For good sound, you pretty much have to go with an outboard DAC to integrated amp to speakers (or powered speakers). For an all in one solution look at the Peachtree audio stuff. If your budget does not permit, something like the Grant Fidelity tube DAC ($250) is a good start.
Too many choices in integrated amps/speakers to begin to suggest...
So you don't want to relocate your office rig, and your specs seem to rule out all of the USB-DIF converters, DACs, etc, etc. OK, I'll bite...how about one of these?
The speakers and enclosures are based upon the original designs by Koss.
At work, I use a Toshiba Laptop w/ iTunes > USB > PS Audio DL III > Audioengine A5s and am very happy.
...add a preamp and powered subwoofer if needed.
Thanks so far... to everyone.
actually a 'stand alone' system is the aim. No iPod dock, no dedicated DAC, no dedicated int amp or receiver.
So active speakers, and a USB or fire wire sound card that is a step or two up from what I have now... it's nearly ... well, it's old IMO.
If the sound card has SPDIF out, fine. if not, that's fine too.
Self contained stand alone, high value, not high cost.
Some sort of arrangement for $< $400 or so.
I'm blessed to have plenty of junk around to integrate any of my desktops into... preamps, receivers, DAC, converters, but prefer to go with a pc rig that needs no other assistance.
If, this proposal by todays' standards IS NOT CAPABLE of showing a noticeable measure of performance as opposed to what I have now... well, just say that.
I figured $400 - $500 ought be plenty to spend on a desktop sound system... if not, do tell.
This might fit your bill, USB in so no need for soundcard!
tHANKS FOR THE THOUGHT ON THE qUADS!
I was wondering when some votes for active speakers would land.
In fact i'M WONDERING ABOUT ACTIVE SPEAKERS AS A VIABLE ROUTE FOR A GREAT MAIN SYSTEM.
Jim, I run a PC with firewire going to an MAudio firewire to spdif converter, into a Music Fidelity XDacV3/PSU into a Cayin A-50T which powers B&W 685 speakers. Windows7/J River 15. The sound is pretty excellent considering the cost. PC is a custom Gateway, Twin internal 300Gig 10,000 rpm WD Black drives, 4 gigs ram, quad core Intel. I like the MAudio converter so that (1)I keep away from the dreaded usb protocal and (2)I am not limited to any dac with either firewire or usb input. With the spdif converter, I can have anything (except the Ayre, which I think sounds poor anyway).
ONce the signal is converted from 1394 or USB, the world is your oyster.
You might want to at some point, try either the Hiface, stick or EVO, or just go on up to the Lynx AES 16, card.
I had various M Audio cards, and a couple converters in here for a time, the Hiface was a slam dunk step above the MAudio stuff... BUT as importantly is the cable you attach to it, either the USB extension cable, or if plugged into the pc instead of a DAC, the RCA or BNC coax cable.
I went with the BNC and an Oyaide silver 1.3M BNC wire and was in hog heaven... until I took the plunge into a better interface for my gear.. the Lynx AES 16E... I'm about sure I can improve upon the Gotham cable that came along in that deal... but as is, all is much better still. In truth, best so far.
I use MC 15 & Fubar... I've about completely weened myself off iTunes now... and doing all in FLAC.
Hoping things are better in your world, and relative to this thread, just wanted to alert you to the fact that the next (latest) issue of Stereophile contains a review of better quality PC sound cards.
Oh, and regarding: >> I use MC 15 & Fubar<<
I Use MC 15 also, and am wondering if you use Foobar 2K exclusively for your rips and file conversions.
thanks.. doing much better... time... time is the necessary component I need now... and some new toys unrelated to audio apparently... well, according to some around here.
So far until this past weekend, I used JR MC 15 to rip with along with EAC, and iTunes.
EAC is ok, but it's only on one machine. I've tried Fubar once last year. it said I needed some other component, and I wasn't into the hassle then of going snooping around, downloading it, and then installing and configuring it.
I believe i"m going to buy DBPower amp. or do the trial ver first anyhow... and see.
All apps I use enlist secure rips, and mostly, I can't discern the diffs when rips are into FLAC.
The parts which bug me are the directory lists of folders and configuring them in JRiver. Especially store gbought compliations. I don't dig one CD winding up in 12 - 30 parent folders and sub folders... or having to go in there and keep switching 'em back and forth.
I'll peek at the stereophile article of pc cards once it get published online. So far, my Lynx AES 16E is still pretty fresh for me. If anything, I'll try out some other cables on it first.
...and I have been considering another DAC or just upgrading my own.
thanks for the heads up info though.
"I believe i"m going to buy DBPower amp"
I started a few weeks ago using dBpoweramp for all rips and conversions and like it lots. It allows ripping in dual file types to dual destinations, so you can, e.g., rip an archival copy in FLAC to a server for metadata conservation, and rip a .wav file to your playlist directory if you prefer that format for playback. It also has a reasonably good metadata/tag editor, which for many albums gets reads from several online sources and allows you to select your preferred result.
So far, JRiver seems to catalog the resulting rips cleanly and handles the tag structures w/o much fanfare. Hope that trend holds up, because I've also experienced the dreaded "15 - album" display from a single album rip or download, and not found a solution short of deleting and starting over.
