CD transport vs streamer?


I am presently using a squeezebox unmodded and streaming via ethernet (not wi fi) uncompressed files from a Mac. I am feeding this into my Weiss Medea DAC (tried both Toslink and coaxial). However, comparing it to using my Jason transport, the sound is significantly worse. eg in Jazz at the Pawnshop, I can hear the liveness of the recording, on the streamed music it sounds like it was recorded in an anechoic chamber. Same when i stream from my apple TV via toslink.

Has anyone found a way of streaming that actually can outdo a high end CD player?
jglim
my squeezebox/47 labs shigaraki dac performed sonically equivalent to my previous 47 labs shigaraki transport/dac combo. the jason is a far cry above the shig. transport though. of course, comparing a $300 streamer to a $10k+ transport is like comparing a kia rio to a ferrari 599 gtb.
i use jitter devices from my mac before going into an external dac. the sound is every bit as good as my classe cdp-10 player, which is an excellent player. the jitter device and dac cost more than the classe did but you can get excellent sound from a mac.
Doesnt the Jason have a very nice preamp function, how do you compare/isolate that from running the SB3 into the Medea or are you running an preamp in between?
I have not heard the Weiss Medea DAC you're using so can't comment directly on it though it does have a good reputation.

However, I run my Squeezebox through a Lavry DA-10 DAC and am very pleased with my system. I settled on this combo 2 1/2 years ago after going through quite a bit of equipment (including a Transporter) for several years preceding that. I've had no urge to change anything at the source end since.

Also, double-check your settings in the Squeezecenter. There are a bunch of possible configurations and some (such as streaming and decoding formats and volume normalization, for example) can adversely affect the sound quality.
Hi Perrew

I tried running SB3 into the Medea DAC. Jason is purely a transport and I run that also into the Medea. I have also set the SB as bare as possible and still the failure of the SB3 to retrieve the finer details and the failure to potray the ambience/acoustics of the place in which the recording is made is disappointing.
Just out of curiosity, what file format are you using to store the files for the Squeezebox?
Streamer all the way!!!! What is a CD Player?
Hi Misstl,

I'm curious, did you ever compare the Transporter as a stand-alone front-end hooked up with the Lavry as the external DAC ($3000 combo), to the Squeeezbox front-end/ Lavry DAC Combo ($1400 combo).

Or did you just compare the Transporter with built-in DAC ($2000) to the Squeezebox/ Lavry combo ($1400) and decide that it wasn't worth an extra $600 to go with the built-in Transporter's DAC, because it was deemed not as good as the Lavry DAC for less money?

Because I'm prepared to suggest that if you're happy with your Squeezebox/Lavry setup, than you will be ecstatic with the Transporter/Lavry Combo (however $3000 is double the price of your current setup), but since you already own the great Lavry DAC, then you should consider picking up a used Transporter to use as your front-end for around $1400.

The following link and concurrent thread goes into some further detail if you're interested:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1246278090

The title of the thread is "How good of a Dac is the Logitech Transporter, but I'm suggesting that the title of the thread could very well be, " How good of a Transport is the Logitech Transporter."

I hope you enjoy it,

Rich
I agree with Rbstehno about trying a jitter box between your Squeezebox and DAC, something like a Genesis Lens or Assemblage, or wait for the upcoming PS Audio Lens. I've used a number of these with quite good results. It may not bring things into the same league as your Jason transport, but it will likely add substantial improvements.

You might also consider an Olive as a transport. I use a couple IMS, which sort of splits the difference between a transport and computer -- it's a computer hard drive built with audio in mind, with transport functionality and visuals. It's even better if you can find one with mods (Red Wine used to do them, as did Bolder). Modded, it holds its own with my DIY CD-pro2m and my North Star transport (which upsamples the output).

Also, you didn't mention models, but you might experiment with digital cables. IMS, they do sound different. My favorite IMS is the Harmonic Technology Cyberlight/ Photon, which reveals a great sense of ease and openness. I've also had good results with Ridge St. Poiema, Tara One and Stealth Sextet digital cables. Good budget options are the Grover and Analysis + Digital Oval.
Thanks for the link to the other thread, Rich. It was an interesting read.

