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This can't be right - my CD's digital end seems to affect sound quality more than expected - Page 4

post #46 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregorio View Post

 Power supply is only really an issue for those few extreme audiophiles. The design of a unit has to be really seriously incompetent for the power supply to affect the digital audio data itself. It's entirely possible that a power supply could introduce some jitter but nothing which should be heard and certainly nothing that could be heard if the DAC's jitter reduction circuitry is functioning correctly. Top class jitter reduction circuitry probably costs around $30 and good enough, probably half that.

Those USB-SPDIF are obviously useful for format conversion but when it comes to jitter they are effectively curing a problem which doesn't exist. As jitter is removed by the DAC.

G


Thanks - wasn't sure about how that worked. I know more about how sensitive some embedded systems (cars, mobile phone networks, etc) can be when it comes to power supply, so that's where I was coming from.

 

I'll make sure to borrow some converters rather than buy them, as I'd have a hard time believing the Nuforce HDP DAC is flawed. (Classic 'my new stuff can't be broken' defense!)

 

post #47 of 64

I really like reading stuff like this. Another thing to try is the difference in sound between a Mac and a PC. I only have the ability to use USB from a Mac or PC to the Icon by Nuforce. I also use an ancient Rega CD player with RCAs. I would try and see if I could hear a difference using the digital out of the CD player into a DAC but the Icon is limited in that regard.

 

I have found that everything sounds a little different. Some believe Mac has better USB implementation than PC USB implementation. The other interesting thing is different playback software each has it's own color too. I have not tried this but I would believe that optical out of a Mac would sound a little different than optical out of a PC.

 

What we are really getting at here in this complete thread (ya, I read the whole thing) is color. Each audio player weather it is a computer program or a CD player has a different color which is placed into the sound. Because we read the pages on line and send perfect PDF files all over the world daily we have come to expect that digital is bit perfect and should always sound the same. We know that it does not and the first thing we start to try and control is volume. Volume output can somehow change things more than you would think at face value. I don't want to start the same old back and forth that fills 20% of the pages at Head-Fi and never gets anywhere. I just want to say that in my experience every device, every cable, every piece of equipment changes the sound. This is a double edge sword as half the time we get an improvement and half the time we do not. Sometimes the changes are giant and at times only slight. The facts are that even though much is quantifiable, much is in an area not so easy to just write in simple number values.

 

Ordering a wine from a company will start with descriptions of sweet or dry, they may use a fruit to help the description. You may even read how it is like another popular wine sold in many areas. The truth is you never can really tell if you like the wine until you buy a bottle and taste it for yourself. We can send the bottle to the lab and they can give us pages and pages of the chemical make up. We can even run a spectrum graph of many of the elements in the bottle of wine. No matter what though at this point in history we still have things which pass undetectable in the way of testing. A CD player is made up of different elements than a computer. They have some processes alike but for every process alike they have a different way of processing the digital signal thus a different color. The wisdom here is really how on earth could they sound the same?  


Edited by Redcarmoose - 9/1/11 at 9:27am
post #48 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

I really like reading stuff like this. Another thing to try is the difference in sound between a Mac and a PC. I only have the ability to use USB from a Mac or PC to the Icon by Nuforce. I also use an ancient Rega CD player with RCAs. I would try and see if I could hear a difference using the digital out of the CD player into a DAC but the Icon is limited in that regard.

 

I have found that everything sounds a little different. Some believe Mac has better USB implementation than PC USB implementation. The other interesting thing is different playback software each has it's own color too. I have not tried this but I would believe that optical out of a Mac would sound a little different than optical out of a PC.

 

What we are really getting at here in this complete thread (ya, I read the whole thing) is color. Each audio player weather it is a computer program or a CD player has a different color which is placed into the sound. Because we read the pages on line and send perfect PDF files all over the world daily we have come to expect that digital is bit perfect and should always sound the same. We know  that is does not and the first thing we start to try and control is volume. Volume output can somehow change things more than you would think at face value. I don't want to start the same old back and forth that fills 20% of the pages at Head-Fi and never gets anywhere. I just want to say that in my experience every device, every cable, every piece of equipment changes the sound. This is a double edge sword as half the time we get an improvement and half the time we do not. Sometimes the changes are giant and at times only slight. The facts are that even though much is quantifiable, much is in an area not so easy to just write in simple number values.

