Laptop Music

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  • 10-13-2009, 12:54 PM
    harley .guy07
    Laptop Music
    I just got a new laptop a couple of weeks ago and I was wondering what Dac's do you guy's think are the best for a music server based off of my laptop. What programs do you use to burn your music into your pc. I know windows media came with my machine and burns at what seems like a max 192 kbps and I have heard people talking about higher bit rates. does windows media have higher capabilities or do I have to get another music ripping software for a better result. I just thought it would be another source that could be of good quality if done right. Any suggestions would be great since I am pretty new to the pc music server thing.
  • 10-13-2009, 03:05 PM
    harley .guy07
    Ok after playing with media player a little bit I figured out how to switch it to form the 192 to the higher and lossless formats. But any other help would be appreciated
  • 10-13-2009, 03:15 PM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    Ok after playing with media player a little bit I figured out how to switch it to form the 192 to the higher and lossless formats. But any other help would be appreciated

    IMO, the best ripping software is dBpoweramp. Also, it's definitely the best format conversion software. There is a free version, but the $36 'Reference' versions is worth the difference.
  • 10-13-2009, 03:38 PM
    poppachubby
    A great DAC to get started with would be a Firestone Audio Fubar II or a Firestone Audio Spitfire. I own the Spitfire which has coax and optical inputs. However, in your case you want a USB so the Fubar would be perfect. I have owned the first edition of the Fubar and it's a great, fun little machine. USB input, RCA ouput.

    Here's a great review on both from 6moons:

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/a...2/candy_3.html

    They sell on Ebay but have a look here as well:

    http://www.audiophileproducts.com/

    The best feature with any version of the Fubar, and there are now 3, is they are plug and play. No software at all!!

    There are tons of USB DACs out there harley. Also check out these guys. HotAudio are Canadian, handmade USB DACs. There are about 5 or 6 different models, each with different features. These guys sell on Ebay mostly, check em out too if Firestone is not to your liking or outside of your budget. These are fun little machines too, entry level but don't doubt their ability.

    HotAudio on Ebay:

    http://stores.shop.ebay.ca/Personal-Audio__W0QQ_armrsZ1

    Happy Hunting Harley!! Hope this helps...
  • 10-13-2009, 03:43 PM
    harley .guy07
    Cool thanks for the info. Right now I am playing around with WMP and just using it for the time being. Is a USB DAC the way to go when I want to hook my laptop to my home setup. I want better than CD quality sound and I know the WMP has the lossless format and I would like to take advantage of it. I know I could rip it to disk but it would seem I could possibly get better results taking that part out of the mix and running a dac off of a usb port on my laptop. Is this correct or am I getting this wrong. I am totally knew to PC audio but I have read up on the audio formats a little bit and do know that you can definatally beat CD with a computer
  • 10-13-2009, 03:58 PM
    harley .guy07
    I found a site the other day for music streamer dacs. how are they? They are reasonably priced and readily available. I keep looking at CD players but I just upgraded and got a nice new laptop and with all of this music server stuff floating around I just thought maybe instead of buying a new cd player I could buy a usb dac and a tarabyte external hard drive and could possibly beat the hell out of any CD player that I could ever afford. The only thing though is that I would have to start buying my music on line instead of on CD to really get the full effect. I know I could burn my CD's into the computer and not loose anything on lossless format and with the dac I would most likely be better off don't you think?
  • 10-13-2009, 04:14 PM
    harley .guy07
    I guess another question is if USB is the way to go. I have read that I will only be able to get CD resolution out of it if I use USB or am I wrong. Also I read that the demands on the computer itself using USB for audio output make using it worse than other types of outputs.
  • 10-13-2009, 05:28 PM
    02audionoob
    What kind of a budget do you have in mind for your DAC?
  • 10-13-2009, 05:32 PM
    harley .guy07
    Well the one that I have been looking at is the music streamer plus. It seems to rate well off of what I've read and I believe its around $299. Is USB the way to go for the best sound compared to normal CD playback. I started to look at new CD players but then I kept hearing people talk about getting better sound from the newer lossless rates on their computers and it made me think that I would be better off spending my money on a pc music setup off of my laptop than a cd player if it really is that much better.

