What is the best way to play digitized (high and low rez) music under 10K?

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woodsyi

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I am woefully out of date on digital playback as I have been spinning vinyl for the most part.  Since Ted is up on all the latest developments on DACs, I will ask the question here even though my question pertains to Redbook playback as well. 

Starting from scratch with an arbitrary budget of $10K, how does one construct a digital front end that will give the most bang for the buck?  It will just be the front end consisting of a transport, a DAC and whatever else that is needed to play digitized music both on discs and in stored files.  Let's assume there is already a server with stored music files in FLAC and WAV but discs must also be able to be played directly.

davidrs

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Best Digital Signal Out

With the best transmission to the DAC.

And a DAC that makes your toes curl.

But you already knew that  :D !


catastrofe

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IMHO, PS Audio Perfectwave DAC and Bridge, NAS for storage, Ethernet feed from NAS to Bridge.  Computer only needed for server and/or ripping/download purposes.  This provides an I2S feed to the DAC without SPDIF conversion.

Hope this helps. . .

jhm731

I agree with catastrofe.

You also need a iPhone, iTouch or iPad to run the PS Audio tagNplay control app.



ted_b

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What server, Woodsyi?  it makes a difference, cuz if it's a MAC, then a direct connection (firewire preferably, or asynch USB) DAC is in order.  If it is a pc then you might need an S/PDIF to USB interface before the DAC (budget $1k max).  A newly discussed Linux-based server, Auralitii, is $799 and S/PDIF based.  Some say it is the quietest most musical out there.  More to come...

Off the top of my head stuff.......

Great DACs I've heard that play redbook to 24/192:

primary connection is firewire:
Metric Halo LIO-8 $3400  (also is an 8 ch DAC if needed, MAC -based software, can be driven directly to some amps)
Weiss DAC202 $6k (can be a digital preamp as well)
Prism Orpheus ($4k) (also an 8 channel DAC, can be driven directly to some amp)
Weiss DAC2 ($2300 used...mine :)  )

primary connection is asynch USB:
Antelope Zodiac Plus ($2500)
Ayre QB-9 ($2600) USB only
Wavelength Coscecant ($3500-6k depending on options) (tubed)
Wyred4Sound DAC2 ($2k) (Can be driven directly to some amps, includes HT bypass)

primary connection is S/PDIF and/or AES/EBU (i.e USB is not 24/192 or USB is not good aysnch interface):
Forsell MDAC-2 ($3k)
Eastern Electric Mini Boulder modded ($1500+ depending on mod) (tubed)
Berkeley Alpha ($5k) (can be digital preamp)

I'll add more.   Several of these DACs sound only average until about 400 hours.  A real PITA when eval'ing them.   :o

I've not heard some of the other contenders: the PS Audio PWD/PWT, Audio-GD ref 7, Cantata or Wavelength Crimson...





srb

For the transport, because you want to store files on a server or network drive, the Bryston BDP-1 Digital Player would not be a choice, as for the moment, it only supports USB hard drives or flash drives directly connected to the BDP-1's USB ports.  I don't know enough about the Auraliti to understand if it's Ethernet port will also let it access network storage for playback, or if it is only used for web browser and remote control devices to control playback, and can only use directly attached USB drives like the Bryston.
 
If you decide to go with a computer device, the Apple Mac Mini equipped with an SSD internal drive and controlled with an iPod Touch or iPad is a quiet, compact possibility.
 
MUSIC SERVER:
Mach2 Music Server - $1495
(Mac Mini optimized by Mach2 Music w/ 40GB SSD + 320GB USB External Drive for Backup)
 
PLAYER SOFTWARE:
Amarra 2.1 Music Player - $699 (Supports 24bit/192KHz files)  or
Amarra Mini 2.1 Music Player - $299  (Supports 24bit/96KHz files)  or
Pure Music player - $129  (Supports 24bit/384KHz files)
 
REMOTE CONTROL INTERFACE:
Apple iPod Touch 8GB - $229  or
Apple iPad 16GB - $499
 
Total for Music Server, Software and Remote Control would be to $1853 to $2693 depending upon software and remote choice.
 
Steve
 

ted_b

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For the transport, because you want to store files on a server or network drive, the Bryston BDP-1 Digital Player would not be a choice, as for the moment, it only supports USB hard drives or flash drives directly connected to the BDP-1's USB ports.  I don't know enough about the Auraliti to understand if it's Ethernet port will also let it access network storage for playback, or if it is only used for web browser and remote control devices to control playback, and can only use directly attached USB drives like the Bryston.
 
If you decide to go with a computer device, the Apple Mac Mini equipped with an SSD internal drive and controlled with an iPod Touch or iPad is a quiet, compact possibility.
 
MUSIC SERVER:
Mach2 Music Server - $1495
(Mac Mini optimized by Mach2 Music w/ 40GB SSD + 320GB USB External Drive for Backup)
 
PLAYER SOFTWARE:
Amarra 2.1 Music Player - $699 (Supports 24bit/192KHz files)  or
Amarra Mini 2.1 Music Player - $299  (Supports 24bit/96KHz files)  or
Pure Music player - $129  (Supports 24bit/384KHz files)
 
REMOTE CONTROL INTERFACE:
Apple iPod Touch 8GB - $229  or
Apple iPad 16GB - $499
 
Total for Music Server, Software and Remote Control would be to $1853 to $2693 depending upon software and remote choice.
 
Steve
+1

eclein

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Steve pretty much nailed it I think!! Nice setup for sure with lots of money saved for music!!! :thumb:

catastrofe

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Steve's solution is certainly cost effective.  There are many different options depending on your DAC choice, where your music system is located in relation to your computer, and possibly how "technically oriented" you are.

