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  1. #1
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    Need for CD player (revisited)

    I had seen a post somewhere in this forum stating that you don't really need a CD player anymore...you can use your PC as a jukebox of sorts.

    This has occurred to me as I pondered what to do about an old CD player that died a while ago. Shall I replace it with a good (but not top of the line) unit like the Yamaha CDC-585, or should I go the PC route?

    The problem with the latter is that my PC is in my den and my audio rack is in the living room. There's no reason to put the PC in the living room, since I need it in the den where I work, but moving the audio rack and my rather bulky JBLs into the den makes no sense either. The den isn't a good listening venue anyway, compared to the acoustics of the LR.

    So is there some way to wirelessly stream audio from the PC to the audio rack, a distance of about 30 ft.? Thanks for any ideas.

    P.S. Obviously, I'm a 70s sort of guy who isn't up on the latest digital/wireless technology. :-)

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    I am not up on all the computer to audio marriage stuff either. I prefer to keep them separate, so I vote for getting new CD player. You can buy CD players with built in harddrive if you want the jukebox thing. I believe Yamaha makes one as well as a few others.

  3. #3
    test the blind blindly emorphien's Avatar
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    I haven't heard many computer systems that really sound as good as a decent CD player. Some can probably accomplish it, particularly if you're using lossless or uncompressed audio, but I haven't been that impressed with the computer audio on the whole.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Yes, you can leave your computer in the other room and get kickass sound.

    Check out the Slim Devices stuff:

    http://www.slimdevices.com/index.html

    The Squeezebox costs a couple hundred bucks and has great sound. If you want audiophile sound, the Transporter is the route.

    Both can run wirelessly, although I prefer running a length of CAT 5 cable for mine (you can probably go up to 50 feet or more that way).
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  5. #5
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Notice that all the anti-computer sentiment tends to come from people who have never seriously tried it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I am not up on all the computer to audio marriage stuff either. I prefer to keep them separate, so I vote for getting new CD player.
    I'd simply like to highlight this logic: you're basically saying, "I don't know anything about using a computer for audio, so based on my lack of knowledge, I think you should stick with a CD player."

    I'm sorry, and I'm not trying to be rude, but there's no polite way to say this: That line of thinking makes absolutely no sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    You can buy CD players with built in harddrive if you want the jukebox thing.
    Why??? You already have a perfectly good hard drive in your computer. (And if you need one with more space, you're far better off getting a new hard drive yourself, rather than paying for one to come in a clunky CD player format where the manufacturer charges you extra for it.)

    You will get *much* more flexibility and power if you do it on your own computer. If you want audiophile quality sound, spend the money on a high quality DAC (or something like the Transporter), NOT the hard drive.
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  6. #6
    SuperPoser Rock789's Avatar
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    I'll suggest a cd player... but for a different reason:
    for me, I like to have all my equpiment in one location...
    having to go into the den (or any other room) to select what I want to listen too would be a downside for me...
    just my 2 cents...

    for audio with a computer,
    I have 2 computers hooked up to non-computer audio equipment... both are using the optical out of the sound card... my gaming computer goes to the denon 2805, and my general purpose computer goes to the a denon dac for my 2ch system in my bedroom...
    I listen to internet radio from time to time, and it doesn't sound too bad...

    hope this helps...
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    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock789
    I'll suggest a cd player... but for a different reason:
    for me, I like to have all my equpiment in one location...
    having to go into the den (or any other room) to select what I want to listen too would be a downside for me...
    With products like the Squeezebox or Transporter, you don't have to go into the other room. The device has a display and an interface with a menu that lets you select your music, search through it, etc, all using a remote control.

