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December 19, 2008 in Music Servers
Hi Guys - There is some very solid information in this thread although I'm not sure anyone has left this thread more knowledgeable than they were before entering it :-) Clock discussions can often be confusing as evidenced by many of the comments above.
On a different note, I've received several comments "off-line" that this thread is becoming an advertisement for Empirical Audio. While Steve Nugent is providing some very good technical information, and I thank him for that, the readers must keep in mind that Steve is a manufacturer and does have an agenda, as do all manufacturers, to sell his components. There is certainly nothing wrong with having this agenda especially when it is out there for everyone to see i.e. Steve's signature line in all his posts. But, there are times when this may become detrimental to the conversation as a whole and we may be at that point. I am familiar with Steve's impressive background and I have talked to him about his products which he believes are the best in the business. However, I have never listened critically to Steve's products in my own listening room so I cannot vouch for many of his comments. They may all be 100% true, but I believe Steve is the only one in this thread who has had the opportunity to verify his comments. I do know that Steve does have some very happy customers who've shared their experience with Empirical products, so CA readers may want to consider that for what it's worth.
I'm not sure where this thread left off as far as what questions remain or what new questions have come up. Let's keep this one going. Clocking is a very solid way to improve system performance and we all have much to learn and share with each other.
Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems
Chris - If you wanted to try a Pace-Car for Lynx AES16, I have one here that is configured for that. I could lend it to you for a week or two over Christmas holidays. It has AES input and AES output and does only 24/96. It would have to come back with no scratches on it.
Please do not turn down Steve's offer! I think this is an answer many will want to know.
I'm still working my way through this. I like the idea of a solution that will allow me to take full advantage of the Esoteric's resolution and clock-output capabilities but I'm concerned that a PC solution may require too much "tweaking". Mac seems so simple. . .
One additional question. . .to use an iPod Touch as a controller, do I need a wireless card in the front end? I'm planning a wired network connection between my Drobo > router > head unit but it seems like I would need a wireless connection at the front end.
BPT 3.5 Ultra/Reference 3A Reflectors/MSB Technology S201 Amplifier/MSB Technology Analog DAC/MSB Technology Network Renderer/Audirvana +
Hi Bob - You don't need a wireless card in the music server / front end in order to use the iPod Touch. You only need a wireless router connected to your network.
I assume everyone understands that you mean your music server would either have to have a wireless network card or be connected to a network that has a wireless router.
I’m not sure if the AirPort Express qualifies as a wireless router but sometime over the holidays I would like to try setting up the remote for MediaMonkey (iMonkey) with my iPhone. Sometimes when these things work it seems like magic. On the other hand when they don’t it can be a source of frustration.
Hi audiozorro - I've used iMonkey and did not like it at all. The major limitation is that it can only play tracks from a playlist. You can't browse your entire library without putting everything into a playlist and scrolling through all your tracks. Complete library browsing is not on the top of the developer's list either. Maybe we can nudge this app in the right direction :-) It would be very nice!
Hi Steve - Thanks for the offer. I'd like to try a Pace Car, but I don't think I can do the aforementioned unit justice in this short timeframe. I built a Zalman fanless music server with a Lynx AES16 that I want to use with the Pace Car, but this server is going to be used at the Venetian at CES and has to be shipped out no later than Wednesday this week. If the offer still stands maybe we can connect after the CES dust settles and work something out. A Pace Car for a Lynx AES16 that supports up to 24/192 would be ideal since some of my reference material is 24/176.4.
Chris - check with me again after CES and we'll work something out. This particular one will only do 24/96. Can you do some comparisons of 24/96 with and without the Pace-Car?
Since you already have the Esoteric D-05 you might be interested in the USB/Wireless kit that was demonstrated at Cedia 2008 with the D-03. The upgrade is not official yet but it should be announced very soon. The kit will be supplied as a retro fit for the D-03/D-05 and should be available in spring 2009. I just ordered a new D-05 and one of the reasons why I chose the D-05 was the USB/Wireless option. Other reasons were looks and the amazing build quality. I have no idea how it sounds but after reading the reviews I thought it can't be that bad :-)
P.S. Thanks Chris for the amazing work with this site. I have spend many great hours reading your articles and the excellent threads in this forum.
JRiver MC22 -> Merging+NADAC (8CH) -> Bryston Cubed -> Vivid Giya G2/Vivid C1/4xVivid V1W
Hi Thomas - Thanks for the kind words about the site. I'm very skeptical of this wireless/USB option from Esoteric. Wireless USB technology is not very good which may be a reason why there are virtually no wireless USB computer devices yet. In addition, I was told from a very respected source that the sound of this USB/Wireless option at the CEDIA 2008 show was NOT equal to typical Esoteric quality.
