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Computers good for hifi in general?


realhifi

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Thinking lately on how we have gotten to where we are and what came before and I started to wonder about the state of the music and hifi industries and the relationship of computers to those industries.

 

A simple question I kept asking self was "are the music and hifi industries better off now or before computers and music met and started their unholy alliance? By before I mean before they were involved at all. Before Microsoft had tiny clips of Weezer in their operating system, before the debacle that was Napster.

 

So, what say the illustrious denizens of this forum? Are they better off?

David

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Thinking lately on how we have gotten to where we are and what came before and I started to wonder about the state of the music and hifi industries and the relationship of computers to those industries.

 

A simple question I kept asking self was "are the music and hifi industries better off now or before computers and music met and started their unholy alliance? By before I mean before they were involved at all. Before Microsoft had tiny clips of Weezer in their operating system, before the debacle that was Napster.

 

So, what say the illustrious denizens of this forum? Are they better off?

 

I don't consider myself an illustrious denizen of this forum, although you yourself might be, and I am not privy to knowing whether the music biz and hi-fi industries are doing better or worse financially as a result, although I suspect the latter.

 

I will say that computer audio has brought my music enjoyment level back up to the great, pot-smoking, musical glory days of the mid 1960's to mid 1970's. Who didn't do a toke and have their minds blown listening through Koss headphoes to "In Held 'Twas In I" by Procol Harum, or the closing, phase-shifted guitar solo on Hendrix's "Bold As Love", or, of course, "Sgt. Pepper?"

 

I love my current setup. I've got 1,300 lossless albums stored on a device that fits in my shirt pocket (plus identical backups), and a good percentage of those albums are hi-res. By touching two buttons, it takes 10 seconds to power up my DAC and amp from standby (power consumption on standby=.5 watt each) and no more than 12 seconds to cold boot my optimized Mavericks MBP/SSD, or merely one one second to wake it from "sleep" mode.

I then scroll down the alphabetical list of 300+ artists on my desktop screen, drag an album icon with a one-inch movement of my index finger into the Audirvana playlist window, and press "F8" or the spacebar to play/pause. Volume is adjusted by the DAC's 35-bit non-truncating digital preamp w/remote control. I can also skip/repeat, fast-forward/backward, or pause any track with the $19 Apple Remote, which I don't usually even bother using.

So not only does my music library sound better than it ever did, the convenience factor is makes my day every time I use it.

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Fewer moving parts to wear out. Once SSDs come down in price enough, nothing will have to move mechanically to store or play music other than my speakers (based on prior experience with another model of the same brand, these should be good until I croak or go deaf) and ripping my remaining CDs/LPs, which will give me something to do in my retirement years besides actually having to meet people.

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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For me, yes, they are very good for music.

 

It is only recently that the computer has "caught up" to the home user...but it has been on the production/distribution side since the 1980s when studios started recording digitally and CDs came out in force. Finally we have better sound from our music servers and portable devices than we do from the physical media of CDs (and SACDs and DVDs) so we can realize the greatest upside of digital music.

 

This idea that we could go back to all analog is intriguing but unlikely and unnecessary. The digital recordings done on modern equipment have all the resolution, dynamic range, and S/N we need/want. What we NEED is greater knowledge in the recording side (mic placement through mastering through greater dynamic range, etc). This ISN'T a "computer vs. analog" problem. This is an industry production problem.

 

Best,

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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It's only been a plus for me. I have had only a few transitory glitches. The convenience and improvement in SQ far surpassed my expectations. I sold my CD player shortly after I started and I am off CDs for good. About the only down side was the time needed to rip the CDs and storing them as a last resort archive.

2012 MacMini 8G ram -> Audirvana + 3.0 -> Mcintosh MHA 100> Nordost > Audeze LCD X

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Fewer moving parts to wear out. Once SSDs come down in price enough, nothing will have to move mechanically to store or play music other than my speakers (based on prior experience with another model of the same brand, these should be good until I croak or go deaf) and ripping my remaining CDs/LPs, which will give me something to do in my retirement years besides actually having to meet people.

