Jump to content
IGNORED

Looking for advice on new system please :)


extracampine
 Share

Recommended Posts

First of all, hello to all of those on the forum! I've been reading quite a bit and it looks like there is a great deal of combined knowledge and expertise here.

 

I'm basically upgrading my whole system. Total all-inclusive budget is around £10,000 ($16,367). My rough plan for the new system:

 

Storage: NAS device storing around 2 terabytes of music data, mainly FLAC, also some MP3. All genres.

Amp: I was looking at the Classe CAP-2100 integrated amp as an option (£3900)

Speakers: Considering the B&W 804s floorstanders (£3250, but possible discount)

Cables: Not really looked into this yet

 

Which leaves the player/DAC. I have looked at a lot of options, but the main problem for me is the user interface. I currently use Mediamonkey running on a Vista PC to browse my music, and am pretty keen to keep this as the main interface, as nothing else seems to come close (especially for managing album art). I was therefore considering some kind of quiet PC/MAC connected to an external DAC.

 

I have looked at DACs from Benchmark, Weiss, Audio Research, Ayre, PS Audio and Slim Devices, amongst others. I have looked at the Linn DS systems also, but again I am not happy with the interface.

 

I'm still a bit confused about the best way to get the signal into the DAC. I've heard that an asynchronous DAC is better. I've also read that an I2S interface is the best, as it eliminates jitter amongst other things. Again, the PS Audio Perfectwave DAC looks interesting, but I dont think you can control it via Mediamonkey.

 

I'm open to any suggestions, comments, questions, criticisms or otherwise!

Many Thanks

Dan

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you've probably discovered, playback of audio content stored as computer files is nascent technology and is rapidly evolving. The Linn DS line are UPnP/DLNA networked media renderers that would not require a PC for a control interface (no PC in the listening room). Because these devices are based on the UPnP/DLNA standards, any number of Control Points (the controlling interface) can be used. The one you found unsatisfactory (and I stongly agree) is the default Linn Control Point. There are others available and a list of those tested by Linn may be found here - http://oss.linn.co.uk/trac.

 

UPnP/DLNA compliance is becoming a very common feature on newly developed consumer electronics devices. A compliant Control Point could be used to control any other compliant device (e.g. TV, receiver, Blu-ray, etc.). I'd hate to be in the universal remote business.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A quite PC running Media Monkey sounds like a good solution if you are happy with the interface. Get some demos of devices such as Ayre QB9; Weiss DACII and Wavelength (are there any UK dearlers?) but also try things like Chord QBD76, Bryston BDA1 and other "HiFi" DACs. The former will need USB or FireWire whereas the Chord will be more tricky to set up and require a PCI interface card such as Lynx AES16 or an RME Hammerfall card. The "HiFi" DACs you'll probably need to demo with a CD transport but probably worth the effort as I would say you are likely to find them different more than one better than another.

 

You could start playing with i2s but there are lots of negatives and it's probably best to leave i2s to the DIY DAC hobiests. There are very few DACs that can take advantage of i2s connections anyway.

 

For a quiet PC either build yourself or (in UK) you could try HushPC or Tranquil Computers (think that's the brands).

 

Another option is a MacMini plus Amarra (maybe Mini version unless you use 24/176.4 and 24/192 files) and the. A FireWire DAC or interface to chosen DAC. You stated your prefernece for Media Monkey and there really is no reason to move if you are happy.

 

Hope I've helped a little.

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you brought up the PS Audio Perfectwave DAC and no one has commented on it! The PS Audio Perfectwave DAC has a a usb interface to your computer, just like the other usb devices you talked about. I beleave it is not based on the Gorden Async Technology, but rather on the Centrance Technology. So in this configuration you would connect to your music on the network via the computer and interface to the PWD and bypass the i2s input that is the topic of much debate!

 

Now, I am confused about the Mac G5/Lynx AES16e as set-up and your other coments about runing media monkey on a pc? Can you clarify that some more?

 

Jesus

www.sonore.us

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments, following this thread with interest.

 

Another things I was unsure about is whether a MAC or PC based player would be best? Does Windows or OSX interfere with the sound at all (remember there will be an external DAC)? Are there specific drivers which are required?

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally I think a Mac is better, but for every Mac and iTunes promoter there will be another promoting Windows and MediaMonkey, etc.

 

My reasons for preferring Mac include (and I know that a PC can be many of these things also) ...

Bit perfect out of the box

iTunes interface

iPod Touch / iPhone remote to iTunes

Built in FireWire and Optical Digital

Quiet computer (MacMini)

Physically well built

Option for using Amarra

 

The negative of Mac is that unless you use Amarra, you need to manually select the correct sample rate/depth. Also if you go for a MacMini, you can't add a Lynx AES16 or similar card to provide AES output to a DAC, your alternative is to use Weiss AFI1 with the MacMini, or use a MacPro. My instinct is hat a Mac is easier to configure, BUT that a Windows machine can give just as good sound IF you properly configure it. Overall costs probably are less for Windows, but if buying silent hardware the difference is not great.

