Working With A Home Music Server February 28, 2011
As computers and home networks become more popular, a number of types of home servers have become available. Many of these are media centered, offering support for digital photographs, digital music and other audio files, and video. The focus here is on the home music server.
It is easy to think of servers in the business environment, because that is where they got their start. Early models supported sharing of disk space and printers, though they often do much more today. Servers in the home can offer services like these. Most of the attention has been on shared storage of various types of media files.
A music server, which can also be referred to as a manager, is intended to make audio files easier to use. It can store them in a central location. It can help users find files, or allow them to browse through the collection. Those with CD burners can even download selected files to CD.
To work as a music manager, a computer must have a network connection, sufficient hard drive space, and suitable software. Computers that are built to be music servers should already have all of these. Their most obvious hardware characteristic is larger than average hard drives.
Client computers that access the manager may view the audio file collection as a network drive. Another interface is for the manager software to create web pages that can be viewed with a web browser on connected clients. These pages should support playing or retrieving any of the audio files in the system. There should also be capabilities to search for files or to browse through the collection. Access keys should include file name, artist, album, and others. Play lists should also be supported.
Music players can access content by connecting to a client computer, or possibly to the manager. The presence of the manager should have minimal impact on the use of the player. It should treat files on the manager as if they are stored on the computer it is connected to.
Audio files can be played on any audio equipment, including televisions and home theater systems, as long as one of the home computers is connected to it. In situations where this is not practical, a playback device can be attached to the network and connected to the audio system. These devices are built to work with video, but most of them are quite suitable for use with audio.
A home music server is not the only way to archive and share sound files. In some households a central archive may not be the best approach. However, for most people this is a convenient way to organize things. If a song is stored in one of three places, it is harder to find than if it is known to be in one. It is also useful to have a very large hard drive for all media, not just sound.
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