A CDE Definition
network music player
A digital media server dedicated to audio only. Supporting a number of digital audio file formats, such as MP3, AAC and high-resolution FLAC, a network music player serves as the control center for music in the home. It connects to the home network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and delivers analog or digital audio to the stereo or home theater system. Contrast with a digital music player, such as an iPod, which is a handheld device.
Also called a "network audio player," network music players may also stream content from the user's computers as well as the Internet (Internet radio, Pandora, Spotify, etc.). The device may have an internal storage device or connect to external drives or both. See digital media server.
digital media server
(1) Software that makes audio, video or images (media) available on the local network. See media server.
(2) Any source for digital media such as a DVR, file server or personal computer.
(3) A DLNA-certified device that stores multimedia content. See DMS and DLNA.
(4) Hardware designed to store and serve digital multimedia content to a stereo system or home theater. Residing in or near the A/V equipment cabinet, the digital media server plugs into the A/V receiver and connects to the Internet and the home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It includes a built-in hard drive or SSD to hold music, videos and photos, or it accepts external drives, or both. DVR capability and Internet radio are also features. Earlier media servers connected to and controlled CD/DVD changers.
Network Music Player
When media servers support only audio, they are called "network music players" or "music streamers." The primary difference is that they decode digital audio files and not video. See network music player.
Rip and Copy
Media servers may include an optical drive for ripping CDs to various digital audio formats, as well as copying DVDs to the server's storage device. If the optical drive supports writing, music and movies can be burned onto blank CDs and DVDs. See ripping and codec examples.
Media servers often include the functions of a digital media hub to deliver streaming content from the Internet or from Windows and Mac machines in the network (see digital media hub).
The Home Control Center
Media servers are designed to be an entertainment control center for cataloging, organizing and distributing the family's multimedia collection throughout the house. Using a wireless keyboard, regular Windows PCs are sometimes customized by vendors for this purpose, and they can also be built by tech-savvy users (see HTPC).
Network and A/V Connections
Both Music Server and Hub
Media Center PCWhen placed in the A/V equipment rack, a PC with the Windows Media Center interface becomes a digital media server. If the PC is in another room, an Extender allows content to be streamed to the stereo or home theater. When targeting the home theater market, Windows PC vendors build their machines in a horizontal case with the same dimensions as A/V components. See Windows Media Center and HTPC.
A Windows Media Center PC
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