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Can Computers "Influence" SQ?


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Hi,

 

First venture into purely digital music system. Ripped CD library and Tidal so far. Run through a Macbook Pro to a Hegel H90 Amp (Via USB)  to Focal 706's.

 

While for the most part the sound is great! But occasionally I get strange artifacts in songs. Trebles will get fuzzy. Not always the highest pitch tones, usually something that has a little bit of distortion maybe is accentuated. A Gibson Les Paul can sound a little too dirty sometimes. A sax will lose definition. Ive heard of some systems being tripped up by complex rhythms and this is a good description.Perhaps like when a pure black is shown on a screen how it pixelates even though the rest of the image is razor sharp to attempt a visual analogy.

 

So I am tracking down issues and discover a lot of it could be the actual file or Mac. When I plug headphones directly I can hear the issues so this eliminates the amp/speakers. But how much of it is file or actual Mac?

 

Can the computer have any influence to the overall SQ?

 

Thanks,

 

Rounder44

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5 hours ago, OldBigEars said:

Can the computer have any influence to the overall SQ?

 

 

 The power supply in the Mac or a  PC has a great deal of influence on how the file will sound.

Check out the Uptone area of the forum and you will even find a high quality linear PSU designed specifically for the Mac Mini, which was reportedly capable of a marked improvement in SQ. It was designed by highly respected E.E. John Swenson along with other marked improvements for the USB area of the Mac MIni and other computers which need to use USB for Audio.

e.g.

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/23139-uptone-audio-js-2-power-supply-and-linear-fan-controller-installation-experience-pictures-results/

 

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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"Can Computers "Influence" SQ?" 

I wouldn't say "influence" better "initiate".

Yes, clocking and power.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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What software player are you using?

 

Also, does it sound the same when running off battery power and when the wall adapter is plugged in?

 

 

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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1 hour ago, sandyk said:

 

 The power supply in the Mac or a  PC has a great deal of influence on how the file will sound.

Check out the Uptone area of the forum and you will even find a high quality linear PSU designed specifically for the Mac Mini, which was reportedly capable of a marked improvement in SQ. It was designed by highly respected E.E. John Swenson along with other marked improvements for the USB area of the Mac MIni and other computers which need to use USB for Audio.

e.g.

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/23139-uptone-audio-js-2-power-supply-and-linear-fan-controller-installation-experience-pictures-results/

 

 

 

is that a problem with an Eitr in the chain?  or over Wifi?

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20 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

 

is that a problem with an Eitr in the chain?  or over Wifi?

 

G.I.G.O.

WiFi has another set of unique problems.

Eitr ??

 

 Kumakuma is asking a reasonable question, as it is virtually an admission that the power supply does matter.

 

 

Garbage In = Garbage Out

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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PCs are hideous music playback systems. They are a hellstorm of electronic noise and dirty power that will happily get into your DAC. The switching power supplies add switching noise, the SSD shoves a ton of electronic noise back into the power rail, fans add their own noise, etc and so on.

 

If your DAC doesn’t have galvanic isolation on its inputs (and very few do), a conditioner / cleaner / isolator is required as a START. Jitterbug, Ettir, Regen, etc. These devices passively filter out noise and/or regenerate the signal from a clean clock and power supply.

 

Some use devices like the microRendu to totally cut the PC out of the chain. Others use optical or network isolation for further isolation.

 

Some, like myself, try to clean the PC up as much as possible. Linear power supplies, ultra-low ripple fanless PSUs, passive CPU heatsinks, no fans, audiophile USB adapters with external power sources, SATA filters or powering SSDs separately, minimizing running processes, etc. The best media servers are basically PCs with custom linear power supplies and advanced noise management techniques.

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The OP is using a laptop (Macbook Pro), not a PC, so many of the suggestions in this thread won't help.

 

One other possible problem is that the OS is resampling the output if iTunes is being used for playback and the audio settings don't match what the DAC can support. There doesn't seem to be anything in the H90 manual about what it's internal DAC is and what sample rates are supported.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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WiFi has another set of unique problems.

- what are they?

 

GIGO may or may not be an appropriate claim here, as an Eitr or other galvanic isolator will break any loop currents

 

Are you claiming that noise in the computer will flip bits? or if not that, then what?

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48 minutes ago, kumakuma said:

The OP is using a laptop (Macbook Pro), not a PC, so many of the suggestions in this thread won't help.

 

One other possible problem is that the OS is resampling the output if iTunes is being used for playback and the audio settings don't match what the DAC can support. There doesn't seem to be anything in the H90 manual about what it's internal DAC is and what sample rates are supported.

In this context, a Mac is a PC and just as noisy.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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15 minutes ago, 4est said:

In this context, a Mac is a PC and just as noisy.

 

Of course it is and a laptop is probably even noisier than a desktop due to the components packed into a more confined space.

 

My point is that the OP's computer is not a desktop PC and what you can do to the hardware itself to limit noise is extremely limited.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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18 minutes ago, kumakuma said:

 

Of course it is and a laptop is probably even noisier than a desktop due to the components packed into a more confined space.

