Help for a server on a budget.

I would love some input on doing a server setup that sounds good and is cheap. Over the years my disability has gotten worse and I think its time to devise a way to load my digital collection (or a chunk of it) onto a server to make it easy on me as mobility is more and more an issue.
Trouble is Social Security doesnt pay much so I gotta be very very budget wise.
Can anyone steer me towards a good sounding setup that I can run into my main systems preamp. I do have a spare PC and monitor I can use near my system or my main laptop but I suppose a decent storage size and hard and software is where I really get confused. In a perfect world being able to stream might be fun but if that makes it pricey I can scrap that idea.
nothing fancy but good sound is key, please help me if you can. Thanks and Happy and safe Holidays! Chad
If you have the PC, you needn't be into it for much, in terms of either complexity or money.

Here one very simple way, about what I'm using now (I'm a computer semi-literate):

1. hard drive via usb (or something else) to computer

2. computer via usb (or something else) to DAC

3. DAC to Pre via conventional IC.

4. For software, JRiver or the like.

5. Music files ripped in FLAC or WAV or the like (uncompressed/lossless -- no MP3).

I'm guessing you have computer cabling around, so you would need to purchase only two things (1) A hard drive of at least 1 TB (depending on music collection size), preferably a RAID (redundant array) so your files are backed up. (2) A DAC.

Hard drives are cheap, but a largish RAID won't be free, maybe 300ish. There are lots of well regarded minimalist DACs around, such as those by HRT and Musical Fidelity; something can be had used, or even new, for south of 200.

So this set up costs less than 500. Upgrading cables over stock USB may help, but you'll do fine without.

Ripping your CDs is time consuming, but can be done while doing other things. If your disability is an issue, there are ripping services. Much cheaper would be to find a (semi)reliable teenager who wants to pick up a few bucks.

Going server based is considerably more complex, but quite doable. is a great resource.

Good luck -- you'll be happy you made the move.

Best, John
You can use your current computer in pretty well any room and stream wirelessly to your main system using either a Sonus or Squeezebox. Lots of satisfied people doing this, I haven't made the leap but have been reading up on it quite a bit lately. The Squeezbox is $300, Sonus a bit more. Best, Jeff
Apple TV is an even less expensive option than a Squeezebox as it will stream all your iTunes music, though you would need an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to run the remote control software. (So that might make the cost a wash with Squeezebox.) If you can't afford an external DAC, the one that comes with it is acceptable.

I use a Cambridge DAC Magic with mine and the quality is superb.