CDP vs Sound Card - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 04-29-2012, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Currently looking to invest in either CD Player or a Soundcard to push over some AUX cables to my AMP.

My absolute main concern is for quality of audio. I would love to use my computer and iTunes (all Apple Lossless) for ease of use with a soundcard. But in my experience CD players always sound better? But I also have never owned a HI-FI DAC like the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829132014

So, CD Player Or SoundCard?


Speakers: EMP TEK E55Ti
AMP: Yamaha AX-497
peck1234 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 04-29-2012, 02:05 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Jinjuku's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 2,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Liked: 118
I have a computer based audio streamer and EMU 1212M PCIe sound card.

There is no SQ compromise involved. Actually since everything is stored on a much better storage medium, a HD blows away a CD transport mechanism in the accuracy and tolerance department, I think a computer based solution with a good sound card (internal or external) is a MUCH better way of doing it.

What you linked to is PCI make sure whether you are using PCI or PCI Express.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

Jinjuku is offline  
Old 04-29-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Thanks I think I'm going to try both in this case.

I have a very basic Sony CD Player on order,
along with the Asus Xonar Essence ST

Once they arrive I will be comparing both in terms of sound quality and update this thread.
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:28 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Just intalled the sound-card last night. I'll post my conclusions tommrow after I a/b the cd player vs sound card.

Tests will go

DVP-SR210P>Lossless CD >RCA>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti $35 CD PLAYER
vs
Asus Sonar>Lossless Audio>RCA>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti $200 Sound Card
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 05:55 AM
AVS Special Member
 
psgcdn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Prov. of Quebec, Canada
Posts: 4,696
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 153 Post(s)
Liked: 258
Why not try as well:

DVP-SR210P Lossless CD >digital>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti
vs
Asus Sonar Lossless Audio>digital>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti

I bought an inexpensive Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 with coax output. I output from FLAC in PCM format to my AVR and that allows bass management without redigitizing. Sounds the same as my Rotel CDP and much more convenient.

psgcdn is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
I would but the AX-497 does not offer a digital input. It's a HI-FI amp with analog in only.
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 10:45 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Jinjuku's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 2,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Liked: 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by peck1234 View Post

Just intalled the sound-card last night. I'll post my conclusions tommrow after I a/b the cd player vs sound card.

Tests will go

DVP-SR210P>Lossless CD >RCA>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti $35 CD PLAYER
vs
Asus Sonar>Lossless Audio>RCA>AX-497>EMP Tek E55ti $200 Sound Card

If you are playing physical CD's on the computer as well as the CDP then I think the highlighting of pricing is fair since no other metric like convenience is going to apply.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

Jinjuku is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 11:13 AM
AVS Special Member
 
psgcdn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Prov. of Quebec, Canada
Posts: 4,696
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 153 Post(s)
Liked: 258
He already said he was using itunes lossless (and not physically playing CDs on the computer)... Convenience doesn't have to factor in if all he is interested in is sound quality.

psgcdn is offline  
Old 05-04-2012, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
God that took long. After about 2 hours of A/B ing im come to the conclusion that the CD player does infact sound better.

Now, the Xonar does come EXTREMELY CLOSE, but the highs are just a tad recessed and lack the detail and overall dynamics that the cd player provides.

Also I really cant raise the volume with the Xonar as much as I can with the cd player being that the cymbals are VERY Present and seem to shadow over the mix. Maybe I'm just not used to all the detail? Mid highs are lacking tho.

Hrm, : ( now to decide which one to keep.
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 12:47 AM
AVS Special Member
 
kiwi2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1,630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked: 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by peck1234 View Post

Now, the Xonar does come EXTREMELY CLOSE, but the highs are just a tad recessed and lack the detail and overall dynamics that the cd player provides.

2 hours with a new soundcard is not giving it a fair shot.

Are you using itunes on a PC? itunes is not the best of media players. Did you have your computer audio and media player set for bit-perfect playback? How is your operating system audio configured? Did you have the latest driver download for the soundcard. Did you try digital out as well as analog out?

If at first you found it extremely close... imagine what it could be like after a couple of months of fine-tuning.
kiwi2 is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 12:58 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Bit perfect was enabled via foobar, all the latest drivers. (i am a Computer tech for a living). Everything is installed PERFECT. The cd is clearly better
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 05:14 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Martycool007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,692
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 280 Post(s)
Liked: 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by peck1234 View Post

Bit perfect was enabled via foobar, all the latest drivers. (i am a Computer tech for a living). Everything is installed PERFECT. The cd is clearly better


What kind of format was the computer music in? 16/44 just like the cd? Was it a rip of the same cd in flac? I would be interested in hearing how the higher resolution songs sound in comparison to the cd versions. Ie 16/44 versus 24/192 or higher.
Martycool007 is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:41 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mupi's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Midwest
Posts: 3,063
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 26
He is using apple loss less.
Mupi is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 09:55 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cel4145's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 11,760
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked: 781
If it was that close, I wouldn't sweat the difference and would just flip a coin.

