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Newb with Server Placement and Upsampling Rip Questions


Walt Whitman
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First post…Here goes…

 

My 8 year old Rega Planet 2000 has started to die over the last few weeks but my Musical Fidelity A324 DAC is still going as strong as ever, so I decided to take the leap into putting together an audiophile music server rather than buying another CD transport (made the leap before I found this great site). I have a bunch of questions, but the two most important right now are:

 

Placement of PC as server next to audio equipment.

 

I have a perfect space in my current “rack” for the dedicated desktop PC/Music Server, but I’ve read so much about the EMI/RFI that exists inside a computer case that I am wondering if enough EMI/RFI escapes to affect amp, DAC, speakers, speaker wires and interconnects. How far away from the aforementioned items should the music server be? Where I would place it in the "rack," it would be surrounded in back and sides by wood, however, to the immediate left of the wood are speaker wires, behind wood in back are the interconnects and to the right, the amp and DAC. Is there anything reasonable I can use to ameliorate the effects of EMI/RFI close to these components? I have read much about mu-metal and ¼ thick pieces of aluminum helping with EMI/RFI reduction, but I really did not want this turning into a science project, and I wanted to keep the aesthetics of the room intact. Also, the LCD monitor is above the PC/Music Server but in close proximity to the aforementioned items. Will that affect sound quality, as well as the cable for the monitor? How about the surge suppressor that runs close to the speaker wires? By the way, the PC is whisper quiet.

 

Ripping CDs at 48KHz rather than 44.1 KHz.

 

As I am ripping my CDs to .wav (I’ll probable scrap and move to AIFF for the meta-data), I am ripping in iTunes 9 with error correction on to 48KHz and 16Bit. I know this is not the Redbook, but playback through the DAC at 48 v. 44.1 is very beneficial to the sound quality to my ears. I read somewhere that the reason many upsampling DACs sound better is that they are able to move much of the filtering artifacts further out of the range of audibility, preserving more of the original sound by lowering the noise floor. To my ears, CDs ripped at 48 KHz into the MF A324 DAC, the soundstage is much more defined in terms of instruments placement, stability, width and depth; at 44.1 KHz the sound seems to collapse more to the speakers, than providing a believable soundstage. What problems am I causing doing this? Obviously, my rips are not bit-for-bit representations of the original? How detrimental is this going to be down the road, and now? Everything I have read regarding ripping music is that “bit-for-bit” rips are the foundational element in computer audio. Am I committing some sort of heresy ripping at 48KHz rather than 44.1 KHz?

 

For the record…

 

I am running Firewire out of the PC to a M-Audio Firewire 410 and then a run of Canare LV-77 from the S/PDIF output to the MF DAC coaxial input. From there, Kimber Hero interconnects to a Musical Fidelity A3.2 Integrated Amp with Kimble speaker cable (can't remember model-large black and gray weave) to B&W CDM1-NTs on stands.

 

I have read much of this wonderful site (not all) and have only been able to find hints of answers to these questions.

 

Thanks in advance for all your help.

 

 

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1) Although there is significant EMI within a PC case, very little is allowed to escape and lots of people have a PC next to their HiFi gear in similar situation to the one you describe. PCs are rigorously tested for external EMI/RFI by FCC and for EU Approval.

 

2) Up-sampling CDs 44.1 to 48kHz is generally considered to be bad. I'm surprised you feel it is an improvement with your DAC to be honest, but at the end fo the day it's what YOUR ears that matter which counts. One thing to check is that (having ripped at 44.1kHz) that your computer is actually outputting at 44.1kHz as with iTunes and Windows combination you need to check settings in more than one place - the Quicktime control panel AND the Windows Sound control panel IIRC (others can advise better as I don't use iTunes on PC). Before finally settling on an option, it might be worth trying playback via Media Monkey or FooBar 2000 and see how this compares to iTunes playback (with 44.1k files). If you are really wedded to the iTunes interface it may be worth looking if a MacMini may be a better option for you (though Mac vs PC is a whole different debate) or possibly use a AirPort Express as an interface from PC to DAC (see Chris's Build An Audiophile Music Server (CA04) article) though with this you will be limited to CD resolution files not any of the High Resolution formats.

 

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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Eloise,

 

Thank you very much for your responses; they helped much. After reading, I reripped a few CDs at the native 44.1kHz, listened and you were right. 44.1kHz produced a much more tightly focused soundstage, more realistic instrument portrayal, excellent transients and removed the sloppiness and bloat from the music. I think I was so enamored with the better sound of the server over my dying CDP (must have been doing lots of error correction on the fly) that I lost my audio discernment in the equipment change.

 

Thanks again!!

 

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