PC-Audio vs. High-end CD Player-GAME OVER

Hi All,
I just auditioned the Wavelength Audio Cosecant DAC on a very nice system at the local dealer. It was run through a Hovland 200 preamp , a Plinius amp and Avalon Eidolon Diamond speakers. This is all in a very well treated, good-sounding room.
It was, in a word spectacular. Beautiful tone, excellent bass, imaging soundstaging, etc. What was really amazing was a sense of space, or ambience that was imparted. We then compared the same CD's (Diana Krall, Jennifer warnes, some jazz), on a Levinson CDP. I'm not saying that the levinson is the last word in players, but it was what he had on the shelf.While it sounded good, it was much more bright, and "constricted".
Control was through an Imac using I-tunes, and the CD's had been nurned using Apple Lossless.
I ordered my Crimson on the spot.

Your message is confusing. You mention Cosecant and Levinson and order Crimson. I have no idea what you are taling about or the purpuse of your post.
A CD player is a transport that reads digital data from the disc (like a hard drive) and a DAC chip (with software/firmware) that converts the digital data to analog.

A PC audio system reads data from a hard drive (like a transport) and then feeds the digital data to a DAC.

Sounds similar? Fundamentally there is no real difference between the two implementations. In practice, timing and clocking may be implemented in a slightly different manner -slave and master clock and synchronization might be a factor.

Most likely the difference in presentation may be due to the DAC rather than where the data came from. The Cosecant DAC uses a tube output and therefore might be more "euphonic" than an SS design.

Did you try feeding the digital output from Levinson into the Cosecant DAC...this would likely highlight that it is the DAC output stage design that is most influencing what you prefer to hear.
Hi there, can you clarify some things as I am confused about your post. 1) What is a Crimson? 2) Am I reading this right to say you compared an Ipod into a Wavelenght DAC vs. an Ipod burned on a CD listening through a Levinson CDP? Would it make more sense to compare a stock (not burned, and not burned from an Ipod) redbook CD on a Levinson CDP to the full Ipod/DAC setup? Thanks
Hi David. Our collective systems have greatly evolved since we shared the same X-600.

I had independently discovered the serious advantages offered by a good NOS player. The difference between NOS and OS is just as you describe. That wont be so evident on a less revealing system. This one will be fun to audition. Thanks for the Tip.

I have slowly been tring to get a computer based system up and running...the process has been adding one piece at a time. I have been ripping my CD's in lossless for some time now, and I recently added an external network hard drive...250GB...and now I am looking either at a good usb device that will change into a digital signal, or a good USB dac. I have also added a computer to my system, but the fan noise from that PC is just a little too loud for critical listening...although it has optical digital out...well I guess sometime I will get it right.
How did you connect the Wavelength Audio Cosecant DAC to the iMac? Do the new iMac's have digital out? If so how is this done- Toslink, BNC or RCA (doubt it). Anyway a very interesting thread.

Hi All,
Just to clarify. Wavelength Audio makes several different USB DACs, designed to take the feed from a hard drive via a USB cable. The Cosecant is the middle range DAC and the Crimson is higher up the food chain. We weren't using an Ipod. We were using an Imac computer running I-tunes as the archival/control software. Regular Redbook CD's were burned to the HD of the I mac computer via Apple Lossless, a rippping scheme designed to preserve all the information on the CD. The computer was acting as the transport for the DAC. The output of the DAC was then run into the preamp, exactly as you would a regular CD player.
As to the sound, if you think that it was euphonic, take it up with Gordan Rankin, the designer. I only know that I really liked it. I've had the SCD-1, the Accuphase DP-85, the EMM Labs DAC6/CDSD (not sig) and the Esoteric X-01 Limited, so i have a fair idea of what I like and dislike.

As to the sound, if you think that it was euphonic, take it up with Gordan Rankin, the designer.

Huh? I was just offering an explanation for the very different sound that you heard - that's all. I suggest is unlikely to be caused by using a PC and most likely an effect from the DAC.

