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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    I'll put up a kmart special cd player against your Windows MCE

    Anyone using external high-end DACS needs to try this... but beware, it may make you sick! I've tried 2 different cheap DVD players and my sony disc changers digi outs to a MSB DAC Link III to a nice tube amp system, vs. Windows MCE 2005 based PC through direct digi outs and the difference is sadly disappointing! The cheap CD players sound much better. It's a bigger difference than a 320kbps MP3, vs. WAV... by far to me. I burned a test CD from 320kbps MP3 files to CD, then played the CD through a CD player to the DAC and it sounded better than the original CD being ripped to WMA lossless or straight WAV and played through Windows Media Player, Winamp, or Foobar. I even tried using Foobar's and WinAmps ASIO drivers and Kernal Streaming... still, the CD players sound better. I tried playing the CD straight from the computer... still sounded worse. I tried 3 different sound cards: M-audio Audiophile 192, M-Audio Delta 1010, and the built in SoundMax digi outs. Windows molests your audio!! I wish this wasn't so, because I love MCE and the MS remote... I just wish it could sound as good... for now, I guess I'll have to have both. One for convenience and the other for the sound that makes you melt into your couch... I wish MCE was both... =(

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    It's crucial to get the generation of the PCM signal far away from the computer to reduce jitter. The computer's power supply and other components are notorious for causing poor-quality digital sound.

    I use a Squeezebox which is a good twenty feet away from the PC. It gets a network signal from the computer over CAT5 cable, and the PCM signal is generated at the Squeezebox - NOT inside the computer. From there, the signal goes to a DAC via a short 2' glass optical cable.

    Use a good DAC at that point, and you can definitely rival anything a high end CD player can do (probably better in fact, if you are ripping your CDs with good quality error correction software like EAC).
    There's an audiophile born every minute. Congratulations; you're right on time.

    FREE RADICAL RADIO: Hours of free, radical MP3s!

  3. #3
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    I don't use any of my computers for serious listening. Also, there will never be a time when I put my music collection on a hard drive and sell my CD's and LP's. Hard drives are too unreliable to trust my music to.
    ARC SP9 MKIII preamp,VPI HW19jr, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1 head amp, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts
    Marantz CD63SE CD,Yamaha DVD-S1800, MSB DAC
    Accuphase T101 tuner,Nakamichi LX-5, ZX-7 Teac V-7010
    Lexicon MC8 surround processor
    2 Adcom GFA-545,2 radically modified Dynaco MK3's,2 bridged Crown XLS-402, Paradigm X-30, Behringer CX2310, DSP1124P
    2 12" Transmission Line Subs (PASS DIY El-Pipe-O), Acoustat Spectra 22 ESL's (fronts), Acoustat Model 1 ESL's/SPW-1 Woofer (rears)

  4. #4
    Forum Regular
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesauce
    Anyone using external high-end DACS needs to try this... but beware, it may make you sick! I've tried 2 different cheap DVD players and my sony disc changers digi outs to a MSB DAC Link III to a nice tube amp system, vs. Windows MCE 2005 based PC through direct digi outs and the difference is sadly disappointing! The cheap CD players sound much better. It's a bigger difference than a 320kbps MP3, vs. WAV... by far to me. I burned a test CD from 320kbps MP3 files to CD, then played the CD through a CD player to the DAC and it sounded better than the original CD being ripped to WMA lossless or straight WAV and played through Windows Media Player, Winamp, or Foobar. I even tried using Foobar's and WinAmps ASIO drivers and Kernal Streaming... still, the CD players sound better. I tried playing the CD straight from the computer... still sounded worse. I tried 3 different sound cards: M-audio Audiophile 192, M-Audio Delta 1010, and the built in SoundMax digi outs. Windows molests your audio!! I wish this wasn't so, because I love MCE and the MS remote... I just wish it could sound as good... for now, I guess I'll have to have both. One for convenience and the other for the sound that makes you melt into your couch... I wish MCE was both... =(
    1. Use a lossless format like FLAC or lossless AAC. 320kbps is still cutting out some stuff.

    2. Go buy a USB DAC for best results. Scott Nixon makes some good ones.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    I don't use any of my computers for serious listening. Also, there will never be a time when I put my music collection on a hard drive and sell my CD's and LP's. Hard drives are too unreliable to trust my music to.
    I don't rely solely on hard drives either. I back up all my rips on archive-quality DVDs, and store them offsite. Even if my home was destroyed in an earthquake or fire, I'd still have a copy of my music. What would happen to your collection?
    There's an audiophile born every minute. Congratulations; you're right on time.

    FREE RADICAL RADIO: Hours of free, radical MP3s!

  6. #6
    Forum Regular
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    I don't use any of my computers for serious listening. Also, there will never be a time when I put my music collection on a hard drive and sell my CD's and LP's. Hard drives are too unreliable to trust my music to.
    One of us does not have a backup server with a RAID-1 array, I guess. (Had I more than 80 Mp3's, I'd have one set up by now.)

    That, and you would be amazed how many FLAC files will fit on to a dual-layer DVD.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    Yes, Windows does molest the audio. Don't think any of the cards you tried can bypass the Windows Mixer like some cards / outboard devices can. Most cards seem to output compressed audio by default to ease the load on other hardware. Sometimes there are settings to get around this. Careful tweaking of the Windows Mixer and media player levels can help if you're stuck using it. Getting the gain right...
    Last edited by royphil345; 12-02-2006 at 10:13 AM.

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