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  1. #1
    Audio casualty StevenSurprenant's Avatar
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    Testing playback through computer

    There's a great deal of talk of using computers as music servers so I thought I'd give it a try. The purpose of this was to see if it sounded better than the CD players and DAC's I've owned and vinyl which I've recently gotten into.

    I was reluctant to do this because I have been saying that my vinyl system sounds better than my digital and if the results were such that it was better than both CD and vinyl, then I just wasted a great deal of money on vinyl.

    I tried the analog out from the computer, then coax into an Emotiva XDR-1 DAC preamp, and finally optical into the Emotiva. FYI, the Emotiva has a 24/192 bit DAC. I set the sound card to 24/196.

    I had files copied from CD's, and downloaded files from 2L recorded at 24/192 on the computer, plus I used CD's for this test.

    My opinion is that the CD files and the CD's on the computer sounded better than CD's through any transport/DAC or players I have used in the past. This, of course, refers to Redbook. It appeared that digitalis was reduced and instruments, such as cymbals and violins were better defined. The soundstage also became a little clearer to visualize.

    The Hi-REZ files were very nice and yet somewhat of a disappointment. They definitely sounded much better than redbook. Timbre was very much improved as was the resolution of the higher frequencies. Bass was also very good, tight and strong. Even though everything was there, it sounded very dark. There was no space around or between instruments. This doesn't mean that you couldn't tell that something was further back in the soundstage, you could. On some systems you can see the space as well as the instruments, but if you haven't already noticed this, I suppose that you have to experience it to know what I am talking about. Being that these Hi-REZ files came from the same place, what I hear could very well be their recording techniques, so what I said should be taken with a grain of salt. The overall sound was very good and I hope this trend toward Hi-REZ continues.

    I did very much like the sound of the 2L files. They sound very rich and warm.

    I can't compare vinyl to Hi-REZ since I'm not familiar with the music from 2L, it's totally different than what I normally listen to, so what I say next is a comparison between CD files on the computer and vinyl. I used music of which I had both the CD and the vinyl. Also keep in mind that the records I have are (I believe) pre-digital so they were recorded with analog equipment. I could be wrong about that. In a nutshell, the vinyl was better. Timbre was much better. The other thing that stood out was that with vinyl the soundstage sounded a great deal more open. So in the end, redbook was duller sounding. I don't think duller is the right word, perhaps it's better to say that CD's lack the degree of timbre that vinyl produces. Don't make the mistake that I think CD's sound bad from the computer, they don't, only that vinyl is better.

    I was very impressed with High resolution audio and can see it ending the debate between digital and analog, once and for all. I have nothing to compare it to on CD or vinyl, but I think there is no question that it is far better than CD.

    As for vinyl, depending on quality of the system I can understand why many people prefer redbook digital, but with a decent vinyl system, I believe that what most people own for digital cannot compete. When we talk about the best of the best (digital/analog equipment), the game changes somewhat and that is something that I cannot comment on since I've heard neither.

    I should also mention that I listened to a number of mp3's around 250kbs and for all practical purposes, they were equal to CD playback. There was one exception and that was a sampler of K2 HD mp3's that really stood out for it's ability to create a very good soundstage and bettered most CD's that I have heard. I wish I could hear this with HI-REZ.

    Amazon.com: This Is K2 HD Sound!: Various Artists: Music

    I don't have any SACD to compare so that is another story and could very well tip the balance toward digital.

    For now, I think I'll put my other computer back together and use it as a music server.

    Thanks to everyone that suggested this. I'm in your dept!
    Last edited by StevenSurprenant; 10-07-2012 at 03:32 AM.

  2. #2
    Audio casualty StevenSurprenant's Avatar
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    Just an idea...

    Setting up a music server


    Having a computer in the living room where the stereo is is more junk that clutters the room (in my situation), so I devised a solution.

    I am in the process of moving my office to another room just on the other side of the living room wall. The computer will be against the same wall as my TV, so I'll run a video and audio cable through the wall from the computer to the TV and amp. Now the good part... My keyboard and mouse works from 2 rooms away! Well, you get the idea.

