One Source

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Gumby

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One Source
« on: 28 Jan 2019, 03:07 pm »
Hello,

I recently got back into hi fi.  I grew up with LPs, then CDs, and now Digital and Streaming.  I have no preference in music mediums.  I like them all.  I’m just starting my music collection again.  Sound quality is my main goal.  I’d love to buy a killer turntable and CD player and Dac, but I can only afford one. 

Question: If you had to start all over today, which music medium would you choose? 

I’ve read mixed opinions about this topic.  Some say you can’t beat the sound of a $5000 plus turntable setup.  Others say a high end CD player will give you analog sound plus more dynamics.  More say all you need is Tidal with a great Dac.

Obviously Streaming is the most convenient.  If a Bryston Streamer with a Bryston Dac will give me the sound of a Bryston turntable, then I would invest in the streaming solution.  Would a Bryston CD player give me as good or better sound than a Bryston turntable. 

I enjoy the idea of investing and collecting music.  I only have a handful of each medium now.  Testing the waters.  Once I choose the Source, then I plan on building my music collection. 

I would like to stay with Bryston for my Source because I’m so impressed with my recent purchase of the B60. I can imagine how great their other Amps would sound. 

I’ve built a humble little system: Bryston B60, B&W 707, Project Debut with Ortofon Blue, Nad CD, Airport Express for Streaming Apple Music connected to Chord Mojo.   

I want to replace one of the above sources with a big jump.   I will eventually go to a dealer and listen to better Sources and let my ears make the music medium choice. 

A problem with Digital though is I’m finding that most HD sites don’t have all the music.  CD and Vinyl have all the music. 

What are your thoughts and experiences?

alexone

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Re: One Source
« Reply #1 on: 28 Jan 2019, 08:22 pm »
hi, Gumby!

since there is no preference for a source get a dac and a bdp. i'd recommend a bdp 2 as a minimum standard due to better (faster) performance than a bdp1. go for a bdp3 and you have dsd playback included. what i like about the bdp is the fact that you can listen to your music for hours without changing the discs all the time and so on...convenience at its best!!! :thumb:

al.

Stu Pitt

Re: One Source
« Reply #2 on: 29 Jan 2019, 02:49 am »
If you’ve only got a handful of physical media music, I’d say subscribe to a good streaming service. Tidal is the usual recommendation. I don’t have it, but people are quite happy with it.

Simple first step IMO is a Bluesound Node 2i. It’ll play streamed music and all your CDs if you copy them to a hard drive. Simple, effective, and sounds great. You could go even cheaper and use a laptop if you have one laying around. iTunes can be controlled by an iPhone, and you can stream Tidal from your laptop. Connect via usb or get a usb to coax converter like the Schiit Eitr. I go the laptop to Eitr to DAC route.

I’ve heard great things about the Chord Mojo but I’ve never heard it. I’ve heard other Chord stuff and I really liked it. Audition DACs and compare them to the Mojo. You may find the Bryston DAC is better and worth the money, isn’t worth it, or don’t hear a difference. Trust your ears, not someone else’s. I’ve heard the BDA-2 many times and it’s quite good. I don’t have the disposable income I used to have and love my Rega DAC, so I haven’t moved on.

I genuinely think a streamer and digital service is your best bet at this point. What’s the point in a great sounding stereo without much music? Your Mojo is allegedly very good and your turntable is no slouch.

I own a Pro-Ject 1Xpression. Is your Debut the current one (or semi-current) with a carbon fiber tonearm? If so, it appears to more or less be a 1Xpression. There’s ways to easily upgrade it and getting it sound great. The Pro-Je t Speedbox and acrylic platter take the deck to the next level. The Ortofon Blue is a great entry-level cartridge, but it’s entry-level. I have and absolutely love the Dynavector 10x5 (not the current mkII). The price has gone way up since I bought mine, but the combo of the deck, platter, speedbox and 10x5 work quite well. I use the internal phono stage in my B60.

I know you want to stick with Bryston and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love my B60. I’d say get a streamer you really like and a digital subscription first, then a DAC. Play around with the streamer’s interface if you can before you buy. An interface you can’t stand is going to drive you crazy. I think the streamer is going to be the most versatile thing at this point, and everything else around it will be tuning the sound to your preference.

