I am not happy because I have paid more than 20k$ for PC Audio. if you like sound of Audionote/kondo/living voice horn/old tannoy/carbon cable then I 100% recommend you to forget PC Audio and just go for CEC TL-X 3.0 transport.
do not go for PC Audio. if you should go for PC audio just do this: macbook pro 15" MJLQ2LL/A or MJLT2LL/A model 2015 Wavelength USB DAC Crimson or Cosecant Purist Audio 30 Anniversary USB Cable 1m
remember I have tested all pc , caps , reclockers all cables all thing in this market , do not pay for them.
My experience with computer audio is very different to yours. I have a $20k analog/digital system and the results via TT and computer audio are very good IMHO. I am extremely happy with this system and have no plans to upgrade, even though the speakers are 40 year old refurbished Gale GS401A's. See my previous post on this system:
I can't help but reply - I recently heard the Mach III by Phasure, a PC streaming audio to a DAC. Absolutely stunning in sound. The inventor has made many tweaks to what a standard PC is - linear power supply, no fans, no video card, removable hard drive, etc, etc. Then add in his playback software, xxhighend, which optimizes the OS, his DAC and USB cables and you get an incredible system. For those who have not already made up there mind on PC Audio you can check out the website xxhighend for an incredible amount of information.
I have a room full of vinyl, cassettes and CDs, not to mention the hardware used to play each of them. I have resisted the urge to buy into the “new” computer audio wave even though I read about the joys of that experience. I simply see it as another attempt to separate me from my money with the promise of more transparency. I empathize with amir57bs’ realization that throwing $20K into PC audio doesn’t guarantee perfect sound. Welcome to the never-ending search! In any case, I prefer to wait for the next big idea. Will it be MQA, or maybe wireless everything, who knows?
P.S. Maybe my comments belong in the “Rant” category that another poster just suggested for this forum. Sorry, it’s been a long day.
I'm hearing more and more of the OP's view on this. On another thread here there are two reviewers who've heard the Jay's Audio CDT with a decent DAC and they say it rivals some of the better PC setups out there.
Yes, I think it is. Apparently it’s 1995 and the internet is just starting and Gateway is the darling of the pc world :). In all seriousness, I get sticking with years of investment in preexisting “legacy” technology if it sounds great to you and you are satisfied go with it. This hobby should be about enjoyment more than nervousa when the lights go off, drink in hand, with Bill Evans and Tony Bennett bringing great joy (describing my current moment); however, for one starting from scratch, a system optimized for music streaming is very compelling. Happy listening!
Amir57bs-you don’t have $20k in that digital setup and those pieces you described are far from the best. You can get a much better digital setup for 1/2 or even 1/3 of $20k. Actually, IMO, you don’t want to go with a pc/Mac front end or using usb to hook up an external dac.
Roon Nucleus with a WD 2 tb USB drive to a streamer of your choice. I recommend a Bryston Bdp 3 to a BDA 3 DAC. Even with some snazzy cables that rig runs in way under 10k. No PC, no Apple. Rip files via db poweramp. Ripping does require a computer with a drive. Add Tidal and just listen to music.
There maybe a valid point underneath everything here. PC Audio can be very good, but at best, it may equal, but not exceed, the best disc based replay. Frequently, it doesn’t meet the standard of disc based replay. I would put the cash in the increasingly difficult task of finding a good CDP, and use file based replay as a less expensive and perhaps more convenient alternative. Ymmv
I stream from my Mac mini to an Ayre QB-9 DSD and am extremely happy with the performance. I listen to ripped hi-res music as well as Tidal streaming and haven’t turned on my Esoteric DV-50 in almost a year which tells me all I need to know.
I have Forsell Air Reference CDT, Aqua La Diva transport, Auralic Aries, Lampizator Pacific..I should say, the PC audio should be my next step..Auralic Aries is doing a great job for its so affordable selling price. If your water is salty, doesn't mean everybody's is.
This is a silly thread, even for Audiogon. What you need for PC audio is knowledge. A PC is a fine front end for digital audio, and doesn’t really need to be expensive, although your choice of DAC may be. But there is a lot of knowledge needed to build and configure to get there. And knowledge not to point at scapegoats and try shortcuts like buying expensive USB cables. That’s not the way.
OP's post is difficult to respond to--he/she gives no idea what was tried, what failed, what sorta/kinda worked. What was the gear? What types of files?
