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IMHO, Computer Audiophile is not newB friendly. But neither is any other PC audio forum that I've visited. Not HeadFi, not Audiogon, not Hydrogen, not none of them (excuse my French).


I wonder how many newBs have visited these forums in order to investigate the possibilty of giving up CDs in favor of computer audio and then abandoning the idea because they feel its just too complicated.


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The problem is that there are too many start out options, by which I don't mean just levels of expertise (some from audio, some from computer) but also the range of equipment starting points.


I think this forum does pretty well under the circumstances and it' growing, so the chances are a complete, simple, jargon-free A to Z will be here eventually. Of course, then the industry will go and change something ...


Besides, it's a good place to ask questions you might think are earth-shatteringly obvious. Most folk won't mind. (You mean NAS doesn't stand for Networked Audio Stupidity?)


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...if you have an Apple computer or a PC running Vista. If you're on XP, you'll need some drivers. Do a search here and you'll find out all you need to know about that. Then...


Download iTunes from Apple (it's free and there's a PC version).


Download a few songs from there or copy some cds to your computer's hard drive using iTunes "import" function (copy them as lossless files if you want CD quality).


Does your computer have audio out (RCA plugs)? If so run a stereo RCA cable from the audio out on your computer to an AUX in on your receiver, integrated amp or preamp.


If your computer doesn't have audio outs, go to the local electronics store and get a mini stereo phono to dual RCA adapter. Plug those RCAs into your existing system.


Choose and play your computer like any other source.


If that doesn't sound as good as your CD player, you probably need an external DAC (digital to analog converter). They run from

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Hi Mike - Thanks for the feedback. One thing to keep in mind is that the forum topics and content are really up to you guys, the Computer Audiophile readers. I remove the offensive posts, but don't steer the traffic in a particular direction. I have always encouraged new people to ask any questions they want and to follow-up with additional questions until they are answered appropriately. I know there are very intelligent readers around here who were newbies a few months ago, but are now happy to share their experiences. Plus, there are some people around here who've been doing this for a very long time who can also help you as long as your willing to keep asking the questions. Yes some of the discussions can get annoying to most readers, but fortunately the readers haven't paid for any content and there is no mandate to read a single post that's uninteresting. I do understand where you are coming from and I really think Computer Audiophile can be as newbie friendly as you want it to be.


As Coops said above, I started the Computer Audiophile Academy for people to learn everything from the basics to some advanced concepts in computer based audio. The Academy content is all controlled by me (as opposed to the forums) and I am 100% open to reader suggestions. If readers want to know something as simple as how to open iTunes I will create some instructions and a video that show how to open iTunes. I really like helping newbies and I think most people around here do as well.



How about this challenge -> Give this site one week to show you that it is newbie friendly. All you have to do is keep asking questions. If you receive a response that is to technical you'll need to be straightforward and say so. If you keep up your end of the bargain I guarantee you that Computer Audiophile readers will show you how newbie friendly they can be. Plus, I am constantly answering questions in the forums and will answer your questions if I have the answers.


Thanks again for the feedback Mike :~)



Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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I must add that I came here originally with questions regarding a possible setup. And, by just querying a few times a ended up with a great system.


Just ask away. People will answer.


And the Acedemy is good place to look to .. There are some system builds here too which are aimed at helping newbies.


Ask away. And I promise to not hijack any more threads. ;-)




HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Thought I'd go into the computer audiophile academy myself to check it out having not looked there for a while.


If you just scroll down and go to the second page there are no fewer than four system builds there and some tips on how to use iTunes as an audiophile. Things get more detailed in the more recent articles.


At the end of the month I'm probably going to piece together a rather nice, living room friendly PC in a top looking mini-ITX case which challenges the Mac Mini in terms of looks (all depending on bonus!). If Chris would have it I'll happily document the full process of building the system (with pictures) from scratch from installation of all the components and configuration of the system.




HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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I should have pointed out that I am not a newB. But, I was 9 months ago and, of course, there is still very much for me to learn. Especially when I get around to copying my favorite CDs track onto my hard drive and making CDs for my friends from tracks on my hard drive.


There is still a lot of confusing stuff. Like, why does a CD copied onto my hard drive sound better on playback than an HD track downloaded in FLAC from Chesky's HD Tracks or the B&W Music Club? Shouldn't lossless sound better?


