Popular Digital Media Servers
As I said, the market for digital media servers is new and constantly changing. Let's look at some of the most popular media servers available as of Fall 2004.
Denon's NS-S100 multimedia server ($4,000) is a Linux-based device that functions as a combination A/V receiver, personal video recorder (using the Replay TV service), and streaming digital media player (for audio, video, and photos). It includes a 120GB hard drive as well as a front-panel removable hard disk bay, ideal for backing up your music collection. Connect additional NS-C200 multimedia client units to your home network to play back content throughout your house.
Escient is the company of choice for professional home theater installers because their units not only come with built-in hard disks, but can control up to three mega-disc CD/DVD changers. The Escient Fireball E2-300 Digital Music Manager ($3,999) has a huge 300GB hard disk and can store music in MP3, WAV, or FLAC format (for lossless CD-quality compression). Use FLAC encoding, and you can fit up to 1,000 CDs on the hard disk with no compromise in audio quality. The unit also features streaming Internet radio playback when connected to a broadband connection.
The Wurlitzer Digital Jukebox is a neat-looking digital media server that comes in three configurations: a freestanding jukebox with separate speakers ($1,899), a component unit that connects to your home audio system ($1,499), or an executive tabletop unit with built-in speakers ($999). Each version hosts a CD player/burner and an 80GB hard drive. The Jukebox also receives digital Internet radio (when connected to your home network via WiFi) and lets you export music to portable audio players. You can even send and control music to multiple locations throughout your house, via optional tabletop units.
Yamaha's MusicCAST MCX-1000 ($2,800) is a media hub that functions as an audiophile-quality audio component. This digital audio server serves as the base unit and has a built-in 80GB hard drive. There's a front panel display for song information, the obligatory wireless remote, and a full complement of analog, digital optical, and digital coaxial outputs. You can also serve music to other rooms with one or more optional MCX-A10 client systems, which connect wirelessly.