As another poster here put it, my experience w/PC Audio was radically different from OP's. For life reasons to lengthy to list here, I put my high-end 2 channel system in storage in 1991 (it's still in storage). I set up a home office in the late '90s and had a 3rd career there. From day-1 I had computer speakers + sound card, but never regarded this as true audio (ie, to be optimized/perfected).
That all changed in 2006 when I bought a full desktop audio system recommended in STEREOPHILE (Stello DAC; NHT sealed/powered monitors + sub), a huge/audible upgrade. I gradually began experimenting with computer files, ripping CDs to the HD.
I've upgraded my system continually/intensely since then and now have what I consider a very good 2 channel set up on desktop (preamp + Wyred4Sound ST500 amp + ATC SCM 12 Pro passive monitors). This is crossed over to a single SVS sub using a Marchand external/electronic crossover (XM44). This system is also heavily optimized for headphone audio--not the highest of the high end in that regard, but getting up there.
I do a lot of streaming of music while I work; and for close listening via monitors or headphones, typically use ripped .wav or .flac files on HD (most are 44.1, not high-rez).
IMO, the one ingredient that is the "secret sauce" of good PC audio is the DAC. Without a really ideal-sounding DAC, you can't get to the true quality of your speakers/monitors, headphones & amplification. I own several multibit DACs made by Audio GD. The NOS DAC in particular (NOS 19) totally changed my desktop audio sound quality. My "DAC journey" pretty much ended there.
Is all the the equal of the big system I had set up in the '80s (including vinyl, tube amps, tube preamp)? No, of course not. But for a small home office, it's very good & evolved audio. And when it comes to headphones (which didn't even exist back then), it's very high quality.
In general, don't understand why folks say PC audio sounds awful. I have a hard time with hiss and pop of vinyl. + Bass from vinyl systems can cause feedback at concert level volumes + digital bass just sounds better to me. I have thoroughly enjoyed 24Bit recordings (if truly a master recording not up-sampled) although a direct to disk recording is very good just not as good imo. I have a windows based $600 pc with JRiver software (wonderful software). the ripped data or HD goes to a PS Audio/Cullen modified DAC (fairly cheap) via an high end Audioquest TOS link. Yes at very rare times the TOS looses sync for a few seconds but sounds better than USB stuff I tried (AR DAC 8 was good but not as good for me). For $20K something not right....
Quote: "I have a room full of vinyl, cassettes and CDs, not to mention the hardware used to play each of them. I have resisted the urge to buy into the “new” computer audio wave even though I read about the joys of that experience. I simply see it as another attempt to separate me from my money with the promise of more transparency."
Bravo. Couldn't have said it better myself. PC-based audio is not the next big thing. It's just the next thing, that's all. If the high-end industry is going to survive then change is necessary. But change for the sake of change is not always better nor worth the effort. Just my 2-centavos....
I dunno. When the Apple Airport Express came out (less than $100), I hooked one up to my stereo. Now I spend about half my listening time streaming from Tidal from my phone (or, more usually, an iPad). Sounds good to me. Sounds good with my ancient tube amps and Altec Lansing horns. Sounds good through my Tivoli Model 1. Sounds good through my Schiit stack using Grados and Sennheaisers. Sounds good through my Odyssey Candela>Odyssey Khartego>Harbeths. Sounds good even without taking the digital out to an external DAC (it does sound better running it through a better DAC). Family plan from TIDAL keeps my whole family in music for $29/month (less than $6/month for each of us), and we all have more music than we can listen to in 100 lifetimes.
Does it sound better than my analog rig? I dunno. Both sound good. Records are fun. Turntables and cartridges are interesting to play with. But so is my 100 year old Victrola. I like it all!
I just bought a Chromecast Audio for $25. Sounds great! Anybody who says that it sounds bad just needs to clean the wax from their ears.
The bigger issue for me is the quality of the program material. I tried quite a few Hi-Res downloads (direct from computer to DAC - no AEX), and the results were varied. Many sounded better than the CD versions I had. Most of those had been remastered. I was curious, so I resampled several of those Hi-Res downloads to 16/44.1. I could not tell the difference between the original Hi-Res files and the re-sampled files. My conclusion was that the difference was in the mastering. Of course, those of you with highly revealing systems and/or "golden ears" may well be able to detect a difference, but through my modest equipment and 61 years old ears it was clearly evident that there was no need for me to hop into the Hi-Res rabbit hole. Maybe I’m just lucky!
I’ll still buy an occasional Hi-Res download, but it is for the remastering and convenience only. I’ll listen to them at 16/44.1 and am completely content!