    Of course I would add a dedicated hard drive so I would not fill up my laptops hd but you can find 1 Tb hard drives for 100 bucks all day long.
  • 10-13-2009, 05:41 PM
    02audionoob
    Have you considered a Squeezebox? As for USB not being the best option...what other options do you have?
  • 10-13-2009, 05:43 PM
    harley .guy07
    Without adding a card to my computer I guess I don't. I was just wondering about the limits of USB hookup if there is any. I wouldn't mind a unit with both optical and USB hookup so my mulidisk player could benifit from a seperate DAC as well.
  • 10-13-2009, 05:58 PM
    poppachubby
    Your only option will be USB, for now anyways. If you look at the 6moons review I sent you, you will see in there a link that he has created. It's an analytical look at USB vs other output options. It very much favours USB and gives all the reasons why. I personally prefer optical which my soundcard has as an option.

    With the lossless format, a good DAC, using any output really , will deliver the goods of your files. Of course, it will also process your CD audio as well. Check out the portable section, there's a great thread that's been revived concerning a great laptop set up. His would be on the high end. The link I sent you to 6moons deals with a laptop configuration also, which is why I sent it to you.

    You can send the DAC's output to your stereo or to any RCA inputs you like. That's the beauty of a laptop with a DAC. You're going to have alot of fun once your set up harley. Just keep reading and direct your questions here. You'll have your head around it in no time.

    As for budget and how much to spend. Start "small" and see what you think. They hold their re-sale quite well on places like Ebay.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:05 PM
    02audionoob
    I use a Logitech Wireless DJ as a DAC...wireless, of course. It sounds great and it's cheap. I have it connected to my Marantz receiver just across the room from the computer. It came with a remote that displays my music collection on the computer and plays it on the audio system.

    Moving up the scale, there are nice DACs by Beresford, Grant Fidelity ($300), Music Hall ($600), PS Audio ($700), and Benchmark DAC1 USB ($1,300) that have USB inputs.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:08 PM
    harley .guy07
    I just don't want to go out and buy a high dollar CD player then find out that I could of spent less with a multi dac(usb,and optical for my disc player) and walk all over the new cd player I just spent a lot on. Plus I don't have to change disks all the time. My main thing here is beating the sound quality of a cd player and have better storage for my music

    I went back and read further into the USB hookup for audio and it sounds like the better way to go for me I just have to keep from mulitasking my comuter when I am playing music and use my best USB port for audio output only. Cool, great info Poppa and I kneel to the poppa in humbleness to your info on this subject to which I am very new too. thanks
  • 10-13-2009, 06:12 PM
    02audionoob
    Beating the quality of a CD player with a computer is going to depend on which CD player and which DAC...and good music files.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:21 PM
    harley .guy07
    My whole intention is to use only high res audio formats and get the best software for this. Want to stay away form MP3's as much as posible or anything thats compressed. Thats my plan anyway. The way I figure it if I play my cards right I might be able to match or better some of the higher end cd players with the proper dac and high res files only.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:37 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    I just don't want to go out and buy a high dollar CD player then find out that I could of spent less with a multi dac(usb,and optical for my disc player) and walk all over the new cd player I just spent a lot on. Plus I don't have to change disks all the time. My main thing here is beating the sound quality of a cd player and have better storage for my music

    I went back and read further into the USB hookup for audio and it sounds like the better way to go for me I just have to keep from mulitasking my comuter when I am playing music and use my best USB port for audio output only. Cool, great info Poppa and I kneel to the poppa in humbleness to your info on this subject to which I am very new too. thanks


    Now now harley, rise, to your feet my good man. If I had the cash, I would run out and buy a Benchmark, no question. I absolutely love my DAC and all that it gives me. I have a great soundcard with great outputs, which makes the experience even better.

