I haven't yet jumped on the PC audio bandwagon, however, I think it is the near future for both music lovers and audiophiles.
Let's face it, most music sold over the last 20 years is in a digital format. If you can get it all stored in one tiny space and easily manage it, it can be a huge benefit. Also, theoretically you can eliminate many of the issues that impact digital music reproduction, i.e. read errors and jitter.
So, if one can take 100, 200, 500 or 1000+ CD and load them onto hard-drive, in a lossless format and stream them without jitter or error to a quality DAC it would be a huge benefit to many.
Considering the ongoing WAF (wife acceptance factor) argument, decreasing the overall footprint of our system and media could significantly improve the lives of many audiophiles. Heck, a cool PC based system could even get me out of my basement, into the house with the rest of my family!!!
In my view, it's the next best thing to having no music at all... No, wait, possibly having no music at all would be better. I could always go outside and beat my garbage cans with a bat if I just need to hear some noise. Then, if I stepped on the cat's tail at the same time, well, I'd have a symphony.
Well, i've done it. It's pretty cheap to try it out to hear for yourself. Everybody here has a computer. Just download iTunes rip a cd and buy a USB dac and compare. Sell the dac if you don't think it competes with your main rig. I don't know why people are so reluctant to experiment like this since the benefits are huge.
Many of us have tried it with great success. More and more companies are producing USB DACS. As Mr Khan says; it is cheap to try since you already have a computer. Keep your eye open for a decent used USB dac and give it a shot.
Plato, what the heck does that outburst mean?
I've completely switched my music collection to a dedicated Linux OS server (in lossless FLAC format) which feeds a Slim Devices Squeezebox 3 which feeds a Lavry DA-10 DAC. This goes straight to the amp and to the speakers. I did a lot of back-to-back comparison with a good CD player and the server method is superior in sound quality. (Keep in mind that almost all music is now recorded to a hard drive in the studio long before it ever becomes a CD, so there is nothing wrong with that concept in the digital world.)
I also now have access to a 12,000 tune (and growing) collection in near instantaneous fashion, in any order I desire. I have a choice of a web-based interface or using a handy remote. It'd be tough to go back.
Herman, it simply means that at this time I'm skeptical that a computer-based medium will offer anything significantly better than standard redbook CDs provide. Lately, I've gone back to listening to my analog sources (vinyl and reel-to-reel tape). After years of trying every tweak and some very highly rated digital gear, I find I'm missing something with digital sound. Analog seems to fill in the blanks for me.
I also know that the recording industry marketing folks are looking for new ideas to boost sagging sales. Their decision on what media formats to push will be based on low cost and convenience features -- whatever they think will appeal to the masses and help sell new music. It will have nothing whatever to do with "sound quality".
Historically, a new audio format(s) have emerged every couple of decades and have supplanted the previous media of choice. Sadly, I think now more than ever "sound quality" will not figure into the industry's marketing plans... And I find that upsetting...
With drop in HD's full Redbook should be cost effecive.I agree with not going down in resolution bu as a taping format (since industry has thuis far iognored tapers after Casstette.DAT because of maitenace cost is pro only).CD-R/DVD-R will form dropous in 4-7 years and HD's can as
well or crash from nearing failure etc..Magnetic tape still best.But with HD FM we might see radio renaissance among 'philes and until someone figures out how to get the type of longevity a well stored not overplayed tape can provide (25 years plus) making a few CD-R's AND a HD in full Red Book is best bet.Redundancy and see in 6 years if you canssemble three new masters where you have at least one good track for each song is the way top do it.Or drop by Niel Young or Prices House and ask if you can use thier Nagra.
Plato, fair enough, but I don't think the question is whether or not this will take redbook CD to some new euphoric level and convince analog lovers to throw away their turntables, it is whether or not it will supplant CD players as we know them.
I dont think CD playback via computer is a step forward in sound quality, but it is just as good as a conventional CDP and a giant leap forward in convenience.
I second Herman's logic, and Plato: I as you, prefer vinyl, which is exactly why I divested myself of a $6k CDP and bought a USB DAC and MacBook. I believe I have the best of the old and new.
Using an excellent USB DAC with a PC as a transport is a hard combination to beat from a sonic perspective, and impossible to beat from a convenience perspective.
Can any of you recommend a idiot's guide? I think it's time.
Those of you w/ USB DACs, what kind do you have?
I bought a Pre-Sonus audio interface (AD/DA) over a year ago, and have never gotten it to work.
I really have nothing against using a USB DAC setup. But in my case, my computer is not close to either of my audio systems, and I don't want to set up a computer in either of those rooms just for that purpose.
