Computer audio, I am not convinced yet ......

I am extremely interested in using the computer (Mac or PC) as a source for a digital playback. It seems to be the right direction for modern digital playback, a good alternative to the age old CDP, has endless potential and most convenient. So, I got an EMM DAC2 (retail $10000) with USB input and connected it to an Windows laptop via USB. My preamp, amp, speakers and cables are also of very good quality. Played some track on my system from the PC (used Audacity software, a very good and high quality software for sound processing). In 2 minutes I had to turn it off. It is just mediocre sound compared to playing the same track through a $1000 CDP(Sony SCD XA5400ES). It is almost like listening to an internet-radio through my PC speakers. I was wondering what happened to my first rate sound system ? Later I replaced the Windows PC with a Linux based MacMini, hoping that I will get the result I wanted. But it did not improve much. I did not like the outcome. My listening experience with the computer set up was 4 minutes(2 with PC and 2 with Mac) total. Since then I have gone back to using the same old CDP. I think I blame on the USB interface for this failure. The USB interface has not come up to the state of the art of a modern CD player. I did not try other interfaces purposely. No High-Res, only 16bit/44.1 audio files. I dont listen to SACD. Fire Wire to USB, USB to SPDI/F, Fire wire to HDMI, Firewire to SPDI/F, and almost an infinite combinations of patch up ideas are out there. But I dont like a patch up solution nor do I like to compromise the sound in favor of convenience.

I have heard many audiophile friends changed to computer based playback system many years ago for good and they are happy too. But I am not convinced yet. I am eagerly waiting for computer audio to catch up. I am sure it is in the making but it still has to go quiet a long distance.

Your thoughts are most welcome.
Anything other than a really good networked player or good USB interface will be a compromise in SQ.

Other interfaces can be reclocked however, to reduce jitter. The artifacts of upsampling are audible, but not bad given the latest technology in upsampling.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Mapman, No, I have not used any network device other than Windows laptop and MacMini. Wifi is an interesting option. At the time I thought the wifi is inferior to wired connection for HQ audio, even though it can isolate the computer noise. Probably I have to revisit this option again.
Can anybody suggest me a good network server with wifi to consider ?
Topmostaudio: Inteface Converter, by itself is not revolutionary step. There ara companies which produce them for years under different names e.g. PS Audio, Linn etc and their sound quality vary.

Today, IMO, is much cheaper to produce very high quality music servers utilizing such brilliant processors as Intel "Haswell" i7 where I can sacrifice, say 1% of its power on useless activity and use 99% on music (depending, of course, how well I deal with operating system, high freq grounding noise etc etc).

If I would design similar quality "Inteface Convertot" from the scratch then to get "there" - it will cost you money which, TODAY, you will never pay. This reality forces us, in Musica Pristina, to excell (as best as we can) in music servers where we can match our technology e.g. PSU and off-the-shelf processors like Intel "Haswell"

The maojor question, I, as the end-user in search of turntable or "Interface Converter" or tube preamp ask myself - how it sounds? The particular design philosophy is much less of my concern.

Audioeng: the same answer is to you. if DAC is "garbage" (and if it has poor clocks then it is GARBAGE without going any father, don;t care about it magic tube output stage or whatever) then no music server, USB Interface etc will help it.
"Audioengr: the same answer is to you. if DAC is "garbage" (and if it has poor clocks then it is GARBAGE without going any father, don't care about it magic tube output stage or whatever) then no music server, USB Interface etc. help it."

Actually not true. The DAC S/PDIF input will not have ANY clock in the DAC associated with it UNLESS it has a hardware upsampler chip or other PLL to reclock it.

Even with or without the hardware upsampler, a low-jitter USB converter will make a HUGE difference, even with an inexpensive DAC. This USB converter will have a good master clock and drive the DAC using a good S/PDIF coax.

The master clock jitter is more important than the DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
@Spectron, have you heard an EMM Labs DAC2?

It is a pretty damn fine DAC. It's one of the reasons I broke my own budget and bought the XDS1.