    The CD I was referring to in my last post was that of your ROM. noob is right, forget about pitting your comp against a cd. The DAC has nothing to do with that. Infact, with a good multi input DAC, your CDP and comp will be like ebony and ivory...what's that again? oh ya...livin in perfect harmony. Generally speaking your high end CDP will crush your comp unless you have a high end DAC. However, even the entry level DAC will output some nicely balanced, great sounding music. I say, just get one and start listening...320 kps mp3's will be fine for just starting out, but with enough listening and better DAC/soundcard, etc you will gravitate to lossless. So go lossless if you have the space and energy to do so.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:37 PM
    recoveryone
    After reading these post I am wondering why the need for better than CD quality? and what type of music are you listening to? The reason I ask is the limit of the playback will always depend on the source. If CD's are being ripped than you are not going to get a better level of playback (your lossless is the CD). And if your d/l from various sites then your quality will vary greatly. And no matter what type of DAC's used will improve the quality past CD.

    I use a Squeeze box setup (wirelessly) with my computer is in the garage with a external 320 gig HD storing the music. I don't use it for critical listening, but I do have some very highly ripped songs (320 bitrate). I have played the CD of the same songs and could not tell which was which. For what you are looking for (I'm guessing) you may what to look for a old computer system and add a external HD to it. This way you will have your music at your disposal any time without hooking up your laptop each time.
  • 10-13-2009, 06:50 PM
    harley .guy07
    I know that when I rip cds I will be limited to the cd's origional sound quality. But I have seen some web sites offering high bit lossless downloads that are said to deliver better than cd sound quality. I know that most cd's are compressed and loose a lot of music information with it. I know a lot of people go to using pc's for music for the easy click and play music playback but I would like to get the most of this kind of setup and I am into the best sound quality possible within my budget. I know that there is nothing seriously bad with cd playback, mostly jitter and loss of warmth in compared to analog but I do listen to cd now on a good player and I just want to make sure that if I take the time and money to make a pc a music source I will not be disapointed in comparison to a CDP
  • 10-13-2009, 06:57 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    I know that when I rip cds I will be limited to the cd's origional sound quality. But I have seen some web sites offering high bit lossless downloads that are said to deliver better than cd sound quality. I know that most cd's are compressed and loose a lot of music information with it. I know a lot of people go to using pc's for music for the easy click and play music playback but I would like to get the most of this kind of setup and I am into the best sound quality possible within my budget. I know that there is nothing seriously bad with cd playback, mostly jitter and loss of warmth in compared to analog but I do listen to cd now on a good player and I just want to make sure that if I take the time and money to make a pc a music source I will not be disapointed in comparison to a CDP

    you won't be dissaapointed harley, quite the opposite, you'll be excited about having a new source at your disposal. My quip about lossless mostly concerns my portable, when I am listening critically to the music. For casual, at home listening I rarely play CDs. My comp is loaded with fantastic albums. My soundcard has a remote control which allows me to access by genre, artist, etc. Or, I can shuffle a bunch of albums or shuffle the entire collection!! Also, I listen to CBC radio streamed from the internet which sounds amazing through the DAC. I watch the odd movie as well on my comp, DAC has great sound fopr that as well. Your laptop with a good set of cans from the DAC you'll be set.

    Again, just make the jump into the low end of the DAC pool and if you enjoy it, upgrade.
  • 10-13-2009, 07:09 PM
    harley .guy07
    It sounds like your sound card makes almost as big of a difference as your dac. Do they make laptop soundcards with the outputs like yours have or is it better just to buy a cheaper desktop that has the cabinet for a soundcard and just have a music server computer. I know I will probably start with my laptop but just wondering how much difference optical out of a good soundcard is to usb out of a laptop.
  • 10-13-2009, 07:29 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    It sounds like your sound card makes almost as big of a difference as your dac. Do they make laptop soundcards with the outputs like yours have or is it better just to buy a cheaper desktop that has the cabinet for a soundcard and just have a music server computer. I know I will probably start with my laptop but just wondering how much difference optical out of a good soundcard is to usb out of a laptop.


    Good question. I know nothing about laptops but my impression is that no, there isn't an available soundcard for it. However, there are guys on here that would know about that, I am not one of them.