    FYI, I recorded Eva Cassidy's album "Songbird" into a FLAC 24/192 file and it sounds, for all practical purposes the same as the vinyl. This makes me wonder why all the other CD and vinyl recordings (duplicate music) I have sound different from each other? Said another way, why does the vinyl sound better when it doesn't have too?

    One last thing, I took the Emotiva digital pre-amp/DAC out of the audio chain and ran analog out from the computer straight to the Trends TA-10 amp because it sounds better. Who would have thought?
    Last edited by StevenSurprenant; 10-11-2012 at 01:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenSurprenant View Post
    ....
    FYI, I recorded Eva Cassidy's album "Songbird" into a FLAC 24/192 file and it sounds, for all practical purposes the same as the vinyl. This makes me wonder why all the other CD and vinyl recordings (duplicate music) I have sound different from each other? Said another way, why does the vinyl sound better when it doesn't have too?

    One last thing, I took the Emotiva digital pre-amp/DAC out of the audio chain and ran analog out from the computer straight to the Trends TA-10 amp because it sounds better. Who would have thought?
    I not surprised that the 24/192 rip sounds like the source LP; why would it not? All objections aside, 24/192 is, in practical terms, a perfect copy of the vinyl. Why do different formats endure? Distributor and consumer inertia and, of course, the romance of the old format.

  4. #4
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    All I can say is welcome to the 21st century, Music servers have been around for the better part of the last decade and the debate of which sounds better has been solely in the ears of the beholder. There are so many factors within the chain of the sound being reproduce that no two people would agree, but the major plus on the server equation side is the convenience and ability to store massive amounts of music without taking up space in the room. Now it looks you are going with a hard wire setup and the only drawback on that is the possible computer noise (fans) or like some of us have a wireless setup and the computer is in a closet or garage (mine). Your playback/transport is very vital and can make or break the whole experience. I'm a big squeezebox fan myself, but there are other great setups and within the last few years several manufactures have Incorporated the technology into their AVR's. So welcome aboard to the digital highway of music
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  5. #5
    RGA
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    There are many things at play. Recording quality, playback quality, transfer quality. I can buy a $189 turntable at Radio Shack (now called The Source) in Canada and put an LP on it and record it onto my computer. I can then say that gee the playback "sounds the same."

    Likewise you can listen to an SACD machine of an album which has a CD layer on it and conclude that the SACD sounds better. However you don't really know how good or ****ty the CD playing part of the machine is - or if the CD layer was deliberately badly recorded to make the SACD shine. When CD first came out and well into the 90s and perhaps to this day they listed the Wow and Flutter specs - this was pure marketing drivel and the goal of this spec was to show the words "below measurable limits" or some such comment. Turntables could never get numbers that good (however most even entry level turntables today have wow and flutter well below the threshold of human hearing. It's kind of the old numbers game of if Camera A has 5megapixels and camera B has 18 megapixels the latter will be deemed better. However if the first camera is a Nikon DSLR with a high qaulity $800 lens and camera B is a point and shoot with a tiny plastic lens the Nikon will destroy it in ever way. Despite worse numbers.

    Again there is more to the game that the resolution or the quality of the format. I take a Ray Charles CD out and place it on several top quality CD players and compare that to the LP of the same album on LP on an equally top quality turntable and the LP sounds far more dynamic - more and better bass, more and better treble (much much much better treble) and in every other way the vinyl beats the CD to death. (it's not available on any other format because all other formats have ****ty selection - that may change but CD by 1990 filled the entire shop - 6 years and vinyl and tape was relegated to one stand in the corner of the store.

    If I sound like I am defending vinyl here or attacking digital I am not.

    I have put my Audio Note turntable up for sale consignment at Soundhounds.

    I am going to be getting a USB DAC, Jriver, and either a Nettop or dedicated laptop (probably the former) and I'm going to load music from CD to hard drive (partially done years back anyway) and download hi res music.