"I've also experienced the dreaded "15 - album" display from a single album rip or download...."
Say what? I'm clueless on that item!
Good to hear about the DbPower amp bit though, I'd not get that fancy though. rip it to the pc HDD, then copy it to the NAS drive, and one static USB HDD, that just sits around and sleeps... I call it Ripped INA New-Wrinkle.
Presently, I'm not clear enough yet to make a good call on anything pricey. So I've time to investigate a few minor irritating concerns audiowise. The new fortifications have re-directed my current energies and resources, and absorbed my previous 'new amp' funding... for a time.
But the Power amp ought to be fun to investigate... if it's not aimed at IP Engineers only.
Not too terrible in the grand scheme, but a couple of times when HDTracks download stream was slow, I'd return to find that a single-album download was stored with each song in individual folders. I combined songs into a single file folder structure, but still showed up in JRiver as 7 or 8 Herbie Hancock "River" albums, one or two songs each, never (yet) to be merged again.
I like your archive scheme, esp. its designation - just hope it wakes up sooner than each 20 yrs.
I found the dbpoweramp app to be intuitive enough to install and operate without more than a few moments in the help file. This is certainly true if not using batch modes.
Sandstone , Thanks...
I went ahead today and installed the trial version of Dbpower. Cool! Loads of functionality! Too bad it's multi components. Seems to me anyone who wants in on any part of that ripping process will likely want in on burning, or conversion. ripping is about all I'm into actually.
No real need to convert. JR or Fubar play all I own now anyhow. And why convert?
Will Db not compile a CD if the tracks to be burned aren't all the same extension/kind? Now, for an app like this, that will suck a lot.
I'm a sticking with FLAC, and so far both CDs I ripped this A.M. into FLAC '0' rating... were both approved for accurip offset config, and sound better than the rips of them I did with JR MC 15 using the exact same drive (s). A Concord release of Ray Charles "Genius-A collection of hits", and a Tribute to June Carter CD called Anchored in Love w/various artists.
that JC Tribute CD gave me fits using JR MC 15! It placed the singer and track info together. It also creates a "Various Artists" folder, which is superior to a dozen artists folders from only one CD. Dbpower did the same Various Artists folder, yet separated all of the tags better... as it shows up in JRMC15 spot on now... and again... sounds noticeably improved upon... Gotta give that Delete key some action now, and dbpower much gratitude!
If you re-read the Stereophile article on that sound card/DAC run off, lemme know which ones were the top 3, please.
PS... did you download the DSP plug in too? Shheeeesh, is that loaded or what!?
I'm thinking I'm gonna dig this software a lot... but hate going back and re-ripping CDs though! Oil well.
Glad that you had such good results with DbPower. It looks like almost all features are available for a one-time price of $38, including conversions, so likely will go this route.
Why convert? hmmmm... maybe if I have .wav files that I need to relocate on a different server, I would need to convertfirst in order to retain metadata. or if I download from a site that doesn't support flac, I might convert after the download. Or, maybe to rip cd's as you mentioned. No big deal, just another arrow in the quiver.
Thanks for the two album tips, just added them to my "get" list.
I had a similar experience with tag management using JRiver vs. dBPowerAmp.
Thanks for mentioning the the DSP functions that I had overlooked. Yes it looks powerful. I have some HDCD's and for me, that ripping applet in DSP alone makes it worth uploading.
Oops! The soundcard comparo is in TAS, not Stereophile! I don't subscribe, but they were handing out free advance copies at THE Show last Saturday.
The article ends up raving about the ESI Julia (esi-audio.com), as the "first computer component to forsake computer artifacts" And it is priced at only $200. Other than the M-audio (m-audio.com, $200),, all of the other sound cards reviewed are priced at $400 - $700.
Hope this helps, let me know if I can dig out more for you.
Keep on ripping!
Oh - Two more things I have to mention - If you haven't done so, be sure to check out:
- In JRiver, run Theater View/Audio/Playing Now, and watch the software glean a slideshow of images from the internet that are related to the album, genre, artist, and composer.
All while you're listening to the audio.
- Google logo for Wed, June 8, commemorating Les Paul.
Wow! Hmm.. Theater view huh? I never mess with that... cool... I'll try.
Saw the Les Paul bit a few times now.
I'm using a Lynx AES 16 PCI Expresss card and it's native ASIO setup on my XP SP 3 box to feed my Bel Canto DAC 3 with... ohhh, and via a Gotham captured cable 1.5M AES. No OEM Lynx break out cables. the Gotham connects right onto the A bank of pins.
According to Lynx use of an outboard clock is well, let's say it this way, 'not for me'. They said there was one clock in the neighborhood of a couple grand that could improve on their OEM clock.. but hey, $2G's? Sheeessshhh.
Perhaps, changing out that Gotham wire might add somthing to the mix... but in all, I'll be fine as is.
I've done the M Audio route already. Hiface too. Lynx is well ahead of them both... and should be too given it's price point... even preowned as is how I got mine.
