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help please for a c.a. virgin

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firstly, thanks for a great site that has given me the confidence to take a plunge into computer audio


i have set up an experimental system using an old xp based p.c. that was gathering dust and purchased a cambridge audio dac magic dac that is connected via the usb. i have stripped down windows to the best of my ability and loaded media monkey as per your recommendations. i am impressed enough to continue to the next stage.


i have a circa 2002 maudio delta 24/96 card that i will employ (once i find the damn cable) that, i hope, will improve things further. once i have established this, i need advice on the following please.


the lynx sound card you recommend is crazy money in the uk. ive seen it at £950.00!!, if i use a quality dac, like the bryston bda-1, does the card need to achieve any more than to pass the digital data to the dac? i.e. would my maudio card suffice or is there a substantial enough difference to warrant the lynx card. i would not have a problem if this was hifi kit but i am reluctant to pay for pc kit that will be worth next to nothing in next to no time.


i have read favourable reviews on the ASUS XONAR essence cards that are a much more resonable sub £200.00, would you recommend these?


finally, the crunch question for me, i have a high end audio system in the front room that needs a source. do i invest some few thousand in a cd player or, is the c.a. reference system the new bench mark??


again, many thanks


simon c.






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Your question regarding the Lynx card will probably receive a different answer depending on whom you ask. I'm sure it can only improve your audio quality as it reclocks the digital signal, but equally I'm sure the DAC you mention is capable enough to handle the digital stream from the other audio card that you wish to use though I'm not familiar with it. There are a few users on here using the music cheaper ESI [email protected] which you can buy cheaply here in the UK - a used one sold on e-bay for around £40 just the other day. Probably a better option than the Xonar too.


DO NOT invest in a CD player. Your computer audio system will perform as well as or exceed it. On ripping your CD's ensure you have error correction enabled and of course rip your CD's to an uncompressed format for a perfect copy of the original audio data.


Lastly have great fun ! Whatever you think of the sound quality (which should be great) no CD player can match the ease of use and flexibility of having all of your music stored on your hard drive.


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

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Hi Simon - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. I'm so happy you're making the transition to a computer based system. My recommendation is to start with the equipment you have. The MAudio card is a great start. If you're unsatisfied with it then try something else and maybe move to the Lynx at that time. That price is outrageous over there! It would almost be cheaper to fly to New York and pick one up! I haven't tried the ASUS cards, but they sure look nice. I have tried many ASUS motherboards and always been very happy.


I think you can guess my answer to your last question :~) I no longer have a physical disc player and will never purchase another one. The quality I get from my music servers is unmatched by anything in recent memory. In fact in the most recent Absolute Sound magazine the writers listed their favorites from CES 2009. One of the favorites was the TAD room that used a music server that I custom built. Music servers are the new paradigm. Switch to a computer based system and get better sound, better convenience, and never look back.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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I can't help you with your PC questions - as I'm a Mac user - but I will offer a response to your last question.


I would definitely NOT invest significant money in a CD player. Doesn't seem to make any sense in this day and age.


Neither would I focus on any 'new benchmarks', as this will likely change over (relatively short periods of) time, in my opinion. Given all the possible combinations for putting the component pieces together - there are LOTS of choices for software/players, cable type, OS/drivers, DACs, etc. - investing a lot of money in one particular 'component' doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me personally, but many people do it, whether building out the 'perfect PC configuration', or buying the multi-kilo-buck DAC.


your mileage may vary, as your hearing/system will certainly be different.






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