    Absolutely, the soundcard has everything to do with it. It processes in 24 bit and outputs in 16. I personally prefer optical to coax or USB. That link inside the review is quite the argument for USB as the ultimate delivery. There are alot of benefits to the laptop set up but if you're not going to be benefitiing from them, may as well go desktop.

    My soundcard is only an entry level pro card. The X-Fi by Creative kills mine. There are a few guys on here that have it and rave about it. The best feature of mine is the front drive w/ wireless remote. It has RCA and optical inputs. Also a mic input and headphone output, both with adjustable gains. I can't see why I would ever need to upgrade. I originally got it as an alternative to a USB TT, for converting some rare vinyl. Now, this is the thing I use it for the least. I occasionaly hook in my Pioneer PL 516 through my Bellari pre for converting. I find once I do, it stays there for a few days and I listen this way as well. Of course, the DAC plays a big role in this set up.

    I was actually considering a set up that would center around my comp. TT and CDP into the soundcard. Top shelf 2.1 from the soundcard. The card by the way, has jacks for 5.1. Each speaker has a jack! I decided after some sound advice from some mates, this would not be the best way to go.

    Enough blathering....
  • 10-13-2009, 07:38 PM
    harley .guy07
    yeah I did some more research on another site that tested USB dacs and they said that USB was the way to go to. What they actually mentioned was the fact that usb was plug and play and did not loose any quaity over optical or coax. I would like to hear the differences for myself but if these guys said there was no difference and they were using a pretty high end system as reference then I guess thats kudos for me since a laptop is what I have now and its got USB ports all over the damn thing and no optical or coax at all. I guess when I decide to do it then I can compare then and see if my laptop can beat my CDP. These guys also rated 4 different DACs and the music streamer plus was the winner. It sells for $299 and that sounds like maybe a good place to start.
  • 10-13-2009, 07:51 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by harley .guy07
    yeah I did some more research on another site that tested USB dacs and they said that USB was the way to go to. What they actually mentioned was the fact that usb was plug and play and did not loose any quaity over optical or coax. I would like to hear the differences for myself but if these guys said there was no difference and they were using a pretty high end system as reference then I guess thats kudos for me since a laptop is what I have now and its got USB ports all over the damn thing and no optical or coax at all. I guess when I decide to do it then I can compare then and see if my laptop can beat my CDP. These guys also rated 4 different DACs and the music streamer plus was the winner. It sells for $299 and that sounds like maybe a good place to start.


    Dive in buddy, water's warm. You'll not regret it man. Keep me posted.
  • 10-15-2009, 01:33 AM
    audio amateur
    I own a Fubar II DAC and have been happy with it so far. I also use WMP, usually play lossless WAV files, ripped from CD by WMP.

    Feanor here uses a program called Foobar2000 to play his files, and claims it's better than most programs as it by passes some of the Operating Systems 'circuitry'. I've tried it but haven't successfully gotten around to understand it like WMP but then I haven't taken the time.
  • 10-15-2009, 02:36 AM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I own a Fubar II DAC and have been happy with it so far. I also use WMP, usually play lossless WAV files, ripped from CD by WMP.

    Feanor here uses a program called Foobar2000 to play his files, and claims it's better than most programs as it by passes some of the Operating Systems 'circuitry'. I've tried it but haven't successfully gotten around to understand it like WMP but then I haven't taken the time.


    I had the Fubar I, first version. Great little device. Don't you find it lacks power though? Signal strength is low. Aside from that it processes really well and is really musical. I could listen with the Fubar and never fatigue. I also found that I didn't really have to do too much with windows other than turn off any sounds so my music wouldn't get interrupted.
  • 10-17-2009, 02:06 PM
    audio amateur
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by poppachubby
    I had the Fubar I, first version. Great little device. Don't you find it lacks power though? Signal strength is low. Aside from that it processes really well and is really musical. I could listen with the Fubar and never fatigue. I also found that I didn't really have to do too much with windows other than turn off any sounds so my music wouldn't get interrupted.