You might wanna slow down on those concord CD re-issues... and some older classic rock as well coming out of Concord Records. HD tracks it seems is fairly quickly covering those same Albums in High Res downloads. Sure, more money, but if it's not a redundant buy? mebbe it'd work for ya. HD Tracks just put out Ray Sings, Basie Swings.. in 24/88... and on hte Concord CD release, it sounds great!
I'm a big Ray fan. Of any CDs, Ray and a handful of others are the only ones I'd be redundant with... Depending on the cuts being rolled out. I'm nobody's groupie... so I am still picky.
Thanks for the heads-up on HDTracks. I got Ray's Genius and it sounds mighty good at 16/44, so can only imagine what the Hi res would be like.
Two of the Lynxes are included in the TAS review. Your less costly AES 16 was cited as having the better SQ.
But since you're feeding into a Bel Canto DAC 3, I'm wondering how your PC Board > AES/EBU > DAC 3 pathway compares to using one of the now ubiquitous USB converters, such as Bel Canto USBLink, M2Tech, etc.
Sorry I’m so late with a follow up here… been really busy fortifying the hacienda…. And I’ve had yet a couple more attempts by ???? to get in here. Amazing. That’s all about to come to a screeching halt… I assure you. Can you say 930 SPX 8 round semi auto 12 ga.?
I just read that TAS article myself. Fella was using a Bryston DAC, right? Woulnd up liking the less expensive PCI card than the AES 16….
Too bad he didn’t try the PCI Express card.
I use an AES 16 E. PCI Express… bigger… uses less memory and CPU resources… and costs a bit more. From what I’ve read, the Express has a bit more liveliness to it than does the AES std card.
I’ve tried a few of those same reviewed cards in my past. Wrote about some right here too in reviews section.
I’ve tried a few of the converters. USB to SPDIF or USB to BNC… they’re ok.. but IMHO, if you want to lessen jitter…. Improve performance… and increase resolution and detail in order to gain greater presence and get closer to the recordings attributes I’d say decreasing the juncture thru which the signal travels is key.
Take the signal off the bus, not off the USB. USB buses share thruput and chatter from mouse, keyboard, maybe even the PC’s speakers? It’s a minor item but I just prefer not to use the USB interface… for now.
The interface then, is as important too. Following that, the cabling sets the stage or IMO allows the stage to be set best.
I tend to believe too, there exists some synergy between the PCI/USB card or USB converter and the DAC ‘du Jour’. Naturally, it always goes without saying around here or anywhere else, and the ears of the listener and their preffs determine if a thing gets a nod or a shake. I don’t doubt the reviewers setup favored the combo of that particular card and his Bryston DAC. Not at all. My ears, rig, and so forth favorver the lynx + Bel Canto DAC 3. Sooo?
I’m a front to back (SOURCE FIRST) guy way more so than a back to front (SPEAKERS FIRST) guy.
THE SIGNALS INAUGURAL exposure or introduction into the system IMO needs be as pure and unadulterated as is possible. That’s why we use lossless conversion and secure rips. And why we should be placing high priorities on the Media Player too!
My problem, is I can not afford the setups that use exclusively one interface dedicated and highly optimized like Wavelengths, or Weiss’…. Or for that matter, Imperical Audio’s tact on personal confuser audio…. And now as we jot down new posts, PS Audio is getting into the mix…. Deeper and agressively.
A while back at least one audiophile had said he felt the PSA Bridge was better than his DCS outfit that cost many times the PS Audio Bridge setup in the confines of his system.
I’ve got the SACD of Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company”, and as well the Ray sings & Basie Swings ripped to FLAC off the CD from Concord. I might just do the HD download of it too… so I can have a playlist with better consistency in the fidelity department…. Or at least less disparity.
But as I said it is curious that HDTracks is yielding 24/88 & 24/96 offerings of those concord remixes not long after Concord releases them on CD.
Now… when HDTracks posts up Little Feat’ “Waiting for Columbus” now… that one I’lll re-buy… probably till God comes or I’ go to meet Him.
According to what I saw the other day on the DVD Extractor web site… a Blu Ray version is upcoming. Now that will stay on my short list till it is released. Talk about direcrt High res! Ripping BR tracks will be outstandingly easy.
"I’ve tried a few of the converters. USB to SPDIF or USB to BNC… they’re ok.. but IMHO, if you want to lessen jitter…. Improve performance… and increase resolution and detail in order to gain greater presence and get closer to the recordings attributes I’d say decreasing the juncture thru which the signal travels is key.
Take the signal off the bus, not off the USB. USB buses share thruput and chatter from mouse, keyboard, maybe even the PC’s speakers? It’s a minor item but I just prefer not to use the USB interface… for now."
I doubt if you have used a decent async USB converter with a good clock. This makes all the difference. Some of these have won Golden Ear awards, as well as taking best of show at RMAF. It's like trying a few cheap phono stylus and concluding that vinyl is a lost cause. Just more misinformation being broadcast on the web IMO.
Also, I dont understand your comment about my "confusing products", and the name is Empirical Audio, not Imperical. I make USB DACs and USB converters just like other companies. I offer upgrade clocks unlike other companies. Why is this confusing????