 

My point is that the OP's computer is not a desktop PC and what you can do to the hardware itself to limit noise is extremely limited.

Oh, OK. I agree with that completely.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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3 hours ago, sandyk said:

 

 The power supply in the Mac or a  PC has a great deal of influence on how the file will sound.

Check out the Uptone area of the forum and you will even find a high quality linear PSU designed specifically for the Mac Mini, which was reportedly capable of a marked improvement in SQ. It was designed by highly respected E.E. John Swenson along with other marked improvements for the USB area of the Mac MIni and other computers which need to use USB for Audio.

e.g.

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/23139-uptone-audio-js-2-power-supply-and-linear-fan-controller-installation-experience-pictures-results/

 

 

 

Charente, the OP has a MacBook Pro - I don't think he can upgrade the power supply.

Tidal / Qobuz--> Roon--> Fios Gigabit--> Netgear Prosafe GS105 --> Supra 8-->EtherRegen --> Fiber--> opticalRendu / CI Audio LPS --> Curious Evolved Link --> Chord Qutest--> AQ Water --> Belles Aria Integrated--> AQ Robin Hood--> Kudos Super 20's

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15 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

I have have a MacBook Pro and measured it the other day with the charger and it adds noise to a USB powered DAC. It look much better with battery alone.     

 

I'm not surprised.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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Just now, OldBigEars said:

Charente, the OP has a MacBook Pro - I don't think he can upgrade the power supply.

 

 In  which case, it would appear that the only avenue open to him, assuming that he is using USB  , and not Optical Output, is to use improved USB cables, USB  Regens etc. and high quality external USB PSUs.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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1 minute ago, sandyk said:

 

 In  which case, it would appear that the only avenue open to him, assuming that he is using USB  , and not Optical Output, is to use improved USB cables, USB  Regens etc. and high quality external USB PSUs.

Or some networked device such as a Sonore microrendu or HQPlayer NAA, which is after all, some of the reasoning behind them.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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2 minutes ago, sandyk said:

 

 In  which case, it would appear that the only avenue open to him, assuming that he is using USB  , and not Optical Output, is to use improved USB cables, USB  Regens etc. and high quality external USB PSUs.

 

According to the OP, he hears the same issues even when he's not using his USB connected DAC/AMP combo:

 

Quote

When I plug headphones directly I can hear the issues so this eliminates the amp/speakers. 

 

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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1 hour ago, GUTB said:

Some, like myself, try to clean the PC up as much as possible. Linear power supplies, ultra-low ripple fanless PSUs, passive CPU heatsinks, no fans, audiophile USB adapters with external power sources, SATA filters or powering SSDs separately, minimizing running processes, etc. The best media servers are basically PCs with custom linear power supplies and advanced noise management techniques.

 

 I do similar, including powering SSDs via individual +12V to +5V voltage regulators followed by a type of Shunt Regulator.

Even  a Broadband Modem connected to the PC may degrade SQ, even when ripping a CD.

With earlier Windows OS's it was also beneficial to rip and play in Safe Mode.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Just now, 4est said:

Or some networked device such as a Sonore microrendu or HQPlayer NAA, which is after all, some of the reasoning behind them.

 

Agreed, but let's not suggest that he spends too much money at this stage .

The OP may needs to start off slowly with this rather steep learning curve ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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7 minutes ago, 4est said:

Or some networked device such as a Sonore microrendu or HQPlayer NAA, which is after all, some of the reasoning behind them.

 

Good idea. His amp already supports UPnP/DLNA streaming so he doesn't need to spend anything to try this.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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14 minutes ago, sandyk said:

 

Agreed, but let's not suggest that he spends too much money at this stage .

The OP may needs to start off slowly with this rather steep learning curve ?

Too much money or learning? You are suggesting the OP to learn about power supplies and buy one/some. My suggestion can be as low as $100-150 for a nearly plug and play device:

 

https://allo.com/sparky/usbridge.html

 

I am not saying one ought to do this, but it might be an option depending upon their situation. It also is cheaper and easier to get power supplies later with smaller devices like these.

 

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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4 minutes ago, kumakuma said:

According to the OP, he hears the same issues even when he's not using his USB connected DAC/AMP combo:

Tom

 Other than the purely theoretical grounds that you love so much, what makes you think that he can't improve the exported data

AFTER it leaves his device, or if he runs it from battery, as well as improving the Signal Integrity AFTER it leaves his device ?

Have you ever personally tried using a USB Regen or Internal low noise USB  card using improved power, or perhaps the other means mentioned by 4est ?   USB Audio is capable of a vast improvement in SQ compared with straight from a USB port or Optical port to an affordable  DAC using a generic USB input.

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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12 minutes ago, kumakuma said:

 

Good idea. His amp already supports UPnP/DLNA streaming so he doesn't need to spend anything to try this.

Perfect then!

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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