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idfixe
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Hi guys,

 

I'm new to this site and up to yesterday was going to replace my audiophile CD that dies on me by another one until I read some threads on this site explaining how to set-up an audiophilke music server. So thanks all.

 

I have a question though. The set-up that seems to best suits my needs seems to be the following: NAS - Mac G4 - DAC - Amp using iTunes server on the NAS and an iPod Touch as a remote.

 

Here are my questions:

 

1- I keep reading that Mac OS x seems to be the most transparent OS for audio files. Although there seems to be a problems for iTunes to automatically see if the file we are reading is 24/88, 24/192, 16/44.1, etc... What does this means in plain english? If I set iTunes to the highest possible rate, what will happen when it will read 16/44.1 files? Last thing I want to do is blast a speaker...

 

2- I also read that the only way to have a pure audiophile system is by putting a PCI card that allows 24/192 files to be read... As I understand it, ripping CDs will only provide me with 16/44.1. Are there any web sites that provides more quality versions of my music than my CD collection?

 

Thanks a lot!

 

 

 

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Hi idfixe - Good questions.

 

Are you sure you want to use the iTunes server on a NAS? This doesn't allow you full functionality of running iTunes on your G4. You can rip to the NAS library. You usually have to rip through iTunes, then open the NAS iTunes library as a shared library. I'm also not sure the iPod Touch will work well with an iTunes NAS server because it will see it as a shared library. I could be wrong though. I highly recommend storing your files on the NAS but using the local version of the iTunes library on your G4.

 

"1- I keep reading that Mac OS x seems to be the most transparent OS for audio files. Although there seems to be a problems for iTunes to automatically see if the file we are reading is 24/88, 24/192, 16/44.1, etc... What does this means in plain english? If I set iTunes to the highest possible rate, what will happen when it will read 16/44.1 files? Last thing I want to do is blast a speaker..."

 

Here is how it works. The sample rate is set in Audio Midi. When iTunes opens it reads the sample rate from Audio Midi and locks on to that rate. iTunes will not change its sample rate, even if Audio Midi is changed, until it is closed and reopened. Thus if iTunes is at 44.1 when opened and Audio Midi is changed to 192 while iTunes is open there will be some very bad up or down sampling going on. If you play a 192 file iTunes will down sample it to 44.1 then Audio Midi will up sample it from 44.1 to 192. You can see how this is a mess. Closing and reopening iTunes clears this issue. To answer your question, if you set the sample rate at the highest 192 you will be up sampling almost all your music. I choose to play everything at its native rate.

 

 

 

 

"2- I also read that the only way to have a pure audiophile system is by putting a PCI card that allows 24/192 files to be read... As I understand it, ripping CDs will only provide me with 16/44.1. Are there any web sites that provides more quality versions of my music than my CD collection?"

 

You can have a "pure audiophile" system without a PCI card. There are plenty of USB and Firewire interfaces that are audiophile quality. Ripping CD should only be done at the CDs native sample rate and that's 44.1. There are sites that offer higher resolution versions of music. For example Linn Records offers much of its music in many sample rates in addition to the CD version.

 

I hope I did not create more confusion.

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks Chris this helps a lot.

 

I recall reading from you that it was possible that iTunes solve this problem shortly (this was back in 2008 comments) do you have an ETA on resolution as it stands?

 

If I'm to use iTunes, I'm bonded to use ALAC format (or AIFF) are these file types supported by iTunes oris most of the stuff FLAC (as I'm starting, I don't want to make a file type mistake)

 

The problem I have using a USB or firewire to a DAC is that it limits my DAC choices... All of them are using SPDIF and optical, I rather push information following this standard.

 

As iTunes is free, I'll probably put it on the G4. Is there a difference with using a newer Mac Pro? I guess not... I have an old G4 sitting waiting to be used.. I raher use this.

 

Finally, I read your rave review about the Berkeley DAC, as I wrote, I was going to buy a Pathos Endorphin - which is quite a CD player... how would this DAC compare to this player or to an audiophile type DAC (such as a MBL DAC that seems to be the audiophile refeence?)

 

Thanks again!

 

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Hi idfixe - I don't see Apple fixing this issue any time soon. Some have suggested it MAY be addressed in the upcoming OS X Snow Leopard, but I'll believe it when I see it.

 

ALAC and AIFF are supported very well by iTunes. FLAC on a Mac is a tough road. The support is not good. Songbird supports FLAC, but is not a full fledged playback application just yet as it requires another ripping program.

