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Is everything about plugging in to a confounded computer?!?!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Collective!

 

Thanks to you guys and gals, I'm now full-on into either 'Hi' or 'pretty decent' Fidelity music.

 

So - my situation and epiphany - I only ever used to listen to CDs directly, as I refuse to prostitute myself to Mp3 bit-rates and the like.

 

Then I discovered things like .wav files - so that is how my CD collection now exists.

 

Then I discovered the Colorfly C4 - fab as a portable source yes, with headphones - BUT - because of its coaxial digital output, it now feeds my home cinema receiver and speaker system beautifully (decent Mission floor-standers at the front).  So now I have a fantastic 'living-room-based' system, pure digital.

 

SO - I feel that using a portable player as a source is a bit of a botch - what if I wanted a decent living-room-based source for this set-up, you know, a proper source unit?

 

As far as I can tell, is what I'm supposed to do is get a laptop with my music on it, plus a 'DAC'. So we're talking USB output to the DAC.

 

I'm sorry - but having a stupid computer in the equation just feels too much of a botch, fine for 'karaoke', but no more.

 

I don't want to go back to CD players, as the convenience of large files storage in one place is just too good.

 

So what does the HiFi nut do if they want a decent digital source for their home amp and speakers?

 

 

Also - whether you're talking laptop as source or whatever - for the scenario where you have a source and then a DAC - what is it actually doing the 'playing'?  For example - I could feed my current amp either via the Colorfly C4, or via a laptop/USB - will it sound the same? Would not the superiorness of the C4 have a bearing on what comes out of the speakers? I'm talking comparatively here - so of course the speakers and amp itself will limit 'quality' - but surely using the Colorfly versus a laptop must make a difference?

 

If not - then it's not actually the 'source' that does anything - it's just a dumb bin for data - which the amp then 'plays'?

 

Please educate me, and answer all questions posed!!

 

 

All your help and erucition appreciated!

 

As it is, I'm stuck with having to plug the Colorfly in each room where there's an amp - I want a proper dedicated solution, and which can communicate digitally with the amp - preferably coaxial.

 

 

Arif


Edited by ArifC3 - 1/13/14 at 6:12am
post #2 of 9

You can find dedicated music servers - Sooloos, Weiss, etc. - but they're basically going to be less user friendly than a computer.  I'd say get a mac mini and control it with an iPad.

post #3 of 9
post #4 of 9

Yeah.. its a slight learning curve... I use a Mac (hackintosh) with Audirvana controlling iTunes. Most of my library is in ALAC format with the occasional mp3. Lots of hide stuff too. 

 

I can control my library through my iPad or iPhone... I use all Mac because Im a web designer/ Art Director and Apple Rocks... Actually its a PC running mac, and I game on PC, Steam. Love gaming!!!

 

Just imaging having access to 10,000 songs at your finger tips. Its awesome! 

post #5 of 9

Is everything about plugging in to a confounded computer?!?!

 

I'll throw in a semantics monkey wrench. What isn't technically a computer nowadays? :D

 

I get home, slot the device in the dock, switch on the amp, then sit down.

*

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArifC3 View Post

 

SO - I feel that using a portable player as a source is a bit of a botch - what if I wanted a decent living-room-based source for this set-up, you know, a proper source unit?

 

As far as I can tell, is what I'm supposed to do is get a laptop with my music on it, plus a 'DAC'. So we're talking USB output to the DAC.

 

I'm sorry - but having a stupid computer in the equation just feels too much of a botch, fine for 'karaoke', but no more.

 

I don't want to go back to CD players, as the convenience of large files storage in one place is just too good.

 

So what does the HiFi nut do if they want a decent digital source for their home amp and speakers?

 

Technically speaking, even a dedicated music server is a computer, just more specialized. I've seen some dedicated PC audio servers still for some reason using a Core i7 when its marketing blurb says it's specialized for music; others use a simpler (and cheaper) processor and of course are more focused with the software (not to mention its own screen on the chassis itself) that it won't require more power to run faster.

 

In any case if you want a really focused device you can start by checking these out:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=music%20server&sprefix=music+ser%2Celectronics&rh=i%3Aelectronics%2Ck%3Amusic%20server

http://en.auneaudio.com/html/en_products/NewDesign/s-series/126_12.html

 

Some of these can take either an external HDD or other USB sources, and even SD cards. Others can be hooked up to the home network, even wirelessly, and as long as you have a media server external drive hooked up to the router, you can access all music stored in there.


------

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArifC3 View Post

 

Also - whether you're talking laptop as source or whatever - for the scenario where you have a source and then a DAC - what is it actually doing the 'playing'?  For example - I could feed my current amp either via the Colorfly C4, or via a laptop/USB - will it sound the same? Would not the superiorness of the C4 have a bearing on what comes out of the speakers? I'm talking comparatively here - so of course the speakers and amp itself will limit 'quality' - but surely using the Colorfly versus a laptop must make a difference?

 

If not - then it's not actually the 'source' that does anything - it's just a dumb bin for data - which the amp then 'plays'?

 

Please educate me, and answer all questions posed!!

 

 

All your help and erucition appreciated!

 

As it is, I'm stuck with having to plug the Colorfly in each room where there's an amp - I want a proper dedicated solution, and which can communicate digitally with the amp - preferably coaxial.

 

 

Arif

 

The player, whether it is a PC/MAC, smartphone, or tablet, etc, does the playing. It reads the files, regardless of what comes after. Using it as a digital server just makes it a replacement for a dedicated CD transport (or a CDP if you hooked it up via its SPDIF output) in a system that has a separate DAC - it sends out a digital PCM (which can be out of compressed or ripped lossless files, which needs to be processed to output such) or DSD signal to the DAC through SPDIF or USB, which then decodes the 11000000011100101000101000000010100110101010101101001011000010111100000010101010000101111001010111 signal into an analog waveform, which then goes out into the amplifier. The sound ultimately is determined by the DAC, unless one such digital audio server whatever device it may be has some flaw in its implementation or design that the digital signal has too much jitter or has noise in it (or limited to some sampling rates and bit depth).

 

Also, many devices nowadays integrate a DAC and headphone (or even speaker) amplifier in the same box, sometimes with separate power supplies; some may be better at one than the other, but of course that doesn't mean a good DAC with a weak amp can't do well with efficient headphones or that an amp with what seems like an "afterthought USB DAC" like the Meier amp in the photos won't be a good enough DAC (I prefer it over a bunch of CDPs, including the Rega Apollo and Planet). In any case, teh source unit whatever it is still does the playing, the DAC does the digial to analogue conversion, then the amplifier amplifies the signal to get the right amount of voltage and current to run a headphone or speaker.

 

In your case, with a coaxial input, you have both a DAC and Amp in the same box. Any number of the devices Ive linked to above - and many others still - have a coaxial SPDIF output that can feed the digital signal to that. However, if what you need is to have one such device feeding more than one room where there is an amp-DAC or receiver with a coaxial input, that will be difficult - you'll either still lug around the music server into each room with an amp (what it can do remotely is access a server HDD or Cloud). You could probably use the computer, hook it up to some kind of SPDIF distribution box, and then hook up all those Amp-DACs into that. You can then use a tablet or smartphone as a remote for the computer's music player.

 

Alternately, if your amp has analogue inputs, you can set up a wireless DAC system like the NuForce AirDAC. You just hook up the wireless sender to  the USB port on the computer and control it using a tablet, and in each room where you have an amp, you have one of the AirDAC receivers.

post #6 of 9

Sooloos' strong point seems to be the useability of the software, while the audio performance of its (expensive) hardware could be matched, I'm sure, by intelligent choices of Mac/PC plus DAC.


However, it appears that a version of this software is now supplied free on selected HP PCs, as part of the 'HP Connected' package. This might be the best of both worlds, if what I read about how brilliant the Sooloos GUI is the case.

 

https://www.meridian-audio.com/hp-connected-music/

post #7 of 9
Why not stream Qobuz over your iphone or ipad to an Airport Express connected to your DAC via toslink?

17 million tunes, 16/44 (Cd) resolution, convenient and sounds great......
post #8 of 9

a dedicated music server in many cases is better than a cdp at each level now. of course the thing really is just a low spec computer with big hard drive. ssd is even better for music if you want to get anal. multiple big ssds are a nice high end solution now.

of course a turntable is still just that. it sounds different but I am not going to say better at this point. I don't us a tt much anymore. a high end music server is great. you can build the same thing for  a fraction of the price, called a "htpc". it is not as elegant as McIntosh or whatever though.

 

oh, protégé what amp is that? I mean I know what it is but I can't think of it right now,duh.


Edited by music_man - 5/16/14 at 12:29am
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post

 

a dedicated music server in many cases is better than a cdp at each level now. of course the thing really is just a low spec computer with big hard drive. ssd is even better for music if you want to get anal. multiple big ssds are a nice high end solution now.

of course a turntable is still just that. it sounds different but I am not going to say better at this point. I don't us a tt much anymore. a high end music server is great. you can build the same thing for  a fraction of the price, called a "htpc". it is not as elegant as McIntosh or whatever though.


 

oh, protégé what amp is that? I mean I know what it is but I can't think of it right now,duh.


I'm looking forward to big SSDs becoming cheaper and cheaper. Definitely the way to go, as I'm always a little bit worried about my external (disc) drives' reliability.

 

As for a CDP, I haven't owned one for years now. A software player like Foobar2000 just gives you instant access and (if you keep good metadata discipline) great search options.

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