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Is there a beginners guide to all this ?


old fogey
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Hello,

It seems that so many of the topics I have read have started with "I am new to all this" - Well, I am too !

So, is there a beginners guide, in simple non-techno language, that can answer all those silly questions that I am likely to ask over the next few weeks ?

I am currently ripping my cd's to the pc (using dBpoweramp cd ripper) in WAV format, and hope to play some back via my M-Audio 24/79 (?) soundcard into my modified Naim Audio stereo. Am I doing anything wrong so far, and any thoughts as to tips or hints..?

In case there is already a guide that I have missed, apologies - my internet access is slow and limited (I am in southern Spain, where we have no phone land line, limited mobile phone access, and internet comes via a microwave system that fails as soon as the wind blows, sun shines, or rain falls..!)

Thanks

The old fogey

 

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Oh yeah, I'd pay 12 bucks to see that at the multiplex. Fogey. It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong, but I don't trust Windows; it lays traps. Hopefully someone will come along with a better perspective...

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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No, you're fine. But the folks around here who use Windows for media servers have to do something I don't understand (because I haven't paid attention) to keep everything bit perfect in the system. The Mac does this automatically, in OSX, so I don't even have to think about it. Chris knows the Windows tricks. I'm sure he'll be along soon...

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Ahhh....keep going. I got halfway through ripping my collection at 356kbps when I decided to go lossless and started all over again. I'm almost certain I can't hear the difference, but I feel better. :) Besides, the process is cathartic. I reminded myself with hundreds of cds, many of which I hadn't listened to in years. Then when they were all in iTunes, available at the spin of a wheel and the click of a mouse, I found myself listening to them. It's almost like having a whole catalog of new music.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Hey - keep ripping your music. If you have plenty of disk space then I'd recommend rippig your music to an uncompressed format such as WAV or AIFF.

 

For bit perfect output you do not have to fiddle too much, but it does depend a little on your audio card within your computer.

 

Windows Media Player is not bit perfect (well, not yet with any ease), iTunes is bit perfect if you use it with the Airport Express and to me offers the best user interface. Media Monkey, JRiver and a good number of others also support bit perfect playback via ASIO or WASAPI ...

 

I use iTunes over the Airport Express or Media Monkey via the sound card using the waveout plug in - sounds awesome using both methods. Though note that the Airport Express limits you to 16bit 44khz CD quality (whether higher resolution is any better to most ears is another discussion).

 

Using XP or Vista you can reduce the number of programs and services running on your PC to improve audio quality (well, maybe it does) and also set your media playback software to open and run as a high priority further improving performance.

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Hi,

 

My advice is as follows:

 

I assume you have a laptop.

 

Download iTunes, and rip music to the highest quality - lossless.

 

Then buy an Apple Airport Express. They're cheap and allow music to be streamed - sent wirelessly - from the laptop to the stereo.

 

The Airport Express has a headphone socket on it which is a basic connection to play the music through the HiFi.

 

If you want better quality then you can connect its digital output in a "DAC".

 

I personally use a speaker that has the DAC and the amplifiers built in. Very neat and simple.

 

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Firstly, many thanks for all the replies so far !

Now, a couple more questions - why go wireless ? Does the apple airport express connect to the pre-amp ? My pre-amp does not have a headphone socket ! Are wireless connections good enough (I don't yet have a network, partly as my house has 400mm thick walls, but I do have a router waiting for me to try soon)

The pc will be kept near the pre-amp, so connecting it is not a problem.

Why use itunes ? I am continueing to rip in WAV format - I have 2tb of storage on the pc, and a further 1tb in a NAS (which I have yet to collect, plus a 750gb external hard drive. I plan to add a further 1 or maybe 2x 1tb hard drives if needed (I want to keep a copy of everything for safety) as I spent enough on the stereo to warrant keeping everything as good as it can be. I wondered about using a slimserver, as from what I can see, it is the interface between my pc (ie music) and my stereo, meaning no monitor need be used.

My soundcard was regarded as prety good a few years ago, so is a new soundcard necessary, or will the line level output be good enough to use direct into my pre ?

Sorry there are so many questions, but again, many thanks for all the replies !

 

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I say if sound quality is your primary aim, then there is no benefit using iTunes with Windows.

 

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat and what you are already doing/proposing, given your local conditions, seems fine. Given you are ripping to wave (and provided you have error correction enabled) your rips will be fine and if you want to change to another format later, it will be easy to convert from wave as an overnight(s) task, i.e., you won't need to re-rip your collection.

 

As for the claim that Windows is inherently more difficult, it is, however it's the difference between doing nothing (with Apple) and spending 10 minutes downloading the ASIO software and changing one or two settings in Windows and your media player. It's easy and you'll chuckle at what the fuss was all about. Those who make an issue of it being difficult are often those who do not have the experience of actually trying, and many Windows users cloak it all in geek-speak which perhaps reinforces the perception.

