I have ripped all of my cds to a separate Hard drive. I usually send to my laptop, pick a file (album or saved playlist), then send to my DAC/ stereo amp. Is there an alternative piece of hardware out there that allows me to forego the laptop, but still gives me control over what I play?
That depends on what format you ripped to. I always ripped to lossless .wav files as masters. They take more space than .mp3s do, but you can convert them using your laptop PC. Consider also loading (in proper format) onto your mobile device, if you haven't already. You can get a combo USB/ USB-C thumb drive for use with mobile devices, like the Sandisk. You download the app for your device, plug in the thumb drive to your device and the app does the rest.
You would need a streamer that could access the files on your network. A Sonos Port, Denon Heos Link, and BluOS Node 2i are a few of these. These will have analog and digital audio outputs. Control is via app. They also access streaming music services and internet radio.