Music server interface suggestions

I currently am running a music server (pc), ran via usb to a bel canto dac3, into bel canto ref1000s. The Dac3 is also used as my preamp. So my question is that I am looking into new possibilities for an interface to access my music server. At some point in time, I plan on getting a mac mini, and setting up a hard drive array in a NAS.
Currently though, I have my pc hooked up through my tv and is controlled through a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I really want to get away from having to turn the computer on and using a mouse to select which song I want to play.

One more issue I want to resolve, is exploring other inputs on the dac3 in place of the usb, as I want to get into 24/96 music files. As many of you know the usb is only 16/44.1 (or 48).

So here are a few options

1) Get a airport express using the optical out to connect to the dac3.
(Only issue is I still have to use my laptop (mac) to access music files, but I get the benefits of 24/96.

2) Get something like a slim devices duet, connecting the dac3 via optical again. Using the handheld remote, and at some point store all of my music files stored on a qnap nas, so i can access files without a computer being on.

3) mac mini connected w/ usb or optical with the remote program for the iphone.

Anyone know the positives or negatives of these things? Will the duet or airport change the sound at all??

*If I were to use the optical it would be with a cable such as the wireworld supernova.

**Oh yeah, I am aware of the 500 dollar usb update the the dac3 and would rather put my money in another direction I think.


Why would look at a MacMini and not the AppleTV? Cheaper, and does exactly what you want.
I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to computer audio... but I think your headed in the right direction with your "3)". Suggest you contact Steve Nugent @ Empirical Audio or research the Computer Audiophile website.
In response to the appletv suggestion, can you the remote application for the iphone/itouch with an appletv? If not thats not what I am looking for because I dont want the tv on while selecting which music to listen to.
I am a big fan of the Slim Devices solutions and I have upgraded from a Squeezebox 3 and a Bel Canto DAC2 to the Modwright Transporter. This is the best digital front end I have owned and the Slim Devices interface is simple to use. My music is stored on an iMac.

Good Luck!
Yes the iPhone/touch will control, as will your universal remote. Also, the AppleTV will take content off of all of your iTunes accounts, I think up to 5, and stream them wirelessly. I love mine, I switched from a MacMini because the interface was just so easy to use, and the other entertainment options are just awesome. Oh yeah, it was cheap too.
a few points and corrections

1. optical from the laptop and USB will both do 24/96
2. airport express is limited to 16/44.1
3. go to Wavelength audio site for info on setting it up
4. go to Audio Asylum and prowl around the PC Audio board
5. there are a lot of options to control the mini, see 4 above
6. everything changes the sound on a high resolution system
7. optical is likely to have more jitter and should be reclocked or use a DAC with good jitter rejection for optimum performance (Altmann Attraction DAC is very nice)

good luck, have fum
Good advice from Herman but I would also ad... check out the Apple Core group at Audio Circle. You'll find all things audio/video and apple.
Thanks to all who responded.
I think I have it narrowed down. I have ruled out the apple tv because, this will just be adding an interface, while I still will need a computer running somewhere for this all to operate well.
also the airport express is ruled out if it is in fact limited to 16/44.1

Making my top choice right now the mac mini, with a nas storage device put away in a closet or back room. I will also use the remote program for the iphone to control. After I get it all setup, I will get a Wireworld supernova glass toslink cable and do some critical listening vs. my kimber usb cable. Also hopefully then I can explore 24/96 which I have been very excited to listen to.

Thanks again for your input, this definitely helped me narrow down my decision.

* the only other thing I would think about is a transporter or modwright transporter. I would have to use it as a pre though also. i'll have to do some research on this.

Hello Tim.

I don't think your options will work for 24bit/96khz audio. Cos first of all the Duet doesn't support that bit rate, I know cos I tried it and I happen to use the DAC3 too. Neither does an airport express if I am not wrong. So the best bet will be getting the Olive Melody which happens to support 24bit/96khz and it looks way cooler than the Duet too.

Happy hunting!

NAS: 500 Gig Buffalo Technology BUFFALO HSDH500GL LinkStation Live Multimedia Storage Server