How many rooms do I listen to music in?
If you only listen to music in one room, or you’re happy with plain tabletop radios throughout the house, then a single-room server will be fine for you. In fact, you may be able to get away with an external hard drive connected to your AV receiver via US. Ann even easier solution is just a simple iPod and a dock connected to your receiver. If your receiver uses AirPlay, then you’ve got it made.
If you want music throughout your house, then a system that supports multiroom distribution is in your future. Some solutions will serve the same music stream to every room, while others can offer multiple streams so each room can play something independently.
Do I enjoy background music or critical listening?
If just filling the air with any old music is what you’re looking for, then you may only need a device that offers streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify or satellite radio. Those services offer great variety, but the audio quality, while pretty good, does not measure up for critical listening demands.
What’s most important, quality (stored lossless files) or quantity (streaming services?
If you’re picky about what your music sounds like—and we think you should be—then look for an audio server with better quality DACs, higher resolution, and a large hard drive for better audio files. Streaming services are fine, but the difference between and online stream and a high-quality lossless music file is like comparing standard definition TV to Blu-ray.
Can I hook this up myself or do I need professional installation?
There are many products that hook up as easily as a CD player, but most of those are for single-room applications. For a multiroom system you’ll probably need professional installation. A pro installer will not only make sure the products are connected properly, but will also help select the best accessories, test the system for performance and train your family in how to use and enjoy it.
Do I have lots of music or movies I don’t use because it’s too hard to organize?
If that’s the case, then you want to pay special attention to how the systems you’re considering organize and sort the content as well as how easy it is to locate specific titles. Many people accrue large collections of movies or CDs, but only use a small portion of them because it’s just too difficult to find specific titles.
How much time am I willing to put into loading and organizing my media?
Do you plan to sit in front of your system and load each CD individually? Many servers can sync with your existing collection (either from your iTunes library or even from cloud-based collections) making the initial setup process much easier.