Computer vs CD/SACD discs


I am simplifying my system and getting out of vinyl. Actually sold all the vinyl and analog gear already. I was planning on going to computer audio and have been playing with it but really don't see the benefit over just slipping a disc into the tray. I also am getting a bit frustrated by all of the options of downloads, cables, inputs and opinions all over the place. I would welcome opinions thoughts on computer audio vs the old fashioned, putting a disc on the tray and pushing play. ( Streaming, I use spotify, exempted as this is a nice way to demo new music).
davt
I've not gone to computer based audio. I have two Sony 300 disc changers linked, and a Sony 595 five disc player for SACD's. Works well for me, does away with all the downloading. Computers? I have a few, mostly built myself, and did not find the time consuming transfer process very productive use of my time.
I think archiving your CDs and downloading higher-res music on your computer is the way to go. The next question is which computer--Apple or PC--and how you're going to play it back.

My choice has been to use a PC, rip and download in FLAC format, and then transfer the music to a 500 GB USD drive and play back through the Bryston BDP-1 outputting to a NAD M51 DAC. I also have the option of playing discs--CDs, SACD, and DVDA--through my Oppo outputting to the NAD M51 with HDMI.

Is there better sound? I'm sure there is but I really like this solution. I control the Bryston with MPOD software on my IPhone and IPad and it's a cinch to use. I compared this with outputting to the NAD M51 via USB on my computer and I think the Bryston sounds better. I also think CDs ripped to lossless files on FLAC can sound better than the original CD, my theory being the error correction while ripping produces a more stable file (but don't have a shred of engineering background to prove this).

My two cents.
For me, the main factor is convenience. I still have to death match my CD player (Simaudio Moon Nova) vs server>Slimdevices Transporter> Audio-gd Master 7, but I really doubt that I will bring the CD's up out of the basement and give up user friendliness of the Slimdevices sotware if the Nova wins.

I think the main consideration is how much fiddling you want to do. I'm fairly computer literate, so I have very few problems that I can't solve on a timely basis. If you hate dealing with computers, keep the CD.
I climbed the mountain from a computer newbee to being well versed in all
things computer audio. I climbed the sound quality ladder for computer
audio and have tasted the best of what computer audio has to offer in
sound quality.

I spent endless hours reading, ripping, backing up, upgrading, learning
more and the end of the matter is this for me. I sold it all and went back to
spinning CDs.

I simply found it too stressful for ME to deal with all the ripping, file types,
file management, RAID backup, downloads, and on and on etc...

Now I simply load a CD and relax. Until there is a simple one box solution
and it is as easy as loading a CD, I am not going back to computer based
audio.

I can find all kinds of CDs for cheap and never have to deal with computer
issues and exhausting ripping and the like.

I work on a computer all day and it is a joy to handle a CD at home. Pure
joy!

This was true for me and not all. Ask yourself if you will find all the
computer stuff a hassle or an exciting new opportunity to learn? Really
think on this as you know yourself. Nobody else can answer this for
you.....only you my audio friend.

I will say computer based audio is not easy and anyone who says
otherwise is not telling the truth. For mere computer mortals with average
to poor computer knowledge it is a challenge that demands intentional and
continuous mastery.

The sound quality is very good indeed with computer audio. No doubt.
However, my new CD spinner sounds every bit as good as my $10,000
computer audio front end.

I do miss MOG which is now gone anyway. I do have Spotify on a second
system and if all one does is listen to a music service like these, then that is
easy and quite nice really. Beyond that, what a pain for me!
I also think CDs ripped to lossless files on FLAC can sound better than the original CD, my theory being the error correction while ripping produces a more stable file (but don't have a shred of engineering background to prove this).

Austinbob, Most of CD players can read CD sector only once (since they work in real time). It can error correct for short scratches (up to about 4mm along the track) but for longer scratch (4-8mm) it interpolates. Computer rip reads CD like data and can go to the same sector multiple times (even thousands of times) until it gets proper checksum. Computer file can be better than original CD but I doubt that you can hear any difference unless original CD is badly scratched. On the other hand it can be very useful to create good CD-R copy of CDs that won't play or play with a lot of pops.
@Grannyring

Your response is SPOT ON!