 

I agree that limiting your DAC choices is a bummer. More choices are always better.

 

Your question about the G4 v Mac Pro is a good one as well. Right now I, and a few other colleagues, are obtaining the best Mac OS X results on a Mac G5. We haven't tried a G4 just yet. I think you'll be happy with the G4, but the sound of the fans may be a factor if the G4 must be in your listening room.

 

It's really tough to provide an actionable answer to your last questions. I will say this, both the Alpha DAC and the MBL DACs are true audiophile quality. I talk to a dealer in Los Angeles quite frequently who carries both product lines and he is getting great results from both DACs. Since I don't have an MBL DAC here right now I can't really provide a good comparison. The Pathos Endorphin CD player is a whole different animal. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I can say that the music servers I've personally setup connected to a top quality DAC are as god or better than any traditional CD player I've ever heard. I also prefer the features of music servers as they allow me to listen to much more music and go deeper into my collection than I ever did using a CD player.

 

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Hi idfixe,

 

Are you seriously considering iTunes/alac/usb/dac as an alternative to a Pathos Endorphin? I'm not sure I quite know what to say! :)

 

At the risk of getting shot at dawn by the Computer Audiophile Death Squad, I'd think long and hard about that one, for about 5 seconds! Make sure you audition an Oracle 1500 mkII and maybe an EAR-Yoshino Acute as well, just for good measure, buy one of them and live happily ever after! You're going to have to spend some very serious money indeed to get even close to these machines and by the time you get there, sonically, you're very firmly into 'boutique house-sound' territory anyway. IOW they will all be fantastic, in their own way, but you will prefer one 'sound' over another or your system will like one more than the others - same thing!

 

Either way, if the rest of your system is up to a Pathos Endorphin then you should be auditioning one! Just my humble opinion you understand and said with grace intended! :)

 

Right, fire away, guys!

 

edit : This has hit after Chris's response above, in which he put the other side of the preference equation much more tactfully than I just did!

 

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Hi Bob - Thanks for the opinion. It's wonderful when a self proclaimed newbie such as idfixe can hear many sides to a story.

 

Don't worry about getting shot at here. If something sounds good or better we should all be calling it like it is instead of fooling ourselves and shooting the messenger. In this case we will have to disagree about what sounds better, but oh well. This is a terrific hobby and great sound can be had many ways.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Said like a true gentleman, Chris!

 

And just so that you're clear, idfixe, Chris's product knowledge and listening experience is much wider than my own!

 

But, I mean, a Pathos Endorphin! I'm still dribbling........... OMG it's just so beeeauuutifulllll !! ..NURSE.....

 

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Bob said... "But, I mean, a Pathos Endorphin! I'm still dribbling........... OMG it's just so beeeauuutifulllll !! ..NURSE....."

 

I know beauty is only skin deep, but the Italians do really know how to make beautiful HiFi. Now if only someone made a DAC what looked as good as it sounded... closest might be Chord's DAC64 and QBC76 devices. Love their look AND their sound.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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With you on that one, Eloise!

 

Up to a couple of grand or so I'm reasonably happy with a black tin. Over and above that though - I WANT BEAUTY for my money! Solid aluminium, pretty blue lights, cool sort of Star Trek bits stuck on the outside, something that says 'I'm beautiful as well as clever'!! Oh, I'm sooooo shallow!

 

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Hi Bob,

 

Well, I have an engineer background and specs are specs: on paper, the endorphin (no matter how good it looks) will produce music of lower quality than a 24/96 DAC. Now what you hear is another thing.

 

But from what I hear, up to 25/192 DACs should sound equal if not better than the endorphin that is "stuck" to 16/44.1...

 

I agree that it look better than any of the DACs on the market but fact of the matter is that I have 2 kids under 2 years old and all of this beauty (including my Pathos Logos amp) will be carefully lockes into a enclosed area: so nothing to show :-(

 

So shortly, technically, I believe I will get better results with the NAS/ALAC/DAC solution than the CD solution, I just want to have people's opinion as my local Berkeley dealer always sells his DACs before they get in his shop...

 

Cheers and thanks for your comment!

 

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Hi Chris,

 

Thanks for your comment!

 

You wil have to be a bit clearer here, I'm a french guy trying to get understood in english so you have to be a bit more to the point! :-)

 

If I understand you correctly, the NAS/ALAC/DAC will sound better than the endorphin solution? My belief is that it will last longer that is for sure...

 

Do the Berkeley DAC sound better than the MBL DAC that seems to be the reference in the field?

 

Thanks

 

 

 

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