My setup was strongly guided by the TAS article (Dec 07) many of you have probably seen. So, the laundry list will look familiar. I did this setup as a cheap proof-of-concept to see if I liked using a music server at all. Hence the PCI card instead of a DAC and generic cabling.
Nothing special but overkill for music. 2.4Ghz P4 chip running XP sp2.
Ultra-quiet fans: $30-40 for two.
Internal 500GB Seagate Barracuda drive. $100 new on ebay.
External 500GB Maxtor One Touch. $100 retail on sale.
M-Audio Audiophile 192 (can set sampling rate up to 192Khz). Bought on ebay for around $100
Foobar. Using EAC to rip but not sure how much it really matters
Cables & adapters: generic, maybe $20 from Radioshack.
Unico SE. My first step from mid to hi-fi.
PSB Stratus Bronze. Upgrading when I get my annual bonus.
Total cost: $350. With the external hard drive backup.
Comment on setup:
THE BIGGEST TIP FOR EVERYONE USING A STANDARD PC:
At first my PC was too loud to enjoy music at low levels. Turns out this was easy to remedy. Bottom line: Replace the fans in your PC with ultra-quiet ones without replacing any other components.
I spent money on a better power supply I couldn