Yes, we know you could spend a considerable amount less and be able to create a full blown homemade computer setup that pretty much does the same than any of these audio media systems can manage. But on the flip-side these audio media centers are elegant and brilliantly constructed players that can store your favorite music at CD quality, are standalone systems (while sometimes offering network connectivity), and can do much more without the need to hide it away.
We like that the HDX disc drawer is thorough about CD processing, repeatedly reading/re-reading discs until a bit-perfect CD-quality copy of the audio is obtained. This is then stored onto the HDX's 1TB hard drive, which provides a capacity for over 1200 CDs. Thanks to the HDX's internet connectivity, the unit will automatically catalogue all CDs according to artist, album and track level, enabling the simplest search and selection when you come to play your music, simplifying browsing and finding exactly what you want (we could only wish we could say the same about our own sizable iTunes collections). The HDX is IP-enabled and will connect to your home network to be the heart of a multi-room set up, allowing access to your HDX-stored music throughout your home; the unit can also be controlled remotely via your iPhone with the HDX app, which is available to purchase from the app store.
Loewe Individual Mediacenter DR+
This new multi-room system from designer audio brand, Loewe, offers multi-room audio via LAN, WLAN or power line, while simultaneously allowing multiple music and radio sources, and access to the Gracenote music database. We especially appreciate the addition of inclusion of a high-end DVD player with upscaling to 1080p and bi-directional remote control with color display for easier browsing and UI. The Mediacenter also contains an FM stereo tuner, an analogue audio input, an iPod/iPhone interface, two USB ports and the possibility to access approved file folders on a local computer network. Internet radio and cable and satellite radio playback is also possible.
B&O BeoSound 5
BeoSound 5 is like having a record collection all over again...without the dust. We found the BeoSound 5 to be a great experience while flipping through album covers while listening to the music without the need to use a computer at all. BeoSound 5 supports playback of WMA lossless files for optimal playback; this file format contains the bits that often go missing from compressed MP3 music and alongside FLAC and Apple Lossless, the file formats of choice amongst discriminating digital media audiophiles. BeoSound 5 owes it's capabilties all to its hardworking companion, the BeoMaster 5. This unassuming black box contains storage for up to 1,000 CDs in lossless quality, with sockets expanding capability for internet radio, music management via your computer, viewing photos on your BeoVision, and playing multi-room music via BeoLink.