PC or Streamer with DAC?

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routlaw

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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #40 on: 6 Feb 2021, 04:33 pm »
FWIW I’ve never heard of $30 dollar downloads for high res audio. This past week I bought 7 entire albums from HD Tracks for $94 and some change which did include a 20% discount, still far short of $30 each.

Carlman

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #41 on: 23 Feb 2021, 12:43 pm »
Vince,
I haven't seen much change since the early days of music listening via PC to now; other than the introduction of streaming services.
I did the tried and true method of: EAC rip from cd to flac files... then, chose Foobar to listen on a dedicated little PC in my sound room.
I still use this today.  I also use Pandora and Quboz.  I've tried Tidal and Spotify also.   I had a Squeezebox3 at some point in the past.  I found it to be a step up from Sonos but not in the same league as the audio PC.
The latest streaming systems might sound better.

JLM mentioned getting the room/speakers/amp right first... and that is true; it's the right starting point... Everything else is secondary, also true.  But, it's not less important overall when you're trying to achieve your sound.

I spent tens of thousands of dollars getting my room right.. and then many more thousands getting my speakers, amp, preamp dialed in... and was going crazy (more thousands) chasing this weird thing that just 'wasn't right'.  You could also say I was 'learning' but I was really 'chasing'.  But one day I plugged in a DAC on a whim that COMPLETED the sound.  I mean, it just nailed it down.  BAM, THIS is it.  And that's where I've been ever since.  That was over 5 year ago.  So, while it was indeed secondary to get the right DAC, it was one of, if not THE most important moment in my hifi system's maturation. 
(DAC: Light Harmonic LH Labs VI DAC Infinity)

I was reading this thread hoping to find out if anyone mentioned newer players other than Foobar, jriver, or whatever.. but I don't see it.. Looks like the trend is to find an acceptable sounding 'easy button'. 
In my experience, in my primary listening system:
Streaming doesn't sound as good as my flac files directly from a hard drive.  Quboz is better than Tidal, though.  Both are better than Pandora.
Spinning vinyl sounds good in my room but it's a whole different thing from the audio PC.. it paints a different picture with a different medium.
Spinning cd's sounds as good as the DAC can.  But if I listen really critically, I can hear the difference between them... sometimes I prefer .flac file over the spinning cd wav file.
To me high-rez sounds odd.  Kind of overly saturated and sometimes has that 'oversampled' sound.. or causes 'digititis'.  I don't get any more enjoyment out of it compared to 44.1.

My experience and preference changes when we talk about the system in a shared family room, the car, headphones/portable, bluetooth speakers, etc.

But for real-deal, critical listening to music with eloquently presented detail, the system I have works best for me... and is easy enough to show regular people how to use it.

If there is a better solution, I'm all ears!  I am not an IT gadget junky and I'm not 'into computers'... I do technically work in IT, but I use software to automate business transactions... not build machines or that sort of thing.  I call the helpdesk too.  I don't think my setup is that difficult to assemble or support.  It's been working for 15 years without much change.


charmerci

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #42 on: 23 Feb 2021, 02:49 pm »
In other threads here, someone mentioned that the Audirvana music program is so much better. Unfortunately for me, it requires 16gb RAM.

Carlman

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #43 on: 23 Feb 2021, 05:06 pm »
Audirvana sounds like it could be great.  I will do the 30-day trial at some point soon and compare to Foobar... I'm wondering how it'll interface/work with a tablet and PC.. but otherwise, looks good.
Only a direct comparison will reveal SQ differences.
BTW, it says 4Gb RAM is required, 8Gb RAM is recommended for Windows... check out the bottom of this page: https://audirvana.com/product/
Half that for Apple.


viggen

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #44 on: 23 Feb 2021, 06:38 pm »
my opinion is pc is the better solution in terms of price and sq.  but it requires lots of time to do research and experimentation.

streamer is easier to implement.

caveat.  i never used a streamer before but seen some yt vids of streamer tear downs.

