Does a ripped cd onto a digital format sound better than the cd played on the cdp


the title says it all. if i rip my collection onto a sever will it increase SQ? dumb question i am sure but here i am. if the digital system is above average will it make the sound better?
Af91f55d b0a3 4813 9cea 3226694479b8veroman
There is a good chance it could in many cases. 
Not a dumb question but one which cannot be answered definitively since the changes you will hear may be less about changing digital bits but rather more about how those bits are processed and the equipment they are played through.
As mapman indicated, it is likely you will like the result but that could be because the playback parameters can be changed depending on the file format and player used, as well as consideration that many of today’s servers have no moving parts to create noise.  I went from a pretty high end CD player to a Mac mini server, ripped my CDs and never looked back.  While I will not say the mini set-up sounded better than my CD player, it certainly didn’t sound worse and the ball keeps moving forward.  Switching to a dedicated, purpose-built server was a step forward as was switching to Roon and separating the server core from the endpoint, or renderer.  Roon and hi-res Tidal sound great in my system.
Ideally it will make no difference.
But, if you are going to use USB, with asynchronous playback, then it may, if only because your DAC will control the clock.

I think the difference would normally be small, especially with modern DACs.

Better to focus on important stuff like room acoustics, or fancy headphones.
If you're comparing the analog outputs from a CD player to a DAC that is receiving digital audio data from a digital streaming source like a computer or network streamer, then the two primary aspects that could result in a difference are the reliability of digital data transfer and the quality of digital-to-analog conversion.

For example, a CD player with a poor optical drive may end up reading errors during playback. Some deeply technical computer hardware review web sites and forums will analyze optical drives for error detection and data read reliability. Whereas if you rip data to a digital file, you can check at that time that the data read was correct, even going as far as comparing the file data to other people's file data. And then reading the file data and moving it around becomes very reliable.

Digital-to-analog conversion is fairly well covered in online discussion, audio equipment reviews, and measurements.

The counter argument against digital transmission into a DAC is that a digital audio signal like S/PDIF may be subject to incorrect interpretation or timing inaccuracies. Versus a CD player where its internal I2S data stream will go straight into an internal DAC with both parts driven off the same master clock, or clocks that are tightly coupled.

There can also be other considerations at play, such as how AirPlay transmits all audio data at 16-bit/48kHz, Wi-Fi reliability issues, etc.
Veroman, it is hard to compare since playback gear is different. On the brand new CD it might not make any difference, but scratched CD is different story. Most of CDPs cannot correct errors (cannot read again), playing in real time. They can correct scratches along the track shorter than about 4mm, have to interpolate for scratches 4-8mm and will fail for >8mm. Computer while ripping disk, can read the same sector hundreds of times having better chances of recovering data (renewing CD). Proper checksums for whole CDs are even published. I instructed program I use (XLD) to read each sector up to 200 times, if necessary. Once it is ripped it becomes data, that can be copied, stored, backed up etc. In ideal case this data would be delivered to DAC as a data (without timing). That’s the case of async USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi.
Possible advantages and possible disadvantages to this.

Advantages: CD’s are made with stampers, which wear over time and are periodically replaced with a new one during a production run. But when burned by a laser, pits and land edges are more clearly defined which results in fewer errors on playback. Also, a few products are available that help with the refractive properties of polycarbonate (like UltraBit and others).

Disadvantages: These might be larger and more numerous. One is that whenever you move digital content from one place to another, you introduce more error. Yeah, some of that might be purely digital in nature (processing), but likely most of it, even though it may actually result in more (digital) jitter, will have analog origins. Electrical losses, even through top grade gear/wiring will still occur. When traveling in a wire, digital signals are in an analog form, not "ones and zeros", and are as subject to noise and distortions as much as about any other analog signal. Also, things like power supply noise, especially in ’non-audiophile’ gear like computers, will contribute their impact to sq as well.The mistake would be to think that if you only take care of possible digital influences, that you are then home free. Power treatments for the gear concerned, good wiring (whatever you think that qualification should be for your purposes in this regard), will likely minimize the worst of those. My guess is the audible differences may be small. but it just depends on how picky you are about that kind of thing.

