Sound Quality: Computer vs. CD Player

Can a computer music system with top-quality CPU, soundcard, software, and cables produce sound quality (for listening) as good as that from a top-quality CD player?

If yes, which soundcards/software are best for new Silver Bullet G-4 Macintosh?

Your opinions/experiences, etc. greatly appreciated!
I say yes. I have a G4 with a RME soundcard. I don't believe the CPU is particularly important in that the playback of digital audio files is a fairly low load processor task. The RME has both S/PID and AES/EBU digital outputs which are attached to an external DAC. As such the G4 is acting as a CD transport and while I haven't done any direct comparisons with high cost transports, I haven't noticed any deterioration in sound quality when compared to the Sony 333ES when used as a transport. If you don't want to use an external DAC, then you might want to look at the Lynx soundcards. They have an excellent reputation for sound quality.
Ok, I'll say this now. Using a computer for a transport is NOT advisable for a top-notch kit. Think about it...a CD-ROM drive is generally the cheapest transport the manufacturer can use to spec. Computers throw off HORDES of RF interference. The fan creates high frequency vibrations. The digital signal is carried through FAR more ciruitry than your average transport. I used my computer for a transport as a lark, and it was terrible. Everything closed in, and the noise floor exploded. If this is your only convienient viable alternative, then go for it, but I would advise against it. IMHO, computers make for crummy transports. Cheers!
Dear Friends:

Thanks for your fast responses!

To clarify my question, my intent is to use my computer to sample and play music directly from the WEB - not to use the cd-rom as a transport. I'd like to eliminate a transport and dac entirely for this purpose!
I use a computer for mp3's and the kids music. I have tried many different cd-rom's with digital out an external DAC and they do not even come close to comparing to a good cd player. But then my main system is almost completly Cary.
Can anyone recommend a sound card for a compaq PC with spdif out?
Get a grip people.
Not even remotly close.
I will put my 10 year old Nikko thats in a third system up againt any computer.
Dont be fooled.
its the big lie all over again.Its like the hype lie we where fed 20 Years ago.REMEMBER PERFEXCT SOUND FOREVER.WAKE UP PEOPLE
Equa, if you intend to use the built in audio capabilities of the Mac to playback internet source music, then vitually any dedicated CD player will offer superior audio performance. Nearly all internet music downloads are heavily data compressed (MP3, for example) which definitely compromises sound quality. The internal Mac DAC is also not a high performer.

In my above 11/19 post I may have been unclear. I was referring to using a Mac computer as the center of a hard disk playback system. The CD-ROM mechanism is not used for audio playback. Instead the music is read directly from the hard disk. Effectively, the whole computer becomes the CD transport and when used with appropriate computer software, music can be sorted and played in ways unimaginable by conventional CD player based systems. Regarding sound quality, it is far superior to Natalie's Nikko and I suspect it equals or exceeds Lancel's Cary.
Onhwy61, what do you use to RIP your CD's onto your hard drive? Or do you just download the full WAV version off of the internet? A friend experiemented with this on his computer (6x100GB hard drives in JOB configuration) and we could never get upper level digital sound quality out of it. We always prefered listening on my Marantz 6000OSE. Never any bite to it (and he was using an MSB Link DAC Platinum for his computer). It just never sounded up to it's potential, and the hard drives cost TONS of money to install and cool. The convienience of it was always overshadowed by how long it took to RIP the disks and/or download. For Parties it's GREAT, but for regular listening, not so good. How did you get yours to sound so great! Cheers!
Hueske, I use the Mac's internal CD player to rip music from the CDs onto the hard disk(s). I use i-tunes and store the files in the 16 bit/44.1 AIFF format. A typical CD takes 3 or 4 minutes to input. It takes about 5 minutes to type in the song titles. If the computer were hooked up to the internet (it's not), then i-tune would automatically download the song info from an on-line database. A less than 10 minutes one time investment is no big deal for me. The system is finicky regarding setup. The computer and the hard disks are physically isolated from vibration and they are all run through a PS600 power regenerator. The RME soundcard is a pro grade audio card and I run one of its digital outputs into an MSB Platinum (just like your friend).

BTW, the majority of major label releases are either recorded, mixed or mastered using hard disk based systems (Sonic Solutions, Sadie, ProTools etc). Conceptually, there is nothing that prevents a hard disk based system from producing high quality sound. I suspect like most elements of audio reproduction better quality sound is in the details of the setup.

One last point - when all is said and done, whether it's a CD player or a hard disk system, it's still only Red Book quality digital. It's can sound good, even very good, but it never really sounds great.