Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
Aug 22, 2021 at 8:19 PM Post #80,731 of 84,886

Alcophone

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This is a very thoughtful and detailed response on every point. I don't have much to add other than I appreciate ya.
Sehm.

Actually I do have one point: Mike says he now prefers Unison USB to toslink, and he knows *way* more than I do, and I defer to that.
I think he always disliked TOSLINK compared to other SPDIF types, but stopped saying that coax is better than USB, true.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 8:39 PM Post #80,733 of 84,886

Ripper2860

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LOL! @Ripper2860 left that here. I'd send it to him, but the shipping costs more than buying a new one.

How many times must I tell you that the Hello KItty portable stereo is not mine?? This is mine and I'd appreciate it if you returned it. :unamused:

s-l600.jpg
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 9:16 PM Post #80,734 of 84,886

JamminVMI

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Nah, the professional distillers here in TX do a fine job. That's some DIY I don't have to dabble in.
Truth. I have some Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky here that sez so…
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:00 PM Post #80,735 of 84,886

r2muchstuff

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I've enjoyed the past week's discussion of finishes on audio gear. While sound quality should, IMO, be the most important factor, I don't see anything wrong with having personal taste regarding the appearance of one's gear. I worked with a guy a year ago who bought this system because he liked how it sounds but mostly because he loves how it looks. Good for him. And yeah, it looks cool to me, too.





Anyway, thanks to all who have contributed to the subject while doing so politely & respectfull

IMHO and experience - This reminded me to comment on 1970s Pioneer aluminum finishes. They varied. Each model change had a different finish. Texture and color varied. Examples: SA 100 is not the same as SA 900; SA 9500II series differs from SA 9800 series; Spec 1, 2, are not the same as a Spec 4 (introduced later than 1 & 2); The lines of SX Receivers including but not limited to SX 990, SX 939, SX 1250, SX 1280, SX3600, D7000 are all dissimilar. The face of the rack shelves have a unique look from all gear. Even within a model series some variation occurred. Most often lower end vs high end, tape deck vs amp. This was mostly controlled (generally a SA 9500/TX 9500/SG 9500 all match well).There was never one finish. Of course most series variation was on purpose to show off things changed. However, I feel that variation among 9500, 9500II and Spec series maybe not... and it is slight. In the rack system shown I would expect three, and depending on the CT F1000, maybe four versions. Add one more for the rack bits.
We expected variation and in collections like the photo above it really does not distract form the Rack of stuff. So it is with Shiit. JMTC & IMHO.
 
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Aug 22, 2021 at 11:03 PM Post #80,736 of 84,886

tincanear

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I wish people who claim this would be more specific, because I'm simultaneously curious and skeptical.

Which transport and which streamer? Or do all transports sound better than all streamers? Which digital output was used (both coax, both TOSLINK or a mix, same cables or a mix)? Into what DAC? Which streaming service was used, with what quality settings (and volume normalization, etc.)? Which CDs and which tracks? Was it definitely the same master or is there actually no difference for some tracks? Is the streamer connected via WiFi or Ethernet? Does it matter whether you're actually streaming from the internet vs. a local device over the network vs. some storage directly attached to the streamer, e.g. a USB stick?
Is anyone who is claiming this by chance using the streamer's DAC and the CD player's DAC (obviously not you since you said transport)?

I have a Bluesound Node 2i and the Schiit Yggdrasil and various other DACs. Should my Samsung Blu Ray player (BD-H5900) with coax out sound better already? Or what's a transport that someone found definitely superior to the Node 2i?
Obviously using my USB Blu Ray drive with a laptop is not advised, right? Heh, maybe that would even work with the Node 2i.

In my case, the Node 2i is connected to a TOSLINK switch, which is connected to a MUTEC MC-3+ USB reclocker, which feeds the Yggdrasil via BNC. Starting with the MUTEC, everything is powered by an Audioquest Niagara 1200, while the switch and streamer are powered by a Furman PST-8D. Given this amount of treatment and electrical isolation, would you still expect any CD transport to sound much better?