Bottom line: It may not sound exactly ’wholly worse’ or ’wholly better’...but, maybe a little ’different’. Whether the effort and expense to fix it would be worth it would still be up to you. IOW, you might still have to try something like that and see, in order to know.
+1 with Ivan.
My experience has been that moving CDs to hard drive results in a slight decrease in sq.  Perhaps Ivan has identified the reason.  Streaming at “CD quality “ takes sq down another two notches.
cD replay is currently at a really high level.  I am having great fun pulling old CDs off the shelf and continuously being pleasantly surprised at how great they sound
It can sound better and I my system, my aurender sounds a tad better than cd on my K-03.  Music from ram sounds better than a laser tracking a disc.
ivan_nosnibor

When traveling in a wire, digital signals are in an analog form, not "ones and zeros", and are as subject to noise and distortions as much as about any other analog signal.
If a digital signal is not comprised of "ones and zeros," then what is it? Are you saying the data is analog even before the signal enters the DAC?
Lots of great comments in this thread.
IMHE, while I agree that it's hard to single out any one of the factors already mentioned as the only important one, that best overall path to improved digital is moving away from spinning discs. Then moving away from local multi-purpose mac/pc solutions(reducing noise from both computers running many unrelated processes and from electrical and RFI sources) to NAS-based file storage and single-purpose, low powered network player attached to a good DAC. 
This path will position you to independently upgrade your DAC in time if you choose and allow for easily adding additional storage as your library grows. If anyone is arguing for streaming service sound quality vs. what I've described, that is just setting the bar too low. Cheers,
Spencer
@cleads

"If a digital signal is not comprised of "ones and zeros," then what is it? Are you saying the data is analog even before the signal enters the DAC?"

Yes, that's exactly it.  It's counter intuitive.  For an explanation see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grzoqEb2KMk&feature=youtu.be
melm
Yes, that's exactly it. It's counter intuitive
That a digital signal can be corrupted, and a 1 read as a 0, does not mean that the digital signal is analog. Not even close.
@cleeds

Yes, in the wires they are analog signals intended to look like square waves.  You may call that a digital signal if you like but they are subject to all the problems of transmitting analog signals.  That is why, for example, some "digital" cables sound better than others--just like analog cables.
Post removed 
melm
in the wires they are analog signals intended to look like square waves. You may call that a digital signal if you like but they are subject to all the problems of transmitting analog signals.
They are digital signals. Because of that, you can transfer substantial amounts of data through a cable and get bit perfect results, every time.  You can't do that with analog because there is always some amount of loss, no matter how slight.
@cleeds

Then how is it that some "digital" cables sound better than others?  Or do you deny that?
Then how is it that some "digital" cables sound better than others? Or do you deny that?
Let me answer that. There might be three reasons.
1. Digital cable injects electrical noise from the source (computer) or this noise is induced from ambient electrical noise (some cables induce more, some less).
2. Cable doesn’t transfer digital data, but music. The difference is timing. Computer data has no timing attached (will always be the same) but some of digital music timing might have effect on D/A converter clock. When this clock is uneven in time (jitter) it produces artifacts (frequencies) not present in original signal.
3. Transfer of any high frequency signal (digital or analog) require characteristic impedance of the cable matching (that in simplification is SQRT(L/C) ). When this impedance is not matched (between source, cable, DAC) reflection from the point of impedance change will appear changing timing of the signal or even completely flipping zeroes and ones.
thats was some serious technical slapdown there. i am always impressed with how much knowledge some of the a goners have.

 as for all of the responses..thanks. i think it is not in my immediate future to convert. seems as if the gains are smaller than the cash outlay at this point.