I truly enjoy my Sony 5400 for CD and SACD.

Simple to use, and unbeatable quality IMO!

Cd's are very cheap, and much, much, more recordings to choose from, than High Rez downoads

Computer audio is too much hassle.
See my previous post on this subject, I made the switch to computer audio just over a year ago and could not be happier with the results. Sound quality is every bit as good as anything I have heard at various HiFi show demonstrations over the years. Irrespective of what some people will tell you, commuter audio can be very simple and you do not need to invest in expensive high end components or cables to get superb sound. My current system is a MacBook Air, running Audirvarna Plus, USB cable (nothing fancy) into an Oppo 105 for D/A conversion then a Krell HTS 7.1 (just for volume control) and a Krell TAS driving a pair of B&W N801 speakers. I use standard Blue Jeans XLR cables to connect the Oppo 105 to the HTS 7.1 and the HTS 7.1 to the Krell TAS. Speaker cables are standard Monster speaker cables, nothing fancy.

Sound quality from ripped CDs and HD 24/96 FLAC downloads from HD Tracks is as good as anything I have heard from a conventional CDP system. I am a computer audio convert/believer!
IMHO, +1 on Grannyring's post!, very well done, spot on!
About a year ago I went from spinning cd's to a dedicated music server (Naim Uni-serve). It doesn't get any easier. Drop in a cd and it rips it to the hard drive. The only draw back with the Naim is I can't walk up to it and do anything like start - stop - skip etc. It has to be controlled through a computer or Idevice. But it does stream radio or from a NAS. I can also queue as many cd's or individual tracks as I want.
I think the biggest part is the computer savy part. If you are very computer literate, its a snap. If you have to call someone to download a program or install a printer, stick with a CD player.
Bought a Bryston BDP-1/BDA-1 and couldn't be happier. I've owned DACs and transports, players and then went to streaming using a highly modded Airport Express. Now my CDs are saved using dbpoweramp in FLAC on two 128GB flash drives. I use an iPad mini as my remote and SQ has never been better. Just boxed up my CDs and dismantled the shelving. My player is up for sale 'cause I'm never going back! Cannot think of one advantage to using a player now days. (Have to admit though, I've never had an opportunity to hear a megabuck player and probably never will)
I'm a long time computer geek (30+ years) and I see both sides of the coin. I use a laptop with several TB of connected USB drives for storage and playback using Mezzmo software. This is a pretty good setup and fairly easy to use.

However, I also have over 2,000 CDs/DVDs and there is no denying the convenience factor. Even though my PC setup is pretty simple, it does not offer the ease of use that a dedicated disc spinner does.

So, I guess I'm with GrannyRing on this one. If you're computer savvy, a PC-based setup may be fun for you. If not, stick with the shiny discs...

-RW-
"08-01-14: Grannyring
Now I simply load a CD and relax. Until there is a simple one box solution
and it is as easy as loading a CD, I am not going back to computer based audio."

Grannyring,I could not agree more!!! A single one-box solution seems like a totally doable request from any reputable high-end audio manufacturer in this day and age. After all... this is 2014!!!
I would welcome opinions thoughts on computer audio vs the old fashioned, putting a disc on the tray and pushing play.
The last 2 threads not enough?

So far the best reason I've heard computer audio is a bust is USB cable not expensive or thick enough compare to his Tara Labs. I'm using DLNA with NO usb cable so what am I doing wrong? Not making this up folks ... LOL!!!

08-02-14: Cerrot
I think the biggest part is the computer savy part. If you are very computer literate, its a snap. If you have to call someone to download a program or install a printer, stick with a CD player.
Result is a function to one's knowledge on the subject. Isn't this TRUE with everything?

I spent endless hours reading, ripping, backing up, upgrading, learning
more and the end of the matter is this for me. I sold it all and went back to
spinning CDs.

I simply found it too stressful for ME to deal with all the ripping, file types,
file management, RAID backup, downloads, and on and on etc...
After initially ripping my cds that took MONTHS, the only time I tinker is ripping a new cd. This is stressful?

I can find all kinds of CDs for cheap and never have to deal with computer
issues and exhausting ripping and the like.
It's takes minutes to rip a cd. It's the exact process as placing a cd in your player except you rip instead of play. Isn't changing cd on a player more exhasting than scrolling through your iPhone? If this is exhausting, I think you need to exercise and probably best you using a cd player. No remotes for you!

