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Newbie humbly/respectfully requesting research assistance/direction(s)...


Synergist

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Dear All/To Whom it May Interest:

 

To all who wish to help, thank you sincerely in advance!

 

"Mature" audiophile here who cut his teeth on analogue separate components as well CD/DVD's/stand alone players...who now wishes to grapple with/embrace 21st century technology/resources...however, my computer/digital knowledge base is painfully limited.

 

I have an aging desk-top, 10+ year old componentry, (except for the Asus Xonar Essence STX PCI sound card), which now appears to only be capable of streaming(?) www.organlive.com or similar digital streams, no longer able to stream(?) other more demanding digital sources...so...I have a significant challenge...

 

I wish to learn the basics regarding computer audio, so as to make good, informed decisions about how to modernize,(read integrate with digital media/digital technology), my audio system, and really don't know where to start...and request advice regarding where to look/what to read...

 

Ultimately, I would like to be able to utilize my existing equipment, (except for the current desktop computer), but have the capability of relatively easily accessing digital music streams over the internet, (with high fidelity of course), be able to download high resolution digital audio files, and play digital audio files, feeding the digital files/or streams(?) to an outboard D/A converter, then to my analogue components...

 

So, Where do I begin my education...?...if on Computer Audiophile, where do I look, and what do I seek? Is there a "Computer Audio 101/Computer Audio for Newbies" extended tutorial?

 

Any and all advice is much appreciated!

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

T.A. Kogstrom

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I'm no sage but if you have a PC, I suggest you purchase a copy of Jriver. This program can "play" higher resolution files and, thankfully, tosses iTunes overboard.

Assuming your PC has a USB port then the search should centre on a USB DAC. (music stored on your hard drive then plays through to the DAC) There are multitudes of these, each getting better every day.

Prices range from next to zero to major dough. This change will bypass your sound card.

The DAC then is analogue out to your system.

I, personally, am biased to Apple (mac mini and Audirvana).

Best of luck,

WDW

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Dear WDW:

 

Thank you for your quick response...I believe that my desktop may be long enough in the tooth that a newer computer might serve the Jriver better anyway...with the Windows XP O.S. based desktop I am using WINAMP for accessing the www.organlive.com stream, (and that works well), but whatever program decodes www.hos.com and others is simply no longer able to cut it...the mother board is 10 years old, cannot be updated, and the Intel Pentium CPU is of the same vintage...

 

Oh, and I do enjoy the use of a Schiit Audio Bifrost D/A converter, (with USB input capability), which I use with my Oppo disc player/transport, utilizing the coaxial digital interconnect...so, I have that option. I DO wonder if asynchronous USB feeds/connections are of equivalent fidelity as digital coaxial connections?...

 

T.A. Kogstrom

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Hello T.A....welcome and thank you for the thorough and well written introduction.

 

For me, computer audio has always been primarily about the convenience and improved usability over physical media swapping. I've discover a few things on my journey over the years.....things that worked and didn't work for me as the end user from a practicality standpoint. I've been through a few computers, streaming clients and such. Here's what I've found.....

 

The user interface........for me it's the primary tool I use to 'listen'. My final choice after many is the Apple iPad2 and the Remote App. It allows me complete control of my entire catalogue at the touch of my fingers. Additional applications such as Pandora and Spotify allow for secondary streaming options when I want to discover new music. I also have 7 zones of distributed audio and hiDef video and the IPad and app allow me complete control over all of it, wherever I'm at in or around my home. An Apple solution also has a great function called mirroring within Airplay. It allows me to 'send' content as I'm viewing it on the iPad to any connected display. While HD video isn't the scope of this forum, the fact that the Apple Airplay mesh can also perform these functions can't be overlooked IMO.

 

Now the PC/computer side. I have a small home office now and I prefer a desktop PC for when I'm working from home. Some complex software works much better for me with a quality mouse and a large 23" monitor is essential for not having to strain to read graphs and the small texts of PDF files in context. When I'm on the couch or elsewhere relaxing, again the IPad offers me all the tech I need.....much more convenient than a laptop or notebook. I'm doing that right now, watching the weather channel, serving up Pandora and listening to the Dusty Springfield channel.....and typing a response to you!

 

The office machine is a fairly robust intel i5 Dell machine. No sound card, no video card...all on board intel stuff. I did some stuff to it myself. First, I cloned the hard drive to a solid state drive primarily for the operating system(windows7) and programs. An SSD is MUCH FASTER and quieter than a spinning drive. The speed is essential for me when booting from sleep, rendering stored graphics files and programs. I added three additional conventional Hard Drives inside the enclosure all on the SATA network. One is for photos and stored program files and music, one is for a high definition video library and the third is for backups. ALL or my physical media is/was transferred directly to this machine.

