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Computer, CD transport or Network Player?


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I currently have most of my music downloaded on my computer as FLAC files and listen to it through JRiver or Signalyst HQ (audio players for Windows) on my Dell desktop. The sound is amazing but I have a question and it is this:

Which do you find to have the highest sound quality;

1.  Redbook CD's directly played in a high quality CD transport?
2.  Ripped FLAC or Apple lossless files played through a high quality PC or MAC computer based audio player (such as JRiver or Signalyst for Windows or Vox or Clementine for MAC)?
3.  or music (from one's own private CD collection) loaded on a network player?

Using a DAC of course.

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You will not get any consensus on this.

I'd look at it differently. What method makes the most sense for how you listen and how you want to interact with your music collection?

Then get the best setup you can afford for that method. 

For exmple, if you don't want to deal with discs, then don't get a disc player, even if it is "superior": because you won't really enjoy your collection that way.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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3 hours ago, musicbuff said:

I currently have most of my music downloaded on my computer as FLAC files and listen to it through JRiver or Signalyst HQ (audio players for Windows) on my Dell desktop. The sound is amazing but I have a question and it is this:

Which do you find to have the highest sound quality;

1.  Redbook CD's directly played in a high quality CD transport?
2.  Ripped FLAC or Apple lossless files played through a high quality PC or MAC computer based audio player (such as JRiver or Signalyst for Windows or Vox or Clementine for MAC)?
3.  or music (from one's own private CD collection) loaded on a network player?

Using a DAC of course.

 

I've been using a CD transport with a DAC for over 20 years. Earlier this year, I decided to get with the program and switch to an all PC playback. There's no going back!

 

Took me a few months to get to the point where PC/USB playback was at least the equal of my CD transport. At a few points, I was ready to give up. Tried various USB filtering gadgets, jitter reducers, signal cleaners. In the end, I wound up with a PC using HQPlayer, connected to a NAS with all my ripped CDs. These sounded better to me than the CD Transport ever did, perhaps due to DSD upsampling. I've not turned on the CD transport for at least 3-4 months now, enjoying the PC playback immensely.

 

I started with a Macbook running HQP on MacOS, but decided that I wanted to upsample to higher DSD rates than the Mac would allow (max of DSD256 using DoP). So, I ran Bootcamp Windows 10 on my Mac, and enjoyed quad DSD for a bit.

 

Eventually, I found that the Macbook Pro was not the best vehicle for upsampling to DSD512. While the CPU could handle the load, the fans were very loud during playback, so I switched to a PC that has a better CPU  (and better cooling), so no fan noise. Enjoying it ever since.

 

What DAC do you have?

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I was glad when I found JRiver and was able to rip FLAC files of only the songs I "like" from my CDs (as opposed to having to listen to every song with vinyl then get up and flip it over). Not so much with a CD transport if you have a remote to skip past stuff, but that would be a distraction for me. So yeah, I really like my computer based listening, but am curious as to whether or not the newer technology of a network player would have higher sound quality. I also have Signalyst HQP. My DAC is a Calyx Femto, doesn't do DSD but it amazes & satisfies me. If I replaced it with a DSD DAC, I'd want to limit the price of the replacement unit to $2500 used. Only problem is (has been) a lot of the artists I like don't have DSD music so I'm very hesitant about taking that leap if I don't need it. Just want the best sound I can get.

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some of the streamers offer high bitrates etc.

 

but... carefully done studies show there is very little actual SQ improvement

 

I have between 1500 and 2000 redbook CDs (all ripped onto a mac mini), a dozen or so SACDs, and am about to buy an Oppo 205 partly to play SACD, partly for video - I will also use it as a DAC for the mini

 

the trick is to find high quality recordings and you often get that on SACDs

 

 

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7 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

some of the streamers offer high bitrates etc.

 

but... carefully done studies show there is very little actual SQ improvement

 

I have between 1500 and 2000 redbook CDs (all ripped onto a mac mini), a dozen or so SACDs, and am about to buy an Oppo 205 partly to play SACD, partly for video - I will also use it as a DAC for the mini

 

the trick is to find high quality recordings and you often get that on SACDs

 

 

When you find the "carefully done" study that actually shows that, let me know. There are studies, none of them large enough or well done enough to prove anything.

And please don't trot out the Meyer-Moran study from 10 years ago. It's been shown to be fundamentally flawed. They used SACDs sourced from upsampled Redbook as  "high-res" to compare to Redbook of the same album.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Simply put. CD Transport VS Computer Transport here. Reason being either way you still need a DAC for both solution.

 

However, Highend CD Transport been around for more than 20 years. VS Highend Computer Transport has just begin and sky is the limit.

 

So I will sure opt for Highend Computer Transport.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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On 6/27/2017 at 4:34 AM, firedog said:

When you find the "carefully done" study that actually shows that, let me know. There are studies, none of them large enough or well done enough to prove anything.

