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I have an Oppo 203, and the DAC is decent, but I only use it as a transport when playing CDs , preferring the DACs contained in my Anthem AVR. If you use RCA cables to connect your Oppo to your Arcam, you are correct in that you will be listening to the Oppo DAC. A digital cable is needed to send a digital feed to the DAC of the Arcam.
The second question is which Digital cable? Should you use HDMI, toslink, coax, or something else? You will get proponents of each here...
My advice is to experiment. Hook up the Oppo to the Arcam with both RCAs and whatever digital cable you have handy. I am guessing that you already have HDMI so that you can use the Oppo as a video player. Listen to the CDs yourself and decide what sounds best. If you wish to try other digital cables besides HDMI, you can get decent cables for around $20
Is there an additional port on my OPPO where I can connect a digital cable or is my HDMI cable good enough to use as a digital cable. Also, when I was getting started in this hobby, I wanted a system where I could listen to both 2 channel and home theater. The dealer I purchased my ARCAM told me an ARCAM was a lot better than others. I originally wanted to buy a Parasound integrated amp. Would the Parasound amp have sounded better. In retrospect I wish I had purchased 2 channel preamp and amplifier and concentrated on just 2 channel. However, had I done so I was not sure how I would have been able to use the room for both 2 channel and for home theater. Just wish I was rich and had a wife would allow me to spend more money on this hobby. Looks like once you are bit you get hooked on this hobby.
I have not heard the Arcam so I can’t really answer your question about how it sounds vs a Parasound integrated. I do have Parasound pre and power amps in my two channel system and a Parasound 5 channel amp in one of my HT systems, but sorry can’t compare to something that for me is an unknown. I will say that the reviews on the Arcam which I read after reading your initial post were pretty good, that Arcam is a respected company, and that for $3500, which was the price quoted for the Arcam, you probably have a top of the line, fine sounding AVR. Some of the money spent on the Arcam went into making it a multi channel component, and if you don’t choose to listen to Multichannel, you are paying for functionality that is wasted. Whether or not you prefer the House Parasound Sound vs the Arcam sound will significantly be a matter of personal preference.
You sound like you have what we call Audiophilia Nervosa, a type of Buyers Remorse that is common in this hobby. I am sure that you have a fine sounding piece of gear. Relax and enjoy the music.
Regarding the Oppo connectivity issue: The 203 should have digital outs in every flavor m HDMI, coax, toslink, usb....I am not sure which one The Arcam will accept, but AVRs at that price will usually do it all. I use HDMI to connect my Oppo 105 to my Bryston DAC3 in my 2 channel system , because I have a large SACD collection and Oppo can output the DSD from SACDS into an HDMI DAC such as the Bryston. I find that CDs from the 105 into the same HDMI input on the Bryston also sound excellent, although I have experimented with the coax, optical and usb connections between the two components as well, the HDMI sounds as good as any of them so I’ve just settled on using that.
In my MC system with the Oppo 203 I use HDMI into my Anthem AVR and haven’t really experimented with other connections
What I can say is that I have an OPPO U203 also, and I've compared the sound from its DAC (via RCA outputs to a preamp) with the sound I got when connecting its coax digital output to both PS Audio DirectStream Jr. and DirectStream DACs, and the PS Audio DACs were superior to the OPPO. Of course, as could be expected, the DirectStream was superior to the Jr.
I have the program Pguin, and use Synology DS218+ ,wireless to the Logitech , connected with the DAC of my Luxman D-06. The sound of the sacd-player of Luxman with cd, is more open and more dynamic.
For me the best is the sound of cd’s.. (The sound of streaming is detailful to, but i give it an 8 while i give a 10 for Cd.)
Hello, in short words "yes it is".
I am playing with Auralic -> Chord Blu 2xBNC (~720kHz) -> Chord Dave -> MC2600 (NOS tubes, old and great Telefunken and Siemens) -> MC302 all with Tellurium Q Silver Diamond) application between. The last change in my system was Tellurium Q Silver Diamond USB cable upgrade and it did tremendous job in increasing Auralic straming quality.
Enough to say it is really difficult to distinguish CD (Blu) and streamed WAV file in this config. Still possible and better on CD side but in therms of preference not comfort.
However, then streaming from Tidal the difference is significant. Especially Tidal HiFi and much lower for Tidal MQA. The MQA files have the ambition to catch CD quality but it is still just an ambition. In my opinion Tidal HiFi is superb for playing from cars, mobiles, and up to 2000$ fixed gear, Tidal MQA is for most of the stationary playing equipment, but it is not a serious source if your gear total is above 10.000$. Absolutely unacceptable for Hi-End solutions.
Personally I use my Tidal in my car, phone and as an excellent source of music browsing and searching. Yes, great as library.
