I'm new at computer audio, but I'm really curious to see what responses your post will elicit.
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Why flash drives, not CD’s? Because the big problem with the Digital Music is one thing called jitter. And with this solution you throw away the major source of problems in this matter. Optical drives and their Digital MASTER internal clock’s.While I don't doubt that the approach you have described can yield excellent results if well implemented, it will by no means necessarily eliminate jitter.
The S/PDIF interface itself is inherently prone to jitter, to a greater or lesser degree depending on many component-specific and cable-specific variables, including of course the jitter rejection capability of the DAC. Arguably the jitter introduced by that interface is in general a considerably more significant issue than the jitter that may occur internally within a well designed CD player.
The idea of storing the music in flash memory is intriguing, nevertheless, although a considerable number of memory cards would be required to hold even a modestly sized collection. And as a rough approximation, flash storage is around ten times as expensive per gigabyte as hard drive storage is these days.
Although their prices have come down substantially, Tom, SSD's are still quite expensive. They are generally still upwards of a dollar per gigabyte, and somewhat more expensive on that basis than the separate flash memory cards or USB flash drives that were discussed above. Whereas a 1,000 gigabyte HDD can be had for not much more than $100, and that is likely to come down significantly later in the year when the supply shortfall that resulted from flooding in Asia last year improves.
The major technical difference between what the OP has described and use of an SSD is of course the need for a computer, rather than a "media player," to run an SSD, at least if one of the few available USB external SSD's is not being used. And of course there are lots of tradeoffs between the many possible computer-based approaches and approaches that don't use computers, which as you've seen have been the subject of many threads here.
I'm so sorry but you are wrong, so wrong.
I challenge you to do what I sad earlier, I mean, replace any CD by a media player abd a USB pen (same DAC or the digital input of the CD). You will be amazed!
The major source of the CD is the optical devide and all the electronic needed to try to get it trough.
I deed this experience not only at home but with a friend that has: Meridian Transport and DAC, amp Mcintoch and Speakers Sonus Faber.
He was dazzled!
So make your one experience and by the way I don't use coaxial. I use Toslink.
One thing more:
You don't need to use SDD!
The USB Pen's or SD cards they work fine.
Any pen or card will easily transfer 5 MB/s (or better) of data. It's more than enough!
The 16 bit WAV file have a 1411 kb/s bit rate.
The 24 bit WAv file have a 4608 kb/s bit rate.
So, you don't need no SDD (if you don't mind change your card once in a while.
But remember that you can store 40 to 50 albums depending on size.
So, if you'll do the math:
with just 10 cards you can store 500 album's.
10 cards x 30$ = 300$. And you'll store 500 album's (16 bit)
Fernando, my statement that a S/PDIF interface, whether coax or Toslink, is inherently prone to levels of jitter that may often be audibly significant is a statement of fact. I could provide a lengthy technical explanation of the reasons for that, but you seem to have sufficient technical knowledge for that to be unnecessary.
My statement that the jitter levels associated with that interface will often be more significant than the jitter that occurs internally within a WELL DESIGNED cd player is admittedly debatable, and is a question that probably cannot be easily settled. Notice that I qualified my statement with the word "arguably."
In any event, as I said I don't doubt that the approach you have described can, if well implemented, yield excellent results.
It should be noted, though, that the two specific media players you indicated you are familiar with sell at NewEgg.com for $59.99 and $99.99 respectively. And each device provides many functions and interfaces in addition to playback of flash media to an optical S/PDIF output. It therefore stands to reason that the production cost of the optical S/PDIF interface and associated circuitry in those units is miniscule. While I don't question the quality of the results you obtained in the particular setups you used, some skepticism as to how universally applicable your findings may be would seem to be warranted.
Do you want a better Transport than the Meridian?
I don´t know what are the technical reason's that you mentioned but I'll be glad to read them.
But one thing I know. this sounds better. But its not only better. It's all most perfect.Analogical.
Probably because the data is send to the DAC in a LAMINAR WAY?
With no asynchronous clock issues? I think so.
Another source of jitter are the cables. Mainly the coaxial and their RF antenna problems. that's why I use toslink. Of course, this must be a good glass fiber and not plastic.
I agree with you that this small boxes can be improved of course.
But with less things and not more.
One improvement is the power supply as in many other components in a audio system.
I'm working in a DC/DC power supply but it must be LPS (limited power supply) or you damage your little box.
