Is this a good plan for consolidating my CD collection??? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm upwards of 375 CDs now, and it's time to clear up the clutter. I'm mostly a 2 channel high end audio guy, so sound quality is important. Problem is, I know just enough about digital audio and computers to be dangerous, so please tell me if this is a good plan or if I am making a mistake somewhere:

1. Buy a new Acer netbook (360 GB, Windows 7 Starter) and use as an audio server only. Place it with the hi-fi gear.

2. Send the CDs and Acer to "ripping" vendor for loading CDs into Apple Lossless format

3. Use iTunes to access and play music

4. Buy outboard DAC (with 24-bit/96kHz resolution and asynchronous USB data transfer capability)

From research, it looks like Win 7 starter supports iTunes. Apparently Lossless uses MPEG 4 format, but are there any compatibility issues with specific DACs? I don't know.

Problem is, I'm not smart enough to know for sure that all this stuff work together. Does this look like a good plan? Comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
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post #2 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 12:08 PM
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I've got a MacBook pro that I loaded cds to for when I travel, saved to iTunes. But I also play the iTunes through my very good quality system. I've also downloaded iTunes.
Also download 96/24(in the aiff format) from HDtracks, saved to VLC (itunes does not do 96/24).

With the MacBook set to 96k output the sound is very good. Although, for the 96/24 I do need to get a DAC to connect between the mac and the system, which would provide the best I can get from the hi-res. I currently play the 96/24 via the 3.5mm audio out. To play via the usb, I need the DAC.
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post #3 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

I've got a MacBook pro that I loaded cds to for when I travel, saved to iTunes. But I also play the iTunes through my very good quality system. I've also downloaded iTunes.
Also download 96/24(in the aiff format) from HDtracks, saved to VLC (itunes does not do 96/24).

With the MacBook set to 96k output the sound is very good. Although, for the 96/24 I do need to get a DAC to connect between the mac and the system, which would provide the best I can get from the hi-res. I currently play the 96/24 via the 3.5mm audio out. To play via the usb, I need the DAC.

Are you saying that iTunes does not play 24/96 AIFF music files? I have been using iTunes on my Mac Mini to play 24/96.
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post #4 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Ysay View Post

Are you saying that iTunes does not play 24/96 AIFF music files? I have been using iTunes on my Mac Mini to play 24/96.
Actually I meant FLAC, which is what I was originally going to download. But upon reading though the choices I decided to download AIFF. I like the idea of uncompressed music. The FLAC sampler I had downloaded first did not play through iTunes.
So I started using VLC. It really makes no difference to me which system I use for playback.
And to be correct: its 96/24, not 24/96.
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post #5 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post


And to be correct: its 96/24, not 24/96.

Acrually, I don't know which format is correct. Both format is being used loosely.
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post #6 of 47 Old 03-26-2013, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tweak48 View Post

I'm upwards of 375 CDs now, and it's time to clear up the clutter. I'm mostly a 2 channel high end audio guy, so sound quality is important. Problem is, I know just enough about digital audio and computers to be dangerous, so please tell me if this is a good plan or if I am making a mistake somewhere:

1. Buy a new Acer netbook (360 GB, Windows 7 Starter) and use as an audio server only. Place it with the hi-fi gear.

2. Send the CDs and Acer to "ripping" vendor for loading CDs into Apple Lossless format

3. Use iTunes to access and play music

4. Buy outboard DAC (with 24-bit/96kHz resolution and asynchronous USB data transfer capability)

From research, it looks like Win 7 starter supports iTunes. Apparently Lossless uses MPEG 4 format, but are there any compatibility issues with specific DACs? I don't know.

