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Why computer audio ?


ummaya

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Hello,

 

My old HI-FI system which I bought new in 1985 and has not been in used for different reasons for about 8 years, is right now out for check up + service and upgrade: preamplifier - Naim Audio NAC 42 + amplifier - NAP110 + speakers - Linn Sara; beside my DVD player I have nothing to play my CDs with - no CD player, no old turntable, nothing.

 

Once my system comes back home I will be listening my CDs with my DVD player until I choose which way to go: to buy a CD player that matches my system or to go the computer + DAC way.

 

Of course I use iTunes on my computer and I enjoy my iPod but the thought of ripping my CDs and listening to my music from my computer + DAC instead of a CD player, the connection between audiophilia and computer still seems quite odd to me. It may sounds strange to you but the term DAC was unknown to me a week ago. Right now I have no idea which way to choose and I would like to hear from you why I should go the way of computer audio. Thanks.

 

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Ummaya, it's a no-brainer really.

 

Ceteris paribus, there's no difference sonically. There is room for fine philisophical debate around this point but for most practical applications there's no difference imho.

 

Computer still wins buy a wide margin though when you sit on you sofa selecting tracks from you ipod/pad remote control. Ergonomically the computer solution is miles apart from the CDP. Sunday morning's I start the music playing before I get out of bed for example. Seemingly gimmicky aspects such as party playlists also add new dimensions to your audio experience. (If you want the sense of ritual occasion that physical media give you, best bet is LP).

 

There's a growing library of digital material at a higher resolution that CD also. The computer gives you access to that too. Oh, and don't forget internet radio, a la last-fm etc which, while lo-fi, does have it's place in expanding your musical enjoyment.

 

I you remain unsure, perhaps look at modern CD player that also offers well implemented digital inputs. There's a wide range nowadays.

 

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The big draw for computers as a source for HiFi is it allows you fingertip access to your music collection a from the sofa. And potentially high quality sound at lower cost than a conventional CD Player.

 

A basic setup could start with basic laptop (around £3-400) plus USB connected* DAC such as Arcam's rDAC (£300). If the DAC has SPDIF inputs then your DVD player (or another transport could be connected for CD playback. Another alternative would be a CD player with digital inputs such as Audiolab's 8200CD (£700) or the Cambridge Audio's 840C (£750).

 

Beyond that the sky (and your budget) is the limit.

 

Eloise.

 

Note: the USB input on DAC can vary greatly in implementation from wonderful to not worth the time. The Arcam DAC and Audiolab CD player are both in the good implementation camp though more than just the interface makes or breaks a DAC.

 

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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here's why you shouldn't!

 

Add up the cost of everything you will need - Chris' excellent articles on building a server are a good place to start - subtract from that figure everything you already own. That is how much you need to spend.

 

Now see how much cd player that money will buy you. If you are honest with yourself about the amount you will spend on buying and maintaining a server system, I think you will be amazed at how much cdp that will buy!

 

If you have doubts about the dea of computer-as-source, then buy a cdp is my advice!

 

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I used to be of the type that put a CD on and listened through. I would often find whatever was playing to trigger a response to play another song I was reminded of.

 

I tired of the constant up/down action and stack of CD's that piled up throughout the course of the listening session.

 

Then I got an iPod and it improved my enjoyment of music. I could now queue up that next song instantly. MP3s aren't really CD quality let alone HiFi and I was stuck listening through headphones or a connected dock with lousy remote control of the iPod.

 

We then replaced our PC with an iMac and an AppleTV followed about six months later. I re-ripped @ 600 CDs to AIFF files stored on an external drive connected to the iMac. I could now stream all of my music to my main rig with control nearly as good as an iPod and sound quality (through my DAC) better than the Arcam CD player I had sold.

 

For me that's been the biggest benefit of computer audio. It's flexibility in playback while maintaining (or in the case of 24/96 files exceeding) quality sound.

 

I can sit through an entire album if I want. I can bounce around endlessly. I can create the ultimate playlist (a dream for 80's mixtape makers like myself). It's all taken my enjoyment of music to the highest level that it's ever been.

 

Bill

 

 

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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Thank you all for your comments.

 

It's flexibility in playback while maintaining (or in the case of 24/96 files exceeding) quality sound

 

The idea of having all my CDs organized and ready to play like with my iPod is very attractive , no doubt about that. My concern is about the quality of the sound.