Again, Almarg, do the experience, please. And then forget the "good cd transports".
Hi you all,
I just found one thing!
And I already experiment with SUCCESS.
If your little box as two USB entries, you can have a HDD attached with as good as 2 TB (and with all your collection of album's, unless you have more than 5000 album's).
Then, all you need to do is COPY the album you want to hear to the USB Flash Drive or SD card (my WD Live TV, have two USB's).
But remember to ALWAYS DISCONNECT THE HDD from the box each time you ear music!
That's a BIG DIFFERENCE. Mainly if it is a portable USB HDD, because the souce of the power it will be your little PS form the box.
From now on, you just need to spend as less as 30$ for a 32 GB USB pen or SD card. And you can have your 50 favorite albums ready to listen.
04-01-12: FmnpFrom this white paper by the noted audio designer Charles Hansen of Ayre:
... the standard S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) digital connection used with two-box solutions is flawed, unavoidably and needlessly introducing jitter into the audio playback system.Also see the following paper by the distinguished authority and academician Malcolm Hawksford:
Is The AESEBU/SPDIF Digital Audio Interface Flawed?
And these articles as well:
The Jitter Game
Jitter in Digital Audio Data Streams
In addition to the problems that are inherent in extracting a jitter-free clock from the single S/PDIF signal that combines clock and data and other information, the precision with which the DAC can detect the timing of the signal transitions (between the voltage states corresponding to 0's and 1's) that ultimately are used to perform that extraction will be limited by noise on the signal waveform, by distortion of the waveform, and by the bandwidth limitations of the interface (resulting in slow risetimes and falltimes). All of these things will contribute, to some degree, to fluctuations from one clock interval to the next in the timing with which the start and end of the interval is sensed by the DAC.
Toslink has inherently limited bandwidth, and correspondingly slow risetimes and falltimes. Risetimes and falltimes of electrical S/PDIF signals are intentionally limited in order to reduce RFI emissions. Noise is always present to some degree on electrical signals, and in the case of coaxial S/PDIF will be contributed to by ground loop effects between the connected components, as well as by noise generated in the connected components which couples onto the signal, and by pickup in the cabling. Waveform distortion will arise in coaxial S/PDIF connections as a result of reflections caused by impedance mismatches between the cable and the components that it connects. Also, anecdotal indications seem to be that Toslink commonly suffers from low transducer quality, which contributes to jitter.
Hi again Tom,
If you want to use SDD, dont use portable. Use a SDD hard drive with their own PS (power supply).
But I still believe that the SD card or the USB pen will be better.
Because they don't' need more PS attached to the box (and their problems associated) and they consume less power than a SDD (I think, but I'm not sure). If any one noes, please tell us.
But, the best thing, always is to experiment. So, go ahead and do it.
I believe that this article shows that I'm right.
If you read carefully he said:
"But that low jitter only matters at one critical point—at the D/A chip itself".
In this LAMINAR STREAMING there's no time misalignment and not any kind of jitter produced by optical devices with their error correction systems and angular velocities problems!
That's why it sounds so good!
I hope you will do the experience by yourself.
If it will not sound better, I'll buy you a dinner.
04-01-12: FmnpHi Fernando,
No, what he is saying is that if a S/PDIF interface is in the path between the source of the signal and the DAC, the presence of the S/PDIF interface will significantly add to the jitter on the signal that is ultimately applied to the D/A chip itself (unless ASRC technology, which some people consider to have issues of its own, is used in the DAC). A one-box CD player does not have a S/PDIF interface and the issues that go with it. It may, of course, have other problems that contribute to jitter, especially if it is not well designed.
In any event, as I said a couple of times I don't doubt that the approach you have suggested can provide excellent results, certainly if it is implemented with good quality components, and I'm glad that it has worked out well for you. And thanks for the offer :-)
I don't dispute that the s/pdif could introduce some jitter.
But it will much, much less then that introduced by the optical device, mechanical parts and vibrations, Power supply, correction errors, angular velocity corrections, etc, etc. and time misalignment.
Of course, if we could have a LAMINAR STREAMING with no s/pdif it would be even better.
But the solution that I found is BETTER even with the S/PDIF than the best CD Player because of those problems I've mentioned.
And it would be something to prove that the toslink S/PDIF introduce jitter (at lest, audible). Why? there's no RF interference (unlike coaxial).
Ask what the studios use in there's SPDIF connections.
The only losses could be the quality of the fiber or the lengh. But with so small lenght's (1 to 2 m)...
So, buy a good fiber glass (not plastic) cable and do the trial.
04-01-12: FmnpI don't think that either of us is in a position to conclusively assert which jitter source is generally worse. But here is a relevant quote from the Charles Hansen white paper I referenced, referring to his highly respected firm Ayre Acoustics:
Since introducing the radically innovative Ayre D-1 DVD Player in 1999, we’ve been a leader in digital audio technology for the succeeding ten years. Yet in all that time Ayre has never offered an outboard D/A converter box, instead concentrating on one-box disc players. The reason for this is quite simple — the standard S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) digital connection used with two-box solutions is flawed, unavoidably and needlessly introducing jitter into the audio playback system.Ayre did not introduce a standalone DAC until the development of asynchronous USB technology, enabling an essentially jitter-free interface to be established between the DAC and a computer.
And previously, when they presumably considered and rejected the idea of introducing a two-box transport + DAC combination linked via S/PDIF, they most certainly would not have felt constrained by the need to design the transport such that it could be sold at the sub-$100 price point of your media players!
And it would be something to prove that the toslink S/PDIF introduce jitter (at lest, audible). Why? there's no RF interference (unlike coaxial).As I understand it professional equipment generally doesn't use S/PDIF at all. It uses AES/EBU, which while subject to some of the downsides of coaxial S/PDIF, will generally be subject to those effects to a considerably smaller degree, as a result of its balanced configuration, presumably faster risetimes and falltimes, and larger signal amplitudes.
With respect to Toslink, I agree that glass is highly preferable to plastic. But although Toslink is not subject to a number of the jitter-related effects that can occur with coaxial S/PDIF, Toslink is arguably even more prone to jitter, as a result of its limited bandwidth, slow risetimes and falltimes, and questionable transducer quality, all of which can cause jitter when the optical signal is transformed to or created from the corresponding electrical signal. And, furthermore, BOTH Toslink and coaxial S/PDIF face the problem of extracting a clock having minimal jitter from the conglomeration of data, clock, and other information that is combined into the single S/PDIF signal.
I'm just about certain that if you were to research posts by audiophiles who have systems in which either Toslink or coaxial S/PDIF could be chosen, with everything else remaining the same, you would find that more often than not their listening assessments resulted in coax being chosen.
Finally, quoting from the last of the four references I provided:
Another interesting thing about audibility of jitter is it's ability to mask other sibilance in a system. Sometimes, when the jitter is reduced in a system, other component sibilance is now obvious and even more objectionable than the original jitter was. Removing the jitter is the right thing to do however, and then replace the objectionable component. The end result will be much more enjoyable.It would therefore seem possible that the reason your media players, costing less than $100, provided subjectively better results than the expensive Meridian transport you compared them to was that the media players caused an INCREASE in jitter, whose spectral characteristics happened to be pleasing.
I dont want any more to argue about a thing that I already LISTEN that it's MUCH MUCH BETTER.
As I said before, surly the cables have their problems, but they are much better solution compared with all problems of the mechanical transport as I've said many times(too many) before.
Please, do me a favor! Go do the experience and then if you still think that you are right them post it.
If not, don't listen so much to the people that want to produce and sell CD Players, transports and PC cards.
P.S. The dinner is still ON.
Probably because the data is send to the DAC in a LAMINAR WAY?
Lessloss is addressing this as we speak with their "computer audio" solution that eliminates the computer in favor of SD cards. You can read about it here:
Ironically they call it the Laminar Streamer.
I've been using a CEC TL51X transport slaved to a Lessloss DAC 2004 MkII for years and the Laminar streamer will offer a similar synchronous solution (or asynchronous if I read correctly when using a non-Lessloss DAC). I heard a prototype of the device at RMAF last year and was pretty impressed. I suspect the cost for the Lessloss Laminar Streamer will be prohibitive to many of us though.
That's exactly what have sad before.
But, I’m already using it with my economical solution: read the beginning.
You have the best approach that can be done with an optical device to read the data.
But what I’m talking about is even better than any CD Player or transport.
Right now I have finished my DC/DC power supply for the media box and...BEAUTIFUL, JUST BEAUTIFUL, just beaten with the best of the best turntables. Believe me. Do the experience.