Problem is, I'm not smart enough to know for sure that all this stuff work together. Does this look like a good plan? Comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

IMO, I would get a MacMini and use it as my server. I will connect the MacMini to the AVR using optical cable thus eliminating the need for an external DAC. I can get up to 24/96 rez on the MacMini and my upgrade path is wide open.
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post #7 of 47 Old 03-27-2013, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweak48 View Post

I'm upwards of 375 CDs now, and it's time to clear up the clutter. I'm mostly a 2 channel high end audio guy, so sound quality is important. Problem is, I know just enough about digital audio and computers to be dangerous, so please tell me if this is a good plan or if I am making a mistake somewhere:

1. Buy a new Acer netbook (360 GB, Windows 7 Starter) and use as an audio server only. Place it with the hi-fi gear.

2. Send the CDs and Acer to "ripping" vendor for loading CDs into Apple Lossless format

3. Use iTunes to access and play music

4. Buy outboard DAC (with 24-bit/96kHz resolution and asynchronous USB data transfer capability)

From research, it looks like Win 7 starter supports iTunes. Apparently Lossless uses MPEG 4 format, but are there any compatibility issues with specific DACs? I don't know.

Problem is, I'm not smart enough to know for sure that all this stuff work together. Does this look like a good plan? Comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

1. Macs play a little better with itunes, but any modern computer will work fine. The file sizes get pretty big, though, especially with 24 bit music, so don't skimp on RAM.

2. I would rip them myself. If you have a newish desktop, a CD will rip very quickly. It will still take a long time to get through 375 CDs, not so long that it makes sense to ship them out. Apple lossless is the way to go if you want to use itunes.

3. Itunes is a good platform. It can play 24 bit stereo music without a problem, but you won't be able to stream to an appletv or upload to an ipod at any greater than 48/16, so be aware of that. All your CDs will rip at 44.1/16, so this will only be an issue with high res music like from HDtracks and blu ray/dvd-a rips.

4. A 96/24 outboard DAC will be fine, but you'll get the same result outputting the digital audio stream to your AVR via an optical connection from the computer. All modern macs have optical audio out, and plenty of windows machines do as well. (Not sure about the Acer).

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post #8 of 47 Old 03-27-2013, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help everyone.
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Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

1. Macs play a little better with itunes, but any modern computer will work fine. The file sizes get pretty big, though, especially with 24 bit music, so don't skimp on RAM.

4. A 96/24 outboard DAC will be fine, but you'll get the same result outputting the digital audio stream to your AVR via an optical connection from the computer. All modern macs have optical audio out, and plenty of windows machines do as well. (Not sure about the Acer).

Actually I won't be using the little netbook as a server, just a player.

How much RAM would you say is needed? Also, how about processor speed?

I'll definitely need an outboard DAC, because I won't be using a AVR (I presume you're referring to an audio video receiver). Just old pre-amp and power amp seperates.
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post #9 of 47 Old 03-27-2013, 06:59 PM
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How much RAM would you say is needed?
Figure 3 CDs per gigabyte, using Apple Lossless. 24/96 files will be about 6 times as big.
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Also, how about processor speed?
Hamsters on wheels will suffice.
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I'll definitely need an outboard DAC, because I won't be using a AVR (I presume you're referring to an audio video receiver). Just old pre-amp and power amp seperates.
In that case, a basic USB DAC will suffice. No need to overspend on this.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #10 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Figure 3 CDs per gigabyte, using Apple Lossless. 24/96 files will be about 6 times as big.

That's correct for hard drive space. For RAM, 1 gigabyte is probably sufficient to avoid playback hiccups, but 2 GB is safer, especially if you're playing 24 bit files. You can never have too much RAM, really.
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In that case, a basic USB DAC will suffice. No need to overspend on this.

Agreed. Any USB or optical DAC will do - something like the Fiio E03 is $25 on Amazon. $50 is too much unless you want extra features like a headphone amp or portability.

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post #11 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

Agreed. Any USB or optical DAC will do - something like the Fiio E03 is $25 on Amazon. $50 is too much unless you want extra features like a headphone amp or portability.

