Okay, so using the premise that everyone is into their hobby at different levels (budget, quality acceptance, etc. ..with budget being a big driver).
So for me, my focus and $1000's of dollars has been spent in the vinyl world. Digital has been secondary and my listening reflects that in that when I am sitting and listening, in my music room, I listen to vinyl. But when I am moving about, my background music is digital. It is easier, I can create playlists, play random and never have to worry about jumping to get the arm lifted before it reaches the center label (most higher end tables are manual0.
But I am the type that looks at getting a bang for the buck and squeezing every last erg of detail from what I have. So enters the digital realm and the music server concept. If you are like me, you listen a lot through a main rig but it can be tiresome to move a pc or laptop or having some remote connection.
My solution is thus.
I have a Microsoft Surface RT tablet. It is their cheapest but really a cool product. Inherent in the unit is Xbox music service and I pay the $7.99 a month to be able to have anything I want and downloads. They stream at 192kbps...which is not bad but of course doesn't compare with CD quality. That's okay.
I also have a huge collection of MP3's that I purchased from a DJ in 2007 (everything from the 50's to 2007 and many genres). The only drawback, they are 128kbps music files. I recently learned that if you pay $25 a year for ITunes cloud, you can upload your previously purchased (from anywhere) files and they will match and replace with 256kbps files...whooo hoo. So I can and have been replacing those 128's with 256. Now why do that when I am pretty much unlimited on xbox music ? Well, bit rate..I am getting slightly better rate.
On to the setup.
My Surface not only has my music but it allows a mini-SD card up to 64gig so I can hold a lot of music. That is all loaded in my music folder and linked as a library.
From the Surface (which does has an internal DAC) I bypass and use USB out to my new AUNE T1 and from there, RCA out to the main rig. Sounds beautiful, I have a ton of music and for a small price, I have a dedicated music server.
Again, no its not high end, but for a person on a budget who wants to do this, it is doable. Any reasonable tablet will do but the Surface RT is a pretty damn good and since it runs Windows 8, has a desktop, etc. it is still multi-purpose.
Anyway, thought I would share for anyone who this would work for....