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Weakest link


mordante

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Hello all. I was wondering what according to the friendly people on this forum the weakest link of my system is. The focus of this question is computer audio.

 

Speakers: Master Audio: One

Speaker cable: generic copper

Integrated amp: Symphonic Line La Musica

CD Transport: CEC TL51x

DAC: Wadia 12

Turntable: VPI Scout

Cartridge: Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua

Phono amp: RCM Sensor Prelude

phono interlink: Nordost Heimdall II

interlinks: Pink Faun 5th anniversary

digital interlink cd/dac: EAS/ebu forgot the brand

streaming plaback: Generic old XP laptop with Foobar2000

USB convertor: M2tech Hiface

cable hiface-dac: generic pro audio BNC

NAS: Synology DS214 with 2 WD 2TB red HDDs

music ripped with dBpoweramp

 

I am not sure if the next steop would be a DAC ugrade, dedicated music computer or a better USB/spdif converter. I would say DAC but since I do not have any high res files it may not be the smart thing to upgrade the DAC.

 

So what the people here advice.

[br]

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I am not sure if the next steop would be a DAC ugrade, dedicated music computer or a better USB/spdif converter. I would say DAC but since I do not have any high res files it may not be the smart thing to upgrade the DAC.

 

So what the people here advice.

 

FWIW, here is a brief thread from a few years ago about the Wadia 12:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/wadia-12-digital-analogue-converter-good-enough-3622/

 

I have no personal knowledge of the DAC, but wasn't it introduced around 1993? Even modestly priced DACs today sound way better than the majority of those from twenty years ago. And, most modern DACs will provide hi res playback capability, which is something you will most likely want in the future, if not now. You didn't mention anything about budget, which is obviously an important factor. And Kal's question about what you find lacking in your current system should be central to your inquiry.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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It's difficult to answer without more intimate knowledge of your components, but focusing on the computer audio aspect, as Allan F said, an upgrade to a modern DAC (and there are lots of excellent choices for every need and price range) would make a large impact. Especially if your DAC really is from 1993. Hi-Res files can be tremendous, but you would be amazed by how much sound quality is available from Redbook discs/files that you may not be hearing.

 

The change I made that I would never do without now is the upgrade the OS in my music server - to Windows Server 2012 + AudioPhil's Audiophile Optimizer. You can read more about that here if you like:

 

http://www.highend-audiopc.com/optimizer.html

 

... and here

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/whos-used-audiophile-optimizer-windows-2012-server-or-windows-8-a-17897/

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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Yes a new DAC seems to be the smart choice. The DACs that do come to mind would be:

 

Schiit - Gungnir €750/850

M2tech - Young €1250

Mytek - DSD DAC 192 €?

Metrum - Octave II €950/1075

TEAC - 501 €800

 

These are DACs that come to mind if I were to replace my Wadia 12. But I am not to sure if I should get one with a USB input or keep a separate usb/spdif converter.

[br]

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Only my own preference: If you can get the same result (lower jitter) from fewer boxes, that's a good thing.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Even less boxes, use a decent network audio player, aka streamer, aka renderer (ie music player and decent DAC combined). Examples:

Pioneer N-50

Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6

Marantz NA8005

 

Add the free foo_UPnP plugin component to the Foobar2000 software you're currently using, to control the playback. You can even ditch the Windows laptop altogether in the music playback chain, if you have an Android or iOS device to control the streamer and by installing a good UPnP/DLNA Server on your Synology NAS, such as the excellent free MinimServer.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Weakest link?......not sure what you're asking for or did you mean the best area for improvement? ( a more positive position!) lol

 

I'd certainly consider the DynAudio knockoffs as an area for improvement as a change in speakers will always produce the most significant level of audible difference.

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I agree with this, but focusing on the computer audio as requested, I'd suggest auditioning a new DAC while auditioning a $500ish USB>SPDIF converter at the same time. IME, the USB>SPDIF converter is as or more important than the DAC. The Hiface was a great entry product, but is hampered buy the bus power amongst other things. My price mark is arbitrary, but you need good clocking for it to sound great. Clocking requires good power supply, which in turn requires some expense. Maybe something like the iFi USB power thingy if you can get one on loan.

Weakest link?......not sure what you're asking for or did you mean the best area for improvement? ( a more positive position!) lol

 

I'd certainly consider the DynAudio knockoffs as an area for improvement as a change in speakers will always produce the most significant level of audible difference.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Even less boxes, use a decent network audio player, aka streamer, aka renderer (ie music player and decent DAC combined). Examples:

Pioneer N-50

Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6

Marantz NA8005

 

Add the free foo_UPnP plugin component to the Foobar2000 software you're currently using, to control the playback. You can even ditch the Windows laptop altogether in the music playback chain, if you have an Android or iOS device to control the streamer and by installing a good UPnP/DLNA Server on your Synology NAS, such as the excellent free MinimServer.