    You can also use a laptop or handheld computer to interface with it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rock789
    for audio with a computer,
    I have 2 computers hooked up to non-computer audio equipment... both are using the optical out of the sound card... my gaming computer goes to the denon 2805, and my general purpose computer goes to the a denon dac for my 2ch system in my bedroom...
    I listen to internet radio from time to time, and it doesn't sound too bad...
    You can get better sound if you bypass your computer's sound card. The whole advantage of the setup described above is that the PCM signal generation -- in addition to the analog conversion -- is done far away from the noisy environment of the computer. This generally reduces jitter a great deal.

    The other advantage over a CD player is that if you do your rips carefully (e.g. using error-correction software like Exact Audio Copy) you can get bit-perfect sound. CD players, by contrast, give you errors.
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  8. #8
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    The other advantage over a CD player is that if you do your rips carefully (e.g. using error-correction software like Exact Audio Copy) you can get bit-perfect sound. CD players, by contrast, give you errors.
    i'm not completely against computer use in non pc audio equipment, but i'm not a big fan of it, so, here's my opinion.

    pc's can give you decent sound, when you use the right equipment (dac's, audiophile soundcards, ...) the transporter is a good looking, and probably good sounding machine, but the transporter costs alot of money, and he did say "good (but not top of the line)" so, that's pretty much ruled out. then the squeezebox, at that price, you'll need a dac (or use the optical out, if you have a optical inputs on your amp), and yes, when you do your rips carefully, you can get bit-perfect sound, but that would mean the file is quite big, which also means that your hard drive will be stuffed with music, and only music that is. then there's wireless, wireless signals are very depending on distance, or it haves to go through walls and stuff, so they could lose bits of data, which would result in short pauses during songs,
    and, decent cd players have bit correction too, and some of them (like the rega one) even has built in memory, so it streams the audio from the cd, resulting in a flawless and warmer reproduction of the sound.

    but still, if you want your pc, then do it.
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  9. #9
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    [quote=Mike Anderson]Notice that all the anti-computer sentiment tends to come from people who have never seriously tried it.quote]

    What you are saying is not necessarily true. I am a professional in the computer field. MS in Computer Science and MCSE among other things. My specific objection to archiving a music collection on HDD revolves around the inherent failure rate of said hard drives. I suppose it's all right as long as you keep a hard copy (original CD) of all your music. Actually you should. The HDD is going to fail. It will fail with no warning and you will loose every thing on it.
    That said, I realize just how seductive such products as the Squeezebox and others are. Just remember, you should always keep the original source material. You will need it.
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  10. #10
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    I have an anti-CD player bent. But it isn't because I am pro-computer. Rather, a CD player is superfluous IMO. While I don't have a CD player in my main rig, I have a DVD player and a CD recorder. Both are connected optically, and accordingly, both act solely as transports re: audio reproduction. And that is where my anti-CD player bent comes in.

    With the inclusion of top notch DACs in even mid priced AVRs, the CD player has essentially become a transport. Why pay for the DAC and all the other unnessesary junk in the CD player when your just connecting digitally anyway. To me, CD players only count if your sending an analog signal to your pre-amp. In my case, my CD recorder's DAC only comes into play when recording analog signals or copyprotected signals.
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  11. #11
    test the blind blindly emorphien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    I have an anti-CD player bent. But it isn't because I am pro-computer. Rather, a CD player is superfluous IMO. While I don't have a CD player in my main rig, I have a DVD player and a CD recorder. Both are connected optically, and accordingly, both act solely as transports re: audio reproduction. And that is where my anti-CD player bent comes in.

    With the inclusion of top notch DACs in even mid priced AVRs, the CD player has essentially become a transport. Why pay for the DAC and all the other unnessesary junk in the CD player when your just connecting digitally anyway. To me, CD players only count if your sending an analog signal to your pre-amp. In my case, my CD recorder's DAC only comes into play when recording analog signals or copyprotected signals.
    You wouldn't be saying that kind of thing if you had an integrated amp without a built in DAC.
    Last edited by emorphien; 12-12-2006 at 01:17 PM.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    then the squeezebox, at that price, you'll need a dac (or use the optical out, if you have a optical inputs on your amp)
    No, the Squeezebox has its own DAC, so you can use either its analog outs, or its digital outs if you want to use your own DAC.

