Macs are more audio friendly.
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You did not mention the player program you were using on your PC, and yes it does make a difference. I run Mac,but I hear that J River and XX High End are the players of choice.
With that said, a dedicated music server is best. You can strip it down of other functions to keep it clean. Considering your other equipment, I'd highly recommend buying a standalone computer. I'd recommend a tricked out Mac Mini. Put another way, it would most likely make a bigger difference in your rig than any one of your cables as a lower cost.
I have a 6 yr old PC running an older version of Fedora Linux that is my dedicated music server. It's performed flawlessly, and I feel no need to replace it anytime soon.
If your old machine works fine and you really don't want to spend the money on a new one, then it's not completely necessary to upgrade.
USB connections have gotten better. Faster & you get more of them.
Wireless has improved considerably.
Vista is a dog.
Media player has improved considerably.
Most new PC's will have internal drives big enough to back up your 1TB, which is a smart thing.
Burning new cd's will be much faster and cleaner.
Power supplies usually fail after 5 years.
You are using a $49 pc with a Perfect Wave. Would you use $49 speaker cable with $5000 speakers? I hope not.
Can you describe the computer system a little further (make, model, etc.)? I assume you are talking about a desktop machine, since you mention the sound card and video card. But a P4-1.8GHz cpu in a desktop machine sounds to me like something that would date back about 9 years or so, while Vista was only introduced a little over 4 years ago.
Did you update the machine's original os from XP to Vista? If so, have you seen any performance issues? If not, then I agree with Michael that there is no reason to upgrade, at least until you spend some time trying it with the Perfect Wave. But I would be surprised if an 8 or 9 year old machine with a 1.8GHz cpu could do a good job of handling Vista.
Also, is the 1TB hdd installed as a second hard drive (highly preferable), or is it serving as the main "c" drive, on which Windows and program files are located (which is definitely not preferable, especially in a marginal computer)?
sorry for the lack of info Al and 4est . running j river media center 15. new 1T hard drive is my only hard drive and holds everything.
pc is a desktop purchased in late 2004/early 05 i think?. can't remember if i upgraded to vista or it came with it. it's a dual core is all i know for sure (pentium D). thought that's what p4 meant??. maybe i am wrong about the p4 part?. have no issue's with the machine itself. does what i need and works fine. just questioning the audio/hi fi/hi res capabilities. might be answering my own questions as i upload music from my disc's. discovered today this machine can't handle hi res audio dvd's and is very slow at ripping redbook as well.
Elevik makes a good point. have spent more on cables and such so what's the big deal in upgrading a source for a grand. think it's a mental thing i have about computers. ic's, speaker cables, power cords, power supply ect... are fun...computers are not. need to accept that computer will be a part of my hi-fi rig from now on.
4est and Larry....you had to bring up apple!!!!!!=)
have beat myself up repeatedly regarding a mac of some type. air, mini, even a macbook pro have been in my shopping cart many times. can't tell you how many times i've come close to "proceed to checkout" at the apple store. love my iphone and ipod. just hate the idea of having 2 computers. need a home pc regardless so this pc upgrade will happen eventually. 2 birds with one rock was my reasoning for not going with an apple and upgrading the pc instead. that along with needing external hard drives and such kinda scared me off. you guys have me thinking about apple again. that Mach2Music thing has recently caught my attention as well. bottom line is it's all just so confusing and a new pc is so easy and cheap. maybe i need to learn more and rethink this decision..
any input would be appreciated. kind of at a crossroads here and know near nothing about the topic(computers in general).
OK. The Pentium D was indeed introduced just about 6 years ago, in 2005. It is not the same thing as the P4, the main difference being that the D is dual core, as you realize, while the P4 was single core. The architecture of each core in the D is generally similar to that of the P4, though.
I was not aware that any Pentium D's were released having speeds as slow as 1.8GHz, though.
In any event, for several reasons I would strongly recommend that you have at least 3 hard drives, regardless of whether you try to use the existing computer, or obtain a new Windows PC, or obtain a Mac.
One drive would be for your internal system drive (the "c" drive in Windows), on which operating system files, program files, emails, small data files, etc. would be stored. That drive can be small (e.g., 256gB, or perhaps even 128gB), but should be fast (7200 or 10,000 rpm).
If you are using the existing computer, or a new full-size desktop computer, the 1TB (or other) large drive should be installed as a second internal drive, and would be used to store the music files, or other large amounts of data. It needn't be particularly fast (5400 rpm would probably be ok, although 7200 rpm is preferable). If you go with a laptop or mini that can't accommodate a second internal drive, you would use an external drive connected via usb, or firewire or esata if those ports are provided on the computer.
If you purchase a new computer that can't accommodate a second internal drive, and you decide to get rid of the old computer, you could put the existing 1TB drive into an external enclosure that you would purchase, and connect it to the computer via usb or firewire or esata. It would have to be reformatted, of course, to get rid of the os and other stuff that is presently on it. That is easy to do.
You should also have a large external large drive for backups of the music files and other data.
If you want to go with the existing computer, you can migrate the os installation from the 1TB drive to a smaller "c" drive, without having to reinstall Windows and all of your programs, by using a drive imaging program, or possibly the "system image" function that I think is provided in Vista. Let us know if you'd like further info on doing that.
On the question of whether the old computer, if properly configured and running smoothly, would sound different from a new one in your application, I don't think it is predictable. I assume the computer is located some distance away from the bridge and the audio system, since you mentioned that the connection path is wireless. That would seem to eliminate, or at least reduce, the possibility of rfi/emi from the computer causing sonic issues. (That kind of problem, if present, could be either better or worse with a new computer). And if I'm understanding correctly that the signal would be output from the computer either from it's ethernet (lan) port via an ethernet cable connected to a router, or from a built-in wireless adapter, I'm not sure what other hardware effects could come into play that might affect sonics.
many thanks Al. didn't think about the benefits of multi hard drives. the upgraded pc's i've looked at could easily have 2 1T drives and a third smaller C drive. can use the new 1T drive i already have and add a 500m drive to the new one. am leaning very hard towards the upgrade right now. it's something i'm gonna do regardless so why not sooner then later. cheap tires on a sports car comes to mind. what's the point.
think it's a done deal. just need to find a great deal on a nice box
thanks for the input and help all