It's not complicated. Get a soundcard with ASIO drivers (Budget: M-Audio, E-Mu, Echo Audio, ESI; Mid-to-High: Digital Audio Labs, RME Audio, Lynx Studio), and download Foobar2000 and Exact Audio Copy. In Foobar2000, select the use of ASIO drivers and/or kernel streaming to bypass the Windows 2000/XP k mixer.
Thanks for the response - that makes it sound kinda easy! Is there any sound quality difference between using ASIO drivers or kernel streaming?
And no - Mac is not similarly handicapped :-)
You can get the Chaintec 710 for about 25.00 dollars and set the output to 44 khz. Output to the DAC is toslink only on this card. Foobar as the frontend with kernel streaming. Should be no differnce in sound output when you are bit perfect.
Airport Express from Apple will stream (wire or wireless) 44.1KHz signal from your pc to dac but you have to used iTunes as your media player.
Thanks for the replies. I'm thinking I may go the Mac route. It seems much simpler all round and a lot easier than putting together my own pc!
Bailey - the Mac is a very easy way to go. Reason being that iTunes does a really nice job integrating the ripping with the library management functions. And while a few very expert people may argue the point, you get this ease of use with absolutely no loss of quality. It is vastly to get great results from the Mac then from EAC, Foobar and all the rest...
The Mac is also very open - you have all the standard ways to get the data out of the Mac - USB, Squeezebox via Ethernet or WiFi and Airport Express to name the three most common. And iTunes will also support your iPod.
FWIW Apple sold 14 million iPods in Q4 2005. iTunes is a robust format that is well supported with continuous development (albeit mostly to drive sales for the iTunes store). IMHO a lot of people are going to be targeting this market with software and hardware offerings that extend the usefulness of the base product.
If you don't want to mess with it, this is the way to go
I actually already have an iPod, which again is making me lean towards a Mac. As you mention, it sounds just far simpler. EAC, Foobar, ASIO drivers etc to me is less seamless than what a Mac offers.
Not to start a MAC vs PC war, but iTunes and iPods to me are in the realm of MP3, and as an audiophile, I find no interest in them.
However, I may be ignorant, because it seems to me people around here are increasingly comfortable in talking about iPods, MP3, and the likes. Am I missing something?
Maybe - for one thing iTunes and iPod are platform agnostic...
I am in agreement with you that MP3 sounds like crap on a high end system
The magic starts after you get past MP3 - which means encoding in Apple Lossless or something of its ilk to get the superior results everyone is enjoying. That's when eliminating the transport from the equation pays off.
BTW I am also not going to argue that the iPod is the best way to go - but a Waveterminal or a Squeezebox into a quality system might change your mind.
I certainly don't consider my iPod to be a high-end piece of gear. My line of thinking is that with a Mac I can use iTunes and get a 44.1KHz digital signal to my external dac, straight out of the box.
I had been considering a pc, but in addition to iTunes (which I would still need for my iPod), I would also need Foobar, EAC, ASIO drivers etc. It's just a far less 'elegant' solution.
Thanks, was just concerned with how the MP3s (the likes) are becoming commonly used phases around here. I love the idea of a hard drive as a source. I will be building mine around the Lynx one card, which is about $240 on eBay. Will upgrade to lynx 2, when it falls to $300 (I can wait!).
I am using the Aragon Aurum, which has only analog [balanced] inputs - digital out will not work for me. Besides, has anyone around here tested the electrical noise inside a PC? I know there are reasons to suspect all kinds of electro-magnetic inductions, but is it to a degree that an internal DAC will not work? Has anyone actually substantiated this impossibility? Lynx specs are pretty good considering they were done inside a PC!
If you are curious about windows PC, itunes, APX and kmixer and
your setup is itunes(windows XP) --> APX --> DAC, try this little experiment on your winXP PC. Disable the sound card. Reboot to safe mode. Delete kmixer.sys to recycle bin so you can restore the file later (need to boot to safemode to delete the file though). Reboot PC then run itunes. See if you can use itunes to play to the remote speakers. This will prove that whether or not the kmixer will do anything to the audio stream. Remember to restore kmixer and re-enable the sound card when done.
Obviously, you have done it. What is the result?
It plays perfectly to the remote speaker without the present of soundcard or kmixer.sys in a Windows PC. Cheers
Thank you! I am getting conflicting answers and your test has eliminated any doubt.
Windows iTunes->AX->Toslink->DAC is BIT PERFECT!
I do have 1 more unclear question.
I notice iTunes allows volume control on the remote speakers. Do you know how iTunes control the volume on the remote speakers since the audio signal did not process by k-mixer?
The test only prove that the stream doesn't go through kmixer and isn't processed by the soundcard. I believe the bit will be perfect if you turn off the volume control, crossfade, sound enhancer and sound check in iTunes preferences.