 

Windows or OSX does interfere with the sound, Windows audio subsystem can be bypassed, OSX doesn't need to be bypassed. The only specific drivers needed for Mac is whatever driver is needed for your chosen DAC.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

how about this? Rather then buy a mini (Im not baching it....yet:) for around 400 to 700 bucks, upgrade the pc or mac. They sound to me like towers (is this correct). For the money of the mini, he could look at some combination of ram, ssd, better power supply, os Snow Lep per Clay, Amarra LT, heat sinks, insulation and quiet fans. Any combination of these up to the cost of the mini is I think better spent money.

Jesus R.

www.sonore.us

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With regard to those advocating the MAC - iTunes does not support FLAC! My 2TB library is in FLAC, so far too much hassle to convert/retag. I was looking at other possible alternative to iTunes on the MAC but none are seem to be as versatile as Mediamonkey on the PC, especially when it comes to album art (I use the magicnodes and monkeyflow plugins with Mediamonkey).

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I only made comments regarding the Mac because you asked the question.

 

If have 2TB of FLAC files, then you need to decide if you are prepared to do a (one time) conversion to ALAC or AIFF using Max or XLD. If not then don't consider a Mac at the moment as you can't play your files - at least not using the methods that show the advantages of the Mac (iTunes / iPod Touch remote / Amarra)

 

Sticking with a PC is probably the best decision for you.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the comments. I don't think I'm prepared to convert all the files, especially as I have embedded album art information which took ages.

 

Other thought: if I store the music on a NAS which is outside the listening room, is it better to transfer the data from the NAS to the PC via cable, as opposed to wireless? I think that Linn recommend this route with their DS systems.

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wherever possible used wired networking. 9 times out of 10 wireless is fine, but wired has less trouble especially for audio.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

some will say just having the wireless around will adversely affect the sound because of the radio frequency issue. Life is not perfect and if you need to go wireless then it is what it is....don't drive yourself crazy! I was streaming my content via wireless and had trouble with breakup because the distance was great and my signal was intermittent and weak. I hard wired and I love it....no issues since. However, it was a bunch of work and was a project on its own. I started a post on that and you can read more:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/WOW-What-Upgrade-Hard-Wired-Ethernet-and-Computer-Audio

 

Regards

 

Jesus

www.sonore.us

 

ps I just installed the mediamonkey coverflow and I really like it! I can't believe its been around for some time. That is actually good because they have been working on it. I did see that when you use the feature that the task browser drops the info and I have to click on the "all" in the folders to get the info back.

 

added: to be clear I still have wireless in the house, but not for the audio portion....so I didn't get away from it totally:(

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, I was getting the impression that it is better to wire the NAS to the player rather than to use wireless. I assume this will be via ethernet cable? Does the ethernet cable quality matter a great deal as regards sound quality?

 

In terms of the DAC in my system (mentioned above), I wondered if people had any thoughts on the following: Weiss Minerva, Berkeley Alpha DAC, Bel Canto DAC3. Or any other suggestions?

 

I would be outputting from the PC to the DAC. Also, with some of these DACs, is a pre-amp necessary? If not, then maybe the CLASSE CAP-2100 (integrated) is not the best idea?

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can't go wrong with catagory 5e or 6. I used six because I started the project from scratch and was really no more or less money. The cat 6 just has a better spec for higher frequencies and longer runs. Refer to:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_6_cable

 

Regards

Jesus R.

www.sonore.us

 

ps you can't go wrong with any of those units....

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no difference between different Ethernet cables in terms of sound quality. Probably worth using Cat6 as it's slightly more futureproof.

 

The Weiss Minerva DAC is also available as the DAC2 the difference being the front panel and cost. Generally I'd say the DACs you listed are all good, but will sound different; which is "best" is down to taste a lot. Maybe worth adding Naim DAC, Bryston BDA1 and Chord QBD76 to the list to audition. Remember that with most of the DACs listed you'll need to budget for a Lynx AES16 or similar to connect to your computer.

 

Some DACs do have volume controls which you can then use direct to power amp (such as Classe 2200). In most cases you'll loose convinience features such as remote control.

 

Eloise

 

PS I assume you live in UK as you listed budget in GBP, if so then (if I understand correctly) the Berkerley DAC isn't available except as personal import as it's no ROSHH / CE approved currently. This may or may not be an issue for you.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, correct with the £ - UK. How would the Benchmark DAC1 USB fit into this picture?

 

Also - is firewire (e.g. as with the Weiss Minerva DAC) capable of 24bit/192 KHz ? I read that USB is not capable of this.

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 supports up to 192 kHz sample rate over USB 2.0. Installation of the E-MU driver is required for this capability. SRs of up to 48 kHz are supported over USB 1.1 on that device. (Edited to correct USB 1.1 capabilities.)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...