Arcam has released what it calls the "world's finest sounding hard drive music server". For hi-fi fanatics, it's a £3,000 400GB music server that will play CDs and can rip and store up to 700 lossless music albums.

If you don't mind compressing music down into small MP3 files, the Arcam FMJ MS250 MusicFile Server will store around 80,000 songs.

The idea of this thing is that it can hold your entire music collection, in the highest quality possible in the home, ready to play at a moment's notice. This easy access to all your favourite music avoids the hassle of finding yet another empty CD case and realising that the missing disc is still in the car's auto-changer or borrowed by a friend.

Four zone music playback

The MS250 can be set to copy every disc you play automatically while you play CDs - that's pretty convenient. You can then edit them and if necessary organise your music by artist, genre, etc.

"[It's a] world class music replay and storage device that has been three years in development. The huge task of merging the requirements of audiophile sound with the computer based features of a server, has only been made possible by Arcam's extensive experience in building high speed digital devices and high-end hi-fi," an Arcam spokesperson said.

This isn't just a CD/HDD player either. It's called a server because it's capable of streaming music into up to four different rooms in your home using its built-in analogue audio outputs. All you need to add are separate amplifiers and speakers for each room you want to listen in. Plus suitable localised remote controls such as a desktop or wall-mounted touch panel. The Arcam MS250 comes with all the necessary RS232 connectors. You can even use the MS250 to stream music to and from your PC or your Mac.

The player's disc drive is also CD/RW compatible so any music stored on it can be written to disc if you lose the proper CD.

KEY FEATURES

Music playback

  • Hard disk based music server with audiophile sound quality
  • Audiophile quality CD playback from internal CD drive
  • CD recording capability to record personal compilations to CD-R or CD-RW
  • 400GB internal hard drive (circa 640 albums uncompressed, up to 4,800 albums uncompressed)
  • Playback of MP3, WMA, CDDA, WAV and AAC (unprotected)
  • Program choice by artist, album, genre or custom playlist
  • Easy to use search capabilities
  • Controllability
  • 4x independent analogue zone inputs, each with its own volume control
  • Independent IR inputs for each zone's control
  • Duplex RS232 control
  • Infra-red or RS232 control for four analogue zones
  • TCP/IP for control from PC
  • Full 6-line easy-to-read front panel display for control from main room
  • Video outputs to show graphical user interface (GUI) on a local display or main screen

Connectivity and networking

  • Wired 10/100 Ethernet or wireless networking (wireless using Ethernet network adapter)
  • Streaming from Mac / PC - streaming from iTunes on Mac / PC - streaming back to Mac / PC
  • Pre-qualified list of quality internal radio stations using MP3 and WMA
  • Video display output in composite, S-video and VGA
  • USB socket for additional storage, USB keyboard socket for track titling, MP3 players / flash memory drives, etc
  • Backup capability via external USB hard drives (when connected)

Dimensions

  • Measures 430mm (W) x 300mm (H) x 100mm (D)
  • Weighs 7.47kg