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I finally pulled the trigger on 'good' speakers, and as I'm going through all my discs, its clear I need to move into this century for storage, playback, and new music, especially higher quality music now that I have equipment worthy of it.

 

So, given that I've read the 'i dont even know what i dont know' article, I need three things. A place to keep the media (storage), a computer to direct the music between storage device and the audio system, and a program to facilitate said directing. I see discussions on DAC's, but was wondering if I can use existing ones in my Oppo 103.

 

So, do i just surf the various forums on the three listed needs and 'pick something'? This has become such a big subject and I feel truly overwhelmed, but I want to expand my music collection, and get the most enjoyment from what is becoming a good system....Aerial 7T's, Odyssey Stratos, Oppo103, and Yamaha RXA3010 receiver

 

Thanks in advance

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Hi,

 

Congratulations on the 7Ts! I auditioned them and thought they were terrific speakers, though ultimately I chose something else (Janszen zA2.1). It was close.

 

I'll make a few comments to get you started, and maybe others will follow up. Your first decision is whether you want to stream to your DAC via USB or via your home network. In either case, you store the music on a computer or NAS (network attached storage) box. But other than that, they are quite different.

 

With USB streaming, you connect your computer directly to your DAC with a USB cable. I'm not sure, but I think the Oppo has a USB input. You would need a player program on your PC or mac. I prefer JRiver Media Center (JRMC) on Windows, but there are others. You also need a program to "rip" (copy) the audio from CDs to your disk. JRMC includes a decent ripper; there are others. JRMC acts as a music-library management tool and also a player.

 

With network streaming, you rip the CDs to the disk and run a server program on a computer that has access to the disk. The server hardware typically is not in the music room, which helps with noise issues. In the music room, you need a stream receiver (technically called a renderer) and also a control point app running on iOS or Android. The control point gets music library info from the server, maintains a current playlist, and sends the renderer appropriate URLs to get and play the music.

 

What you need depends on which approach you want to take. I have USB streaming in one room, network streaming (using the same music library) in another. I consider USB streaming pretty mature technology, because conceptually it's not much different from any digital connection. Network streaming is more complex and there are more pitfalls. Not all renderers will play gapless (the Oppos will not), and not all of them support pause and resume while playing. You can run into hardware and software compatibility issues. I like it, but it's definitely more bleeding edge.

 

In either case, you also will need a good backup solution for your terabytes of music storage.

 

You'll probably get more recommendations if you say which you are considering and what computer ecosystem you're already in (Mac, PC, Linux).

 

Mike

1. JRiver Media Center > Lynx Hilo > Audioengine A5+

2. Synology NAS > MinimServer > Ethernet > Auralic Aries > Auralic Vega > Marsh A400S > JansZen zA2.1

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With USB streaming, you connect your computer directly to your DAC with a USB cable. I'm not sure, but I think the Oppo has a USB input.

 

Just a comment. The Oppo 103 has several USB inputs, but it uses SMPS and like USB DACs from a PC it benefits from external linear +5V power and better than average/modified USB cables in line with it's USB inputs.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Thanks Mike, I currently have an oldish laptop, a relatively basic Android tablet, and an iPhone 5, so I'm not even locked to any one OS platform. I need to pick a direction, and go down that path. Ease of use is primary. My setup is and AVR for TV/movies, power amp for the main speakers, and the Oppo. When I'm home alone and listening to music I have the AVR on 2-channel Direct, and that's when I'm most aware of SQ. Average use is TV/movies. The Oppo does have USB inputs, so plugging in my 'music computer' to that would be easy enough.

I know I have choices on where to get new music, like HD Tracks and others, and that's likely to be the primary source of course, since SQ is better than the discs I have. I have Pandora on the Oppo, but not the other streaming services yet. I really am starting at ground zero, and while I don't mind researching to find the best products, I get lost quickly in the world of WAV/AIFF/MPwhatever, etc. even the post saying the Oppo works best with +5v power doesn't mean much to me...are you referring to the power input through the USB cable, and I take it by pointing that out that the computer feeding the Oppo it's USB signal isn't likely to have 5v power?? Or am I lost again? :)

 

Thanks for the help, I do appreciate it. This subject is like the old 'how do you eat an elephant?' line....one bite at a time..:)

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Ease of use is primary.