I will say computer based audio is not easy and anyone who says
otherwise is not telling the truth.
it's EASY and I'm telling you the truth! PERIOD!!! As I quote my commander and chief.

Austinbob, Most of CD players can read CD sector only once (since they work in real time). It can error correct for short scratches (up to about 4mm along the track) but for longer scratch (4-8mm) it interpolates. Computer rip reads CD like data and can go to the same sector multiple times (even thousands of times) until it gets proper checksum. Computer file can be better than original CD but I doubt that you can hear any difference unless original CD is badly scratched. On the other hand it can be very useful to create good CD-R copy of CDs that won't play or play with a lot of pops.
I brought this up in another thread and benchmarks in accessing data from different storage mediums ... point is mute if you don't understand computers, software ...

08-02-14: Rockyboy
Bought a Bryston BDP-1/BDA-1 and couldn't be happier.
With a BDP-1/2 or Sony HAP-Z1Es compare to a cd player, the only difference is one reads from a SUPERIOR storage medium than a cd in real time. No, it has to read a from cd for best sound. Ridiculous!
08-01-14: Austinbob
I also think CDs ripped to lossless files on FLAC can sound better than the original CD, my theory being the error correction while ripping produces a more stable file (but don't have a shred of engineering background to prove this).
Kijanki's response is of course correct, as usual. A second set of reasons why playback of a ripped computer file may sound better than playback of the corresponding CD in a CD player, however, relates to jitter and to coupling of electrical noise from the CD player's transport mechanism into its other circuitry. The magnitude and character of those kinds of effects will of course be dependent on the design of the particular player.

See my post here for further explanation, although that thread addresses sonic differences between playback of an original CD and playback of a CD-R copy of it in the same CD player. Obviously, a comparison between playback of a computer file and playback of a CD introduces many additional variables into the mix.

My understanding is that a CD that is in good physical condition will have very few if any read errors that are not perfectly corrected during realtime playback. So I would expect that typically those noise and jitter issues will be of greater significance.

Regards,
-- Al
Joecasey, Hi, I would like to bring to your attention that all the proof about any damn usb cable is inferior, however, the DLNA you are doing is better than usb cable!, Congrats!, To make this understood, there is NO true computer audio if you are going through a Dac,, what is a cd-player?, What is a Dac and a transport, mmm, Not tring to be funny here, A dac and a trans port is essentially a cd-player split in Half!, so, If any one uses a Dac in their computer set-up, they are truly running half computer audio!, I have run experiments many times of real computer audio useing the computers volume control to a reciever, intergrated amp, straight to an amp, ha, ha, Lousy to say the least!, now let's get to the profound part of the facts, first off, their will never be a $15,000.00 usb cable, The technology of usb does not allow for such technology!, I cannot come to terms as to why people believe cables do not make a difference, I can litterally put a $300.00 Yamaha cd-player up against any top flight computer audio source with a top usb cable, or DNLA to transport the audio, not fricken Data!, and use a profound interconnect like a Tara labs Zero Gold 1-meter interconnect and shockingly out-perform the computer audio, How do I know this, LOL!, I have done it and own the Damn cables to prove it!, sorry if I got frustrated here, It just is none since about tring to achieve world class audio with a half computer audio or true computer audio.
08-02-14: Audiolabyrinth
Joecasey, Hi, I would like to bring to your attention that all the proof about any damn usb cable is inferior, however, the DLNA you are doing is better than usb cable!, Congrats!, To make this understood, there is NO true computer audio if you are going through a Dac,, what is a cd-player?, What is a Dac and a transport, mmm, Not tring to be funny here, A dac and a trans port is essentially a cd-player split in Half!, so, If any one uses a Dac in their computer set-up, they are truly running half computer audio!, I have run experiments many times of real computer audio useing the computers volume control to a reciever, intergrated amp, straight to an amp, ha, ha, Lousy to say the least!, now let's get to the profound part of the facts, first off, their will never be a $15,000.00 usb cable, The technology of usb does not allow for such technology!, I cannot come to terms as to why people believe cables do not make a difference, I can litterally put a $300.00 Yamaha cd-player up against any top flight computer audio source with a top usb cable, or DNLA to transport the audio, not fricken Data!, and use a profound interconnect like a Tara labs Zero Gold 1-meter interconnect and shockingly out-perform the computer audio, How do I know this, LOL!, I have done it and own the Damn cables to prove it!, sorry if I got frustrated here, It just is none since about tring to achieve world class audio with a half computer audio or true computer audio.
Keep it coming. Can't make this stuff up, folks. LOL!
wow!, this is like tring to say a car is a car, there is no difference between a ferrari and a kia, really!, can't make this up folks, if you never drove the ferrari, why comment on something you do not know about?
I will also add, you are saying that a profound power cable has the same audio performance as the stock power cord that comes with a componet, there is no difference to me with what you are saying compaired to this statement here, cables make a differnce, you can believe what you want to, good luck on your future endeavors.
If you are not computer literate or don't want to take the time and effort to optimize a computer, just get one of the superb servers from Antipodes audio in New Zealand. Best sounding server you can buy IME. Then add your favorite USB DAC or a USB converter and ANY DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Until I can try and afford something like the Antipodes (check out Darko's review http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2014/02/antipodes-audio-ds-reference-review-6moons/ & Steve's recommendations) I'll just add another +1 for Grannyrigs' insightful and welcome post.