My budget right now is quite limited and I can only buy a CD player around the $500 - $600. My question is can I with these $500 - $600 get something of the same level of sound quality (or maybe even better) with a DAC + my DVD player (a basic JVC, nothing really fancy). Later on, step by step,I could upgrade the DAC or buy a better one and purchase a computer dedicated only to my audio system.

 

 

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There are many that will tell you that the difference in audio quality is insignificant between a CD player and computer audio. This may be the case with a lot of inexpensive computer audio gear.

 

However, if this were the case, I would not be in this business. I dont use computer audio myself because it is convenient, or because I dont have to handle the media or worry about degradation of it etc.. I do it strictly because of the BIG difference in SQ. Did you know that computer audio got best of show at RMAF, cost no object from TAS this year? This is SQ, not convenience.

 

Every poster here has a different system and different SQ level. You have no idea what that is. Most think they have very resolving systems, but believe me they dont. I have read a lot of posts that say that they cannot hear the difference that Amarra or Pure Music makes or high and low levels of jitter etc.. Even reviewers have this experience. This is a tip-off that these systems are not quite there yet.

 

This is the problem with trying to take advice from people with unknown systems. The best thing is to join an audio club where you can have shootouts or get first-hand experience with the gear. These clubs cut through the BS and marketing hype and find out what the gear is really like. It's often not as great as the reviewers say it is. These forums are only a good starting point. The more you can learn about the posters system and experience, the better.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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Considering that you already have a computer and a DVD player to use as transport. A $500-600 DAC is most likely better than a $500-600 CD player if I were to hazard a guess. I feel it largely depends upon your getting a chance to audition as Steve N suggests. The CD player or DAC will have a flavor, it is getting one you like and want to live with.

 

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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I would argue that a $500-$600 DAC plus your current DVD player would outperform a $500-$600 CD player.

 

Just make sure that you choose a DAC that will serve your computer-based audio needs further down the line.

 

As Steve points out, computer audio can be a BIG improvement over CD. The biggest limitation for most of the general public at the moment is a lack of popular titles. After all, this is about the music.

 

Bill

 

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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If you are going to keep your 25 year old electronics and loudspeakers, I doubt there is any reason to worry about quality differences between computer audio and CD. The choice depends on your desired listening style. Look at the buying guide in the October issue of Stereophile magazine for their least expensive DAC's and CD players.

 

If you plan to upgrade at some point, I suspect the loudspeakers would be the first candidate. The suspensions of both the woofers and tweeters must have lost much of their elasticity by now, which could greatly impair the frequency response, directivity, and distortion.

 

Amplifiers and preamps of that vintage probably have a certain fuzziness compared to those today, but that may be relatively innocuous.

 

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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Bill,

 

The biggest limitation for most of the general public at the moment is a lack of popular titles. After all, this is about the music.

 

I guess you wanted to refer to hi-res here, right ?

 

Well, let me stirr the post (once AGAIN) by telling that no hi-res is needed AT ALL to obtain the sound from loudspeakers you (I dare say anyone) never thought was possible. Hi-res is worse (in 95% of cases). That this indeed doesn't leave much titles available for (good) hi-res is true.

 

But this thread is not about hires;

It started off with "you won't hear much difference, altough open to debate" (similar), but I tell you this is the most far from the truth. What it takes (IMO) :

 

- Not an expensive PC at all;

- The best playback software for SQ with digital volume control (pick your choice);

- A resolving system (rare in the first place), but generally (very) fast amplifiers and ditto speakers;

- No pre-amp;

- A DAC made for the job;

- Quite some experience, but which is mainly listening experience (another thing of which I claim almost nobody has that at start). PC experience *is* a pre.

 

This won't bring you a bit better SQ, but infinitely better SQ.

 

Indirectly this all starts with using the PC instead of a CDP, because the CDP is a dead thing; you can switch cables, maybe apply some tweaks like better feet, mats, sprays and more stuff which only brings "a bit", but with a PC all comes "alive". Alive to the sense that *now* switching a cable drops your jaw because of the vast difference (for better or for worse). Changing playback software will be audible instantly, changing settings therein, or change buffer sizes ditto, and for those who want to go further : changes OSes and/or tweak *them*.

 

The variations are endless, and somewhere your good sound is hidden. What was a 100% improvement yesterday, will be obsolete today because of the improvements you make, but also 1000s of others make and share. Or even more fun and effcicient (though the most rare of course) : like I do it with the software development. 1000s of ears to help me with improving for you.