Is that not like saying a CD player is nothing more than a transport? Which is what was going around 10~20 years ago.
Which was completely untrue. I had a cheap Sony CD player and it was terrible. When I bought a Denon multi-disc player the dac in it was considerable better which resulted in much better playback of CDs.
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post #12 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 08:20 AM
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Is that not like saying a CD player is nothing more than a transport? Which is what was going around 10~20 years ago.
Which was completely untrue. I had a cheap Sony CD player and it was terrible. When I bought a Denon multi-disc player the dac in it was considerable better which resulted in much better playback of CDs.
Well, maybe there was something wrong with that Sony, either the model or your particular unit. But conventional DACs are pretty much transparent, and have been for more than two decades. Put a cloth over them, match their output levels precisely, and you wouldn't be able to tell one from another if your life depended on it.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #13 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 09:15 AM
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Foobar2000 will do basically everything you could want to do.
http://www.foobar2000.org/

It's ripping component will correct for your disc drive, do multiple passes and verify them against each other, and finally compare the final ripped track to a database of other rips. If you are concerned with making sure your rips are as close to identical to the disc as possible, this is the thing to do.
http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Foobar2000:Ripping_CDs_with_Foobar2000

(You'll need to download the FLAC encoder separately.)
http://www.foobar2000.org/encoderpack

It supports both kernal streaming and ASIO output, which bypass the Windows mixer during playback.

It will apply Replay Gain tags to your files, which is one of the godsends of computer audio.

It offers a host of digital signal processing options, should you decide to take advantage of them.

It will run on basically whatever old hardware you have laying around. (Although I would rip the discs on a modern computer.)
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post #14 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Well, maybe there was something wrong with that Sony, either the model or your particular unit. But conventional DACs are pretty much transparent, and have been for more than two decades. Put a cloth over them, match their output levels precisely, and you wouldn't be able to tell one from another if your life depended on it.

I've read otherwise about dac's NOT being the same. And as I said the Sony was junk compared to the Denon. And the difference had to be the dac.
It stands to reason, that in most cases, a cheap unit is going to have cheaper components.
There are some exceptions, like the Lexicon BR which was really a rebadge of Oppo.
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post #15 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 01:41 PM
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I've read otherwise about dac's NOT being the same.
And I have read that the earth is flat. So the quality of your sources matters. My sources are things like college textbooks, one of which I've quoted in this forum previously to the effect that all players basically sound the same.
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And as I said the Sony was junk compared to the Denon. And the difference had to be the dac.
Why? There are so many other possible explanations that the mind boggles.
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It stands to reason, that in most cases, a cheap unit is going to have cheaper components.
But it doesn't stand to reason that cheaper components are likely to have an audible impact in this case. We have too much counterevidence on that point.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #16 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 02:01 PM
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I just read a review of a dac where the guy said it was good but a little analytical, and comparing it to some older dac providing a better sound stage, and not analytical.
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post #17 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 02:20 PM
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I just read a review of a dac where the guy said it was good but a little analytical, and comparing it to some older dac providing a better sound stage, and not analytical.
And I can assure you that if you put a cloth over the two of them, and set their output levels to be exactly equal, he wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

And therein lies the problem. All those reports of better-sounding DACs tend to have two things in common:

1) The listener/reviewer knew which DAC was which, and so any prior knowledge about the DACs in question could easily have influenced what he thought he heard. (Human hearing, alas, is extremely suggestible.)

2) No effort was made to match the output levels of the two units. A difference of just a few tenths of a dB would be enough to make even two identical DACs sound different. If the only difference between the two can be erased by adjusting the volume control, that hardly counts as a real sound quality difference.

When we control for those two factors, those reported differences suddenly disappear.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #18 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 03:22 PM
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And getting back to the comparison of the Sony CD player and the Denon player, it was night/day difference.
I would need to use only one word to describe each of those units.
Sony = harsh
Denon = silk
And NO the Sony was not pushed beyond its working limits, and I would not say it had distortion, but more like listening to cheap, ear bleeding horn speakers.