(Sorry about the long hyperlink but there's no way I know of to edit it. I even went to the Apple store and they were of no help, and slightly embarrased)

All the best,
Nonoise
When I was thinking of a used Ayre C-5xeMP, I posed the question of this thread to John Atkinson, who lists the Ayre as one of his sources. His reply was that for convenience he uses computer audio; for high quality audio he uses the Ayre.

I bought a used Ayre C-5xeMP. I have an unused Mac Mini connected to the asynchronous USB port of an Oppo BDP-105. The HD Tracks software wouldn't download when I purchased a Bach piece that seemed interesting. A fiend who is a computer audio enthusiast couldn't get it to download either and I haven't followed up.

db
It could depend on your age. At mine(64), I'm done with changing over systems. I have a CD collection of somewhere around 7,000-8,000, and I ain't ripping them into a damn computer! I still have my LP collection too, numbering around 4,000 or so. I'm not ripping them either! I'm perfectly content with LP's and CD's---I'll spend the rest of the time I have left listening to the music on them, thank you very much.
Dbphd, yes hat happened at times to me also. In addition many SACDs
would not rip using XLD so they could not be part of my computer front
end. Lastly, I preferred the sound of WAV files over AIFF, but the
conversion was a hassle and you lose all the album art etc... Yikes!
Wow, Steve, those Antipodes Audio products are nice! For a buy it ans use it product I doubt one could do better. Thanks for heads-up!

-RW-
08-02-14: Audioengr
If you are not computer literate or don't want to take the time and effort to optimize a computer, just get one of the superb servers from Antipodes audio in New Zealand. Best sounding server you can buy IME. Then add your favorite USB DAC or a USB converter and ANY DAC.
Very interesting product.

Steve, have you compare it to a Bryston BDP-2? Do you know if it buffers data in RAM before play?
I am 63 and about 2 years ago transitioned from a transport-DAC combo to a Bryston BDP-1 digital player to a DAC (previously the PS Audio PWD MkII, now upgraded to Direct Stream - wow! but that's another post). The Bryston is controlled by laptop or iPad or iPhone. SQ audibly better than transport (CEC TL-1x, no slouch there); convenience factor far greater; and there are services who will load your CD collection on to HD's.

Never too old Bdp24!

Neal
08-04-14: Nglazer
I am 63 and about 2 years ago transitioned from a transport-DAC combo to a Bryston BDP-1 digital player to a DAC (previously the PS Audio PWD MkII, now upgraded to Direct Stream - wow! but that's another post). The Bryston is controlled by laptop or iPad or iPhone. SQ audibly better than transport (CEC TL-1x, no slouch there); convenience factor far greater; and there are services who will load your CD collection on to HD's.

Never too old Bdp24!

Neal
It's understandable as one ages, they are more set in their ways. I think the biggest factor is attitude. Easier to whine, make excuses and I'm surprise no one has compared computer audio to fighting in Iraq.

