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?

Meijer's picture

Apple with DAC—great combo. Long live the user-friendly jukebox!

Wynn's picture

Call me a Luddite, but I can't handle the iPod music quality, and don't have use for a full server at home—so I run my transport through a Benchmark Audio DAC-1 PRE, through Sennheiser 650s or through the speakers if I need to feel the bass or fill the house with sound!

Shahrukh Dandiwala's picture

I have a modded NAD CDP. For the money, I haven't heard better.

Erik Vermeulen's picture

Hard to say, but I prefer the multiplayer. I use a dedicated CD player and a dedicated music server.

djl's picture

I use a Windowz PC with an Audigy Platinum soundcard fed into a Theta Pro Prime DAC and then into a vintage Sansui 9090db receiver. I play MP3s made from my own collection of CDs with MusicMatch and sometimes Media Monkey, both do a good job playing the tens of thousands of songs I have on my hard drive!

J Chisholm's picture

Pioneer multi-format player with surround-decoders.

caz's picture

Will move to a music server soon.

Greg Crouser's picture

Everything is ripped to FLAC. 650GBs so far. 75-ohm digital cable lines running throughout the house. I play CDs only in the car.

Steve's picture

EMM Labs CDSA with the transport upgrade. It doesn't get any better at any price. To bad Stereophile has never tested any EMM Labs equipment. You don't know what you have been missing.

Long Ma's picture

Mac mini with a big quiet external hard drive is the best choice!

Martin van der Linden's picture

Slim Devices Transporter, upgraded with a low-jitter clock from TENT-Labs.

Michael Holmes's picture

My Music Server (Transporter) is now a close second. If I can find a good DAC then it may(?) become first choice. 24-bit downloads are really good.

Pedro Acín's picture

T+A Music Player; Squeezebox.

Ruud's picture

Linn Akurate DS

Ivin Seabrook's picture

Transporter in music room & SB3 in kitchen have revolutionized my music experience.

Justin's picture

Slim Devices Transporter. I feel sorry for people who have to change CDs.

Ron Taylor's picture

Esoteric X-03 SE

J.  D.  Moore's picture

I stayed with vinyl until it left the record stores. Both Borders in Columbus, OH recently reduced their CD inventory by 50% . . . .

david evans's picture

I'm looking for a server-based source but need reassurance that similar quality output will prevail. Also needing to source a high-end DAC and new kinds of connects makes it seem like a complication rather than a simplification.

Randolph Schein's picture

Theta Compli as transport and Theta Generation VIII D/A converter via Theta's MegaLinque, so that the Gen. VIII decodes SACD. It's too bad Theta never marketed this!

John V.'s picture

In my two-channel system, it's a CD player. In the system that provides music to the rest of the house, it's my MacBook using iTunes feeding wireless with a few Airport Expresses.

Jens, Denmark's picture

Even an unmodified Squeezebox beats my NAD T585 hands-down.

Oliver's picture

CDs and very few SACDs for music. Computer-based music server for radio plays and features.

Jacob's picture

I prefer CDs or a Hi-rez format. But I will be building a computer-based server to stream lossless files over my network.

B.W.'s picture

Synology Disk Station; lossless wherever possible.

Dave's picture

Squeezebox Duet with Beresford DAC. No more CDs (for me at least, the wife still uses the CD player).

Hugo Rosa's picture

SACD and DVD Audio along with Red Book CD Audio.

Rastanearian's picture

The Sonos is on all the time, even in my big rig hi-fi system.

Laura in Spokane's picture

I use a Denon 3910 as the transport with a Musical Fidelity X-DACv8 modified by Rick Walker at Walker Electronic Solutions. The Denon is not only a quality transport, it is a great DVD player and coupled with the Musical Fidelity DAC produces wonderful sound and video from concert DVDs as well as great sound from Red Book CDs.

Sean Seeger's picture

CD players (regardless of price point) just can't compete with the quality of digital output available from a well-pieced-together computer. The right soundcard matched to the right software front-end with CPU intensive upsampling that just can't be matched by a store-bought box can't be beaten in terms of quality.