I'll probably try Schiit's transport when it comes out, since I am curious, but I'm certainly hoping the difference is negligible because streamers are substantially more convenient and don't make mechanical noises like a spinning disk drive.
if the BD-H5900 has both a coax (RCA) S/PDIF and streaming over wifi capabilities, why not compare the two pathways (direct to yggy via a RCa coaxial rg-59 type cable, and via wifi or ethernet to the bluesound node 2i) using a CD (preferably with made with real acoustic instruments and/or minimally processed vocals) and see if you can hear differences.

FWIW, I have tested coaxial RCA vs toslink both output from the same old sony CD player to Bifrost Multibit (gen 1) and the two interfaces sound very different, with the toslink being 'fuzzier' and less focused than the coaxial rca connection. Mike was/is definitely right about this.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:07 PM Post #80,737 of 84,886

earnmyturns

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The best advice I can give you is to get yourself a CD transport and listen to the CDs directly. You will be amazed at how much better it sounds compared to streaming.
It really depends on where you get your bits from. There's no fundamental technical reason for a streaming transport to sound worse than a CD transport. But you have to choose wisely and listen carefully.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:21 PM Post #80,738 of 84,886

earnmyturns

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I'm an engineer but not the audio kind.
I would trust FLAC ripped to USB, but I also like to patronize Schiit and I think Unison USB is the ......well....

less noise is always always better than more noise.

EDIT: Maybe I'm conflating some stuff, but if you watch the Golden Sound YouTube videos on MQA, you'll catch my drift I think re: trusting the streamers.
Sorry, you are really conflating many different things and likely confusing the folks who haven't looked into the fine print. First of all, you need to separate streaming services from streaming hardware. Services may or may not use particular digital coding choices (such as MQA on Tidal). Services also depend on the quality of the network connectivity to your streaming hardware. Now for streaming hardware. Typical gear is able to stream either from streaming services or from local files. Once the bits arrive to the streaming hardware from whatever source, they are buffered to produce whatever your DAC requires. A well-designed streaming box is no less able to provide a properly timed digital signal for your DAC than a good CD transport. But yes, a random PC running a lot of other stuff and using an electrically noisy USB out is not the best friend of your DAC. Schiit Unison and the USB receivers of a few other DACs do a good job of dealing with iffy USB sources, but they can only do so much. Personally, I use Pi2AES AES, S/PDIF coax, and I2S with different DACs including Yggdrasil, and in many comparisons this relatively inexpensive source has shown its worth.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:35 PM Post #80,739 of 84,886

Alcophone

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if the BD-H5900 has both a coax (RCA) S/PDIF and streaming over wifi capabilities, why not compare the two pathways (direct to yggy via a RCa coaxial rg-59 type cable, and via wifi or ethernet to the bluesound node 2i) using a CD (preferably with made with real acoustic instruments and/or minimally processed vocals) and see if you can hear differences.
I think you're suggesting putting a CD in the BD-H5900 and accessing it on the Node 2i over the network, to then feed it to the Yggdrasil, correct? If it's just about playing the same content, all my CDs are ripped with dbPowerAmp and saved as FLAC files on a USB stick attached to the Node 2i. Currently the Blu Ray player is not hooked up to my network (though that would be easy to change), I suppose this way it comes closer to a transport in terms of noise due to extra circuitry doing things (like announcing itself on the network and such).

I'm assuming nobody is suggesting that the sonic benefits of CDs translate even when streamed over the network, but then again some people swear by their records even when played via Bluetooth or going through a DSP, so I feel the need to double check.

So I could certainly do:
A) CD > BD-H5900 > coax > Yggy
B) Ripped CD > USB Stick > Node 2i > coax > Yggy

The point of my original question is still to understand what exactly others are talking about when they say CDs are better than streaming, though.

FWIW, I have tested coaxial RCA vs toslink both output from the same old sony CD player to Bifrost Multibit (gen 1) and the two interfaces sound very different, with the toslink being 'fuzzier' and less focused than the coaxial rca connection. Mike was/is definitely right about this.
Interesting to hear. I did compare all digital inputs on my Yggy (except for USB, which is still Gen 5) fed by the MC-3+ USB (itself fed via SPDIF, which is important since it resamples the USB input, but leaves SPDIF intact), expecting AES to win, but found coax via BNC to be the best. I don't actually remember what concrete differences I heard, but I heard some. I can hear the objectivists face palming as I'm writing this.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:41 PM Post #80,740 of 84,886

