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noob with WIN7


AndrewG2197
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I am very glad I have found this site, this is a topic I have been looking to get into. As I look around I realize I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to audio. Can someone please help me by pointing me in a direction to start. I am using a Windows 7 build. Thank you for your time.

 

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Well, as you've seen by purusing the forum topics, getting digital audio right is a bit more complicated than playing an iPod. The main point is that there are many systems that will put out a music-like sound product that doesn't really have much to do with real music.

 

So, the idea here is go listen to live performances of the kind of music you like, and use that as your reference. Trust your ears, and don't think that you can't become a skilled listener. It will take a little while, but with a clear idea in your mind about how a particular piece of music sounds in real life, it will be much easier to select and match components.

 

Cabling is a bear. Just a short length of a particular cable, or the wrong length, from, say, a computer audio server to an external DAC will radically alter the sound quality.

 

What's your budget? You'll find that there are really very good products at every price point, and a lot of mediocre products. The Absolute Sound (a.k.a. TAS) is a great place to start with respect to non-fan-boy recommendations, and it will also help instruct you how to listen.

 

Ignoring the digital source part of this for the moment, if you bought a used pair of Usher Be-718s ($1500), a Lavry DA-11 ($1480, new) and mid-range interconnect from Wireworld or Audioquest, you'll get excellent sound given a decent digital source. You'll need a source to DAC cable (digital interconnect, such as 1394/Firewire, AES/SPDIF, USB or TOSLINK), analog cables to the amps (Odyssey Khartagos are fabulous; Stratos even better, check Audiogon.com) and cables from the amp to speakers.

 

You'll find that cables are the most critical and expensive part of your system; it's easy to get really, really good sounding electronics these days, and when you're starting out, why not get used gear?

 

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As Nicholas said ... it's difficult to make any recommendations without knowing your budget - there's no point talking about $1500 DACs and speakers without knowing if you are wanting to spend $500 or $5000 ... though he then goes on to spend $3000 on recommendations WITHOUT even mentioning that you will need a power amp to use with the DAC and speakers.

 

Also, and with all due respect to Nicholas, many people would consider the cables if not the least important part, at least something that you choose to suit the equipment.

 

I would second his suggestion that used gear can be a good buy, though if you don't know what you are doing the advise given by a good dealer can be worth much more than what you save buying second hand. Also, while you can use a dealer to listen to a piece of equipment and then buy elsewhere - this is VERY unfair to the dealer and this kind of behavior usually leads to dealers not being around next time you need them.

 

My question you you to begin would be threefold...

(a) what is your budget

(b) do you have ANY audio equipment already and

© in what situation do you want to listen - in a living room environment or more infront of a computer at a desk.

 

Question © especially is important to buy suitable equipment.

 

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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Guest WATERLOGIC

it is always smart to start small (cheaper does not mean inferior) and then see and decide

where/what to improve.

 

I can only agree with Eloise that cables are NOT important.

 

So if you tell as what you already have (amp, speakers etc), we can suggest what could be a good solution for you.

 

WL

 

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Thank you everyone for replying. I think it will help if I explain what point I am at in life. I am currently a college student (Music Ed Major). It was recent that I decided I wanted a better playback option for my music, little did I know before doing this research and finding this site, I purchased most of my music from Itunes. so to answer your questions

 

1. Being in college and money is tight, my spending limit is around $1000ish, I could eat some more mac and cheese and maybe push it to up a little.

 

2. I already have a Yamaha A/V receiver RX-V365, and a pair of pioneer Bookshelf speakers made under the RCA name.

 

3. This system will be set up in a typical college apartment.

 

thanks for the help.

 

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My first step with such a system would be to buy either a M2Tech HiFace USB interface or a Asus Sonar Essence STX or ESI [email protected] PCI card. Start using iTunes but would be worth also trying J.River Media Center; Media Monkey and Foobar as alternatives - all can be tried free so you can see if you notice an improvement in sound quality. You'll need to search for setup instructions for each application to ensure you get the best out of them. Connect a digital cable from the SPDIF output of the interface you buy and with the PCI cards also connect analogue cables to compare.

 

An alternative would be (especially if you use a laptop rather than desktop) to get an AirPort Express and use iTunes.

 

Sit back and enjoy the music. At this point you can consider what upgrades you might want to do to improve the sound, but I always think starting at a basic level is the best. Also worth making sure that when ripping CDs you use WAV or AIFF (best) or at least FLAC (or ALAC if you decide to use iTunes) and if you download music to get the best quality you can.

 

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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Guest WATERLOGIC

a good solution for you would be :

 

I would go for M2tech Hiface (internal cards may swing or may not - dependig what comp you have) and a nice DAC with integrated headphone amp.

or

If your computer has Toslink out (optical), you can hold the purchase of M2tech Hiface (and buy it eventually later on) and connect the Dac via optical cable. See how it sounds for you.

 

The idea of DAC with HP comes to mind since you are student and might want not want to disturb neighbours late at night i.e use headphones.

 

Right know I use such one (Matrix Mini-i 350$) & M2tech hiface and it sounds great for me.

Best is if you can audition several before you buy (I would spend max $ 500).

 

Good Luck!

 

WL

 

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Well, one practical suggestion is get a part-time job at an audio store. You'll learn a lot, make some bucks, and have the chance to try out all kinds of equipment, pick up some bargains, etc.

 

My own experience with entry-level gear is very limited, however with $1000, you should be able to do quite well. My bias is to move from the speakers back to the electronics, so to speak. Ultimately, the speakers create the sound, and with good cabling back to the amp, you can get great sound from budget electronics.

 

The electronics is the easy part :) in terms of really, truly good or even great audio quality without too much financial pain. and people focus most of their attention (and expenditure) on this element of the system, perhaps because it's more glamorous.

 

Your Yamaha already has a built-in DAC, a headphone jack, iPod connection, so my suggestion is to continue to use it, and get a nice pair of bookshelf speakers with decent cable, and you'll probably be amazed at how well it sounds. Note that your amp has about 100 W per channel which for a small room should be plenty of power, given a speaker of reasonable sensitivity.

 

Also you may want to consider downloading higher quality audio files from iTunes or wherever. Compared to the basic, highly-compressed tracks, the higher-bit-rate, less-compressed files contain much more information, and you'll hear the difference quite easily.

 

So, in short, with a limited budget, my first purchase would be some good, used speakers. That, combined with some good cabling (used is also fine) will give you a nice start. And make friends with a local audio store or audio society.

 

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I can't even start to thank you guys for the help.

 

After reading over your suggestions, and doing some searching on the site, I think I have narrowed my options down. Itunes + Airport + M2tech Hiface or after reading Chris's article, going with JRMC. My question now is, will a M2tech Hiface be compatible with JRMC? Is there a gaint advantage to AIFF over WAV other then album art?

 

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Andrew stated... "After reading over your suggestions, and doing some searching on the site, I think I have narrowed my options down. Itunes + Airport + M2tech Hiface or after reading Chris's article, going with JRMC. My question now is, will a M2tech Hiface be compatible with JRMC? Is there a gaint advantage to AIFF over WAV other then album art?

 

Sorry Andrew but your iTunes + Airport + M2tech HiFace makes no sense ... the HiFace plugs into your computers USB port to provide an SPDIF output into a DAC. The AirPort Express does very similar (in the way you would use it) but using WiFi to communicate with the computer. Your options are iTunes + AirPort Express or + HiFace

 

The HiFace will work with JRMC, to quote their

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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