I just made some sweet changes on my PC rig. I just ordered the ESI Juli@ but, in the interim... I reinstalled the Sigma Tel Audio which is on the motherboard. I never knew it was capable of 192/24. I got rid of the MAudio firewire/spdif converter and replaced the MF XDac V3 with a Benchmark Dac. The benchmark is driven directly off the board via spdif. I must say, the improvement in sound is excellent. I am enjoying some nice hires recordings. (The Maudio maxed at 96k). I should have the Juli@ by the end of the week.
I know there are people who think usb audio has its limitations ,but there are no such limitations of USB interfaces. I have owned the m2tech hiface & evo & few other reclockers like the monarchy dip & was never happy until i bought the empirical audio offramp4. It was the last piece of gear i tried because of me being cheap, well my mom use to say buy cheap get cheap & thats the sound i got until i bought the empirical audio offramp4. You will never know the true sound of the rest of your components until you get the best possible source. I run a mac mini
into the offramp4 via usb & run spdif out of the offramp into the wyred4sound dac2 & am simply amazed & neither dac nor the offramp are even broken in!
I am a firm believer that USB sucks and was just never intended for audio. The new Berkeley appears to be the first to finally get around USB's technical inferiority. I look forward to a listen of a mac mini and the berkeley USB interface.
Cerrot - Interesting that you believe the first Berkeley USB interface design overcomes USB's "inferiority", given that you have not even heard one yet. Berkeley approached me to do their USB interface so I quoted them on it. I have designed 3 generations of USB interfaces. Evidently I was too expensive for them.
If USB is so "inferior", I wonder how Golden Ear awards were awarded and Best sound of Show at 2010 RMAF to USB-based systems??
I guarantee the offramp4 will floor you when used with
a good dac. I spent years searching & tried alot of gear & spent alot of money & finally tried the offramp4. i would bet money the berkeley dac would sound much better being fed from the offramp4 vs going straight into the berkeley.
USB was neber designed for audio. That's a basic premis. Data is transmitted in packets - not good for an audio signal. USB is just another example of trying to make ther best out of something not very good.
I have not heard the Berkeley, but know people who I trust who have heard it, thus it is on mny short list.
Cerrot - Your opinion I believe is based on a lot of misinformation that you have read on the forums. Ethernet for instance is a really good transfer medium for audio precisely because it's packetized. It also has retry, which USB and Firewire do not have. The only issue is network bandwidth hogging, since audio cannot get priority.
USB and Firewire actually have the hogging think pretty much licked because they are isochronous, unless the system runs out of I/O resources. So there are advantages to Ethernet and advantages to USB and Firewire.
Modern audio streams are not really streams. They are bursts of packets that are buffered at the end node and then streamed locally using a master clock. This is a superior way of doing audio playback which can result in very low jitter (depending on the parts choices, design and implementation).
Steve, My opinion is NOT based on misinformation that I have read on forums. I am a hard core PC user, have 30 years experience and have custom built over 30 machines - all cutting edge. I ahve also been an audiophile for that many years and have learned how to listen. I have also been experimenting indepth for many years with PC audio interfaces. You can keep USB. I will use USB for my mouse and keyboard.
I do agree with ethernet being an excellent platform. I had predicted about about 5 years ago that within 10 years, ethernet would be the standard. I do believe we will see it.
USB, however, sucks. I think your company makes a decent run at it but it is still, lets say, lipstick on a pig.
If USB is so bad, then why would TAS reviewer use it as his digital reference? How could it possibly get best sound of show at RMAF 2010? Golden Ear award?
IMO you have just been listening to the wrong USB interfaces.
Steve, I don't know how you can possibly defend USB with an argument about how a TAS reviewer uses it as a reference. I listen with my own ears. TAS also gave a great review to the Berkeley - actually saying that the berkeley/usb/berkeley dac blew away the prior PC with the Lynx sound card. You see, I take the reviews with a grein of salt. They always have the newest, bestest and only talk about the shortcomings of the newest and bestest when something newer and better come along. It is all subjective.
I remember reviewers saying that CD's were all the rave about 25 years ago. I didn't bite then, either.
"I don't know how you can possibly defend USB with an argument about how a TAS reviewer uses it as a reference."
It it more compelling than me trying to tell you that it sounds better than vinyl or better than the highest end Transports, which it does. You obviously wont believe me anyway. You already have your mind made-up.
My PC goes via squeezebox into an Esoteric upconverter/clock into a berkeley dac direct to my amps. It sounds great. But, better than vinyl?
I still have not found that but will keep listening.
This guy knows USB can be better than vinyl:
You should at least upgrade that SB to a Touch. Much lower jitter. Then you can probably sell the Esoteric. However, you need to make more changes than this to your system to sound better than vinyl IMO. Even a Touch will not get you there. This is because the clock of the digital source is the most important factor, not the DAC or whether the track is 192 or 96 or 44.1.
Steve, I’m sorry I misspelled your companies name. Just a typo.. not poor intent. I’ll note that for the future.
Everyone tries what they can on what level they can justify or afford.
In the under a few hundred < $400 - $500 is all I’ve been able to check out, so that is where my claims extend. I’ll stand by what I said with those parameters now in place.
Decent converters? So IYO, where do decent conversion interfaces begin in price? $1K, $2K?
Using that word alone says the Lynx AES 16E is at least a ‘decent’ converter/interface/DAC.