My computer audio system:

Viper custom desktop PC: Windows XP Home (SP3); ASIO4ALL; JRiver Jukebox> Musiland MD10 USB DAC (OS)> Parasound 2100 pre> Aragon 4004 MKII amp (200w x 2) > Audience Au24 wire> Dali Ikon 6 towers; Sunnfire True Sub (the original model, not the inferior current model); PS Audio Duet conditioner/surge> PSA Noise Harvestors; various 12 and 14 gauge power cords from Zebra and PSA ; various vib control stuff from Herbies.


I enjoy my computer system so much that I abandoned CDs about 3 months ago.


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My bad.

I should have visited the Academy before submitting my original post.


Someone should write/publish a book entitled "Computer Audio For Dummies". I think someone already suggested something like that that in this thread.



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Quite a cool setup there and you've clearly grasped the basics as I immediately notice the use of JRiver and ASIO.


You're question re your ripped CD vs the FLAC file can generate all sorts of discussion similar to the various MP3 vs uncompressed discussions that have taken place on this website. I use the term discussion because we then enter the debate of user preference verses what individuals believe is fact verses actual fact. No straight forward answer in some cases.


Had you have asked why the file on your hard drive sounded better than the CD it would have been an easy answer.


But FLAC vs your uncompressed rip well ; In theory, if the music is from the same source, FLAC should sound pretty much identical since the bit rate varies depending on the complexity of the music. By using complex calculations it does not lose information but rather records only the information required; a quiet patch in a song requires little information, a loud chorus requires plenty....


This doesn't answer your question though! They may not be from the same source.






HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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"There is still a lot of confusing stuff. Like, why does a CD copied onto my hard drive sound better on playback than an HD track downloaded in FLAC from Chesky's HD Tracks or the B&W Music Club? Shouldn't lossless sound better?"


If it is the same track, as mentioned above, the information is identical. But if you are talking different music, then the Chesky may sound "flat" because Chesky's approach (at least in the old days) was to minimize the number of mikes and minimize the mixing. Once I asked the guy in charge of the sound system at church to give me the raw recording of the (live) music. He said "you won't like it because it will sound flat. The mikes (positioned closed to the instruments) will not pick up the acoustics of the hall)". So the mixing has a lot to do with how "good" the music sound: reverb, delay, even soundstage, etc. Modern recording sound pretty good, but a lot of that "goodness" is added by the recording engineer...


I have a few DMP CDs, another audiophile label that has fallen out of favor because I think it does not give the "loudness" of modern recording. What you will get out of those recordings is very good dynamic range: large difference between soft and loud, so they are recorded (mixed) at a lower level to accommodate for the loudest passage. You will also get clarity of the instruments.


IMO, if you have a modern Mac, iTunes (with every sound enhancement and volume control turned off, and quicktime set to match the bit rate of your music) with optical output to a decent DAC will get you 99% (my subjective measurement) to the State of Art on the music server side. If you have Windows, then and Airport Express will save you hours of headache by maintaining bit-perfectness of the stream. Then Focusing on the amplification and speaker will reap much larger benefits than dwelling in the minutiae of the computer.



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Frankly, I believe the choices for computer audio make it more desirable, not less. It gives you the option to go wireless or wired, hi-res or low-res, and play from Mac or PC, or even use Linux, and different players with different look and feel. All price-points are available. All of these options allow one to use the computer they have already, optimize the GUI and user experience for them, spend the right amount of money, and even tune it for best audio performance.


For those that grew-up in the computer age, this is just expected IME. It's like having a Mac that can be configured to your taste rather than a machine that is not configurable at all.


One thing that might be helpful is a decision-tree. The problem is of course that this must be updated almost weekly because of the improvements and new tools that are becoming available. It's like the PC treadmill. If you never get-on, it will continue evolving and you will never get to benefit. Like PC's and laptops, it is starting to mature in a lot of areas, and competes head-to-head with CD playback, and even surpasses it in some cases.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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Everytime I read review of turntable, arm, needle, I was so intimidated and pretty much gave up on the idea and think that it is way too hard for me to figure out all the various adjustments, azimuth what, loading where, high mass low mass something! . Eventhough I heard many great turntable system and has been tempted several times, it is just so confusing that I don't know where to start.

Computer base server is the same way initially, there is no ready made, one button solution, reading about it may sound confusing but once you have a system in front of you, things will look easier and you can see all the various options that people are talking about. It might be helpful even to download mediamonkey, EAC other whatever music server program, ripping program and play with that on your computer first and get the feel of it before going about setting up computer for playback, installing sound card etc.


If you are willing to spend some times and learn, and ask rather than being embarassed about being NewB, soon you will not be one, I think.


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