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Setting Up and Loading the Server

Setting up a digital media server is relatively simple. You connect either the right/left RCA audio outputs or the digital audio output to the corresponding inputs on your audio/video receiver; you also have to connect a video output on the server to your television monitor. Then you connect the media server to the Internet, either via Ethernet or a WiFi wireless connection. Plug in the power cord and you're ready to go.

The next thing you need to do—and it's a big thing—is to transfer your CD collection to the media server's hard disk. Most servers have a built-in CD player; insert each CD manually to rip it to the hard disk. (You'll first have to choose recording format and quality, of course.) Once the CD is ripped to the hard disk, the media server will connect to the Internet and download album, track, and artist information from Gracenote or some other Internet music database.

Once you have your CD collection ripped to the media server's hard disk, you use the server's built-in software to create your own personal playlists. You also use the player software to play back songs, albums, or playlists from the hard disk. The software's interface is displayed on your system's television screen, and you make your selections via a remote control unit.

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