Well, in fact, serious problem with the music in general is the loudness war issue. If you will compare DR7 to DR14-18 tracks you will find it much more disturbing than streamed material quality problem.
Please refer this info to Qobuz as well.
Spottily if for mobiles, causal listening and barbecue usage only.
Added: I noticed some colleagues try to use some degree 1-10 scale. Well here is mine at this moment:
Tidal HiFi: 3-5
Tidal MQA: 5-7
Locally streamed file FLAC: 6-9
Locally streamed file WAV: 6-10
Hi res files, SACD: 6-10;
I have not a/b CD vs tidal. I use tidal hifi, my rig is above 10k, digital cable from bluesound node 2i to anthem mrx 720. My system is ht/music. The sound is excellent to me and the convenience makes me forget about my cds. I packed my cds away and haven't looked back. Like many mentioned you need to hear for yourself and you can bring tidal to your car.
Which sounds better likely depends on the quality of your network and USB DAC implementation. You may need a system well above $10K to hear all that hi-res streaming can be. As Roon applications Tidal/MQA and Qobuz 24/96-192 both equal or surpass CDs in my Esoteric K-01X, which has one of the best CD transports extant.
I wonder why the the dealer I purchased my ARCAM suggested I purchase an expensive RCA cable to listen to CD’s played on my OPPO U203? I am guessing the DAC on the ARCAM to be better than the OPPO. I did an A & B comparison with my HDMI cable and I thought it sounded better on the HDMI.
Since subscribing to TIDAL, I rarely play CD’s.
Another question. Can you hear a significant difference using more expensive CD players? If so, why?
surprised Wrench rated a turntable as number 1 for sound quality. I was told digital has way more information to create detail then a turntable. Plus, doesn’t tracking needle against the groove on vinyl create a lot of noise?
Since I have Tidal. I rarely touch my CD. Sound quality are the same. Now all CD are ripped to digital files and play with my Oppo 205. MQA definitely sounds better then 44.1k/16bit. Now I use Qobuz, HiRes music 96k/24bit sounds better than MQA. I also have over 2000 album of SACD. DSD64 sounds equal or better than 96k/24bit. Don't get me wrong, the music on CD sounds are very good indeed. But with Tidal and Qobuz, you own the music library which will cost you millions to collect. I still buy and collect CDs I like.
I have the "CD quality" package with Tidal but I swear that I am hearing a difference. I will look into the "loudness normalization" button.
Part of the problem may be that I'm steaming tidal via Bluetooth with an Audioengine B1. I'm wondering if it's a waste of money based on the method of streaming. Would appreciate some feedback if someone else has this same situation.
When you stream Tidal, you have to choose setting to fixed or variable signal and computer decode or DAC direct. I would do fixed and external DAC decode (assume you have a good DAC and pre-amp). I like Oppo 105D Tidal app. It allows me to browse Tidal using iPad. skip cable. Also I like direct link of internet and no Wifi. Oppo 205 delete the Tidal app so i have to add a PC to stream Tidal. Less is always better to improve SQ.
I was not aware there was loudness normalization setting on TIDAL. Not sure where to find this. Please let me know how to do this.
When I first began streaming TIDAL I tried streaming it wirelessly via my Apple TV. This is what TIDAL diagrams on their website. However, my signal kept breaking up and I solved this problem by hard wiring using CAD6 from the modem in my family room to my Apple TV and from the Apple TV to port in the back of my ARCAM.
rhljazz, are you saying I should disable the loudness normalization function? If so, why? I thought this feature when engaged eliminates the volume differences you get from one album to another. So, why would you disable this feature and choose to adjust the volume levels constantly between songs and albums? Are you doing so because this increases the dynamic range?
Yes, especially when performing a direct comparison between Tidal and a cd. Any manipulation of the signal affects sound quality. Although they claim the feature is sonically transparent, it isn’t. Just as MP3 was claimed to sound as good as a cd.
The feature is useful for casual listening to play lists as you mentioned so as to avoid constant attention to the volume control. I don’t listen that way so I leave the loudness normalization disabled.
Since it only takes a few seconds to switch off/on, you can change the setting as needed to match your listening session.
Based on this and other discussions/threads, I think the relative SQ from different digital sources is system dependent. Not surprising when you think about it, but also means the best way to determine what gets you the best SQ is to listen and experiment.
My experience, which is limited, leads me to the following ranking, worst to best:
- Redbook CDs via Oppo transport and DAC
- Redbook CDs via Oppo transport and PS Audio DS DAC
- Local NSA via PS Audio DAC
- Tidal via PS Audio DAC
Honestly, I am not certain I could consistently tell a difference in blind testing of the last two.
My experience with MQA vs standard files from Tidal is both evolving and mixed. Evolving bc a couple months ago I declared on another thread that MQA was superior (at least for my system my ears), and then I went back and listened more closely, doing some A/B comparisons where possible, and changed my mind, determining that there is not a consistent difference one way or the other. My theory is that it depends on the quality of each type of recording. Some standard files sound better than MQA and vice versa.