 

How to do this all with that dead thing ? How could that ever improve with only the developers of that CDP and some personnel around ? It may, but how many times more slow ?

 

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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Although I have never heard your components, I disagree that you will not be able to perceive differences due to the age of the components alone. Do not get me wrong, this is a generalization, not specifically related to the OP's gear. Digital technology has advanced greatly during this period of time. It is possible that the gear is "worn out or dried up". It is also very possible (maybe even probable) that the gear has plenty of resolving power. There is plenty of vintage gear that is sought out for very good reasons.

 

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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Hi-

 

I wrestle with these questions myself at around the same budget levels. I love the convenience of the PC/MAC playback, but it seems to cost more to get the same audio quality from a PC+DAC vs a decent CD player.

 

For me, I do not have the keenest hearing, so I'm reaching the point of diminishing marginal returns to scale. Its hard to hear the difference between a good $300 CD player and a $1K CD player.

 

Something to consider is to get a good value CD player and a good value DAC. If you want to go this route:

 

For Good Value CD Players you might consider choices like:

NAD C-515BEE: $300 http://amzn.com/B0011QWHR6

Oppo DV-980H $200 (if you can find one one!)

Marantz CC4003 $400(5 disc cd changer - I have one and I love it!)

 

(Most high-end audio shops have different CD players you can test-listen to - bring your own lossless CD to test with. But I have yet to find a high-end shop that has a selection of value DACs you can listen to.)

 

As for good value DACs, you probably should look for one that handles TOSLINK Optical & S/PDIF Coax & USB with good jitter management.

You might consider these DACs that have been generally well reviewed.

Cambridge Audio DAC Magic - $429

Arcam rDAC, $400

Music Fidelity v-DAC - $299

Emotiva XDA-1 - $299 (not yet reviewed - launch ETA Nov 2010 EOM)

 

(For more discussion, see DAC under $500 thread at:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Best-DAC-under-500-Fall-2010 )

 

Lastly, if you want to blow the budget, you could get a Good CD Player with a DAC built in, like the Marantz SA804 (msrp $999)

http://us.marantz.com/Products/3223.asp

I heard the Marantz SA804 at RMAF last month and was very impressed. In addition to the CD player and all 3 DAC inputs, I plugged my IPOD directly into the USB connection and 256K MP3-VBR music sounded terrific.

 

Sorry for the long reply - hope this helps!

 

 

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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There are plenty of them on eBay. The integration with iTunes on your computer works well. Run analog out into your preamp for now to see how it works for you, then get a DAC with the digital out from the Apple if you want to improve quality.

 

If your iPod is a touch then you already have an awesome remote but you can also control it from iTunes on your computer. You will need a monitor for the initial setup.

 

You can choose to sync your music to the Apple TV (you can then listen without the computer being on) or stream from the computer.

 

This gets you going for very little money.

 

The new Apple TV lacks analog out which forces you to get a DAC now and I think there are some 44/48kHz issues.

 

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Hi ummaya,

 

I see three principal advantages to computer audio:

 

1. Properly extracted files (I like to use raw .aif or .wav formats in iTunes), played back through a good DAC will, to my ears, outperform any CD player or transport in my experience, regardless of price.

 

A lot of processes must occur within a transport/player to extract the audio from the CD and these must be done as the music plays. Many of these processes are not needed once the music has been extracted to hard disk.

 

In my own comparisons of CD pressings with the masters from which they were made (and I've been saying this since I created my first CD master in 1983), I've found that pressings made at different plants (even made at different lines within the same plant) all sound different from each other, when played on any transport or player in my experience. And (here's the key) none sounds indistinguishable from the master used to make it.

 

On the other hand, when properly extracted to hard drive, from almost any of the pressings, the result is indistinguishable from the master. And this is with plain iTunes playback (provided its "enhancements" are turned off and its own volume control is left at maximum).

 

 

2. As others have mentioned, computer audio will change how you listen to music. It provides access to your collection in ways you cannot imagine until you've experienced it.

 

For example, if I want to hear all the music in my collection written by Bob Dylan but performed by folks other than Bob Dylan, it takes a few seconds to enter these criteria in a search and the result is a playlist of all these songs.

 

Similarly, if I want to listen to every version of "Lush Life" in my collection, or (because I'm meticulous about metadata entry) everything I have with Eric Dolphy playing flute, after a few seconds of entering the search criteria, I'm listening to a playlist.