Hi Fmnp, I just bought a dac today and am somewhat interested in this. I have a few questions though but I'm not real computer illiterate so please forgive me for that. Is the SD card the same one that is used for cameras? What is a 32 gb pen? Can you put the contents on the WD media player from your flash drive, then reuse the same flash drive to keep filling up the media player with just one card or do you just play your songs from each card? Sorry I'm so ignorant about computers, I do have one with my songs on it but I am looking for an easier solution to store my music on, as well as storing my videos.
Hi Fmnp, I just bought a dac today and am somewhat interested in this. I have a few questions though but I'm not real computer illiterate so please forgive me for that. Is the SD card the same one that is used for cameras? What is a 32 gb pen? Can you put the contents on the WD media player from your flash drive, then reuse the same flash drive to keep filling up the media player with just one card or do you just play your songs from each card? Sorry I'm so ignorant about computers, I do have one with my songs on it but I am looking for an easier solution to store my music on, as well as storing my videos. Sandra
Hi Smw30yahoocom (what a nickname!)
I'm glad to explain you whatever you need to know because I'm so happy with the sound that I achieved.
If your media player support CF (compact flash) SD card or other memory card, it will be fine.
The 32 Gb Pen it's a USB Pen! The media players have normally 1 or 2 USB inputs.
One of the secrets is to hear your music files trough one memory card or USB Pen.
The music files MUST BE in the WAV format and be ripped from the CD's trough a rip program (I suggest EAC),
If you don't want to have to many Pen or Memory cards, and if you have 2 USB input's, you could have a HDD with your complete collection and a PEN in the other USB input.
But ALWAYS listen the music trough the Memory card or USB Pen.
Hi Fmnp, so a USB flash drive would work also? I have used EAC for a long time, most of my music is either wav or flac. I never heard of a usb pen but I looked it up and there it was. So I will probably buy the Western Digital TV live hub as it stores music too, and use a flash drive to try it. Does the media player have their own music player or can I use Foobar or J. River? Thanks, Sandra
(When I first joined here I didn't know what I was doing and put in my email for my name. Now I know better but I don't think I can change it.)
If I was you I would buy the WDTV Live (no HDD) if you like to hear music mostly. Because all the electronics and mechanical parts involved with HDD contribute a lot for the noise in the signal.
Second with a WDTV Live you can have as many USB HDD (external) as you want. Since the WDTV Live has two USB inputs you can always have your collection in a HDD and a USB just to hear the music (copy from HDD to USN Pen).
Hi Fernando, I got my Western Digital live TV today but haven't had a chance to listen to it. I hooked up the WD to my TV only and really like the display. I'll hook it up to my stereo tomorrow and give it a listen. It's waaay smaller than I thought it would be, it's only about 4X4X1, much smaller than it looked. Anyway, will listen to it in the morning and let you know how it sounds. Sandra
Well I listened to my system today with my dac (Wadia 121, the Western Digital toslink and a flash drive. I think it did sound very good, just not sure it sounded better than my computer hookup with USB. I do like the interface with the WD, it is very nice. I will listen to it some more in the coming days to evaluate it better. I think this Wadia dac is phenominal for only $1200 + tax. It is so detailed, neutral, balanced, I just love it. Fernando, if I listen to my music from an external hard drive, do I still have to have my dac hooked up with toslink? I am thinking about getting a nice glass toslink cable to try. Thanks, Sandra
Hi FP, I have been playing my dac with my smaller system (Polk 40 monitor speakers, cheap Sherwood receiver) and it still sounds great. I am experimenting with different cables, leaving pre-amp in/out of chain, etc. and I don't want to keep hooking and unhooking up my tube amps. I like putting my songs on a flash drive as my computer music is so disorganized. The only thing that I don't like is that it won't play high resolution music, but if it sounds good the way it is, then it doesn't matter. Thanks for the help and tip. Sandra
Bom Dia, Fernando
I too have discovered "computer audio".
For me, a flash drive stuck into my Pioneer receiver is less resolving than direct from computer via PS PW1 DAC.
I will admit a low noise floor this way, but just as good
noise-wise direct from DAC. Possibly because the jitter is
so reduced from a good DAC. In my case, an average receiver
with a good DAC. I would like to hear from others how they
playback from flash drive.
One Update to this post.
I now have a coaxial output digital source: the TVROI player.
You don’t need to have this particular device. But...
One thing is certain: The coaxial output is even much better than the optical (if you have a good interconnect cable).
And if you (like I already did) get a good aluminum box to protect the player (the inside, not the whole device), connected to ground to isolate the RFI am EMI then...
Even much better, than my previous solution.