Depends on your digital hardware and software and your CD transport hardware.  Whichever delivers the lower jitter and does not muck with the bits or the offset, that one will sound the best.

In general, off-the-shelf transports have higher jitter than that possible with digital hardware.  This is particularly true if the digital is a low-jitter Ethernet interface. In fact, very few digital interfaces deliver this low jitter, but it is available if you know what to buy.  USB is more problematic than Ethernet, but it can be excellent too.

Not that you cannot achieve low jitter with a Transport.  All it takes is adding a reclocker to your Transport, like the Synchro-Mesh and you will have parity with the very best digital computer playback.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

+1 with Ivan.
My experience has been that moving CDs to hard drive results in a slight decrease in sq.  Perhaps Ivan has identified the reason.  Streaming at “CD quality “ takes sq down another two notches.

Let's not mislead people.  Ivan is talking about playback using digital, not moving files from one place to another, or ripping.  Moving files will never degrade the track SQ. A good ripper will check other rips and make sure it is a clean rip and that the offset is correct.  This is a non-problem.

On the other hand, playback of any digital source over cables can and will degrade the SQ a tiny bit, depending on the cables and interfaces.  Usually not data errors, but added jitter.  Jitter is a degradation in timing and this can be fixed in a number of different ways before and inside the DAC.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Yes, that's exactly it. It's counter intuitive. For an explanation see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grzoqEb2KMk&feature=youtu.be

This is a good explanation of how poor digital signal integrity can cause uncorrectable errors in playback.  It has nothing to do with "analog". all signals are indeed analog, but this is about signal integrity and noise.

The fact is that most digital cable connections using S/PDIF experience very low error rates.  If you have bad ground-loops and very poor cabling of long or very short lengths,  it might happen though.  The best rule of thumb is to use 1.25-1.5m long cabling if high-quality (low loss and low dielectric absorption).  Always use coax terminated in BNC connectors with 75 ohm RCA adapters as needed.  See this white-paper I wrote years ago:

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue14/spdif.htm

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Post removed 
Jitter can be added two ways - either during transmission of digital signal that can influence D/A clock or by inducing electrical noise, that produces time jitter (point in time of signal crossing threshold changes when signal has added noise). In case of Ethernet, USB etc - your DAC gets bit perfect signal and your DAC clock is independent, but cable injects induced electrical noise, that in effect produces jitter. Specification of Ethernet, for instance, calls for isolation of data, but when it is typically done with transformers it will still conduct highest frequency electrical noise thru transformer’s capacitance. I’m sure there are separating devices for that.

Jitter makes it’s way into things everywhere it can. Even the DAC receiver and buffering add jitter. Cables don’t produce noise, but ground-loops do and dielectric absorption in the cable can distort the waveform causing ISI (inter-symbol-interference). Reflection on the cable can cause a LOT of jitter, but this can easily be minimized by using at least a 1.5m long cable.

Ethernet signal integrity issues can easily be minimized using isolators and high-bandwidth cables of the optimum lengths.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Without question if you have a good dac and good digital cable 
for sure itis cleaner . I use solid state drives what aredead quiet no moving parts , with a CD youhave aspinning disc that  the cdreader  has to buffer to read,reread for errors and makes a educated guess on some bits. Cd players can sound very good .
but a dedicated hard drive ,solid state with ripped files done correctly  for sure is better in every way dB Poweramp is a verygoodripping source
 @audioengr Steve do you have a similar excellent but also affordable optical cable ?

For Toslink cables I recommend this excellent one:

https://btpa.com/TOSLINK-XXX.htm

It's recommended to get at least one meter length to prevent overloading the Toslink receiver.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Depends as everyone says on streamer etc. I like others use XLD with massive correction to rip and on my streamer it sounds a world apart better ..... but SACD on my Arcam CDS50 was pretty special. 

Streamer lets you get into Hi res files like 24 bit downloads which again step up. I also make a 24 bit recording (just side a / side b) of every new record I get as 24bit was files and I can then stream this throughout flat rather than just in main music Lounge.

