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Newbie's thoughts on growing into computer-based audio


Vincent3

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Hi, all. I'm new here. My PC has been my audio system for a while, but I just recently learned that a serious computer-based audio system is possible - and probably the future of audio. I've been researching source quality, and I ripped all of my CDs to FLAC. Now I'm looking at hardware so I can better appreciate my FLAC files and the CDs I borrow from the library. I mostly use headphones at the desktop now, but also want a good pair of desktop speakers.

 

I'm looking hard at the Schiit Bifrost Uber and Valhalla 2, along with a pair of active desktop speakers. Fits nicely on the desktop, looks like high-quality gear, and I've been interested to try tubes. But I also came across the Marantz PM6005 integrated amp and am impressed. It's big for desktop use (certainly not impossible though), but also seems more expandable should I outgrow the desktop environment. If you started with a desktop system, did you eventually outgrow it?

 

The only potential problem with the PM6005 is that it's digital input is optical and coaxial SPDIF. My PC does have coaxial, but I often see USB recommended as the connection to use for PC-based audio. Is that a concern? Also, my next computer will probably be a laptop, and I don't know how common optical or coaxial out is for laptops.

 

The connection aside for now, what about the PM6005's integrated headphone amp? I'd usually assume the separate headphone amp would be better, but Marantz does make a point of describing the PM6005's as high quality.

 

Would a component CD player offer any advantages over my PC's internal DVD-ROM drive for listening to borrowed CDs (I borrow enough for it to be a worthwhile consideration)? A couple of posters on another forum said it wouldn't make a difference, but I've seen the opposite recommendation elsewhere. If an external CD player is worth it, I'd probably go for a TEAC PD-H01 for the Schiit system. For the Marantz, it would probably be the CD6005 or CD5004. If a USB connection is important, I might consider the SA8005 SACD player with USB DAC. That's getting awfully pricey though. Is the SACD feature enough of a bonus to be worth the extra expense, or is it a niche format with limited availability that will eventually go the way of Beta video tapes?

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Best,

Vincent

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I also wanted to ask about active speakers (with the Schiit system) versus passive speakers (with the Marantz components). My listening will be near-field at the desktop for the foreseeable future, so I don't know if a full component amp with passive speakers would be overkill. For active speakers with the Schiit system, I've had my eye on Swans M200MKII for years. Is a speaker like that capable of handling a small listening room?

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Would a component CD player offer any advantages over my PC's internal DVD-ROM drive for listening to borrowed CDs (I borrow enough for it to be a worthwhile consideration)?

Most internal DVD -ROM drives are pretty lacklustre in comparison with a good CD player, unless you extract the contents of the CD first, and then play them from system memory using a good software player and external DAC. Have you listened to a relatively inexpensive player such as the Oppo 103 which can also play SACD, DVD-A and BluRay ? It can also play from external HDDs/ USB memory sticks plugged into a USB port. You could also rip these CDs to the external HDD for play via the Oppo 103, but this isn't the best route if you have a large saved library.

 

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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If you are looking for something that won't cost an arm and a leg and that, despite that, will simply blow you away soundwise, start from a silent (i.e., with case fans and harddrives that are inaudible at listening position) computer system, such as an HTPC, that you can easily build yourself if necessary, and, next, go USB 2.0 into Emotiva Pro Stealth DC-1, into XLR interconnects, into Emotiva Pro Stealth 8 active studio monitors (yes, they're far too big for a desktop... but bigger means more deeply extended bass response so IMHO throw your desk out the window). [ The Stealth DC-1 has a fairly potent built-in headphone amp ].

 

Use Exact Audio Copy (EAC) or dBpoweramp (or any CD ripper that supports AccurateRip) to rip CDs to FLAC. As for DSD, it is not my bucket of tea because, in my own (personal) experience, all it does is make everything sound artificially rounded, i.e., smoother than how music is supposed to sound like, so I don't think it's worth the trouble even though, on some music recordings (mostly some classical and some jazz recordings), it is the best that is (commercially) available nevertheless.

If you had the memory of a goldfish, maybe it would work.
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Hi, all. I'm new here. My PC has been my audio system for a while, but I just recently learned that a serious computer-based audio system is possible - and probably the future of audio. I've been researching source quality, and I ripped all of my CDs to FLAC. Now I'm looking at hardware so I can better appreciate my FLAC files and the CDs I borrow from the library. I mostly use headphones at the desktop now, but also want a good pair of desktop speakers.

