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post #1 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm confortable with my comprehension of a component audio system but less so with a computer. It's hoped that someone can help me with the following questions:
1-Quality is more important to me than cost. Should I use lossless compression or no compression in transferring my stereo CD'S to a hard drive?
2-Will the quality be equal to my CD'S?
3-What do I buy to transfer my CD'S?
4-Once they are transferred to a hard drive, what do I buy to play them on my stereo system?
5-I now have a CD player with a remote control and can select tracks and discs. Will I be able to utilize a remote and do the same with my computer?
6-How close does my computer have to be to my audio system to play CD'S?
7-Is there anything else I should know?
Thank you for any help you can give me.
Richard
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post #2 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

1-Quality is more important to me than cost. Should I use lossless compression or no compression in transferring my stereo CD'S to a hard drive?
2-Will the quality be equal to my CD'S?
3-What do I buy to transfer my CD'S?
4-Once they are transferred to a hard drive, what do I buy to play them on my stereo system?
5-I now have a CD player with a remote control and can select tracks and discs. Will I be able to utilize a remote and do the same with my computer?
6-How close does my computer have to be to my audio system to play CD'S?
7-Is there anything else I should know?
Thank you for any help you can give me.
Richard

1. I use wav because im too lazy to convert to Flac et.al. Harddrives are so inexpensive today that I just go to newegg.com and buy more harddrives if I need. Right now, I have 1.25 TB over 3 harddrives and thats plenty for me.

2. The quality can be equal to or better or worse than running your cds through a cdp depending on quality of cdp etc. Most often, it will be the "same" to your ears.

3. You just use freeware called EAC (Exact Audio Copy)

4. You need a decent sound card (XFi and better are fine, I use audigy2 no prob). If you want, you then get a 3.5mm stereo to stereo RCA interconnect and plug it into your preamp. If you have multichannel, then you can pass a COAX Digital to your receiver/prepro.

5. If you are good with programing your own software for a remote, sure. If not, then no. I intend to buy a ultra mobilePCto remote wirelessly into my PC sometime in the future...

6. As close as you want? Depends on the length of interconnect you buy...

7.
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post #3 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

1. I use wav because im too lazy to convert to Flac et.al. Harddrives are so inexpensive today that I just go to newegg.com and buy more harddrives if I need. Right now, I have 1.25 TB over 3 harddrives and thats plenty for me.

2. The quality can be equal to or better or worse than running your cds through a cdp depending on quality of cdp etc. Most often, it will be the "same" to your ears.

3. You just use freeware called EAC (Exact Audio Copy)

4. You need a decent sound card (XFi and better are fine, I use audigy2 no prob). If you want, you then get a 3.5mm stereo to stereo RCA interconnect and plug it into your preamp. If you have multichannel, then you can pass a COAX Digital to your receiver/prepro.

5. If you are good with programing your own software for a remote, sure. If not, then no. I intend to buy a ultra mobilePCto remote wirelessly into my PC sometime in the future...

6. As close as you want? Depends on the length of interconnect you buy...

7.

Thanks for your response but I'm still very concerned about quality. I will not use the computer as a source if the ACTUAL quality is not FULLY equal to the CD being downloaded. Your response does not give me too much hope. I did read in ABSOLUTE SOUND that there was very little on the internet about high-end computer audio. The use of a $700 pro sound card was mentioned in the same article. Since I'm not fully proficient with regard to high-end computer audio, I don't know where all this fits in as to what I want to accomplish.
Richard
Richard
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post #4 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

Thanks for your response but I'm still very concerned about quality. I will not use the computer as a source if the ACTUAL quality is not FULLY equal to the CD being downloaded. Your response does not give me too much hope.
Richard
.

Why is that? Why would you think the actual quality wouldnt be the same? I've been doing this for years and I have not been able to tell the difference between a CD playing through my cdp vs. wav files through my computer A/B level matched ever. I like the computer more because I dont have to get up and change the cd all the time. If you use EAC to rip your cds into wav, you are not going to be losing any information whatsoever.
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post #5 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

Why is that? Why would you think the actual quality wouldnt be the same? I've been doing this for years and I have not been able to tell the difference between a CD playing through my cdp vs. wav files through my computer A/B level matched ever. I like the computer more because I dont have to get up and change the cd all the time. If you use EAC to rip your cds into wav, you are not going to be losing any information whatsoever.

