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Archimago

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  1. I trust that over the years, my criticisms of Amir sets me apart from one of the "disciples" though there are things we will agree on :-). Having said this, I think in an open forum it is useful to remind folks that more "objective"-leaning audiophiles would have no issue with what he said. And there should be little need for confusion. Provided one has a well-engineered DAC (which I will also add my Oppo UDP-205 and RME ADI-2 Pro FS as other examples), different digital sources that are bit-perfect will not affect sound quality whether it's interfaced through USB or ethernet. S/PDIF might be more prone to temporal drift and jitter, but again, a well-engineered DAC these days should perform excellently. That idea is consistent with the design of these devices. It's consistent with measured output. And as a guy that Mark Waldrep contacted recently because I apparently scored 5/5 "correct" for tracks submitted into his "HD-Audio Challenge II" (lucky night and I couldn't tolerate intently A/B listening for >5 tracks ๐Ÿ˜‰), I think my listening is still pretty decent as I approach 50... To be honest, I can't hear a difference between different bit-perfect streamers connected to my various DACS over the years including the Oppo UDP-205, RME ADI-2 Pro FS and TEAC UD-501 or even the much cheaper asynchronous Chi-Fi USB devices like some Topping or SMSL DACs. Good article @bluesman and indeed it's fun playing with Raspberry Pi's and various SBCs. Each one may have features/characteristics that would be good to have - Pi 4 has speed, true gigabit ethernet, but a Pi 3B+ might be all you need for a simple low-power 24/7 PCM streamer for example. Personally I would not hang everything on the expectation of "better sound" especially when thinking of potentially spending a lot of money on things like linear power supplies and "tweak" devices. Remember, it is always possible that there is simply "no difference" which I think many Objective-Fi audiophiles would be very comfortable with until demonstrated to be otherwise. I would still put most of my money on speakers, room treatment / correction, DAC, (pre)amp before otherwise bit-perfect streaming devices...
  2. Only if the filtering effect is extreme like what they did with the PonoPlayer resulting in significant frequency domain effects and aliasing. Otherwise there is no difference except for some relatively minor group delay. Remember, even extreme minimum vs. linear filtering was poorly heard in a blind test years ago. That's the data and it jives well with my own listening and those I know who have tried it with a more controlled procedure. What's your take?
  3. Just a couple of comments about this: 1. Don't worry about the "ringing" of DACs. Impulse response ringing is a result of the "illegal" signal fed into the DAC as discussed here. You're not going to "hear" any ringing (even if Meridian all those years ago thought minimum phase upsampling filters were a good idea for their DACs :-). 2. Jitter is highly unlikely to be audible unless very high as demonstrated here. Things like the J-Test is great to see the level of temporal resolution the device is capable of, an indication of engineering quality way more useful that hand-waving claims of "improved jitter" by cables, filters, reclockers, and ethernet switches... 3. We all have different levels of auditory acuity and preferences. Some might be completely happy with 12-bit resolution, others can recognize that they want their noise floor lower at 14-bits, and others feel they're not satisfied until the DAC can achieve 18-bits for satisfaction. Depending on that preference, even relatively low-resolution DACs could sound just great; some of us might even prefer a little noise, a little distortion that NOS DACs, and R2R's add (also those who prefer vinyl playback perhaps). Given the huge number of variables in play, this is why as per my blog post discussed above, we have to be mindful of what we're "looking at" so that each of us can decide "what's best"... PRODUCTION issues suggest we should look for the "best" mastering for our favourite albums... REPRODUCTION issues suggest we need a better DAC/amp/speakers - for example, if we hear a level of noise inherent in the device when playing back our quietest albums - this can be measured and compared between devices. This is where objective measurements really help. PERCEPTION issues relate to us as biological beings with perceptual thresholds. At this time of the year, I have mild allergies and I know that my hearing perception is skewed a little to the left so I know I should not be critically listening for channel balance on bad days. So too if we know we're getting older and have high frequency loss, or know that one ear is "weaker" than the other... Or it's time to get some earwax flushed :-). People always want to have a "simple" answer like "THD+N must be better than -100dB" or "jitter must be <50 picoseconds" and stuff like that. That's obviously not helpful and will not resolve the "debates" because it's only addressing a small part of the big picture... This is why I write blog posts like this because we must IMO be more sophisticated in discussions than being too focused on the partisan "subjective"/"objective" divide.
  4. Hmmmm... As someone who has observed the discussions over the years among those who base decisions almost exclusively on hearing, isn't it true that "everything matters"? You're talking to a "more objective" guy so you can imagine what I might say... However, since this series of posts is in the domain of subjectivism, I don't think we can be too reductionistic and focus only on the USB port. Yes. Those are givens. Well, I assume the belief here is that the Extreme's heavy and thick case reduces external RF interference from getting in. Maybe the way the unit as designed has reduced RF/EMI emission that could affect the DAC. Maybe the optical network itself influences the sound regardless of bit-perfection due to noise. Maybe it's the tweaked OS that changes some of the above. Perhaps the power infrastructure has something to do with this. Perhaps having 2 CPUs and process affinity will affect some of the above and again overall noise. These are some of the attribution theories typically put forth, right? Yeah, I agree with this. Certainly worth listening to the DAVE's S/PDIF (coax, TosLink, XLR) if there's a way although limitations like very high samplerate would be unavailable beyond 96kHz for the XLR and TosLink based on the DAVE specs. Also no DSD. Sounds good. Ultimately, like I said, I appreciate the hard work being done here and can enjoy the content. I hope @ray-dude has fun with this "extreme" project and can say at the end of the adventure that he has accomplished what he set out to do with full satisfaction.