 

I'm looking hard at the Schiit Bifrost Uber and Valhalla 2, along with a pair of active desktop speakers. Fits nicely on the desktop, looks like high-quality gear, and I've been interested to try tubes. But I also came across the Marantz PM6005 integrated amp and am impressed. It's big for desktop use (certainly not impossible though), but also seems more expandable should I outgrow the desktop environment. If you started with a desktop system, did you eventually outgrow it?

 

The only potential problem with the PM6005 is that it's digital input is optical and coaxial SPDIF. My PC does have coaxial, but I often see USB recommended as the connection to use for PC-based audio. Is that a concern? Also, my next computer will probably be a laptop, and I don't know how common optical or coaxial out is for laptops.

 

The connection aside for now, what about the PM6005's integrated headphone amp? I'd usually assume the separate headphone amp would be better, but Marantz does make a point of describing the PM6005's as high quality.

 

Would a component CD player offer any advantages over my PC's internal DVD-ROM drive for listening to borrowed CDs (I borrow enough for it to be a worthwhile consideration)? A couple of posters on another forum said it wouldn't make a difference, but I've seen the opposite recommendation elsewhere. If an external CD player is worth it, I'd probably go for a TEAC PD-H01 for the Schiit system. For the Marantz, it would probably be the CD6005 or CD5004. If a USB connection is important, I might consider the SA8005 SACD player with USB DAC. That's getting awfully pricey though. Is the SACD feature enough of a bonus to be worth the extra expense, or is it a niche format with limited availability that will eventually go the way of Beta video tapes?

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Best,

Vincent

 

Vincent, I agree regarding the SPDIF vs. USB connection for two reasons: First, especially if you ever want to buy high resolution audio files above a 96kHz sample rate, there are few laptops that would have an optical output for that. USB would handle it easily. Second, USB seems to be where a lot of high end is headed these days, as it appears (at least to me) easier to get a low jitter USB connection relatively cheap than it is with SPDIF. I had a Bifrost and thought it offered excellent sound and excellent value for money.

 

Regarding amps and active speakers I can't advise you because I've never gone the active speaker route myself, and I repurposed the old amp from my main system for my desktop rig.

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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go USB 2.0 into Emotiva Pro Stealth DC-1, into XLR interconnects, into Emotiva Pro Stealth 8 active studio monitors

Absolutely! I've had a Stealth for a few months now, and it's great - clean, silent, flexible, solid, very well made, intuitive to use, and more than enough for good 'phones. The down side is that it's so transparent it lets recordings sound like they actually sound, which isn't always good.

 

I've been using powered speakers in my bedroom rig for a few years now, and I'm glad I switched. I should have bought Emotivas or Audioengines, but I came across a sale on the biggest Klipsch 2.1 system and figured it'd be "good enough". I was half right - it's loud enough.

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vincent3:

I use a pair of Audioengine 5+ speakers in my office with an Audioengine subwoofer and a D1 DAC. The sound is quite respectable. In my home office, I use a pair of Tannoy Mercury M2 speakers driven by a vintage Yamaha CA-610II with a Schiit Bifrost. Both have streaming and CD/SACD/DVDA capability (Oppo DV 970 HD and Pioneer DV-45A) and the home office also has a tuner (Yamaha CT-810). I like my home office set-up the best. I would also recommend listening to the Vanatoo powered speakers for desktop duty.

 

Good luck with your endeavor!

Mike

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Most internal DVD -ROM drives are pretty lacklustre in comparison with a good CD player, unless you

The drive itself makes no difference unless it is defective. CD and DVD and Blu-ray drives will deliver the same CD content to the software.

Jim Hillegass / JRiver Media Center / jriver.com

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The drive itself makes no difference unless it is defective. CD and DVD and Blu-ray drives will deliver the same CD content to the software.

 

RUBBISH !

The power supply matters too, just as it does for internal storage devices including SSD. Check out some of the C.A. threads with loooong names by Superdad too.

 

A little light reading for the "jrivers" of the forum. (this thread is ONLY 789 pages long)

 

So all "transports" sound the same ?

 

Finally, an affordable CD Transport: the Shigaclone story - diyAudio

 

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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RUBBISH !

The power supply matters too, just as it does for internal storage devices including SSD. Check out some of the C.A. threads with loooong names by Superdad too.

 

A little light reading for the "jrivers" of the forum. (this thread is ONLY 789 pages long)

 

So all "transports" sound the same ?

