Audiophile newbie Part 2

I posted this thread not too long ago about equipment and things to consider for a young up-and-coming audiophile. Thanks to those you responded with helpful info!

I tend to be drawn towards digital media formats. And less towards the idea of vinyl. (Think scratches and dust and moving parts)

What is your optimal bit-rate when playing a digital file?
What's your favorite way to send music from a computer to a hi-fi system? (USB?)

My preferred way is using a USB cable to a nice DAC. However, someone younger may want wireless from an ipod. The problem there is the quality is usually limited to MP3 from an ipod.
Some DAC's and players can connect via wifi (Oppo for example). The problem there is it is not always easy to read the computer files.
So again, I'd stress decent software such as media player or jriver or 100 other choices via usb to a dac to your amp.
Another way to simplify that is to get an amp with USB input such as a peachtree. That has a really nice built in DAC instead of needing an external dac.

For bit rate: There's no reason not to use the maximum available. What is your cd ripped at? What can your DAC handle?
To Elevick,

My question about bit-rate could be better worded: what's the lowest bit-rate that you would still consider hi-fi?

Thanks for the input!

"What is your optimal bit-rate when playing a digital file?"

Mumbo Jumbo numbers are not the rewarding path to the promised land. There are certain hard facts out there:

(1) No matter what else you select MP3 versus an uncompressed PCM digital format is like comparing a mule to a thoroughbred ... 'nuff said.

(2) The vast, VAST, majority of digital recordings are CD quality 44/16. XRCDs make a huge improvement difference (assuming that you have the kit that will make use of the resolution step-up). It is essentially "proper" CD quality recording with the compression and other related crap removed (usually introduced for airplay)

(3) A high-end QUALITY DAC playing at that "44/16 will generally smoke a cheap(er) unit that claims to upsample to a higher level and get better results

(4)Using a cheap PC and a cheap cable as your source is OK BUT a hi-end digital player matched to the DAC (e.g inter alia BRYSTON / LINN / NAIM)is not an insignificant improvement either.

(5) There are some good articles out there, for example:

Why some high resolution music isn’t worth the extra dough

Akg, I agree with most of what you say. Red Book 44/16 is the minimum of what I want to listen to.
HOWEVER, I will argue the point about a high end player vs a pc. A group of friends and I just compared 2 units playing and identical cd (did this with several albums). Ripped a Patricia Barber Cd onto my pc. From there it went to a nice USB cable to a MF VLink to a Shiit Bifrost. This sounded amazing.
Then we played the same cd on a Heavily Modded Music Hall (by parts connection) just as the transport with an nice MIT toslink into the bifrost. There was virtually no difference.
Yes, if I had a $10k transport and a $5k DAC we may have noticed something but not at this level. We are all quite surprised at what lossless on an average pc could do as a digital source.
16-bit 44.1kHz (CD-quality)
jwilsco, please look into the pc audio section in this forum. Including a recent thread were we went into this. Use the search engine, and you can look for my user-id. Computers can take you a long way. You can start super simple (laptop and asynch usb DAc), and tweak/complicate it as much as you deem worth it.

Take a look into too. Check out what people are saying about using windows server 2012 and AudioPhil's Optimizer. I am doing this and I'm amazed at the sound improvement.
Jwil, I have gone pure analogue in the past two years but up till then I ran digital files via Mac , iPod, iPad etc... Into several DAC's. You'll want to explore DAC's that have a USB. My favorite which to my ears in my modest system was MHDT paradisea - I also had a very inexpensive Lite DAC-Ah (about $130) that was awesome - not as smooth or dimensional as the MHDT but deep bass and dynamics galore. These did not have USB but I ran them with a USB adapter from Mapleshade. I believe the current model MHDT Havana has a USB input. Also the Mapleshade digital interconnect was paramount in delivering warm detailed and grain free sound - I suspect their USB cable would do the same.

So look for a great DAC and USB cable. - simple, I should have said that first!

Wow so many questions!!
As for an operating system for a computer transport I can attest to the very noticeable SQ improvement with Server2012R2. Stripping it out (as AudioPhil did)lead to a very noticeable improvement in SQ again.

I use a simple USB DAC (Dragonfly) and JPLAY(mini) and Kernel Stream the data. All cables are Audioquest (DAC to amp and bi-wired to speakers.

You want to stay away from DACs the upsample/downsample.

As for sample rate, more is better! Stay away from anything compressed. Look into DSD though.