 

 

To be honest I have no idea what UPnP is or DLNA. Why would I need to install that? What does it control? Foobar2K is installed on the laptop not on the NAS. We do not own any tablet and since many streamers/renderers depend on such a device I am not to keen on buying a streamer.

[br]

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Foobar2000 software is Windows only, cannot really be installed on a NAS and I wasn't suggesting that you do so - sorry for any confusion. The idea is to install the foo_UPnP plugin in the Fb2k running on your laptop to allow you to use Fb2k to control your music playback to a UPnP/DLNA supporting streamer over the network, so you don't have your laptop attched to the rest of your music components via a cable. The UPnP/DLNA network protocol allows you to do this.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Only my own preference: If you can get the same result (lower jitter) from fewer boxes, that's a good thing.

 

To be a little more expansive, what I meant is that if the async USB input built into a DAC can get you similar jitter and electrical isolation to a USB/SPDIF converter, then I'd go for the input built into the DAC. Circuitry in the same chassis as your DAC will cost less than similar circuitry sold as a separate box; and you will also save the cost of an SPDIF cable between a separate converter box and your DAC.

 

There are separate converters that provide a level of electrical isolation not reasonably obtainable in the types of DACs you mentioned, but such boxes (e.g., the Berkeley converter) cost up to double the price of those DACs. So in terms of best sound for your budget, I would put the money in the DAC versus a separate converter box.

 

Mayhem could be correct about the speakers. On the other hand, speakers can only reproduce what they're given, and it is true that newer DACs are improved versus older models (more computing power = better filtering algorithms). It would be ideal if you could listen to different DACs as well as different speakers to determine what makes the most positive difference in your particular system.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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It is the simplest network audio device. It can be controlled by any/all together: computer, smart phone or tablet.

To be honest I have no idea what UPnP is or DLNA. Why would I need to install that? What does it control? Foobar2K is installed on the laptop not on the NAS. We do not own any tablet and since many streamers/renderers depend on such a device I am not to keen on buying a streamer.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Weakest link?......not sure what you're asking for or did you mean the best area for improvement? ( a more positive position!) lol

 

I'd certainly consider the DynAudio knockoffs as an area for improvement as a change in speakers will always produce the most significant level of audible difference.

 

I agree with mayhem13. The first area to look for improvement is the speakers. But it is useful if you could tell us what is lacking in your setup that makes you want to upgrade...

 

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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Just focusing on the computer side, I would definitely upgrade the computer first. To me, that would be a Windows computer with JRMC v19, or a Mac Mini with JRMC running either MacOS or Windows, or a CAPS server. There are of course, many more options, such as a Mac with Audirvana+. It would simply all depend upon what sound you like from the system. But upgrading that ancient Windows XP box would be where I would start.

 

Everything else in the CA chain is going to sound very different by doing that. Better or worse- who can tell? But different for sure.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Of course you already know my suggestion as far as the computer is concerned. No need to change old laptop if you decide to go with a streamer and you don't even have to use it for playback if you get youself an iPad/phone/tablet.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Thank you all for the advice. Just would like to say that my speakers are fine. Master is a small Dutch brand. That makes decent speakers. This is what they look like:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]10532[/ATTACH]

 

I stand corrected as a google search of Master One turned up a Chinese mfgr with blatant DynAudio knockoff components. Sorry for the error.

 

I'll have to look up Dutch Master.......get it.......Dutch Master? Pass the blunt yo!

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Indeed a SEAS mid/base, not sure about the tweeter though. I have been looking for some info on the speakers but it is hard. They were never produced in mass numbers. The speaker is of an aperiodic design.

 

One of the reasons that it was only produced in small numbers is because of the complexity of the enclosure.

[br]

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I stand corrected as a google search of Master One turned up a Chinese mfgr with blatant DynAudio knockoff components. Sorry for the error.

 

I'll have to look up Dutch Master.......get it.......Dutch Master? Pass the blunt yo!

 

 

Hope they make better speakers than they do cigars.... STINKO! (But I must admit to smoking' 'em in college. You know, college = no money. Then I discovered Philippine "Tabacalaras" and for about the same price (then) a much better smoke. I don't smoke any more - and never smoked cigarettes, but I did enjoy a good cigar and a nice pipe).

George

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