Disclosure of Material Connection: Some legal info before we get into the good stuff ;) Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, MusicServerTips.com will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I own and/or use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Any external link pointing to a commercial offering is clearly marked as “advertisement”. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” and international laws. Click here to learn more.
Google Chromebooks are extremely popular among users who primarily use the cloud to store their documents, pictures and mostly need some sort of a cheap laptop to browse the web. In some way they mark the resurgence of netbooks who died a slow death with the advent of tablets. One major distinction is that Chromebooks are not just scaled down Windows computers but come with Google’s own proprietary Chrome OS which is based on Linux. There’s no spinning harddrive – every Chromebook comes with flash drives. After all you’re supposed to use the cloud for everything according to Google.
Chromebooks can be purchased on Amazon between $200 and $400. The Acer C720 (advertisement) is pretty popular right now. Samsung also makes some really nice looking ones.
So the question that begs to be answered: Can we use a Chromebook as a music server? From what I’ve heard it is totally possible. I’ve yet to personally try it out so take my advice with a grain of salt :)
All Chromebooks are equipped with USB ports. You can hook up an external USB DAC to your Chromebook and the music starts playing. I’ve received positive feedback from users who got their JDS Labs ODAC up and running. The Chrome OS kernel apparently also supports FLAC (standard CD quality and high-resolution formats). With Google’s built-in music player app you can easily send music straight to your external DAC.
I personally wouldn’t store anything on the miniature flash drives but rather plug an external HDD into one of the USB ports. Unfortunately, you are going to be quite limited by the choice of apps. So this type of setup only makes sense if you use your Chromebook directly to pick the tracks you want to listen to. Sure, you could replace Chrome OS with Ubuntu Linux or any other Linux flavor of your choice but this would complicate things. And simplicity is what the Chromebook was designed for.