Alcophone

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Sorry, you are really conflating many different things and likely confusing the folks who haven't looked into the fine print. First of all, you need to separate streaming services from streaming hardware. Services may or may not use particular digital coding choices (such as MQA on Tidal). Services also depend on the quality of the network connectivity to your streaming hardware. Now for streaming hardware. Typical gear is able to stream either from streaming services or from local files. Once the bits arrive to the streaming hardware from whatever source, they are buffered to produce whatever your DAC requires. A well-designed streaming box is no less able to provide a properly timed digital signal for your DAC than a good CD transport. But yes, a random PC running a lot of other stuff and using an electrically noisy USB out is not the best friend of your DAC. Schiit Unison and the USB receivers of a few other DACs do a good job of dealing with iffy USB sources, but they can only do so much. Personally, I use Pi2AES AES, S/PDIF coax, and I2S with different DACs including Yggdrasil, and in many comparisons this relatively inexpensive source has shown its worth.
That's actually a good point, "CD transports sound better than streamers" is not the same claim as "CDs sound better than streaming", since streaming could indeed be from a noisy gaming PC and whatever else. I would not be surprised if a quality CD transport sounded better than a random gaming PC hooked up via USB (especially pre Unison) or possibly the built-in TOSLINK out, despite the electrical isolation.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:41 PM Post #80,741 of 84,886

zstokes

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Sorry, you are really conflating many different things and likely confusing the folks who haven't looked into the fine print. First of all, you need to separate streaming services from streaming hardware. Services may or may not use particular digital coding choices (such as MQA on Tidal). Services also depend on the quality of the network connectivity to your streaming hardware. Now for streaming hardware. Typical gear is able to stream either from streaming services or from local files. Once the bits arrive to the streaming hardware from whatever source, they are buffered to produce whatever your DAC requires. A well-designed streaming box is no less able to provide a properly timed digital signal for your DAC than a good CD transport. But yes, a random PC running a lot of other stuff and using an electrically noisy USB out is not the best friend of your DAC. Schiit Unison and the USB receivers of a few other DACs do a good job of dealing with iffy USB sources, but they can only do so much. Personally, I use Pi2AES AES, S/PDIF coax, and I2S with different DACs including Yggdrasil, and in many comparisons this relatively inexpensive source has shown its worth.
Hey, thanks.

you’re a gem. Stand up person.

have fun, I’m out.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 11:57 PM Post #80,742 of 84,886

tincanear

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I think you're suggesting putting a CD in the BD-H5900 and accessing it on the Node 2i over the network, to then feed it to the Yggdrasil, correct? If it's just about playing the same content, all my CDs are ripped with dbPowerAmp and saved as FLAC files on a USB stick attached to the Node 2i. Currently the Blu Ray player is not hooked up to my network (though that would be easy to change), I suppose this way it comes closer to a transport in terms of noise due to extra circuitry doing things (like announcing itself on the network and such).

I'm assuming nobody is suggesting that the sonic benefits of CDs translate even when streamed over the network, but then again some people swear by their records even when played via Bluetooth or going through a DSP, so I feel the need to double check.

So I could certainly do:
A) CD > BD-H5900 > coax > Yggy
B) Ripped CD > USB Stick > Node 2i > coax > Yggy
if the CD rip > FLAC was encoded at a higher sample rate/ bit depth other than 44.1K/16, and/or the Node 2i resamples everything, then the comparison is not just about the interface, but the upsampler (Node 2i's vs megacomboburrito) as well. you might want to note that sampling rate and multiplier indicators on the Yggy for option A and option B tests. There might be some additional settings on the blue ray player to output the 44.1K/16 on the s/pdif coax as-is or upsample it to 48 or 96K

(added)
Gen 5 USB input modules for Bifrost OG / Gungnir / Yggy have the electromagnetic isolation to help reduce noise from the USB source, but don't have the dedicated PIC32 processor of Unison input modules.
 