Elizabeth

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Re: One Source
« Reply #3 on: 29 Jan 2019, 03:10 am »
I own a $7000 disc spinner, Two turntables, 2,500 CDs, 4,000 LPs...
IF I did NOT own the CDs, nor the LPs. I would NEVER buy a CD spinner, nor a turntable. I would stream. As is I do not stream at all.
The only thing that makes sense to do without owning any physical media at this point in time is to buy the best streaming devices you can find.
Why would anyone buy a $10000 device to use two items on, then three. well after another month now you own seven.. whoopti doo.. get the picture.

martydmnt

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Re: One Source
« Reply #4 on: 29 Jan 2019, 03:49 am »
Question: If you had to start all over today, which music medium would you choose? 

What are your thoughts and experiences?

Are you looking to build a music collection based on older releases or new releases moving forward?

Older releases? I think it's a no-brainer: CDs are dirt cheap these days used. CD players are typically robust and easy to set up. You can try the BDA-2 with your NAD and see if you like the results, or try the BCD-3, though that's a pricey option if you have zero CDs right now. Or you can output the NAD to the Mojo and see how it is. Poorly recorded and engineered CDs won't sound any better on a more expensive CD player, of course.

New releases? Almost everything is available as a digital download these days. I would say 75% of my new music is digital download (and most of that via Bandcamp as that's where I find music I enjoy). If it's not available as a digital download in at least CD quality, I'll buy the CD.

Last option for me? Vinyl. I'm format-agnostic and new releases on vinyl are just overpriced. Will I pick up used vinyl for $5? Yep. Will I pay $25-35 for a new album on vinyl that's half that price on CD or download? If I knew that the extra $15-20 was going straight to the artist's pocket, then maybe, but I have no indication that's true.

The other option is just to forgo the collection and stream via Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, or some other service. I prefer to purchase the music as streaming royalties are pitiful for most artists.

If you're feeding your Airport to the Mojo, you're covered up to CD-quality (44.1/16) signal. Are you using iTunes? I'm running iTunes > Airport Express > Benchmark DAC-1 > B135. I also have a BDP-Pi > Benchmark DAC-1. I don't know that I could tell the difference between the two in a blind test.

Just curious: what do you feel is missing with your current system? You might want to consider that first as what you have is capable equipment. You might also consider whether tweaking the system setup (speaker location, acoustic damping/treatment, turntable setup, etc.) might give some improvement you're thinking of finding in a new piece of equipment. There are plenty of websites that detail it as well as books like Get Better Sound for room setup and speaker placement, and there's Michael Fremmer's DVD for turntable setup.

skunark

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Re: One Source
« Reply #5 on: 29 Jan 2019, 05:03 pm »
If you like current music, surprisingly it is harder to find songs on CD, seems like digital arrives months before the vinyl and sometimes i havent even seen the CD.    In other words, i think current music will be streaming only, sooner than we like    I would recommend streaming first, and then occasionally buy that CD and record if you find a good deal on a band you like.    If you like older music, and you have a good local record store it can be fun to browse.    I used to do both, but my local store has been a miss last few times.

As others recommend get Tidal or Qobuz, make sure its the plan that will stream lossless and then a good digital player.    It can be the hifiberry+raspberry pi+ifi usb psu combination for less than $150 to start or the highly tuned BDP-3.   

Just avoid the apple tv/airport express devices and streaming services that compress. 

witchdoctor

Re: One Source
« Reply #6 on: 29 Jan 2019, 05:15 pm »
Hey Gumby, I would check out the streaming solutions as well. Tidal and Quboz seem to have the HIREZ streams.
My favorite streaming options tend to be the curated playlists. You can select playlists based on artists or genres. Then these services have algorithms that will also create playlists based on what you listen to. I have been introduced to a lot of great music this way. You can order a HIREZ Klipsch Gate streamer from Amazon for $25 that will stream hirez from Quboz if you want to check it out as well as about a dozen other streaming services. It will also stream files stored on your network. This way you don't need to drop $$$ to test it out. Here is a review from Quboz:

https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/info/Hi-Fi/Bancs-d-essai/Klipsch-Gate-a-streamer-with-great179353

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #7 on: 29 Jan 2019, 05:45 pm »
Hello Everyone,

Thanks so much for your time and detailed responses. 

