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USB the limiting factor?


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Ive recently started to explore the computer audio pathway. However I am struggling to hear the benefit over conventional CD playback.

 

I currently have Macbook Pro>USB>Beresford Caiman>Naim112/150>PMC GB1. For CD playback am using a cheap Technics CD Player (a 580 I think)

I have checked all settings on my Mac (am still using itunes?) and I don't think there is anything wrong with my hearing!

 

I used to have a TEAC VRDS CDP (unfortunately the laser went) which sounded massively better than this CDP, so have started to wonder where Im going wrong.

 

If I understand it correctly the DAC doesn't support higher than 16Bit via USB so I am considering getting a Toslink to MiniToslink cable which should allow me to hear the benefit of higher sampling rates. (I know the jitter issues may be worse)

Is this likely to help on the ripped AIFF files too? Or is there another limiting factor in my system?

 

Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.

Thanks Mike

 

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My experiments with USB and toslink came down in favor of the toslink, but the differences, if any, were subtle.

 

If you are using digital out from your CD player (I just read it has optical digital out) to your DAC, then you should be getting a direct comparison, and if this is the case, it would make sense that the sound is the same. If the CD player is using its own DAC, then it indicates your expensive one is for some reason doing no better. (Your cheap CD player gets great reviews.)

 

How are you importing music into iTunes? Lossless definitely should sound better than MP3; with AAC it is less clear. (Conversely, MP3s on your computer should sound worse than the CD, even if it analogue playback).

 

Jitter from the MacBook Pro shouldn't be problematic.

 

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The USB connection to the Beresford DACs are of a very basic design so you may get better results using TOSLink out to the DAC from your MacBook.

 

In iTunes, you need to check that all the enhancements and equalisation is turned off, also it's best to set volume to 100%. In the Audio MIDI control application, make sure output is set to 44.1k (for CD rips). If you want to play back higher resolution files (24/96, etc) then make sure you change the settings in Audio MIDI then Quit (if loaded) iTunes and restart it.

 

I assume you have ripped in Apple Lossless or AIFF rather than AAC or MP3? You could also try using

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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Mike,

 

In most cases the off the shelf 16 bit devices have about the same jitter problems as the Toslink out on the MacBook Pro. I have tested all my MacBook's and Pro's and they are typically in the 1500ps range which is pretty high. The PCM270x series SPDIF output is typically 2x that and the PCM2702/290x series is actually a bit more than that.

 

AIFF is the best bet for file type.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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The Teac VRDS is a mighty tough act to follow. My brother in law has one that I borrowed recently - it sounded fantastic.

 

Firstly with due respect to the Beresford it is a much lesser DAC than that in the veritable Teac.

 

Secondly it has a modest USB interface. You should try Toslink with the Caimam - it a cheap next step but I suspect unlikely to set the world alight.

 

The thought that crossed my head is this, some Teac VRDS CDPs have a digital input and can also function as DACs - I think this can be accessed only via it's remote.

 

That plus a decent USB/SPIDF interface like the M2Tech HiFace would be awesome.

 

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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Thanks for all your responses.

 

Im mainly ripping to AIFF, although I do have some AAC files. To be honest although I can hear the difference between MP3s and uncompressed/AIFF, it seems fairly minimal when comparing good AAC to AIFF.

I also have some high res downloads (up to 32bit) but can’t appreciate these at present/have nothing to compare to. (USB on the Beresford only supports up to 16bit…)

Im not using the CDP as a transport (my model doesn’t have digital out) and no input on the VRDS, just output…

I have checked all my settings and they seem correct.

 

I guess given that I dont seem to be 'missing anything' what Im asking is really regarding the upgrade path. I appreciate that the Beresford is a budget product, but the VRDS player didn’t cost me that much as purchased 2nd hand.

So do I go the Toslink route, invest heavily in a much more expensive DAC, or replace the dead VRDS with a similar (suggestions other than Esoteric?) CDP?

 

I appreciate the convenience of having 1000s of tracks to hand but if it doesn’t sound as good as a 15yr old CDP I don’t see the point!

 

Thanks again

Mike

 

 

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Mike ... I think your starting point should be to look at trying a TOSLink cable. Try to find a good dealer who will sell you one on sale or return basis. If that doesn't improve matters, try to get a demo of a HiFace feeding your Beresford. Again you can probably get to try one on sale or return or home trial basis.

 

That way you can try to improve your quality without spending anything, before giving it all up to buy a CD player or high-end DAC.

 

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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If I would have only the choice between a 16 Bit 48K USB Interface (build on a Burr Brown PCM 27xx / 29xx device) and a Mini Toslink connection of a Mac Book, I would clearly use the optical way. This is still not good, but at least better.

 

Juergen

 

 

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