No criticism was intended at all. I have no axe to grind with Gordan Rankin, whoever he may be...

Since you heard a big difference it seems there might be an explanation no?

Sorry but I thought your statement "Game-Over" rather implied the end of CD players as a decent source. Naturally I think this is a slight exaggeration....and believe you found a sound that you personally like rather than a new paradigm in audio...
No, you understood me the first time. There is still a place for CD's and CD players. But when hard-drive playback is this good, and this conveient, Cd's are on their way out. The only thing missing now is high resolution downloads, then CD's will be no longer. The issue of how much I liked the sound, euphonic or not , is secondary to the utter convenience of this setup. The excellent sonics of this source, to my ears, is icing on the cake. If it had only been as good, I still would have made this post.
My good friend Mick at Quintessence Audio in Morton Grove, Il has such a system right now on display. Give him a call and listen for yourself.
I think you will be impressed.
One of the big things about this effort is the error correction done by the iTunes software. Click the box: Use error correction when reading Audio CDs.
This is key.
I do think this is the future.
I am in the process of setting up a MacBook Pro to act as my music server jukebox.
It is a lot of fun.
And I have been wondering what to do with all the cds I have. Sometimes I overlook music because my library storage system sucks {shelves and leather boxes}. It's easier to scroll down a screen and find the album, than look through a room full of shelves. Espescially if it sounds as good or better than the world class CD player I now own. Now I can be really lazy and never have to get up from my chair and change a disc. Drink red wine and be happy.
Oh, one other thought.
Who is Gordon Rankin ??????.
I suggest you find out.
The man is one hell of a designer and knows his stuff.
I have always respected his work.
The guy is a long time player in the industry.
Show a little respect.
I heard the system at Mick's store. In fact, I just sold him all my LP's. We listened to the system for quite a while, Mick myself, and 2 of his friends. We were all blown away.

Small world
Chicago can be like that.
You sold that Vinyl Junkie all your old albums ?.
Good for you.
I am to lazy for vinyl myself, to much maintainence and storage considerations.
I have over 4k cds and have problems keeping track of them.
I also like to skip past certain tracks to what I will enjoy at the moment.
This is a good thing, computers and DACs.
Make sure you backup all your work on another hardrive.
They do fail once in a while
Future looks bright, where are my sunglasses ?.
Yes, I had a nice collection. But, life being what it is, i never listened to them. I know that Mick will enjoy them far more than I will.

I can't wait for all those cds to start hitting ebay and amazon at fire sale prices!
Hi def downloads are available from Music Giants, Linn Records, and soon to be Itrax. This is the future of audio, like it or not, CD's will be obsolete within 5-6 years time. No longer will you have a format that is flawed, unless they put the flaw there in the beginning.
There is still a place for CD's and CD players. But when hard-drive playback is this good, and this conveient, Cd's are on their way out.

Now we are on the same wavelength - I wholeheartedly agree about the added convenience of hard-drive playback. IMHO it sounds as good too so I don't dispute that a particular PC setup and high quality DAC can sound better than a specific CD player,

Why waste time fiddling around with jewel cases and shuffling through shelves to find a CD!!! Progress is great!
I sold my Reimyo CDP 777 and my Esoteric UX-1 after buying a Wavelength Cosecant. I never thought I would give up my CD player, but the Cosecant driven by my computer totally changed the way I listen to music. I now find myself listening to a wider variety of music since everything is so easily accessible. Also, The Cosecant sounded better than the Reimyo or the Esoteric.

David ordered a Wavelength Crimson USB DAC. I now own a Wavelength Silver Crimson USB DAC. It is a NOS DAC driven by an internal SLA rechargeable battery. The tubes are 71A triodes that are simply magical in their rendition of music. The Silver refers to silver wire wound transformers. This is not a euphonic "tube" sounding DAC. It is very neutral sounding with great detail and a wide deep soundstage.

