Ready for the Streamers?
In February we replaced our ageing laptops. My new Acer has a 1Tb HDD. I decided it was an ideal opportunity to do something about storing my music collection on computer. I didn’t realise quite how many CDs we have between us! I am now on the last leg of the process and expect that it’s going to be approaching 1000 individual discs – that’s looking like over 300Gb of flac’d music and associated files, phew!
Mind you, they do sound good when played back via HRT Headstreamer DAC and Shure SE530 earphones. There’s more life and depth to the sound than with mp3 files, which often sound a bit too harsh, shrill and thin to my ears. So I have good sounds going on at work, and even on holiday should I choose.
This made my thoughts turn to home. I have a perfectly decent CDP-Amp combination, but sometimes it is more convenient to play from laptop to amp via USB and the Cambridge DACMagic. I’m a bit naughty and use a boosted USB cable but without noticeable degradation to spoil my listening. (The other evening I listened to a CD ripped to flac format on my laptop with Winamp and also the original CD on my ‘player – I could discern no appreciable difference in quality as I ‘hot-switched’ between sources – in a blind test I believe I would never know which was which).
However, in recent months WHF has been putting temptation in my way. What’s with all these music streamers then? All this recent grim weather has put me in need of a technology fix to chase the blues away and I am mulling over either a camera upgrade or maybe one of these shiny new clever boxes of tricks.
But do I really need such a thing (the streamer I mean)? After all, we have wi-fi, two redundant laptops and even a little-utilised tower PC. Between them they have more than enough hard disc capacity for all of our music. Surely we can set things up such that the spare boxes can be used to store and play music directly to DAC/Amp? As tempting as they might look, what advantages do the streamers offer? I already have Spotify and Winamp (and even iTunes) on my computers. Somewhere I might have an old Ethernet hub and cabling squirreled away from my IT days. So, do I really need another box of tricks? Or do I spend my money on a nice shiny Canon 60D or 7D? (Therein lies yet another conundrum...)