    Frankly, I never understood the anti-CD stance - plenty of CD sounds very "great" with a great machine like the Audio Note players - many have compared CD and SACD and walk away preferring the albums on CD over the SACD. Read review of comparison of music played back through SACD and CD. This reviewer liked the CD player so much he became a dealer audionote

    The point though is that a large chunk of this depends on the machine. IME most CD players suck - few people have heard a truly "GOOD" CD player. Cheap SACD machines sound better than cheap CD replay - just as CD players sound better than cheap turntables - or expensive turntables that are just overrated.

    The problem with many turntables and crappy phono stages is noise. Try listening to classical music on a turntable of this sort and to be blunt it is UNLISTENABLE. CD destroys it and so does SACD. The high noise and various other pops and clicks ruins classical more than any other type of music.

    And the investment to really get vinyl to sound truly compelling is large.

    And then ultimately vinyl is a big ole pain in the ass. As much as I like it - you have to ask yourself if playing an entire album is worth it. Most rock bands and pop groups have usually only half the songs that you want to listen to. With CD you could skip - with computers you can delete the crappy songs from the list. With LP you have to sit all the way through and you can't play the same song twice in a row for fear of overheating the track (how true that is I don't know but people are serious about it).

    For me the Table I am selling is what I consider to be near the minimum quality that would make me happy. It's $5k - What truly impresses me was the Old TT3 which is a Voyd Reference 3 motor three pully suspended chasis - they sell for more than people originally paid. Used you're looking at $10,000. Plus you need the AN step up transformer for another $4,000.

    And vinyl suffers a complaint I have about SACD and Hi res. You can't get enough music on it. Vinyl has a back history but not enough current stuff. For $14k I want everything. SACD and download I complain about but you can get machines for $300 to do a good job of it.

  6. #6
    Audio casualty StevenSurprenant's Avatar
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    RGA- That sounds like a fair assessment to me.

    My first experience with specs versus sound quality occurred back in the 70's when Technics began designing amps with distortion levels that were incredibly low. They looked good on paper but sounded thin. This set the stage for seeing specs only as a guideline, taken with a grain of salt.

    At this point, I don't understand how a better turntable makes such a big difference. The one I have has noise levels at over 82db. Since I don't listen much louder than this it is, for all purposes, below my threshold of hearing. It also has wow and flutter below 0.008% (servo mode), which, I assume, means that it's undetectable. It also has a speed deviation below 0.002%. Still, I have to give credence to those who have gone before me and take their word that it gets better than this and that there are other things that affect playback that are not shown in spec sheets. In complete honesty, I will not pursue upgrading my analog system, so the point is somewhat moot. The way I figure it is that the vinyl I have sounds better than the CD versions and that is good enough.

    I should mention that I downscaled the FLAC files from Eva Cassidy onto a CD and it still sounds very good. To me, this seems to indicate that audio engineers or perhaps the duplication process degrades the recordings. I have no idea why in the cases where I have commercial versions of the same recording in both formats there is such a difference.

    HI-REZ throws a curve ball into the mix. I think, at least for now, people who record and distribute HI-REZ recordings are cognizant of the nature of their product and go to great strides to make it right. That might change if it ever goes mainstream. For instance, I have some movie DVD's that when upscaled look better than some movies in Blu-ray. A good Blu-ray movie is still much better.

    As for your proposed USB DAC...

    I've read about many people adding outboard DAC's to their computer with good results. My recent experience is that the analog out from my computer card playing the Eva Cassidy album was, for all purposes, the same quality as my TT ->phono pre-amp going to the same amp. The sound card in my PC is on the motherboard and has 24/192 resolution. I was using Audacity and/or WinAmp, which are both very good freeware to play/record FLAC files.

    I agree that vinyl is a pain. The only advantage is that in some cases vinyl sounds better, but as I have learned, I can record it and have it sound the same, so once it is on my server (listen to me now!, like I know what I'm talking about) I can enjoy it's benefits without the pain.

    Recoveryone - thanks for the pat on the back.

    For now, I'll go hardwired, but I'll also keep my eye on systems such as the squeezebox you mentioned. One of the things I like about going hardwired is that I think navigation would be better (the same as sitting in front of my computer), but I could very well be wrong.

