I don't know. I have a $25 Goodwill special old 5 disc CD changer straight to a $79 self powered computer speaker 2.1 setup. It sounds good enough to listen a LOT.
It perhaps is expectations?
It perhaps is expectations?
I have a couple of CDs I have ripped to my current music server and listened to that I recorded from the realmusic service (mp3 quality I believe even) back early on a couple years back when I first ran my PC laptops analog audio output into my old Carver pre-amp and recorded the disc using my Denon recorder.
This is pop/rock stuff, not classical or even high end source material, but I must say when these tunes come on interspersed with my other similar cuts that I have ripped from various digital and analog sources, that they sound perfectly fine and even quite good in many cases versus other ripped tracks. Same true when comparing against the better internet stations I listen to in real time via my Rokus.
The quality in comparison similarly way exceeded what I expected when I first connected my computers analog output to my system, even in terms of background noise (virtually none). Sometimes, things just happen to come together nicely even when least expected....
BTW I also have downloaded a few mp3 pop/rock tracks that I listen to regularly. For this kind of music at least, the mp3s are not bad at all. I have a few tracks also ripped in lossless .wav from CD for comparison. I have not done a detailed a/b comparison between the two, but both sound very good.
BTW I have heard some of the tracks on my music server on others reference systems as well for comparison. To my ears, the best tracks on my music server are very close to the best I have heard anywhere.
Probably the most major factor is that the computer speakers and associated amplification are being asked to produce far less volume than the speakers in your main system. If you were to put the computer system in your main listening space, set up its speakers on stands, and turn up the volume to produce realistic volume levels at your listening position, the sound card would undoubtedly be driven into extreme clipping, and the speakers would most likely be destroyed if your ears could tolerate the distorted sound for more than a few seconds or minutes.
Another factor that helps is that the internet radio may consist of the same heavily compressed audio that is typically sent out over the airwaves. The compressed dynamic range causes you to reduce the volume level, making life easier for the amp and speakers.
And of course the computer speakers don't have any deep bass, which is a major cost driver in a quality system.
Another factor is that the speakers, sound card, and heavily processed source material probably homogenize the sound, making mediocre source material sound more pleasant than it would on a high quality, more revealing system, but sacrificing the ability to make high quality material sound as good as it should.
I think when you don't listen to a system critically (imaging, detail, soundstaging, timber, dynamics, inner detail, etc.), you have very low expectation. You just focus on the music itself. I enjoy my car stereo very much while sitting in traffic. I don't think about all the elements that an audiophile is looking for. I guess we all will be happier without listening critically.
I have a $50 Philips stereo clock radio with CD that does not sound bad and does its job just fine. You just have to scale down expectations somewhat to fit the scale of the device, as Al alluded to. Sounds very nice indeed with a pair of decent high efficiency stereo headphones!I saved a lot of money at the time by not splurging for the Bose Waveradio or other touted tabletop radios instead!
I also have an $80 Sangean table top mono radio that is the cats meow for what it is!
By the way Almarg the speakers aren't computer speakers. They are the Philips mini system speakers and produce some fairly prodigious bass which is what attracted me to this system in the first place. Of course these speakers can't do reference levels, but bass is one of their strong suits.
I listen to jazz on internet radio via PC into a USB DAC on my decent quality secondary rig, and most stations sound mediocre at best. Internet radio becomes unlistenable when listened to on my (very revealing) reference system. I find that I have to listen to stations with a bitrate of at least 192k in order to for the station to sound listenable.
On that note, anynoe listening to jazz stations of good sound quality? What are they?? I listen to KPLU Jazz online via their high speed link and Linas Jazz, a 192K Paris jazz station available via itunes pr winamp.
Guys, thanks for the links. I should have been more specific.
I retrieved the url for the RadioIO Standards Jazz stream, and I was able to play it from the RadioIO website. However, what I was hoping to do was copy the url into my Squeezebox software and stream it through the Squeezebox.
There is a more complete url required to do this beyond the url that shows in the web browser's address window, and frankly I've forgotten how to access it.
When I have some more time, I'll figure it out.