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    and yes, when you do your rips carefully, you can get bit-perfect sound, but that would mean the file is quite big, which also means that your hard drive will be stuffed with music, and only music that is.
    I use lossless compression (FLAC) which gives you file sizes half the size of the original CD's files. If you want to compress further, you can do so. But these days, hard drive space is pretty cheap.

    And I store plenty of other stuff on the same hard drive.

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    then there's wireless, wireless signals are very depending on distance, or it haves to go through walls and stuff, so they could lose bits of data, which would result in short pauses during songs,
    You may or may not have a problem with dropout in wireless connections, depending on your enviroment. If it's a problem, you can run CAT 5 cable for quite some distance.

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    and, decent cd players have bit correction too, and some of them (like the rega one) even has built in memory, so it streams the audio from the cd, resulting in a flawless and warmer reproduction of the sound.
    Most CD players don't have error correction, they do interpolation. Something that buffers the signal to do real error correction is going to be way more expensive than ripping it on your computer. How much does the Rega cost?

    And the sound will not be any "warmer" than using your computer unless it's being colored somehow.
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  13. #13
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    What you are saying is not necessarily true. I am a professional in the computer field. MS in Computer Science and MCSE among other things. My specific objection to archiving a music collection on HDD revolves around the inherent failure rate of said hard drives. I suppose it's all right as long as you keep a hard copy (original CD) of all your music. Actually you should. The HDD is going to fail. It will fail with no warning and you will loose every thing on it.

    That said, I realize just how seductive such products as the Squeezebox and others are. Just remember, you should always keep the original source material. You will need it.
    I keep backups of all my FLAC rips on DVDs. I also store them offsite. If my house burned down or collapsed in an earthquake, I'd still have my music collection.

    Can't do that with vinyl -- or CDs unless you copy them, and now you're back to your computer as the best solution.

    I bring this up every time you raise this point, and you haven't really said why you still think this is a problem.
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  14. #14
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    You may or may not have a problem with dropout in wireless connections, depending on your enviroment. If it's a problem, you can run CAT 5 cable for quite some distance.
    you CAN run cat 5 cable for quite some distance, but do you WANT to run cat 5 cable?


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    Most CD players don't have error correction, they do interpolation. Something that buffers the signal to do real error correction is going to be way more expensive than ripping it on your computer. How much does the Rega cost?
    The rega will cost you $900, which exactly $1100 less then the slim devices transporter.

    and btw,
    i'm not saying that pc audio is bad, i'm just saying that there are better things, i know that other things have disadvantages too.
    And this is a fact you can't ignore: played from a hard drive or through anything else on your pc, no matter what you do with it, it will always pass through the motherboard and the cpu, before it goes to your squeezebox or whatever you use, which is exactly the same reason why stereo people buy stereo amps and preamps and not surround receivers, they have too much tiny electronics which will all change the sound a tiny little bit.
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  15. #15
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    you CAN run cat 5 cable for quite some distance, but do you WANT to run cat 5 cable?
    If you live in an enviroment where, for some reason, you cannot have a wireless network, then why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    The rega will cost you $900, which exactly $1100 less then the slim devices transporter.
    But that's not a relevant comparison -- we're talking about what it takes to get a bit-perfect signal, not what you do with the audio after that. My point was that you can do error-free rips on your computer for FREE.

    The Transporter has nothing to do with how you get a bit-perfect signal, it only converts the signal to analog once you've done the ripping.

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    And this is a fact you can't ignore: played from a hard drive or through anything else on your pc, no matter what you do with it, it will always pass through the motherboard and the cpu, before it goes to your squeezebox or whatever you use, which is exactly the same reason why stereo people buy stereo amps and preamps and not surround receivers, they have too much tiny electronics which will all change the sound a tiny little bit.
    No, you're confusing things - the signal that gets sent to the Squeezebox is a network/data signal, NOT a PCM digital music signal. It's no different than transferring the data for any kind of file, like the content of a web page or a word processing file.