 

Ordering a wine from a company will start with descriptions of sweet or dry, they may use a fruit to help the description. You may even read how it is like another popular wine sold in many areas. The truth is you never can really tell if you like the wine until you buy a bottle and taste it for yourself. We can send the bottle to the lab and they can give us pages and pages of the chemical make up. We can even run a spectrum graph of many of the elements in the bottle of wine. No matter what though at this point in history we still have things which pass threw the way of testing. A CD player is made up of different elements than a computer. They have some processes alike but for every process alike they have a different way of processing the digital signal thus a different color. The wisdom here is really how on earth could they sound the same?  


Yey - this is excellent to hear. Thanks for the post. I was a bit disappointed early with how complacent (for the lack of a better word) some of the initial response was to my OP, and thought that maybe it was just my strange brain that finds this stuff interesting (it wouldn't be the first time).

 

post #49 of 64
I think we have to be careful with statements about color particularly when it comes to digital audio but even in the analog side of the chain. As a rule in digital audio, nothing (except the music stored in the digital data) should change the color. If it does, there are only three possible explanations: 1. Flawed design of a component, 2. A malfunctioning component or 3. Inaccurate perception of the sound.

We can apply these same explanations to the analog side but with a little more flexibility. For example the most non-linear part of the chain is the transducer. We could say that if a speaker or cans are coloured then it has a design flaw but we should also consider that it's almost impossible to make perfectly linear transducers and having a coloured transducer is often desirable anyway, particularly if we are trying to counteract non-linearities as perceived by the ear when wearing cans for example.

G
post #50 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregorio View Post

We could say that if a speaker or cans are coloured then it has a design flaw but we should also consider that it's almost impossible to make perfectly linear transducers and having a coloured transducer is often desirable anyway, particularly if we are trying to counteract non-linearities as perceived by the ear when wearing cans for example.

 

Or in speaker design given how this may become a question of design choice: more optimally linear but harder to place in a normal room, or less linear but easier to place in a normal room (whatever a 'normal room' may mean). What the speakers have that cans (who suffer from the 'ear' dilemma) don't have, is the challenge of how the sound waves interact with the room. This is obviously why some prefer to go 'studio' and dampen their rooms accordingly, while others prefer the 'this is how the music would sound if they stood in my room' feeling. Studio level dampening has odd effects on the perception of many (given that few spend much time in rooms with such acoustic properties) while they obviously measure closer to the ideal.

 

post #51 of 64

My silly old Rega Planet has a color I feel. Years ago the write ups stated that it may even put a very slight amount of reverberation into the RCA out. I figure this is the Rega house sound and these tricks the digital builders use are colorations placed into the signal which maybe cover drawbacks or just add emotion to the music. My PC to USB to the Nuforce Icon has a completely different sound in the bass area of the music. It almost sounds slow and weak where the Mac to USB to Nuforce Icon sounds almost as if it has no issues there at all.

 

The most warmth and authority which maybe even emulates what the OP first wrote about in post one, comes from the CD player and RCAs out to the Icon. I don't try and figure this stuff out as I don't have the means, I just enjoy it for the freedom of having choices. Sometimes I like one setup and other times another. Each listening experience is a little different and I try not to be too critical looking for perfection only because it's music and something to be enjoyed and not looked at under a microscope. 

post #52 of 64

Can you show me the perfect guitar? There is just many 1000s of different ways to make a guitar. None correct, some better, some bad, some warm, some bright, some dark, some loud and some quiet. 

 

Cd players are also musical devices and the manufactures each make them with different parts. In an amazing way, a stand alone CD player is a mini stereo. It has almost every aspect of a home stereo in a little box. If your saying every CD player sounds the same and all has the same color, you are really saying that every stereo sounds the same. We know the answer to that question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 1. Flawed design of a component

2. A malfunctioning component

3. Inaccurate perception of the sound.

 

 

If every CD player sounded the same people would never buy a different one. They would never upgrade.

 

1) So they are all of a flawed design? 

 

2) They are somehow malfunctioning and we don't know it?