Albeit, a secondary buy of just 5 or 700 on the heels of a previous likewise buy keeps some items from being auditioned by many.
What I’ve seen at your website does confuse me. Last time I looked there several items were being offered for various purposes. Converters, clocks, along with upgrades for just about each one. So even though some base conversion devices exist there… if optimally outfitted as your own site seems to suggest they could be, some approach a couple grand or more…. which… IMHO… makes them a far more thoughtful and precarious purchase, than merely an impulse buy, and further complicates the entire matter.
I believe you said yourself in a thread on another site that a particular device of yours outperformed the Lynx AES 16 PCI Express card…. Albeit, following my purchase of a Lynx. In spite of how that comment was delivered and/or how I received it, I did go look at your devices anyhow as I certainly am one who does nnot know everything about everything. That was when I felt one of your gizmos done properly, was a $2K or so investment. And that was the cost for a non full bandwidth device.
…and it’s cost then was around $800. Making it then several hundred dollars more than the Lynx AES 16E.
Then too are the cost for cables to connect up these added clocks, power supplies for those powered items.
The Lynx or Hiface EVO, either plug right in, or need just a USB cord.
Given that, well, we’re talking apples and oranges right?
I’m not taking you to task here Steve, but let’s not forget, it is merely a claim made by the maker/seller that promises rewards of higher performance, and not a general unbiased consensus.
All I know is what I hear.. as does anyone else, for that is the litmus test.. What we hear… no matter how it measures… and for many I will presume, cost is a consideration.
So too, is the ever lengthening list of devices one must or can or might want to try in their own rig, first hand. It’s expensive and time consuming.
And then there’s this… what if… just think what if… you get a gizmo… and following it’s insertion, you are just ecstatic about it’s performance…. All the “hey this is better” appeals… acclaims… assertions… are as fallow as fallen and withered grain. That person doesn’t care a bit then about any other notions of something else being better… well, definitely not right then.
Let’s not forget either…. Exactly what is better? What’s better truly mean?
Studio recording engineer better? Live performance in a club better? On stage outdoors better? Better meaning more natural? More resolution? More bass?
It can mean anything almost. It’s that subjective. When I’m dealing with subjectivity, price tells me where I can and might tred, and where I will not.
I’ll let my ears tell me what I do like and do not.
We all have our own little worlds we live in, no matter how grandiose, or meager. They are all miniscule and temporal. The aim I think is to enjoy the world you live in as best you can… and all my comments… assertions… advice… thoughts, and so forth point to exactly that, based upon my experience.
I’ve little doubt devices selling for a couple grand might out perform those of lesser cost. It even makes sense. But for right at $500 for the Lynx AES 16E…. I’m pretty happy…
The AES 16 allows for another clock to be added on as well… but guess what Lynx rep said to me about adding on aftermarket upscale clocks …….
He said, “Unless you are adding on (I forget the name) which costs several thousands of dollars, I’d not add one. Even then with this high dollar aftermarket clock, the gain is going to be quite marginal.” Indicating to me numbers like 10% or 15% improvements.
Perhaps Steve, you should have said something sooner… or others should have said something sooner on that topic. I asked. A lot. But no one chimed in and mentioned a similarly priced item which you make as a solution.
In fact the overwhelming input unsaid, but seen in the virtual systems and signatures of posters was the Lynx device… not an Empirical Audio unit.
Why? I don’t know. Price probably. Add on’s perhaps. Bandwidth? Beats me. Time will come maybe… and I’ll give Empirical Audio a shot. But for now, I’m good. there and have other more important and larger, fish to fry elsewhere in my audio world, and my own life in general.
What would interest me in this thread of mine, is a device which totally eliminates the need for a outboard DAC. Something that can improve performace by subtraction… get rid of DACs, preamps… not bust the bank and control/feed some nice active speakers.
Better still IMHO, would be such a unit for my main system which could feed and control vol on amp (s) and be capable of utilizing the whole of the bandwidth… or the like and not be made of too much can’taffordium.
"Decent converters? So IYO, where do decent conversion interfaces begin in price? $1K, $2K?"
Probably $800.00 starting point for a USB converter. It's a lot like turntables. You can always buy a cheap one and a less expensive cartridge and get good results. Spectacular results from a turntable and phono stage requires $10K at least, more like $20K. Likewise, about $5-6K for a USB DAC. $1500 for USB converter.
"The Lynx or Hiface EVO, either plug right in, or need just a USB cord.
Given that, well, we’re talking apples and oranges right?"
The Off-Ramp 4 replaces HiFace or EVO and uses virtually identical drivers. Same thing. It comes with a USB cable. Better clocks, power and other features adds cost. Performance costs.
"The AES 16 allows for another clock to be added on as well… but guess what Lynx rep said to me about adding on aftermarket upscale clocks …….
He said, “Unless you are adding on (I forget the name) which costs several thousands of dollars, I’d not add one. Even then with this high dollar aftermarket clock, the gain is going to be quite marginal.” Indicating to me numbers like 10% or 15% improvements."
