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Lots of questions


jc
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This is my first post and I am new at this computer audio thing so please forgive me if some of these questions are not the best, but here goes:

A. Ripping

1. Ripping CDs: This seems fairly straightforward -- just stick a CD in the computer and rip to the lossless format of your choice using the program of your choice (itunes or whatever). Is there more to it than that?

2. Ripping SACDs: Is this even possible in the digital domain? I don't know of a computer SACD drive. The only way I know of to do this is connect the line outs of an SCAD player to the line ins of the computer and let the computer digitize it, but that seems to lose the benefit of the SACD. Is there another way?

3. Ripping LPs: What is the best way to do this? I know I could use a USB turntable, but I doubt the table, cartridge and A to D conveter are up to the standards I would like to hear. (My background is Linn, Jeff Rowland Design Group, Magneplanars etc.) NAD makes a phono preamp with a USB out that would allow me to use my own turntable but I am not sure that is the best way to go. I suppose I could go through my preamp into the line inputs of a sound card, but is that better than doing the A to D conversion externally and inputting via USB? Are there other ways (e.g. sound card with phono inputs? RIAA equalization in software?)? What is the best way to preserve the fidelity of analogue?

B. Playback (here is where I am even more confused; I am going to start with what seems simplest to more complicated)

1. SPDIF out to receiver or DAC: Most computers have an SPDIF out as part of the motherboard. You don't even need a sound card. Why not just run toslink or coax to the input of a receiver or DAC and let it do the conversion to analogue? (probably use coax if you believe it has less jitter or put a reclocker in between.) Are there limitations or disadvantages to this that I am not seeing?

2. HDMI out to receiver: Lots of computers now have hdmi outputs. As I understand it, HDMI will even stream SACDs digitally (if you can get the SACD into the computer in the first place). I don't think I have seen any discussiuon of this. What am I missing?

3. USB out: I really don't understand this one. Why would you ever want to use USB out? For example, there are USB to SPDIF converters but I don't know why you would use one if your computer already has an SPDIF out, which most do? In addition, as I understand it, to get the most out of a USB output, you need an asychronous DAC, like the Ayre, which are just now coming to market. If you don't have an asychronous DAC isn't USB out inferior to SPDIF out? Is there some advantage over just using the SPDIF out from the computer that I am not aware of?

C. Soundcards:

1. Why do you need one? I can understand if you want analogue out from the computer, a sound card is an inexpensive way to go. But I suspect that going digitally from the computer to a decent receiver or outboard DAC will probably result in better sound given the noisy environment inside the computer. Maybe a soundcard is needed to do the A to D conversion if an analogue source is being ripped, but are there other ways to do that? Other than that one possibility why is a sound card needed if we are trying to get high fidelity and keep everything in the digital domain until we get the signal to a high quality D to A conversion somewhere outside the computer?

2. If we need a soundcard, what does the Lynx do (better) than some of the more consumer oriented soundcards like the HT Claro or Xonar?

 

I realize this is the world's longest post, but if someone could answer these questions and provide more insight it would really help me and probably others who are just as confused as I am. Thanks.

 

 

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My 2c

 

You just thought being an audiophile involved lots of arcane points, opinions based on good-bad-no data, trivial/significant issues, tempest in a teapot, personal bias, etc, etc. Combine that with computers and, well, the sky is really the limit.

 

Anyway, based on my limited knowledge:

A. Ripping

1. Ripping CDs:

>>>>>>Yes, but, of course there is endless discussion about PC/MAC, what ripping sofware to use, what format to use, what drive to put it on, what type of drive to put it on.

2. Ripping SACDs:

>>>Dunno as I don't have any SACD's

3. Ripping LPs:

>>>A cheap USB TT is probably not up to the job, based on nice eqpt you have mentioned.

Ripping LPs' involves "real time" ripping, dividing a side of music up into songs and then MANUALLY, tagging (naming,etc). Not bad for 5 albums (actually 5 albums would take about 3-4 hours to get the job done).

 

How much time are you going to spend if you have a thousand albums?

 

You also have now memorialized your current cartidge, phiono stage sound, state of LP cleaniless, etc, etc.

 

Seems to me that ripping LP's toally defeats the purpose of analogue sound (as it is no longer analogue). But that's just me

 

But you now have random and instant access (very nice).

 

B. Playback (here is where I am even more confused; I am going to start with what seems simplest to more complicated)

>>>The sky is the limit here on how to do it. Again there are endless discussions on how best to do it.

 

Some issues to consider (that seem a little overlooked at times) are

- Location of computer (with it's attendant electrical and mechanical noise in listening room)

- How you will interact with the computer - are you going to have a keyboard, monitor in listening room or not, a remote control like an iphone, etc

-Playback software human-interface - some are just better than others

 

-USB is ubiquitous. But of, course, recent Sterophile author thinks it is not true high end.

- Some of these new DAC's are supposed to be great but some require one manually rejigger/configure the software/computer when playing back songs that are high resolution. Seems like a non starter to me (as one can't jump from song to song - this depends on how one listens, though) but if you have only CD resolution (or only high resolution), it's not an issue

C. Soundcards:

>>>See B above. Discussions are endless but are ultimately tied to location of computer

 

Bottomline, as in all things stereo related, it just sort of depends on how mad you are at the problem and how much time, energy and money you want to put into the "solution".

 

BTW, it seems to me the digital music products are changing/evolving/being created very, very rapidly (think megapixel race for cameras a few years ago) and "another" solution will be available any day now. Problem is, however, this "arms race" goes on forever and at some point one has to commit.

 

 

 

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Excuse me if I don't answer everything on your 'shopping list' but here are some random comments

 

2 - Lynx soundcard, like much in HiFi the lynx is better designed and better enginerred that most soundcards because it is build to a function not a price. I have an L22 which has consistently bettered usual consumer cards that are built to a price point.

 

It is excellent for archiving vinyl and has good playback capability in both analogue and digital via SPIDF. I plug my usual Phono Stage into it and use Audacity (freeware) to record the vinyl from my record deck. That way I am still using my preferred vinyl frontend and maintaining it's signature sound.

 

It is probably true to say the Lynx can be bettered by external devices such as the Metric Halos etc etc but in my mind it is a good mid point between the fairly average consumer sound cards and the true pro word. My runs into a PC.

 

The beauty of the Lynx is the SPIDF output which means you don't have to worry about the USB/Firewire debate.

 

That said SPIDF is a an old fashioned legacy format that has had it's day in the sun. I have no doubt it will disappear in time and Firewire or USB or something else (?) will eventually replace it as the standard, once Computer Audio is the prevalent music source.

 

For me at this stage the advantage of SPIDF is just the sheer choice of quality Dacs available.

 

Regarding USB out consensus seems to be moving towards Async (a la Wavelength Audio/Ayre) but the choice is limited, as it is with Firewire.

 

I suspect we are getting towards a tipping point which is why many of your questions have no 'right' answer just now.

 

I use a USB out for my Legacy Dac and a PC with the Lynx thus backing lots of horses!

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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from iamimdoc who wrote: "USB is ubiquitous. But of, course, recent Sterophile author thinks it is not true high end."

 

I believe iamimdoc is confounding Stereophile with Alan Taffel of The Absolute Sound. I don't believe I've ever read any such opinion in the pages of Stereophile (on the contrary, the Wavelength and Ayre got rave reviews in their pages). Taffel's report on computer audio is incomplete at best, more like a farce.

 

Chris Connaker's take on USB

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Asynchronicity-USB-Audio-Primer

 

CA thread re: Taffel article

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/State-USB-Audio-Alan-Taffel

 

 

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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