 

My least-long-lasting hard-drive recently was an SSD with a 5 year warranty.

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My least-long-lasting hard-drive recently was an SSD with a 5 year warranty.

 

Cross my fingers, none of my SSDs have gone bad on me yet. Oldest one I've got has been in constant use for 4 years, and one I replaced (for performance, no problems) was used for 5 years. OTOH, I've had a couple of HDDs give me the "click of death."

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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How can we not be better off with having all music accessible at a click. A well meta-tagged library is an absolute dream I wouldn't even have thought of 10 years ago. And we get to hear studio master files and aren't limited to redbook only.

 

+1!

For my system details, please see my profile. Thank you.

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...ripping my remaining CDs/LPs, which will give me something to do in my retirement years besides actually having to meet people.

 

Having been retired for over eight years, I can tell you that the latter is an option, but not a requirement. :)

"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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Thinking lately on how we have gotten to where we are and what came before and I started to wonder about the state of the music and hifi industries and the relationship of computers to those industries.

 

A simple question I kept asking self was "are the music and hifi industries better off now or before computers and music met and started their unholy alliance? By before I mean before they were involved at all. Before Microsoft had tiny clips of Weezer in their operating system, before the debacle that was Napster.

 

So, what say the illustrious denizens of this forum? Are they better off?

 

Hi David,

 

I would say the *listener* who is interested in having the sound of the master at home is most definitely better off.

In my experience, proper playback from a computer feeding a good DAC delivers the sound of the master, whether that master is a CD master, an extended resolution master (such as 24/96) or high resolution (such as 24/192). No disc player or transport in my experience has ever achieved this.

 

Good as many players (analog and digital) can sound -- some very good indeed -- they do not (at least to my ears) deliver the sound of the master. At their best they can get pretty close. But close is not the same as there ("there" being a sound that is indistinguishable from the master itself). In my view, a decent computer and DAC setup gets the listener *there*.

 

I wrote a bit about this my my blog entry entitled "Listening to Tomorrow". (An slightly shortened version was reprinted in the April-June 2014 HiFi Critic magazine in the U.K.)

 

And all of the above is without having yet considered how much more convenient and varied and powerful access to our music libraries becomes when computers are involved.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

The Soundkeeper | Audio, Music, Recording, Playback

Barry Diament Audio

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...A simple question I kept asking self was "are the music and hifi industries better off now or before computers and music met and started their unholy alliance?

 

Many rock/pop artists may be worse off. Instead of going on tour to support their record sales as in pre-computer days, now they release recordings to support their concert tours and make most of their income from mechanizing and hope music sales are enough to break even. See: Should Music Be Free?

 

The hi-fi industry adapts to what is popular, however I wish transistors and digital were never invented. I would gladly give up my computer for a typewriter if I could go back to an analog world with lots of neighborhood record/tape and stereo stores.

 

I tried to go back to all analog tape about seven years ago, I had a nice reel to reel deck and even found some of my favorite Barclay-Crocker reel to reels however after two years and thousands of hours surfing eBay I only managed to repurchase about 20 of my favorite tapes, altogether I bought over 60, not very successful. I did even worse trying to repurchase my audiophile cassette collection, on eBay I won a dozen MFSL High Fidelity Cassettes. Many were offered but they went higher than I could afford. However I never found any of my favorite In Sync Labs, Sound Ideas, Direct to Tape Recording Co. and other favorite audiophile cassettes. So another failure. I sold both the reel to reel and cassette deck as it was just too hard to start over. It would have been better if I had never sold my original reel to reel or audiophile cassette collection most purchased in the 1970s, if I could go back in time this is one of the many things I would correct.

 

Now I am computer-only, the majority of my music files are DSD (2.8MHz and 5.6MHz) and most are from analog master tapes. So, for me I believe DSD finally gives me much of the analog sound I had before and is way more convenient so I am happy.