I agree, adding an expensive work-clock to drive the Lynx is a poor proposition. However, many use the Pace-Car to RECLOCK all kinds of sources, including the Lynx. This is different than just supplying a word-clock with lower jitter to help the clock in the Lynx. The digital signal passes through the Pace-Car and the Pace-Car provides a synchronizing clock to the Lynx. Reclocking establishes a totally new master clock in the Pace-Car. The Lynx clock jitter then becomes unimportant. Pace-Car starts at $1200.00. People are still using it after 7 years on the market, so it must make a significant difference. You can make the clock as good as you can afford. Just like upgrading a turntable cartridge.
"Perhaps Steve, you should have said something sooner… or others should have said something sooner on that topic. I asked. A lot. But no one chimed in and mentioned a similarly priced item which you make as a solution."
Very few of my customers read this forum.
"What would interest me in this thread of mine, is a device which totally eliminates the need for a outboard DAC. Something that can improve performace by subtraction… get rid of DACs, preamps… not bust the bank and control/feed some nice active speakers."
You cannot eliminate the outboard DAC, it is always needed. A high-performance DAC with a built-in preamp function that beats all other preamps is the ticket IMO.
The things that compromise digital system sound quality, in order of importance are:
1) master clock jitter
2) D/A digital filtering distortion
3) D/A active output stage compression
4) Volume control circuit noise and distortion
This is why I addressed all of these in my USB DAC design. Again, to get this kind of performance you are looking at $4k-6K. Performance does not come cheap.
From someone who's owned Steve's product, along with ridiculously expensive cabling and tried a half dozen DACs in the $1k to $3k price range, the RDac is ridiculously good. For $500. And you don't need a converter with a super duper clock upgrade to get great sound from it.
Not knocking Steve's gear, I did honestly like the Offramp Turbo-3. I'm also glad I got rid of it before he switched to async and the prices bottomed out.
I've never tried a $5k USB DAC by the way Steve, but you'd probably need a $30-$40k system just to do it justice. And I'm not sure you'd grin as much as you would by gambling on a $500 DAC that seems to overperform. The rest of my stuff isn't low-fi but definitely not $30-$40k either.
USB DACs don't suck, by the way Cerrot. They sound just fine.
... one last Q… and a thought or two
Why do you force a person to choose which word and sampling rates are to be addressed with your components?
Why not allow for all the content from Red Book to DVD Audio to be processed by your converters clock?
Why too, not make a DAC which addresses more than merely USB?
Other digital devices do exist. I’m not blaming you, but in looking for a DAC, lets say, I looked both for build, stability, versatility and voice. Removing other interfaces in the name of gaining performance is lessening flexibility and inherent value. The price too becomes more lofty. And that is indeed your call of course.
‘my customers don't read this forum... “
Do they peruse any at all? I posted on a couple others many of the Questions I’ve posted here..
I would take issue with you on how much money it takes someones equipment to make outstanding involving listening sessions. And right there lays the conundrum or maybe the challenge.
Simple high prices alone are less and less orienting the level of SQ. In fact the trend over the past few years is to see excellent performing products for lower costs.
I suppose shiek will always be sheik to some. Albeit, the greater buying dollar resides in less affluent climes. This is a statement from the larger portion of the digital producing industry, and a swelling trend that continues today.
One side of the Lynx clock add-on debate said virtually no greater performance results would be obtained by such an implimentation. Actually, Lynx side said that. You agreed.
The flip side of that debate implies otherwise, saying, "due to the high level of clock tech currently on board, adding an aftermarket clock is money poorly spent." Perhaps even if it is an Empiracal audio clock, huh?
Then that is a good thing! No need to spend more duckets!
for my money,I observe the threshold of diminishing returns. Some. I venture past it now and then. Just as a good brain washed audiophile should keep trying to eek out or capture that added little bit extra. That elusive next wee step up.
When that added littel bit amounts to spending $6K... vs $3K. or $1500 vs 500 - 700... I'll pass. Almost each and every time. I pass because I must financially and as I should philosophically.
For that added 50% more all I get is a rental agreement towards the next, perhaps, version you or any other maker may decide to build, and/or are enabled to build.
spending double for 10% or even 20% mo betta? I pray I never fall prey to my ego, that I'd invest that sort of money into a market which at best returns only 50% on principal... or less. And travels as briskly as does the digital realm.
In the digital kingdom as one poster already underlined... things move fast... and with some luck, he was able to flip his Emperical Audio device prior to a design change took place, lest he lose out dramatically more.
That scenario in no small part was designed by your hand. Maybe you sent out emails to all of your previous clientele of this upcoming release .... I've no idea. I'd have thought you would. I'd have thought any such a move by any maker would have issued such a communicae. Private and better still, public announcements of upcoming releases seem to serve credibility too.
Regardless, the seeming fury with which these changes transpire are by design terms swift. making digital investments still more dodgy a practice.. This year is this... next year is that... So the outlay of $6K is not a singular investment.
Let's not try fooling ourselves or anyone else.
I've been hearing a few of these in truth, high buck outfits of late... Far, far more expensively outfitted than my own... in really nice well tweaked setups. Owned by some very nice people too.
Trust me folks.... living on and a bit beyond the point of diminishing returns, is a very very, nice place indeed to exist. it really is, and in some respects it's better.