I expanded my original post while you were posting. I do not know if you are saying they sound the same or that the downloaded CD is an EXACT duplicate of the original CD. My readings in ABSOLUTE SOUND indicates that real high-end computer audio is much more expensive than regular computer audio.
Richard
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post #6 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 07:00 PM
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When ripping your CDs to the computer, if you use FLAC or ALAC lossless compression, or just .wav files, the quality is the exact same, meaning there is no DA/AD conversion in the process and you have an exact copy of the CD audio. If you send that audio via digital to a good DAC it will sound the same as the CD being sent digitally to the same DAC. Now, computer audio cards are a bit different as they have their own DACs and analog audio path. I would recommend using digital out to a good DAC, or use a Benchmark DAC-1 USB for best quality. There are many good audio cards available with varying price tags as well. It all depends on what you want to spend. I use an M-Audio Delta recording board when I really need audio through the computer, but use a squeezebox -> Musical Fidelity X-DACv8 for general music listening.
When using computer as a source, be prepared to spend a bit of money on ultra quiet/silent power supplies and cooling so that the computer is not putting audible noise into the room. Even better, use a squeezebox or transporter.
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post #7 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

I expanded my original post while you were posting. I do not know if you are saying they sound the same or that the downloaded CD is an EXACT duplicate of the original CD. My readings in ABSOLUTE SOUND indicates that real high-end computer audio is much more expensive than regular computer audio.
Richard

Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is a great program. It copies the data off of the CD in an EXACT way. BTW, you are ripping the CD not, downloading it. Downloading would imply you are getting it off the internet

I dunno what else to say other than what I have. Sound quality will not suffer at all if you play back your CD collection as FLAC or WAV or Monkey Audio.

You can even do an A/B yourself. Rip the CD using EAC and compare between your computer and CD player. Since this is all without cost, you have absolutely nothing to lose except the 15 minutes it takes to rip the CD and the 2 minutes it takes to download EAC.

It can be found here

Transferring and backing up your CDs should be a snap with this. It is free of charge, and is the best CD Ripper that I know of. High quality, high fidelity music from a computer does not have to be expensive at all.

have fun!
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post #8 of 107 Old 08-05-2007, 09:16 PM
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I've been looking into this myself because I plan on using my computer as my source. As long as your cds are in good shape(no scratches or smudges) and you rip to .wav or a lossless format, then the files should be an exact duplicate of the cd.

Many people use EAC to rip there music to .flac. I downloaded it the other night. It's very simple to setup and it will even give you a percentage of how closely the ripped file is to the cd. However, I think I am going to use iTunes and rip to Apple Lossless since I prefer to use iTunes as my jukebox.

The reason you may tell a difference between the cd and the files on your computer is not because they are of different quality but because of the path from your computer to your amp. If you use a cheap or built-in soundcard, the quality will not be nearly the same as using a dedicated cdp. Now a more expensive soundcard may be a step up, but you will likely still notice a difference.

One way to go about it is to get a soundcard that has digital outputs(coax or optical) and connect it to an external DAC and then into your amp. You could also get an external DAC that supports USB in which case you would just connect your computer using a USB cable. The DAC1 is one example of this and everything I have heard about it has been very good.

I just purchased my first stereo setup(my amp is arriving tomorrow) so I am very new to all of this. For now, I will just be connecting my soundcard directly to my amp to begin with because I am not ready to spend $1000 on a DAC1. However, I am looking into a cheaper dac. I have read good things about the Beresford TC-7510 MK-5 but they have stopped selling them because they are about to release the a new MK-6.

As far as a remote control goes, you have many options to choose from. I'm pretty sure ATI sells an IR remote. You could buy a Squeezebox 3 which comes with a remote and connects to your computer through your network. Another option is something like Salling Software which allows you to use a phone, palm pilot, or pocket pc as a remote for your computer.

As far as distance between your computer and your amp, if they are in separate rooms, you could use something like the Squeezebox 3 which connects to your computer through either a wired or wireless network.

I hope this helped some. I'm very excited to get my system setup, so I've been doing alot of research.
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post #9 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 06:03 AM
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Good info Szap! I am not convinced there is as much difference in overall sound quality between a entry level CDP (<700$) and a computer because DACs have become exceedingly inexpensive and even 80$ sound cards have pretty nice DACs. Onboard sound can also be decent, but you have to pick your chipset wisely. There are some soundcards in the 120$ region have have excellent DACs and even swappable OPAMPS for the tweakers. Argueably something like the Benchmark DAC could make even the CDP sound better if it were run as a transport, but that, I havent tried myself (due to the cost).

