Hard drive storage still need good cd player?

Starting moving my CD's to my media center PC. I connected the PC via digital optic to my external DAT converter (proceed) and the sound is pretty good. I haven't done serious listening, I just did this for the convieniance and ability to have music playing without having to change CD, when doing chores or have company over type of thing.

So while I'm recording this to the HD, I started woundering, what is the difference with having the music stored on the HD compared to the cd it came on..? The CD is just a transport with a laser pickup that reads bits and bytes and sends it to the dac as accurately as possible. So if you where able to get a great copy of a cd onto a hard drive, and pump that to the DAC you don't need a 5K cd player. One step forward, and what if I could simply buy the music already copied with the best equipment possible directly to a file I could download.

For reference, I'm using a classe cd/dvd player with proceed avp, classe cam 200 mono blocks and bw 802 speakers.

I have both. For me, I have over 40K songs so for the sake of hard drive space I rip at 256 VBR to MP3 format. For critical listening I use my cdp. I am able to discern a loss in soundstaging and imaging with my digital music. Things sound compressed (duh!) with a loss of dynamics. But I am happy to make the trade off for convenience of quickly accessing my music.

I suppose if you are ripping to FLAC or some other lossless format then all you would need is a really nice DAC.
The data on the CD and the data on the HD should be identical if you get a good rip. The difference will be the jitter levels on playback. A Computer with the right converter with low-jitter clock will have much lower jitter than the CD player or transport.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Michel,

I use to have that same idea... I moved all my cd's into Media Center and planned using the digi outs to an external DAC and figured it would sound just the same or better seeing that it's reading from a Hard Drive. Unfortunately this is not the case. Try a cheap DVD or CD player and run it to your DAC and have a listen. Actually, burn a CD from some of the files you are playing off your HTPC so you know that it can't be any better. The CD player sounds much better. I hear that the Windows KMixer has a lot to do with this, but I've used ASIO drivers and Kernal streaming drivers that are supposed to bypass this mixer and they sounded better, but not as good as any CD player transport. I can only tell on a good system though, but on that system it is obvious. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

You've got the gist of it. Most people who have gone this route are a) really happy after they work out the details, b) have sold their $5K unite and c) are keeping the CDs in a box somewhere as ultimate back-up. Practically speaking, re-ripping a large collection is too boring to contemplate so a hard drive back-up strategy needs to be part of your master plan.
but using a hi quality dac converter like audioengr sells is expensive and doesn't save any money over a cd player. Also sonos and similar boxes tested haven't had noticeably lower jitter.
benmalan@comcast.net - Most computer converters on the market are not as good as Transports, but the technology potential is there to outperform ALL transports. My fully modded ($1280 in mods)transport is setting gathering dust because my computer audio is simply better.
Samuellaudio - please dont lump my converters with the likes of Sonos and "similar" boxes. There are no similar boxes IMO. If you look at what it costs to mod a transport, buy a good digital cable and the time and money it takes to re-write all of your CD's, the computer audio converter is cheaper, even if you factor-in the cost of a laptop at $1K. Besides, the computer converter will outperform even the modded transport with expensive digital cable plus rewritten CD's. I demo this exact thing at CES each year, and each and every listener prefers the audio quality of the computer audio converter over the Transport.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
So begs the other question. How can you get the best possible copy from CD to HD. For sake of lazyness I used the built in cd tray, all the while knowing already that it sounded worst than my transport, but wasent' thinking about real good sound quality when I started, now I see that I can get pretty good...better than I originally thought.

Apparently, when you use Exact Audio Copy (EAC) or JRiver (with error checking enabled), no bits are lost during a CD rip--hard drive copy is exactly the same as the original CD. So, is there any benefit to using CD treatments or antistatic spray prior to rip?
Million dollar question there Bigamp LOL

When I started I was a fanatic about doing a "full treatment" prior to ripping. After scribbling green ink over too many CDs, and trying literally every paste, powder and spray I could find, I settled in on a routine of Mapleshade's Optrix spray wiped off with Kimwipes (lab grade tissues for optics) and then a shot from their anti static zapper prior to ripping. (If nothing else this improved playback when I took a disc to play in the car)

When I broke down my system for some remodeling I put all my secret sauce stuff away and digitized new CDs right out of the jewel case. At a certain point you have to say that bitz is bitz and move on. I can't say that I have noticed a difference though I still feel a twinge of audio nervosa every time...

The distinction here is not subtle, we are not trying to keep a laser reading in real time happy; we are just trying to suck the data off the disk which is pretty standard stuff for a computer. So in my mind, laser read errors, and all the nightmare of electro-optical-mechanical playback devices is eliminated - thus the instant improvement most everyone notices.

However I am glad to have tried all the stuff. Some of the used CDs I buy have what I like to think of as peanut butter on them - then its soap and water followed by Optrix. They rip faster and with fewer or no errors.
I just made the following relevant post on the Computer Audio Asylum: