Originally Posted by Sceptre
I can honestly say that I prefer the sound of a CD from my Cyrus DVD7+ straight to the Slee Solo better than from ALAC to Duet and then to Slee.
The sound is simply fuller.
Guys, in most cases, you do get what you pay for. Straight from iPod is fantastic for the price and mobility. An Amp with LOD helps but nothing comes close to the CD home unit I run.
I'm keen to get either the Q7 Dac or PSX unit to improve the sound even more.
CD (or DVD Audio) is still my preference for chosen albums, but iPod wins for portability.
I think you're hearing the coloration from the opamps in the output stage of your cd player, ie: "warmth." I think "you get what you pay for" went out the window with the rapid advancement of digital technology, which got to its point of diminishing returns about 10 years ago. I think that window fell right off the house, taking the whole wall down with it, with the development of global markets.
I think all bets are off, and you have to spend a whole lot of money to get a DAC that sounds audibly better on 16-bit files (all Redbook cds and rips of them) than a basic modern 16-bit chip built into the average audio component, whether that's a cdp or an iPod or a stand alone DAC. I think a DAC converts bits to volts that were converted from volts to bits in the studio and that its job is to do that accurately, and they do, well within the limits of our ability to hear it. That's not to say there is no difference between the sound of various digital devices, it's just to say that it is probably not the DAC.
I think audiophiles spend a tremendous amount of money to subjectively adjust the tone of their systems with their choice of components, not that there's anything wrong with that. What's wrong, or at least inaccurate, is believing that their choices are objectively superior because they spent more money.
Last but not least, I think your mileage may vary.
I'm listening to lossless files right now, through a Trends UD-10, a reasonably well designed and built digital transport that's core purpose is converting USB to optical, digital coax and digital balanced output. It has a basic 16-bit Burr Brown DAC in it, pretty much as an afterthought, to feed a headphone out. It doesn't even have RCAs - I have to use a cable that goes from a mini headphone jack to RCAs to feed my amp with it, which feeds my HD580s. It sounds really good. As good as the Toshiba DVD player I have with a 24/196 upsampling DAC in it. As good as the portable iRiver cdp I have that was widely reported to be comparable in quality to entry-level high end home CDPs when I bought it a few years ago.
Someone will, no doubt, come along soon to say that my equipment is the problem, that something in the chain is compromised enough to render the differences inaudible. In absolute terms, they are right, but very few of them have equipment resolving enough to hear the difference either. They hear little differences color. They hear little differences in volume. I think they imagine much.
Put your money where your ears are - in the cans.