As good as CD playback

My question is... Can a Exterior NAS HD with a fast router and a laptop with ssd, JRiver and Fidelizer optimization program using USB out to a USB asynchronous Dac (Schiit Bifrost) have as good of sound as my transport playing CD's into the same DAC ? Whew, forgive the run on sentence.

I'm very happy with the sound I'm getting with my transport to DAC SQ. I know there are music servers that are better than a laptop, but I am very limited in being computer savvy. I want to keep it simple and affordable.

I've got the opportunity to get 6,000 albums give to me. All uncompressed formats. A lot of DSD files also. I can add a DSD reader to my DAC in the future.

Anyway... can CD quality playback be accomplished with the latest greatest NAS, Laptop with SSD and a asynchronous DAC. Thanks in advance.
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Also... will 4 gigs of ram and 128ssd be enough for hi rez dsd files?
I've been using Apple Mac Mini as a dedicated music server with 500SSD, 8g ram, Latest Asynchronous DAC, Solid Core Silver Cables, Amarra and Linear PSU. And this sounds a lot better than my CDP, Sonos and Turntable System.

Finally, I can clearly understand each word of the song and the details from each instrument.

The short answer is yes. I think you'll discover that CD quality is easily attainable on all CDs that you rip to a NAS, whether you use a standard hard drive or a ssd. On hi-rez files (24bit/96khz and above), you'll probably achieve better than CD sound quality, especially if you use files that were recorded direct to digital as opposed to files that were just transferred to a hi-rez format from the original master.

The issue you'll run into, however, is that not all hi-rez file retailers are willing and able to give you an accurate provenance on all their files. Provenance seems to have become the accepted term for hi-rez files that describes how hi-rez a file actually is; basically the history of how the file was produced.

I haven't updated my system profile yet, but here's my system setup:

A Synology 2TB NAS, with a Seagate 2TB backup drive, located in my family room next to my wi-fi router. Both hard drives are standard spinning disk types and all hookups are via standard USB cables. I believe substituting solid-state hard drives would be quieter and faster.

My main system is located about 40 ft away in my living room and is used for both 2-channel music and 5.1 surround for ht. I'm using an Oppo 105 as a surround processor, bluray player and use its internal asynchronous Saber dac for all CD and hi-rez music file playback. I use a laptop, running JRiver, at my listening position to control all music playback. My entire CD collection has been ripped to the NAS along with a handful of 24/96 hi-rez FLAC downloads. The laptop, Oppo and NAS are all connected to my wi-fi and communicate with each other wirelessly (the Oppo comes with a wireless fob that is attached internally as a USB port).

The overall result of this setup is a high quality jukebox; ultra-convenient and fun to use.

You seem to be set on hard wiring your setup. When I setup mine, the general consensus was that hard wired offered better performance. I tried it wired and wireless and could detect no difference so I went with the more convenient wireless. I've had no issues with drop outs or less than excellent sound quality during about 6 months of usage.

My advice would be to go forward with it.

Hope this helped and good luck,

The amount of RAM you have is inconsequential as long as you have enough for your OS and the applications you use to work properly. 4GB is enough for Windows of any flavor. 6-8GB would be better, but not mandatory.

As for the 128GB SSD, I'm not sure what you're asking here. The SSD should be used as your boot drive containing the OS.

You will then need enough physical storage to house the 6,000 albums to be digitized. I would think that a couple of 3TB drives (one for the files, the other as a mirror backup) would suffice. 3TB USB drives can be bought for $100-150 ea...

Thank you to all that have commented. I'm a little apprehensive in my venture. But these are encouraging words.
I think I'm going to go forward with the PC Audio. I'm not that knowledgeable in computers, but I feel if others have figured it out... so can I.
Would like to hear more experiences with a similar setup as mine.

I think, once your setup is completed and you start using it, you'll wish you would have setup a computer audio system earlier. I know that was exactly my thought.

There are a few other good sites besides A'gon, and, that are very good sources of info on computer audio. Computer Audio is probably better for info on how to get started but both are very good for general info, new and upcoming products and finding sources of good hi-rez music files.