 

And as for whether the results from your sound card/analog out direct to pre are good enough, just give it a try. If it sounds good to you then, great, you've saved yourself the cost of a DAC.

 

Love & kisses xxx

Olive

 

hFX Classic fanless i7 SSD > Locus Nucleus / SW Diverter HR > RWA Isabella LFP-V Pro / New Sensor Genalex Gold Lion E88CC > ALO Sennheiser HD 800 balanced[br]

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Consider the benefits. I started out with just an usb connection from the computer to the dac. Then I wanted to use a remote control from my favorite listening chair. The solution was to create a wireless network and have my Ipod Touch join that network and take control of iTunes.

 

Next I wanted to have access to the music in two other rooms ( for headphones with dedicated amps ). Two Airport Express (using the digital output) and two dacs solved that problem. The iPod Touch is also functioning as a remote for these two systems as they are on the same network. So my system is both hardwired (usb) and wireless. My walls are not as thick a yours, but one system receives the wireless signal from behind 3 walls with no problem using an Airport Extreme as my wireless router.

 

I share your concerns about backup. I first considered a raid setup, but decided I wanted even more security where PSU, controller and disks were separate. After I add to my main disk I run a backup program. First to my backup disk-1 which is stored locally. Then to my backup disk-2 which is stored at my friend´s house.

 

Your choice of file format is excellent. It provides for a simple data replication process with minimal computer activity during playback. I went with the aiff solution because it was a default setting in iTunes.

 

cheers

 

Tom

 

BM DAC1/HDR --> ATC SCM 100ASL[br]BM DAC1--> Genelec 8020/Beyer T70[br]Apogee Duet2 --> Stax 007T/404[br]Apogee Duet2 --> Genelec 6010A/Beyer DT1350[br]

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Olive,

Firstly, anyone who replies to me for the first time and signs off with love and kisses is bound sure to be listened to, and clearly has taste (good or otherwise)... I like you lots !

Yes, sound quality is important (why else would I have spent 3 months income on a new cartridge for the turntable.. ? )

I am ripping using dBpoweramp, in 'secure' mode, so correcting errors (I hope..)

I have now downloaded some ASIO software, and am trying to get it sorted, while also setting up winamp as a media player.

So far, much of what you have said (changing settings in windows leaves me quaking) but I have no idea what settings to change, or how (see, a true product of the geek speak fear factor - and I call myself a man...!)

What difference will these ASIO changes make ? I think I have followed the instructions, but am rather out of my depth here !

Many thanks for your help, and love, kisses and a big hug too !

 

Steve

 

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Ok, I'm assuming you're using XP? Windows has a POS sound filter call kmixer which basically stuffs up the sound by, among other things, re-sampling 44.1 kHZ audio streams to 48 kHZ IIRC. The audio passes through k-mixer by default so you have to bypass it.

 

One way is to do it wirelessly as per Darren's post above. So. if your machine has wireless capability, you install iTunes, buy an airport express which iTunes sees and transmits a wireless audio stream to. The airport express is limited to 16/44.1, so fine if you listen to CD-sourced material, not so if you plan on listening to high-res. The airport express has a (3.5mm I think) headphone audio socket which doubles as a digital out. So, you could then connect the headphone/analog out of the airport express to your naim pre, or, for better results, to a DAC, and then from DAC to naim pre (Or from airport express to a jitter removal device, then DAC then pre; there are conflicting views as to whether the jitter inherent in airport express is acceptable, I'm not gonna go there).

 

You could get good results this way but my problem (in my experience) is that iTunes installs services without your permission and, while having a very nice interface, does not run as well on Windows as other media players. Still, it's a fairly cheap experiment (the cost of an airport express) if you want to give that a try as you could then use an iTouch as a remote, which is nice.

 

Another way is wired but with an ASIO driver such as ASIO4ALL that has the effect of bypassing kmixer. iTunes is not compatible here (and neither is Windows Media Player) so you would need to configure another media player such as J River Media Center, J River Media Jukebox, Foobar2000, MediaMonkey or winamp.

 

I second the link provided above by Larry, which simply outlines the steps for configuring Windows playback. Go to the Windows tab. The set up steps are for a USB DAC generally -- You mention you won't use a DAC initially, and far be it for me to put thoughts in your head, but re-reading your posts, I have a feeling this is perhaps...going to happen at some stage if you're a the source-first naimee type...Inevitable? However, I digress -- and J River Media Center in particular for Windows XP (change the equivalent settings with winamp if that's the player you prefer).

 

It seems like you are at an early stage still with everything, and to be clear these settings only apply to playback, so you don't need to sort all this out before you carry on with your ripping. Perhaps while you continue with ripping Bay City Rollers and the rest of the alphabet, you might want to check out a few configuration examples on this web site (under the heading Equipment...Music Servers) before deciding on where you want to go with all this and spending your hard earned. If you're primarily playing back music that originated from CDs it's also worth bearing in mind you won't need a lot of the bells and whistles associated with high-resolution playback, a USB DAC would suffice, for example if you were looking at DACs.

