when I pass the business along to my son.
    b) We design our servers NOT as electronics engineers but as empiricists. We change our builds after buying and trying many components, including PCI-card-based USB outputs, after receiving suggestions from our panel of real engineers. As a result we think our way of doing SPDIF "the best" beats USB done "the best." The guy who thinks I'm a nut job is right -- we aren't making more than a positive cash flow. BTW, we no longer think latency is an issue of significance, and with respect to "drives" I was referring to the potential for "wow" in the spinning drive inside a CD player, not a computer drive. We have rewritten our web page that mentions this subject to correct the sloppy language.
    c) Finally, we were worried that only the DIY crowd can really be able to "upgrade" every couple of years, as computer components improve. So we offer a policy of installing upgrades at our true cost of parts and labor.

    Chris and this site have taught us the bulk of what little we know about this subject; our advisors do the rest. And, mostly, we agree with the commentators that deplore the fact that the websites of many media server makers offer almost no information that can be really helpful to the consumer.

    Best, John Mingo
    Managing Director, Baetis Audio
    A day spent studying audiophile computers is not deducted from our allotted time on earth.

  16. #16
    20hertz, perhaps you would be willing to share the results of your shootout with us. It sounds like there are some conclusions to be made. I would love to be able to have access to that many servers for comparison.

  17. #17
    Freshman Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Destin, FL.
    Posts
    34
    A '09 MM with a LPS is all you need to run with the big $$$ servers.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Rubin View Post
    Kdubious, you raise an interesting question. Most of us are prepared to pay for off-the-shelf parts, labor, and an efficient manufacturer's overhead, plus normal industry markups. (Since we are looking more at computer parts and less at dedicated audio parts for servers, I'd say that 25% is a fair add-on towards the sales price, as that makes the burdened ROI about one-third. With a decent volume, an efficient manufacturer should be okay with that.) Adding real IP, even if it's just know-how, often raises the margins in both audio and computers beyond that. At the end of the day, though, most of us would be hard-pressed to pay someone to pay a few grand for a product that does merely an incrementally better job than a $500 notebook from Dell or Best Buy.

    Regarding the feature set, here's what I want, even though they admittedly create cost or noise or simplicity impacts; others' mileage may vary, clearly: (

    (1) If I buy an appliance, even one that needs a network to do much, I want to be able to minimize the network dependency in at least the following ways:

    (a) I want a local hard drive, preferably internal and larger than 2 tb, from which to play hi-res, uncompressed and lossless files because they are just getting way too large to transmit wirelessly in any reasonable way and, given that my router and NAS are in my basement and my appliance will be in an upstairs audio cabinet, wireless is the only network I am going to be able to access. (I can do ethernet only, using an access point, but I still don't want to rely only on streaming.

    (b) I want to rip locally, as well, for the same reason. If I use my computer downstairs, it will take forever to get the usable copy of the file to the appliance if I am limited to copying from the drive I use as I rip CDs.

    (c) I want local backup connected to the same appliance for the same reason: even if I can access other drives on the network, I am going to have to move data wirelessly. If there is no internal drive, then I want a second USB or similar port for use in attaching Drive 2. Again, wireless transmission of very large files takes forever and a day. I want to be certain that I can have data redundancy as soon as I load the file and there's nothing as fast as a cabled connection. Proper backup software also should be built into the firmware, so that the same file structure exists on both data and backup drives. The backup needs to be unencrypted so that, if the appliance craters, I can shop for different brand replacement products, not merely the same manufacturer's. (Yes, screw you, Olive.) I also don't want to have to disconnect the backup drive every time i reboot the device; my Olive Musica, which was a Linux box, never had an issue booting up even when the USB drive was connected.

    (d) I would prefer something like an LCD or other small screen so that, if my network is down, my phone or tablet is uncharged, or I am too lazy to go to the other end of the house to find a computer or phone screen, I can still see enough of the file tree to choose what I want to play and to play it without being dependent on the network or a network control device.

    (2) I want enough RAM in the system for it to be able to load large playlists or to load and play from large collections. (I am assuming that a serious collector can rack up 2 Tb pretty easily these days, especially with hi-res files. I have had low-horsepower devices like tablets choke when trying to load a library on startup.)

    (3) I want a variety of digital outputs, to allow me to choose a DAC without limiting my options unduly. My upgraded Wyred4Sound DAC2SE supposedly "wants" a USB connection in preference to others, whereas the Musical Fidelity DAC it replaces had no USB port at all. Ideally, the box will build the USB out on a different bus than the USB ports used for data and backup drives.

    (4) I want the thing to look like an audio component, not something a kid built in a garage. I am glad to say that most of the servers on the market seem to be moving in that direction.