guf

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #45 on: 23 Feb 2021, 07:09 pm »
Amplification I am currently using an older Marantz 2270. Turntable is WTL Amadeus Mk1, Dynavector 20x2 with AVA Vision Q phono preamp, running into GR-Research XLS Encore speakers.
I plan on adding a pre amp and at some point upgrading my amplification. For right now, sounds pretty darn good with vinyl.

i was 100% digital for almost 10 years. Constantly chasing all the gear to make my big 7 sound more analog.  Then last year I got a turntable. I LOVE it. I get it now. I'm about 98% analog but for that 2% of the time I want something. My fancy powerful windows computer strong enough to upsample to DSD 512, with HQplayer, to roon, to my dac via mrendu, just stopped working.  Now i'm at a similar place the OP is. I need something. Rebuild the core computer, or go streamer, something easier. The sonic transporter line looks appealing to me.  When my computer is dialed in and using on a daily basis it was great.  Dealing with a windows machine every time I want to listen to music was daunting if not using it regularly.  Instead of making this post about me, i'd suggest to do something simple and practical. no matter how much you spend it is still going to not be vinyl. A modest digital system will amazing. you'll listen and be wowed. Clicking though songs, no getting up...all those  benefits, clean, bright, detailed.... for me, after a couple hours the magic wears off and i'm back to flipping records.

VinceT

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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #46 on: 24 Feb 2021, 04:58 am »
i i'd suggest to do something simple and practical. no matter how much you spend it is still going to not be vinyl. A modest digital system will amazing. you'll listen and be wowed. Clicking though songs, no getting up...all those  benefits, clean, bright, detailed.... for me, after a couple hours the magic wears off and i'm back to flipping records.


I was hoping for something that would be close to vinyl when I broached this subject once I considered this as something I may want to add to my system. Seems the cost to optimize this medium to sound really good seems pretty steep in comparison the a good turn table, cart, and SUT if your going to invest in a specialized computer, good dac, services, etc. . At the end of the day, it still won't sound as good as a record.


I was reading this thread hoping to find out if anyone mentioned newer players other than Foobar, jriver, or whatever.. but I don't see it.. Looks like the trend is to find an acceptable sounding 'easy button'. 


To be honest I can see why. It is arguably not the best sounding platform. To sound it's best it is not the most convenient and also can be very expensive to impliment in order to achieve the highest SQ. I think the compromise at least for me is to get some type of streamer/dac hard wired into my modem with a good software, while not being to fussy for playback for the wife and kids. I would rather continue to invest in vinyl. Having a hard drive full of music is very appealing, the idea of spinning up a computer is not just to play some music while having dinner. The exploratory ease of the set up is also appealing to find new artists and songs. Now like everything else once I get going down this road, I can certainly see this changing maybe once my system is where I want it to be. I remember getting my first turn table about 15 years ago, then the second, then the third, many speaker upgrades later and you know the rest of the story. The kids will inherit the "beginner" dac like they have my technics mk2 turntable.

sailor

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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #47 on: 24 Feb 2021, 05:18 pm »
OP, I am in the same position as you looking for a means of playing digital.

 First, the comment "no matter how much you spend it is still going to not be vinyl"  Well now, am I thankful for that?   :thumb:

Perhaps this poster has never heard good digital.  I have and it is not cheap.

@Carlman: You seem to agree with JLM but then go on to say that the DAC you introduced became THE most important point in completing your system. A excellent DAC you have there by the way  :) and surely can't be relegated to 'secondary' status.

Everything in this game is important and I feel nothing is 'secondary' Yes, GIGO

I attended the XFI Premium Show in Veldhoven, Holland late 2019. I noticed that the number of turntables spinning vinyl had given way to more and more exhibitors using digital for demo. and some of it was stunningly good. Factor in the convenience and the massive choice available and exposure to new artists as recommended by the providers and it's a winner.