    Feanor You're right, of course, but I also think that engineers could do a better job with what we have, both from the software and hardware viewpoint. It makes no sense to me that a person has to spend so much money on hardware to get the best that CD has to offer. It also doesn't make any sense that a lot of software sounds like crap when I've heard a few CD's sound so much better on a low priced player.

    When I hear some of these low quality recording, both on CD and vinyl, all I can thing of is that the recording engineers should be sued and fired because peoples careers depend on this. Of course, this also includes the hardware side of the software duplication industry which I assume has to take some credit.

    At least for now, there is a dedicated segment of the industry strutting their stuff and showing us what digital can really do.

  7. #7
    RGA
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    It's like the other thread about vinyl versus CD. CD is technically superior to vinyl and SACD is technically superior to both.

    Subjective sound quality is 100% the only thing that actually counts however. This is frustrating because few people will agree on subjective things but by the same token - if system A gives you pleasure and makes you want to listen to it (even if it's vinyl and SET) while the other makes you physically ill after 20 minutes and is technical perfection then which do you choose? The system you can brag about spec sheet miracles on audio forums or the one you can listen to long term?

    I have nothing against CD and never have - I grew up on CD. It always did some things a lot better (sonically) than vinyl and number one was surface noise. Close behind might be tracking problems and inner groove issues - the last track of vinyl always sounded much crappier than the first with my NAD 533 (made by Rega for NAD). The other prior tables were even worse.

    I think people were right to blast CD in the early days - crappy transfers of LP masters without compensating for the format made CD sound thin and bright. I can't say that for most of the CDs I have bough since the 1990s. Vinyl wins some and loses some - a great vinyl played on a great vinyl rig has sounded better than great CDs played back on great CD players. The best CD players come from makers of the best vinyl rigs and those makers IME all say vinyl sounds better. (subjective of course). RE's and ME's say otherwise but one really needs to get a specific recording. For instance, is there a consumer recording for example of say Diana Krall where we can say this is the EXACT same master on CD and vinyl to the best the format is capable of so that the average Joe can compare?

    There's not much else we can do - I have probably purchases about 80 albums on both CD and Vinyl. Vinyl is probably winning 78-2 out of that lot and many by a mile.

    Some CD players are very very good - the Audio Notes are the best I've so far heard but they cost a lot. Numerous copy cats are out there and AMR has produced a hires USB Async DAC that is zero times oversampling no feedback using tubes and the owner there knows pretty much all there is to know about digital downloads and hi-rez. He uses a TD1541 chip which is insanely popular but a 16 bit chip. Whaaat?

    Audio Note has come out with a new flagship CD player which is a ridiculous $192,000 (British pounds) CD player that apparently re-invents the CD format as being a lot better than anyone thought possible. (Bloody well should too for that price).

    The review is interesting as this reviewer started the loudspeaker company Monitor Audio and has written several books on loudspeaker design and chaired the AES for a time (also is the technical adviser for Stereophile).

    Ultimately, the playback machine is a huge huge factor - you can have a superior source disc in terms of theoretical advantage but you still need the player to get the "goodness" off the disc.

    This reviewer has heard all the top machines over the last few decades and this CD player apparently blows every other CD player out of the water. I am uber excited to hear it. Although the DAC 5 Sig was already "the best" I've heard at also a stuuuupid price.

    And again after you read the commentary look at the measured results - it's a very pedestrian even "weak" measured results for CD replay.

    Scroll down to page 4 to read about how the top 10% of the top 1% live. Maybe they have a daughter?

    http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/...5_complete.pdf

    Most CD players get marks between 15 and 50. A top Krell CD player gets a 50 - a top Arcam gets 16

    DCS Puccini SACD player gets his biggest rating of 150. He has machines from Casse, Chord, Meridian, Naim, Zanden, Cary, Boulder, Mark Levinson all scoring under 150.

    The Audio Note gets 450 - LOL - totally Annihilates the digital world - CD or SACD doesn't matter.
    Last edited by RGA; 10-15-2012 at 04:44 AM.