 

Since I rely on the Apple streaming architecture, my primary player is iTunes. IMO when properly configured iTunes is a fantastic solution. Sure there's other software that do some things better....BUT....for all things iTunes does, it's the only real option for me. I consider the 'whole ' package and development and support are just as important as the software itself.

 

Networking. I accomplished this three ways. I have the usual WiFi router which works for the iPad and iPhones ( they can control my distributed audio/video too). For media streaming I use a combination of hard wired Cat5 and elsewhere Powerline network adapters. I have tried the all wireless approach and with multiple users and HiDef video streaming with audio, WiFi falls short on quality and reliability.

 

Playback. My connected zones for streaming use either the Apple Airport Express for Audio only at bit Perfect 16/44.1 Redbook CD resolution OR video Zones use the 1080p capable Apple TV. My primary listening system is connected using both an Apple TV and a Pioneer N50 streamer/DAC. The pioneer works with Airplay but also allows for HD Audio streaming outside of the Apple system. As mentioned, it contains IMO an excellent DAC and sound quality is fantastic.

 

I won't go into the gear connected at the other end of the streamers as it's not relevant to your post but a quick overview.......7 zones of connected audio/Video covering all of my home plus my front and rear yards and garage/workshop....all network streamed. Cost of all the streamers and the Pioneer N50 $1200....add the iPad and were up to $1700 but the iPad can do so much more.

 

Hope this helps.

Link to comment
Dear WDW:

 

Thank you for your quick response...I believe that my desktop may be long enough in the tooth that a newer computer might serve the Jriver better anyway...with the Windows XP O.S. based desktop I am using WINAMP for accessing the www.organlive.com stream, (and that works well), but whatever program decodes www.hos.com and others is simply no longer able to cut it...the mother board is 10 years old, cannot be updated, and the Intel Pentium CPU is of the same vintage...

 

Oh, and I do enjoy the use of a Schiit Audio Bifrost D/A converter, (with USB input capability), which I use with my Oppo disc player/transport, utilizing the coaxial digital interconnect...so, I have that option. I DO wonder if asynchronous USB feeds/connections are of equivalent fidelity as digital coaxial connections?...

 

T.A. Kogstrom

 

Personally, when I owned the Bifrost I preferred the USB input. This also eliminates any need to worry about sound cards.

 

My playback experience doesn't include streaming, so my apologies that I'm unable to help there. (I play files that I've recorded from my CDs or purchased and downloaded.)

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.

Link to comment
Dear All/To Whom it May Interest:

 

To all who wish to help, thank you sincerely in advance!

 

"Mature" audiophile here who cut his teeth on analogue separate components as well CD/DVD's/stand alone players...who now wishes to grapple with/embrace 21st century technology/resources...however, my computer/digital knowledge base is painfully limited.

 

I have an aging desk-top, 10+ year old componentry, (except for the Asus Xonar Essence STX PCI sound card), which now appears to only be capable of streaming(?) www.organlive.com or similar digital streams, no longer able to stream(?) other more demanding digital sources...so...I have a significant challenge...

 

I wish to learn the basics regarding computer audio, so as to make good, informed decisions about how to modernize,(read integrate with digital media/digital technology), my audio system, and really don't know where to start...and request advice regarding where to look/what to read...

 

Ultimately, I would like to be able to utilize my existing equipment, (except for the current desktop computer), but have the capability of relatively easily accessing digital music streams over the internet, (with high fidelity of course), be able to download high resolution digital audio files, and play digital audio files, feeding the digital files/or streams(?) to an outboard D/A converter, then to my analogue components...

 

So, Where do I begin my education...?...if on Computer Audiophile, where do I look, and what do I seek? Is there a "Computer Audio 101/Computer Audio for Newbies" extended tutorial?

 

Any and all advice is much appreciated!

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

T.A. Kogstrom

 

Hi T.A.

The "(except for the Asus Xonar Essence STX PCI sound card)" should be able to process 24/192, even on XP.

If you using XP's audio programs it may well be using M$'s mixer, which will reprocess everything that goes through it.

And usually not for the better, that was why ASIO was developed.

 

Within the Asus driver setting, check to see if ASIO, or others, are used.

 

The site you linked to, is only streaming MP3's, so it's not the Asus card or your PC that has the problem, it just may need more buffering over the download/play speed.

 

Do you use the analogue out of the Asus card?

The SPDIF out can be used for an outboard Dac.

 

Do you already have a home network setup?

What model Oppo?

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