 

As you've learned, there are many possible paths, but if ease of use is paramount and you're not already enamored of a particular OS, I'd strongly recommend going with a Mac mini or Mac laptop, plus an external hard drive to hold your music library. In my experience, Audirvana Plus playback software combines relative ease of use with good sound quality, or if you want even simpler playback software (but maybe trading off some SQ), go with BitPerfect.

 

Additionally, if you don't want to use your mini or laptop to control playback all the time, you could get an iPad and use the free Apple Remote app for playback control. A dedicated Audirvana Plus iPad app is supposed to be forthcoming in the near future.

 

You might want to think about an outboard DAC at some point (there are currently a number of pretty darn good ones under $500), but for now, the easiest thing is probably to use the DAC in your Yamaha AVR -- it looks like it can handle up to 24/192 and shouldn't be half bad. I'm not sure whether it'll be feasible to use the DAC in your Oppo 103 in conjunction with a computer, although it'll be fine for playing all kinds of optical discs, or if you want to hook a USB drive directly up to the Oppo (though the interface on the Oppo will be a little cumbersome, I think, especially if you have a large music library). I have an older Oppo, so someone with a 103 or 105 should correct me if I'm wrong about the Oppo stuff.

 

Mac mini with Audirvana Plus is a very common setup among users of this site, so if you have questions or run into any snags, it should be pretty easy to get help.

 

Those are just the broad strokes, as I see it, but details can follow as the need arises.

 

Did I mention that you need a means of backing up your music library? Well, you do, so keep that in your plans and budget regardless of which way you end up going.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I get lost quickly in the world of WAV/AIFF/MPwhatever, etc. even the post saying the Oppo works best with +5v power doesn't mean much to me...are you referring to the power input through the USB cable, and I take it by pointing that out that the computer feeding the Oppo it's USB signal isn't likely to have 5v power?? Or am I lost again?

The Oppo 103, unlike the Oppo 105, uses SMPS power, and just like with a typical PC, USB devices plugged into it will benefit from the use of a separate low noise external +5V Linear PSU, with the incoming +5V from the PC disconnected at the PC/Oppo end of the USB cable. Even a USB memory stick with music on it benefits from using the +5V linear PSU rather than using internal SMPS +5V in the 103. I haven't tried a USB cable directly from a PC into a USB socket of the 103 though, just USB memory sticks as the PC is in another room to the Oppo 103.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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The Oppo 103, unlike the Oppo 105, uses SMPS power, and just like with a typical PC, USB devices plugged into it will benefit from the use of a separate low noise external +5V Linear PSU, with the incoming +5V from the PC disconnected at the PC/Oppo end of the USB cable. Even a USB memory stick with music on it benefits from using the +5V linear PSU rather than using internal SMPS +5V in the 103. I haven't tried a USB cable directly from a PC into a USB socket of the 103 though, just USB memory sticks as the PC is in another room to the Oppo 103.

 

Sure, but remember when the OP said that ease of use was the most important thing and that "the post saying the Oppo works best with +5v power doesn't mean much to me"? It's great that you answered his question, but maybe the +5V linear PSU could wait until he's a little better oriented?

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Sure, but remember when the OP said that ease of use was the most important thing and that "the post saying the Oppo works best with +5v power doesn't mean much to me"? It's great that you answered his question, but maybe the +5V linear PSU could wait until he's a little better oriented?

 

--David

 

Neither is the fervent flogging of a Mac Mini as the answer to a maiden's prayer appropriate here ?

The choice will most likely come down to which OS he has more experience with, and what he currently uses. Would you rather have me suggest that he later on spends MANY 100s of $ on boutique USB cables in order to gain a further improvement?