OP, as I said earlier, the best way to find out for yourself, is to Rip one of your CDs and just try it. At the very worst, you now have a back up of your cd in the event that the CD decomposes (very possible for CDs to develop pitting), gets scratched (accidents happen all the time), or gets lost. If you do, for some reason, prefer your CDP, its always a good idea to Rip your cds into wav and store on your hdd because you can always burn a new CD with the WAV and it will be exactly the same (in the event of the original CD being lost for any reason).

Quote:
Originally Posted by szap View Post

I've been looking into this myself because I plan on using my computer as my source. As long as your cds are in good shape(no scratches or smudges) and you rip to .wav or a lossless format, then the files should be an exact duplicate of the cd.

Many people use EAC to rip there music to .flac. I downloaded it the other night. It's very simple to setup and it will even give you a percentage of how closely the ripped file is to the cd. However, I think I am going to use iTunes and rip to Apple Lossless since I prefer to use iTunes as my jukebox.

The reason you may tell a difference between the cd and the files on your computer is not because they are of different quality but because of the path from your computer to your amp. If you use a cheap or built-in soundcard, the quality will not be nearly the same as using a dedicated cdp. Now a more expensive soundcard may be a step up, but you will likely still notice a difference.

One way to go about it is to get a soundcard that has digital outputs(coax or optical) and connect it to an external DAC and then into your amp. You could also get an external DAC that supports USB in which case you would just connect your computer using a USB cable. The DAC1 is one example of this and everything I have heard about it has been very good.

I just purchased my first stereo setup(my amp is arriving tomorrow) so I am very new to all of this. For now, I will just be connecting my soundcard directly to my amp to begin with because I am not ready to spend $1000 on a DAC1. However, I am looking into a cheaper dac. I have read good things about the Beresford TC-7510 MK-5 but they have stopped selling them because they are about to release the a new MK-6.

As far as a remote control goes, you have many options to choose from. I'm pretty sure ATI sells an IR remote. You could buy a Squeezebox 3 which comes with a remote and connects to your computer through your network. Another option is something like Salling Software which allows you to use a phone, palm pilot, or pocket pc as a remote for your computer.

As far as distance between your computer and your amp, if they are in separate rooms, you could use something like the Squeezebox 3 which connects to your computer through either a wired or wireless network.

I hope this helped some. I'm very excited to get my system setup, so I've been doing alot of research.

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post #10 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

1. I use wav because im too lazy to convert to Flac et.al. Harddrives are so inexpensive today that I just go to newegg.com and buy more harddrives if I need. Right now, I have 1.25 TB over 3 harddrives and thats plenty for me.

2. The quality can be equal to or better or worse than running your cds through a cdp depending on quality of cdp etc. Most often, it will be the "same" to your ears.

3. You just use freeware called EAC (Exact Audio Copy)

4. You need a decent sound card (XFi and better are fine, I use audigy2 no prob). If you want, you then get a 3.5mm stereo to stereo RCA interconnect and plug it into your preamp. If you have multichannel, then you can pass a COAX Digital to your receiver/prepro.

5. If you are good with programing your own software for a remote, sure. If not, then no. I intend to buy a ultra mobilePCto remote wirelessly into my PC sometime in the future...

6. As close as you want? Depends on the length of interconnect you buy...

7.

I agree with every point except number 4 here.

If you REALLY care about the audio quality, get the DA out of the computer. Look into an external DAC that supports USB, there are a few on the market with Burr Brown PCM1792 DACs. This will remove all quality loss due to random RF bouncing around inside of your PC. It will remove the "jitter" claims that people believe exist with a TOSLINK connection. It also will remove the signal loss issue with an RCA cable.

All the other posts here around EAC, flac and so forth are 100% accurate in my experience.
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post #11 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Amnizu View Post

I agree with every point except number 4 here.

If you REALLY care about the audio quality, get the DA out of the computer. Look into an external DAC that supports USB, there are a few on the market with Burr Brown PCM1792 DACs. This will remove all quality loss due to random RF bouncing around inside of your PC. It will remove the "jitter" claims that people believe exist with a TOSLINK connection. It also will remove the signal loss issue with an RCA cable.