Consider too that 3000 albums is gonna take up a whole lot of space, whereas the same number of albums in digital format will take up 2 hard-drives. I do enjoy analogue playback but feel that extracting music from those tiny grooves has evolved about as far as it can. Digital is still advancing.

I encourage you to read as much as you can on this digital thing by visiting other forums too. You will soon come across posters claiming that their turntable has not been used for months and is now for sale.

 

nature boy

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #48 on: 24 Feb 2021, 06:11 pm »
Removed.

guf

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #49 on: 24 Feb 2021, 06:43 pm »
First, the comment "no matter how much you spend it is still going to not be vinyl"  Well now, am I thankful for that?   :thumb:

Perhaps this poster has never heard good digital.  I have and it is not cheap.

Perhaps  :?
There is a Polish company called Lampizator. They have a page on here and other forums, lots of people consider if good, or at least it was 5 years ago. I'm just sharing my experience-- maybe not as expansive as yours.

charmerci

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #50 on: 24 Feb 2021, 07:29 pm »
My suggestion is just to get an ordinary computer or laptop - maybe you already have an extra one you can use, buy a Topping E30. It's super easy, inexpensive and will sound reasonably nice just to get going. If it's too much of a bother, then you won't have wasted too much time and money. If you like its potential, then you can improve it step by step at your leisure.

VinceT

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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #51 on: 24 Feb 2021, 10:45 pm »
Perhaps  :?
There is a Polish company called Lampizator. They have a page on here and other forums, lots of people consider if good, or at least it was 5 years ago. I'm just sharing my experience-- maybe not as expansive as yours.

Yes, currently looking at used tube dacs. Not Lampy 's tho, not quite ready to take that financial plunge just yet.

VinceT

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 176
Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #52 on: 24 Feb 2021, 10:48 pm »
My suggestion is just to get an ordinary computer or laptop - maybe you already have an extra one you can use, buy a Topping E30. It's super easy, inexpensive and will sound reasonably nice just to get going. If it's too much of a bother, then you won't have wasted too much time and money. If you like its potential, then you can improve it step by step at your leisure.

I do have some old desktops, without getting too off topic, what player is recommended to get my feet wet?

VinceT

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 176
Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #53 on: 24 Feb 2021, 10:51 pm »
OP, I am in the same position as you looking for a means of playing digital.


Consider too that 3000 albums is gonna take up a whole lot of space, whereas the same number of albums in digital format will take up 2 hard-drives. I do enjoy analogue playback but feel that extracting music from those tiny grooves has evolved about as far as it can. Digital is still advancing.

I encourage you to read as much as you can on this digital thing by visiting other forums too. You will soon come across posters claiming that their turntable has not been used for months and is now for sale.

Yes I noticed that as well, I am sure once I get I to it it will become as important to me as my vinyl playback.  I do like the ease and exploratory capabilities more then anything.

charmerci

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #54 on: 24 Feb 2021, 11:52 pm »
I do have some old desktops, without getting too off topic, what player is recommended to get my feet wet?


Foobar2000 is completely free. JRiver has a thirty day free trial. (It's about $30.) As above, if you have 8gb RAM available, Audirvana is sonically better and I think too that they have a 30 trial period. Audirvana I think does but with JR you can stream via the program.

guf

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #55 on: 25 Feb 2021, 12:29 am »


Yes, currently looking at used tube dacs. Not Lampy 's tho, not quite ready to take that financial plunge just yet.
I meant that for the other guy that suggested I hadn't heard any good  digital  :wink:

KCinSeattle

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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #56 on: 24 Mar 2021, 04:39 am »
Hi:

Came across this post and thought I'd share a serendipitous finding to your question.

For the past 5+ years I was using my PC as a FLAC server, USB output via Belkin Gold USB cable into a tubed DAC / headphone amp in my home office. I was happy. A few months ago I upgraded the DAC/headphone amp to a fully decked out Vinnie Rossi LIO so I could do both FLAC and vinyl playback via headphones. I still used my PC and Belkin Gold.