    As far as signal strength goes, I can't say it's weak. I simply adjust the output volume (gain) on the computer and keep the volume on my integrated amplifier constant, usually at 12 o'clock on the volume pot.
    What's bizarre is that the gain on the computer seems to go up exponentially. At mid-point, the output is quite low, but as you go up from there, it increases exponentially quickly.Lucky there's the gain on the actual program which you can use (Windows media player in my case), so it's not too difficult to fine tune.

    Ultimately, it'd be better mated to a power amp as the extra gain adjustment is unnecessary. But that would require checking output and input impedance of the DAC and power amp for compatibility between the two.
  • 10-17-2009, 03:50 PM
    harley .guy07
    Yeah I like WMP or at least the newer versions of it. The version I have has wmp(lossless) and wav files. Which ones are better. the WMP(lossless) files seem to take up more file space but I don't have a dac yet so I can't test for myself. Just want your esperience with both to see which to use to rip to my pc.
  • 10-17-2009, 04:28 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    As far as signal strength goes, I can't say it's weak. I simply adjust the output volume (gain) on the computer and keep the volume on my integrated amplifier constant, usually at 12 o'clock on the volume pot.
    What's bizarre is that the gain on the computer seems to go up exponentially. At mid-point, the output is quite low, but as you go up from there, it increases exponentially quickly.Lucky there's the gain on the actual program which you can use (Windows media player in my case), so it's not too difficult to fine tune.

    Ultimately, it'd be better mated to a power amp as the extra gain adjustment is unnecessary. But that would require checking output and input impedance of the DAC and power amp for compatibility between the two.

    BTW AA, do you use the stock wall wart? Try buying a proper 24V adaptor for it. I did and was rewarded big time...You say you have your master volume at 12 o'clock?!? That sounds like a weak signal to me. On my integrated, if I put my volume to 12 with my Spitfire, it would be louder than all hell. Anyhow, not trying to tell you how your set up is, if you're happy with it, great. Like I said, I loved it but it just didn't cut it strength wise.
  • 10-18-2009, 03:54 AM
    audio amateur
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by poppachubby
    BTW AA, do you use the stock wall wart? Try buying a proper 24V adaptor for it. I did and was rewarded big time...You say you have your master volume at 12 o'clock?!? That sounds like a weak signal to me. On my integrated, if I put my volume to 12 with my Spitfire, it would be louder than all hell. Anyhow, not trying to tell you how your set up is, if you're happy with it, great. Like I said, I loved it but it just didn't cut it strength wise.

    If by wall wart you mean power supply, then yes, I do. You reckon I should swap it for something better? What should I be looking at? Speaking of which, earlier this year, I accidentally plugged it into my 12V Trends TA-10.1 integrate after wich the amp was toast... NOT good!

    Back to signal strength. You misunderstood what I said. I adjust the volume on the the computer, and as such, the computer (with the DAC) serve as the pre amp if you like. I only set it to 12'oclock on the amp because I can adjust the volume on the computer (so that I can have a decent 'range'). The volume on the amp stays at 12 o'clock, because i never need it higher than that. When I max the gain on the computer (and have the volume on the amp at 12o'clock, it's loud as all get out.
    I've tried to make it clear so I hope you understand
  • 10-18-2009, 04:32 AM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    If by wall wart you mean power supply, then yes, I do. You reckon I should swap it for something better? What should I be looking at? Speaking of which, earlier this year, I accidentally plugged it into my 12V Trends TA-10.1 integrate after wich the amp was toast... NOT good!

    Back to signal strength. You misunderstood what I said. I adjust the volume on the the computer, and as such, the computer (with the DAC) serve as the pre amp if you like. I only set it to 12'oclock on the amp because I can adjust the volume on the computer (so that I can have a decent 'range'). The volume on the amp stays at 12 o'clock, because i never need it higher than that. When I max the gain on the computer (and have the volume on the amp at 12o'clock, it's loud as all get out.
    I've tried to make it clear so I hope you understand