  8. #8
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    ...
    Likewise you can listen to an SACD machine of an album which has a CD layer on it and conclude that the SACD sounds better. However you don't really know how good or ****ty the CD playing part of the machine is - or if the CD layer was deliberately badly recorded to make the SACD shine.
    ...
    And vinyl suffers a complaint I have about SACD and Hi res. You can't get enough music on it. Vinyl has a back history but not enough current stuff. For $14k I want everything. SACD and download I complain about but you can get machines for $300 to do a good job of it. ...
    If you're suggesting there's a $300 SACD player that can really deliver, I'd love to know about it.

    I have an old Sony CE775 SACD; the CD layers played through my standalone DAC sound better resolved than the SACD stereo layers played from the CE775's analog outputs. I.e. the player's DAC ain't great.

    The cheapest SACD players that I know of, that I would consider are (1) the Marantz SA8004, and (2) the Oppo BDP-95, both $1000+.

  9. #9
    RGA
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    Feanor my first go round was the Sony SCD 1 which was something like $5,000 - the CD player part was frankly sucky. The SACD in 2 channel sounded better but not against competing "good" CD players.

    I recently heard the Oppo SACD/CD player here in hong kong and was roundly unimpressed. The store owner modified a second machine with tubes and was running comparisons. I enjoyed his Tube unit over the regular version - oddly the tubed unit did SS strengths better and sounded "less" veiled and closed in. But his price took it out contention. Neither player IMO is particularly great in CD and compared to the Line Magnetic CD player which is less money blows them both away. Which is one of the reasons I bought it up. Some companies are interested in music - some are interested in movies.

    Now to be fair to the OPPO it's a terrific value in the sense that I believe it plays everything and for that money it's great - most people probably are not buying it for the CD playing ability anyway.

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    Feanor my first go round was the Sony SCD 1 which was something like $5,000 - the CD player part was frankly sucky. The SACD in 2 channel sounded better but not against competing "good" CD players.

    I recently heard the Oppo SACD/CD player here in hong kong and was roundly unimpressed. The store owner modified a second machine with tubes and was running comparisons. I enjoyed his Tube unit over the regular version - oddly the tubed unit did SS strengths better and sounded "less" veiled and closed in. But his price took it out contention. Neither player IMO is particularly great in CD and compared to the Line Magnetic CD player which is less money blows them both away. Which is one of the reasons I bought it up. Some companies are interested in music - some are interested in movies.

    Now to be fair to the OPPO it's a terrific value in the sense that I believe it plays everything and for that money it's great - most people probably are not buying it for the CD playing ability anyway.
    I should be clear that I'm not in the market for a CD player at any price: computer playback is at least as good and far more convenient. But I would consider sub $1k SACD player if there were one that could exploit SACD resolution, (which yields truer instrument timbres, less grain, and a less strained sound especially at higher volumes).

  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    The Audio Note gets 450 - LOL - totally Annihilates the digital world - CD or SACD doesn't matter.
    450 what? Is that like quatloos?



    Note that Collums rates the mere $11k ARC REF110 higher in quatloos than the $95k Ongaku (133 vs 55-85). I guess there's no accounting for taste.

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    ...
    This reviewer has heard all the top machines over the last few decades and this CD player apparently blows every other CD player out of the water. I am uber excited to hear it. Although the DAC 5 Sig was already "the best" I've heard at also a stuuuupid price.

    And again after you read the commentary look at the measured results - it's a very pedestrian even "weak" measured results for CD replay.

    Scroll down to page 4 to read about how the top 10% of the top 1% live. Maybe they have a daughter?

    http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/...5_complete.pdf

    Most CD players get marks between 15 and 50. A top Krell CD player gets a 50 - a top Arcam gets 16

    DCS Puccini SACD player gets his biggest rating of 150. He has machines from Casse, Chord, Meridian, Naim, Zanden, Cary, Boulder, Mark Levinson all scoring under 150.

    The Audio Note gets 450 - LOL - totally Annihilates the digital world - CD or SACD doesn't matter.
    Reviews like that and comments like yours bring serious disrepute on hi-fi reviewers: just stop it.

