Digital audio technology has become so convenient and so versatile that even the most diehard vinyl-record fan can no longer ignore it. Still, it’s unlikely that fan would be embracing digital if it weren’t for the advent of a relatively new product category: the digital music server.
There are many varieties of music servers, but, in general, a music server packs the audio capabilities of a computer into a device that resembles a conventional audio component and fits into an equipment rack. It lets the listener access digital music files stored on computers, hard drives or USB sticks without having to use a computer. No one who owns a computer really needs a music server, because any computer can be connected to a stereo system with a $5 cable. But many computers have loud fans and cheap audio circuitry that don’t result in high-quality sound, and are far more cool and comfortable when placed on a desk instead of in your lap. If you want to relax after a hard day by kicking back in your recliner and wandering through your Monk collection for a couple of hours, a music server beats a computer every time.