I'm certainly not writing this device off. As I said earlier, I am a bit skeptical but very open minded. I would really like to be pleasantly surprised with a fabulous sounding USB/wireless option from Esoteric.
I found some details on the USB/wireless options:
Production models of the optional kit will transmit data with sampling rates of 24-bit 96 kHz for wired USB connections and up to 16-bit 48 kHz for wireless transmission. The D-03 then up-converts the audio signal to 176.4 kHz.
Thanks for the info Thomas. Sounds interesting.
Chris, can you clarify the last sentence in your first paragraph? Did you mean to say that your source thinks the sound IS typical Esoteric or IS NOT?
The D-05 sounds fantastic, even with 16/44.1 source material. I'm in the process of ripping my collection to iTunes right now. . .I'm about 1/3 done. I should receive my mini-Toslink/Toslink adapter tomorrow which will let me try out some of the 24/96 content that I have (I just downloaded the Acousence samples).
So far the Mac Mini is great. Dead quiet except when ripping. This site has been a great resource. Thanks for all the hard work Chris.
My mistake! I corrected the original post to read "NOT typical Esoteric quality."
Thanks for the update, Chris.
You obviously have more sources to rely on than the average audiophile (I have the dealer only).
Anyway, I first of all wanted a DAC to go with my Airport Express. If the USB kit proves to be an inferior solution I will probably buy a Macbook Pro instead.
I still need to learn a lot about computer based music playback so please excuse me if the following question has been answered before or it is too trivial:
Are there any major jitter issues when connecting a macbook with toslink directly into the DAC? Is it better to insert a firewire interface between the macbook and the DAC? I'd would like to avoid a big desktop computer with a Lynx soundcard in my living room and besides a macbook would save some € for highres music downloads. :-)
Great to hear your opinion on the D-05. Mine should arrive next week.
Looking forward to hear your impressions on the toslink with 24/96 content.
How did you play back 16/44.1 on the D-05 until now?
"...Are there any major jitter issues when connecting a macbook with toslink directly into the DAC? Is it better to insert a firewire interface between the macbook and the DAC? I'd would like to avoid a big desktop computer with a Lynx soundcard in my living room and besides a macbook would save some € for highres music downloads. :-) ..."
Hi Thomas - TosLink has its issues as do all interfaces. Technical measurements of TosLink interfaces usually show that its one of the worst interfaces available. What this equates to in terms of sound quality is up to each individual. I've certainly connect my Macs directly to DACs via TosLink. I use other interfaces most of the time however. If you want to use a different interface there are many of them available. FireWire will give you resolution up to 24/192 where are USB and TosLink currently will only allow up to 24/96.
Let us know if you need more help or if we've caused you more confusion :-)
I've been using 2 different transports to feed the D-05, a 16 year-old Philips 5 disc changer and a Denon DVD-3910. I'm migrating to a Mac Mini right now, but eventually I plan to use a Mac Pro in order to take full advantage of the D-05.
I think you'll love your DAC when you get it. . .
TosLink has its issues as do all interfaces. Technical measurements of TosLink interfaces usually show that its one of the worst interfaces available. What this equates to in terms of sound quality is up to each individual.
Chris ... Toslink is 'bad' because of 'technical measurements'? What exactly are 'technical measurements'? Can I *hear* these 'technical measurements'? For that matter, what would 'non-technical measurements' be?
And ... "Up to each individual"? So in other words, it's a toss-up, and caveat emptor?
'Technical measurements' are superceded by 'individual preferences'?
If that's the case, how would it be fairly described as 'one of worst interfaces available',
if I like it? I fail to understand how your argument is not illogical or circular.
Thanks Chris, that's certainly valuable information but it doesn't necessarily makes it easier to decide what to do. :-)
Now I'm wondering how I connect the firewire of a a macbook pro to the D-05 in the best way possible? Are there any jitter issues with firewire and if so how can it be reduced?
I tried to read some of the posts concerning external clocks but I found the reading a bit confusing.
oooohhhh, I know the feeling, I hate when that happens...
just when I think I"m totally secure in my beliefs as to the choices I made putting together my audio system, someone comes along and seemingly takes a dump on one of them.
and then I react - trying to find a flaw in the argument of the source, perhaps even I will ignore the intent of what has been said, and find some perceived flaw in the wording of the argument. yeah, that'll make me feel better every time.
but sometimes, I remember, it's all opinions anyway, and no one's opinion matters more than mine,
so....why should I be even the least bit bothered if someone has a different opinion,
it's not like that changes what I hear coming out of my system the next time I sit down for a listen, right?
although I guess it might if I were one of those people who hear what they are told they will hear, due to psychological bias. If that were the case, then maybe I'd be a bit more worried about what someone else has to say about my choices.