 

To listen to a given album or song, I can find it, click on it in iTunes and be listening in less time than it would take to go to my shelf and find the CD, place it in the player and press play.

 

 

3. Two words: high resolution. No special player needed for this format and another for that format. No sonically compromised "Universal" player needed. You get access to 24/96 files and even better, 24/192 (or 24/176) files that show just how limited the CD standard, good as it can be, really is.

 

 

***

As someone pointed out, it does cost more than a CD player does.

A Lambourghini also costs more than a Geo. ;-}

 

A good DAC is a prerequisite and I would suggest one that can accept either Firewire (particularly with a Mac) or S/PDIF via copper (as opposed to an optical connection).

 

Hope this helps.

Have fun!

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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If you plan to upgrade at some point, I suspect the loudspeakers would be the first candidate. The suspensions of both the woofers and tweeters must have lost much of their elasticity by now, which could greatly impair the frequency response, directivity, and distortion...Amplifiers and preamps of that vintage probably have a certain fuzziness compared to those today, but that may be relatively innocuous

 

I am upgrading. My NAP110 amplifier is being serviced right now and the NAC42 preamplifier is also serviced , then upgraded to NAC42.5 and an external power supply added. The speakers have been checked and no problem of loss of elasticity was found at least from a first quick physical checking by an excellent audio technician who has a huge experience with Linn products. Once the service and upgrade done the speakers will be tested more thoroughly and we will see if they still can sing. At the beginning of the week I have heard an other HI FI system almost as old as mine but more 'powerful' than mine: Naim NAC32.5 pre and two NAP140 amplifiers ,each one serving one of the speakers and I did not find any fuzziness in spite their age. The old beast (which of course has been serviced) can reproduce music as beautifully as many brand new 'advanced' and expensive system.

 

For me, I do not have the keenest hearing, so I'm reaching the point of diminishing marginal returns to scale. Its hard to hear the difference between a good $300 CD player and a $1K CD player

 

I have listened for several hours many kind of music from Rock, Symphonic orchestra, chamber music(trio, quartet,solo piano),Jazz. I listened to each track several times on the same system but with 2 different CD players : a Advanced Acoustic MCD200 (around $300) and a Arcam FMJ CD37 ($1000)and I could not hear any difference. The dealer tried to convinced me that the trumpet sounds more 'metallic' on the Arcam. To me it sounded the same trumpet, same guitar, same piano, same violin on both CD players. Maybe my hearing is not what is was and I cannot distinguish small differences anymore. If it is so, I won't put 3 time more cash on a CD.

 

Sorry for the long reply - hope this helps!

 

Not at all. Thanks for the links and the recommendation.

 

 

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Nice post, Barry!

 

you said:

"1. Properly extracted files (I like to use raw .aif or .wav formats in iTunes), played back through a good DAC will, to my ears, outperform any CD player or transport in my experience, regardless of price."

 

So what, in your opinion, is a "good DAC"?

 

And, for extra credit, what's a good way to move the data from the PC/MAC to the DAC if they are not sitting next to each other?

 

I will chime in that the Apple Remote App for iPhone/ITouch/iPAd makes playback via iTunes from a PC/MAC media server a pleasure. You still want to creat the playlists on the PC, but selecting playlist or album is easy and a pleasure.

 

 

 

 

Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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Hi jdjaye,

 

Thank you for your kind feedback.

 

 

"...So what, in your opinion, is a "good DAC"?

 

Just my opinion of course. There are a lot of "good" DACs nowadays. To my ears, these tend to fall into three general groups:

1. Those that "enhance" apparent "detail", read "add spurious harmonics to brighten (and somewhat harden) the sound".

2. Those that make everything "silky smooth", regardless of whether or not this is a characteristic of the program material.

3. Those (few) that get out of the way and for better or worse, reveal what the program material has to offer, both good and bad.

 

The type of sound one prefers will naturally influence their decision. For my work and for my own listening, I require something from the third group and here, I've become very partial to DACs from Metric Halo. While designed for professional use (and requiring a Mac to get the best from them), I have not heard their equal at providing access to the program. I've used their 2882, ULN-2 and now, the ULN-8 and love all of them.

 

I use the same unit(s) as my mic preamps and A-D converters during recording sessions.