Like any other source components, good sound starts with the best versions of the title. As the quality of different CD or vinyl releases varies, remastering may be better or worse, etc., you have to seek out the best versions to have the best sound. PC audio is not a cure-all, it is just an extremely convenient way to get to CD+ sound.
Hi Res *can* sound better than redbook. As above, it’s about the best source material, and often if something is hi resolution, then someone has taken more care with the mastering. But not always, and there’s plenty of not-better hi res out there.
Also, it takes knowledge. I have even been surprised at how many otherwise gear-smart folks don’t understand PC audio, operating systems, or the audio path through their systems. You have to understand it to optimize it - it’s not about cables and audiophile network gear. PC Audio can sound stellar.
Call me old fashioned, but after 35 years in audio, a collection of more than 300 LPs (many DD Masters) nearly as many CDs and a collection of decent gear - I have 0 desire to change gears, dump a bunch of bucks and jump on to the digital stream band wagon. If I make any upgrades in the future, it probably will be to the next larger Maggie and an upgrade to my CDP.
One of the nice thing about being retired is that I have a good amount of time to just kick back and enjoy some real great music and spend little time worrying about expensive ways to make it the tinniest bit better. You kids enjoy your downloads and streaming, but think I'll stick to spinning my discs and LPs....Jim.
I started my HiFi hobby in the late sixties building Heathkits and plywood speaker cabinets. I have about 500 CDs and about and about 300 LPs (I have a habit of selling off records and CDs in order to make room for new ones). I still buy new and used records, and that collection is growing a bit (I am somewhat enamored with all things analog). I also will buy an occasional CD or download. But mostly, I just stream from TIDAL. 90% of my CDs and records are available on TIDAL (mostly Jazz and Classical). TIDAL has expanded my collection to around 50 million tracks. I sometimes go months without cranking up my CD player.
I don't download and stream to chase infinitesimally small improvements in sound quality. I do it because it is convenient and dirt cheap.
i tried the free Tidal trial a year or so ago and found it very difficult to use for Classical. Very poorly organized, worse than themes that iTunes or similar programs make organizing Classical. I don’t know if it’s been improved since them. Any comments?
As with all things hi-fidelity the approach and basics make all the difference. I have never used a MacBook Pro as a computer source for any resolution digital audio files. My experience is anything but disappointing. I constructed a silent hi-def audio window 7 pc built on a compact SilverStone Grandia HTPC ATX Aluminum Enclosure. The heart of the system is a M-AUDIO Audiophile 2496 PCI card. No drivers exist beyond W7 so that has not been a problem. I still spin vinyl as I have over 700 pressings and use my silent audio pc for music files and streaming of a vast variety.
My silent audio pc is by far the least expensive audio component in my chain but maintains supreme fidelity. If interested I can provide a source for acquiring this awesome audiophile PCI card.
I can usually find what I am looking for using Tidal's search commands. The search categories are optimized for popular music, so you must be a bit creative searching for classical.
There are some streaming services that specialize in classical music, and their categories and search algorithms are better suited for classical music search and explore purposes. But in most cases, Tidal has what I am looking for (with its vast catalog, you would need to subscribe to a number of specialized services to even come close to Tidal's inventory).
I figure if its not on Tidal, I'll buy it. I enjoy buying used records and CDs. Downloads are available if I am impatient or excited to hear something. But with fifty million songs available to stream, I can usually find something satisfying to listen to on Tidal.
perazzi28: I like the M-AUDIO Audiophile 2496 card. With the right power supply and a good sturdy case you could have a lot of fun with this "old school" build. Newer products from companies like Focusrite and PreSonus are more convenient, will sound just as good if not better, and be far less expensive (but not as cool).
I have audio note DAC 5 special and Living voice OBX speaker. my system let me hear more micro dynamics and if I say computer audio is not good believe me you can not get those micro information from PC. if I say I have paid 20$ it means my trial and error was 20k$ . 4 expensive usb cables uptone regen iusb macbook pro jcat card motherboard CAD GC3 ground berkeley alpha usb and so ...
A couple of years ago I went to a HiFI show (Newport) and went to most of the rooms and there were lots of PC set ups and they all sounded okay. The best one, by far, was the MSB room. They put on a song and I was stunned at how beautiful it sounded.
When I remarked on that, it was pointed out that despite the PC set up, it was a CD I was listening to at the time. They just smiled.