 

3) Oh we forgot how to listen to music so we need another CD player?

post #53 of 64

I assure you, there is absolutely no magic going on with Mac USB. I assume you have both computers configured correctly for bitperfect audio? The Mac in particular has a tendency to resample to one sample rate last I checked, especially with iTunes.

post #54 of 64

Yes, only one sample rate out for I-tunes. My Mac could be the most uncolored thing I use for digital. It really is a good question as to why the PC sounds like it does. I think I will throw my wife's PC in the loop with the same software and songs and try and see what's up. I really wonder why I-Tunes and Foobar2000 sound different out of the same PC. This is the stuff I wonder about even when I read about  somebody here on Head-Fi with a boatload of equipment playing files with Winamp as their front end? Maybe each computer system plays stuff another way? Winamp sounds really bad when I compare to Foobar2000. I have spent time trying to dial each program in to their perfect settings?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

I assure you, there is absolutely no magic going on with Mac USB. I assume you have both computers configured correctly for bitperfect audio? The Mac in particular has a tendency to resample to one sample rate last I checked, especially with iTunes.



 

post #55 of 64

Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Cd players are also musical devices and the manufactures each make them with different parts.

 

 

 

Uhm... I'm having a hard time understanding this. I mean it would be different if you were using it in a context of music production à la a DJ's turntable or a computer's synth software, but in regards to PLAYBACK music, I have absolutely no idea how one could place a CD player in the category of tools used to produce music. Am I just misunderstanding what you were articulating?

 

post #56 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

 

Or in speaker design given how this may become a question of design choice: more optimally linear but harder to place in a normal room, or less linear but easier to place in a normal room (whatever a 'normal room' may mean). What the speakers have that cans (who suffer from the 'ear' dilemma) don't have, is the challenge of how the sound waves interact with the room. This is obviously why some prefer to go 'studio' and dampen their rooms accordingly, while others prefer the 'this is how the music would sound if they stood in my room' feeling. Studio level dampening has odd effects on the perception of many (given that few spend much time in rooms with such acoustic properties) while they obviously measure closer to the ideal.

 


I agree.

I too have seen audiophiles try to deaden their rooms out in the mistaken belief they are somehow making it more studio or anechoic chamber like. Studios were sometimes designed that way 30 or 40 years ago but since the 80s the ethos has changed. Modern studios employ some damping (to control low frequency buildup) and and quite a lot of diffusion. Diffusers do not absorb sound they reflect it but the direction of the reflections is random to avoid standing waves or cancellations. So the ideal recording studio is not dead at all (0.4 - 0.6 RT) but it has hopefully quite a flat frequency response.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Can you show me the perfect guitar?


Sure, it's the guitar which produces the sound the guitarist is after. In other words, a guitar is just a pretty piece of wood with no intrinsic properties of it's own, until it is played by a musician. In my experience, the better the musician the better that piece of guitar shaped wood sounds.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Cd players are also musical devices and the manufactures each make them with different parts.

Mmm, can't really agree with this though. A CD is just an electronic device with a fixed purpose. It reads digital information and passes it to a Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC). The perfect CD player is one that reads the data and reconstructs the analogue waveforms in a perfectly linear manner. There are different methods of approaching this engineering challenge and therefore different components used by engineers to achieve this goal. But the digital transport, source and DAC should be transparent. It's the musicians, recording engineer, producer and mastering engineer, in other words the humans involved who create the music, who give art to the sound waves. Your CD player does not know the artistic intentions of the artists involved in creating a recording and should not try to interfere with it. If you want colour get a tube amp or worse still EQ it but let me put it this way, if you went to a gallery to view a Picasso or Turner would you want to wear pink tinted sunglasses while viewing or would you want to try and see what the artist intended? Personally I go for a transparent system every time.

G
Edited by gregorio - 9/1/11 at 12:42pm
post #57 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregorio View Post

I agree.

I too have seen audiophiles try to deaden their rooms out in the mistaken belief they are somehow making it more studio or anechoic chamber like. Studios were sometimes designed that way 30 or 40 years ago but since the 80s the ethos has changed. Modern studios employ some damping (to control low frequency buildup) and and quite a lot of diffusion. Diffusers do not absorb sound they reflect it but the direction of the reflections is random to avoid standing waves or cancellations. So the ideal recording studio is not dead at all (0.4 - 0.6 RT) but it has hopefully quite a flat frequency response.