So to say all components are the same and therefore it could not be the dac...and then say it had to be something else is totally asinine. B/C everything else is components.
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post #19 of 47 Old 03-28-2013, 06:40 PM
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And getting back to the comparison of the Sony CD player and the Denon player, it was night/day difference.
Yeah, that's what they all say.

Cover them up, match their output levels exactly, and get back to us.
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So to say all components are the same and therefore it could not be the dac...and then say it had to be something else is totally asinine.
Watch your language, sonny boy.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #20 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 04:34 AM
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You might be loud to say that all the DAC's sound the same, but reality is different. Maybe YOU cannot hear the difference because of age or untrained brain, but that's other discussion.
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post #21 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Yeah, that's what they all say.

Cover them up, match their output levels exactly, and get back to us.
Watch your language, sonny boy.

There is most certainly a difference between having ear bleed and not. There is no getting around it.
From the very day I bought my first DVD player, I never used that Sony CD player again. For years I did not like the sound of CDs, and then after I bought the DVD player I knew why. The Sony left much to be desired.
I suspect I'm older than you. So I'll say whatever I want.

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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

You might be loud to say that all the DAC's sound the same, but reality is different. Maybe YOU cannot hear the difference because of age or untrained brain, but that's other discussion.

Exactly!!!
I have a theory about these people who like to shout that all dac, amps are the same....they are cheap! They convince themselves that some dac/amp that is 1/10 the price is just as good as one that is 5x the price. That way they won't feel bad about being overly cheap when only spending $25 for a dac.
Then again, as you say, maybe they just can't hear!
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post #22 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 05:19 AM
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To add to above...just throwing money at electronics isn't the way to go either.
I personally like Parasound gear, and have no desire to spend more. And there are a lot of brands that sell for higher $.
So I'm thinking of buying their new Zdac to run between the macbook and P7 pre-amp. For Hi-Res the usb can't be used without an external dac and the 3.5mm out of the mac is a bit finicky, as it got slightly damaged last year.
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post #23 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

There is most certainly a difference between having ear bleed and not. There is no getting around it.
From the very day I bought my first DVD player, I never used that Sony CD player again. For years I did not like the sound of CDs, and then after I bought the DVD player I knew why. The Sony left much to be desired.
I suspect I'm older than you. So I'll say whatever I want.
Exactly!!!
I have a theory about these people who like to shout that all dac, amps are the same....they are cheap! They convince themselves that some dac/amp that is 1/10 the price is just as good as one that is 5x the price. That way they won't feel bad about being overly cheap when only spending $25 for a dac.
Then again, as you say, maybe they just can't hear!

OK, first, read this:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

You would agree that there's no point in upgrading a playback component beyond the threshold of human hearing, yes? For the specific, limited task of converting a digital signal to a clean analog signal, it's been confirmed over and over that a $25 DAC performs exactly as well as a $2000 DAC within the limitations of human hearing when you strip out all other variables.

For the OP, all he needs is a DAC to convert the digital signal to analog. All DSP can be done by the computer, and all analog tweaking can be done by the power amp, so we're not even talking about DAC/amp combos or a DAC integrated into a transport, but just a bare bones DAC.

You keep harping on your bad CD player, but you seem to be assuming it was the DAC that made your CD player sound bad. It could have sounded bad for any number of reasons, including a poorly built DAC, or DSP, or transport, or analog output stage or who knows. Something was obviously wrong with it. That doesn't change the fact that all correctly built DACs sound the same to human ears when all other variables are the same, and a correctly built DAC can be purchased for as little as $25.

With speakers, on the other hand, the sky's still the limit, which is why a lot of these so-called cheap b*stards with $25 DACs also own speakers that cost more than a new car.

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post #24 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

OK, first, read this:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

You would agree that there's no point in upgrading a playback component beyond the threshold of human hearing, yes? For the specific, limited task of converting a digital signal to a clean analog signal, it's been confirmed over and over that a $25 DAC performs exactly as well as a $2000 DAC within the limitations of human hearing when you strip out all other variables.

