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A waiting game . . . or a long term solution ???


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Hi everybody

SOoo pleased to find you all out there. I never thought there would be so much more I needed to know.

 

My questions seems to span more than one topic - so I apologise if I've posted in the wrong place . .

 

I've been trying to answer one simple question for a long time; and at last I know that I'm now going to get good and impartial advice. (The simple question was: what external sound card shall I buy to link the pc to the hifi?) I've since relealised it's not quite that simple.

 

I'm very lucky 'cos I got hold of a very tasty system at a good price and made the decision I'd hold on to it for life.

In the meantime I 've realised I haven't the time to record CD's in real-time on my Tascam professional CD recorder and that I need to rip to disc using itunes. I've been doing this for a while and downloading too, and I've realised (and I'm ashamed to admit it) my 50 year old ears are struggling to hear the difference between MP3 320kbps ripped CD's or downloaded files played back via my Ipod classic, through an Apple RCA linked dock - and the original CD, on a class A reference CD player with balanced eveything and Transparent interconnects blah blah blah . . . I only dared do this A/B listening test quite recently in case I found my itunes library was in fact audibly inferior. I know it is, but I can't really hear it, so there . . .

 

Conclusion: I need to download / borrow as much as possible as soon as possible and get the best PC / Mac server linked in, in the best possible way, to my pride and joy (see my photo for clues)

 

So here's the question (in 4 bits)

1/ If I can use the DAC that's built into my CD player (which has 3 optional digital inputs: 1 AES with XLR connector, two EIAJ fiber optic digital inputs with TosLink connectors and two S/PDIF coaxial digital inputs with RCA connectors) would the Weiss' Vesta Firewire be the best current option?

 

Weiss say: The VESTA is a high performance stereo Firewire to/from AES/EBU converter. It is used in conjunction with a sound file playback device such as a PC or MAC and a D/A Converter with an AES/EBU or S/PDIF input.

 

2/ If the Weiss box is the best option, which is the best connection route? And is the quality of the firewire cable important in the chain?

 

3/ If this approach works technically, does the forum think it's a holding position, or is it in fact the best sound quality option on the market at present.

 

4/ I'm in the market for a PC/Mac server which needs to do outlook word excel one note etc (so most likely Vista). Does the performance and spec matter if I'm going out via Firewire?

 

Interested in peoples' views

 

Phil

 

 

 

 

 

New Mac Mini

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Hey Phil - I finally have a little time to dig into your question and get the thread going. First let me say that nobody around here will give you any slack for admitting you can't really tell the difference between 320 kbps mp3s and your reference player. As we like to say, if it sounds good to you then it is good.

 

1. This is a tough question. Can your CD player's DAC handle 24/96 and above music? The Vesta is a great option if you need to pull really high resolution music from your computer into another DAC. To start I recommend that you go the simplest route. If you can connect your computer directly to your DAC without the Vesta this will be a great inexpensive way to get going. If you think you need the Vesta you can always upgrade. Or, you can look at other DACs etc... If you really like your DAC but want to use a FireWire output from a computer then the Vesta will be a wonderful option.

 

2. From a computer and using the Vesta I think FireWire is your best option. I haven't been able to compare different FW cables yet, but I am one of those guys who thinks everything matters.

 

3. I think in many systems the Vesta may be a holding position. Where I see it as a really stellar option is if you have a very nice DAC already and just need the FW capability from your computer. If you need a DAC as well I would just pick up a Minerva.

 

4. If you get a newer computer the performance spec is not really going to matter. Newer computers can playback high resolution audio without breaking of sweat. There are certain things that may make it perform better such as a solid state drive with no moving parts. If you are going to pick up a desktop PC you could always get a nice Lynx card and output AES/EBU at the highest of resolutions. The guys at Berkeley Audio Design Associates did this at CES with their new Alpha DAC. They played the HRx albums perfectly on this system.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Phil,

 

Without implying Chris's words are even the slightiest "wrong", I want to put things in another context for you :

 

 

You'd never want any PC-internal solutions when it comes down to a sound card (high-freq noise etc. blahblah). This implies you won't be able to use SPDIF-out to do the connection job.

 

Looking at the PC side, there is only one connection that's hussle free and this is Firewire (I exclude Ethernet which would be hussle-free as well but which requires a network player like a Squeezebox).

 

From above follows that Firewire is the given fact hence starting point. Since a DAC (apart from the Minerva afaik) hasn't Firewire-in (pro gear excluded), you will need a device that "converts" Firewire to SPDIF (Coax or Toslink).

