digital media server


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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
Media servers hook into the network over wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi and to the A/V equipment via several analog and digital connections. Slowly but surely, the analog connections are disappearing.


Network and A/V Connections
Media servers hook into the network over wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi and to the A/V equipment via several analog and digital connections. Slowly but surely, the analog connections are disappearing.







Both Music Server and Hub
This Universal Music Controller from Musical Fidelity serves music from connected iPods and hard disks as well as streams music from computers in the network. (Image courtesy of Musical Fidelity Limited, www.musicalfidelity.com)







Media Center PC


When 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
CybertronPC makes several Media Center PCs. This Core i7-based model has 2 terabytes of disk storage and an HDTV tuner card. (Image courtesy of Cybertron International, Inc., www.cybertronpc.com)
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