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To Jeff Fritz,

I’m a reader of your SoundStage! reviews and opinions.

I wonder the following: You are using a MacBook and an Oppo as your sources. Do you consider them to be good enough for your system of Soulution and Magico?

I’m using a MacBook Pro with Roon, and it sounds fine, but I was wondering if a dedicated music server would be a better source. What are your findings regarding dedicated music servers versus the MacBook?

Kind regards,
Joop Grootenboer
The Netherlands

I’ve reviewed a number of music servers through the years and have auditioned others that I did not write about. What I have found over and over is that dedicated music servers can sound fantastic. But so can MacBooks. And therein lies the rub: Each time I’ve returned to my MacBook (also equipped with Roon), I’ve not wanted for something else. The Oppo BDP-103 universal BD player is used more for convenience than for critical listening -- I rely on the MacBook for that -- but even it can sound really good.

Although I have no empirical evidence to support this theory, I believe that the choice of digital-to-analog converter has a lot to do with the differences some hear with servers versus computers. Some DACs just seem to be better equipped to reject noise and jitter than others, either minimizing or nullifying the differences in the digital delivery device.

There are other reasons that an audiophile might want to purchase a dedicated music server. Some simply don’t want a laptop in their listening room, preferring something that looks and functions more like a traditional audiophile component. There are several music-server brands -- Aurender and Lumin come to mind -- that are beautifully built and look right at home on a rack next to an ARC preamp or D’Agostino integrated amp. In my book, that’s a legit reason to purchase one if that is important to you.

You’ll have to decide if the MacBook is your ultimate solution or if a music server is in your future. To simply answer your question, though: Yes, I absolutely believe my MacBook is good enough for my system. . . . Jeff Fritz