 

For the non-insider, this indeed is looked at as a "conversion". I tend to say that companies like Weiss commercially jump onto you by this. Or IOW : it is a wrong and stupid assumption that this needs a conversion hence a special device for it.

 

Firewire - like ethernet - is a formal network means to connect devices. Might it be an external DVDdrive, a SAT receiver or a soundcard, Firewire is a connection means - done.

 

ANY soundcard that connects through Firewire, theoretically does the job you are looking for.

 

For better understanding keep in mind that the only thing you'd want is moving the soundcard out of the PC, while the soundcard is your means of connection to your DAC (the SPDIF-out on your PC's motherboard's soundcard would do exactly the same but in its noisy environment).

 

As a reference, look at USB which just does not need a soundcard. USB though is not hussle free (and I don't say they can't be overcome, but many aspects are involved).

 

 

So there you are. You are free of choice on your "connection device". Also you are free of choice on your DAC (assuming a DAC with SPDIF input).

Assuming the first on topic only, I said that any device that connects through Firewire theoretically does this job. This is because such a device will have the option the "pass through" SPDIF (and SPDIF travels over Firewire like any other omputer data can/does) assuming that such a device will have the proper SPDIF means (like coax when your DAC has coax-in). But there are some remarks;

 

Like any other audio device you might want things connected balanced (generally XLR). Or the other way around : unbalanced (RCA) because your DAC just doesn't have the balanced option.

Besides that, you could look into options that improve "sound" explicitly, like reclocking the data (implying less jitter). Only *now* your options get less because an el cheapo external soundcard won't do that job. Now indeed you could come down to a Weiss device (although I find the specs on this a bit vague (meaning : I most probably didn't find the proper specs yet)). But, before you are going to spend unnecessary money, *now* you must dive into the pro devices (with RME and Lynx as the example).

Also keep in mind that these pro devices will support 8 channels, which might come handy at moments you might not know of currently (but think in the XOver area done in software).

 

Rather off topic then :

 

The multi channel thing not counted, from the above may follow that a good audiophile DAC supporting Firewire should be the best option. But note that this is true only when the Firewire-to-DAC conversion is done properly (yes, this now *is* a conversion to take into account, assuming a "conversion" to SPDIF is standard for these devices, and conversion to SPDIF followed to a conversion to what the DAC chips need (e.g. I2S) would be not the best). But if done right the pontential is there, and it would be my idea that the Firewire data is not under the influences a coax or toslink connection is (thinking like coax/toslink being audio, and Firewire is just computer data). But I could be wrong here.

 

When all around the connection looks good (hence the best), keep in mind that this says exactly nothing about the performance of the DAC behind it. Thus, the Minerva might fulfill the connection requirements, but to me this doesn't tell at all that it *will* sound "the best" (in fact I'm sure it does not for 16/44.1 without listening, since in this area other options exist (ok, personal opinion :-)).

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Hi Peter - Thanks for the very detailed reply. Your opinion is certainly respected. It is nice to read a different viewpoint based on different experience and knowledge. I do disagree with a few things, but there is no reason for me to go on about them.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to share your opinion.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris

Thanks for such a fast response. I've asked Krell what HR formats the KPS25 DAC can handle. I guess my strategy revolves around that. If HR is not important to me then the Vesta option to XLR must be the way. Daniel at Weiss recommends that route as you'd expect.

 

Phil

 

New Mac Mini

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Wow Peter, you sure go deep.

My Krell KPS25sc has XLR in to the DAC. So I would need to use Firewire to XLR, eg Vesta.

To Chris' point, I need to know if my aging Krell does the HR formats. I've asked Krell.

More later

Thanks

Phil

 

New Mac Mini

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I sure hope the Krell will be able to do what you want Phil. But if not, I think it can be upgraded (to even 24/192) ?

 

Peter

 

 

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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"The KPS-25sc can decode up 24/96 24bit 96 kilohertz digital audio" according to Krell.

Is this good enough?

 

Now I'm wondering if the Vesta from Weiss has a cache or buffer so that you get a good clean data stream into the DAC?

 

New Mac Mini

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Hi Philip - We may need to briefly revisit what you want to accomplish. The thread was too detailed for me to comb over it again :-)

 

24/96 is the minimum resolution you want in a DAC. The Krell meets the minimum but you won't be able to hear the HRx 24/176.4 material at full resolution and any 24/192 stuff coming out will be downsampled to 24/96 as well.

 

As far as the Vesta goes, I'm not sure you need it if your Krell only does 24/96. You can get this out of a Mac or Windows based system fairly easy. If the Krell did 24/192 then the Vesta would be a prudent option in my opinion.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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