Gotta go rip some CDs and get my daily exercise now. I can only do 1 CD per day before reaching anaerobic state. Goal is 2 in 6 months once I increase my anaerobic threshold.
Boy, some really great responses. I am going from a primarily analog, ( vinyl ) system to digital. Am working on doing computer but other than streaming from something like spottily I am struggling to understand the value of putting my music on a computer. Also, when I order a CD or a SACD I get a CD or SACD that is mine to do with what I want. When I get a down load I am far more restricted in what I can do with it, trade, sell etc, And the Cost is about the same. Perhaps I should look at a good stand alone player that also can be used as a separate DAC like an Esoteric k-05 or K-03.

Again, thanks for the responses.
I have a computer audio setup and still buy primarily used cd's, as high res downloads offer very marginal if any improvement to my ears. the benefit is being able to browse and cue up songs on your i-device without having to get up from your listening chair, create your own playlists, etc. I do still use physical discs for playing back multi-channel SACD's.
exactly!, Davt, +1
Aesthetix Romulus is killer!
I tried that route and built pretty hefty computer audio with HUGE bank of high-def downloads, great DAC with only difference that I did NOT sell my analogue setup!

Regardless of all that, I still listen to vinyl 95% and most of the time my computer audio sleeps and not engaged. Not even running stand-by.

So in case if you get tired, analogue will welcome you back for sure...:-)
Speavler, I now have most of my 400 sacds on my harddrive in DSD and play them in native double DSD. My HD tracks are also played in double DSD as are my 700 cds. I'm using JRiver MC19 and controlling my music server Mac Mini 2011 with a Macbook Pro. The Mac app Remote was much easier, but Mac has abandoned better music.

The MC19 affords the opportunity to play a cd at 44/16 or at double native DSD. You hear such more music with double DSD that I only do this to demonstrate and never for my information.
08-02-14: Dbphd
When I was thinking of a used Ayre C-5xeMP, I posed the question of this thread to John Atkinson, who lists the Ayre as one of his sources. His reply was that for convenience he uses computer audio; for high quality audio he uses the Ayre.

I bought a used Ayre C-5xeMP. I have an unused Mac Mini connected to the asynchronous USB port of an Oppo BDP-105. The HD Tracks software wouldn't download when I purchased a Bach piece that seemed interesting. A fiend who is a computer audio enthusiast couldn't get it to download either and I haven't followed up.
Wow! John Atkinson. Mr. BIG. Now I'm convince. Computer audio is a BUST!

Is Stereophile still in business? I want to subscribe again and make my purchase decisions SOLELY on their recommended list.
Joecasey, I would agree that a music server is convenient especially relative to vinyl and even a player. But I find players the lowest quality and music servers and vinyl very close together. I don't know what his motivations are for saying this, but I find it ridiculous.
One huge advantage of PC-audio is that it never skips even completely ###### up CDs.
maybe I can read some stuff like that in the absolute sound, I just subscribed after many years of absence, I always get a kick out of something crazy that is talked about out of an audio magazine, keeps me from tring to post a comment, ha,ha, little humor!, the funny thing is, I did re-subscribe.
Czarivey writes, "One huge advantage of PC-audio is that it never skips even completely ###### up CDs." I would add that neither does my Ayre C-5xePM, Oppo BDP-105, or Sony XA5400ES.

The ignorant, sarcastic tone of the replies from Joecasey and TBG are what make me not want to post. Joecasey extends a post to the absurd; TBG generalizes to the point of making himself seem ridiculous -- I doubt he's experienced all disc players, all servers, or all vinyl needed to make such a blanket pronouncement.

db
Dbphd, hmmm, I didn't think I was sarcastic, but I do think you are ignorant.
Dbphd, it's impossible to experience ALL in the whole world CD-players and yet, it's very good to have CD-players that reads everything like yours and never skip, because I didn't have such luck.

In DJ equipment domain it's very unwanted to have CD-player that may skip... simply unacceptible(act fast to mix with effects and switch to different CD/track!), but darn ..it happens there too! So there PC audio wins the market even for professional DJs.