BUT - so many cd are great quality
and if happy spend it on music.
Was going to add Arcam CDS50 is both SACD/cd and streamer and a bloody bargain for sound quality. 
90% as good as my Linn Klimax Digital streamer and cheap cheap 
Playing CDs ripped to FLAC through my Zenith MKII into a Mytek Liberty DAC into a NAD M12 sounds better to my ears than my McIntosh MCD7008 directly to the M12.

Before I purchased the Liberty, I did compare the MCD7008 and Zenith into the M12.  The Zenith SQ is better and with the Liberty, its even better.
@kijanki @audioengr  You guys have made some great posts in this thread that clearly explain many of the obstacles between mediocre and excellent sounding digital playback.
I suggest to those who haven't, go compare the sound of one box solutions and typical mac/pc setups to those utilizing the suggestions here. There's plenty of obvious improvement at a not needlessly expensive cost. Those saying "bits is bits", "my abcbox sounds great and won't be beat", etc. are speaking with self-affirming ignorance.  
Start with XLD or dbpoweramp clean rips and you are on your way...Cheers,
Spencer
Just to add to this thread I have a Cocktail Audio X10 connected to Monitor Audio BX1 speakers.  This is a small system set up in my kitchen.  Among a lot of other options The Cocktail Audio X10 can rip Cds in various formats (I just stick to WAV), has 2TB hard drive and is an amp (I think 30watt output into 8ohms).  I don't know if the ripped Cds will sound better than from a Cd but the enourmous advantage is I can listen to all genres in a flick of the remote control.  As to sound I find it very competent taking into consideration its only a small system.  I listen to a wide genres of music I can be sometimes fussy as to sound reproduction and this system seems to 'serve' music rather than play out its capabilities.  The play list shown on the Cocktail is comprehensive and neat once one gets use to it.  In future I want to upgrade but the Cocktail Audio will be included for its play list, Cd ripping and internet radio (with 20,000 stations) joined to a superior DAC, Amp & Speakers.  I grew up on Vinyls, Reel to Reel and Cds.  But now I just do not have the patience to physically change a record for the turntable, or to stand up to go to the Cd open it and change Cd's.  If the sound quality difference between ripped Cd's and Cd was like night and day I would stick to playing and chaging Cds! But it is not I think unless you are prepared to spend big money for something like Estoric Cds.   
Thank you Sbank. Let me give small example why bits are not the bits.
When we attempt to do something very simple like sending digital signal representing 1kHz we might actually receive three different signals. It is because in order to produce only 1kHz D/A converter would have to receive digital words in precisely exact intervals. Any variation would create additional signals - sidebands. Imagine that digital transmission of this 1kHz signal jitters in time because of 60Hz noise. That would create additional 940Hz and 1060Hz signals - most likely very small but audible, being not harmonically related to 1kHz. Amplitude of these sidebands would be proportional to time variation from ideal moment of delivery while frequency would be difference from 1kHz by how often this variation happens (in this case 60 times a second). Since music is not just simple 1kHz signal but a lot of them time jitter of digital signal will create a lot of additional frequencies - a noise, proportional in amplitude to amplitude of original signal (and undetectable without it).
Thanks Steve. Of course "received" is a big simplification. The moment of D/A conversion does not have to to be the same as moment of data arrival, but often conversion clock is based on incoming data rate to avoid getting out of sync (losing data). The question is what to do to avoid it. One option is to use system that buffers data, using different, independent clock for D/A conversion with signaling to make sure buffer always has enough of data, or doesn’t overflow and that’s how async USB works. Another option is to use device that reclocks serial S/Pdif signal. You can use reclocking DAC (like my Benchmark DAC3) or reclocking device before DAC (Audioengr makes one). Separate reclocking device has advantage of giving wider choice of DACs available. I like the sound of Benchmark with my gear, but changing it to non-reclocking DAC might require reclocking device or completely different method of delivery, like USB, that brings own problems (injecting computer noise).