No, I did not directly compare the SB3/Lavry with the Transporter/Lavry as I didn't have them in-house at the same time. While the Transporter was very good, I do agree with those who say its DAC is a bit on the clinical side.

However, from a budget standpoint, spending $2K to use the Transporter as a transport only is out of whack for my system.

I'm quite pleased with the performance of my system right now, so I guess I'm revealing the modest limits of my audiophileness. I've been far more focused on the conversion of my LP and open reel music collection to digital than chasing equipment changes the past few years.
Hi Mlsstl,

Fair enough, I was just curious to see if others had heard the differnecnces that I have described regarding the Transporter as a streamer only, as compared to the Squeezebox as a streamer only, but I now understand that you owned them at different times.

Happy Listening,
Rich
Jglim, Im not surprised that the CD sounds better, I have heard the Jason/Medea and its a very nice player, have you tried connecting it direct to amp?
Hi Perrew

I have written on another thread that I have tried the Weiss combo straight into my Pass X-1000 and previously had a GNSC statement modded 270/27 into Krell FPB600. Preferred the sound with a preamp in (i have the ARC Ref 3)in both cases. Again seem to impart a greater illusion of physical presence to the images with the pre-amp.
Has anyone here tried sticking an Apple Mac using the optical miniplug output straight into the DAC? Wondering if this more direct connection would outperform streaming
Jglim, I'm still curious about the file format you're using for the Squeezebox. Some formats are not native to the device. While they will play they require transcoding by the server software, so that could be an issue for you.
I am using apple lossless.
I am using apple lossless.
That could be one factor. ALAC is not native to the Squeezebox so has to be transcoded by the Squeezecenter software and streamed to the Squeezebox in a different format.

Check your settings to see which format is being used to stream from Squeezecenter to the box. That could explain the situation, particularly if a setting is off.

And, for an experiment, take a CD where you've noticed a quality difference between your CD player and the Squeezebox and rip that CD to either wave or FLAC format. Both of those are natively decoded. It would be interesting to see if that makes a difference for you.
Hi Mlsstl,

I'm not sure what you mean by Apple Lossless is not a native format to the Squeezebox. Logitech lists it as a supported format in their spec sheet, right along with FLAC, and WMA Lossless.

For what it's worth I'm getting phenomenal sound from the Transporter and terrible sound from the Squeezebox, while both were using Apple Lossless. So possibly it's a processing thing, a jitter thing or a clocking thingy.

Jglim,

In my humble opinion, you will never get the sound that you are looking for through the Squeezebox. I think you should Demo a Transporter. Have fun with it for 30 days and then ship it back if you don't agree with me.

Rich
I'm not sure what you mean by Apple Lossless is not a native format to the Squeezebox.

Check the Slimserver website:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/CodecComparison

From the ALAC entry a shade over halfway down the page:
"- Must be transcoded (automatically) to play on SlimServer"

I had to install the Apple codec on my Squeezecenter in order to play any AAC/ALAC tracks.

I understand your enthusiasm for the Transporter. If I had spare cash to throw at my system I'd probably do the same. I did try it under their 30 day home trial. Sure, they took it back without trouble when I returned it but it is still a hassle to bring it in, return it and tie your credit card up for a couple of months.

OTOH, of the two things I suggested, one he should be doing anyway (double checking file streaming settings) no matter which machine he ends up with and the other might take an hour of time to settle the issue one way or the other.
Thanks for the link.

WAV and FLAC list similar transcoding statements as ALAC does, so I don't think it's an issue. Technically all of these Codec's have to be transcoded. I have heard that larger lossless files that are streamed wirelessly can further tax the streaming buffer, but that's about it.

I'm hoping that he wont want to return it; unless he either wants to buy a used one, or I fell off my rocker.

Mlsstl, what file streaming settings are you referring to?

Rich
...WAV and FLAC list similar transcoding statements as ALAC does,

No, that is a very different statement. It applies only to the original SliMP3 and the first generation Squeezebox 1. No one is talking about those models in this conversation.

