Where to start

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  • 05-24-2016, 09:34 AM
    Where to start
    I'm looking for general info on how to setup a high def digital audio system. I will be using headphones exclusively due to hearing loss (yeh getting old).
    Do I need a digital audio player or is a pono/FiiO enough? Consider high end headphones Sennheiser dh700 (150ohms). I assume I will need a headphone amp however is the source of great importance ie.. pono vs player.
    I also have computer equipment available. I am in IT.
    Which way to go??
  • 05-24-2016, 10:12 AM
    The source is very important. I converted over to digital music over the past year using a computer and a 3 TB external hard drive. The DAC and the digital player make a huge difference. If you are serious about hi def then do some research and buy the best you can afford. If you can go with a computer and an external DAC it will be a better way to go. Consider a Hugo Chord for a DAC and headphone amp. It is well worth the money but it may be out of your price range without knowing your budget. The cord is also portable and has a 12hr battery life but it can be plugged in and used in a 2ch system as well.

    Chord Hugo usb dac headphone amp at Moon Audio

    Here is a quick review, I recommend reading several of the great reviews on this product. I also can function as a audiophile DAC in a high end 2ch system. A friend of mine owns one and it sounds great.

    Chord Hugo review | What Hi-Fi?

    Also consider the type of digital player like JRiver, HQ player, Roon and my personal favorite Bug Head which is not the easiest to use at first but it sounds the best by a wide margin if you have the computer horsepower. It works best with an high end I-5 or an I-7 processor and 8 to 16gb of ram.
  • 05-24-2016, 06:26 PM
    What OS do you suggest? Do I need any particular ports? I believe I will go with a purpose built desktop.
  • 05-24-2016, 06:46 PM
    What is more inportant processor or ram?
  • 05-24-2016, 07:59 PM
    If you can go with a good desk top True Quad Core I-5 (I-5 6600 or 6600K) or an I-7 that runs over 3.0ghz you would be set. I would do at least 8 gigs of ram as you can always add more ram later. The Processor is more important and you want a Quad core as some I-5's and I-7's are not quad cores. I would do Windows 10 and you will need usb ports. You won't really need a high end video card unless you are doing games or watch lots of video. If you are using the computer just for audio, then use the on board graphics as the computer will have less electronic noise. Make sure the mother board has a good usb section and get a good power supply like a Corsair so you don't introduce noise.

    If you are going to build a desk top you may want to look at Cyber Power PC. You can buy custom computers are great prices. I have built a few desk tops from scratch and they came out about the same cost as one built by cyber power. I have bought at least 2 computers from cyber power.


    Just a word about music players. JRiver and Roon probably are some of the best for ease of use but HQ Player and Bug Head sound the best IMHO. Bug Head is a free program and has a learning curve. If you decide to go that route I can help. Both BH and HQP require a good computer. I use a laptop with an I-7 and 16gb of Ram with a 4TB Western Digital Red Desk Top HD in an external HD case with a usb 3.0 cable. And I have my music backed up on a 3TB WD Red. I have almost 3TB of music. I like the WD Reds as they have a 3 year warranty and the Black's are even better with a 5yr warranty but are pricey. Stay away from Seagate, they are unreliable and have a 1-2yr warranty. HGST is owned by WD and make good drives.

    One last thing. You will need a good usb cable to connect your computer to a DAC. We did a usb cable shoot out and there were some dramatic differences and some of the differences were system dependent. If you need recommendations let me know.

    Hope this helps,