Re: OT question about sound cards/chip-sets and high-end music systems
The cheapest solution by far is to use your current PC, and have a
contractor come in and run an in wall digital optical cable from the
room your PC is in to the room your A/V receiver is in. Plug a Toslink
patch cable from the wall to the PC, and from the wall to the A/V
receiver and you're done. If you go this route you'll need a PC
hardware solution with a digital audio output (Toslink connection)
If you're going to go this route and use a sound card on your PC, here' s a couple handy links:
Note that internal sound cards are more prone to noise and distortion than external cards, in case you weren't already aware.
FWIW, reasons I went with a Squeezebox include (if you haven't considered these yet):
1) The ability to access/control my music collection remotely, i.e. not having to go to the physical computer to skip a song, etc.
2) Not being tied to one physical location; if I want to put my Squeezebox in my bedroom instead of living room for a weekend, I can unplug and move it in 2 minutes.
3) I considered buying a cheap/used netbook or laptop, along with an external sound card, to connect directly to my receiver. Compared to the price of a Squeezebox (or any wireless music player for that matter), it was about twice as much. Plus I'm not a fan of having a computer that close to so much electronic equipment.
4) Open source software and firmware. Since Logitech bought out SlimDevices they have maintained this; hopefully they will continue.
Just thought I'd share my experience in case anyone can benefit from it.