All the other posts here around EAC, flac and so forth are 100% accurate in my experience.

I wonder if anyone can statistically tell the difference in a level matched (0.1db) Blind A/B comparison between a CDP and the computer outputing wavs via Soundcard's (eg. Creative Audigy 2ZS or better) DAC. I sure as hell can't, but if you can, then by all means, you should definitely get an external DAC after you have realized this.
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post #12 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

I wonder if anyone can statistically tell the difference in a level matched (0.1db) Blind A/B comparison between a CDP and the computer outputing wavs via Soundcard's (eg. Creative Audigy 2ZS or better) DAC. I sure as hell can't, but if you can, then by all means, you should definitely get an external DAC after you have realized this.

Some do, some don't I can honestly say that level matching through a yamaha pro mixer I can tell the difference between an Audigy, M-Audio Delta, SB3, and SB3 -> MF X-DACv8 playing the same flacs. That said, none of them sounded horrible. My order of preference was:

1. SB3->X-DACv8
2. M-Audio Delta
3. SB3 analog
4. Audigy

Of course it is all a matter of value to the individual. I cannot imagine spending $1500 on a DAC and running through a receiver or cheap integrated amp. FWIW I think the DAC chip itself is responsible for much less of the difference than the analog output stage. the PCI bus is a fairly hostile environment for audio. What a dac, or sound card with an external DAC/box does for you is keeps the stable digital signal clean until it is outside of the hostile environemnt.
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post #13 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I have less comprehension of computers than stereo component systems but after reading all the posts with some difficulty , I've come to some preliminary thoughts and would like to know if I'm headed in the right direction.
1-If I use lossless compression, I will have an exact copy of my audio CD on my hard drive.
2-If I send this digital stream from my hard drive to a quality external DAC it will sound the same as if I sent it direct from my audio CD.
3-I could use a quality audio card but it is best to use a quality external DAC such as Benchmark DAC-1 USB to avoid any loss due to RF bounching around inside the computer.
So you will understand where I am coming from, I have a high end stereo system and I'm more interested in the highest quality available than costs. Thank you for any help you can give me.( Remember my comprehenssion of high end computer audio is less than ideal.)
Richard
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post #14 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

I have less comprehension of computers than stereo component systems but after reading all the posts with some difficulty , I've come to some preliminary thoughts and would like to know if I'm headed in the right direction.
1-If I use lossless compression, I will have an exact copy of my audio CD on my hard drive.
2-If I send this digital stream from my hard drive to a quality external DAC it will sound the same as if I sent it direct from my audio CD.
3-I could use a quality audio card but it is best to use a quality external DAC such as Benchmark DAC-1 USB to avoid any loss due to RF bounching around inside the computer.
So you will understand where I am coming from, I have a high end stereo system and I'm more interested in the highest quality available than costs. Thank you for any help you can give me.( Remember my comprehenssion of high end computer audio is less tha ideal.)
Richard

My brain works a bit more budget oriented, so I am used to saying "lemme test to see if I can tell a difference... oh, not much difference? -> I wont spend the extra $$ then" -- so you will have to forgive me for that

In the case that you want ultimate quality no matter if your ears can tell or not, you will have to spend some decent $$ (as with the case with anything "ultimate"). Its going to be difficult to bypass the PCI bus because it is in charge of all ancillary functions of the computer. The USB, Firewire, PCI Cards, Integrated network are all governed by the PCI Bus. So, using the USB does not bypass any interference or noise that the PCI Bus may have.

If you wanted, you could hack open something like the Cambridge Audio 640H and put in your own 1TB harddrive with your music loaded on it. Getting it to work would require some help from other people who have done this. I have not done this, but this would grant you a good "transport" a very clean signal out of the digital output into your external DAC (like the Benchmark). This setup would provide the cleanest output from your flawless files on the harddrive that I can think of right now.


Since, personally, I cant decide which differences in transports result in an improvement in sound (they all sound good to me after a certain point, just different), I just select the least expensive option. To me, I haven't found any PCI interference to be audibly damaging, so I have not taken this any further financially. I wish you the best of luck!

