I finally purchased the Nova last night from ListenUp here in Colorado Springs. After auditioning it in the store & loving it, the final factor was the fantastic support I'm seeing here in this forum - from David and Jim for sure, but also from the larger community - it's wonderful, so thanks to all!
I'm using the Nova with my Windows XP laptop, and it sounds simply beautiful... I've a couple of questions, but first I thought I would submit my entry for "most improved" setup: The Nova (via USB) is replacing a 12V battery-powered "Class T" amp from Sonic Impact ($39) that was connected to the "headphone out" jack on my laptop, and was feeding a couple of Baby Advent speakers I found at Goodwill for $9.99. Do I win? :^)
My questions are related to best laptop interconnect method, and also (sorry) archival/storage format advice, based on planned future use of the Nova. I've read through the pages in this forum, the EAC forums, many online reviews, etc., so I do get it that lossless is lossless, but haven't found what I'm hoping for, especially as it relates to my planned future use of the Nova.
Q1: I'm using the Nova via a USB connection to my Laptop (I work from home) - and as mentioned, it sounds fantastic (even through the Baby Advents). Is there anything to be gained by looking at any outboard USB -> S/PDIF converters, so I can use a coax Digital input on the Nova? Or is the bitstream that's being fed to the Nova via USB essentially identical to what would be seen on a coax feed? Alas, PCI cards are not an option for a laptop.
Q2: Is there any way to see what is actually going out the USB - bit rate, error rate, etc? If, for example, I am playing a Lossless file via Itunes, and sending it out the USB, are the exact bits from the lossless file what gets sent to the Nova, or does/can the player do any conversion/downsampling?
Q3: Finally - at some point down the road, I will probably get a wireless device (Airport express or Sonos) and move the Nova to my main audio/AV system, using the HT bypass and listening to (lossless) music stored on my PC or perhaps a NAS device. So, I'll be happily reripping my CD collection, as the variable rate .wma's I ripped previously ain't cutting it now. I've been testing AIFF, Apple Lossless, and EAC-ripped WAV files, and using Itunes as a player. With my existing setup (USB to the Nova), all 3 sound as uniformly excellent to my ears as playing a CD directly. I really like the idea of using an Itouch for a remote down the road, so we're probably talking Itunes and an airport one way or another.
So, before I rip - with the goals of balancing:
Lossless archival storage (compressed like Apple or not) so I never have to rip my CD's again,
Ease of use in Itunes (as well as potential future use by other players),
Optimal data transmission via USB to the Nova,
And finally the laziness factor - not wanting to perform multiple rip/conversion operations (first EAC to get bit-perfection WAV files, then into something Itunes can use and display album info for),
Is there a archive/rip/storage Nirvana that other Nova users have found to be just wonderful (understanding that individual Mileage May Vary), based on the above described intended usage? I know the format/player/Windows/Mac waters are potential dangerous areas, and I'm not looking to start any religious wars - I'm really looking to hear what other Nova (Windows PC) users have found to be a good solution for them.
Thanks very much - and again, thanks to David and Jim for providing what is proving to be a great - and hugely fun - product.