Why should we listen to CDs in the same manner as we did in 1984? There are other options available today. The Crimson DAC is just one of many exciting new possibilities in high end audio.
I just started trying this with an Apple TV 160GB. I ripped my library (again) in Apple Lossless onto a drive in my PowerMac then it sync's to the Apple TV over my wireless network. Any use of the library then is independent of the computer and the Apple TV doesn't have a fan. Comparing the sound of a CD through transport to a Genesis Digital Lens then a Theta CB II for DAC with the Apple TV to Digital lens and on reveals some very subtle loss of air but it is so damn convenient I've listened to more music in the week since I did this than in the last 2 months. I'll be looking for a better way at some point, but am pretty happy to appreciate the music and perhaps ignore a little of the sound.
Congrats on your new purchase. I've been following your posts on getting into PC-based audio. Sounds like you found a winner. If more people experienced hard drive based audio done right, there would be a lot more converts.
I purchased an arcus DAR300 music server which features a 160GB Harddisk, a CD/DVD PLAYER/RECORDER and software rip to Flac and to pull music from outside devices through USB and Enet. It has USB, Ethernet, Scart, digital in and out and analog out. It connects to internet radio stations automatically, pull CD data from freedb (if connected to the web ) and has no fan.
I am ripping CD's to Flac on my computer using Exact Audio Copy and Accuraterip, and then transfering the files to the DAR300 through ethernet. The DAR300 has a remote and the sound is better than from my CD player (MCD205). Very convenient to use and easy to transport anywhere and take all you music along.
Anything better out there? And for a cost of about 1800 Euros.
Ok, do we now park our computers next to our preamps? Amps?
I'm still using CD player.
I park my laptop, a MacBook Pro, right next to me on the couch when I listen.
Questions from an old school, open minded guy:

So how far a run of USB cable do you have. Is there a similar issue as with analogue cables as far as runs go? Do you run an equal cable of firewire to use a dedicated hard drive?

Assuming your CDs in lossless format don't fit on your laptop drive, do you then buy 2 external hard-drives? One for the data, the next for backup?

Do you get an external CD player too? Doesn't the internal one just heat up and make lots of noise when ripping or playing? If someone brings a CD over that you don't want to download, but you just want to play it.

Just curious... If I can control my music from my listening position and have it sound better than my CDP, and have all my collection at my fingertips... this becomes quite compelling.

Thanks - it's interesting to explore this.
I park mine in the next room (quieter) and use a tablet PC as a wireless remote. Never have to leave the couch again to change CDs.
Hi guys,
For those of you who bought the Cosecant or Crimson, did you do compare the copper and silver units? Is the sonic difference as substantial as the price. I realize that's a tough question to answer for some one else but would still welcome your opinion and some description of the differences.
Hatari-USB is limited to around 15 feet, but you can buy extenders that allow longer cables. I use an Opticis 30 meter fiber optic USB cable that converts USB to fiber optic and back again with no degredation in the signal. That way, I can keep the loud PC out of the room.

Personally, I use a 500 GB drive to hold ripped CDs and back it all up to another 500 GB drive in case of a drive failure. The drives are internal drives. Number/size/external/internal is up to you.

After the CDs are ripped to hard drive, there is no need to play them from a CD drive. The music software, like iTunes, reads the album from hard disk (or memory if you load the album into a ramdisk). So, internal/external CD drive is irrelevant in my opinion. CD drive heat during ripping shouldn't be an issue.

If someone brings over a CD to play, I recommend ripping it first to avoid jitter that is introduced from playing from the CD.
Gordan Rankin recommends having 2 firewire hard-drives, with one acting as backup. The control can also be with a remote that comes with the Mac mini, or Imac, if you use one of those as your control computer. Itunes can act as your archival/control software. It will organize your CD's, and fetch album art automatically. As to the sonics, I will know more in a week or two.

Thanks in advance for the help. I have not made the jump to PC music, yet. A couple of questions, if I may...
1. Do you copy music to your ipod for the car?
2. Do you distribute the music to other rooms in the house and do you need an RF remote?
3. Since the HD does all the work do you need a sophisticated computer or would the simplest computer with massive HD space work? Have you tried different computers? It seems that the better the DAC, the better the sound. Is that right?