I think I'm annoyed that we have stuck with the 44.1kHz sampling rate all these years. Heck, back in the early '80s when the standards were decided, many thought the rate was too low -- and that's when a state-of-the-art computer was running about a 100MHz processor. How far has computer technology evolved since then, and why has this redbook standard not been changed/updated in 25 years??? It makes no sense at all to me.
The only explanation is that it would have taken money for recording studios to change the recording standard, and no one (that mattered) was complaining about it.
How many audiophiles would buy a digital amplifier that sampled at 44.1kHz? Virtually Nobody!
Maybe if enough of us sent letters and complained to Sony and Philips they'd change the standard to something suitable. But we all seem to be content to sit back with the attitude that we've got to make that old, inadequate standard work. Why??? If we doubled or tripled that standard rate even cheapo players would sound fantastic.
Plato, where have you been? They tried that with SACD and DVD-A. The average consumer wasn't interested. They sold a lot more music in compressed formats than hi-resolution so what do you think has flourished?
The audiophile community is behind you 100% but we are too small a group. Write all the letters you want. The mainstream consumer has spoken with their money. High resolution is dead as main stream product.
Yes, I know all about SACD, and DVD-A. The problem there was that they gave the consumer a choice and charged appreciably more for those higher-res formats.
But what they should have done was just upgrade the standards and kept the price the same. Heck, if they can sell DVD's cheaper than CD's (in many cases) they could have done that. The problem is that everyone becomes greedy if they sense that there could be an extra dollar to be made. If a little company like Chesky Records could do it, how hard could it be for Sony or Philips to get the job done?
On second thought, I've been doing a bit of reading. It appears that Sony's Blu-Ray Disc might be the next best thing... It looks very promising as a hi-def format and should be backward compatible to play CD, DVD, SACD, and other current disc formats. The dual-layer Blu-ray discs are capable of holding a whopping 50GB of data (a regular DVD holds about 4.6GB).
Blu-ray players are not backward compatible with CD's. My neighbor has both a Sony and a Samsung unit and neither one will play a cd. Also, I have read numerous reviews that confirm this fact. Power up and boot times are extremely slow compared to DVD players on both of these machines.
PC to Squeezebox 3 (via wireless router) to Bel Canto DAC2. I'll never again own a CDP.
Interesting the negative comments made about PC audio in this thread. My guess is that those posters actually have no experience with it.
I agree with your comments. I dumped my reference SACD/CD player about 18 months ago and haven't looked back. I use a Bolder modified Squeezebox 2 in the big rig. At the computer it's coax out to DAC to modified Red Dragon monos driving ERA Design4's with a custom subwoofer. It's soooo much easier to "browse" you music collection on the computer than hunting through stacks of jewel cases.
I wonder how long it will take before this thread looks silly? I'm betting three years tops before everyone has tossed their cdps this thread will look like a dinasaur
What is a list of D/A converters with USB inputs?The drawback I find with my computer supplanting DAC is ocassionaly I want to use my computers drive(s)while litening but also becuase fan noise is so bloody loud.I too think somebody who has done a lot of expermentation should make a web page as an idots guide to music and video using computers
That's why you get/build a silent computer. My little Shuttle computer is totally silent.
There are a lot of companies making USB DACS. Entry level would be something like the Firestone Audio Fubar ($119). The Scott Nixon USB TubeDac ($600) is highly rated. Also, the PS Audio($1000) and Benchmark Dac1($1200) get good reviews. On the high end look at Wavelength Audio ($1750-$15000).
I'm using a Wavelength Brick Silver and a MacBook laptop as a transport. An external HD rounds out the "system". BTW, the MacBook is silent, but the HD has some noise which I have been able to muffle.
I sold my Wadia 861 for the DAC and MacBook. I not only gained the convenience of being able to instantaneously select from 1,000's of tunes, I now have a multifunction device (laptop) that functions outside the audio room, and I didnt downgrade sonically. An overall win, win. Now, if I ever want to upgrade, I only need to change out the DAC, which was a heck of lot less expensive than the Wadia it replaced.
BTW, if you're seeking more information re PC Audio, try the Computer Audio Asylum http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/bbs.html
and the HeadFi Forum: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=0ab121c720ce2e1e3e27400baf539bb4&f=59
My PC system:
PS Audio Digital Link III upsampleing to 96KH
My Book 500 GIG Hard Drive
Files Ripped to Apple Lossless
Total Cost ($1,800)
totally destroyed a Shanling T100 ($2,500) in an A/B listening test. I have 2000 CD's at my finger tips, and internet radio! PC audio is the future.....