    Gotcha! Sorry AA, been finding lately that understanding can be tough on these forums. Visit your local surplus/electronics store and start with a standard adaptor. IMO, Firestone dropped the ball on the power supplies for Fubar and Spitfire. Feel your Fubar's supply, a little flimsy no? Anything will be an improvement however a really good 24V should be audible.
  • 10-18-2009, 06:15 AM
    audio amateur
    You're right a typed conversation isn't the same.
    The PS is definitely flimsy but I'm a little sceptical about these types of upgrades. What would make a big difference is speaker placement but my current room is horrible (hard walls terrible echo etc) and no room for the speakers to go on stands so they're on my desk. Hopefully I'll be graduating by the end of the school year so I'll be able to settle down:)
    Thanks for the advice though, I may check it out sometime.
  • 10-18-2009, 06:40 AM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    You're right a typed conversation isn't the same.
    The PS is definitely flimsy but I'm a little sceptical about these types of upgrades. What would make a big difference is speaker placement but my current room is horrible (hard walls terrible echo etc) and no room for the speakers to go on stands so they're on my desk. Hopefully I'll be graduating by the end of the school year so I'll be able to settle down:)
    Thanks for the advice though, I may check it out sometime.


    Student huh? Well if money is an issue maybe this link can provide some DIY inspiration at the least....

    Great stuff here, grab a coffee, your fave headphones and read!!

    http://www.ecoustics.com/Home/Access...ment_Articles/
  • 10-18-2009, 07:37 AM
    audio amateur
    That's a lot of info! Tanx.
    I'll probably look into sorting acousticss when I'm settled in the future;)
    PS: Is that London England you live or London elsewhere?
  • 10-18-2009, 08:27 AM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    That's a lot of info! Tanx.
    I'll probably look into sorting acousticss when I'm settled in the future;)
    PS: Is that London England you live or London elsewhere?

    London, Ontario, Canada. We even have the river Thames. That link isn't just for an established residence or permanent home. There's alot of easy concepts in some of those articles that you could apply to your dwelling AA. Speaker placement being one of them. Also easy ways to rid a room of echo. Also, the adaptor "upgrade" is cheap and easy in terms of value. You should put much stock in it, can make a huge difference, depends on the device. Cheers...
  • 10-20-2009, 06:36 PM
    jimmy page
    I just bought an amp, I'm not sure if anyone has heard of Neuhuas Labs T-2. It has a built in USB and Toslink input with two DAC's. I plug my Mac and PC into and it sounds great, iTunes or Songbird.
  • 10-20-2009, 07:00 PM
    poppachubby
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jimmy page
    I just bought an amp, I'm not sure if anyone has heard of Neuhuas Labs T-2. It has a built in USB and Toslink input with two DAC's. I plug my Mac and PC into and it sounds great, iTunes or Songbird.

    Sounds great Jimmy and welcome to AR! I would love to have an integrated unit. I know that the Macs also come with built in dacs now. Not sure which models, perhaps just the more high end.
  • 10-29-2009, 07:04 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    What's bizarre is that the gain on the computer seems to go up exponentially. At mid-point, the output is quite low, but as you go up from there, it increases exponentially quickly.

    That's referred to as a log taper (as in logarithmic) as opposed to a linear taper. And yes, it does work as you say.

    Here's everything you always wanted to know about pots. Not the singular case. :)

    rw
  • 10-30-2009, 05:28 AM
    audio amateur
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat

    Here's everything you always wanted to know about pots. Not the singular case. :)

    rw

    I can't say I'll be reading it all, however, merci beaucoup!
    I need to give a clarification though: this is no volume pot. It's the windows output volume control you have usually next to the time on the bottom right part of the screen (Windows XP in my case). It's adjusted electronically:)
  • 10-30-2009, 05:39 AM
    poppachubby
    Cool link E-Stat. I am having problems with my Citizen JSA-8's balance pot right now. It's in the loving hands of a great tech, but it looks like he's going to have to trace it back into the board. Stage is a little wonky and horribly innaccurate. Good enough for casual, background type listening but since I am the type to sit and just listen, no good.

    I do love that amp and hope he can fix it up. Did you see the thread for it E-Stat? It's in the vintage section somewhere. No one has ever seen this thing, it looks like re-badged Kenwood or maybe Pioneer. It has a great phono stage, very powerful. Overall it's probably in the A/B category although I am not sure, there's almost no info available.

    Maybe you would have some info?