  13. #13
    RGA
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    I've actually tried to wade through Colloms' numerical review system (and I was being semi-sarcastic because frankly it's inane but Martin understands it and that's half the battle right - it actually makes some sense but convoluted.

    I very strongly recommend that you try one of the noted very good no times oversampling units at some point.

    I just bought a CD player that isn't a no times oversampling player - not saying you can't get good sound with other CD replay but if I had the option (ie; the money) it's a different animal and IME a big step up over conventional CD players (from anyone) that I've heard. And while the price is idiotic like most AN stuff the house sound is there throughout.

    The DAC 2.1 is something like $4grand but I know one reviewer who likes the MDHT Havana DAC (also no oversampling) that goes for $900 out of Taiwan. I am out to find a deal just like the next guy so as much as I like AN if I can find something as good or better for less then I will explore that option. This is not to say I will agree with the other reviewer (system variables at play etc) but if he can hear that no times oversampling is much better then IMO he has decent ears.

    Mhdt Laboratory


    Re: The Ongaku - it is sometimes important to read the reviews regarding circumstances with the Ongaku review (then priced at ~$49K and a prototype unfinished version).
    Last edited by RGA; 10-16-2012 at 08:03 AM.

  14. #14
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    but Martin understands it and that's half the battle right - it actually makes some sense but convoluted.
    Then you must go out and buy an Audio Research pre and power amp. Having enjoyed them since I first heard an SP-3a in '74, I've got two ARC components myself. Collums hasn't rated any of their digital products, but he lists the DAC8 as one of his sources.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    I very strongly recommend that you try one of the noted very good no times oversampling units at some point.
    Ok, but I think a player or DAC's ultimate performance is system related, not just which two dollar chip is used.

  15. #15
    RGA
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    Colloms actually isn't in the same general audio camp that I am in - he's more of a JA type which engineers typically fall. That's ok. I appreciate the MBL room and YG Acoustics room immensely so I "get" what people like about them - in fact that does them a disservice because not only do I get it I very much liked it. I also like the Von Gaylor and Acoustic Zen rooms which could not be more different.

    I fully agree with the "interface" case - less so on sources however. AN had trouble in the early days with their impedances not be agreeable to certain preamps (SS and some none SET amps) but that's no longer an issue.

    And the review is an example of that - this CD player was not used in an AN system at all - it was used with his system.

    The speaker/amp matching is more critical for obvious reasons. A great source is a great source. A top of the line Linn LP12 is better than a thrift store $50 Dual no matter what stereo you put the Linn in it's going to make the whole system sound MUCH MUCH better than the $50 Dual. And that applies to any other source including CD.

    When I met the long time owner and Bryston fanboy at Soundhounds walk out of the comparison demo against the 2.1 (both machines use the same transport) It was funny to seem him rant and rave about how his favorite brand just got completely embarrassed - and that in his favorite SS to the hilt impact system.

    Bob Neill also notes on his site that the Amp/Speakers should be purchased together but the sources are fine in other systems.

  16. #16
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    The speaker/amp matching is more critical for obvious reasons. A great source is a great source. A top of the line Linn LP12 is better than a thrift store $50 Dual no matter what stereo you put the Linn in it's going to make the whole system sound MUCH MUCH better than the $50 Dual.
    What I meant by system was at the component level. You seem to worry most about a single two buck part. The source itself is a combination of multiple factors: DAC chip, output stage, power supply, and transport or in the case of a TT, the table proper, arm and most importantly, the cartridge. Both benefit from isolation devices.

    Arguably, I might well prefer a Dual with a nice MC cartridge than an LP-12 with a junk tonearm and Stanton DJ cartridge.
    Last edited by E-Stat; 10-16-2012 at 11:52 AM.

  17. #17
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    What I meant by system was at the component level. You seem to worry most about a single two buck part. The source itself is a combination of multiple factors: DAC chip, output stage, power supply, and transport or in the case of a TT, the table proper, arm and most importantly, the cartridge. Both benefit from isolation devices.