  5. Good writing on this series @ray-dude with great pictures. Hope you enjoy the music and have lots of fun with all the processing you can do with it! In time you should really give DSP room correction a try if not already. You've got plenty of power under the hood and I can imagine you'll have fun playing with filter designs and such :-). Furthermore, over the next few years, I'll be transitioning my multi-TB server machine to full SSD like what you've done here - I'm sure you're enjoying the speed very much and well ahead of the curve for most of us with large libraries! To be honest, I would not be too direct and say "there is no possible difference"; certainly there are always "possible" differences we can test and reject if not substantiated. At times, I have certainly run into differences in some of what I have tested and I am generally open to hear of issues and test out myself if I can. It's just that I suspect most issues are idiosyncratic and related to specific devices or software. This is why I ask for "concrete examples" where people can specify the equipment and the issue itself. I think this is more useful than blanket statements like suggesting there is some significant flaw in the (USB) interface generally...
  6. Woops... Thanks for the clarification. Read the name too quickly. Lots of "b" in the name :-). Surely I hope nobody here is "spending money they don't have" whether on $26k computers or $100k speakers! We can still spend money on machines and upgrades for one reason or another. Who said it had to be about USB issues?! Right, which is where I started... My question is why does anyone think there is an issue with the USB interface (in regard to fidelity) in 2020 that ostensibly needs to be fixed in engineering? A concrete example that can be reproduced so that an explanation can be found and "fixed" would surely help.
  7. Let's not detract from this series of interesting "extreme" posts on a rather unique piece of hardware by asking if I think anyone is "wasting" money. That can ultimately only be determined by the buyer. My wife thinks I "waste" money all the time :-). Dual Xeon computers are cool as is and I'm glad that @ray-dude is having fun with his system and writing about it. Arguments can be had another place, another time. Through the years, that idea of USB being "bad for audio" has been repeated countless times. How do we know it's true in 2020? Sure, back in the day when USB first came out it wasn't all that great. I ran into compatibility issues with USB 2.0 in 2000 and my first USB 3 card I bought in Japan back in 2009 was very finicky and could barely maintain anything close to advertised speed. I honestly don't see an issue now with USB after all these years. Except for very cheap DACs, certainly by 2013, reputable USB devices have been reliable and the interface has provided designers/developers with the ability to extend hi-res bitrates, DSD, both ADC/DAC function through a single cable. I was mainly responding to your post suggesting that "Audio is not big enough to get teams of highly paid engineers working on on an interface just for high quality audio data transfer". Not sure what engineering interface issue you're referring to here... If there is an engineering issue, then what concrete concerns do you think engineers should fix?
  8. I'm really quite unclear of what everyone's worried about with USB these days... A high speed asynchronous, packet-based transmission protocol like ethernet or USB is great. Both are mature, can be implemented without great fuss or expense, and "universal" as in highly compatible. What would you prefer? Perhaps one concrete example of concerns that can be repeated and confirmed to be a problem might be helpful here to cut through the vague speculations?
  9. Hi guys & gals, Just a little bump for this topic... Closing off the test at end of month. 2 weeks left to send in your results!
  10. Hi Richard, thanks for the link. Certainly room treatments like diffusers and absorbers make a huge amount of sense and audible difference. Unfortunately, they're not "sexy" devices and have little visual appeal for the most part ๐Ÿ™‚. Even though they make so much more difference than say... cables ๐Ÿคจ. Furthermore, it might be hard to generalize the "sound" since it very much will depend on the room characteristics. Alas, I'm one of those guys who has a few shelves of LPs behind the listening spot to act as "diffusers" so can't say I have any experience with this but would also be curious about other's experiences...
  11. How are you hooking the NUC up to the hi-fi system? Through the Halide Bridge as well? Are you sure the NUC Ubuntu is playing direct? Are you running it through PulseAudio where resampling might be performed?
  12. Easy to say... But unless you have some suggestions as to how one verifies this belief/claim/idea/suspicion/article of faith, there is no path forward in these discussions. I've tried. I hear no difference. I measure no difference (eg. between lossless file formats). Jitter these days is very well controlled without the use of any doohickeys and IMO inaudible. Noise is absent (significantly below -100dBFS) from inexpensive modern DACs and CD players. If anything, it's the amplifier and speakers creating more distortion and limiting noise floor; not to mention the ambient noise in one's listening room. Even if retrieval & reproduction is a little different each time, the variance is way below audibility with repeated measurements. Essentially bits are bits given the accuracy of modern digital systems. Where is your evidence/rationale to show otherwise beyond an idiosyncratic belief system unsupported even by controlled listening, so as to have a reasonable/meaningful discussion going forward??? This is of course not just a challenge to you Frank, but basically a broad question to all those who insist that there is still some significant issue that can be affected by cables/regenerators/filters/etc.
  13. BTW, some discussion on COVID on the blog (not audio related). Have been in discussions yesterday for hospital contingency plans and stuff locally. http://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/03/covid-19-few-thoughts-finding.html I think we'll survive folks... Just be careful of the elderly and those with comorbid illnesses. Much more concerned about the economy than COVID at this point in terms of the big picture even though there will obviously be difficulties in the next few weeks. We might need a thread on "Recession/Depression Listening" in the next few months depending on how things go.
  14. I came across the Telos box last year when in Singapore. Didn't think much of it then and the sales guy had no explanations either other than to pull out some company material and say "let's listen to it". Couldn't hear anything special and too much hassle for an A/B comparison. Clearly, until demonstrated otherwise, anything in the audio world with the word "quantum" in it should be treated with suspicion.
  15. Oops... Fixed link in quote above...
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