    (5) Even though I don't want to rely only on the network for loading and backup, preferring old-fashioned cables for the reasons above, I also want to be able to stream compressed files from various sources around the house. Therefore, I want UPnP/DLNA capability. It's the standard, it's easy to implement, and it handles nearly all file formats. Why someone would build in streaming capability and then rely only on the sorts of protocols you won't find in many NASes is beyond me. (Up yours, NAD.)

    (6) If there's an internal drive, I want the option of using a large storage one rather than just the quieter SSD's that are the rage today. I also prefer 3.5 inch drives, which now come with capacities up to 4 TB, to 2.5 inch drives, which are quirky when they are as large as 2 TB. I also want a single drive rather than a striped array, for cost, simplicity, performance, and reliability reasons. If the drive is 2 TB or less, it also should be user-replaceable, to guard against the appliance becoming a deadend solution when the drive capacity is reached.

    As mentioned, I know that some of the things I prefer may have an adverse effect on SQ. However, I note that most of these features exist on my recently-deceased Red Wine modded Olive Musica, except that, because it uses a PATA drive, capacity of the internal box was limited to 750 GB, which no longer is large enough. Even with all those features, the unit ran coolly without fans, and, frankly, it was the best-sounding component I've ever owned by a measure of several. Even if its SQ could have been "better" by ditching the LCD, the mechanical drive, the pair of USB ports, and the wifi radio, it was adequate for me and much more user friendly and flexible than whatever replaces it will be.

    Just my two cents' worth. What I like seems to be dealkillers for a lot of people in the server space, since every device I've checked out lately requires greater or smaller compromises. If I was willing to compromise greatly enough, I'd just put a small computer in the rack, since that's the most flexible and extensible solution, but, having had a decent appliance for nearly a decade, I can say unequivocally that it's quite possible to construct an appliance that does what I want at a price that is less than what most people charge now.
    Your list of "wants" is very thorough. As I read thru the list and came across the desire for an integrated LCD, I immediately thought of Olive, which I had one of for a while as you did. The Olive players were very user friendly, but their tech support was very poor IMO. There are some high-end solutions that do have integral LCD, but they are VERY expensive. After a lot of research, I chose a Musica Pristina A-capella, as much for the amount of time they spent with me pre-sale trying to identify my real needs, and then they custom-built it for me. Their tech follow up with my many questions has been stellar, and the unit produces fantastic sound. I am using an IPad mini as the controller, admittedly thru wireless, but as I have the unit close by my TV, I was able to connect to it via HDMI to use as a monitor/controller if I ever have a wireless problem. Yes they use Foobar, but there are those who believe it is superior to Jriver in many ways. They both do the job. In a marketplace where truly high-end audio equipment pieces can easily reach into high 5 figure range, I believe their pricing is very reasonable, and I would recommend them highly. P.S....as to your list, I believe the MP does almost everything you asked for except for 1-d (dedicated LCD)

  19. #19
    Thanks, Rnddude. I am aware of that line of products but had dismissed it as beyond my budget's reach. I will give it another look and see if the stretch is likely to be rewarding enough to justify it.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Rubin View Post
    Thanks, Rnddude. I am aware of that line of products but had dismissed it as beyond my budget's reach. I will give it another look and see if the stretch is likely to be rewarding enough to justify it.
    I would suggest you call and talk to Kevin or Simon about your wants/needs, and see what they might suggest.

  21. #21
    empirical science audiophile
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    virginia
    Posts
    130
    Initial product requirements - An audio server that offers (1) AC and battery power options (2) light weight (3) built in screen, keyboard and hdmi display (4) supports asynch USB (5) supports Ethernet DLNA (6) can handle wifi remote management without audio degradation (7) supports 1 fixed hard drive for OS, 1 swappable HD for media, and direct fast attached expansion/backup HD options (8) no audible fan noise (9) is a turnkey solution for media server software, disk ripping, library management and backup. (10) hardware optimized for performance and reliability. | Said server would rely on external asynch USB DAC/ DLNA renderer. | Said server would allow easy local or remote management by user. | Said server would support automated initial setup. |Said server would boot to media server interface

