I've decided to enter the digital age, and have ripped my 700 CD's to m4a (using iTunes). I now want to listen to this music through my mid-to-high-end component HiFi system. The audio m4a files are on my home network's NAS (Windows Storage Serve), and I have two PC's which run iTunes (I actually like the iTunes interface). The PCs are nowhere near the HiFi. I have the ability to run a wireless (g) network, but prefer to run wires for reliability and security.
I'm confused with the plethora of choices out there - non of which seem 'complete', and would welcome any advice as to the best set up for an audio-only system. Things I'm considering include:
1) Buying an AppleTV, and a TV to go with it, and putting up with a lousy, menu-driven interface to naviagte my 12,000 songs. Seems overkill for audio only.
2) Using an old laptop running iTunes, with a DAC such as the Xitel HiFi Link, or something slightly higher-end such as http://www.stereo-link.com/index.html
. Problem with this is that I really didn't want a mouse-driven system, would love a touchscreen - and another thing - how much should I pay for the DAC - they range from $50 to $500 ??
3) Buying a TouchScreen monitor, and running a Jukebox application (either in conjunction with the laptop or with a new 'media' machine - see below). This would be high on 'Cool' but I would miss the iTunes browse features ( I presume iTunes won't work with a touch screen?).
4) Buy (or have built?) a new 'media' computer (are these available off the shelf???) - needs to be able to run iTunes/other jukebox software, have a good DAC soundcard, internet connection, but not much else I guess....
5) Buying something like a SONOS system http://www.sonos.com
(a bit expensive, and I think I'll loose my favorite iTunes feature of browsing by genre and Artist(?) ). Also, would be overkill as I only really have one HiFi i want to stream to (at the moment!), and prefer wired to wireless.
Another major consideration for the software is that I've spent hours getting album artwork into iTunes. I don't want to have to redo this work if I use a non-iTunes interface, and the few I've tried don't seem to be able to read the iTunes Album library.
Any suggestions welcome....!