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System Setup: Using Cyrus Audio and a PC with Lynx AES16.


kvu
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Hi Computer Audiophile and members

 

This is my first post and I have to say how great it is to have found a site with such a wealth of information.

I'm a technical person when it comes to computers (and a little when it comes to electronics in general) but have felt so lost and confused when trying to upgrade my current system to allow me to play music that I am going to attempt to rip from CDs that I own to a hard drive for my own personal use at home. I will either rip to WAV or FLAC 24/192.

 

My approach to finding a solution is twofold - one for ripping the music with bit accuracy and the other for playing the ripped audio back from my pc (using the Lynx AES16) via the Cyrus Pre-Amp (either Cyrus Pre XP d or DAC XP) connected to a Cyrus X Power Amp that will output the sound through B&W CDM-N1T speakers.

 

Please do forgive me if I make a comment that sounds like I have no idea what I am talking about or seems a little patronising as I have spent the last four days trying to find solutions (I believe I am getting somewhere closer to understanding my problem but not sure of which solution to adopt) to the two above scenarios.

 

I have posted my starting questions on Lynx Studio’s website but haven’t had much luck in finding any help or feedback.

 

My first post there was where I highlighted my current situation with my plans/ambitions in setting up my solution:

 

Equipment

 

Computer: I am buying a new computer that will hold the soundcard in it - was looking at a Dell Optiplex 960 with some of their standard configuration options - will probably go for a mid range graphics card to allow me to connect it to my plasma screen.

 

1) Does anyone have any horror stories to report in this respect with compatibility?

2) Is it easy to turn the integrated sound card off in the BIOS settings?

 

Plasma Screen: Panasonic TXP42V10.

 

Music System: Currently I have a Cyrus system in the UK that I am factory upgrading some of the components of. I have to decide whether I want a Cyrus Pre XP d with optional Q dac card (better DAC card) or a Cyrus XP (top of the line) as my Pre Amp unit to which the sound card will connect.

 

1) I'm trying to figure out what will make best use of my resources and what will give me the best quality sound playback after I rip audio to WAV or FLAC 24/192.

 

2) I was thinking that I may use the Cyrus CD XT SE to rip audio via an optical out to the Lynx AES16. I’m not sure how this would work as I understand the AES16 to follow the AES/EBU standard and I would assume the Cyrus CD XT SE, having an optical digital interface, would be following the SPDIF standard – therefore I need to get a AES/EBU to SPDIF transformer. I don’t necessarily want to invest in a CD Transport unit but thought it would be best to have a good device to rip audio as playing back is one thing but having a poor rip will then be the limiting factor – could I be given opinions on this and maybe some ideas on other bit perfect ways of building an audio library of music for playback. I’m looking around sites and forums for solutions but finding myself getting confused with what is possibly a good way forward.

 

3) The Cyrus Pre-Amp has digital (electrical and optical SPDIF) inputs so I have to find a solution to allow me to utilise this with the AES16 as it only supports AES/EBU. I’m thinking that I could connect the CD transport to the pre-amp via SPDIF Digital Optical and use the SPDIF Digital Electrical to connect to the soundcard via a AES/EBU to SPDIF transformer – I’m guessing it is better (and easier??) to convert AES/EBU to SPDIF electrical rather than optical.

 

4) I currently have Puresonic interconnects in 0.5m lengths and a B&W Speaker Set - Model CDM-1NT.

 

Misc: I am currently using Foobar to manage and play my music and will have Vista 64 with a look to upgrade to Windows 7 Business or Ultimate 64bit. The music I hold will be in FLAC or WAV 24/192 format.

 

 

I would be grateful if I could be guided on how best to set this up, what amp to go for in the Cyrus range (or get opinions) and how to connect my soundcard and Cyrus together using the best digital connection.

 

Btw - the website for Cyrus is http://www.cyrusaudio.com and the pre-amps is: http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product-list.asp?m=14 and the CD XT SE transport is: http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=96.

 

 

My second post was after a little more research on the setup I am looking to achieve:

 

As I’ve discovered, my first major problem in trying to use the AES16 card with my Cyrus Pre-AMP (and the Cyrus CD XT SE Transport for ripping music if I go down that route) is going to be the fact that the AES16 only has AES/EBU support and the Cyrus only has SPDIF inputs and AES/EBU outputs.

 

For this I will need a AES/EBU to SPDIF (electrical or optical) transformer. I've been looking around and found the following weblink to be useful:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Hosa-CDL-313-Coaxial-Data-Link-AESEBU-SPDIF-Converter

 

It mentions the Hosa CDL-313 but I believe (correct me if I am wrong) that it only supports 24/96 and therefore wouldn't work for me wanting to play music from my computer (with the Lynx AES16 card) via my Cyrus DAC XP in 24/192 format.

 

The second post in that link mentions three products and the third product (the SAP XF BF with web-link http://proaudio.uk.com/prod_dip.htm) seems interesting - do you, or anyone on this forum, have a view to this? I want to keep my sonic quality at the very best the card can support so am troubled by which solution to use for a transformer.