Well last week just thought I'd try maybe upgrading the Belkin Gold to a "real audiophile USB cable." I get the whole discussion about bits=bits, but I'm also one to trust my ears more than theory. Bought a Curious Evolve USB cable. Plugged it in place of the Belkin between my PC and DAC, and it played beautifully.... for 15 seconds, then silence. Had to turn the DAC off and on, again, music for a minute, then silence. Spent the whole afternoon trying to figure out what's going on, but it seemed that there's something about this cable that made the DAC lose signal lock. Didn't matter if I tried different USB ports, got rid of any upsampling, etc. Plugged the old Belkin cable back in, no problems. The DAC manual does say it has issues if cables are not USB 2.0 compliant.

As an experiment, I do have an older original Curious USB cable in my main system. It sits between an Aurender N100H music server and my main rig DAC. So I took the Aurender and old Curious USB cable to the office, plugged it into the LIO, and voila, no problems. Then put in the new Curious Evolve USB cable, also no problem! So lessons I learned today:

1. There's some strange interplay between DAC receiver processing and the USB source that can be influenced by the cable. Not exactly sure what's going on, but as the computer is relatively new (ASUS ROG H470 mini ITX build, i7) with USB3 ports, I'm assuming the 5V trigger is present and.... honestly, it should have been fine!
2. The very same FLAC files played by the Aurender+Curious Evolved -> DAC is oh-my-god better than the PC+Belkin -> DAC. Examples are some songs by Coldplay, when the kickdrums were through the PC, it sounded quite distorted and almost like my headphones were clipping; now, it just sounds completely natural with DEEP and fast bass.
3. I haven't yet tried the Aurender + Belkin, but I'm definitely a believer that bits!=bits in USB audio protocol. It's just not the same as USB data file transfer.

Carlman

Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #57 on: 6 Apr 2021, 05:39 pm »
KC, I was an early adopter to upgraded/fancy audiophile USB cables because I found the same to be true for my system and others.  Similar to interconnects and power cables, they changed the sound in ways they weren't 'supposed to'.  The usb cable I use today is the same I've had for years, can't remember the name, doesn't matter, it's what worked/still works. 

I've had so many aha moments over the years.  They've really thinned out, though.  Now I'm happy to listen to music and just enjoy it at all.

The most recent aha has been live recorded music, on blu-ray.  I watched a Foo Fighters concert at Wembley 2008... holy cow.  Now THAT's a concert.   I wish there were more musicians with Dave Grohl's spirit/interest in music out there recording their concerts with great craftsmanship.  That is a tough combo to find.

So for me, the real goal I have now is to find live music that was recorded well...  And if I can find a good Blu-ray concert recording of someone at their peak, now that'd be something.  BTW, I have a Ben Fold concert when he was young that is very good too.. not at the same level as the FF concert but still very enjoyable.  Finding this kind of thing in 2021+ is likely much more difficult than finding a good cable, though. ;)

VinceT

  • Jr. Member
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Re: PC or Streamer with DAC?
« Reply #58 on: 6 Apr 2021, 07:20 pm »
A bit of an update from the OP

I have not gotten a dedicated DAC yet, but did get a Denon AVR 4700 which has a DAC. I have been playing around with it just with Spotify, nothing high res yet and can see why folks really like it, and why some have issues with digital playback.

Overall it sounds good. The center image dare I say is better then my phono playback rig which makes me think I need to look more into what is going on there. That surprised me I must say. Either digital media does better in that regard or there is a weak link in my phono set up, or a little bit of both. One critique about digital is the high end harshness especially with cymbals. I can see why people add tubes to warm things up a bit here. There is for sure some digitalness going on with I'd say above 6K that has a a harshness to it that I do not like. These are just some generalities thus far that I have come across. I know the Denon tests relatively well so I think this was a decent entry into digital. I am not sure if I a missing anything compared to like a Topping or Gustard like many have recommended (not from this site), and that being said glad I didn't go that route.