Modern audio theory about DACs, different devices, and sound output indicate that the differences could be sonically transparent and your results were due to test bias. Unless you exactly level matched the two, even a variation of less than 1db could influence the results. And unless your A/B testing was blind, psychologically you could have been influenced to like one or the other. Here's an interesting blog post the discusses how we can be influenced to find one piece of equipment better than another when they are indeed transparent.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
HT: Energy RC-50, RC-LCR, Veritas VS Surrounds | Dual CHT SS 18.1s | Denon AVR-888 | modified Dayton SA1000 | Antimode 8033C
Desktop: CBM-170 SE | SVS SB-1000 | Audio-GD NFB-11 | HK 3390
Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
cel4145 is online now  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:17 AM
AVS Special Member
 
psgcdn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Prov. of Quebec, Canada
Posts: 4,696
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 153 Post(s)
Liked: 258
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

If it was that close, I wouldn't sweat the difference and would just flip a coin.

Modern audio theory about DACs, different devices, and sound output indicate that the differences could be sonically transparent and your results were due to test bias. Unless you exactly level matched the two, even a variation of less than 1db could influence the results. And unless your A/B testing was blind, psychologically you could have been influenced to like one or the other. Here's an interesting blog post the discusses how we can be influenced to find one piece of equipment better than another when they are indeed transparent.

I agree. If goinf through itunes is more convenient, then go with that.

I find I listen to more of my collection when it's so easily accessed. One track of this, one track of that. No getting out of the chair, turning on all the lights to find a particular CD, swapping it in...

psgcdn is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 02:38 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Veda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Earth
Posts: 2,341
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 72 Post(s)
Liked: 44
Is there anything better currently than the Xonar for similar pricing?
Veda is offline  
Old 05-05-2012, 02:44 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cel4145's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 11,760
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked: 781
I don't know if they are any better (I have the Xonar STX), but some of the HT Omega series and Creative Titanium are often talked about as very good.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
HT: Energy RC-50, RC-LCR, Veritas VS Surrounds | Dual CHT SS 18.1s | Denon AVR-888 | modified Dayton SA1000 | Antimode 8033C
Desktop: CBM-170 SE | SVS SB-1000 | Audio-GD NFB-11 | HK 3390
Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
cel4145 is online now  
Old 05-05-2012, 02:51 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Venomous's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Huntington Beach/San Diego CA
Posts: 1,198
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ame=HT%20Omega

I've been using the ht Claro XT for many years. It's a very nice sound card because of the c-media chip. I'm moving to pci-e so I'll be replacing it with the pic-e version of it...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829271006
Venomous is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:16 AM
AVS Special Member
 
maxcooper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 1,652
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 18
Ignoring any technical audio considerations for a moment, my suggestion is to play the music from your computer. Having digital music at your fingertips gives you a ton of freedom that is not available with a CD player. I switched to Squeezebox digital players throughout my home several years ago, and I cannot imagine going back to swapping CDs in and out of a player. Being able to play anything in your collection at a moment's notice, play random mixes, create mixes based on a track, listen to internet radio and music services like Pandora, and scrobble your plays to last.fm to help find other music you might like is simply wonderful. And you can't do any of those things with a CD player.

As cel4145 suggests, a number of factors besides actual performance could have influenced your comparison. Go for the computer setup since it gives you the greatest flexibility to enjoy music, and would likely be indistinguishable from the CD player in a properly controlled test. Enjoying music is what this stuff is all about -- give yourself the best opportunity to enjoy!

-Max
maxcooper is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:26 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Veda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Earth
Posts: 2,341
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 72 Post(s)
Liked: 44
Check out QLS Audio QA350 or QA550 for the best of both worlds. I'm assuming it's digital input to the amp/dac right?
Veda is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 10:32 AM
Senior Member
 
russ_777's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 270
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 20
If you believe Asus' specs on the card, it should out perform most any budget CD player. It has TI/Burr-Brown's most expensive DAC chip and reading Asus' description this card and the more expensive STx, they have design features to mitigate EMI, which is the biggest potential compromise you face with PC sound cards.

Try your test again, but this time do a double blind test and make sure the levels are matched. I'm skeptical you should hear any difference between the two on your system...again, if we believe the Asus specs.
russ_777 is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:00 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Veda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Earth
Posts: 2,341
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 72 Post(s)
Liked: 44
I have the Asus. Sounds great on its Asio driver and Foobar. The CD could be better because it sounds a few dB louder or have artificially extended highs...
Veda is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:08 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cel4145's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 11,760
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked: 781
Quote:
Originally Posted by russ_777 View Post

Try your test again, but this time do a double blind test and make sure the levels are matched. I'm skeptical you should hear any difference between the two on your system...again, if we believe the Asus specs.

