Originally Posted by anteroth
Ended up going with the 105....too many nagging thoughts that i would regret not having bought it in the first place. In terms of source material i Have a mostly 192/320 kbps digital music collection with a few ripped cds. Will the Dac improve on those or should i invest in cds of my few favorites for higher quality source material. I have seen a lot of back and forth on what is a good minimum line to draw with lossy and lossless audio for space/quality.
To me it seems to be strange to be feeding a high quality DAC with compressed, lossy files. I would expect CD quality files on a moderate or even lower end DAC or player to sound better than MP3's through the best DAC.
Hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper, and a typical album would have ~500MB in full uncompressed WAV or AIFF form, so you can get ~2,000 albums per 1TB. I have recently got an inexpensive NAS and put in 2, 2TB drives. I run the NAS in RAID1, so one drive will automatically mirror the other, so I would not lose my rips if one of the drives crashes (you should still perform backups to protect against accidentally erasing files). This cost me ~$300. I hook this into my houses network using Ethernet to computers, OPPO 103, Onkyo AVR, and Marantz NA7004.
I have just ripped my ~1,000 CD library into uncompressed WAV files, which only uses about 25% of my 2TB drive. I ripped into WAV because all my devices can decode these files without any problems. Also, a Absolute Sound series on computer audio from last year came to the conclusion that uncompressed files (WAV or AIFF) sound a little better than lossless compressed files (FLAC or ALAC). This conclusion will cause a little controversy with the "bits is bits" and "it is just like a Zip file" arguments. I have NOT done any conclusive listening tests to draw my own conclusion, but with my "cheap hard drive" argument and the my reasoning that it would be impossible that uncompressed files to sound a worse than lossless compressed files, I thought the safe choice would be to rip uncompressed.
Also, I believe iTunes does NOT work w/ FLAC, and I have heard of instances in which WAV files will play gapless, but FLAC's will not. If there is any SQ differences in WAV vs. FLAC, I would think the difference to be caused by something analogous to "jitter", and be due to the realtime computing requirements of converting the FLAC's to PCM. I have noticed my NA7004 sounded better when fed uncompressed WAV files via Ethernet instead of digital input from the disc transport, with the difference being more of the relaxing and focusing more on the music and not the "sound", even though both have identical "bits".
If I were to do it again (since I have plenty of excess hard drive space), I would rip in AIFF (equivalent of WAV with imbedded metadata) to serve as my source files, and use S/W such as JRiver or dBPoweramp to convert to a duplicate directory for WAV's to feed my downstream equipment. That would give me the most future "flexibility", and possibly save many hours of reripping if I were to change music management S/W (I am currently demoing JRiver).