i think the answer is: it's a matter of opinion.
i still remember back in the 90's walking into the naim room at ces and listening to the best digital i have ever heard. it was the name cdx--a two chassis system which cost about $7000 then. i haven't heard a turntable/arm and cartridge sound that good. of course i realize that romantic memory may be unreliable. still, i was astounded at the qiality of sound coming from a naim cd played through an all naim system.
i agree with mrtennis that it is a matter of opinion, much like it would be an opinion as to what would constitute the best optical player and the best computer source. for myself, i'm agnostic when it comes to claims about the superiority of one type of source over another. they all have drawbacks and all seem to reflect the preferences and biases of the proponent rather than any absolute superiority of sound. none of my sources are anywhere near the best, but i like and use them all. but still, i hope the moderators find a way to merge this thread with the "are cd players dead?" thread once everyone chimes in. :)
btw, tbg, that appears to be one sweet ass system you have. enjoy!
Anonymoustao, thanks for the compliment. It is a result of about 45 years.
Normally, I would entirely agree with you, but the fact that the act of ripping allows repeated efforts to perfect read, while an optical device has to move along and use error correction if it must, makes me suspect a computer source is better.
The issue is largely one of thinking about an Exemplar/Oppo bdp-95 which would allow me to listen to my many sacds. There is now a way to get sacds onto the harddrive using a Sony Playstation 3 and some software. Most of my sacds are hybrids and are already on the hard drive. I am told the pcm versions of the sacds are clearly superior to the cd versions.
Your system sounds remarkable I'll bet. How about some pictures?
i'd never heard about the ps3 sacd rip ability, but found this:
that's pretty cool. given the low cost of a used pre-2007 ps3 on ebay or craigslist, i would think it would be worth trying out before buying the exemplar oppo. if you're happy with the results, end of story. if not, you can always go buy the exemplar and you're just out $100 and some time. if you do go the ps3 route, please post about the results. i may try it too. seems like a fun project and i love open source stuff. wow. very cool.
I'm looking into hard disc based digital myself. Having talked to a few people, had a personal reply to my query from the editor of HiFi+, which was nice of him and been to demos, this seems to be my current take on it and the people I have spoken to.
Good computer audio is very much up with very good, middling expensive CD players. I went to a demo of Olive O6 and Naim HDX at the last weekend. I think both were up there with my Leema Antilla, a good $4000 CD player. The Naim rep said as much. The Naim DAc + Uniti serve, that combination being better than the HDX, were about equal to the Naim CDS3, not the 555.
That is good enough for me, as I could'nt swing for a Naim 555, Zanden or Nagra anyway. That's my view, I am sure others will disagree
Anonymoustao, it is not easy to find the right Play Station 3 with the right software. Most PS3 owners are not very knowledgeable about their units and know nothing about sacds or what version of the software they have.
David12, I have yet to hear the Naim 555 but would be unwilling to pay anything like that price, especially as the Exemplar/Oppo has a much improved power supply and cost a fraction of the Naim's price. I really don't know anything to do but to try it versus my Empirical Audio server.
I am also about to experiment with putting my LPs onto my server using Pure Vinyl. This entails which devices I will use to digitize the analog feed. The benefit is, of course, to do the RIAA corrections in digital. I have many 45 rpm records of old jazz that are lovely but a pain.
Just two months ago I would have said that computer based audio was a notch behind the better CD players. After adding a mac/Rega DAC to my system and hearing some other systems I've learned that the CDP is now a notch below. On average they are on par, but the server puts your entire music collection at your fingertips. It's a very seductive and I find I listen to more music now than ever before.
And that last item is the best reason why CDP's will slowly vanish. It's about the music first.
Using a LINN Akurate with WAV and FLAC files (24/192) ripped from dbPoweramp, you will be very, very hard pressed to beat this sound from ANY cd player made. It would be in the 10's of thousands at least in order to even start to compare.
Yes, but the CD player cannot be a conventional design. It must essentially be a computer with CDROM disk that reads CD's at high-speed, converts them to .wav files and then spools the data out of RAM.
The design must obviously incorporate a low-jitter master clock and the implementation must be done by an expert.
Tbg I agree with you, I am not advocating buying any of the expensive players, I can't afford them either. The point was that the consensus I have picked up, is that discless digital is'nt yet up to competing with the very best disc players. It is progressing so fast, it may reach that level in the next few years
David12, I am on my third computer server. The first was a Window unit with Exact Copy and Foobar. It was a pain and so so relative to my Exemplar/Oppo BDP-83 not SE. Second I bought a Weiss Dac202 and an Apple PowerBook Pro with a SSD drive and played Amarra and then Pure Music. This was much better. Finally I got the modified Apple Mini tied with eSATA to a TuneBank raid hard drive and special software for ripping. It also has a TEAC optical drive for ripping. It is designed to work with the Weiss Dac202. This was much better and clearly better than any optical player I have heard. But I have yet to hear the Exemplar/Oppo BDP-95.
"discless" as you call it has better sound than most CD players just due to the nature of CD's moving parts, spinning disc, etc. Any decent DAC fed with hi-res files will trash most any CD player out there. I have heard DAC setups playing 24/96k and 24/192k FLAC or WAV costing under $3k hammer CD players at $10k or more.
Digital is very much caught up to and exceeded CD playback already.