Instead of being absolute, perhaps it will be easier to find what your ears/brain accepts as great sound, and go with that. There will always be something in the chain from source to brain that has its own problems. The room for instance is probably the worst offender after the speakers in causing deviations from the source -- something to keep in mind even after tens of thousands of dollars have been invested!
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post #15 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

I have less comprehension of computers than stereo component systems but after reading all the posts with some difficulty , I've come to some preliminary thoughts and would like to know if I'm headed in the right direction.
1-If I use lossless compression, I will have an exact copy of my audio CD on my hard drive.
2-If I send this digital stream from my hard drive to a quality external DAC it will sound the same as if I sent it direct from my audio CD.
3-I could use a quality audio card but it is best to use a quality external DAC such as Benchmark DAC-1 USB to avoid any loss due to RF bounching around inside the computer.
So you will understand where I am coming from, I have a high end stereo system and I'm more interested in the highest quality available than costs. Thank you for any help you can give me.( Remember my comprehenssion of high end computer audio is less than ideal.)
Richard

You are headed in the right direction. Just remember that if the computer will be close to the listening area, you will need to invest a bit into the PC to quiet it down... Probably at least a good quiet power supply, CPU cooler, and case fan.
You may also prefer the convenience of a squeezebox + DAC to PC alone.
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post #16 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Iostream View Post

You are headed in the right direction. Just remember that if the computer will be close to the listening area, you will need to invest a bit into the PC to quiet it down... Probably at least a good quiet power supply, CPU cooler, and case fan.
You may also prefer the convenience of a squeezebox + DAC to PC alone.

What is a squeezebox and what is meant by squeezebox + DAC to PC and how is it used? Is this only for convenience or for exceptional ultra high quality?
Richard
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post #17 of 107 Old 08-06-2007, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

What is a squeezebox and what is meant by squeezebox + DAC to PC and how is it used? Is this only for convenience or for exceptional ultra high quality?
Richard

The squeezebox or Transporter is a separate player. It talks over wired or wireless network to your computer. You can have several on the network all talking to the same server. It is a matter of convenience in that it has a remote, can be further from your computer, and works the same regardless of what you are doing on your PC. While the quality is good for the price, you can certainly get similar quality with a soundcard + DAC. The Squeezebox 3 is $299. While it is great quality for the price, an external DAC makes it shine. The transporter lists at $2K and has a quality DAC and analog stage, so no external DAC is required. There are several reviews available including Stereophile for both the SB3 and Transporter. A nice solution is the SB3 + the Benchmark USB DAC-1. You wouldn't buy a soundcard in this case, just use the USB output to the DAC from the PC, but use the SB3 for most listening.
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post #18 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 07:54 AM
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Richard,

I had the same concerns as you when I considered the Sonos system. It operates wirelessly like the SB3, but it is easier to setup, and you can add sound to additional rooms very easily. It does cost more though.

But like you, I didn't want to want to go this route if the quality would be less than a normal CDP.

The advise you have gotten so far is good. Rip using EAC and Accuraterip to ensure you have a great flac file.

I went with the Sonos instead of the SB3. The quality of sound seems similar. I compared the Sonos to my Denon 3930 player and they seem comparable (when using a good digital cable from the Sonos). The sounds stages are a little different, but I can't called either one "Better".

Of course adding a $1000 dac would put the sound I get into the class of some of the better CDPs out there. I am looking into this option.

Right now I get the same quality sound as the Denon, and I have all my CDs at my finger tips. I can download the same Flac files to my Ipod for use in the car and for travel. It is very convienient.

If you are considering the SB3, I think you should look at the Sonos too. Both are good and have slightly different advantages. The nice thing about the SB3/Sonos options are that your computer can be in a different room so you don't need to hear the hum of the PC while listening to music.

For $1300-$1800 you could end up with a solution that sounds as good as many high end CDPs, and allows you to have all your CDs at your finger tips.

Darrell


Quote:
Originally Posted by doxytuner View Post

I have less comprehension of computers than stereo component systems but after reading all the posts with some difficulty , I've come to some preliminary thoughts and would like to know if I'm headed in the right direction.
1-If I use lossless compression, I will have an exact copy of my audio CD on my hard drive.
2-If I send this digital stream from my hard drive to a quality external DAC it will sound the same as if I sent it direct from my audio CD.
3-I could use a quality audio card but it is best to use a quality external DAC such as Benchmark DAC-1 USB to avoid any loss due to RF bounching around inside the computer.
So you will understand where I am coming from, I have a high end stereo system and I'm more interested in the highest quality available than costs. Thank you for any help you can give me.( Remember my comprehenssion of high end computer audio is less than ideal.)
Richard

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post #19 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

Its going to be difficult to bypass the PCI bus because it is in charge of all ancillary functions of the computer. The USB, Firewire, PCI Cards, Integrated network are all governed by the PCI Bus. So, using the USB does not bypass any interference or noise that the PCI Bus may have.