  22. #22
    I have the Music Vault. Mine is the basic model with 2 2TB hard drives ($200 upgrade), an SSD drive, RAID, a blue ray disc drive/burner ($100 upgrade) and a transformer coupled BNC S/PDIF input (another $100 upgrade). My DAC is an Abbingdon Music Research DP-777. I also paid a bit extra for the ability to input analogue via a Juli@ card configured to allow analogue input to be converted to digital so that I can transfer my vinyl collection to digital without use of an outboard ADC. Mine came with DBPowerAmp for burning discs, JRiver for playback, and VinylStudio for the vinyl transfers.
    I am still in the process of burning my CD collection and have not yet started to transfer vinyl. With the MV, you have to add a small (or larger) monitor and keyboard in order to burn CDs or transfer vinyl. This is no longer necessary once you have finished transferring your recordings to the hard drives-you then can control everything with an iPad. The MV comes with wireless input of broadband (essentially WiFi), but it will perform faster metadata inputs with either hardwired ethernet input or using an AC-ethernet transmitter and receiver (which I am using, though they pollute the AC and will be jettisoned asap).
    The MV is also immediately configured to allow for direct downloads from HDTracks, etc.
    I can tell you now that the SQ from burned redbook discs is very good, just as good if not slightly better than playing back with a my Classe CDP.5 or using said Classe as a transport only into the AMR DAC. I attribute this to the superiority of hard disc data to transport/cached data. I can also tell you that HDTracks downloads sound fairly damned extraordinary.
    The drawbacks are that the MV is bespoke assembled-you don't get a mass-production looking product with mass production accoutrements like a fancy custom made shipping box and manual. It looks like a nice computer, but has nowhere close to the audio product appearance of the Musica Pristina (from what I can tell from the MP website). I can tell you unequivocally that Neil Van Berg takes care of his customers. He expects lots of interraction for the first few days and weeks with those customers who are totally new to music servers and various digital issues and seems to enjoy that interaction. The process for me was very smooth. If you don't want to spend a fortune and don't want to assemble your own server, I can say with confidence you will be happy with a Music Vault.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Fsonicsmith View Post
    I have the Music Vault. Mine is the basic model with 2 2TB hard drives ($200 upgrade), an SSD drive, RAID, a blue ray disc drive/burner ($100 upgrade) and a transformer coupled BNC S/PDIF input (another $100 upgrade). My DAC is an Abbingdon Music Research DP-777. I also paid a bit extra for the ability to input analogue via a Juli@ card configured to allow analogue input to be converted to digital so that I can transfer my vinyl collection to digital without use of an outboard ADC. Mine came with DBPowerAmp for burning discs, JRiver for playback, and VinylStudio for the vinyl transfers.
    I am still in the process of burning my CD collection and have not yet started to transfer vinyl. With the MV, you have to add a small (or larger) monitor and keyboard in order to burn CDs or transfer vinyl. This is no longer necessary once you have finished transferring your recordings to the hard drives-you then can control everything with an iPad. The MV comes with wireless input of broadband (essentially WiFi), but it will perform faster metadata inputs with either hardwired ethernet input or using an AC-ethernet transmitter and receiver (which I am using, though they pollute the AC and will be jettisoned asap).
    The MV is also immediately configured to allow for direct downloads from HDTracks, etc.
    I can tell you now that the SQ from burned redbook discs is very good, just as good if not slightly better than playing back with a my Classe CDP.5 or using said Classe as a transport only into the AMR DAC. I attribute this to the superiority of hard disc data to transport/cached data. I can also tell you that HDTracks downloads sound fairly damned extraordinary.
    The drawbacks are that the MV is bespoke assembled-you don't get a mass-production looking product with mass production accoutrements like a fancy custom made shipping box and manual. It looks like a nice computer, but has nowhere close to the audio product appearance of the Musica Pristina (from what I can tell from the MP website). I can tell you unequivocally that Neil Van Berg takes care of his customers. He expects lots of interraction for the first few days and weeks with those customers who are totally new to music servers and various digital issues and seems to enjoy that interaction. The process for me was very smooth. If you don't want to spend a fortune and don't want to assemble your own server, I can say with confidence you will be happy with a Music Vault.
    I have been corrected that actually, one does not need to have a monitor or keyboard hooked up to rip CDs to the MusicVault. Although I have not tried it, apparently it can done using LogMein (which again is included) with an iPad.

  24. #24
    Wow. Just came back to my thread (having left it for dead) to see all these great responses. Big thank you to Musica Pristina and Baetis for chiming in here. As for me, I went off and focused on other parts of my system, so haven't paid attention to server, but now is time for me to finally make a choice. Pretty sure I'm going with Musica Pristina for a variety of reasons, but their lower end model. And will also probably try the BAD USB converter that is supposed to be killer, and compare it to my Esoteric K-03 USB input.

    Still would like to see CA or some members do a shootout with these mid priced bespoke players, maybe even compare them to higher priced units like the Aurender, etc. To that end, I do wish 20hertz would share his shootout results with us. He threw that out there but never followed up.

  25. #25
    FWIW, I went with a used SOtM, which was upgraded to 4tb internal HDD storage. I decided against relying on an internal SDD and exernal HDD for quietness reasons, primarily for ease of library management over a wireless network to which the unit is bridged and because it won't do a hard reboot with a USB drive attached. The sound quality does not quite rival my Red Wine modded Olive Musica (which I really wish I could have upgraded to 4tb as it's still just about the perfect hardware for me), but it's definitely good enough for use in a primary system. It has some quirks (such as needing a soft reboot if not used recently enough), but I think that most people would find it quite suitable as a bespoke unit with local storage.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast