Originally Posted by Redcarmoose
Amazingly each piece of software has a different sound. I cringe when I read people use Winamp. Foobar is great. The only time I can degrade Foobar's performance is if I play around with the EQ too much. I think Macs have a better sound in my set up which uses USB conections. I know USB is not the best as I read many are getting better sound using optical or digital to get the signal to the DA converter/amp. So maybe in some ways the connections to the DA may have more affect than the software. In the end I get better sound out of a 11 year old CD player. In many ways computer audio is a waist of time.
Better sound and optical digital are an oxymoron. Optical is hopeless. It's the worst possible format you can use. I believe that for both PC and Mac, USB is as good as it currently gets, although the Weiss DAC202 does make a strong case for FireWire. Even the very best sound cards from Lynx and RME with custom AES output cables fall to the Audiophilleo, JK Hiface, Off-Ramp, and presumably the Alpha USB as well, at least when using something like the SoTM card. The only exception is the Merging Tech Mykerinos sound card, which I know very little about. It's only sold through very few select dealers.
I don't think computer audio is a waste at all. Its dominance is inevitable. DVD-A is effectively dead, and only a few audiophile labels are still producing SACDs. Music Blu-ray discs are little more than an oddity. Surround sound music was a failure. The future is FLAC, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all. Try Foobar, JRiver, XXHighend, cPlay, and JPlay, and if you're unhappy with all of those, there are an equal number of audiophile spec programs for Mac. Devices like the Sonore PC servers or the Mach2Music Mac Minis make it very easy for people without a computer background to give it a try.
The efforts by traditional companies like Bryston to make servers I don't think are that great yet, but they are still early generation products. Give them a few more years, and I think they will get very good at it. Companies are still trying to perfect the turn table after all, and the earliest roots of vinyl go back over 100 years.
The CD simply cannot last much longer. Labels like MFSL and DCC were able to achieve amazing results with 700MB and 16/44 to work with, but even the very best belt driven CD transport is not THAT different than a computer. We just need to make better computers. Look at the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. The line between CD player and computer with that is pretty blurry. Rather than spend buckets of cash on a VRDS drive that has to try to get the read right the first time in real time, the PWT uses a cheap DVD drive that just reads over and over until it gets it right. The actual playback is done from memory, just like a computer.
Edited by DaveBSC - 11/8/11 at 3:43am