The PC and DAC.
I have been privy to extensive comparisons between the two and PC as source is IMHO, and the opinion of most of those involved in those comparisons as well, the PC is easily better.
A test track we used for that comparison was Dianna Krall - A Case Of You. Via the PC you could hear the foot pedals on the piano and the piano was clearly less distorted. The Transports we used was a Wadia, heavily upgraded Msarantz that was battery powered and used I2S, Stello I2S transport and some other stuff I can't recall.
I also need to point out while this was the view of the majority of people some thought the computer had a digital edge to it. I personally couldn't detect it.
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Hi, be careful, you have a killer good digital system already. You may find better power cords, isolation or interconnects more effective...
May i ask what is the rest of your system?
Optimize your PC( software and hardware set-ups).It will make great improvement.Or simply get a C.A.P.S as computeraudiophile[dot]com recommended.
You will find this Forum post very useful in answering your question:
The system is composed by preamp and monos Soulution and speakers MBL 101 MKII, cables from Kubala Sosna Elation and David Elrod PC and turntable Clearaudio ref and tangential arm
My subjective answer to yr question is, forget it. Keep what you have & listen to music.
For the record, I tackled the dilemma as well and yes, I was inspired by the post Mgattmch mentions.
The quick answer to my experiment is, the PC (RAM to spdif out) -> DAC combo was clearly better, in very immediate terms (i.e., frequency extension, dynamic effect, liquid-non grainy violins, fuller sound, you-name-it...).
Of course this doesn't answer the question in absolute terms -- because the equipment was different & you use the clocking device w/ yr purcell and together they sound superb.
So you have a excellent system...congratulations, now I can see why you might want more than the dCS Puccini+Uclock (which I used to own).
The dCS Scarlatti's, used prices are great, is a killer upgrade for you. Last year I traded in my Puccini/uclock and for a Scarlatti stack...
I think you will find a transport still the better sound. I've tried it several times and really no contest. Are you into SACD? if so, not sure all your choices above allow it.
What about dCS Vivaldi? It's pricey, but in the context of your system should be considered...
Jfrech and Gregm,
Really I´m not very very interested on SACD, I have logically SACDs, and if you can have both worlds ,why not?
For DAC I´m thinking on MSB Diamond DAC with femtosecond,I think is a little better than the dCS Scarlatti or Vivaldi.
You have a nice system. I would agree with you that the MSB Diamond DAC IV with the Galaxy Femto clock is better sonically than the the DCS Scarlatti digital stack as I have done the head to head comparison. As for the question of a transport versus some type of music server I would suggest the following. If you do go with the MSB Diamond DAC IV then I would recommend that you go with the top line MSB Signature transport and Signature transport power base. Doing this allows you take advantage of MSB's Pro I2s input between the transport and dac as well as the clock sync function between the DAC and transport. This will give you the best possible sound that MSB has to offer. MSB's USB input (if you use a server of some type) is very good but it won't match using their transport and taking advantage of the clock sync). And with the MSB transport you can play redbook CD's plus hi-rez PCM downloads (just burn them to a DVD as .WAV files).
FWIW, Elberoth has done a shootout between S/PDIF converters using a dCS DAC and using the dCS transport as his reference (index score 100). He found all converters to underperform the transport, until the arrival of the berkely audio design (BADA) converter, which bested the dCS transport.
Then, in a different shootout he compared the BADA converter into an MSB dac with ist USB input and prefered the USB input (as well as the MSB DAC over the dCS). One could make the inference that the best digital money can buy is USB direct into the MSB Diamond + Femto. All very systems dependent of course and preferences may vary.
In any event, if the difference between a $2K USB converter, USB direct (a $1,6000 option) and a $20K tranport is splitting hairs, the preference for computer based is obviously. Throw in the convenience of having your collection at your fingertips on an iPad and it is a no brainer really.
Just one man's opinion..
Hi Personally, I am into SACD listening. Nearly 100% SACD. Anything else I listen to vinyl. I think SACD is where the dCS shines above all...
I'll get to listen to the dCS Vivaldi soon...by all accounts this is a big step up...
I have heard the MSB set up on 2 occasions...both with Rockport speakers...it is certainly a killer digital front end...one had a pre amp, the other the MSB DAC went straight the amps...
If SACD isn't what you're listening to..the choices do open up a lot...
My experience was with red-book, not sacd.
Since other formats came up, blu-ray is significantly better than the other digital formats I know assuming an originally hi def recording.
Unfortunately not much choice...
recently switched from the transport-dac camp, and entered the computer audio camp, and will not look back. I had a PS audio perfect wave dac/transport; which was bettered when I switched to the Ayon CD5S; I enjoyed the buffered tube dac/preamp section; and the Philips transport was quite excellent. I totally enjoyed the Ayon until I had an in home demo with the Playback Design 5 dec; using standard inexpensive windows based laptop, and Seagate 4TB hard drives, and standard usb cable; but the Playback design external x-usb converter box into dec. This setup upsamples all digital sources to 2xDSD playback. This for me was the best digital I've heard, and I have a very revealing system. My bass went much deeper; the detail and air on cymbals, flute, strings, and female voices was exquisite; the sound stage was the best I've experienced in my rig. I would rip a rebook CD; and play via usb into Playback design, and it was an amazing and positive listening experience. The price of the PD DAC 5 is not inexpensive; but less than some of the contenders posted above; and the computer side of this, with all back up hard drives; and powered usb switches, and JRiver software was around $800 extra..I have all my library now on hard drives. I have no digital glare, or listening fatigue . Now; when I listen to DSD download files; its even a more amazing experience. If you are only using computer audio at 24/192; and don't have the ability to upsample to DSD I feel you are missing out. There are a handful of other dacs that process DSD; and more are coming...so I'm not saying that Playback Design is the best at this; I would assume the EMM/Meitner products, Chord, MSB analog, and Briscasti will also be able to handle DSD upconversion via usb.
If you are asking this question; be sure your dac can support DSD files and upconversion; I think you will be presently surprised by the sonic improvement; and the cost of admission is less than a full Dcs stack, or high end MSB unit. I don't miss my transport; simply rip; and enjoy DSD playback. The PD unit was easy to set up; no choices of different filters, or external clocks; and the burn in time was easy also; around 200 hours.
Good luck with your search, you have a great system; trying to get the lest level of improvement is important, and sometimes a challenge.
I just switched to computer based audio and it trumps cd/transport digital for sure. I was one of those huge doubters.
+1 Grannyring. But I wouldn't dare speak to the level of your current digital componentry.
I so enjoy selecting from the server than from a shelf of jewel cases. I find I'm listening to more overlooked selections. But the real killer for me is random song (track) select. My library becomes an outstanding talk free radio station.
My Mac > Metrum Octave clearly out performs my ModWright Absolute Truth moded Denon 5900.
And yet again I will suggest looking into Elberoth experiences and covering Steve Nugent's Empirical Audio's computer audio suggestions.