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Lost in lossless


Chipbyrd

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Recently, I have taken my first steps into high (er) end audio. I have a Cambridge Audio 650a int. amp. I have Klipsch Chorus speakers (upgraded with new crossovers and titanium diaphragm tweeters ala Bob Crites). And I have an Arcam rDac-kw to play my digital music.

 

Here’s where I have some questions. Over the years, I have downloaded lots of music. I would like to reproduce it in a way that compliments my new setup. Is there a way to do that through the Arcam? I only recently learned of “lossless,” although I don’t fully understand it. If I want good digital, do I need to re-purchase those songs from a special site? I really like using my iPad to the receiver (through Arcam), but I also want good music. Any help/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

 

Chip

(lost in lossless)

 

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do you use from your iPad ?

or is your music stored on a computer somewhere ?

 

I ask because it may help you find out what exactly you have downloaded over the years. it's probably MP3 but should check, and easiest way to check s look at the file extension, or look in iTunes at the bit rates.

 

In answer to one of your questions, "if I want good digital do I need to repurchase ?"

 

Answer 1: if your music is confirmed to be lossy (eg mp3), then you may need to repurchase if you want BETTER digital.

 

If you already own some CDs then you can do some comparisons yourself, by ripping them lossless to FLAC or AIFF or something, and comparing with your existing downloads. This may help you decide if it's worth it for you.....

 

beware of quick comparisons though.

 

First step, find out what you already have.

 

Aurender X100L > TBC DAC > TBC Amplifier > Vivid Audio Kaya 90

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Ideally, I want to play from my iPad. Most was purchased from iTunes and is mp3 format. I realize this is a dumb question, but is there any way to upgrade the mp3s? I will take your advice and run some ripped cds through my system. Also, how much do I lose using the Arcam rDac-kw? The salesman said that KLEER technology is super. (I know, I am gullible). Thanks again.

 

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1) play from iPad: is possible, but iPad has some limitations . it won't play the highest rate music (which may not be a problem for you), and it won't give you the best signal timing (disturbance of the signal clock, or jitter, is recognized as a key factor in ultimate sound quality). Message, if you stay with iPad you cannot go very far, though you may get some improvement.

 

2) mp3 upgrade. no, game over. Rule 1 of digital nowadays is that you do not need to compromise on the size of files. even iTunes allows you to store music at it's original high quality and copy lower quality versions to , say, an iPod....

 

3) I know nothing about the arcam dac. I don't really understand the question about 'losing something'. sorry I cant help here. Are you worried it may be a poor quality component ?

 

How do you play music from your iPad to the DAC ?

Where is your music stored ? really on the iPad or do you have a PC/Mac as well ?

please answer these questions they are important to understand your system,

 

cheers, mike

 

Aurender X100L > TBC DAC > TBC Amplifier > Vivid Audio Kaya 90

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I see the rdac has USB and other inputs as well as wireless. the wireless is limited to 16 bit 44.1khz which is "CD quality". So try ripping some CDs as lossless format and see if you can hear a difference with your mp3s.

 

you will be better off putting your music on a direct connection to your dac I think, and dont really want all those Megabytes of CD quality music logging up your ipad, but have an experiment with

 

a) CD quality rips played back from iPad

b) if you can, try connecting your PC/Mac to the rdac external inputs and play music from the PC without the iPad.

 

Aurender X100L > TBC DAC > TBC Amplifier > Vivid Audio Kaya 90

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If you have a good amplifier and DAC, i think you are good to go as you are, unless you own Hi-Res recordings.

 

I have a few digital recordings by some artists that go beyond the standard CD resolution, and they DO sound different (fuller) from the iTunes version (considering they are basically the same mix)... but as far as iTunes 256AAC and CD Lossless is concerned, you wont get to hear much of a difference.

 

So...

 

I use Lossless Audio (FLAC, ALAC) only when i have master resolution. But if you are like me, where most music you hear is 90's rock (Pearl Jam) or stuff that is really not available in HI-RES, there is no need to bother.

 

 

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Hi,

 

I would suggest you buy (or rip from CD) a couple of lossless albums that you already have as MP3, preferably ones you know well, and do some listening yourself. It could be that you are not able to distinguish between the MP3 and the lossless, or find the differences too small to spend money on buying the lossless versions.

 

In the end all that counts is that you are satisfied.

 

Peter.

 

“We are the Audiodrones. Lower your skepticism and surrender your wallets. We will add your cash and savings to our own. Your mindset will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” - (Quote from Star Trek: The Audiophile Generation)

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Your speakers, integrated amp and DAC are a nice start but am I missing something here? You have mentioned playback from your iPad. The first thing is how would the iPad be connected to your DAC? It doesn't have any of the traditional outputs a DAC generally requires (USB, SPDIF, Toslink). I may be wrong but believe that a dock for the iPad may only offer analog outputs which would then be using whatever internal DAC is on the iPad (I wouldn't recommend that as you would have no ability to use your very nice DAC). I think your starting source should be your computer unless you intend to continue to use mp3 files in which case output fron the iPad and use of your DAC doesn't really matter.

 

As previously suggested you should create a library using a form of lossless files. Although it is possible to convert mp3 files to a lossless format nothing is gained but creating larger file sizes. Once the lossy mp3 format has discarded information it cannot be recovered or recreated.

 

You have the nice beginnings of the back end of a good quality computer audio system (integrated amp, DAC, speakers) now you need to work on the front end (lossless files and a source to deliver them).

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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@ChipByrd,

 

In your original post you say, "Over the years, I have downloaded lots of music." This makes me think you have been doing this for some time and probably have lots of 128 Kbps mp3 files (poor music quality). I haven't seen it mentioned here, so I will - are you aware of Apple's iTunes Match service? For $25/year they will scan your hard drive and provide you with 256 Kbps VBR versions ("iTunes Plus") of all the songs in your library, regardless of how you obtained them. These are available "in the cloud," but I believe you can also download them and replace the lower quality files in your library. There is a limit to the number of songs for which they'll do this - I want to say 3,300 but I'm not sure.

 

If you're really serious about moving into the future with high quality music you'll want to do as the previous posters mention and go with lossless formats - FLAC, ALAC - or uncompressed formats - WAV, AIFF.

 

Newbie

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Yes, you can download them and replace the original, lower-quality MP3s, etc., in your library. The limit is 25,000 tracks for now - I hope they'll eventually let us pay for more :) as I'd like to get 50k tracks in the cloud.

 

 

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > Topping D90 > Topping A90 > Dan Clark Expanse

Home Theater / Music - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Denon X3700h > Anthem Amp for front channels > Revel F208-based 5.2.4 Atmos speaker system

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