What is your primary digital front end?

What is your <I>primary</I> digital front end?
CD player
34% (188 votes)
Hi-rez disc player
11% (63 votes)
5% (27 votes)
Music Server (computer-based)
36% (198 votes)
Music Server (dedicated: Sooloos, Sonos, etc.)
10% (55 votes)
3% (18 votes)
Total votes: 549

Reader Charlie S. wonders what you use for digital music these days? What is your <I>primary</I> digital front end?

Charles B's picture

I have right at 290gb of mp3 music ripped between 192–320kbp. However, I recommend at least 256kbp for listening though my Martin Logans.

Tom's picture

MacBook Pro streaming through an Airport Express connected via toslink to a Headroom Ultra Micro DAC

Warren's picture

iMac running iTunes streaming via Airport Express (digital out) to Levinson CD Player. Second AIrport Express (digital out) to an Apple HiFi in a second room.

wrp's picture

two-channel: VRS Audio Whole House: Sonos

Nodaker's picture

I use a Bel Canto CD1 for CDs, a Sony SA777es for SACDs and a Creative Zen M30 for walking. At work a Rotel with an Audio Mirror DAC.

Steve Gray's picture

iMac -> squeezebox -> Benchmark DAC

D.A.B., Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

Don't own one. Turntable/vinyl combo floats my boat.

Stephane's picture

700 CDs, uncompressed at my fingertips at all times! It's great.

Shamsky's picture

1) Slim Devices Transporter via Slimserver running on an iMac saved as FLAC files for two-channel output, 2) Apple TV via iTunes running on an iMac saved as WAV files for 5.1 output.

Dick Stevens's picture

CD Player + DAC. My preferred front-end is all analog.

Garner's picture

Recent convert to Linn DS players—incredible performance, even from the entry-level "Sneaky DS."

Nick's picture

I have over 4000 CDs. The idea of transferring them over to a music server sounds daunting, not to mention that one day it will crash and go like all hard discs do. This is why the music server as a primary source for music does not interest me.

Daniel's picture

Squeezebox Duet it is great! FLAC files are quite good. It should be mandatory in every media player, even portables.

hew's picture

Only rip CDs lossless now.

Nathan Jones's picture

My intuition tells me that Hi-Rez disc player is not going to score well (please prove me wrong). If SACD fails, then I suspect that there will be lot of audiophiles and music enthusiasts who will think "damn, that could have actually happened. Sound as good as vinyl (as near as makes no difference) and a remote control". My hope is that Sony will release DSD encoding for a Hi-Rez downloadable format that provides effortless listening.

ReturnFreeRisk's picture

Moving from CD player to home-brewed music server. Vista machine, dedicated hard drive, touch screen interface.

DFS - Milwaukee's picture

Mass market 300 disc changer upstream from a Musical Fidelity DAC. Convenience and fine sound, without having to spend hundreds of hours copying physical discs onto a music server.

Over Engineered and Happy's picture

A centralized open library is the only way to go, especially if you want to access the same library different ways, easily back-up and add more storage as your library grows, and not have to re-encode all of your music when and if you change your front-end playback. I have a 2TB NAS with my entire library encoded at full resolution. It feeds a Mac Mini connected to a Wavelength Cosecant for focused listening and sweetly supreme enjoyment. The same NAS/library feeds a series of Sonos players for whole house and zone playback.

Mark L.'s picture

I use a Linn Uni-player these days but am saving for a USB DAC to play songs (lossless compression) from my PC. Still, though, vinyl is still my medium of choice.

Chris Barker's picture

Three Slim Devices SB3, one Benchmark DAC1, two Channel Island DAC. Cheap Linux Shoebox server 1TB, plus WD USB drives.

Gerry G.'s picture

Currently CD, but perhaps not for much longer.

Peder's picture

No digital anymore, just analog.

BeeJay DeeJay's picture

I use a CD player/DAC front-end, but am ripping and uploading more and more lossless WAV files onto my PC and listening via my Squeezebox media player.

Roger Graham's picture

Apple MacBook Pro, iTunes, external drive, Airport Extreme, Airport Express, to DAC to amp to Stax Headphones. Allows easy access to all my music and comparison of performances . All done AIFF or Apple Lossless. All about the music when you want it.

Eduardo's picture

When possible, lossless format, also use Sony PS3 to hold music and let it run in the background over Polk Speaker system when I have a get together. Digital output is, at least to my ear, very good.

John Colombo's picture

Apple iMac using iTunes as a front-end and Apple Lossless encoding.

AS's picture

Ayre C-5xe

Peter P's picture

Squeezebox + DAC + music server

Paul M's picture

iMac streaming to Airport Express, digital out into Meridian G-68

Wes's picture

I rip CDs straight onto the hard drive of a Playstation 3 using the WAV format. I have the PS3 hooked up to my receiver via HDMI1.3. This way I get all the functionality and flexibility of a computer music system without the computer (or its noisy analog output).