 

Opus 3's dsdfile, Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez and few other DSD download sites are keeping me broke. I like jazz, folk, country and 1960s-1970s rock and have 147 DSD downloads on my want list.

 

Here is a post I made several years ago at Audio Asylum going into more detail A subject after my heart, I miss going to Muntz Stereo tape stores to find new prerecorded reel to reel tapes.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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It appears that most have not read the question or I wasn't clear enough.

My question wasn't whether the consumer was better off. It was whether the Hifi and recording industries were.

 

I get that people love what s happening with computers and THEIR music collection. For now anyway.

David

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It appears that most have not read the question or I wasn't clear enough.

My question wasn't whether the consumer was better off. It was whether the Hifi and recording industries were.

 

I get that people love what s happening with computers and THEIR music collection. For now anyway.

 

Depends what you mean , better off. A lot of audio AVR manufacturers appear to be making some of their AVR's that allow streaming and most of the newer AVR's are providing some form of DSD play back.. I would say , the major audio manufacturers are better off since the future appears to be streaming music and pretty much all of the major manufacturers are providing streaming capabilities and the computer audio and internet providers be it hardware or software fall right in line to support that. Now whether the Hifi and recording industries are better off, as long as they offer music someone is going to listen to it on some device, be it portable or home. I would rather listen to music today via my current setup, then listen to music on a 8-track.

The Truth Is Out There

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It appears that most have not read the question or I wasn't clear enough.

My question wasn't whether the consumer was better off. It was whether the Hifi and recording industries were.

 

I get that people love what s happening with computers and THEIR music collection. For now anyway.

 

Hi David,

 

I always took the goal of HiFi as being to hear recordings at their best, i.e, with high fidelity to the source.

With that in mind, computer playback brings the potential never before available to the consumer: ultimate high fidelity in that what they can hear is virtually the source itself.

 

As far as the recording industry, this is a tougher question. Someone elsewhere recently pointed out that while TV and other industries have continually offered increased quality to the consumer, the recording industry has been degrading quality, going from vinyl, down to CD and then to mp3, the latter providing only a fraction of the sonics available on the already degraded CD. (I remember when CD was first released and many colleagues would say "Just listen to the noise" meaning there isn't any. I would respond with "Just listen to the music" wondering why cellos sounded like kazoos. Yes, things have improved drastically since those days. The cellos sound like much better kazoos. ;-} Okay, a bit of exaggeration there. But, if you compare it with true high res, to my ears, they really do sound like much cheaper instruments, played in airless rooms.)

 

Even separate from the format degradation, the industry has spent the past few decades decimating the recordings themselves with the so-called Loudness Wars. The results, in my opinion, engender a stress response in Joe and Jane Average, who may not know why (or even consciously think about it) but find themselves not moved to purchase recordings as they once were, and not listening to the ones they purchase as much as they used to.

As I've said before, the recording industry has a history of shooting itself in the foot and responds to each incidence by seeking out a bigger gun.

 

So what does computer audio mean for the recording industry? Well, we're seeing the beginnings of what might be a positive trend but this must be tempered by the knowledge that even as some form consortiums to create terminology describing high res, they include CD resolution among the definitions.

 

I remain hopeful that the level matching algorithms used in a lot of software may well end the Loudness Wars as these reveal just how wimpy and lifeless those dynamically truncated recordings really sound, particularly when played next to unrestrained (or relatively unrestrained) recordings.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

The Soundkeeper | Audio, Music, Recording, Playback

Barry Diament Audio

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It appears that most have not read the question or I wasn't clear enough.

My question wasn't whether the consumer was better off. It was whether the Hifi and recording industries were.

 

I get that people love what s happening with computers and THEIR music collection. For now anyway.

Guilty for having misread your post.

 

For the hifi industry, it's a mixed bag I assume. Most of us have recently bought a DAC, so this must have generated quite a lot of sales. However, in the DAC market there are many new entrants that are not part of the traditional hifi manufacturers (in fact, the hifi industry has been slow to catch up), so a part of the cake went to the Myteks of this world.