    The network/data signal doesn't get converted into a PCM digital music signal until it gets to the Squeezebox. It is literally impossible for your computer to have any kind of effect on the sound at that point.

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-code_modulation

    This (the demodulation) is done at the Squeezebox, NOT at the computer.

    You're thinking of the situation where you have something like the sound card on the computer that's generating the signal. That's not what's happening with the Squeezebox. You don't even need a soundcard.

    (Note: The Squeezebox has the ability to take a raw PCM stream, but it's kind of pointless to do so, given that you can send it losslessly compressed/transcoded files like FLAC.)

    Now, the Squeezebox has its own electronics that may affect the sound, but then so does a CD player. The point is to get as much of the process far away from the computer, which has particularly noisy electronics.
    Last edited by Mike Anderson; 12-12-2006 at 12:51 PM.
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  16. #16
    SuperPoser Rock789's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    they have too much tiny electronics which will all change the sound a tiny little bit.
    shouldn't the digital signal remain constant...

    it may be transmitted with a different protocol but unless something is rewriting the digital code (an eq or some software), regardless where it comes from, or where it goes, it should remain the same...

    it's how the signal is converted to analog where the sound may vary...

    perhaps I am way off... I don't know
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    SuperPoser Rock789's Avatar
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    I guess I answered this myself...
    if the protocol changes, then the digital code will be changed to conform to the given protocol...
    sorry

    edit... so I guess the quality will depend on the ability of the drivers converting from one protocol to another and back...
    if everything is done properly, no errors will occur...
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  18. #18
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    My specific objection to archiving a music collection on HDD revolves around the inherent failure rate of said hard drives. I suppose it's all right as long as you keep a hard copy (original CD) of all your music. Actually you should. The HDD is going to fail. It will fail with no warning and you will loose every thing on it.
    My solution... 2 hard drives. Much less effort for backups. $100 for 320GB. Drag and drop backup in a couple hours as opposed to burning 60+ DVD-Rs over several days. Updating the backup periodically is simple.

    (And of course, keep the original CDs)

  19. #19
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    maybe you're right, but still, for some reason, i still prefer a cd player instead of a pc. and as far as i can remember, i never had any troubles with cd players.

    for me, it just doesn't feel right, and if pc's were all that better, the cd player wouldn't exist anymore.

    but you've made your point, and yes with alot of hard disk space (like you with your 500 gig drive, and me with my 420 gigs of space) you could store alot of music.
    but i guess i don't like it that much. And believe me, it's weird for a 16 year old guy to prefer cd players above computers and ipods.

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  20. #20
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock789
    shouldn't the digital signal remain constant...
    Yes, and it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rock789
    it may be transmitted with a different protocol but unless something is rewriting the digital code (an eq or some software), regardless where it comes from, or where it goes, it should remain the same...

    it's how the signal is converted to analog where the sound may vary...

    perhaps I am way off... I don't know
    No, you are absolutely right.

    There's one complicating factor though -- jitter:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jitter

    That's because the digital signal has a clocking component to it.

    There are ways to deal with this problem though (and by the way, a CD player has the same problem, it's nothing specific to computer audio.)
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  21. #21
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    maybe you're right, but still, for some reason, i still prefer a cd player instead of a pc. and as far as i can remember, i never had any troubles with cd players.
    It isn't so much having troubles with CD players (although that happens), it's what you're not getting. For example, I can select any song out of thousands, without getting out of my chair. I can build playlists, or have them randomly generated. I can search my collection, etc. etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    for me, it just doesn't feel right, and if pc's were all that better, the cd player wouldn't exist anymore.
    People always take time to adopt new technology. For one thing, it takes a little bit of time and effort. You have to rip your CDs, learn about the technology, etc. At first, it's not as convenient as just plugging in a CD player, but once it's all setup, it's actually much *more* convenient - and powerful.