Another thing to consider is the connection type - for example, PS Audio seems to tout ethernet or I2I connection, believing this makes a big difference in SQ. I am sure those who enjoy their DACs without these options could disagree. There are those who swear that the ethernet cable itself makes a difference (lookin at you, Supra fans!) in this chain.
And like many, the damn fine convenience of Tidal has me looking at but not spinning my cds, except for in the car. And I do continue to buy CDs, for the car and for when the internet crashes (which is rare but still scary), and also to support the artists and the independent record stores.
Back when I was using a CD player for digital music, I noticed definite differences between players and converters.
Since I ripped all of my digital material (using a computer CD drive) to a server and play from that via Sonos to my various systems, I haven't been able to tell reliably that there is any difference between direct playback from the CD player, play by streaming from the network drive, or listening to Tidal high quality.
The slight inferiority of Tidal low quality, Spotify etc. is readily apparent though.
I use a Hegel DA converter.
Of course you can tell the difference. I used Tidal MQA and compare it to CD as well as Tidal lossless 44.1k/16bit.
Tidal MQA (192k, 96k, 88.2k/24bit)>Tidal 44.1k/16=CD
Now I am listening to Qobuz studio 192k/24bit, 96k/24bit. I can tell you
Qobuz 192k/24 >> 44k/16bit.
Qubuz is not cheap (25USD/month) though.
" Just wish I was rich and had a wife (who) would allow me to spend more money on this hobby."
You've just identified the two most important components to ant audio system! You're a wise man. So just trust your own judgement and enjoy your listening time by concentrating (actually NOT concentrating as much as soaking in) the best music you can find. I wish I would take my own advice more often.
Larry , great question . But unfortunately you have many variables to contend with . You will benefit the most from trying various combinations on YOUR SYSTEM . At my home, I have an Oppo 105, a Schiit Yiggy , a Musical Fidelity’s transport . For source I have a Windows based laptop, Apple TV, Direct TV DVR. I’ve used Single Ended RCA, Digital Coax , USB to USB (B), balanced digital . Most of the inter connects are decent quality , eg ; Cardas Clear , Morrow , Anti Cables and Analysis Plus . My taste prefers the Schiit DAC over the Oppo . CD’s on the Musical Fidelity’s transport and DVD’s on the Oppo . Streaming is substantially better from the computer than the Apple or the Cable box . I had a home theater setup, but came to dislike it and currently run 2.0 ( Stereo ) with low power , or 2.2 ( Stereo with 2 subs ) in a higher power setup . I use the same sources for both , but split the system at the pre and have tone control on the system with the subs . I would suggest you obtain some decent used cables and experiment. Then when your satisfied with your combo , go to a higher level of cables in the brand/style you prefer . Also save the cables you acquired , as you will undoubtably be in this situation again . One of the things I did was to cultivate a friendship with a couple Agoners in order to loan cables and tubes . Also my opinion is that Anti Cables are neutral and require little break in , making them a pleasant experience. And Grannyring makes good cables at a reasonable price ( message him ). Cheers , Mike B.
I am going to address the Tidal v CD issue. I play my CDs and stream TIDAL on a Cocktail Audio X35. The X35 is a "Swiss army knife" device and one wouldn’t assume that it is as high a quality device as it truly is. Since I stream Tidal and play CDs on the same device the circuitry and ESS Sabre³² Reference DAC are the same and there are no interconnects in-between to effect sound quality and timber; I would pronounce my comparison to be about as true an A-B comparison as one can achieve. The rest of my system is also high quality. The X35 is connected to my Indy Labs Aragon 8008 with Synergistic Research Resolution Reference ICs and the amp feeds a pair of Maggie 3.7i and a Definitive S4000 powered sub. My system nearly doubles the cost threshold of 10K another contributor mentioned. The bottom line is to my ears the sound of Tidal streaming HiFi v playing the same album on CD is nearly indistinguishable. Tidal streaming in MQA is IMHO also difficult to distinguish except on stellar albums.
“Tidal HiFi is superb for playing from cars, mobiles, and up to 2000$ fixed gear”
This is the most absurd opinion I ever read anywhere on these forums. The difference in sound quality varies due to the original master used for a CD or Tidal streaming and playback hardware.
Majority of the content available on Tidal HiFi is of CD quality or better. I won’t comment on MQA due to various controversies surrounding the process.
I am now listening to Qobuz and their content in 24/192kHz or 24/96kHz is definitely sounds better than MQA, IMO.
I’ve managed to trim down my CD’s and SACD’s collection to now 250 (from 900) that apparently source from superior master than what’s currently available on Tidal or Qobuz.