I just spent over an hour commenting to each response, but then when i finally posted it, the system said i had to relog in, and i lost all that content.  Maybe I didn’t, and i have to wait to get it approved.

The reason this question came about was I recently discovered a Blues album on Apple Music by Larry Carlton and Robben Ford Unplugged.   This album played through the simple AirPort Extreme in compressed Apple Music format, blows away the sound of any of my LPs or CDs.   The recording is so good it kills any physical media i have.   I’m not into jazz or blues, but thought i would give it a listen and man was i shocked. I then thought, what am I doing with this vinyl and cd stuff.     

Therefore, to summarize, the consensus seems to be that i should focus on Streaming as the ONE SOURCE.
I hear QoBuz is coming to Canada.  For now it’s Apple Music, but i will try Tidal Hi Fi again.

That’s kind of a relief because i do love the immediacy and simplicity of Streaming.  Plus, my recent turntable journey has been frustrating, and i dont have local record shops.  I have to trek downtown Toronto to buy LPs. I tried Amazon a few times for LPs and CDs but, they have been a disappointment.  Warped records, cracked cd cases. 

I will start auditioning the best Streamer and Dac i can afford and post my findings in the future.




Stu Pitt

Re: One Source
« Reply #8 on: 29 Jan 2019, 10:55 pm »
I don’t know the album you spoke about, but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t because it was streamed; rather, it was because of the recording and mastering.

There’s quite a bit of debate out there between what is audible between bit rate/frequency or whatever it’s called, ie 44.1/16 CD standard vs 192/24 high-res. But there’s no debate between great recording quality and mastering vs bad recording and mastering.

I don’t own much high-res. And the high-res stuff I own is mastered differently from the CD, so I can’t definitively say one is better than the other because all things aren’t equal.

Don’t get hung up on the SQ of that album and thinking all streamed music is that good. Don’t think it was solely due to being streamed vs physical media. Don’t expect a high-res version of the same album streamed from Tidal will sound 10x better. I own some tracks I bought from iTunes that I later bought the entire physical CD. The CD most often sounded better than the burned iTunes tracks. The iTunes tracks sound congested, closed in, and have a harsh edge in the highs especially. Not a huge in-your-face difference, but definitely enough of a difference for me not to buy tracks and albums from them instead of the CD. I’m pretty sure iTunes streaming music is the same level of compression as their purchase tracks/albums.

martydmnt

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Re: One Source
« Reply #9 on: 30 Jan 2019, 01:31 pm »
\Just avoid the apple tv/airport express devices and streaming services that compress.

iTunes will stream to Airport Express using ALAC (Apple's lossless encoder) at CD quality. It's not compressed to AAC or another lossy encoder. It will downsample higher resolution like 96 and 192 to 44/16 before streaming.

martydmnt

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Re: One Source
« Reply #10 on: 30 Jan 2019, 01:38 pm »
I’m pretty sure iTunes streaming music is the same level of compression as their purchase tracks/albums.

It first converts to Apple Lossless (ALAC), then streams the resulting file. So you'll get CD-quality at the receiving end IF the file was 44/16 to begin with. It's not going to make a compressed file sound any better.

You are also spot on about the recording/mastering/engineering, it's what affects the final sound quality to the highest degree. Unfortunately, it's terrible on way too many releases today.

Stu Pitt

Re: One Source
« Reply #11 on: 30 Jan 2019, 05:51 pm »
It first converts to Apple Lossless (ALAC), then streams the resulting file. So you'll get CD-quality at the receiving end IF the file was 44/16 to begin with. It's not going to make a compressed file sound any better.

You are also spot on about the recording/mastering/engineering, it's what affects the final sound quality to the highest degree. Unfortunately, it's terrible on way too many releases today.
If you stream from your own library, then yes, this is correct.

The impression I got was the OP streamed the album he’s talking about from Apple Music, which is a compressed music service. Basically Apple’s version of Spotify. 

Edit: in the post you quoted, I should’ve said streaming Apple Music rather than iTunes music. I see the confusion now.

john1970

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Re: One Source
« Reply #12 on: 31 Jan 2019, 01:02 am »
If you do decide to go the streaming route be sure to evaluate the streaming interface on your iPad or similar device.  You want to ensure that the interface is easy to use and logically formatted. 

I am also waiting for Qobuz to become available in North America.  Hopefully they are available by March 2019. 