 

I'm quite glad this is the direction things have gone in, particularly as diffusion is so much more accessible in living rooms and libraries where it's common to have the speakers set up. I always had the feeling with some (that shall remain nameless) studios that they didn't understand what some of their artists were actually doing and trying to convey. It's like going to a trendy place for a hair cut; everyone comes out looking roughly the same, but with slight variations due to shifting hair quality. I may be wrong, but to me it felt like these studios were doing their mixing in a setting that never really translated as intended into most listeners rooms and I suspected damping to be the cause. Granted, today I have other stuff that annoys me as way too many of the modern mixes sound flat and lacking in dynamics, with most instruments at very close levels rather than actually using variances in levels of instruments to promote the music. Less is more, and nuances is life. It's also ok to play in forte fortissimo even if you're not in an orchestra, darn it (stronger emphasis censored). 

 

I guess the musicians should care about this more, and so on. Unfortunately, among the ones I know that make a living from music - they either don't know much more than 'this sounds bad' or 'wow - cool' (similar to how no musicians can dance, for some weird reason), or are on the other end and refuse to listen to anything but live music played by ppl in formal clothes as that's how they are used to listening to music during their work days... (/rant off)

 

Edit: Gah - I'm taking my own thread OT. Someone give me a warning or something!


Edited by Trasselkalle - 9/1/11 at 1:30pm
post #58 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

 

I'm quite glad this is the direction things have gone in, particularly as diffusion is so much more accessible in living rooms and libraries where it's common to have the speakers set up. I always had the feeling with some (that shall remain nameless) studios that they didn't understand what some of their artists were actually doing and trying to convey. It's like going to a trendy place for a hair cut; everyone comes out looking roughly the same, but with slight variations due to shifting hair quality. I may be wrong, but to me it felt like these studios were doing their mixing in a setting that never really translated as intended into most listeners rooms and I suspected damping to be the cause. Granted, today I have other stuff that annoys me as way too many of the modern mixes sound flat and lacking in dynamics, with most instruments at very close levels rather than actually using variances in levels of instruments to promote the music. Less is more, and nuances is life. It's also ok to play in forte fortissimo even if you're not in an orchestra, darn it (stronger emphasis censored).


Recording studios are part of a manufacturing industry and like manufacturers in other industries you find some who make high quality bespoke products and some which are more like a factory production line. Add to this the "loudness wars" which is usually dictated by the musicians themselves or record labels under the impression that loud and over-compressed sells more than quality and you end up with many recordings which are flat and lifeless. Remember though that recording studios are not really designed to create a mix which translates well, that is the domain of the mastering studio.

Sorry to continue OT!

G
post #59 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregorio View Post

Add to this the "loudness wars" which is usually dictated by the musicians themselves or record labels under the impression that loud and over-compressed sells more than quality and you end up with many recordings which are flat and lifeless. Remember though that recording studios are not really designed to create a mix which translates well, that is the domain of the mastering studio.

 

As a non-professional, I oversimplified. You're quite correct on both accounts - thanks for clearing that up.

post #60 of 64

I am largely a "science" guy when comes to audio. I use Belden cables. I build my own gears when practical. I was a skeptic on big bucks digital transport. To me a bad SPDIF trasmission is one that pops and crackles, a good transmission is one that is, well, doesn't pop and crackles.

However in the past few days I got my first DAC (always been a CDP guy). I compared 2 transports that I have with coax cables, I was kind of surprised to hear what I hear. None was obviously flawed, as in they don't pops or crackles or have any obvious artifacts, but they sounded different. One is thicker sounding (more low mid), another was thinner and crisper.

Assuming that one sounds correct, and the other doesn't, what is this "correct" sound that I should look for? One seems to have more top end and another seems to have more bottom end in frequency response. In terms "objective" parameters, like details, frequency extensions, or harshness, I don't find one to be superior to the other, or at least not enough to tell them readily apart. What is most obvious to me is the sound signature.

Both uses Belden 1694A cables, albeit one is 1' long and the other is 3' long, all terminated with the same plugs.

On one of the transport, I compared the coax to its toslink output. the coax is and more low mid dominated than the toslink. The toslink is closer sounding to the other transport using coax.

I hope someone can provide me with an explanation, or possibly what to listen for when judging the quality of a transport. However what I don't buy is, a digital transport can be tweaked for a certain subjective sound quality, like a manufacturer imparting a house sound like they do to an analogue circuitry.

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