The places where you will see the PCI bus adding noise to the sound would be any unbuffered or uncontrolled signal. So, an Analog stereo signal (post DA on a sound card for example) would be the most susceptible. The second would be "jitter" across an optical connection or signal derogation over an RCA connection. USB is a different animal completely, it is buffered and controlled interface, it is also bi-directional and CRC controlled. These features lend it to being a clean path for 1 and 0s to pass unmolested from source to destination.

Personally, I am not sold on the whole concept of clock jitter, and plan on doing some side by side tests once I have my setup fully built.

The final piece of the puzzle here would be the proper installation and setup a USB ASIO driver to bypass the Kmixer in windows. Any digital output that is not using an ASIO driver or a older work around called Kernel Streaming will be re-sampled by Windows from 44.1 Hrz to 48 Hrz. Be positive that any solution you choose will have ASIO driver support before you buy anything.

More info can be found on the USB interface here: http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/
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post #20 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnizu View Post

The places where you will see the PCI bus adding noise to the sound would be any unbuffered or uncontrolled signal. So, an Analog stereo signal (post DA on a sound card for example) would be the most susceptible. The second would be "jitter" across an optical connection or signal derogation over an RCA connection. USB is a different animal completely, it is buffered and controlled interface, it is also bi-directional and CRC controlled. These features lend it to being a clean path for 1 and 0s to pass unmolested from source to destination.

Personally, I am not sold on the whole concept of clock jitter, and plan on doing some side by side tests once I have my setup fully built.

The final piece of the puzzle here would be the proper installation and setup a USB ASIO driver to bypass the Kmixer in windows. Any digital output that is not using an ASIO driver or a older work around called Kernel Streaming will be re-sampled by Windows from 44.1 Hrz to 48 Hrz. Be positive that any solution you choose will have ASIO driver support before you buy anything.

More info can be found on the USB interface here: http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/

The USB chip is also connected to the PCI, whence any connected USB device will also be connected to the PCI bus. With USB devices there are issues with latency and buffering (as with PCI, but less in general), as well as not all USB chips are any good (bad hardware design and truly sucking drivers, in particular on Microsoft Windows).

I rather trust a good PCI soundcard than an USB soundcard.
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post #21 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allsop4now View Post

The USB chip is also connected to the PCI, whence any connected USB device will also be connected to the PCI bus. With USB devices there are issues with latency and buffering (as with PCI, but less in general), as well as not all USB chips are any good (bad hardware design and truly sucking drivers, in particular on Microsoft Windows).

I rather trust a good PCI soundcard than an USB soundcard.

Sure, USB can be connected to PCI, it most often is. But the audio travels digital only through the PCI bus, and the DAC happens in a less hostile environement, outside of the PC. Generally speaking, USB has the advantage of this isolation (PCI audio cards with proper break out boxes often do as well, as long as the DAC is in the breakout and the analog signal never has to travel across the bus). That said, not all USB sound cards are created equal, and there are certainly some poorly designed specimens out there.
I would also rather trust a good PCI soundcard than USB for many reasons, but get something with a breakout and you have the advantages of both. Many pro cards have the breakout.
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post #22 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iostream View Post

Sure, USB can be connected to PCI, it most often is. But the audio travels digital only through the PCI bus, and the DAC happens in a less hostile environement, outside of the PC. Generally speaking, USB has the advantage of this isolation (PCI audio cards with proper break out boxes often do as well, as long as the DAC is in the breakout and the analog signal never has to travel across the bus). That said, not all USB sound cards are created equal, and there are certainly some poorly designed specimens out there.
I would also rather trust a good PCI soundcard than USB for many reasons, but get something with a breakout and you have the advantages of both. Many pro cards have the breakout.