Good luck,

John

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #13 on: 31 Jan 2019, 05:23 pm »
I’ve been playing LPs all day to change things up from listening to the streamer.
 
One irritating feature of a music cloud service, is there’s too much choice. 

It’s so easy to go to your vinyl collection, choose an artist, drop the needle, listen. 

I only have about 20 albums right now, so the choice is much easier than someone who has hundreds or thousands of LPs. 

After listening for four hours now, I notice a smoother more relaxed sweet sound versus listening all day to the cloud. I have no listeners fatigue, which I have experienced with Apple Music.

So, it’s a tough decision.  Choosing One Source. 

I would love to choose Streaming, but I don’t know. 

Maybe a really good Streamer, Dac, and Hi Rez Music Service will give the smooth sound I hear with vinyl. 

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #14 on: 1 Feb 2019, 03:35 pm »
ALEX ONE

What’s the benefit of using a bdp versus a laptop. 

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #15 on: 1 Feb 2019, 03:46 pm »
STU PITT

Bluesound Node 2i:  have you compared it other streamer dacs ?   How does the REGA Dac sound to the  Dac in the bluesound?

Why go with a USB to coax converter?

What would the Dynavector 10x5 mk ii add over the ortofon Blue

Thanks.

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #16 on: 1 Feb 2019, 03:54 pm »
ELIZABETH

I’m surprised you would recommend I focus on streaming, considering the impressive size of your CD and LP collection.  That says a lot towards the benefits of Streaming.  I will take your advice seriously. 

Have you listened to any of your albums on a great streamer ?

Thanks

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #17 on: 1 Feb 2019, 04:56 pm »
MARTY DMNT

I want to build a music collection based on older and new releases. Mainly rock , pop, alternative. 

I tested the Nad CD player connected with the Mojo versus the Nad CD alone.  With levels matched, they sound different, but one is not better.  Maybe if I played a well recorded jazz CD , the better sound would be revealed.  The Nad sounds relaxed, a touch warm.  The Mojo is forward, neutral, revealing.  ...

...Which brings up a related issue and question.   If most rock, pop, is recorded and mastered at a poor to average quality, then wouldn’t a mid-level affordable System like Nad with PSB sound better than a High-end, very Revealing expensive System?

BANDCAMP.  Do you find your digital downloads sound as good as CD ?

FORMAT-AGNOSTIC.  That’s a killer phrase.  I might get that on a T-shirt.  It’s true, new viny is expensive. Which is why one has to take the decision to go Vinyl seriously. Everything about analog can become expensive.

I prefer to purchase music as well. iTunes is simple, easy, and has most music.  If iTunes and Apple Music can sound as smooth and full as LP and CD the decision to go Streaming would be easy. 

WHAT I FEEL  IS MISSING FROM MY CURRENT SYSTEM:

1. All the things reviewers go on about...huge depth of soundstage,   flesh and blood presence ,   instruments having their own space.   Are these things myths?  Or are they only found on Jazz, Classical recordings?

2. Poor recordings are not enjoyable.  Should a source with tubes be considered?  Or an amp more on the warm side of neutral?   

Thanks

alexone

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Re: One Source
« Reply #18 on: 4 Feb 2019, 07:48 pm »
ALEX ONE

What’s the benefit of using a bdp versus a laptop.

Gumby,

many years ago i had a laptop for music playback purposes. nothing really bad to say about it but when it comes to sound quality i'm pretty sure (now) that a BDP is the way to go. it simply sounds MUCH better!! on top of that a BDP is much easier to handle. take your smartphone, tablet, laptop or even a handheld remote to control it. i don't want a laptop to be the 'digital' source in my setup again. right now i have my laptop on top of my lap while i'm answering your question and the BDP plays wonderful sounding music...that's the way it should be, if you ask me :thumb:

al.

Gumby

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Re: One Source
« Reply #19 on: 4 Feb 2019, 11:28 pm »
ALEXONE

My plan was to use a laptop or iPad connected to a great Dac.  But I’m gad to read the Bdp gives a much better sound than a laptop.   I’ll include it on my; to audition list.  If I’m mainly streaming, would you recommend the Pi over bdp3?  Did you compare other digital players? 

I’m curious how vinyl digitized and played with the bdp would sound.  Is it worth doing that?