    Personally, I haven't turned on a CD player in a long, long time.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by emorphien
    You wouldn't be saying that kind of thing if you had an integrated amp without a built in DAC.
    Your right. I'd probably be advising that the OP take a look at outboard DACs. My point was to say "No" to middle of the road compact disk players and "Yes" to more sophisticated solutions. If you are using the latest AVRs, why use old DAC tech? If you do have a SOTA reciever, its DACs are probabably very very good. In that use and entry level player or a $30 Ebay special as a transport. On the other hand, if you are using a nice integrated (or separates), why not use a nice outboard DAC, along with that Ebay special?

    My point is that if you have a nice SOTA reciever, there is no reason not to use the onboard processors rather than spending lots o' coin to get a new DAC inside a new CD player, when you've already got a perfectly good DAC in your AVR. Of course this is from a guy that uses both the DAC and Phono preamp that are on-board my Yammie reciever. (No outboards yet ) On the other hand, if you have a nice integrated, treat it to a nice SOTA DAC.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    Your right. I'd probably be advising that the OP take a look at outboard DACs. My point was to say "No" to middle of the road compact disk players and "Yes" to more sophisticated solutions. If you are using the latest AVRs, why use old DAC tech? If you do have a SOTA reciever, its DACs are probabably very very good. In that use and entry level player or a $30 Ebay special as a transport. On the other hand, if you are using a nice integrated (or separates), why not use a nice outboard DAC, along with that Ebay special?
    I will never use $30 DVD player as a transport. I never got to try it with my Marantz since I've sold my Rotel, but when I plugged my Zenith DVD player and my Yamaha CDP to my Rotel with optical cables, the different in SQ was very obvious. I used to think like you, but not no more.

    JRA

  24. #24
    Demoted to Low-Fi Carl Reid's Avatar
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    I guess it's time I jumped into this discussion... since I have both a MAC and a NAD CD player connected to my Pre-Amp as source material.....

    I have no external DAC (yet).... and I have my music stored on my MAC in AA3 (Not Apple Lossless as is recommended).....

    I use the MAC's soundcard to send an analog signal to my Pre-amp.... and despite what I've heard from many about how BAD computer audio (especially compressed files) sound... I have not experienced that for myself....

    Frankly, I find that just using the computer directly gives me a pretty good sound even when directly compared with tracks played from my CD player... I spent over 2 hours yesterday doing a listening comparision between the two and while I'll admit that the CD player sounded a bit better.. I was not overwhelmed.....

    So based on the share convenience of using a computer to play your music... I'm willing to say that a dedicated CD player is unnecesary... and if you're computer has a crappy soundcard, then buy a USB DAC (which should eliminate any issues with Jitter).

    An interesting side note though: when I tried playing a CD on my Panasonic DVD player I thought it was clearly the worst sounding of the 3 options.

  25. #25
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    Wow, I didn't realize I would be setting off this much of a firestorm by starting this thread! But I appreciate all the input and it's an interesting thread to read.

    Mike A., the Squeezebox looks interesting and there's probably something like it in my future, I suppose. But the thing alone costs than a lot of the CD players I've been eyeing, plus the fact that my current Dell desktop has no wireless capabililty at all, nor do I have any other use for a home network at this point. So I'd have to add a wireless card, which represents additional $$.

    As for running cables, my house makes this difficult, what with inaccessible areas above the dropped ceilings in my basement and other complications. Ugh.

    As for the superior cataloging/indexing/searching/jukebox capabilities of the computer hard drive method...my collection isn't that large or complex that I'd really benefit from that, I don't think.

    So all things considered, a dedicated, moderately priced CD player will probably be my choice, at least for the interim. Thanks again for all the ideas and discussion.

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