And this Stereophile review confirms the quality of the Xonar Essence cards. There's no reason to think that a CD player will sound better (more likely, at best, equivalent) other than if something very wacky is going on inside the PC introducing noise from the electronics (which is what the metal shield on the Xonar helps to protect from, as you point out). But the differences described by the OP don't seem to indicate that is what's happening.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
HT: Energy RC-50, RC-LCR, Veritas VS Surrounds | Dual CHT SS 18.1s | Denon AVR-888 | modified Dayton SA1000 | Antimode 8033C
Desktop: CBM-170 SE | SVS SB-1000 | Audio-GD NFB-11 | HK 3390
Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
cel4145 is online now  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:19 PM
Senior Member
 
russ_777's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 270
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

And this Stereophile review confirms the quality of the Xonar Essence cards. There's no reason to think that a CD player will sound better (more likely, at best, equivalent) other than if something very wacky is going on inside the PC introducing noise from the electronics (which is what the metal shield on the Xonar helps to protect from, as you point out). But the differences described by the OP don't seem to indicate that is what's happening.

Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that review. Couple of things that stood out to me:

- JA measured a lower SNR than Asus speced...my skepticism of the 124 dB figure was warranted.

- Also note the difference in measured SNR between the ST and STx. Again, a pretty big difference and really only explainable by the host PC they were installed in.

In either case, the measured performance levels were easily good enough to compete with or beat any low to mid-market CD player.

Perhaps its possible the differences the OP heard were due to installing in a crappy PC. It's also possible the Asus was providing a more accurate sound, but he preferred a less accurate sound produced by the CD player.
russ_777 is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Well, regardless im going to be looking for an external DAC to run an optical out to now.

Any Reccomendations?
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:51 PM
AVS Special Member
 
kiwi2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1,630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked: 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by peck1234 View Post

Any Reccomendations?

Shame your Yamaha AX-497 doesn't have optical in. A new AVR maybe..?
kiwi2 is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:10 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cel4145's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 11,760
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked: 781
Quote:
Originally Posted by russ_777 View Post

In either case, the measured performance levels were easily good enough to compete with or beat any low to mid-market CD player.

Perhaps its possible the differences the OP heard were due to installing in a crappy PC. It's also possible the Asus was providing a more accurate sound, but he preferred a less accurate sound produced by the CD player.

Right. And all distortion added by the Xonar to the signal is at such a low db level that is going to be masked by the S/N range for the recordings on any redbook CDs. It's more likely that the cheap CD player has something going on in the electronics path that is changing the sound (could be the analog stage), or that the CD was not ripped quite perfectly to the hard drive.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
HT: Energy RC-50, RC-LCR, Veritas VS Surrounds | Dual CHT SS 18.1s | Denon AVR-888 | modified Dayton SA1000 | Antimode 8033C
Desktop: CBM-170 SE | SVS SB-1000 | Audio-GD NFB-11 | HK 3390
Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
cel4145 is online now  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
peck1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 121
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:


or that the CD was not ripped quite perfectly to the hard drive.

All the cd-r burned from my iTunes were in the apple lossless format sounded slightly better on the cd player.

All my rips are perfect.
peck1234 is offline  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:44 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cel4145's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 11,760
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked: 781
Then you might want to get a friend to help, make sure you have both units level matched exactly, and then do ABX double blind testing before investing in a more expensive DAC. All the review test data of the Xonar indicates it should sound as well--if not better--than an inexpensive CD player. So if you buy a more expensive DAC, you might be getting just more of the same of what the Xonar does. In other words, if an expensive DAC unit like the Xonar doesn't sound better to you, odds are an even more expensive won't either.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
HT: Energy RC-50, RC-LCR, Veritas VS Surrounds | Dual CHT SS 18.1s | Denon AVR-888 | modified Dayton SA1000 | Antimode 8033C
Desktop: CBM-170 SE | SVS SB-1000 | Audio-GD NFB-11 | HK 3390
Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
cel4145 is online now  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:39 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Venomous's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Huntington Beach/San Diego CA
Posts: 1,198
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Then you might want to get a friend to help, make sure you have both units level matched exactly, and then do ABX double blind testing before investing in a more expensive DAC. All the review test data of the Xonar indicates it should sound as well--if not better--than an inexpensive CD player. So if you buy a more expensive DAC, you might be getting just more of the same of what the Xonar does. In other words, if an expensive DAC unit like the Xonar doesn't sound better to you, odds are an even more expensive won't either.

Sound quality starts with the transports and ends at the speakers. What you need to be looking at is just going with balanced outputs to your amp. The easiest way to do this is using the asus stx or st depending on your internal pci connection and be done with it. Now don't take the following statement as a negative stab at you, but look at it as why you would need an external dac:

If you were more concerned with sound quality, your amp setup would be the first to go hooked to those speakers. If your analog inputs are below satisfactory inside your avr, not even a $100,000 dac is going to solve you sound quality issues.

Think about upgrading to a nicer avr with digital inputs. A sonar sound card or external dac could take care of this issue from there.
Venomous is offline  
 
Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off