Is there a better way to than apple tv to listen to music? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-30-2013, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I am new to this part of the forum so have mercy on me. I am wondering if there is a way that provides a better format than my apple tv. I'm sure there is but just don't know.
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-31-2013, 05:53 AM
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I think I'd ask in the CD and dedicated music transport forum.
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post #3 of 13 Old 01-31-2013, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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ok, thanks!
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-03-2013, 09:14 AM
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For stereo, no. The ATV is unmatched in convenience, and sonically identical to other means of transmitting stereo digital audio.

For multichannel, yes. At least, I can't figure out how to burn DVD-A's and SACD's to iTunes for playback on my ATV.

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post #5 of 13 Old 02-08-2013, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

For stereo, no. The ATV is unmatched in convenience, and sonically identical to other means of transmitting stereo digital audio.

For multichannel, yes. At least, I can't figure out how to burn DVD-A's and SACD's to iTunes for playback on my ATV.

^^^ +1

AppleTV tops out at 48khz/16bit, which is great for 44.1/16 CD music. If you rip higher resolution stereo music (like from HDtracks, ripped from sacd/dvd/bd etc.) into itunes in ALAC format, it can be output to the AVR from the mac/pc at native resolution up to 96/24 over optical, and higher than that over HDMI. Any stereo files that play in itunes can also be streamed to the appletv, but they will be downsampled to 48/16 before sending over airplay. Still very good quality, and will not be audibly different from native resolution on most if not all systems.

Multichannel can be ripped to ALAC format, but I can't get itunes to import it or play it on a mac or anywhere else. Best solution if you want multichannel music a dedicated htpc like a mac mini with third party jukebox software. I haven't found software with an interface I like, though, which is one reason I'm still using my disc player for multichannel music.

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post #6 of 13 Old 02-16-2013, 09:59 PM
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Apologies for continuing this off-topic thread, but this has concerned me for a long time. Lossless music streamed through the ATV via optical to an AVR just doesn't sound as good as the same music played by CD - to my ears. Neither does lossless music streamed directly to AVRs that have Apple Airplay capability. Does anyone have experience using a 24-bit DAC converter between the ATV and the AVR to improve on the audio quality? The New York Times had an article suggesting that some DACs can do this.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/technology/personaltech/a-sound-system-as-resonant-a-concert-hall-tool-kit.html
http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-17-2013, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Nil View Post

Apologies for continuing this off-topic thread, but this has concerned me for a long time. Lossless music streamed through the ATV via optical to an AVR just doesn't sound as good as the same music played by CD - to my ears. Neither does lossless music streamed directly to AVRs that have Apple Airplay capability. Does anyone have experience using a 24-bit DAC converter between the ATV and the AVR to improve on the audio quality? The New York Times had an article suggesting that some DACs can do this.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/technology/personaltech/a-sound-system-as-resonant-a-concert-hall-tool-kit.html
http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/

A 24 bit DAC does nothing to improve the fidelity 16 bit music. All CDs are 44.1khz/16 bit, and Airplay (which is what AppleTV uses to stream) converts everything to 48khz/16bit, regardless of source. So even if you're streaming 96/24 music from itunes, it will get downsampled to 48/16 bit by the AppleTV. Resampling is to 24 bit will not get the lost information back. Your AVR almost certainly already has a 24 bit DAC anyway, but you will only get the benefit if your source material is 24 bit and stays 24 bit all the way down the line.

Is the CD player connected to the receiver by optical/HDMI or analog? Are you using the same EQ settings for both sources? If you're hearing a difference, it's either because of differences in these settings (even something as simple as mismatched gain between the inputs), or it's in your head because you expect the CD to sound better. The source material is identical, and since Airplay is upsampling the lossless file from 44.1 to 48khz in this case, no information is being lost in the streaming process.