 

If you have a reasonably modern PC, don't sweat the other details. Modern machines can playback redbook audio in a canter so things like disabling unneeded services etc if you're not comfortable doing - don't. I've disabled all unneeded services on my machine and the main benefit is it boots up in just a few seconds; audio playback still sounds the same. One thing that might be worth doing is "underclocking" your machine: under your power options somewhere (depending on your machine) you might find you're able to set your processor to run at less than its capable speed, 75% for example. This will keep your machine running cooler so the fan won't be as audible in your listening room, but if it's a quiet machine I wouldn't bother with that either.

 

:)

Olive

 

 

 

hFX Classic fanless i7 SSD > Locus Nucleus / SW Diverter HR > RWA Isabella LFP-V Pro / New Sensor Genalex Gold Lion E88CC > ALO Sennheiser HD 800 balanced[br]

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If you use the Airport Express then it makes the Kmixer in XP irrelevant.

 

Not only is it cheap and convenient, but it bypasses all of the issues people have to piss about with.

 

I like to keep things as simple as possible as to not alienate people from computer audio, as many are afraid of computers anyway.

 

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Olive - sadly, no kisses and love this time, but I'll survive....

OK, I am using XP. My pc is a new build, full of power and now, thanks to your help, ASIO4ALL. I have winamp, but will look at J River etc too.

I was a Naimee - however, my gear is now modified Naim - does the name Avondale mean anything - it is modified Naim gear, meaning I have gone from a top of the range Naim to a low range-with-modifications that sounds better than the old stuff.. Anyway, I digress.

Having gone past ripping the Bay City Rollers - now on the Carpenters, I'll have you know, I may need to look at DACS - However, I have no money, having been off work for a year now due to illness (too many drugs as a youth, and too many motorbike accidents, meaning too many bad bones and being in the building trade, thats not a good thing !)

Where do I start looking at DACS ?

I'll take another look at Larry's post about configuring windows - I am so new to computers it is scary - I built this one, but have no idea other than fitting the bits together that I really need my hand held, as so much of the language is way above me.. My fans are silent, my cpu can be undervolted without problem, but I need t get it all set up and working first - one of my main problems is that I don't understand the jargon..

As before, many thanks for so much help - It is much appreciated !

Steve

 

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Using Mac makes things simple and you can have excellent results in minutes.

 

PC's can take longer to tweak the software, but can equal or surpass the Mac.

 

The things to avoid are:

 

1) iTunes on a PC - use Foobar 0.8.3 or Jriver

2) Apple Lossless - impacts sound quality if you are after the very best - the AirPort Express always uses Apple Lossless

3) Squeezecenter - since Slim devices was purchased by Logitech, the software has gone downhill IMO. It is very slow and painful to use now, does not display what you need to see and often crashes the computer.

4) kmixer on a XP PC - to avoid this, unmap the device or use Kernel Streaming

 

When you purchase a USB DAC or USB converter, there is usually instructions and software disk so setup is quick and painless. Less so than adding a new printer.

 

Things to do:

 

1) rip to .wav or AIFF. Dont compress - disk is cheap

2) use a ramdisk or flash drive rather than hard disk to store music

3) use raid 1 to keep a copy of all your music on a second disk

4) Use iTunes on Mac

5) Use Foobar 0.8.3 or Jriver on a PC

6) choose XP over Vista

7) USe iTunes with error correction on to rip on a Mac

8) Use EAC to rip on a PC

 

Every manufacturer and user has a different experience, so this list will vary a bit.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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Steve N.

What is a ramdisk or flashdrive ? I have 2x 1tb hard drives to store my music on - is that not good enough ?

Why EAC - I am using dBpoweramp to rip my cd's in WAV format, with secure mode, so errors ought to be checked.

How do I unmap Kmixer, or use Kernel streaming ?

Many thanks, and by the way, I am almost on the 'D's now - only another 15 'C's to go !

 

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What is a ramdisk or flashdrive ? I have 2x 1tb hard drives to store my music on - is that not good enough ?

 

Ramdisk and Flashdrives are non-rotating memories. Better sound if you avoid rotating disks.

 

Why EAC - I am using dBpoweramp to rip my cd's in WAV format, with secure mode, so errors ought to be checked.

 

EAC has been shown to be the best ripper. It calibrates to your CDROM drive. Does dbpoweramp give you checksums so you know the rips are error-free?

 

How do I unmap Kmixer, or use Kernel streaming ?

 

Email me at [email protected] and I will send you instructions.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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"Ramdisk and Flashdrives are non-rotating memories. Better sound if you avoid rotating disks."

 

Sorry if this has been covered....but are you saying that you use these ramdrives and flash drives as a temporary way of listening. As far as I know...either of these options will not be large enough for a large catalog of music...as far as I've seen.

 

Cheers,

BT

 

 

 

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