    Arguably, I might well prefer a Dual with a nice MC cartridge than an LP-12 with a junk tonearm and Stanton DJ cartridge.
    I understand but the AN isn't just the chip but the conversion is pretty critical to the machine (albeit even at $2 if that as Burr brown used to have a price list of their DAC chips and there wasn't a single one at $2 (they were all less)).

    Parts quality matter in every aspect of a machine whether it be turntable arm cart or CD players output, power, caps, wires, resisters. This is, by the way, a big reason I like Audio Note. They may not necessarily have the sound you will like the best, they may not look great, and they may be priced in lala land but "for their kind of design" and on parts I have not generally seen them beaten in terms of the expense of the parts materials used. And even if this is deemed somewhat fanboy hyperbole it would be tough to argue basic notions of transformer quality, wiring expense, cap expense, board expense etc.

    The DAC chip is chosen because they tried all of them and liked that one best. The TDA 1541 is popular in both entry level Kenwood machines and very expensive players because of the way it was designed - you could make rubbish sound with that chip of course just like you can make rubbish sound with a crappy cart on LP12.

    Still I think you have to look at it the other way. A great cart and arm on an LP12 is better than the same great arm and cart on a rubbish table.

    And a great power supply, caps, transformers, transport with a great converter is better than same with a rubbish converter.

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    (albeit even at $2 if that as Burr brown used to have a price list of their DAC chips and there wasn't a single one at $2 (they were all less)
    What on earth do you mean by this? As for the last assertion, you are mistaken.

    PCM1794

    PCM1796

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    A great cart and arm on an LP12 is better than the same great arm and cart on a rubbish table.
    And equally good with an equivalent table like a VPI Scoutmaster (aka, Burr Brown)!

  19. #19
    RGA
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    I apologize for not noting the time frame of my comment - Burr Brown in around 1999/2001 had a price to manufacturers listing on the web of all their DAC chips - none were above $2. Seems times have changed - quite surprised to see more than 10 times the price increase in a decade though. I actually would have expected the prices to drop given that many player prices which advertise Burr Brown have dropped.

    Makes me feel a bit better actually given that my LM CD player uses the PSM 1792 http://www.digikey.com/scripts/dksea...ywords=pcm1792

    Thanks for the link.

    And I agree with you on the VPI (might even sound better - would be fun to do a side by side comparo) but then it's not a $50 rubbish deck either. I plan to buy a turntable again down the road here in HK and something like the VPI will interest me because it's excellent value for the coin. I have their record cleaning machine back in Canada which I'll probably have to sell. Damn I hate moving so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    I apologize for not noting the time frame of my comment - Burr Brown in around 1999/2001 had a price to manufacturers listing on the web of all their DAC chips - none were above $2.
    No need for apologies, just clarification. As for my $2 quote, I was using current figures on ebay for the TDA 1543, not the higher performance cousin the TDA 1541 which can still be found for about $15.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    Seems times have changed - quite surprised to see more than 10 times the price increase in a decade though. I actually would have expected the prices to drop given that many player prices which advertise Burr Brown have dropped.
    Actually, it makes sense to me given the way computer chips are fabricated and priced. Newer, faster and better is often cheaper. Note that the BB 1792 is a 2004 design. In computer years, that's plain old. Think about memory chips available then. I still have a 2002 Dell Dimension desktop computer that now serves backup duty in a spare bedroom. It has four 256k memory chips which would cost $80 to replace today. By contrast, I could get twice as much and faster memory on a single stick for my current Studio computer for $12. The 32 bit BB PCM5102 from 2011 costs less, is in smaller 20 pin package and clocks up to 384kHz.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    And I agree with you on the VPI (might even sound better - would be fun to do a side by side comparo) but then it's not a $50 rubbish deck either.
    I was merely trying to illustrate equivalency as I own models from both - well very close. I still have an Ariston RD-11s purchased new in 1975 which slightly predated the LP12 and shares the same father, Hamish Robertson.

    Linn and Ariston

    It uses a classic pairing with an SME3009 Type II arm and a recently retipped Shinon Red MC cartridge. I also have a VPI Scout (not Scoutmaster) with a Souther (now Clearaudio) TQ-1 linear arm.

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