The separation between those setups and my own, subjectively speaking is not night and day, however the investment (s) are.
The more I hear of top flight, well done, quite expensive oufits only serves to remined me just how much fun and great sound one can own for just a decent investment…. Overall, maybe in the $20K or better buying a mix of new and pre-owned equipment.. and often, less..
If I could afford to be quite lavish, I'm not so sure I would... well not much more.
Given what I'm hearing and seeing with my own two ears & eyes... or what's left of 'em.
It’ll take in home auditions. First hand trials. Trials of run in kit… not a few days of something that will emerge into something very unlike it’s current sound, later.
Wehn that happens, when that becomes a widespread practice, and all those in a position to make such purchases can inspect for themselves these new bleeding edge entrees du jour, the veil will then be lifted from the high end audio circuit, and it becomes then fact and first hand info, rather than reviews and hype that will fuel purchases. People will stand online to get them at that point.
I suspect not only will their be a huge infusion of integrity, but credibility will soar for the manufacturers. . Who's the boss then will be quite evident... and by how much as then even quantitative assessments will be agreed upon, by & large.
Well maybe no quantitative assessments will be emphatically agreed upon, as no audiophile worth his salt agrees with everyone on everthing. We aren’t allowed, it’s the law don’t you know?
…and that brings me to this… Steve… what is your input here for a great sounding desktop system that won’t break the bank… as the thread requests… ???
"Why do you force a person to choose which word and sampling rates are to be addressed with your components?
Why not allow for all the content from Red Book to DVD Audio to be processed by your converters clock?"
I dont understand this question. All of my components can do 44.1-192. All clocks are provided for all of these sample-rates. There are clock upgrades that you can purchase.
"Why too, not make a DAC which addresses more than merely USB?"
I dont understand this question either. My Overdrive has USB, S/PDIF coax and I2S inputs.
"due to the high level of clock tech currently on board, adding an aftermarket clock is money poorly spent." Perhaps even if it is an Empirical audio clock, huh?"
You are missing the point. The clock in the Lynx is designed to be synchronized using an external clock. These types of clocks are high-jitter by definition. Trying to CONTROL this clock to reduce jitter using an expensive external clock is futile. Using an external RECLOCKER with the Lynx is an entirely different thing however. In this case, it makes perfect sense to invest in a good low-jitter clock.
"he was able to flip his Emperical Audio device prior to a design change took place, lest he lose out dramatically more."
This was not just a design change, but a technology change. Most manufacturers made this move because it resulted in much higher perfromance. High-techology digital is disruptive, whether its cell-phones, computers or audio. Have you tried to sell an older cell-phone lately? Before you know it, the market for used iPads will dry up.
"That scenario in no small part was designed by your hand. Maybe you sent out emails to all of your previous clientele of this upcoming release .... I've no idea."
No, you don't. I offered an upgrade path for all Off-Ramp 3 owners to go to Off-Ramp 4. Much of the Off-Ramp 3 is used in the Off-Ramp 4. Only the USB module is upgraded. I try to make all of my products modular so they can be upgraded to the latest technologies at lower cost to my customers. Rather than buying a new Off-Ramp 4 at $799.00, the customer could upgrade from 3-4 for $350.00. I feel that this is good service. Show me another company that does this.
"It’ll take in home auditions. First hand trials. Trials of run in kit…"
I already offer this:
Like many of your other comments, you are making incorrect assumptions about this. You should do a little reading first to see what the real story is.
"Steve… what is your input here for a great sounding desktop system that won’t break the bank… as the thread requests… ???"
Okay, this I can provide:
Wired for Sound DAC2 - $1500.00
Off-Ramp 4 with Turboclock - $1499.00
total under $3K
The Off-Ramp 4/Turboclock replaces the USB input on the W4S and makes this a world-class DAC. Maybe you can even get the W4S DAC2 on Audiogon used for less.
For $4K you can have an Overdrive DAC with the same USB interface built-in and a world-class volume control. You can and will sell your preamp, and you dont need expensive power cables either. The cost saving on the preamp and power cord is at least $1K. The volume control has been compared to $10K+ preamps.
Over $3K w/o speakers for a very nice desktop pc audio system well, that suggestion demonstrates the divide between your perspective and my own with regard to terms like decent… very good, excellent, etc., and the costs for same.
Many of my comments were made on my last familiarization and talks with you on what was being offered thru your company. I did go look again, as usual briefly, yesterday?
It appears I’m confused by all the various products, their configurations, their update/upgrade paths, etc., and how to choose from amongst them which suits my preffs or system needs merely by reading their particular notes.
It is always cool and beneficial to the buyer a process or program of keeping up to date is offered. You are not alone in this capacity. Bel Canto does this… BAT has an update/upgrade policy… AR does similar things… and the list goes on I’m sure, though it is not all inclusive. To every maker, brand, or model.
Whether it’s due to manufacturing changes or technology changes. Your own product line echoes the fact no moss is growing on your offerings. Digital audio is stepping very rapidly ahead.
Keeping up is the costly affair. With some makers, it is still more costly to keep up than with others. There will always then too, be the subjective arguments about who sounds better and those debates continue to fuel this hobby.