Here's the WAV/FLAC statement: "- Must be transcoded (automatically) to play on SlimServer with older (SB1/SLIMP3) hardware"

Decoding for WAV/FLAC in all later Squeezeboxes (version 2 & 3/Classic; Duet and Transporter) takes place natively in the unit.

As to file streaming settings, there is a settings link at the bottom right of the Squeezecenter web page. Locate the "file types" settings for the server. The "convert.conf" file can also be directly edited.

There are a number of important settings in Squeezecenter that impact sound quality. As true open-source software, they give you as much rope as you need to fine tune things or really screw them up. ;-)

Thanks for the explanation!

Rich
Thanks guys. I will certainly try recording in FLAC and then compare the difference. Hope to have some time this weekend to do it and will feedback. I suppose if there is an improvement, then FLAC with a transporter may even be better.

I have an alternative as Weiss may be working on an upgrade to the Medea which allows direct firewire from a MAC into the DAC. But there is no timeline for this upgrade yet!

Thanks again.
Jglim Quote:"Has anyone here tried sticking an Apple Mac using the optical miniplug output straight into the DAC? Wondering if this more direct connection would outperform streaming."

Yes, I have the optical output on the MacPro plugged directly into the Benchmark DAC1 and then into a pair of Audioengine A5 Speakers and it does sound better than the Squeezebox plugged directly into the DAC1. Both tests were done using Apple Lossless Files.

The Optical Digital out from the MAC directly to the DAC1 had; better resolution, sense of space, improved tonality, greater inflections in the Vocals, better PRAT, and a more 3D soundstage.

The Squeezebox received its signal via a wired ethernet cable, then it was connected to the DAC1 using the same cheapo, Optical Monster Cable, feeding the DAC1. The volumes were matched by ear and not by using a meter, which I couldn't find. Anyway, the sound from the Squeezebox revealed; less resolution, less transparency, the soundstage sounded flatter, compressed and more homogenized, and the music was less involving which I will refer to as less PRAT.

iTunes doesn't support FLAC. You will need to find a new media player for the MAC, a plugin-in, or a FLAC file converter.

Rich
Richlane,
If I smell what you're cooking, you are saying that the SB3 (or Duet) as a transport only, does not match the performance of the Transporter used as a transport only. Given that both of these are used only as transports into a dac and not using their analog outputs.
Do you find a substantial difference in using the Transporter or Mac mini as a pure transport versus using the SB3 (or Duet)?
BB

Bingo! Dinners Ready!

That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Check out my first posting in this thread which is the 8th listing from the top.

Then check out this thread:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1246278090&openflup&14&4#14

Rich
To answer your direct question Mr_Bill, I didn't feel like unhooking all of the wiring and carrying my MacPro Desktop downstairs to perform the test that you're referring to, because I felt that I wouldn't ever use this large tower Computer in the Living Room anyway. However, through my PC Audio setup, the answer to your question is above in this thread.

For what it's worth, I also compared the MBL 1621A transport to the Logitech Transporter and although the MBL 1621A was clearly better and 10 times the price, it certainly wasn't embarrassing for the Logitech, nor was it worth me getting up off the couch to change songs every few minutes. I would equate the sonic difference to, upgrading your stock power cables to high-end power cables. I should also mention that all Interconnects and Power Cables were Kubala-Sosna Emotions, and the Digital Cable was a K-S Emotion 110 ohm AES/EBU.

Rich
To clarify my previous post above:

The Logitech Transporter, was used as a streamer only, and it was compared to the MBL 1621A transport, while they were separately feed into an external MBL 1611F DAC. The MBL Transport won the bout marginally, but the Logitech Transporter went the distance.

Rich
Great info Rich and I appreciate your sharing.
Sounds to me that the strength of the Transporter is the actual transport portion.
I need a different transport to feed my Theta Gen VIII and am currently using a Duet, but will consider stepping up to the Transporter as my 'transport.'
Thanks Rich.
Your very welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

You wont be sorry if you use it as a Transport, and as you know it also plays great Internet Music and it will work with your Duet Remote.

