Music Server buying considerations

sorry if covered before
i use a small fanless pc into a usb isolation unit and then into a Chord Qutest DAC.  I have a 4tb drive attached.

So.... is a music server really better? or just a overpriced pc?    If better, what are key considerations when buying one?  they all seem so overpriced to me.   I would want one without a DAC in it.  thoughts? recommendations?

Yes, there has been a good deal of discussion on this very topic so you’ll find some thoughts to help you.  The short answer is yes - a dedicated music server really can be better.  And, sometimes the difference is very significant. That doesn’t mean that your setup is bad, or that you couldn’t optimize the route you’re taking.

library management - the apps built for servers are better than iTunes or applications like Audivarna (which has some appeal).
Inputs - do you need wireless or can you go wired (better)
Output - what’s best for your DAC?  Some are better w/ USB. Others are better w/ SPDIF, Ethernet, etc.
Budget - more $ does typically buy better sound.  Certainly that’s been my experience.  I found the Bluesound Node 2 to better my optimized Mac Mini.  And, I found units in the $2k range to better the Bluesound Node 2.

In sum, what you have works.  But, you might find if you audition a dedicated server that you like the results.  Then again, you might not think the results worth the extra $.  Only one way to find out.

Good luck.  Let us know how it goes.

I’ve done both, PC and Music Server.  You can achieve good sound either way.  Personally I prefer not to be using a PC because I get sick of working with them and prefer to have an audio component.  If you are uncomfortable however with paying “extra” for an Audio piece that at heart is a computer, I would just stick with a PC based system and optimize it
I don't think it's better. Perhaps more convenient.

The real differentiator IMHO is the software, android/iPhone compatibility and how likely they are to maintain and upgrade.

This makes going with a Roon-like ecosystem really attractive.

It sounds like you have a nice setup already.

I’m not sure what you mean by a music server. It’s kind of a vague term. Something to send music over your home network? Or a PC (they are all really PCs of some kind) that is specifically configured and marketed as a music player?

In terms of software, any PC will run JRiver Media Center. While I have some quibbles with it, it’s really very powerful and better than almost anything. It’s very flexible and offers excellent library management, as well as bit-perfect playback.