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Topic: Digital Audio Receivers (Read 3231 times) previous topic - next topic
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Digital Audio Receivers

Executive Summary for fellow ADHD:

Need helping researching DAR devices.  Summary of research so far here:

DAR Feature Comparison

Please post corrections, additions, or stories of personal experience if you have them, and I'll update research and keep it on web in case others are going through what I am.

Longer version:

Well, now that you've ripped all of your CD's to high quality MP3s, you may be giving some thought to what to do next.

Being both a computer and audio geek, it should be no problem for you to set up some kind of connection between your computer and your stereo system. But if your stereo is in one room and your computer is in another, or you don't want to string cables throughout the house, or if you have non-technical users with whom you'd like to share your music collection (i.e. the "wife factor"), then you may want a more user-friendly solution.

A hardware solution that is growing in popularity is the move towards Digital Audio Receivers, a stereo component/audio appliance with some computer-type elements (i.e. display, networking).  These items are much cheaper than a full fledged Home Theatre/Media PC, ranging from $60-$300, and have certain other things in common:

- They all allow you to play mp3 files from a computer's hard drive on a stereo system that is at some distance from the main machine. 
- They all have remote controls so that you can change tracks from the couch.
- They all have some form of networking.

However from there, they diverge widely.

- Some have LCD displays, while others output to a TV so you can browse tracks/playslists with a Tivo like interface, and even display cover art...
- Some use Wireless networking, others use ethernet, while others still use phone lines, AC power lines, or unlicensed RF for their networks.
- Some support lots of different file formats, while others are mp3 only.
- Some of them even let you stream video or show slideshows of images.

For my purposes, any one of these devices would be great, so I started researching what was out there, and quickly got overwhelmed with all the different features.  While trying to make sense of everything, I put together the following chart:

DAR Feature Comparison

While some of this information was easy to glean from review sites, manufacturers specs, vendor sites, and newsgroups, there are still a lot of holes and unanswered questions.

For example, the TV-display seems like a really neat item, since if I'm listening to music, I'm not going to be watching TV... however some of the reviews harshly criticize the on-screen displays as being impossible to use.  Also, LCD quality varies enormously, and if you're sitting on the couch, you don't want to have to lean forward and squint to read title info.  And what about quality?  How do these boxen measure up to each other?  Is volume control something that is a critical feature?  These things offer line-level outputs, for the most part, so controlling the volume using the remote for your receiver may make more sense... but then again, how many remotes do you want to have to touch to switch songs and pump up the volume...

The questions go on and on, so I thought I would ask you guys for help... If anyone has any experience with these appliances, I'm asking you to post your experiences here.  I'd especially appreciated any help filling in the ? marks and places where I have errors or where clarity is needed. 

If this is something that others will find useful, I will take responsibility for keeping this info up to date, as new items come out on the market and/or more information becomes available. 

Thanks in advance for any help!

If you prefer not to post publicly, please e-mail me your comments at

Digital Audio Receivers

Reply #1
The link doesn't work.

Digital Audio Receivers

Reply #2
Link has been changed to one that will hopefully work for you now.

Sorry about that.

New link

Digital Audio Receivers

Reply #3
If I were going to do one of these, I would be strongly tempted to build one.  You can build a silent PC in a low-profile case with the ability to play music, videos, etc. for just a couple hundred bucks or less.

Of course, I'd also be tempted to build in PVR functionality, but that would require more hardware and might break the budget.
I am *expanding!*  It is so much *squishy* to *smell* you!  *Campers* are the best!  I have *anticipation* and then what?  Better parties in *the middle* for sure.