Merging Technologies' smart solution is to put the player in the DAC. The Merging+Player, available in stereo and eight-channel versions, is a complete music player in a single box that requires only amps and speakers (or only powered speakers) to play any files stored anywhere on a home network. While the eight-channel Merging+NADAC costs $11,500, the eight-channel Merging+Player PL8 is priced at $13,500 and requires the purchase of a Roon subscription. Externally it's identical to the DAC, save for the addition of two USB Type A jacks for attached drives.
Installation consists of connecting: the analog output cables, RCA and/or XLR, to your power amps; an RJ45-terminated Ethernet cable to the Merging+Player RJ45 jack and your home network; and the AC power cable to player and wall. Switch it on and the Merging+Player is ready to go—but how to control it? Its bright, tiny screen and built-in controls serve only to configure the hardware, choose among inputs, and control volume.