Originally Posted by Anode
blazar, could you please explain in a little more detail ? I have been thinking of giving this a shot but never got around trying it.
Is it neccessary to have a bit-perfect harddrive ? I have Ahead Nero's utility that also checks for bit-perfectness of the CD-ROM drive and it reports that the drive is indeed bit-perfect. Is this the same thing ?
And would a sound card with decent d/a be enough (like a Juli@, EMU,M-Audio,..) instead of a dedicated outboard d/a converter ?
Currently for my PC music I use a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz soundcard with a Lite-On CD/RW drive and Grado SR-80 headphones via Foobar player.
I'm currently doing this, replacing my Meridian 508.20 CD player with a PC based "transport" and DAC. I simply want to have direct access to my complete music collection, and have random play not just across one disc or a few, but everything.
You first have to get bit-perfect copies of the discs to your harddrive, often using EAC, better yet even to have a Plextor optical drive which correctly implements C2 error checking.
Once it's on disc, then it's a matter of getting the bits back out at the correct frequency. A lot of PC audio stuff is 48kHz. Redbook CD is not 48kHz. The Chaintech AV710 sound card is often quoted for a low cost 44.1/16 bitperfect output option. For example, many use AC97 compliant motherboards, but AC97 doesn't support 44.1. And everyone knows SoundBlaster, but the Audigy2 line resamples all things to 48 internally. No chance of getting bitperfect 44.1 output from one of those.
Empirical Audio has USB attachment options, the Freeway and Off-Ramp. A bit pricey. Slim Devices Squeezebox is very common since it's a standalone device that reads the files from your PC via Ethernet or wireless networking.
I personally want a 44.1/16 digital output to feed a Meridian 518. But many use a nice soundcard's DACs or something like the Squeezebox which has analog outs and go that route, so no outboard DAC necessary.
You can find more out at the Digital - PC forum on audioasylum.com or on the forums at slimdevices.com as well as some at the HTPC forum here.
As for encoding the WAV data into lossless compressed FLAC files, it saves space as well as allowing you to tag the data, so you can present title and performer data, etc. Like the CD Text stuff or MP3 tags.
When it all comes in, I'll test it against the 508.20, but the 508.20 is going either way. The conveniece factor is too high. And since I'll have the 518 front ending the DAC, any jitter issues from the transport (a PC or Squeezebox in this case) will be eliminated, and the 518's noise-shaping and word length extension should give the combination an edge over most any other transport.