I wasn’t aware you offer now, in home demos of your equipment. That’s very interesting. I’ll keep that in mind if/when I seek another change somewhere in the digital change.
Thanks for all the input on the desktop sound system. I appreciate it.
Any other pc sound system users out there owning a special configuration that yields a really nice sound?
Please… let me know.
I've just completed my project of installing the ESI Juli@ in my PC and running J River 16 via a 10 meter aopgee spdif cable into Esoteric clock/upsampler into Berkeley dac direct into amps. Very easy to hear the new set up totally trounce the SB Touch. The soundstage is wider and deeper, with more detail and much better resolution. And much more transparent. This is with reqular 44.1/a6 files. The 192/24 bit (and other hi res) sounds absolutely incredible. I will be uninstalling the Touch soon.
I am attaching a thread from Headfi.org This soundcard/dac had a thread there that ran about 2 years. It is the Musiland Monitor 02US. It is a pain to set up because of all it takes to get it right, but when you get there, I have found it to be an incredible value... If you need a USB DAC, I believe you would have to break $500. to beat this. Its about $130. You will read through all the pains & struggles with drivers and firmware updates, operating systems, cables and the whole gammet, but in the end, after some improvements and 2 years of updates and figuring it out, its a great little soundcard/DAC. It is Asyncronous and will accept inputs from 16/44 all the way through 24/192 through all inputs, spdif, toslink and USB, yes, it does 24/192 USB and shows which format is playing.
Needs a windows computer, really needs to be running Windows 7, needs a good server program, Foobar 2000(free) and JRivers paid versions are both very good. You'll need to set either for wasapi output and you'll need to download the latest drivers. Yes, I've heard better and plan to upgrade, but I've heard alot, Others may have, but I've never heard anything touch this when used as laid out above touch it for its price range.
You will read several on the HeadFi site say this is the best buy they have ever made in audio... it is certainly one of my best also and you will read some comparisons with some very well known DAC's. I hope this helps,
Thanks for posting a lead on the Musiland. It's good to see yet another bit of gear that might again disprove the notion by some that major bucks are always needed for good quality computer audio.
Although already owning a couple of great DACs, I'll likely give this one a go on another system.
"According to what I saw the other day on the DVD Extractor web site… a Blu Ray version is upcoming."
Were you ever able to check out DVD Extractor?
"I had predicted about about 5 years ago that within 10 years, ethernet would be the standard. I do believe we will see it."
Guess you can always hope, but not likely. Instead, it will soon be USB 3.0 (& subseq.) and Thunderbolt, i.e. Light Peak.
Always intereesting to listen to people talk about how to throw their money around. Ignoring all that, heres my recipe for beating down the PC audio issues at lowest price for best results.
1) build your PC right to start... GIGO.
a) use a stable motherboard thats "green PC" ie energy efficient which equals lower noise
b) choose an energy efficient multi processor... the hotter it runs the more cooling noise and other woes you fight
c)use a speedy,quiet SSD for your main drive for programs only and a quiet hard disk drive to handle the space needed to store your music files
d) run a 64bit OS for best hardware performance
e) use at least 4 gig of RAM to minimize disk read activity
f) use a decent video card to offload cycles from your CPU
g) eliminate all unnecessary fans and use the quietest running after market CPU cooler you can.
once you have your system up and running, turn off indexing and if its a dedicated music server disable swap file... background disk processes are your enemy for jitter. So far your total PC cost should be around $600-$700.
The whole point of this path is to eradicate as much as possible the issues that cause noise and jitter before audio signal even leaves your PC. I'm not a big fan of trying to engineer around a design thats broken, that just leads to the fix creating new problems.
Now that you have done the analog equivalent of creating a good turntable to spin your disc, you have to make some choices that center around dollars for sound transfer... You have to get the music out of the PC to your preamp.
Cheapest option: ASUS sound card, supports up to 192Khz sample rate at 24bit, kernel streaming. Price anywhere from $50 for a DS to $200 for a Xonar Essence STX. I've been using the DS for a while about to switch to the Essence to get a better analog section + RCA out vs minijack.
Better option: use an external DAC and the SPDIF of the ASUS. Plan on spending $500 + for this.
I can't comment on the value of the asynch USB to SPDIF and reclocker options since I haven't tried them... and I have never seen a review trial where one of these went up against an optimized PC to show that it could improve output even on a dedicated music server design. They probably have value for off the shelf machines which are already design compromised.
"Any other pc sound system users out there owning a special configuration that yields a really nice sound? Please… let me know."
I use Steve N's Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 4, having upgraded from the 3, and before that, the original. Player is Foobar/wasapi. The Off-Ramp feeds a Perfect Wave DAC, which I also use as a preamp, via spdif. The rest of the system is Theta Citadels and Legacy Whispers with Revel subs. I'm the kind of guy who is always looking for a way to improve, but honestly, things are sounding pretty spectacular at the moment. Not sure what I would do to improve, unless it would be to try the next version of the Off-Ramp when there is one. My opinion - the Empirical Audio stuff is stellar. Not the cheapest, but I'm not after the cheapest. (By the way, something many people may not realize - Foobar can be controlled with the Apple Remote app on an iTouch or iPad.)