 

Finally, an affordable CD Transport: the Shigaclone story - diyAudio

 

Here we to again!.............lol

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Here we to again!.............lol

 

Even adding anti vibration measures, including the use of items such as "Herbie's Footers" can make a difference to the sound of CDs ripped using external CD-ROMs, as can also whether the external CD-ROM is USB powered, or powered via a low noise external PSU using USB cables where the incoming +5V noisy PC internal +5v SMPS is disconnected at the PC end of the USB cable. I wonder how many members use external CD/DVD ROMs directly powered via the incoming +5V USB power, and don't take some anti vibration precautions as well ?

IIRC, Paul Pang also supplies some nice aluminium extrusions specifically made for acoustically dampening external CD/DVD ROMs.

 

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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Thank the audiophile stars for Paul Pang and Herbie's hooters!.....em....sorry....footers!

 

I've heard that the aluminum extrusions were treated inside the Hadron collider to get the absolute lowest flux density pushing mechanical harmonic resonances to near zero hz resulting in a less colored, more accurate sound on drums and oboe while still retaining the crispness and air associated with acoustic jazz horn compilations. The results weren't quite as clear with the footers though presenting a somewhat softer, less defined midrange performance lacking the same definition of the Pang Hadron treated extrusions. Recent listening experiments over in the SD card threads have uncovered some of the same results where those SD cards whose alloy compositions created in the collider displayed that same crispness and detail associated with near zero flux density engineered materials. Some engineers working within the scientific community also share a passion for audio and have found upon further investigations under an electron microscope that in the case of digital stored files, particularly those files containing music that the individual bits when representing the integer 1 appear to slightly more vertical on the surface than the untreated counterparts. It was then concluded that the DAC filters could 'see' the bits just a tiny bit sooner resulting in a quicker impulse response accounting for the more detailed, dynamic acoustic presentation once converted.

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I've heard that the aluminum extrusions were treated inside the Hadron collider to get the absolute lowest flux density pushing mechanical harmonic resonances to near zero hz resulting in a less colored, more accurate sound on drums and oboe while still retaining the crispness and air associated with acoustic jazz horn compilations. The results weren't quite as clear with the footers though presenting a somewhat softer, less defined midrange performance lacking the same definition of the Pang Hadron treated extrusions.

 

Did Dennis loan you his scriptwriter ?

If you can't even hear the hum and vibration from an external USB powered CD ROM sitting on a bench when ripping CDs at high speed then perhaps you have had those ear lugs too close to too many event sound reinforcement speakers over the years ?

 

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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Thank the audiophile stars for Paul Pang and Herbie's hooters!.....em....sorry....footers!

 

I've heard that the aluminum extrusions were treated inside the Hadron collider to get the absolute lowest flux density pushing mechanical harmonic resonances to near zero hz resulting in a less colored, more accurate sound on drums and oboe while still retaining the crispness and air associated with acoustic jazz horn compilations. The results weren't quite as clear with the footers though presenting a somewhat softer, less defined midrange performance lacking the same definition of the Pang Hadron treated extrusions. Recent listening experiments over in the SD card threads have uncovered some of the same results where those SD cards whose alloy compositions created in the collider displayed that same crispness and detail associated with near zero flux density engineered materials. Some engineers working within the scientific community also share a passion for audio and have found upon further investigations under an electron microscope that in the case of digital stored files, particularly those files containing music that the individual bits when representing the integer 1 appear to slightly more vertical on the surface than the untreated counterparts. It was then concluded that the DAC filters could 'see' the bits just a tiny bit sooner resulting in a quicker impulse response accounting for the more detailed, dynamic acoustic presentation once converted.

 

Regardless of my keeping an open mind about various topics (I don't have the audio engineering expertise to say I definitively know various things could be true or untrue) - this is funny stuff. :)

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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Thank the audiophile stars for Paul Pang and Herbie's hooters!.....em....sorry....footers!

 

I've heard that the aluminum extrusions were treated inside the Hadron collider to get the absolute lowest flux density pushing mechanical harmonic resonances to near zero hz resulting in a less colored, more accurate sound on drums and oboe while still retaining the crispness and air associated with acoustic jazz horn compilations. The results weren't quite as clear with the footers though presenting a somewhat softer, less defined midrange performance lacking the same definition of the Pang Hadron treated extrusions. Recent listening experiments over in the SD card threads have uncovered some of the same results where those SD cards whose alloy compositions created in the collider displayed that same crispness and detail associated with near zero flux density engineered materials. Some engineers working within the scientific community also share a passion for audio and have found upon further investigations under an electron microscope that in the case of digital stored files, particularly those files containing music that the individual bits when representing the integer 1 appear to slightly more vertical on the surface than the untreated counterparts. It was then concluded that the DAC filters could 'see' the bits just a tiny bit sooner resulting in a quicker impulse response accounting for the more detailed, dynamic acoustic presentation once converted.