All platforms, including Linux , are capable of great results when properly implemented.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Neither is the fervent flogging of a Mac Mini as the answer to a maiden's prayer appropriate here ?

 

I don't see any flogging here. David suggested a solution that seems right in line with the OP's desire for a solution that is easy to use.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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I don't see any flogging here. David suggested a solution that seems right in line with the OP's desire for a solution that is easy to use.

 

The suggestions included an iPad costing more than the cost of his Oppo 103, by the time you include playback software.

Add to that the cost of a boutique USB cable which is necessary to gain further improvements with a stock standard Mac Mini.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Perhaps the Original Poster can include his budget to better aid in how to "spend his money". As well as how many CDs he has in his collection that he might wish to move to a hard disk.

Silver Circle Audio | Roon | Devialet | Synology | Vivid Audio | Stillpoint Aperture | Auralic | DH Labs

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Perhaps the Original Poster can include his budget to better aid in how to "spend his money". As well as how many CDs he has in his collection that he might wish to move to a hard disk.

 

That would be helpful, as including an external HDD for music storage will further increase costs.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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The suggestions included an iPad costing more than the cost of his Oppo 103, by the time you include playback software.

Add to that the cost of a boutique USB cable which is necessary to gain further improvements with a stock standard Mac Mini.

 

David's message made it clear that an iPad is an *optional* way to control playback, not required equipment.

 

Your statement that a boutique USB cable is required with a Mac Mini is disingenuous considering that you have zero personal experience with this computer.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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My budget is secondary to getting what will accomplish the goal. I do understand that if there were one right answer everyone would have it, so I'm here to get advice.

I have an i5, an android tablet, and a Windows laptop, but from what I've seen, I'll need to learn how to use whatever I get, so I have no ax to grind in terms of sticking to one ecosystem over another. It SEEMS that Mac is more stable in my VERY limited experience.

I don't yet know what a PSU is. I have seen huge variances in DAC's, but don't yet understand the 'whys'. I basically want to be able to pick up a tablet/iPad, touch a few places on the screen and have whatever music I'm looking for spring forth, and when the wife wants to watch TV, or it's movie night, have that just as easy to make happen...

Having said that, I don't expect miracles, and I know there must be good reasons for all the options being out there, so I'm looking to learn here what I need to before jumping in and ending up with a bunch of incompatible 'boxes' and a lot of frustration

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FTR, my speakers would have been 5figures if I hadn't got the deal I did, and I was prepared to spend that if necessary, and if I couldn't find anything cheaper that I liked nearly as much. I got lucky and didn't have to spend that, but that's my way. For me, buyers remorse seldom comes from spending too much, it comes from not getting what I wanted...

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Your statement that a boutique USB cable is required with a Mac Mini is disingenuous considering that you have zero personal experience with this computer.

 

I don't need to have personal experience with this computer. There are numerous references in many different threads by others who do use this computer, as to how they have obtained very worthwhile improvements using after market USB cables, internal and external +5V cards where the internal +5V SMPS USB supply is defeated, and full on Linear PSUs as well,including the JS2 and several others with current threads of their own.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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CD's I'd bother to move to hard disc? Under 30, probably. Ok, let's say under 50....:)

 

You should be able to fit that many on a 32GB USB memory stick, or 64GB for future proofing, and plug it into the Oppo 103.

In that case you wouldn't need to have the computer in the same room as the Oppo 103 and main system.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Ok and just to clarify Mike's earlier post....

I can 'hard wire' everything where I have a computer, with appropriate program, attached via USB (or HDMI??) to the DAC, which plugs in as a source to the receiver, and an external NAS that actually stores everything....

Or a Sonos-type wireless streaming device that connects wirelessly to a remote-located NAS, and streams wirelessly into the receiver??

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I don't need to have personal experience with this computer. There are numerous references in many different threads by others who do use this computer, as to how they have obtained very worthwhile improvements using after market USB cables, internal and external +5V cards where the internal +5V SMPS USB supply is defeated, and full on Linear PSUs as well,including the JS2 and several others with current threads of their own.