And please don't trot out the Meyer-Moran study from 10 years ago. It's been shown to be fundamentally flawed. They used SACDs sourced from upsampled Redbook as  "high-res" to compare to Redbook of the same album.

 

I posted a meta-analysis previously.  You can find it with a search.

 

You have stated the Meyer-Moran study was fatally flawed before (and maybe it is) but have not produced anything to support your assertion.  I understand that we all have time limitations, but...

 

 

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If you ask me this question 4 years ago, I would say stick to the CD transport.

 

But times had changed and technology advances, now network player coupled with a good DAC would surpass the performance of a CD / SACD transport consistently.

 

Also of late, I noticed that playing songs from TIDAL on my Hi Fi account via Roon; sounds equal or better than playing back from my library.   It is getting cheaper to acquire media now.   I didn't managed to buy Lorde's Melodrama CD through the stores but I am playing it back on Tidal....such a joy!!  I don't need physical media anymore, it seems.

 

(Audio)

 

 

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16 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

 

I posted a meta-analysis previously.  You can find it with a search.

 

You have stated the Meyer-Moran study was fatally flawed before (and maybe it is) but have not produced anything to support your assertion.  I understand that we all have time limitations, but...

 

 

 

16 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

 

I posted a meta-analysis previously.  You can find it with a search.

 

You have stated the Meyer-Moran study was fatally flawed before (and maybe it is) but have not produced anything to support your assertion.  I understand that we all have time limitations, but...

 

 

The only meta analysis I found in a search was one showing that hi-res is distinguishable from Redbook.....

 

 

And again, as far as the Meyer-Moran study the Boston Audio Society  confirmed they used SACD's based on upsampled Redbook. AFAIR, few or none of their SACDs were sourced from a high res master. They were all either sourced from tape, or from non-high res digital recordings.

A  quick search found this, from the BAA, listing the SACDs used in the test. Just with a little knowledge and a glance, you can tell that many of these predate digital recording, hi-res recording, or both:

 

Patricia Barber – Nightclub (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2004)
Chesky: Various -- An Introduction to SACD (SACD204)
Chesky: Various -- Super Audio Collection & Professional Test Disc (CHDVD 171)
Stephen Hartke: Tituli/Cathedral in the Thrashing Rain; Hilliard Ensemble/Crockett (ECM New Series 1861, cat. no. 476 1155, SACD)
Bach Concertos: Perahia et al; Sony SACD
Mozart Piano Concertos: Perahia, Sony SACD
Kimber Kable: Purity, an Inspirational Collection SACD T Minus 5 Vocal Band, no cat. #
Tony Overwater: Op SACD (Turtle Records TRSA 0008)
McCoy Tyner Illuminati SACD (Telarc 63599)
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon SACD (Capitol/EMI 82136)
Steely Dan, Gaucho, Geffen SACD
Alan Parsons, I, Robot DVD-A (Chesky CHDD 2003)
BSO, Saint-Saens, Organ Symphony SACD (RCA 82876-61387-2 RE1)
Carlos Heredia, Gypsy Flamenco SACD (Chesky SACD266)
Shakespeare in Song, Phoenix Bach Choir, Bruffy, SACD (Chandos CHSA 5031)
Livingston Taylor, Ink SACD (Chesky SACD253)
The Persuasions, The Persuasions Sing the Beatles, SACD (Chesky SACD244)
Steely Dan, Two Against Nature, DVD-A (24,96) Giant Records 9 24719-9
McCoy Tyner with Stanley Clark and Al Foster, Telarc SACD 3488

http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/explanation.htm

 

So basically, M&M confirmed that listeners can't differentiate between playback  of a  Redbook/analog source played back as a CD, and that same  source converted/upsampled to hi-res, and then played back as analog from an SACD player. But of course, with proper conversion and playback there is no reason to think they would hear a difference. 

 

If you want to know the recording provenance of each one, it's now time for you to put in the effort.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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36 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

the proponent of a claim has the burden of showing that claim - but I understand your position

 

Here is the latest on the audibility of high res AFAIK

 

http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18296

You've more than once doubted my statement that the MM study used Sacd from fake hires, and now that I've shown it to be true, no comment from you?

 

As far as the meta analysis, it's been well publicized since the day it came out. It indicates the audiability of hires, not the opposite, as you claimed.

So what claim haven't I backed up?

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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my comment is right above - thx for the list, but there is just an assertion not anything definitive

 

Reiss found the discrimination was small. "Results showed a small but statistically significant ability of test subjects to discriminate high resolution content..."

 

I regard it as an open question as to magnitude of the effect, not to mention the cost to replace large numbers of Redbook recordings, and then there is the issue of older recordings.

 

So we have at best a small effect, and maybe none.

 

As I've stated several time, I nonetheless plan to selectively upgrade a few of my albums, if not for any benefits of high-res, for better masterings/recordings.

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On 6/26/2017 at 8:48 PM, Ralf11 said:

some of the streamers offer high bitrates etc.