 

Next I need to find a bit perfect way of copying my CD collection (Redbook format) to WAV or FLAC 24/192. I've heard stories that you can't get a good copy using certain computer drives and EAC software because C1 and C2 errors are produced so I thought I would use the CD XT SE transport that Cyrus produce and connect this via SPDIF digital (using transformer) to connect electrically to the Lynx AES16 soundcard to manage my conversion - does anyone have a suggestion or an opinion?

 

Any other suggestions of how I may best achieve an exact lossless CD copy on my computer of the audio CD library I have would very much be appreciated as I think I need to spend an equal amount of time in finding a solution to both playing and creating my digital library of 24/192 FLAC files (ripped from CDs that I own).

 

Hope I find people have the time to reply as I am really keen to learn on this and figure out a solution.

 

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I was speaking to one of the guys at Pro Audio, otherwise known as Audio and Design Reading Limited, who recommended a Neutrik device to deal with my AES/EBU to SPDIF issue.

 

http://www.neutrik.com/uk/en/audio/204_654550159/AES_EBU_Impedance_Transformer_productlist.asp

 

The weblink is above and I have been told that during testing (using Prism) that they discovered no Jitter or Sonic differences and therefore felt that this is potentially a good solution.

 

I'm introduced him to the forum so hope if he does post that his knowledge will help us.

 

 

 

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I've just been trying to research the different digital methods of connecting two devices together and some research and first hand comments seem interesting where optical seems NOT to be the best connection unless using a better connection type compared to the SPDIF toslink connector.

 

The toslink connector has a lot of wiggle space, so to speak, and therefore creates a lot of potential of jitter. I've not had the chance to experiment with this but would love to know what people have seen in the real world.

 

Based on this, I would favour an eletrical connection (if distance isnt an issue) over optical unless a pro optic (non toslink) connector is used.

 

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No horror stories about the Dell Optiplex 960; a couple of thoughts though. First Dell's tend to be quite good at being able to turn of integrated devices, etc. So no problem there. One thing you need to check carefully is that the Dell you plan to buy will take full sized PCI cards - and the "Dell experts" don't always get it right either. Also I saw that on some of the Optiplex machines Dell offer a Quiet kit which might be worthwhile as I've found Dell PCs to be quite noisy in the past.

 

If I recall correctly, the Cyrus Pre XPd (even with Q Dac) only accepts up to 24/96 (i.e. not 4x fs). Its only with the DAC XP that you can use 24/192. Now this might not be an issue to you - these isn't a huge amount of 192 and 176.4k material around - but is something to be aware of and maybe check with Cyrus.

 

There is no reason to try to use the Cyrus CD XT SE to rip. You'll have to manually separate tracks and only rip at 1x. And these are least of your worries. Best to use a CD-ROM drive and (advised by most) either dbPowerAmp or EAC. Some people promote the benefit of particular drive such as the TEAC. Other people poo-poo the idea that different drives make a difference in sound quality.

 

The Electrical Digital connection is probably the way to go. The default (best) option is the Lynx AES16, but people have also used the ESI [email protected] and RME Hammerfall cards. The AES16 is very expensive in UK compared with USA. The advantage of the ESI and the RME card is that they have SPDIF outputs as well as AES so you won't need any unbalancing transformers (converters). If you do go the Lynx route, then either of the converters you mentioned will work well.

 

You comment about "ripping your CD collection to 24/192" generally people find that storing on your computer as 16/44.1k files (i.e. native CD quality) actually sound better than artificially converting them to high resolution. The advantages of high resolution material (either 24/96 or 24/192) is when they are created from analogue source (i.e. vinyl transfer) or original high resolution masters.

 

Hope this information helps you. Any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Eloise

 

P.S. are you wedded to the Cyrus kit as a FireWire or Async USB connected DAC might offer you better performance for similar money? Do you currently have the Cyrus Pre that you are thinking of upgrading? Another benefit of USB or FireWire is you can use a "mini" computer such as Dell Hybrid along with a NAS (Network) drive and they tend to have less noise in the listening room.

 

 

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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A few more thoughts ...

 

You commented on interconnects ... my personal preference is to start using good quality interconnects (ask your dealer for recommendations) and then later experiment if you think the sound needs tweaking. Another thought I had, depending on the arrangement, one advantage of the AES link is that you can run a longer cable than with SPDIF, that way you could locate the PC external to the listening room which reduces the problem of noise in your listening room.

 

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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Thank you for the comments everyone.

 

In regards to my current setup: I started a Cyrus AV setup (DVD8, AV5, Smart Power, FM 7.5 and PSX-R) around nine years ago. My AV5 unit failed around three months back and I was told that I couldn’t get it repaired or upgraded as it seems the Pro Audio people have gone down the route of splitting audio and visual components out.

 

With this in mind I decide that I should go down the pre-amp route and use my Cyrus Smart Power as the power amp.

 

My dealer gave me incorrect information regarding USB support (told me the Cyrus pre-amps supported 24/96 and 24/192 where as they only support 16/44) and this lead me to spending a vast amount of my recent free time on researching and digging around on what I should buy to best support what I am trying to do.