Thanks again. I like my CDP. My next upgrade will be to a fine DAC in preparation for a conversion to PC.
I traded a Wadia 861 for a Wavelength Brick Silver.

Prior to obtaining a MacBook to drive the Brick, I used a very old Dell Pentium II desktop with an external hard drive. With the exception of PC fan noise, the sonics were the same as the MacBook -- superb! So, as long as one is using an external DAC, and a "silent" PC (the MacBook is), the PC doesn't have to be state of the art!

Sonics are superb, convenience is spectacular -- even better than I had imagined! In my book this is an impossible combination to beat. Of course, one has to do a lot of ripping. But over the years my son and I had ripped hundreds of discs in order to record compilations. So the software was present, and backed-up, we have duplicates of each others tunes stored at different sites.

For my purposes, the game is over.
The time to upgrade my front end has come and gone and I'm reluctantly leaning towards a PC based system. Wavelength DACs seem to be all the buzz but folks are talking like there are three different DACs where as I count seven: Brick MSRP $1750, Cosecant MSRP $3500 Silver $10,000 USD, Ultimate DPU $11,000 Silver $17,500, Crimson $7500, Silver $15,000. The raves I hear seem to be about the silver units which are out of my price range(at least new). Must one pony up for the silver to get the MAGIC or does the copper come close? Thanks
The copper units have the magic as well. The Silver units deliver more detail and sonic purity. The best USB DAC that Gordon makes, to my knowledge, is the Crimson. The Silver Crimson is worth the money, but I found the standard version to be very special.

If money is a limiting factor, and it is for most of us, I would sugggest you try the Cosecant. The Crimson is a big step up in performance and should be purchased if you can swing it. Forget the Silver transformers for now. You can always upgrade the units.

Thanks Steve, I didn't consider upgrading to silver later.
How do you get all the music onto your Crimson?
The Crimson is a USB DAC attached to the computer via a USB cable. The CDs are ripped to the hard drive of the computer.
Has anyone noticed sonic differences between apple lossless and wav files? To me wav sounds louder and a bit more dynamic on itunes. I've only made comparisons on a pc and would like to know if mac users have experienced this?
I'm with Tomcy6 just waiting for all those cheap CDs to become available.
As a famous wag once said "news of my death was entirely premature". It's never over.
I am surprised that on this thread there are no empirical audio users. His pacecar reclocker for the squeezebox looks very interesting... hooks up via an I2s connection to a modified Benchmark or a Northstar dac.

Any empirical audio users here? I would rather go wireless than USB, personally...
EA user here. I use the Turbo-2 (AES/EBU out) with the EmmLabs DCC2 SE. With the right PC setup and EA's battery power supply, PCM is essentially indistinguishable from my CDSD SE. All of my CDs are tucked away in boxes in storage. I use the CDSD only for SACDs, which usually sound better IMO.

The beauty of the EA stuff is you get to use your existing DAC. Looking forward to the Pacecar v3. No experience with I2S or wireless.
i've recently hooked up a Mac g5 tower, powered by a PS Audio power plant, via digital output to my AA Capitole mk11. it sounded great, so started to tweak, now have roller balls and a bdr shelf for source under the g5, and have passed the point of no return. I connect to the g5 thru my laptop with Apple Remote Access and limit the current draw to minimum inside the g5, no video out, no external drives. The sound passed my transport a while ago, and is just getting better and better. i never understood what a background of blackness really sounded like before this, and the extra detail is clearly evident. Instruments stand out from the mix and are better defined, less overhang, much sharper and easier to focus on. when you hear details you were never aware of before the music changes, becomes even more involving, its hard to do anything but close your eyes and immerse yourself in it. rythm and pace are also much improved upon.
i own an Apple computer shop and we will start an audio section soon enough; now my hobby will be part of my work, can't wait!
Heard the same predictions being made when SACD arrived. Yet CD still lives! I am a EA user. Some hifi friends of mine (when over) prefer EA playback, some do not. I agree with Psacanli: it aint over till its over.
trust me, it's over. The CD was a transitional medium at best. Maybe it won't settle at USB or HDD for storage, but one thing is for absolute certain. CD's are dead, dead, dead!