If your Dac has an AES/EBU input, then I would recommend you use it, and I would recommend upgrading the Transporters power cable, other than that you'll be good to go. Feel free to drop me an e-mail if you have any further questions.

Happy 4th of July,
Rich
Why is it that most people prefer to use a Mac over a PC when making a music server?? I would like to purchase a PC notebook and make it into a music server, BUT everyone seems to be using a mac instead. Why???

Thanks,
Matt
Thanks Rich,
Yes I do have an AES EBU input on my Theta Gen VIII V2 dac and that's what I would use.
It is good to hear real world experience on the differences between the TP and the DUET into an external dac.
Happy 4th!
"Why is it that most people prefer to use a Mac over a PC when making a music server?? I would like to purchase a PC notebook and make it into a music server, BUT everyone seems to be using a mac instead. Why???"

They don't know about J. River? MAC or PC, you can get great sound; I can't settle for iTunes especially when compared to what's possible with J. River.

DC
I potential buyer of a Toslink cable I had a while back claimed that the standard Mac actually downsampled to 44/48kHz out of the digital out. I think the MacBook Pro does not downsample. Sort of like Apple's version of K-mixer ???

DC
"I am presently using a squeezebox unmodded and streaming via ethernet (not wi fi) uncompressed files from a Mac. I am feeding this into my Weiss Medea DAC (tried both Toslink and coaxial). However, comparing it to using my Jason transport, the sound is significantly worse. eg in Jazz at the Pawnshop, I can hear the liveness of the recording, on the streamed music it sounds like it was recorded in an anechoic chamber. Same when i stream from my apple TV via toslink.

Has anyone found a way of streaming that actually can outdo a high end CD player?"

Technically we're not streaming when using a computer based hard-disk solution for playback, not trying to be picky, but the jargon matters. Yes, you are using an ethernet cable but streaming implies a telecommunications network, and it seems the only main distinction we can make nowadays is wired vs. wireless. A wired "ethernet" connection should offer no bandwidth concerns.

FLAC, ALAC, APE all have to be decoded upon playback, not transcoded (converted from one format to another FLAC>APE). Transcoding is a full cycle of encoded file>decoded>re-encoded.

I find it interesting that you have discovered such a marked difference with your wired connection. What is the front end software producing playback? iTunes?

Are you using the digital volume control on the squeezebox in excess?

How old is the squeezebox?

DC
You can try this for FLAC in iTunes:

http://blowintopieces.com/fluke/

DC
Streaming media is data transferred in a stream of packets that are interpreted and rendered, in real time, by a software application as the packets arrive.

Streaming is not only limited to telecommunication networks anymore. An end-user may also stream media content over their Local Area Network (LAN), from a hard drive storage system to a media player such as a Logitech Squeezebox hooked up to an audio system.

Rich
I am using iTunes with apple lossless and i have set the digital vol control to max on the squeezebox and squeezecentre.
you really need a better power supply to get decent sound out of a squeezebox, the stock walwart really limits potential.
hi , I also have experienced better sound through a cd transport, the bel canto cd2 , which uses the same Phillips pro2 transport mec as yours. for Redbook only I heard the same things as you ,better detail, more relaxed, better separation and depth , it was quit surprising to me, but I heard it. I do know that both of these transports are very low jitter, maybe this is why ? Interesting thread, Chris
I have just updated to the new 7.3.3 firmware. Not sure if its my imagination but there seems to be a slight improvement in the details now....

It's always better at 1:30AM in the Morning!

Rich
i have been using a mac as a music server for quite some time now. hooking up a mac or apple tv or an AE straight to a dac does not do justice to the sound. it is much better than not using a dac but if you insert a jitter device between the mac and the dac, the signal will clear up and you will get a big improvement. even if you go with a cheap audio alchemy device, you will hear an improvement, and when you go to the better units, the improvement will be bigger. the jitter device allows the signal to get cleaned up before reaching the dac (garbage in, garbage out) plus it allows the use of coax cable going into the dac which is a better link than toslink or usb. if people think there system sounds good now going straight into a dac, give a jitter device a try.