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'Traditional Hi-Fi' owner looking for advice....


scots_flyer
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Hi, I have spent the last 25 years experimenting and upgrading my system. I accept that the experience of a live performance can never be truly reproduced in Hi-Fi however I'm always interested to see how much closer we can get. I am currently using CDs as a source and am looking to use my Mac Mini as a storage/player but don't know where to begin. I don't have an internet connection so streaming is out and I would need to download audio at work. My current system is listed below, any basic pointers for getting started would be much appreciated.

 

Al

 

 

transport: Sony DVP-NS900P

dac: Lavry DA11

power amp: Levinson 333

speakers: PMC iB1s

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The MacMini is a great starting point. You will need to rip all of your CDs, people usually recommend ITunes or better the freeware XLD for ripping. On a Mac, your safest choice is to select ALAC (lossless) or AIFF as a format.

 

While you rip, make sure you tag the files properly. Proper tagging is 80% of the pleasure and functionality of a computer based system.

 

In terms of playback, you have the choice mainly between Audirvana+, JRiverMediaCenter, HQPlayer and Roon. Most have free trial periods, none is perfect so it boils down to personal choice.

 

As a starting point, you can connect the Mini via the optical out or via USB. Both may not give oh the best possible sound quality so you may want to try out a good USB to SPDIF converter at some point.

 

Finally get an IPhone or better IPad for remote controlling everything.

 

That's it!

 

For each of these steps you'll find a multitude of threads already with people in similar situations to you.

 

And obviously just ask more questions here, people are usually very helpful.

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Thanks for such a clear and quick response.... in terms of quality from the mac to the dac I have both optical and USB on both - which do you suggest is the best quality? I'm just confused about why you would go from USB to SPDIF unless there is a benefit I'm missing.

 

thanls

Al

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Thanks for such a clear and quick response.... in terms of quality from the mac to the dac I have both optical and USB on both - which do you suggest is the best quality? I'm just confused about why you would go from USB to SPDIF unless there is a benefit I'm missing.

 

thanls

Al

That's a tricky question because it really depends on the DAC.

 

Optical to optical is very easy to implement, but usually limited to 96khz if you consider buying highres files. It has the benefit of completely isolating the electrically "noisy" computer to the DAC, but also typically has the highest jitter.

 

The reason I suggest considering a USB-SPDIF converter is that your DAC seems to be some years old, and USB audio implementations have significantly improved in recent years, so it may be that an external USB implementation may simply sound better than whatever Lavry has implemented. But again, maybe not.

 

I wouldn't worry about it in the first place though, just get either USB or optical started at this stage and focus ongetting your music ripped. You can always optimize the computer-DAC connection at a later stage. Maybe anyhow some years down the line you want to try a DAC with DSD capability or whatever.

 

Just start ripping (read the CA ripping guide and the many threads here on ripping with XLD), maybe buy some select high-res files from Qobuz or Highresaudio (depending on where you're based) to see if you get an improvement from high-res over redbook.

 

Then download the different playback applications above and see which one you like best.

 

Note I only just now saw that you mentioned your playback computer doesn't have internet. I'm not a Roon expert but I believe Roon needs access to the internet for it's enhanced library services. All other apps should work without.

 

However, if you want to use remote apps with the playback software, the computer needs to be connected to a Wifi network at your place (which doesn't necessarily mean any connection to the internet).

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I made the full switch to digital files from CD's in recent years. My setup has evolved over time, but I feel like I'm in a pretty good place with regards to digital playback. It all functions very reliably right now leaving me to focus my attention on room setup, speakers, etc.

 

I ripped all of my CDs to FLAC using dBpoweramp and its Accu-Rip feature. After ripping many of my CDs using iTunes w/ Error Correction enabled and subsequently hearing flaws in some of the rips (I have CDs that date back to the 80's and my car audio days, so many of them have not been coddled), the peace of mind that I get from Accu-Rip is invaluable. All of my CDs are now stored in archival storage boxes w/ their slip-covers.

 

My music server is a Mac Mini. I swapped the HDD with an SSD to eliminate any drive chatter. I'm using Roon (+Tidal HiFi) for library management and streaming w/ HQ Player in the chain for up-conversion to DxD or DSD. I'm currently streaming over Ethernet to a Sonore MicroRendu which is connected to a USB DAC. Prior to the MicroRendu, my Mac Mini was collocated in the rack with my DAC and I streamed over both SPDIF through a Remedy Reclocker and over USB through a Schiit Wyrd. Both approaches were very good, but my current setup seems to have a little extra somethin-somethin.

 

Of course not having an Internet connection at home may be problematic for activating Roon or accessing the Accu-Rip database.

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