 

+1

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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there's the occasional song that will rip at 99.9%, to my profound horror

That's normal. It doesn't mean the ripped result will have errors; it just means the online database doesn't contain enough data submissions for complete accuracy of the ripped result to be 100% sure.

If you had the memory of a goldfish, maybe it would work.
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Ok Vincent......on to the topic at hand and sorry for the OT nonsense earlier......

 

So I'd look at this from a sound quality and accessibility perspective. First, whenever possible I like to recommend that the desktop speakers be placed on stands on either side or behind the desktop of possible with some toe in, clearance to room boundaries and the tweeters in the vertical axis of the seated listener. Is this possible for you?

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Absolutely! I've had a Stealth for a few months now, and it's great - clean, silent, flexible, solid, very well made, intuitive to use, and more than enough for good 'phones. The down side is that it's so transparent it lets recordings sound like they actually sound, which isn't always good.

 

I've been using powered speakers in my bedroom rig for a few years now, and I'm glad I switched. I should have bought Emotivas or Audioengines, but I came across a sale on the biggest Klipsch 2.1 system and figured it'd be "good enough". I was half right - it's loud enough.

If a recording is bad then if a stereo system lets you hear fairly well the recording is not just bad, but clearly bad then this stereo system is what I would call the exact opposite of a catastropy.

 

Ten Years Into The Digital Revolution: A Continuing Disaster in Sound | Analog Planet

If you had the memory of a goldfish, maybe it would work.
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That's normal. It doesn't mean the ripped result will have errors; it just means the online database doesn't contain enough data submissions for complete accuracy of the ripped result to be 100% sure.

Thanks for the clarification. In case the profound horror joke didn't come through, I wasn't fretting the .1%.

 

Ok Vincent......on to the topic at hand and sorry for the OT nonsense earlier......

 

So I'd look at this from a sound quality and accessibility perspective. First, whenever possible I like to recommend that the desktop speakers be placed on stands on either side or behind the desktop of possible with some toe in, clearance to room boundaries and the tweeters in the vertical axis of the seated listener. Is this possible for you?

I've thought about stands and could make space for them. Thanks for the advice.

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Thanks Jud. I wish Alex would see the humor in it as well! lol

 

I did, but one funny reply doesn't cancel out a pile of not so funny replies.

In any case, I can't see the need for all that further research as a few think they ARE the God particle !

Did you guys see a comment from Steven Hawkings about the real , but remote possibility, that we could set off a chain reaction that could destroy the Universe ?

 

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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I should have said Stephen Hawkings.

 

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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An NPR interview about CD vs. vinyl, as well as sound quality in general:

(25'32")

That interview discusses the sound of mp3 much more than it does the actual sound of vinyl. In case you were wondering why that might be, it's because the entire interview is actually nothing more than a lengthy radio advertisement being disguised as popular science. For starters, it completely ignores the differences between characteristics of the noise floor of CD and that of vinyl, i.e., it ignores both the fact people are able to hear details farther below the noise floor of vinyl than that of CD and the fact the brain is actually capable of "filtering out" some of that noise that typifies vinyl, which allows for a more gradual and more natural, less fatiguing convergence of those subtle details down into the noise as the level of subtlety increases. The noise floor of CD just kills off those details in an overly aggressive manner. Closely intertwined with this notion is the human perception of dynamic range. Subjectively, the sound of vinyl is very often being perceived as more dynamic sounding than CD, even if no dynamic range compression was applied on the CD that was used for comparison. That is, despite the fact CD, purely as a medium, has technically more dynamic range than vinyl.

 

So, once again, the interview fails to address the gap between what looks good in a graph of measurements and how the human hearing system factually works. Instead of delving into specifics about how the science of psychoacoustics truly relates to the subject at hand, the interview immediately starts by using the rituals involved with vinyl playback, or vinyl fetishism as a highly effective decoy manoeuvre and a really very pathetic excuse to tout that CD sounds closer to the original source. Next, more smoke is added by stating that artists can still "nevertheless" use vinyl as a stylistic choice if they feel so inclined, by trying to blame stuff on specific mastering techniques instead of explaining how we hear, and by letting listeners hear a few carefully biased examples for themselves via, heaven forbid, the "quality" of FM radio. Furthermore, the interview briefly touches on the Sampling Theorem, only to simply ignore the long established fact a steep cut-off anti aliasing filter is causing extremely artificial sounding ringing artifacts in the audible frequency band. I could go on like this if that's what you like, but then Michael Fremer has already taken the words right out of my mouth, so........

If you had the memory of a goldfish, maybe it would work.
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