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Music is Served: Media Servers for Every Taste and Budget
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December 07, 2011 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Media Servers offer up a buffet of music and movies for the most discerning gourmand. Here’s look at what you can expect at different price levels.
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Posted by Eduardo Perdomo  on  12/07  at  06:32 PM

Why isn’t Request mentioned under any of the three categories? I think it is a great product that fits under the “Everyday Gourmet” group.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  12/08  at  08:25 AM

You’re right Eduardo, Request is a good product. There are lots of other companies too, but the article wasn’t intended as a list of all the products, just a general overview of the category. If anyone needs more information on Request, they can find it here http://www.request.com/. The F3 server is a nice multizone product that can play high-resolution files.

Posted by John K  on  12/09  at  01:20 PM

I’ve been very happy with FLAC files on an external hard drive, feeding a Western Digital Media Player - it’s cheap, and varied playlists give me great control.  But I’ve never been clear on where conversion is happening.  The Media Player has an HDMI connection to my receiver.  Do you have any idea whether this type of setup utilizes a DAC in the player, or in the receiver, or both?  I’d like to take advantage of the strongest links in my data chain.

Posted by Craig  on  12/09  at  05:56 PM

Hi Grant, thanks for the review.  My ultimate goal, and what I currently believe is missing, in the software end is one where as you build your movie database, and link to the content, a media server that can link to local content and web-based content (I.E Netflix/AmazonVOD). 

I have large on site storage, with lots of content, however as the cloud gets better and access gets cheaper/faster, I’d much rather have someone else maintain the content.  I want to browse all available content from one application/media server. Do you know any that work like this? 

Thanks for reading!

Posted by Dave  on  12/09  at  06:07 PM

I’m very happy with my DIY setup, which is fed by a NAS array (Drobo in my case) which houses video, audio and picture files. For a video server, I have Plex Server running on a Mac Mini which can serve multiple clients simultaneously (even remotely.) 

Bonus: Plex Server and many Plex clients are free.  It has a strong development community and it’s being ported to new hardware all the time. 

Posted by Larry Lovering  on  12/21  at  06:09 PM

So, are their any open-source media servers that run on Linux, that are like the Meriden or Kaleidescape?  I run a houseful of Windows 7 Media Centers, and a Windows Home Server.  But I’d like the convienence of a box that I can feed CDs and DVDs all day and have it store and serve.

Posted by Richard  on  12/22  at  12:44 AM

I’m kind of surprised that you didn’t include Windows Media Center—not of the expensive Vidabox flavor, but just out of the box—as an option. It’s extremely inexpensive, considering that it’s built into most version of Windows, so it’s just a matter of purchasing a decently-spec’ed computer. It takes a little work, but with adequate storage, it can even host your movie collection. Add a tuner, and it’s also a digital TV DVR. And the Xbox can be used as a multi-room extender for TV and video services.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  12/22  at  08:01 AM

@Richard, you might want to check out this article on Windows Media Center http://www.electronichouse.com/article/use_windows_media_center_for_the_ultimate_dvr/P12

Posted by erik  on  01/02  at  03:32 PM

I’m a little old-school, and I still prefer my iPod for ease of use.  I recently got onto the Smartphone train, and have been looking for great ways to enhance and expand my media services.  Music is a big deal for me, and I am caught between Spotify and Pandora.  I have friends who swear by Pandora, but Spotify seems much more advanced and all-inclusive.  Is it true that you don’t have the option to search for your own taste of music on Pandora??  That it chooses all the music for you based on your first selections??  I like an eclectic mix of music, and this wouldn’t work for me.  Is Spotify a better choice for my tastes?

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  01/03  at  10:55 AM

@erik, we have a feature coming up comparing Pandora, Spotify and Rhapsody. It’s in the January issue of the magazine. I’ll get it posted soon.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  01/03  at  10:57 AM

@erik, by the way, it sounds a little funny to call an iPod old school. I think of LPs as old school, but maybe I’m a lot older.

Posted by Dave Lehrer  on  01/03  at  11:13 AM

@Erik, you can definitely search for your own taste on Pandora. 

Each channel is based off a song that you select, and the resulting playlist evolves as you “like” or “dislike” tracks.  I have many different channels, and Pandora does remarkably well at sticking to the channels’ flavor.

I’ve discovered many a new artist/band through Pandora.

Dave

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