 

You seem to be implying that these improvements are needed to address issues specific to the Mac Mini.

 

This is simply not true.

 

These improvements are just as necessary for off-the-shelf PCs.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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You should be able to fit that many on a 32GB USB memory stick, or 64GB for future proofing, and plug it into the Oppo 103.

In that case you wouldn't need to have the computer in the same room as the Oppo 103 and main system.

Ok, so the computer doesn't have to be a dedicated one just for music. If I want a 'tablet remote' to access everything, do I still need a computer if everything is stored on an NAS?

The stores I've been in to audition speakers generally hand me a tablet and turn me loose to choose whatever tracks I'm familiar with. I'm looking for that kind of ease of use, and for the same 'tablet' to be the remote for TV/movies.

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You seem to be implying that these improvements are needed to address issues specific to the Mac Mini.

 

This is simply not true.

 

These improvements are just as necessary for off-the-shelf PCs.

 

These improvements are perhaps even more necessary for a Mac Mini due to it's very compact internal layout , which is one of the reasons why John Swenson's Linear fan controller makes a further contribution to the Audio performance of a stock standard Mac Mini.

Anyway, I simply can't be bothered further responding to you. If I said something was black, you would claim that it was white !

BYE !

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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You seem to be implying that these improvements are needed to address issues specific to the Mac Mini.

 

This is simply not true.

 

These improvements are just as necessary for off-the-shelf PCs.

 

Can I stipulate that anything I buy will be open to improvement by add-ons, much like speaker cables/AC conditioners, and the like? I'm looking for baby-step directions, and I'm not ready for the finer-points discussions you're having

 

What's a PSU, for example? And does it apply to any USB connection?

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Can I stipulate that anything I buy will be open to improvement by add-ons, much like speaker cables/AC conditioners, and the like? I'm looking for baby-step directions, and I'm not ready for the finer-points discussions you're having

 

What's a PSU, for example? And does it apply to any USB connection?

 

I will leave this to Alex. He is well known around here for his love of PSUs... and hatred of Macs.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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As you've learned, there are many possible paths, but if ease of use is paramount and you're not already enamored of a particular OS, I'd strongly recommend going with a Mac mini or Mac laptop, plus an external hard drive to hold your music library. In my experience, Audirvana Plus playback software combines relative ease of use with good sound quality, or if you want even simpler playback software (but maybe trading off some SQ), go with BitPerfect.

 

Additionally, if you don't want to use your mini or laptop to control playback all the time, you could get an iPad and use the free Apple Remote app for playback control. A dedicated Audirvana Plus iPad app is supposed to be forthcoming in the near future.

 

You might want to think about an outboard DAC at some point (there are currently a number of pretty darn good ones under $500), but for now, the easiest thing is probably to use the DAC in your Yamaha AVR -- it looks like it can handle up to 24/192 and shouldn't be half bad. I'm not sure whether it'll be feasible to use the DAC in your Oppo 103 in conjunction with a computer, although it'll be fine for playing all kinds of optical discs, or if you want to hook a USB drive directly up to the Oppo (though the interface on the Oppo will be a little cumbersome, I think, especially if you have a large music library). I have an older Oppo, so someone with a 103 or 105 should correct me if I'm wrong about the Oppo stuff.

 

Mac mini with Audirvana Plus is a very common setup among users of this site, so if you have questions or run into any snags, it should be pretty easy to get help.

 

Those are just the broad strokes, as I see it, but details can follow as the need arises.

 

Did I mention that you need a means of backing up your music library? Well, you do, so keep that in your plans and budget regardless of which way you end up going.

 

--David

David, thanks. So the Mac (per your suggestion) is the 'source' (a la CD player), and the Audirvana program on an iPad is my 'remote' for that 'source'? Then the NAS is my back up and that can be anywhere in the house? Currently I have my modem in an upstairs room, and AC/Ethernet adaptor and wireless to get the TV/Directv/Oppo online. The Oppo wouldn't connect reliably wirelessly, so I added the AC/Ethernet adaptor and it works reliably.

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