In consumer hardware the USB chip is connected to the PCI bus, but may nowadays be connected to the PCI Express (not to be confused with PCI-X) instead. Just start one of those numerous Linux Live CDs (or even better, a FreeBSD/NetBSD one) and inspect the dmesg output. You will see that any USB device you connect is on the PCI bus.
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post #23 of 107 Old 08-07-2007, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allsop4now View Post

In consumer hardware the USB chip is connected to the PCI bus, but may nowadays be connected to the PCI Express (not to be confused with PCI-X) instead. Just start one of those numerous Linux Live CDs (or even better, a FreeBSD/NetBSD one) and inspect the dmesg output. You will see that any USB device you connect is on the PCI bus.

Right, as I said, it most often is. the point I was making, is the PCI bus doesn't really matter in this case as the audio is still digital at this point, you are not polluting the analog signal. lsusb and lspci are much better at showing where in the physical system a device is connected, and particularly with USB it is good to see what is sharing the bus.
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post #24 of 107 Old 08-08-2007, 10:17 AM
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I would never use the D/A in a computer sound card (external or In). Use the digital out to a preamp or DAC that will convert the signal to analog.

Better yet, stream out to one of the music servers (Sqeezebox, Roku,etc...) and use their digital out to a DAC or preamp that has digital in's. (I use the Marantz AV-550 pre/pro)

This gives you a nice option to listen to many different CD's without having to change a thing.


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post #25 of 107 Old 08-09-2007, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonomega View Post

1. I use wav because im too lazy to convert to Flac et.al. Harddrives are so inexpensive today that I just go to newegg.com and buy more harddrives if I need. Right now, I have 1.25 TB over 3 harddrives and thats plenty for me.

This might work for you, but it's not good advice for most people. It wastes a lot of space, in the original version and the backup if you have one.

It's easy to set up EAC to automatically encode the files to flac.

And EAC can also tag the files automatically. Tags are very useful, if you haven't used them you won't appreciate it. But sooner or later you will.
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post #26 of 107 Old 08-09-2007, 09:17 PM
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Just popping in to say that you really do need to invest in a decent soundcard. I've noticed that the inputs and outputs of the soundcard that comes standard with Dell computers are pretty bad.
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post #27 of 107 Old 08-09-2007, 09:32 PM
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HTPC serving music is another benefit of integrating a PC into your A/V system. I use a pro audio PCI sound card for two-channel, and its daughtercard for surround sound from DVD-A and movies.

I have not been able to hear a huge difference between my RME audio cards and USB audio devices. I did hear a noticeable improvement early on between on-board motherboard audio and those devices. Worrying about PCI vs USB is not worth it.

For a music server it's just as important to have the interface working smoothly. Do you need to see information about the music you are playing? Do you listen mostly by "shuffle", or will you need to categorize and quickly access particular songs? That will narrow down the software playback front ends, and possibly limit certain file formats for your encoded songs.

I was thinking about a portable wireless display, PDA, or even custom iPhone software, but ended up with a simple IR/RF remote control instead.

If you find yourself considering a very $$$ exotic audio HTPC or fancy USB cables for a USB DAC, watch out!

Finally, make sure to backup your encoded songs after you have your collection on hard drive. It's quite annoying to re-rip dozens or hundreds of albums...

Good luck,

- Steve O.
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post #28 of 107 Old 08-11-2007, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy_ View Post

This might work for you, but it's not good advice for most people. It wastes a lot of space, in the original version and the backup if you have one.

It's easy to set up EAC to automatically encode the files to flac.

And EAC can also tag the files automatically. Tags are very useful, if you haven't used them you won't appreciate it. But sooner or later you will.

While it is probably double the space, it makes creating music CDs very simple - especially when making CDs for the road or other people. Also, it wasn't advice as much as it was a suggestion. Every method has pros and cons, harddrives being very inexpensive, the space issue isn't too much of a con (imho).
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post #29 of 107 Old 08-12-2007, 08:36 PM
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Can you tag wavs?

Tony

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post #30 of 107 Old 08-13-2007, 02:33 PM
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Answer to OP:

The "Ultimate" computer transport consists of fitting a Chaintech AV-710 sound card and using the digital output to your audiophile DAC or Preamplifier component. It will cost you $22.99.

Use any length of Monoprice Premium Optical Toslink Cable as needed. Cost, around $5.

Then, use EAC as mentioned above.

There you go, the "Ultimate" computer audio transport. Absolutely no voodoo or rocket science required.

As for remote control, I use and recommend the Snapstream Firefly.

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