 

All that said, there are less expensive units that, while they tend to fall into one of the first two groups (for my ears), can provide listening pleasure to music lovers.

 

 

...And, for extra credit, what's a good way to move the data from the PC/MAC to the DAC if they are not sitting next to each other?...

 

My preferred protocol is Firewire. It was designed from the start with streaming audio/video in mind and is capable of transmitting multiple channels of 24/192 audio without a hiccup.

 

When I'm in my studio/listening room, my Mac connects to my DAC via a 15' Firewire cable.

 

If I couldn't use Firewire (and I'm very happy I can), I would want either an AES or an S/PDIF (copper) connection. My personal choice is to avoid optical or USB connections for audio (though I do use USB to connect the drive that houses my music library - except when I'm loading it, at which time I use Firewire).

 

All just my perspective of course.

As I always say, ask three audio folks a question and you'll get at least four answers. ;-}

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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I totally agree with the comments above about convenience. Computer audio also totally changes the way you listen. You will find you listen more and to more of your music collection.

 

As far as equipment to buy, with a limited budget I'd get the best DAC I can afford and use it with the DVD player. Later you can put more money into the digital source. I agree with those who say audition first, as you want to be sure your are spending your money on an SQ upgrade.

 

Something else to keep in mind: you can often get good used equipment that will allow you a level of hardware way above your budget. Typically used equipment sells for about 50% of new MSRP. Lots of audiophiles are upgrading DACs today, and you can find very good used DACs at a price you can afford.

 

I don't know to what level of audiophilia you aspire to. For your budget, you could also get a modest PC/laptop to be used as a server, and add in a relatively inexpensive DAC and be fully set up. There are decent DAC's from $100 - $300 new. Some of these may meet or exceed your SQ requirements, you'd have to listen and find out.

 

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>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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I totally agree with the comments above about convenience. Computer audio also totally changes the way you listen. You will find you listen more and to more of your music collection

 

The instant access to my collection is really appealing, no doubt.

 

As far as equipment to buy, with a limited budget I'd get the best DAC I can afford and use it with the DVD player. Later you can put more money into the digital source. I agree with those who say audition first, as you want to be sure your are spending your money on an SQ upgrade

 

The audio technician who is servicing and upgrading my amplifier and speakers right now, advised me to buy a $200 Valab DAC on ebay and he could easily tweak or upgrade it, according to him, maybe not to the level of the best DAC but to that of many of far more expensive DAC. Since my budget is tight this could be a good solution. I Google a lot right now to see what people think about the Valab.

 

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Your technician is right about the Valab. Look around the net (and on this forum) there are plenty of tried and tested upgrades. All reports are that you can turn the Valab into something rivaling much more expensive DACs.

 

Note on ebay that some more expensive models already exist with "upgrades" added in. The model with the improved power supply seems like a worthwhile upgrade.

 

Also I think the Valab only does 16/44.1, and not hi-res. So it is a good starting point, but may not be what you want long term. It might be a good idea not to put too much money into it, and see if you want something able to do hi-res in the future.

 

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>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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"no hi-res is needed AT ALL to obtain the sound from loudspeakers you (I dare say anyone) never thought was possible."

 

Peter is dead-on with this comment. Early-on before I had a really good front-end, I spent a lot of cycles upsampling music. Native tracks that were hi-res were scarce as hens teeth and still are IMO, although some rips from DVD-A are superb. Now, I just leave it alone. At RMAF, I did a variety of 44.1, 88.2, 96 and even 192. They were all fabulous tracks, all native rates. Unless you have the same track at 96 and mastered also at 192, you will never know the difference. I have one such track. Most listeners in the room thought it was all hi-res.

 

Besides, with most of us the tracks that we really love are classic 44.1 CD rips, not new obscure releases. I look for the remasters of classic CD's and I'm amazed by the SQ of even 44.1 with a good DAC and low-jitter front end. Just listen to the new Rolling Stones Let it Bleed remaster. Not perfect, but a LOT better than the original. I had the vinyl when I was a kid and it was never like this.

 

VALAB DAC, Chamelion DAC and the NOS DACs that are done right are excellent low-cost choices. However, one must be aware that these will definitely sound sub-standard unless they are driven with a low-jitter digital source. There is no jitter rejection in these older chips, so the digital quality makes them or breaks them. With a high-jitter source, they all sound bad compared to a modern D/A chip. With a low-jitter source, they outperform most modern chips.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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