I stand behind what I say 100% and will be the first to apologize if I am wrong at a later date. As someone who works in the IT industry in the research sector, and sees the writing behind the wall, take it from me consider it over. The shipments of the two types of storage media alone are a tell-tale sign. HDD being the winner.

Dust hasn't completely settled on where it will end up, but right now, lossless files piped in via USB or firewire are a good bet.

CDs are for ripping at this point, not putting in an inconvenient and archaic player with all sorts of transport induced jitter to-boot. I will take a Cosecant, or Crimson over ANY modern day CDP anyday.
Everything is replaced by newer technology at some point and that includes lossless files piped in via USB or firewire, but I think that cds will be around for a while yet. I'm still waiting for everyone to start dumping their cd collections. Hasn't happened yet. Home theater hasn't killed 2 channel stereo yet as was predicted a few years ago either.
GAME OVER indeed!

I can't wait for those "dead CDs" to hit the market. I got some really nice "dead vinyl" collections that way too.


No other medium other than CD has ever issued as many tiles.
CD has not killed LP, and DVD-A and SACD has not displaced the CD. I do not think CD will disappear in a long time. Maybe junk music will be downloaded by younger people, but for classical, jazz and good old rock LP and CD still is the best medium.
Cd is convenient, can be copied with ease and represents a physical medium, which is somnething many still like.
I like to own the medium physically as many music lovers do and downloads just do not do it for me.
I have a music server which is loaded up with my whole CD collection and the sound is very good, but I still keep using my CD transport. Why?
Because I choose the CD to play by visually selecting the music. The artwork, or whow, havent heard this one in a long time or look, lets listen to this one again is my modus of selecting a CD to play.
That is how I choose the music I play, and much depends on my mood. I rarely know the title or many performers in my CD collection, but when I see the CD cover I know what music is in there. Sometimes I do not even know that, and then the music is a new discovery.
That is the way I see it.
JC -
You mean the way CDs killed vinyl?
(sorry couldn't resist)
So I guess vinyl is dead too? I think not. Seems like people prefer convenience over the end result. I could see the pc stuff for non serious listing(sort of like a tuner), but not for a serious sitdown. Not everyone is computer savvy or is into carrying $3000+ laptops around or have a PC within reasonable distance of their system. CD's will be here for awhile.
Game over? not hardly -- but, the game has definitely broadened and will continue to do so.

If anything, vinyl popularity has increased -- perhaps due more to us dinosaurs or those with collector mentalities, but when done right, analog rules! Perhaps it's just a niche market but a very sizeable one.

CDs aren't going to just disappear either. Hell, they've had a bigger footprint than the 33 1/3 LPs ever had. No, they'll continue as well but certainly and ultimately relegated to a niche market as well.

The real question is what will be the primary means for distributing music in 5 years? 10 years?
Comparing CD to Vinyl is not an accurate analogy by any means. All of you are forgetting tape. 8 Track, DAT etc...Where is it now?

The only thing missing now is a credible place for people to download DRM free Losslessly encoded files online somewhere. Then we can really have this debate. I am sure the record companies will hold on to that power for dear life as long as they can. But eventually, it will change, and CDs will be about as popular as tape is today.

I am not saying it will all be hard drive based..Where it is stored is anyones guess. Could be HDD, could be SSD, could eventually be holographic storage. But one thing is for sure, it will most likely move towards a computer/server based set up for most. The reason being, is there is NO difference in sound quality when the files are lossless and the DAC is designed well. Like all of Gordon's DACs.

Until you've listened to one, you can't say a word about it. I have owned MANY high end CD players, and can say with confidence there is NO sonic reason to miss the CD sound, or deal with the inconvenience anymore.