I myself use Toslink for the majority of my listening - it's the only method of digital out on my AppleTV.
on the other hand, I use Firewire for serious listening. Sometimes I wonder though, is it really worth plugging the firewire cable into my laptop for some 'serious' listening? What is the point of listening seriously anyway?
FWIW, I thought Chris' three sentences you quoted above were pretty straightforward, and very consistent with commonly accepted audio knowledge. My interpretations are:
1) all the interfaces have their pro and cons (i.e. none is agreed upon as best)
2) Toslink is generally considered the least high quality of the digital interfaces
3) you may not notice/care about any potential shortcoming in Toslink (as compared to S/PDIF or Firewire or USB) anyway, i.e., your mileage may vary.
enjoy the music,
Mac has 24/96 output on both optical and USB. The SQ depends on the USB converter and the Toslink cable. The best USB converters will beat the Toslink with any cable. Toslink is best to be avoided because of the added jitter.
Hi mpmct - Wow, you really have it in for me on this one :-) No worries, I can be more specific. Whether or not more specificity will satisfy you I don't know, but there's only one way to find out.
Let's start with my quote that you're referring to:
"...TosLink has its issues as do all interfaces. Technical measurements of TosLink interfaces usually show that its one of the worst interfaces available. What this equates to in terms of sound quality is up to each individual..."
Here is your response with my follow-up comments included:
"Chris ... Toslink is 'bad' because of 'technical measurements'?
As I said, TosLink is one of the worst interfaces available in terms of technical measurements. Your characterization as "bad" assumes too much in my opinion. If measuring worse than the others means it's "bad" in your opinion that's OK with me although I'm not willing to take it as far as you. For example, Wilson Audio manufacturers several different speakers. Not all of them have the same measurements. There must be a best and worst speaker in the Wilson Audio line. However, I would never say the worst measuring Wilson speaker is a "bad" speaker.
"What exactly are 'technical measurements'?"
Technical measurements in my opinion equate to quantitative measurements (objective) as opposed to qualitative measurements (subjective). In your statement the use of the word "bad" is a qualitative, subjective description of a quantitative, objective measurement. "Worst" is not subjective when one considers measurements. Here is a link to an interesting Stereophile article where jitter is measured over coaxial and optical interfaces. The two interfaces clearly measure differently. http://stereophile.com/reference/193jitter/index4.html
Can I *hear* these 'technical measurements'?
Honestly, this is a personal question that only you can answer. If I substitute the word "differences" for the word "measurements" in your above question I can answer this one based on my experience. I can hear "differences" between interfaces and frequently test myself during review periods so I can offer the best review possible. Hearing "measurements" is kind of like smelling "sounds." That's why I substituted the word "differences."
For that matter, what would 'non-technical measurements' be?
Qualitative, subjective measurements. A quick Google search will help.
And ... "Up to each individual"?
So in other words, it's a toss-up, and caveat emptor?
In my words, people need to listen to an interface. If they like it, perfect. I'm not really following your question. It appears that you're seeking a black & white answer to high-end audio that would lead everyone to the exact same system. One interface, one pair of speakers etc...
I'm not clear on your use of the word superceded [sic] in the above sentence. I can say that whether measurements or individual preferences are more important is up to each individual. If measurements are more important to you them you should select the components with the best specs and measurements. For me measurements are important, but take a back seat to sound quality.
If that's the case, how would it be fairly described as 'one of worst interfaces available', if I like it?
If I were to measure and rank digital interfaces based on the numbers TosLink / optical would be one of the worst. As I said in my original statement, "Technical measurements of TosLink interfaces usually show that its one of the worst interfaces available." If you like the interface that has nothing to do with the objective measurements and the numerical ranking of the interface compared to the others.
I fail to understand how your argument is not illogical or circular.
I tried to be as specific as I could in this second post. I hope you can at least see where I'm coming from now.
Thanks for the response Clay. I thought my comments were pretty forward and I did not mean to convolute anything here.
Some people on this site use an Esoteric clock. How does the Esoteric "crystal model," G03X, compare to the Antelope clock, which is used by other folks? The atomic clock might indeed be nice, but it is way out of my price range.
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