AVS Special Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco - East Bay area
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Playing the physical disc doesn't sound quite as good as getting a ripped file into the Oppo by any means... Ethernet, USB async DAC connection, or USB hard disc. And the Ethernet connection can be just about anything... another computer, a NAS drive, etc. When playing files from a computer, you do need GOOD playback software. For Windows PCs, Foobar is just OK, but JRiver Media Center is better (though Foobar is free and Media Center is $50 last time I looked). JRiver's superiority comes from being able to select the best sounding mode (WASAPI Event Style) and the software will directly access the USB DAC bypassing ALL the computer's internal audio system (and Windows too). In the Mac world, Decibel ($33 last I looked), Pure Music ($200) and Amarra (couple hundred to $700 for full version last I knew) all have what it takes to get the best sound out of a Mac. All those Mac programs have settings to obtain exclusive access to the USB DAC also -- that is the Mac equivalent of bypassing as much of the hardware and operating system as possible so that the music being played (preferrably from MEMORY after loading from your library drive) sounds as good as it possibly can.
So far, I've never been able to make a Windows platform sound as good as a Mac... not a huge difference, but there's something in Windows PCs that holds back sound quality ever so slightly compared to Macs (I have both). I have no idea why not using the drive mechanism makes music sound better, but it does. And assuming the next question is: Does the same thing apply to movie sound and images? No... not at all. I get ZERO difference in images or sound whether playing a physical Blu-ray or a rip (with the same resolution as the original disc for video and sound, of course). Which is not surprising when you understand that video is a series of still images with a lot of time (in digital terms) between frames and audio is interleaved with the video and buffered and sync'd with the video almost as if the audio did not originate on the disc at all. Music, on the other hand, is a real-time event and because of that digital music is ALWAYS and ultimately ANALOG because of that time factor... you can't escape "time" when playing music and even timing errors as small as a few hundred picoseconds can be measured and heard to cause
"Movies is magic..." Van Dyke Parks
THX Certified Professional Video Calibration
ISF -- HAA --
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Widescreen Review -- Home Theater & Sound