For the price of tidal premium, I'm very happy with just tidal. Convenience, cost, selection and no cludder from empty CD cases. Just easy to take with me on my phone. Create different play list and add songs as I experience different selections. I used to be into cds big time in the 90s. This just saves me money and taking cds in and out to my car. So I believe the sound is great with tidal/blue sound. Suits my needs perfectly. Had a great system in my truck that I sold, dont want to go that route again. About 3k into it.
DSD stands for Direct Stream Digital (Sony digital audio format). It is a trademark used by Sony and Philips for their system of digitally recreating audible signals for the Super Audio CD (SACD). DSD uses pulse-density modulation encoding, a technology to store audio signals on digital storage media which are used for the SACD.
Red book CD is another acronym for standard CD. In technical terms, Red Book refers to a set of professional specifications for audio CD’s. The reason it’s called is very simple - They are so named because the colour of the cover of the book that contains all these technical specifications for the standard audio CD is red.
The Qobuz is another competing streaming service that is becoming popular in US (it’s a French company).
You should be able to stream Qobuz through your Apple device once you download their app. But I am not sure if you are able to steam high resolution (24bit/192khz) files through Apple TV.
When I stream Qobuz through my iPhone in my car, the resolution max out at 16bit/44.1khz (which is same as cd resolution) even though I have high resolution subscription plan.
In my home setup, I hear full high resolution 24bit/192kHz through my Aurender N10.
None of the streaming options have many of my extensive CD collection recordings. No Marston, Romophone, limited issue ethnic recordings, possibly 30% of my CD collection. Plus, the source of many of my finer jazz and classical CDs can be lesser remasterings with my owning several of each with one clear superior mastering. So, I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket. I have about 7,000 CDs and listen to LPs and 78s. Again, about 40% of my 25,000 LP collection and about 50% of the 7,000 78 collection are not available on streaming or downloads and probably never will be.
I have hard wired my motem using CAD6 cable to my Apple TV and hard wired using CAD6 cable from the Apple TV to my ARCAM. Wouldn’t that be equal to a 16 bit CD recording. So if that is the case wouldn’t that still sound the same as if I were playing a 16 bit CD on my OPPO 203? I needed to hard wire in order to eliminate the signal from breaking up when I tried to stream wirelessly. Wonder also if hardwiring improved the sound quality as well.
Thanks to all for the dialogue. You all have such incredible knowledge.
Agreed, it’s all about the DAC. When I say DAC I refer to the DAC/opamp device that takes the digital signal and convert it to a usable analog signal, not the individual chip. This device might be stand alone or imbeded in a larger piece of equipment. Having done trials on many DACs I find it is very much an individual thing. A DAC is like a musical instrument, different DACs have distinctly different sounds, so the Best DAC device is the one your ear prefers. In my case since I’m older and my HF hearing isn’t as good as it once was, I prefer a DAC that is designed with high resolution and timbre that others might find bright.
I didn't realize a DAC can make such a SIGNIFICANT improvement in sound quality. Can you really hear this difference with a blind test?
I have a difficult time believing you can hear a significant difference in speaker cable and interconnects.
I think if I had a choice between spending $5,000 on expensive wire, I would benefit a great deal more if I purchased a new pair of speakers that cost $5,000 more than the ones I purchased.
You should hear a difference between DACs in a blind test. Interconnect cables usually can make a describable difference, however, I don't think spending $5K on speaker wire will be worth it. I use $100 worth of 10 gage stranded and twisted pair by a company called KnuKoncepts (available on amazon) on my Maggies with great success. I've compared it to cables costing 10 times as much with no apparent difference. The 10 g prevents any voltage drop from the amp to the speakers so there is no loss of power. 10g is about as big as one can have and still make a direct connection to an amp or speaker. I've seen some very high end wire by various companies that look like fire hoses, but I think that's mostly a feel good experience as the connectors become the limitation. The stranded and twisted aspect is most important. Electrons don't travel down the center of a wire, however they travel down the surface. The stranded wire increases the surface area for the electrons to travel making a stranded wire a clearer "highway" for the electrons to travel. This assures that the impedance of the wire does not vary much thru the frequency spectrum. Twisting the wire cancels noise effects caused by nearby radio frequency devices.
Well, I’ve taken the road in between. I purchase ICs, A/C and speaker cables that sell for $300 to $900 from the manufacturer GroverHuffman.com (as a beta tester, I auditioned 100s of cables from his and other companies).
I would rather $5,000 on speakers too. However. for about $500, one can purchase excellent high end speaker cables and pay $4,500 for the speakers. Also, one can purchase really high end speakers used for $5,000. For only $2,500 or less, a pair of Legacy Focus or even less for Legacy Signature IIIs, easily driven by low watt, high current receivers and get high quality sound.
I hate the term blind listening test for audio. Some other nomenclature should be available for an audio test of equipment, cables and tweaks.