For the OP, all he needs is a DAC to convert the digital signal to analog. All DSP can be done by the computer, and all analog tweaking can be done by the power amp, so we're not even talking about DAC/amp combos or a DAC integrated into a transport, but just a bare bones DAC.

You keep harping on your bad CD player, but you seem to be assuming it was the DAC that made your CD player sound bad. It could have sounded bad for any number of reasons, including a poorly built DAC, or DSP, or transport, or analog output stage or who knows. Something was obviously wrong with it. That doesn't change the fact that all correctly built DACs sound the same to human ears when all other variables are the same, and a correctly built DAC can be purchased for as little as $25.

With speakers, on the other hand, the sky's still the limit, which is why a lot of these so-called cheap b*stards with $25 DACs also own speakers that cost more than a new car.

I do download 96/24....but have no reason to want 192/24 at a higher cost. Because I highly doubt I could hear a difference. In fact I know I could not. But that has nothing to do with how a dac works compared to another.

You mention that maybe the Sony had a poorly built dac....that may have been true...But there would be no way of knowing that when deciding between one CD player or another, being I bought that Sony from Costco unheard.
I can make that same argument about amps, as to one being built better than another...thus the first amp sounding better than the poorer designed one...and I have made that statement before.

But no matter if we're talking dac, power amp, pre-amp, until we listen to them we have no way of knowing if its going to be pleasing to our ears. And it really makes no difference for the reason why or why not we like the resulting sound. Be it bad design, cheap barebones design, faulty components for all of the above. Its all about what the total result of all that is in the finished product that counts. Either the finished product is good or its not.
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post #25 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

I do download 96/24....but have no reason to want 192/24 at a higher cost. Because I highly doubt I could hear a difference. In fact I know I could not. But that has nothing to do with how a dac works compared to another.

The point of the article as it relates to DACs is the specific limitations of human hearing, the myth of the "golden ear", and the fact that converting a 16bit or higher signal to an analog waveform that is audibly identical to the original signal is something that we cracked decades ago. The hard part of audio is accurately turning the actual sound waves into analog electrical signals and vice versa. Converting the analog signals to digital and back is child's play.
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You mention that maybe the Sony had a poorly built dac....that may have been true...But there would be no way of knowing that when deciding between one CD player or another, being I bought that Sony from Costco unheard.
I can make that same argument about amps, as to one being built better than another...thus the first amp sounding better than the poorer designed one...and I have made that statement before.

Digital components either work or they don't. Any functional 96/24 (or whatever resolution) DAC, by definition, outputs the same analog signal from the same digital source as any other functional 96/24 DAC, regardless of price. If it doesn't, it's either faulty or includes additional DSP or analog components that alter the sound. Nothing wrong with additional processing, but that's what you're paying for, not the D to A conversion, and that additional processing can usually be achieved more cheaply and efficiently with a preamp or receiver. The OP likes his setup and how it sounds, with D/A conversion being the only missing feature. Why should he spend $100 or more on a DAC when he can spend $25 on a DAC that does the exact same job and sounds exactly the same and spend the extra $75 on something that will actually affect his listening experience, like more RAM or a bigger hard drive for the laptop?
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But no matter if we're talking dac, power amp, pre-amp, until we listen to them we have no way of knowing if its going to be pleasing to our ears. And it really makes no difference for the reason why or why not we like the resulting sound. Be it bad design, cheap barebones design, faulty components for all of the above. Its all about what the total result of all that is in the finished product that counts. Either the finished product is good or its not.

Of course it matters why (and whether) something sounds better. If it didn't, you'd see people spending thousands of dollars on speaker wire and power conditioners (oh wait...).

Skimp enough on any component, and it will sound worse than a better version. With a DAC, a chip may be faulty, or the analog stage may be so cut rate that the signal is contaminated by noise or distortion, or maybe it doesn't work at all. Once you've passed above that low threshold, though, a DAC becomes perfect at converting a digital signal to an analog signal very quickly. Once we can upgrade our ears (which might actually occur in our lifetimes), then we'll need better DACs. Until then, save your money for something that will make a difference between 20Hz and 20kHz.