 

but... carefully done studies show there is very little actual SQ improvement

 

I have between 1500 and 2000 redbook CDs (all ripped onto a mac mini), a dozen or so SACDs, and am about to buy an Oppo 205 partly to play SACD, partly for video - I will also use it as a DAC for the mini

 

the trick is to find high quality recordings and you often get that on SACDs

 

 

 

 

here is my post again, bolded for emphasis

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On 6/25/2017 at 6:46 PM, musicbuff said:

I currently have most of my music downloaded on my computer as FLAC files and listen to it through JRiver or Signalyst HQ (audio players for Windows) on my Dell desktop. The sound is amazing but I have a question and it is this:

Which do you find to have the highest sound quality;

1.  Redbook CD's directly played in a high quality CD transport?
2.  Ripped FLAC or Apple lossless files played through a high quality PC or MAC computer based audio player (such as JRiver or Signalyst for Windows or Vox or Clementine for MAC)?
3.  or music (from one's own private CD collection) loaded on a network player?

Using a DAC of course.

I've abandoned options 1 (Linn Genki) and 2 ( tweaked PC server) for option 3 (Sonore microRendu).  Its going to cost you far less for analog like results with  a network player. If you have $3k to spend on a CD player or direct USB connected player you might get a different result

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Proper CD playback sounds great. Computer audio has many variables to play with if you like to tweak, and this is computeraudiophile, after all. A good streamer will provide software and hardware solution in one package that will be fun to use and sound superb. I haven't really heard bad-sounding external DAC's. However, the difference in connections drove me nuts, so I now prefer simpler and more direct solutions. Tidal, for me, don't sound nearly as good as my own ripped files on NAS. It was the same result no matter what source I was using.

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15 minutes ago, newworld said:

Proper CD playback sounds great. Computer audio has many variables to play with if you like to tweak, and this is computeraudiophile, after all. A good streamer will provide software and hardware solution in one package that will be fun to use and sound superb. I haven't really heard bad-sounding external DAC's. However, the difference in connections drove me nuts, so I now prefer simpler and more direct solutions. Tidal, for me, don't sound nearly as good as my own ripped files on NAS. It was the same result no matter what source I was using.

Not to mention there are many networking tweaks might include in computer audio side of things.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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Don't know why I asked about CD transports. I haven't used one since 5-disc players were popular. Don't laugh (never cared for the "high quality" 1 slot players, seemed only a bit less bothersome than vinyl playback for me). Therefore I use JRiver (love the convenience) and HQPlayer (love the SQ). Mostly I like listening to what I want, when I want & computer/DAC does that best for me. But I am entertaining the idea of a new DAC with DSD capability. Hanging between the PS Audio DirectStream & exaSound e32. Anyone familiar with either of these?

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7 hours ago, musicbuff said:

Therefore I use JRiver (love the convenience) and HQPlayer (love the SQ).

I don't think you can use these two together. Since Jriver doesn't seem to play well with others.

 

7 hours ago, musicbuff said:

Hanging between the PS Audio DirectStream & exaSound e32

They both do well with DSD and PCM you won't go wrong with either one.

If you take PS Streamer you have an option to direct feed through Ethernet from Jriver.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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18 hours ago, newworld said:

Yeah, and they do make a difference. I just don't know if those changes are any closer to music.

Some do some doesn't as much, but the beauty is they perform differently with different gears.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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4 hours ago, ismewor said:

I don't think you can use these two together. Since Jriver doesn't seem to play well with others.

 

They both do well with DSD and PCM you won't go wrong with either one.

If you take PS Streamer you have an option to direct feed through Ethernet from Jriver.

You're right, I can't use them simultaneously. Just depends, if I'm ripping new CD's or feel like looking @ the theater view it's JRiver.  If I want to close my eyes, kick back in the recliner and just listen, it may be HQP. It's great to have options. Just can't seem to get on board with streaming. I've tried Spotify and heard Pandora, my husband has iTunes. I find it so much easier and enjoyable to just pick what I want to hear from my own downloaded and ripped music files. I guess what I really want to know is if upsampling to DSD will improve SQ. I don't see why not because through JRiver (or HQP) I upsample much of my 16/44.1 music to 24/192 and the microdetails and clarity is very impressive. Just wonder if I'd be even more impressed with DSD.

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On 7/6/2017 at 7:06 PM, musicbuff said:

I upsample much of my 16/44.1 music to 24/192 and the microdetails and clarity is very impressive. Just wonder if I'd be even more impressed with DSD.

once you get into Upsampling it is totally different ball game.

However, Most Dac can handle 24/192 without issue. but if you want to go about that. couple things you need to look at.

 

1. Your current computer, if that can handle the load. (If you just need to up from 16/44.1 to just DSD64 pretty much anything can do. If you want anything beyond it will sure need more power unit to do such.

 

2. Your Dac also an important part of sound. Can it accept DSD? does it do PCM better than DSD? and what is the receiving limit?

3. As for streaming from the internet, have you try Tidal? which is an audiophile streaming as 16/44.1 and about.

 

Hope this help.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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