I'm biased toward the PS Audio solution (I'm a Bridge Beta Tester).  Given that the PWD/Bridge accepts an Ethernet connection and requires no additional software for playback (other than the controller software on an iPod or iPad), the only additional hardware needed is something on which to store your files, and depending on that choice, a computer.  You can also keep your computer/NAS, etc in a different room from your system without any concern for noise.

For example:

NAS>>Router>>PWD 
If you use a NAS with Twonky or other music server software built in, and if you already have a home network, you don't need any other equipment.

Another option:

NAS>>Router>>PWD with computer as server 
Here, your computer hosts the server software but the files feed directly from your NAS through the router.  If you already have a computer, you still have minimal hardware expense. 

There are many options available depending on your specific requirements.  As additional reference, prior to purchasing a PWD, I used a Mac Pro with Lynx AES16E card feeding an Esoteric D-05 DAC and G-03X Master Clock.  Files were on a Drobo in my basement, connected via Ethernet to the Mac. This was an excellent setup, but I feel my current system is better.

For much less than $10K you can have a first-class system.  Probably for less than $5K.



davidrs

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Woodsyi,

How do you plan on listening to your music?

I ask, because the approach can be different and certainly optimized to how you choose to 'interface' with your music.

For example,

- in a dedicated listening position, solely listening?

- vs. say listening from a work area (ie. multitasking)

- etc.

For me, your plans for your primary listening environment should drive the approach.

In other words, let the solution follow you (and not the other way around).



woodsyi

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It will be in a dedicated 2-channel room.  You can check out my current system for specifics.  I am not necessarily unhappy with my current setup but the DAC is getting a little long in the tooth.  It is 10 years old and that's like eons in digital world.  According to a TNT review, "the Model 192 transport and DAC make use of the very same chips for upsampling: a Crystal CS 8420 samples the data up to 24bit/96kHz and then a NPC (Nippon Precision Circuit) SM5849AF brings the sampling frequency up to 192 kHz."  I had it modded by Steve at EA and fitted with Pace Car 2 which reclocks data from both the CD transport and USB stream of music files (FLAC and WAV) stored in a dedicated quiet PC (1.8 TB RAID 5 array) in the same room.  With retrofit Tascam unit added, it can handle 24/96 files as well as 16/44 from the computer.  I must say I definitely hear a big difference in 24/96 files over 16/44.  From what Steve Nugent says, there is really no good way to upgrade the current EA stuff to newer ones.  I would have to sell it and buy newer stuff.  So, I am exploring all possibilities to see where I want to go.  I am not married to PC either.  I can re-rip to AIFF or whatever if Apple/Amarra is clearly better.  I do need to have a physical disc transport as my wife insists that she be able to just pop in a CD (hopefully higher rez too in the future) if she wants to listen to music without me. 

I am reading up on all the suggestions and thanks for all the information.  Keep them coming. :thumb:

catastrofe

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Another great resource is www.computeraudiophile.com.  That's where I first got started.

eclein

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It will be in a dedicated 2-channel room.  You can check out my current system   I do need to have a physical disc transport as my wife insists that she be able to just pop in a CD (hopefully higher rez too in the future) if she wants to listen to music without me. 

I am reading up on all the suggestions and thanks for all the information.  Keep them coming. :thumb:
If you need a physical player check out Virtue Audio Piano M1 and let your wife design the case, a ton of custom options for her to feel right at home with, she gets into it, you get a nice CD player-actually a great one, the music sounds great and she is smiling.
 Ed :thumb:

TomS

Given the domestic harmony component you might like the new Bryston BDP-1 and BDA-1 combo with the BR-2 remote.  The BDP-1 works both from front panel and  MPod on an iPod Touch or iPhone.  The DAC has multiple inputs via the remote, so I use one for hi-rez input, one for the CD transport, and another for streams.  The remote easily selects between them.  An Audiohilleo1 24/192 USB solution into another input even allows dithered level control at 24/192 input.  Very nice setup.

Tom

srb

Given the domestic harmony component you might like the new Bryston BDP-1 and BDA-1 combo with the BR-2 remote.  The BDP-1 works both from front panel and  MPod on an iPod Touch or iPhone.

According to Bryston, the BDP-1 is designed for "hundreds of files, not thousands of files", as loading large numbers of files can be slow.  Although it can be used with an attached USB hard drive, most people are dividing up their "libraries" into a number of individual flash drives either containing different genres or playlists.
 
Steve

JohnR


According to Bryston, the BDP-1 is designed for "hundreds of files, not thousands of files",

If you're referring to the HifiZine interview, the specific quote was in the context of not having a computer involved anywhere i.e. purchasing pre-made USB sticks and using the hand-held remote.

Quote
as loading large numbers of files can be slow

Where did you read that?

TomS

NAS will have to come at some point due to popular demand ...

Easy to do in the Voyage software configuration.  Just harder to do in the general case and could be a linux/networking support challenge for them.  I suspect most of the complaints with the whole Squeezebox world have been around basic networking.

sts9fan

Anyone try the PS Audio perfectwave dac and bridge? 

davidrs

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It will be in a dedicated 2-channel room.  You can check out my current system for specifics. 

Woodsyi,

System pic and list are very helpful. Sweet setup!

Where is your pc located?

Are you open to a hard wired connection to the controller/display?

Do you want touchscreen or keyboard driven interface?

 

jhm731

Anyone try the PS Audio perfectwave dac and bridge?

catastrofe and I are both using them in a no computer set up, see his posts above.

Mine current set up is:

WD HD/WNDR3700->Cat5->PSAudio PWD/Bridge/tagNplay app on iPad.




Looking forward to trying the PS Audio tagNplay Music Manager when it becomes available later this
month.