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post #8 of 13 Old 02-17-2013, 08:17 PM
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Wouldn't surprise me at all if it's all in my head; some of us are certifiable for the money we throw at every new audiophile release ;-). The NYT article, nevertheless, compared an $1800 CD player versus a computer (lossless music files), both wired to a quality sound system (it was held at a high-end audio store), and found that there were DACs priced in the $500 range that significantly enhanced the computer-derived sound and brought it to par with that from the expensive CD player. Since streaming lossless music files via ATV or with Airplay-endowed AVRs, I think, is similar to playing through a computer, wouldn't having these external DACs help in the same way? My ATV and CD player are connected via HDMI to my AVR. These external DACs cost much more than the CD/SACD/DVD-A Pioneer 610 player and nearly as much as the Denon 3312 AVR in my system!
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post #9 of 13 Old 02-17-2013, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
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While on the subject of dacs do any of you have quality headphones? Do you insist on these headphone amp/dacs?
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post #10 of 13 Old 02-21-2013, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nil View Post

The NYT article, nevertheless, compared an $1800 CD player versus a computer (lossless music files), both wired to a quality sound system (it was held at a high-end audio store), and found that there were DACs priced in the $500 range that significantly enhanced the computer-derived sound and brought it to par with that from the expensive CD player.

There are lots of ways to equal the sound of an $1800 CD player. Like a cheap Blu-Ray player.

I once did a blind test between an elite, critically-acclaimed, bloody expensive CD player (Meridian 508.20 factory upgraded to 508.24 spec) and a $60 Samsung "universal" (at the time, that meant SACD. DVD-A, and DVD-video) player. The players were level-matched, and the test was to determine whether or not they sounded different. (Difference must be established before preference can be discussed.)

I don't recommend trying such tests with disk spinners. The big problem is syncing playback! With DACs, it's easy enough to do. Just carefully match levels.
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Originally Posted by Nil View Post

Since streaming lossless music files via ATV or with Airplay-endowed AVRs, I think, is similar to playing through a computer, wouldn't having these external DACs help in the same way? My ATV and CD player are connected via HDMI to my AVR. These external DACs cost much more than the CD/SACD/DVD-A Pioneer 610 player and nearly as much as the Denon 3312 AVR in my system!

In your case, the only thing a DAC can do is mess things up. You could introduce noise, because of the analog lines, You could get ground loops. You would lose room correction and possibly bass management, or you'd just introduce an extraneous DA-AD-DA loop as your AVR re-digitizes the signal the DAC converted to analog. (I'm not sure how your AVR works.)

And cost is entirely irrelevant.
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Originally Posted by jlpowell84 View Post

While on the subject of dacs do any of you have quality headphones? Do you insist on these headphone amp/dacs?

I have a few headphones, though I suppose "quality" is debatable: Senn HD-580, Denon D2000, Ety ER-4, ADDIEM, AKG K550, and I recently ordered a pair of Fostex T50RP's to play with modding.

I do use a headphone amp (HeadRoom Micro Amp at home, HeadRoom Total AirHead when traveling), but mostly because HeadRoom's crossfeed pulls the acoustic scene forward for me. (The Senn 580 and ER-4 do benefit from the extra voltage swing a headphone amp provides, because of their high impedances. The others, not so much. The Fostex is still on its way, so can't comment there.) Special DAC, no. I have thought about buying that new Meridian Explorer, but don't really expect it to sound different.

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post #11 of 13 Old 02-21-2013, 07:12 PM
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If you're already in the Apple/iTunes Ecosystem, the Apple TV is a great and astoundingly inexpensive way to stream your music collection -- great interface, indiscernible quality difference between a CD in ALAC (to me), and I can stream direct from my phone. I do have connected to my AVR through an Audioengine D1 DAC/headphone amp. To me, the sound quality difference between Airplay over HDMI or through my DAC is different - music sounds slightly "softer" through the audioengine, which is pleasing to my ears, although that's probably in my head. The D1 also has a nice headphone amp built-in, which sounds cleaner than the headphone amp built into my receiver.

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post #12 of 13 Old 02-23-2013, 06:53 PM
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I use the ATV3 and an AE to stream iTunes to my various equipment and since all my rips or in lossless I can not tell the difference as for multi-channel I just use the Oppo and play the shiny disc in either SACD or DVD-A.
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post #13 of 13 Old 02-24-2013, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for all the input. In the end it appears to be in the ear of the listener and may or may not be subjective. For example, I have the Headroom Total Airhead for the wonderful Sennheiser HD650 headphones, and find the Airhead unnecessary for iPod playback with the HD650s.

The Audioengine D1 is a steal at under $200! I noticed that it has the AKM4396 24 bit DAC chip. The Schitt Bifrost that was recommended in the NYT article has the AKM4399 32 bit D/A converter, which may account for its higher price.
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