The best method of delivery right now is Ethernet.  This is what I use, not USB anymore.

However, like USB, the playback app matters and the router/switch and cable hardware matters.  It's a shorter list of things that matter compared to USB.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Steve, Ethernet directly into the DAC?  Not sure how that works. I run Ethernet from my Roon server to a Roon endpoint/renderer but then I2S directly into the DAC.
Actually the process of pulling the bits off the CD disk is an analog process, not a digital process.   However, once it passes through the comparator, it is indeed a digital signal.  For this reason, I feel a lot more confident that the music from ripped CDs and converted into a wave file using a bit perfect software, will sound better than the CD in a player if a bit error occurs during reading of the CD.  If a bit error doesn't occur, they should sound the same, assuming the same DAC is used.  Then again, I'd bet if you are using a music server, odds are you have a way better DAC than the stock one in the CD player.

Steve N did state something very important - that digital cable should be terminated at 75 Ohms and it should have a characteristic impedance of 75 Ohms.   A lot of expensive digital cables don't state whether they are controlled impedance cables or what that impedance is.  I suspect some are but I don't buy them unless they have stated impedance.  Granted, 44KHz is not overly fast for terminated transmission lines but termination is never a bad thing in data transmission.    Besides, a properly terminated line with the proper transmitter impedance and characteristic cable nullifies the capacitance in the cable and the line becomes a purely resistive circuit. 

There is a minor problem is the RCA connector - it isn't possible to get a 75 Ohm characteristic impedance and maintain the physical size of the RCA connector.   BNC's do it just fine but not RCA's.  However, as I mentioned above, 44 KHz is not overly fast for data transmission so this may not matter a great deal.    I use an optical cable for this reason.

Check out this article on data transmission using rusty barb wire at 100MHz data transmission.   That is a data rate about 2300 times faster than our CD data line.  I did see that demonstration at the convention and I chuckled a bit, what a great marketing concept!  http://www.sigcon.com/Pubs/edn/SoGoodBarbedWire.htm
Spatialking,  reflections in digital cable, from impedance boundary, are related to highest rate of change and not the frequency of the signal.  The rule of thumb says, that if signal propagation is longer than 1/8 of the fastest transition time than cable might have reflections.  For example, transitions in typical transport are about 25ns.  Divided by 8 it will make around 3ns.  Since signal moves in cable at about 5ns/m then 3ns corresponds to about 0.6m.  Any cable longer than that (including all internal connections of the source and receiver) will behave like transmission line (might have reflections).  I would feel comfortable with non-impedance-matched cables much shorter than 12"  (I would try to get it under 8").  Otherwise you have to match characteristic impedance of everything on the way and it is not always possible - like in the case of RCA connector, you mentioned.  Since reflections can happen from any impedance boundary it is important to match, as close as possible, of impedance of anything on the way.  That's why good digital cable can be great in one system but poor in another.
I stopped using a $3000 CD player over 10 years ago. Mac mini running pure music or audirvana sounded better. I used to use XLD but switched to MAX.
Disk drives for music are fine to use, SSD’s are way over kill. I used to market enterprise SSD’s for almost 10 years and have done many tests using both mediums. SSD’s are quiet, but you shouldn’t have your computer in your audio room anyway. Most hard disks can read 1 song in 1 rotation of the hard disk which is calculated in Milliseconds. Also remember that anything read from any device on your computer gets placed in memory and that’s the buffer before sending it out to a dac. So any messaging of data occurs in memory. So it’s important to have plenty of ram so you can cached ahead your music.
if you do have a music server/Mac/pc in your audio room, the best interface is i2s which nobody uses. I use Ethernet with cat7 cables since my dac has a network card built in, IMO, the only way to go.


Steve, Ethernet directly into the DAC?  Not sure how that works. I run Ethernet from my Roon server to a Roon endpoint/renderer but then I2S directly into the DAC.