I always thought that with invention of CD player we would not worry about scratches and vinyl surface noise but it turned out that often even little scratch on CD surface may have a chance for track to skip on certain CD-players. It never ever happened with any PC-audio playback even with cds that have no smooth spot left on the surface.
I don't know what his motivations are for saying this, but I find it ridiculous.

What makes you think he has any motivation here. He is simply stating an opinion.

I happen to have heard Dbphd's system on a number of occasions and it is quite good. Asking John Atkinson a question doesn't make anyone a slave to Stereophile. I ask him questions too and take great interest in his measurements of components. BTW so does Roger Modjeski of Music Reference who happens to design some outstanding amplifiers and other components.

Dbphd's point to me was quite clear. Some people prefer playing the shiny discs over dealing with the nuances of computer audio (which is far from perfect). So why not go for the best player you can afford and enjoy your music. Personally if I had the sizable collection of CDs and SACDs that Dbphd has I would still be playing the shiny discs as I would not find the amount of time it would take to rip them to a HD worth it. In which case I would still be using my CEC transport and Lessloss DAC.
Well said Clio09!
Dbphd's point to me was quite clear.
My interpretation is his purchasing decision was solely base on JA's opinion with special emphasizes on JA as someone special. Bottom line is it's his $$ but I just find it humorous. I communicate with many professional reviewers but never base a purchasing decision on any ONE.

Personally if I had the sizable collection of CDs and SACDs that Dbphd has I would still be playing the shiny discs as I would not find the amount of time it would take to rip them to a HD worth it.
Grannyring volunteers. He needs the exercise.
Ha, you know how much I like to rip cd's! I would rather relax in a dentist
chair and have another crown put in :)
My interpretation is his purchasing decision was solely base on JA's opinion with special emphasizes on JA as someone special.

Actually he asked my opinion as well and I am sure a few more people. Again, I thought his point was clear. Asking Atkinson was more about the guy using the player himself as opposed to being someone special, which personally I think he is as far as someone who works for an audiophile magazine.

I communicate with many professional reviewers but never base a purchasing decision on any ONE.

Well maybe you're the special ONE.
Actually he asked my opinion as well and I am sure a few more people.
Well, it that case, I totally understand. How dare I? I never saw your name in his post so I would DEMAND credit from him for the purchasing decision.
Well maybe you're the special ONE.
I knew we will finally agree!
Again, I thought his point was clear.
Again, I had a different interpretation. Who think he's the special one now?
08-08-14: Grannyring
Ha, you know how much I like to rip cd's! I would rather relax in a dentist
chair and have another crown put in :)
what are you doing on a COMPUTER? Does you computer run off a CD real time? Get off the computer, go outside and get some exercise.
Actually, I posed the question to JA after having read every review of the Ayre and post concerning it I could find. I knew from his reviews that JA listed the Ayre as a source and that he had written about excellent quality audio downloaded from computer, and I do value his opinion among those of others. My question to JA was along the line has computer audio made the search for a superb disc player a no op.

Nearly all the equipment I've bought has been used, so it's usually not possible to listen before buying. But what was so annoying to me was the assumption, no assertion, that I bought anything based solely on a single opinion. That's too far, as are universal conclusions based on particular premises, e.g., all these are better than all those, a flaw in basic logic.

db
Grannyring had an out standing computer audio set-up, sounded real good from what I am told, since he works with computers daily for a job, He decided to look for a cd-player that would give him an emotional sound and still have resolution, that would out compete the computer audio system he had in terms of simplicity, and not carrying work to home feel, I understand the simplicity of having a menu to walk around with having a computer audio set-up, But dealing with down loads, software, inferrior usb cables,a mac mini or whatever, this can be very taxing on alot of folks out there, I am, and so is grannyring computer literate, I myself find it a pain in the aXX to keep viruses and malware, hard drive clear of errors off the computer, so to not have those issues with a dac, transport, cd-player is the simplicity of spinning disc to me, I have knocked computer audio to much, I have come to terms to what ever makes that person happy, so be it, and in turn, they should give the same respect, everyone arrives diffrently on the path of audio.
Audiolabyrinth, I have no idea why you have, "to keep viruses and malware, hard drive clear of errors off the computer" troubles. I have none. It is so easy to have 900 albums from cds, in DSD, and from HD tracks at hand without having to look for them.