Originally Posted by kenstuart
Bit-perfect is bit-perfect, but bit-perfect is not the same as real-time audio playback quality.
Since the beginning of digital audio, most audible differences in sound quality have been due to timing differences in playback of the same bits.
In fact, most of the perceived "warm and smooth" quality of analog versus the "hard and cold" quality of digital is due to improper timing in playback of digital "bits". Sophisticated reclocking systems (that tend to be expensive due to low volume of sales relative to ipods and earbuds) can remove that "hard and cold" quality of sound that has been around for 30 years. Recently some inexpensive products with reclocking have entered the market (HRT, Schiit, V-Link), but even with those, some players - such as Jriver and cPlay - ofter subtle sonic improvements.
I haven't done an A-B comparison of earlier vs later, but I suspect that the introduction of 64-bit audio path in Jriver was the major sonic improvement in Media Center.
What is the point you are trying to make? you state that you have not made a comparison and yet you challenge my personal opinion!
The audio side of my system consists of Denon AVP A1HD, (Latest Audyssey MultEQ-XT 32 calibration system), Bryston 4B SST Power Amps, Matrix X-SPDIF 32/192 XMOS high-quality digital interface (Bridge), Aurum Cantus Harmony Speakers. While my system may not be the best in the world, it has proved itself more than capable of differentiating between earlier versions of MC.
I say again, I really have not noticed any improvement since MC16 but that is pretty much down to using ASIO for the interface. This is my personal opinion, I am not stating fact. If your ears can discern a difference and improvement between MC17 & MC18 I am pleased for you, I cannot.
In respect to re-clocking, for the uninitiated, this is probably one of the most important aspects of specifying a PC for high quality stereo re-production. The Matrix X-SPDIF 32/192 XMOS could be considered the heart of my system and relatively speaking is the most inexpensive component. Its job is to simply move data via the USB port and re-clock it into the SPDIF input of the AVP.Edited by Beamer - 12/30/12 at 5:03am