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post #26 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 12:14 PM
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You might be loud to say that all the DAC's sound the same, but reality is different. Maybe YOU cannot hear the difference because of age or untrained brain, but that's other discussion.

Are you saying that it's possible to train your brain to ignore all the variables and biases that could potentially affect the outcome of the test?

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post #27 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 01:08 PM
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Yes, brain need to be used to recognize minute differences in sensorial inputs. It is called training... Blind people develop better hearing not by growing extra ears but by training the brain to differentiate better the stimuli. A painter can train his brain to recognize more shades of colors, a trained musician can detect better the distortions in instruments and voice.
You can drive the car and eye can "see" the red light, but if you have attention directed to the phone conversation, your brain can ignore that stimulus of "red light" coming from eye.

Listening only to compressed music, with limited bandwidth, trains the brain to pay attention only to loud signals and bass/voice part of spectrum. In a listening session with better equipment and signal source, the listener ear nerves might send the other signals to the brain, but if there is no "attention" to those signals, then they are masked by the others, that are familiar.
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post #28 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

The point of the article as it relates to DACs is the specific limitations of human hearing, the myth of the "golden ear", and the fact that converting a 16bit or higher signal to an analog waveform that is audibly identical to the original signal is something that we cracked decades ago. The hard part of audio is accurately turning the actual sound waves into analog electrical signals and vice versa. Converting the analog signals to digital and back is child's play.

Of course it matters why (and whether) something sounds better. If it didn't, you'd see people spending thousands of dollars on speaker wire and power conditioners (oh wait...).

Skimp enough on any component, and it will sound worse than a better version. With a DAC, a chip may be faulty, or the analog stage may be so cut rate that the signal is contaminated by noise or distortion, or maybe it doesn't work at all.

No, it does not really matter why a piece of gear does not sound right. Unless you are the one doing the repair or upgrade to fix its lack of quality.
When a person buys a piece of gear they assume that the circuits/components are competently designed. If not then one takes it back and gets something that is.
As far as spending excess money on wire or power conditioners or the power cord of an amp...those are most certainly ways of a fool and his money soon parted.

Skimp enough on any component, and it will sound worse than a better version.
I've been saying that for years, for any piece of gear including amps.
Quality processing and/or amplification from quality parts/circuits = Quality out.
crap in = crap out.
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post #29 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

Yes, brain need to be used to recognize minute differences in sensorial inputs. It is called training... Blind people develop better hearing not by growing extra ears but by training the brain to differentiate better the stimuli. A painter can train his brain to recognize more shades of colors, a trained musician can detect better the distortions in instruments and voice.

I agree that a painter may be able to better differentiate between hues and a musician might be better at identifying subtleties within a song, but does being a professional in a particular field doesn't make you immune to the subconscious bias of the human brain? You're saying that it's possible to train yourself to become immune to these biases and I wanted to know more about this training.

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post #30 of 47 Old 03-29-2013, 02:50 PM
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I have a theory about these people who like to shout that all dac, amps are the same....they are cheap! They convince themselves that some dac/amp that is 1/10 the price is just as good as one that is 5x the price. That way they won't feel bad about being overly cheap when only spending $25 for a dac.
Then again, as you say, maybe they just can't hear!


Huh. At my last place of employment, I had access to hundreds of thousands of $$ worth, if not millions of $$ worth, of audio and video equipment....including CD players, DVD players, MPEG2 streamers, MPEG4 streamers, Dolby AC-3 encoders, AVRs, and more test equipment than I could count.

I used to think my "high end" CD player sounded better too. Then one day I did a blinded, level-matched comparison between it and a $40 DVD player, both playing the same CD and time-synced.

I couldn't tell them apart. My lab measuring equipment could, but the differences were totally insignificant - meaning nobody would hear the differences.

So much for your theory, eh?

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