Is computer audio a bust?

In recent months, I have had several audio acquaintances return to CDPs claiming improved SQ versus their highly optimized computer transports (SS drives, external power supplies, etc, etc).

I wanted to poll people on their experiences with computer "transports." What variables have had the most impact on sonics? If you bailed on computers, why?

I personally have always believed that the transport, whether its a plastic disc spinner or computer, is as or more important than the dac itself and thus considerable thought and energy is required.

07-16-14: Pkoegz
Kr4 same set up as you at least with fan-less, closet, USB and hard wired. The rest of you for the most part most have found it very difficult to go from incandescent bulb to CFLs to LEDs. "So confusing which to chose? Each works differently. It depends on the implementation". Hog wash. I am a 58yr old. Not in any type of hight tech or tech at all industry. 1.5yrs of college. No issues. Minor hiccups. But I have a brain. I am able to think and process thought and ask questions. Stop crying about change and embrace it you will be the better for it. Nothing wrong with the old ways darth vaders, but the technologies can exist together. My turntable has no issues. Live long and prosper.
Pkoegz (Threads | Answers | This Thread)
What a GREAT attitude. Too bad you're in the SMALL minority. Can't believe people are complaining too many options.

07-15-14: Bcgator
Computer audio is a passing fad, just like sex and marijuana (not necessarily together, but not necessarily not together). You wait - in 5 years, nobody will want any of the three. You heard it here first.
Hate to break it to you, DACs are computers. It's not a general purpose computer like Mac, Windows ... but I guess you can classify as embedded system.

You still need to load data in memory before it works so basically the discussion boils down to how. CD transport reading a CD in real time, computer from HDD, computer from USB Drive ...

If you're tech/computer/software savvy, you would never choose off a CD in real time.
Nice post by JC.

I really think traditional audiophiles have more issues with computer audio than most in that it requires a fresh mindset and a lot of openness to try new things.

True there are a lot of options, many incompatible with each other and that can be daunting.

After all, all phonos, amps, speakers, even CD players all pretty much work the same way, though not all devices are equally "compatible" with each other still.

GEtting things that are compatible with each other to work together well has always been what its about.

THe thing is that standards for computer audio are not fully mature yet, so that does make the task somewhat more daunting perhaps, expecially for the less computer savvy.
Foster_9 wrote
"...many of the posts in this thread clearly demonstrate
the convoluted nature of computer audio, the lack of consensus
on best practices....".

Is that to say consensus is the norm for playback of other audio media, like for instance, vinyl?

Let me think...
Direct drive, belt drive or rim drive? Moving coil (high or low output?), Moving magnet, Moving iron? Stylus configuration?...spherical, elliptical, Geiger, Stereohedron? etc. etc.. Tubed or SS phono-pre? Probably lots of other variables I'm leaving out. But I think the point is made.

I'm really not trying to convince anyone to think otherwise about computer audio. Your opinion does not affect my enjoyment. But the "lack of consensus comment" did make me chuckle.
far from it. i sold my multi-thousand $$$ CDP years ago. it depends on how you set things up, what computer you use, dac, protocol, cables, software to read and write the data, and other things.
Don't go with Sonos, or apple tv's unless you want to listen to background music, which they would be fine.
a few years back, before async usb, i wouldn't touch USB. but since most good dacs support this up to 24/384, this is 1 of the better options. if you use toslink, you are limited to 24/96.
you also need to keep the bus clean from 1 device to another. all my hard disks are firewire and i use USB for my dac. don't put everything on USB.
Cables matter, especially the USB cable. don't go cheap. also, with more dsd tracks available for purchase or ripping, make sure your dac will support the different versions of dsd.
in a nutshell, i would go with a mac mini, xld or MAX to rip cd's, several firewire disks (1 or more for your songs, 1 or more to backup the other disks), the best usb cable you can afford, the best dac you can afford with async usb, 24/384 capabilities, integer mode, and dsd support, and your pick between amarra/pure music/audirvanna, there are others like jriver and i think bit perfect, but i've never used them. then use an iPad or iPhone to control everything from your listening chair.
you will never go back!
Joecasey - you did realize I was joking about computer audio, sex and marijuana all being obsolete in 5 years, right? :-)

See my follow-up post and you'll see that I consider computer-based audio to not only have a future, but a great future - my setup is an example of how easy and enjoyable it can be.