 

My worries are that I am spending too much money on a Cyrus approach when it seems to scream that it doesn’t want to work well with what I am trying to do. First of all I have to decide whether I want to pay for a DAC XP upgrade at a cost of around £1600 to replace my AV5 unit. Then I have a DVD8 unit that cannot really play back CD's well so I need to upgrade that to the CD XT SE transport, at a cost of £900, for the times when I don’t have hard drive based music for playback. This adds up to £2500 and then leaves me with the cost of having to setup a Lynx sound card (I bought one of these for cheap through a reseller who was going into liquidation) with a PC (that I also need to purchase).

 

My accommodation (rental) currently doesn’t allow me to hide cables in the walls as I can’t go digging into the walls or install cable hides so everything needs to be on the floor and visible. This then means that I either have long interconnects in AES/EBU standard with the transformer to convert from AES to SPDIF standard close to the Cyrus unit so the SPDIF cable isn’t longer than 2 metres - not ideal.

 

The other idea is to just use short interconnects and have the computer next to the Cyrus setup so that long cables aren’t all over the floor but then I have a lot of equipment in one room with the possibility of fan noise from the computer - not a big concern as I know there are silent computers out there, but they tend to get noisy over time and the ability to get something that looks good (such a dell studio hybrid or studio slim) limits you a lot with the availability of components and slots inside.

 

Therefore my thought was to look at something completely different like the PS Audio with the PS Perfect Wave Audio System. I’ve spent some time researching the company and have found only positive things being said – some of their equipment was reviewed (not specifically the perfectwave audio setup) by Chris of CA here and I remember him saying he was impressed.

 

The cost is around £5800 for the DAC and transport if bought together. This in theory allows me to play back all my music in native format and up to a max of 24/192 with various standards for digital connection including IS2.

 

Media Bridge will be available soon (not sure if people have any experience with PS Audio and their ability to keep time lines) so this solves the problem of how best to play back music stored on a NAS drive. The thing that concerns me is what will sound best - a Lynx AES16 playing files stored on a computer or a PS Audio device managing the entire process for me.

 

I would so appreciate people giving me an opinion as the new Cyrus parts, with a computer and a Lynx soundcard is costing me nearly £4000 and the PS Audio is only £1800 more which I would be willing to consider.

 

Is it better for me to go down the PS Audio Route or stick with Cyrus? I’m going to visit a PS Audio dealership to take a further look into the device offered but comments and opinions would be so welcomed.

 

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Another thought/system which (may) suit your current setup, would be to look at the NaimUnity (all in one) or something like the Linn DS.

 

The NaimUnity would completely replace your Cyrus kit except possibly keep your DVD8 so you can play DVDs (plug the digital out into the NaimUnity). The LinnDS range (depending on the model) could either be connected to your existing pre-amp, or you could connect it directly to a power amp. Both these would connect direct to a NAS supporting UPnP so wouldn't need a computer or you could use a computer and Foobar (think you said you used FooBar). With FooBar if I understand correctly you can use FooBar as a UPnP server and controller to connect to a UPnP renderer such as the NaimUnity or LinnDS. The PS Audio PWD and MediaBridge (does the Media Bridge fit in PW-DAC? or does it go in the PW-Transport?) would work similarly. These are certainly other options to look at and demo I think.

 

If you do decide on the Cyrus kit, I'd try the DVD8 as a transport into the DAC before buying the CD XT SE.

 

Other silent computers (in the UK) include the Tranquil PC and Hush PC ranges. Or there are lots of options for DIY built silent PCs. With a silent PC, I would advise using a SSD internally for the OS, and then use a NAS for the music files.

 

Eloise

 

PS. Sorry I think I'm confused - do you currently have a Cyrus PreAmp, or was the AV5 your only pre-amp?

 

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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I dont have a seperate pre-amp - just the AV5 which is currently in for the upgrade.

I have spoken to Cyrus this morning and agreed to have the AV5 repaired (they said it just needed a few things to bring it back to full working life) and then I can look into purchasing a DAC seperately at near the cost of an upgrade (or I can buy an ex-demo unit from a store as there is a lot floating around).

 

I'm going to go and see a PS Audio unit in demo and see what I think of it - would be interesting to have a play.

 

Do you, or anyone reading, have a view on whether the PS Audio would be better at managing a music library for playback compared to a Lynx AES16? I'm just worried about all these interconnect cables/transformers in the sound card option that may cause a problem with interference whereas the solution by PS Audio for riping music to memory, streaming it etc maybe a better approach at the cost level I am working with.

 

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Obviously no one (outside PS Audio) has particularly seen the [user] interface yet ... but in terms of managing your music (for the Bridge option) a PC is likely to have a much better interface. This is my experience from seeing Linn and Naim's UPnP devices - the PS Audio Bridge is just a UPnP device IIRC. You can of course use other UPnP control point software but still the interface is lacking compared with iTunes / Media Monkey / FooBar 2k / etc.

 

With a UPnP device, the ripping of music is always done on the computer or with a specialist NAS (such as the RipNAS) which incorporates "hands off" ripping facilities.

 

Both the PS Audio solution (and other UPnP devices) and the computer based solution are good. It's more about which suits you than which is the better sound quality.

 

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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