Can You Suggest a Component for Storing My CDs?

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Q I'm looking to load my CD collection into a hi-res ripper/music server that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. My plan is to connect it to my Pioneer SC-85 receiver so I can browse lists of artists and titles on my TV. Do you have any suggestions? —April Seale

A Since you’re asking about standalone products that combine CD ripping, storage, and playback, I’m going to assume you don’t want to mess with computer-based solutions for building a digital audio library. But since you also mention high-res audio and an advanced AV receiver like the Pioneer SC-85, I’m going to assume you own a computer and have a high-speed Internet connection.

Now that I’ve made those assumptions, I’ll offer that the easiest and cheapest solution is to rip your CDs on your computer to the ALAC or FLAC lossless format using a program like dBpoweramp . You can then transfer the files to an external USB hard drive that connects to the Pioneer’s USB port and browse them on your TV using the Pioneer’s onscreen display.

A problem with the above suggestion is that the interface for playback of music files from USB or DLNA-connected devices on receivers is typically slow and clunky to work with. You’ll have a much better experience when using a networked component with built-in storage that provides a tablet or smartphone app to browse your collection. Two such products that Sound & Vision has reviewed recently are the Bluesound Vault and Sony HAP-S1 High-res Audio Player.

While both components are easy to recommend, the cost for each is in the $1,000 range — still an arm and a leg by many folks' standards. If you decide to dive further into the computer end of things, you can save money and get similar results by building a DIY music server using a Mac Mini or Mini PC. For more information and suggestions, check out this post and the informative thread that follows it.

mosafer's picture

There is another way to achieve the end result without spending an arm and a leg along with the ability to never limited on storage space. The amazing audio company provides a network audio line-up called HEOS. Which is similar to SONOS and Blue Sound that was referenced earlier. However, they recently upgraded their line up to allow their units to playback Hi-Res file which now solves the issue at hand. Here are all the components and steps required to get you set up.


- Computer with Ripping Software
- External Hard Drive (bigger is always better)
- A nice Optical or RCA cable (Audio Quest)
- HEOS Link HS2 - (


1.Rip CD’s to computer

2.Transfer content to Hard Drive

3.Configure HEOS Link HS2 to network (Ethernet cable/Wifi) and Smartphone APP

4.Connect HESO HS2 to Pioneer SC-85 using digital optical/ RCA cable

5.Connect Hard Drive to HEOS HS2 via USB cable

6.Sit Back and enjoy the sweet Hi-Res tunes with full control and the best on screen menu from phone or tablet.

This operation this only cost about an average of $500 depending on how the capacity of the HD, Cable length, and computer software. Along with about 1 hour for set up not including ripping content. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any more comments or concerns.

Al Griffin's picture
John Sully's picture

A networked drive (NAS) which running a DLNA server such as Minumserver.

My solution is to use my computer to rip discs and tag the results. dbPoweramp does a good job of this, and I use iTunes to manage my collection and Tuneup to handle the final tagging stage. Then you can use something like BubbleUPnP on a phone or tablet to handle browsing and control functions.

This setup works really well and supports features, such as automatic backup of your collection, and costs only about $500 for the NAS, which is a useful addition to your network irrespective of it's use as a music server.

Of course the weak point of all this is iTunes, but I'm stuck with it because I have an iPod for my car. Grrrr.

mtymous1's picture

"I'm looking to load my CD collection into a hi-res ripper/music server that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. My plan is to connect it to my Pioneer SC-85 receiver so I can browse lists of artists and titles on my TV. Do you have any suggestions?"

Personally, I rip with a computer and use a Synology DS214play as my media server, but if you are looking to repurpose an unused/underutilized computer, look in to Vortexbox:

If you want to expand the capabilities of an existing computer already in use, you could use Kodi ( for ripping, as well as serving. (You could also look at Exact Audio Copy for ripping:

All of the software I've mentioned thus far is free.

With respect to the mac mini suggestion, I couldn't disagree more and strongly recommend against buying one - it's a complete waste of money.

"Apart from the 12-inch MacBook, which was refreshed in April, every single Mac line from the mini to the Pro is designated as "Don’t Buy" [on the MacRumors’ Buyer’s Guide] because of how long it’s been since Apple updated them... The Mac mini has gone 657 days since its last update, which was controversial in itself since Apple removed quad-core options and made the product harder to upgrade after purchase."

"[AirPlay] maxes out at CD-quality 16-bit/44kHz: so there's no high-resolution audio."

So instead of AirPlay, use DLNA: it's been out on the market since 2003 - which is before the then-called "AirTunes" came to market. There is a plethora of DLNA-server solutions that painlessly install in a few minutes - a lot of which are free:

(I have tried a number of them, but found myself liking Universal Media Server the best.)

mtymous1's picture

...the mac mini is that it has a lesser (if not THE least) value proposition for the implied use case. How so? Consider a simple comparison of the cheapest, current model mini against a similarly-spec'd Intel NUC.

For $499, you could get a mac mini with a Core i5, 500 GB hard drive (at only 5400 rpm), and only 4 GB of RAM.

For the same cost, you could get an Intel NUC with the same Core i5 (model# BOXNUC5I5RYH), but the differentiators would be a 500 GB SSD and twice the RAM.

(FWIW: A price gap is created and begins to widen as you go up the ladder of hardware profile comparisons. Also keep in mind that some NUC models have TOSLINK output, in case you have an additional need to connect that way.)

mtymous1's picture

An Intel NUC (plus an SSD and RAM), a USB optical drive, and VortexBox would be the minimum to get you up and running. This DIY approach would be less than $300 (if you got the cheapest NUC).

Note: this approach only has a single drive. I highly recommend getting a dual-drive NAS with redundancy.

Plexi's picture

I used to use Synology but wasn't really satisfied. Now I'd like to try HEOS. Could anyone share more opinions about HEOS? It's not the cheapest solution, I'm just wondering if it's worth its price.


mtymous1's picture

...did you use, and what in particular didn't satisfy you?

riverboa's picture

Playstation 3 is pretty good at achieving this. It even has the benefit of online album/title search.

adam daniels's picture

I just saw a Wolf Audio Systems Alpha2 in Winston-Salem last weekend and I was pretty impressed. It is a media server that comes configured for your system. Its focused on Hi-Res and ripping, and the shop owner said that it beats 20k streamers in performance. I heard it for myself and am definitely wanting one...