I designed an Ethernet Renderer on a module that can be installed in my Overdrive DAC or in a stand-alone Renderer called the Interchange.

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=156409.0

This can be used just like a Sonos, but with much better SQ.  You can stream Tidal or play tracks from any number of apps, including Linn Kinsky, Linn Kazoo, Twonky, Jriver and others.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

A lot of expensive digital cables don't state whether they are controlled impedance cables or what that impedance is. I suspect some are but I don't buy them unless they have stated impedance. Granted, 44KHz is not overly fast for terminated transmission lines but termination is never a bad thing in data transmission.   Besides, a properly terminated line with the proper transmitter impedance and characteristic cable nullifies the capacitance in the cable and the line becomes a purely resistive circuit.

44.1 KHz is not the issue (~2.8MHz actually), it's the risetime that is the issue.  In the textbook case, a proper termination will cause the transmission-line to become resistive, however in real-life it never happens.  There are always reflections and impedance discontinuities.

There is a minor problem is the RCA connector - it isn't possible to get a 75 Ohm characteristic impedance and maintain the physical size of the RCA connector.   BNC's do it just fine but not RCA's.

The problem with RCA is not so much the impedance of the connector, but the inability to terminate it properly to a coax cable and maintain 75 ohms.  This is where the real performance is degraded.  If one uses only properly terminated BNC cables, this problem all but goes away.  75 ohm BNC to RCA adapters are actually quite good.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Since signal moves in cable at about 5ns/m then 3ns corresponds to about 0.6m. Any cable longer than that (including all internal connections of the source and receiver) will behave like transmission line (might have reflections).

It’s not sufficient to have the cable acting as a transmission-line. The inevitable reflections must be avoided at the receiver by selecting optimum lengths. This is why I recommend always at least 1.25m length or 6 inches, nothing in-between that. See this white-paper I wrote years ago on the subject:

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue14/spdif.htm

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

if you do have a music server/Mac/pc in your audio room, the best interface is i2s which nobody uses. I use Ethernet with cat7 cables since my dac has a network card built in, IMO, the only way to go.

I use I2S and many of my customers do also. Most of my products have I2S outputs and inputs. The problem with I2S is the lack of galvanic isolation and expensive cables, otherwise I love it because it does not get reclocked in most DAC’s. My S/PDIF is just as good BTW.

I agree with you on Ethernet. It’s the only way to go. There are still hoops to jump through to get great SQ however, like:

1) AQVOX or SOtM switch

2) CAT8 cables, Wire-World Platinum

3) Ethernet cable isolator, EMO EN-70e

If you do all of these, it will make a huge difference.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

I was suprised how much better CD's  sounded after ripping to a music server vs from a CD player's digital output both going thru the same DAC. 
@cogito1965,

Have you listened to setups like described above? If so, what did you hear? If not, well...Cheers,
Spencer
Building a computer based system can be a relatively complex undertaking, more variables than disc spinners. Follow expert guidance, every single variable can be optimized. For instance, I use linear power supplies on every piece in this system, high quality cabling, usb renderer, optical conversion of ethernet. Optimize everything and you'll never look back. And then there is the advantage of a whole new world of music available to you via Tidal, soon Qobuz, also hi-rez downloads. I've been into audio for over forty years, this is the golden age, never so much music so easily accessible!
Roon sends ripped, downloaded, and Tidal files via ethernet to an Ayre QX-5/20 digital hub and I sit with an iPad selecting what I want to hear.  The sound is superb, e.g., the DSD download of "Time Out" from Acoustic Sounds seems to sound a bit better than the SACD played on my beloved Ayre C-5xeMP.  I've been an audio enthusiast since the early 50s, and this really does seem to be a golden age.
CDs that I have FLAC ripped to my Antipodes server and play from there via USB through my Denafrips Pontus DAC, definitely sound better than via my Rega Apollo CDP.
More body, more detail, less strident treble. No contest in my opinion