 

And maybe the potential route from a small affordable headphone rig to a more serious system will give us the next generation of hifi enthusiasts.

 

For the recording industry, I wonder whether the ship has sailed for the majors, as they were to slow to adapt to the new reality.

 

I hope forever, that labels with download sites like BIS/eclassical or Hyperion/TheClassicalShop are now better off in a sense that they can sell their product directly to consumers, and a potentially better quality (highres) one as well. Most classical orchestras do their own label as well, and have easier direct channels available to them (e.g. Berlin Phil's Virtual Concert Hall).

 

And for "smaller" musicians, having their own website where you can download music, and sites like Bandcamp, hopefully mean that they have a way of making themselves known without the need of a Universal or BMG. The trend towards streaming services may be an issue though.

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Hi David,

 

I would say the *listener* who is interested in having the sound of the master at home is most definitely better off.

In my experience, proper playback from a computer feeding a good DAC delivers the sound of the master, whether that master is a CD master, an extended resolution master (such as 24/96) or high resolution (such as 24/192). No disc player or transport in my experience has ever achieved this.

 

Good as many players (analog and digital) can sound -- some very good indeed -- they do not (at least to my ears) deliver the sound of the master. At their best they can get pretty close. But close is not the same as there ("there" being a sound that is indistinguishable from the master itself). In my view, a decent computer and DAC setup gets the listener *there*.

 

I wrote a bit about this my my blog entry entitled "Listening to Tomorrow". (An slightly shortened version was reprinted in the April-June 2014 HiFi Critic magazine in the U.K.)

 

And all of the above is without having yet considered how much more convenient and varied and powerful access to our music libraries becomes when computers are involved.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

The Soundkeeper | Audio, Music, Recording, Playback

Barry Diament Audio

 

bdiament --

 

This perfectly reflects my own findings - thank you.

Source: Synology NAS > DIY Mediaserver • Software: JRiver MC26 DLNA/Fidelizer 8.5 Digital AES/EBU output: Marian Seraph D4 • DAC/preamp: Blue Cheese Audio Roquefort Digital cross-over: Xilica XP-3060 • Speakers: Electro-Voice TS9040D LX (for active config.)  Subwoofers: 2 x MicroWrecker (tapped horn) • Poweramp EV horns: Belles SA-30 • EV bass amp: Lab.Gruppen FP6400 • Subs amp: Crown Audio K2 • EV horns cables: Mundorf silver/gold + Duelund DCA16GA (shotgun config.) • IC: Mundorf silver/gold XLR-RCA/Mogami 2549 XLR-XLR • Subs and EV bass cable: Cordial CLS 425 • Power cables: 15AWG Solid-core wire w/IeGo pure copper plugs (DIY)

 

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It was whether the Hifi and recording industries were.

 

No:

 

-In the decade since peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing site Napster emerged in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.7 billion.

-From 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks.

-NPD reports that only 37 percent of music acquired by U.S. consumers in 2009 was paid for.

-Frontier Economics recently estimated that U.S. Internet users annually consume between $7 and $20 billion worth of digitally pirated recorded music.

Dahlquist DQ-10 Speakers DQ-LP1 crossover 2 DW-1 Subs

Dynaco Mk III Mains - Rotel 991 Subs

Wyred W4S Pre Gustard X10 DAC

SOtM dx-USB-HD reclocked SOtMmBPS-d2s

Intel Thin-mini ITX

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No:

 

-In the decade since peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing site Napster emerged in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.7 billion.

-From 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks.

-NPD reports that only 37 percent of music acquired by U.S. consumers in 2009 was paid for.

-Frontier Economics recently estimated that U.S. Internet users annually consume between $7 and $20 billion worth of digitally pirated recorded music.

 

Exactly. The one that really stands out is the 30 BILLION songs that were illegally downloaded. That against the then staggering number of songs purchased legally on iTunes as of Feb 2013 of 25 BILLION! No wonder artists are making noise in congress. What a mess.

David

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