I did about a month of research on-line before I worked out a plan on how to proceed. These sites have formulas to determine how large your storage drive should be, based on file types used times the number of files you expect to store. I initially determined a 1TB hard drive would be about right but I bought a 2TB NAS and backup drive just to prevent running out of storage space. The earlier suggestion for a 3TB drive is probably a good one if you want to play it safe.

It sounds like you have a laptop and DAC already. It also seems you plan to have all your hardware either in, or near, your equipment rack since your DAC does not accept a wireless signal. I would recommend looking into a wireless system so your laptop can be located at your listening position. This would require buying a wireless USB receiver (I know Crutchfields amongst others sell them) that would be placed near your DAC. This small receiver would be getting music file data from your wireless NAS and then passing them along, via a USB cable to your DAC input.

JRiver Media Center software is also a good choice. It is probably the most highly recommended program currently available for digital audio and video management. However, it's the only one I've ever used so I'm probably biased. I'm not an expert on computer audio/video, by any means, but I have very few complaints after using it for 6 months. It only costs about $50 to download (with a choice of either Apple or Windows versions) and access to their 'Getting Started' tutorial and user's forum is included. You get a lot of functionality (that I continue to discover) and information for a small investment in a product that continues to evolve. I initially purchased version 17 and currently using their latest version 20. In fact, I would suggest you buy and download version 20 for Apples now so you can get a headstart on your learning curve and take advantage of the wealth of resouces that comes with it.

A last word of warning concerns backup strategies and equipment; use a good dose of common sense when reading about these. You'll read of the importance of 'redundancy' in your backups. Basically, redundancy involves having multiple (redundant) backup drives just in case one of your hard drives goes bad. These strategies can get a bit extreme since they were developed for critical business data and irreplaceable personal files (like family photos, Phd dissertations and personal documents). Most people would not consider music and video files irreplaceable. If you store the physical copies of any ripped CDs, then these files are replaceable. Yes, it would be a pain to rip them again but at lest you're up a creek with a paddle. You can also copy all your downloaded hi-rez files to a separate portable drive, if you're especially paranoid about it. Ultimately, it's an individual determination on how much value is placed on audio and video files and how much time, effort and money to devote to their backups. Risk tolerance varies by individual. I just use a single 2TB Seagate backup drive, store all my CDs and have no extra backup for my handful of hi-rez files but have spent less than $200 for backup hardware. If you're concerned about losing files, you may want to invest more and be safer. I've read that hard drive crashes occur more than you'd think.

Good luck on your journey to 21st century audio. You're welcome to contact me via pms anytime along the way if you have questions or need assistance.
You experience with USB will depend entirely on the design of the USB interface, either in the DAC or the USB converter. Most USB implementations are poor, so a good transport ($1K+) will usually beat it.

There are exceptions though that beat the vast majority of transports. The experience of the designer is key. If they have done multiple custom USB designs, this is usually an indicator.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Good points, I don't know if I just got lucky and my wifi environment is very good or the wireless receiver and the internal USB interface on my Oppo 105 is very good, but I'm getting excellent results. I've never used a separate wireless USB receiver so I refrained from recommending a specific brand/model. I only know they exist and that he may not want to go to his rack every time he wanted to change the file played.

Convenience seems to be a driving force in audio these days, especially with younger generations. Computer audio, if nothing else, is extremely convenient. Having your entire music collection displayed on your laptop with the files stored on a wireless NAS, located in a separate room if desired, without cumbersome wires required and with playback as easy as pointing and clicking, is the equivalent of a modern day jukebox. Storing and playing back at a minimum of CD quality and up to the hi-rez format quality of your choice, is an excellent solution for a music system that has zero degradation of sound quality no matter how many times it's been played back.

I think this type of music storage and playback system goes beyond being just a modern, high quality and elegant audio system solution. I believe most good audio engineers would classify this level of audio quality combined with its extraordinary convenience, technically, as delicious.


In theory they should have the same sound. In digital, it doesn't matter that the route is longer as long as the sound is not processed in any way by any of the components in the chain (the best example would be an equalizer). My opinion is that it will sound the same. Some purist might tell you otherwise.

Yes, I agree. I've read that it's best to keep things in the digital domain for as long as possible and only convert from digital to analog as a final, or very close to final, step. The idea is to avoid as many conversions, both digital to analog and vice-versa, as possible to ensure data integrity.