Basic question about setting up a headphone system in my living room
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jvliddle

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Hi all - apologies for what I'm sure is well tread territory - I'm just having a little bit of trouble answering this question.  I want to create a headphone system in my living room where I can just switch on my music easily, have quick access to my entire library, and sit back, stick my headphones on and listen to music after work.
 
I have three questions:
 
1.) Is there a music server that suits this task best (quickly can be turned on, easy to find the music I want, and plays back high-quality recordings?)  I do not want to stick a lap top or traditional computer here because of the slow start up time and the need to start up an app and -  the room a traditional screen takes up.  Ideally this would be one of a stack of components that I would keep on a shelf near my chair.
 
2.) If I decide on a music server of some type, do most of these come with a solid DAC or should I look at adding a DAC to this system?
 
3.) Can a headphone amp generally be attached to the good music servers that are out there - assuming this is the direction I decide to go in?
 
Thank you - I'm looking to spend no more than $2000 and I have a good set of headphones already - currently hooked up to my desktop.
 
Most appreciated.
 
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ProtegeManiac

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With a budget like that, this would seem like a cheap option: Pioneer music server, has its own DAC, you just need a network HDD where it could stream from. And I think it has iOS and Android apps so you can access the controls/menu via smartphone or tablet. For about $1,000 you'd be all set.
 
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Welcome! As they say around here, sorry about your wallet.

 
A Mac Mini makes a nice music server at around $700. You can leave it running all the time for quick start up, and by using iTunes you can also control it with your iphone, I believe. Basically, it's what this gent is using in his low budget set up.

 

 
A decent DAC/amp would be the NuForce Icon HDP at $450. Solid performance at a reasonable price. Here is one using a vintage receiver as a source.
 

 
Both those options are well under your budget. However, please stick around for more suggestions as we are very good at blowing budgets all to h**l and soon your wife will be cursing the day that you ever found this site. 

 
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proton007

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You can use a NAS, usually it'll support a lot of devices, and can stream directly in some cases using dlna. Also, the Logitech Transporter can work for music.
 
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jvliddle

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Thank you all for your great recommendations!  Here are my thoughts:
 
- I do not necessarily want to go with the mac mini because I do not want to leave it on all the time.  Ideally I would like a set up that I could just switch on and it is quickly ready to go.  I also do not want to have to have a screen or other device set up separately to control the device.  Instead I would much prefer a simple LCD or small touch screen where I could just quickly select my music with a turn of a knob or a quick finger tap or two.
 
- I'm inclined to want to include a tube headphone amp in the setup.  I just have a nostalgia for tubes even though I know there is some debate about their added quailty/value.
 
- I'm confused about what quality I can count on from NAS's or other networked devices.  Most of my music is classical on CD's, which I have ripped in lossless formats and play through iTunes.  Do you think in my case it would make sense to have a networked device, which pulls the music from my desktop, or store the muic locally on a music server of some kind?  Additionally, I'm not clear about streaming devices like Logitech's squeeze box - would I have to leave my desk top on all the time to use it, and would I be able to stream music in lossless formats?
 
Assuming my understanding here is what I would think would make the most sense:
 
- A NAS or other device for streaming music from my desktop that can be easily switched on and ready to go, attached to a
- Good headphone tube amp.
 
Thank you again for the great replies - and sorry for my ignorance.  My bottom line is that I want a good system that I can come home to, switch on and get access to my classical music so I can wind down after work.
 
Much appreciated!
 
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Almost forgot about this - a cheap alternative to the Musical Fidelity. I wouldn't know about compatibility issues and customer support (re: language barriers with the manufacturer's reps) but it also has an iOS remote app, so this might be an option. USB can take HDDs or thumb drives, and there's a LAN input for NAS.
 
http://en.auneaudio.com/html/en_products/NewDesign/s-series/S1-Series/134_12.html
 
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brunk

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logitech squeezebox touch and burson audio ha-160ds, puts it under 1.2k or substitute the burson for yulong d18/a18 combo that puts it at your budget when you add cables.
 
 
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jvliddle

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Thanks again - what do you think about a logitech transporter SE, woo audio WA6 headphone amp combination?  I gather I would have to turn on my desktop before accessing my music on the transporter, but from what I understand after reading about it I would have access to all my music without losing any sound quality.
 
Do any of the options you've provided here get around this? Can I switch on one of these systems and have access to my music without having to turn on my desktop first?
 
Sorry again - as you can see there is a lot I still do not understand about these systems.
 
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boyfrombluesea

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Quote:
Welcome! As they say around here, sorry about your wallet.

 
A Mac Mini makes a nice music server at around $700. You can leave it running all the time for quick start up, and by using iTunes you can also control it with your iphone, I believe. Basically, it's what this gent is using in his low budget set up.

 

 
A decent DAC/amp would be the NuForce Icon HDP at $450. Solid performance at a reasonable price. Here is one using a vintage receiver as a source.
 

 
Both those options are well under your budget. However, please stick around for more suggestions as we are very good at blowing budgets all to h**l and soon your wife will be cursing the day that you ever found this site. 
 
 
 
LOVE that YAMAHA receiver look! 
 
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