@tonykay I agree completely. I have about 5000 albums and a few hundred CDs and tried computer audio for a while. At first I was using Windows based system into an Ayre dac and it sounded really good. Then I started running into trouble with glitches and switch to a Mac, never got that to work properly. At best it sounded just different than my analogue but mostly I think the analogue sounded better. It can sound very good but I'm just not interested in messing with computers when I want to listen to music
Sadly I suspect this thread as originally started is a joke, or an ill-conceived baiting attempt, or some other game. In context and form the OP strikes a thinly-concealed resemblance to the moderator at https://audiosciencereview.com - including their nom de guerre.
Dear OP: if you do indeed have no affiliation what so ever to the above site, and your post here is genuine outreach, you have my sincere and respectful apologies.
For any who think that CD playback is a dead ender take a look at other threads here and some online review sites where CDT & DAC combos are the equal of and sometimes bettering some much touted PC setups.
I also agree with tonykay, I just spent $7000 on a new CD spinner/DAC/SACD player this Summer. For years my dealer salesmen ask me (every time) what I am doing with streaming, etc. And every time I say zero. Now I do like the ease of using a five disc CD changer.. I could maybe see the fun of setting a list and it plays all day..... But I also know the annoyance of computer stuff. Solving problems easy to some nerd, impossible unless you already know how... and I have little interest in starting all that now. (I finally actually got a mobile phone three years ago. What twenty years late??? and that ONLY because of the robo calls killing me on the land line, and the price of a land line and internet was more than a cell with data.)Anyway, who cares whether I am not interested? Maybe in five years I might go for it?
I listened to Jeff Joseph's Pulsar speakers back in 2012....hooked me on computer audio (Jeff had album rips at 352khz at 32bits). Some of the best sound at Axpona 2012. He was using a Mac. I saw another system using a Windows setup with JRiver - I was out done.
Since then I've gone digital - if I have analog recordings, I take them to digital (I have iZotope and other programs for this). I've even used Jriver to Convert redbox to DSD256 while preserving the original Redbox file. Personally I like the DSD256 file - for some reason it appears to be more "open".
I've had my share of analog devices - however I'm nowhere near $20k in equipment (my Turntable of choice is the classic Technics 1200MKII used to be a DJ back in the day....had a nice Rotel turntable too - that was on the music listening system).
I'll say this - I love the convenience of PC audio too. No need to look throiugh thousands of Redbox CD's or albums. As far as DAC's go the ES9038 chip is very nice, it replaced my old AK4495SEQ kit that I had prior.
To the OP....THAT'S SOME NICE GEAR!!!!! I'm not there yet, but currently - I have no desire to go further. I have the biggest soundstage that I've heard (with the exception of the Scanea loudspeakers). My room sounds very similar to the Tidal room of that same year (circa 2012 Jacksonville). My favorite rooms were Tidal (the speaker company), the Pulsars, the Whispers, and the Scaneas. I'm well satisfied with my PC audio.
"PC Audio" gives streaming a bad name. I've not owned a PC for 15 years and not played a CD since about 2010, when I bought a Linn Akurate streaming DAC. I replaced it with a PS Audio DAC, a Naim and then Auralic Aries streamer and now all gone thanks to Devialet Expert Pro. A prerequisite of all of them is a good power supply. No computer knowledge is required (I haven't any). Played vinyl, ripped CDs, downloads and streamed Qobuz for the last 5 years. CDs are an old-fashioned way of storing about 800mb of digital data, abandoned by the commercial world for some years now and you'll be hard pressed to find any computer made today with an optical drive. Why CDs persist in audio I have no idea. As RIAA data shows, they are now only 5% of music sales revenues.
"PC Audio" gives streaming a bad name. @ssfasNow that is definitely a brazen statement, I hope from PC Audio you mean a computer you can buy off the shelf and not a bespoke thing you can build yourself or get biult for you. I have a PC I have built with some of the most expensive components availlable that will literally blow away any laptop or desktop you can currently buy. I also have my friend's jitter busting software, namely Mark Porzilli of the Memory Player fame in it and doing a very nice job thank you. Now the quality I get from it is so good that two months ago I sold my Gryphon Mikado and now all I do is stream from Qobuz , play stored .dsf files and listen to CD's put through db Poweramp and then played on Roon or Sequoiadigital player and workstation used also by the BBC.I know quite a few audiophiles who have £50 thousand Vinyl rigs and very expensive digital front ends as well and I don't envy one of them as I can hear more things going on in an orchestra than they can.