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Aug 23, 2021 at 12:17 AM Post #80,743 of 84,886

Alcophone

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if the CD rip > FLAC was encoded at a higher sample rate/ bit depth other than 44.1K/16, and/or the Node 2i resamples everything, then the comparison is not just about the interface, but the upsampler (Node 2i's vs megacomboburrito) as well. you might want to note that sampling rate and multiplier indicators on the Yggy for option A and option B tests. There might be some additional settings on the blue ray player to output the 44.1K/16 on the s/pdif coax as-is or upsample it to 48 or 96K
I made sure that the FLAC files are encoded as 16/44.1 (but set compression to max), and the Node 2i is a champ when it comes to passing on the bits unmodified, at least superficially (in terms of sample rate) - even for Amazon Music HD, unlike the Windows app, or the Fire TV Stick app, or the Echo Link, apparently.
I also disabled the volume control and tone controls in the Node 2i. What I'm less sure about is the weird "Audio Clock Trim" feature, but it sounds like if there are no drop outs, all is well.

Screenshot_20210822-210659_BluOS.jpg

I have a Topping E30 hooked up to the MUTEC's TOSLINK out, plainly as a user friendly sample rate indicator since both the Yggy and the MUTEC prefer to communicate in morse code, so to speak (the E30 just gives me an illuminated number that I can comfortably read from the couch).

But when I'm testing this, I'll actually record the output with a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 Gen 2 first, using Acon Acoustica, which can record bit perfectly via ASIO. And I wrote a tool to trim the WAV files so I can literally compare them bit by bit with Total Commander.

If that checks out, I can do listening tests. Otherwise, there's no point.

Ugh, no way to switch back and forth with a remote. Oh, well.
 
Aug 23, 2021 at 12:51 AM Post #80,744 of 84,886

dhcarquinez

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The best advice I can give you is to get yourself a CD transport and listen to the CDs directly. You will be amazed at how much better it sounds compared to streaming.

JC
Thank you for the reply, but I seldom listen to ripped CDs. I play actual CDs on a Marantz player with a well-regarded DAC chip, which I now skip. I now use coax digital out from the Marantz transport to my Bifrost 2. But I have endless hours of lossless FLAC files which I won't burn to CD, hence my queries about bit-perfect play from a PC.
 
Aug 23, 2021 at 1:34 AM Post #80,745 of 84,886

Alcophone

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I thought when playing digital audio from any PC that the goal was to keep the OS out of it, avoid upsampling, and stream "bit perfect" to the DAC. Windows doesn't make that easy to do, so I'd appreciate any advice.

I seldom listen to ripped CDs. I play actual CDs on a Marantz player with a well-regarded DAC chip, which I now skip. I now use coax digital out from the Marantz transport to my Bifrost 2. But I have endless hours of lossless FLAC files which I won't burn to CD, hence my queries about bit-perfect play from a PC.
Ah, now I understand your comment. My response was limited to streaming apps on Windows, where for Spotify/YouTube/Amazon Music HD setting the sample rate of the Windows output device is your only option, so I'd set that to the highest bit rate that the DAC supports*, the exact sample rate of the material, disable all enhancements, max out the volume and hope for the best.
For Amazon Music HD specifically it's tedious to adjust the sample rate for each track, and since the app picks the highest quality version supported by your device, it's easiest to just set your output device to 24/192, and Amazon Music HD should always pick the highest quality version available for each track, and sadly Windows will do some upsampling if the track isn't 192 kHz. But even within the same album there can be tracks with different sample rates, so until Amazon starts taking things seriously and implements exclusive mode including automatically setting the sample rate based on the track, that's what I'd do.
Qobuz and Tidal already support exclusive mode and set the sample rate as needed, so that should be bit perfect if enabled.
Spotify is always 16/44.1 for music, possibly 16/48 for podcasts with videos, not sure.
YouTube is 48 kHz (not sure if there are exceptions, but the stats for nerds feature in YouTube can tell you) so you could consider setting the sample rate to 48 kHz when the material seems worth it.

But for local files you want software that can use exclusive mode just like Qobuz and Tidal can. Personally, I use foobar2000, either with ASIO output if the driver supports that natively (iFi, Topping) or WASAPI event mode, though Schiit's Unison USB is rather finicky with WASAPI event mode unless you use just the right non-default WASAPI buffer settings, so WASAPI push mode might be easier - but my understanding is that that makes it synchronous, not asynchronous.
There's also the KS (kernel streaming) output plugin, but I think that ultimately uses WASAPI under the hood, not sure. I think ASIO4ALL also uses KS under the hood.
Fun fact: there's a Spotify plugin for foobar2000 that works by logging into Spotify in foobar2000, then copying a playlist URL in Spotify and adding a "location" in foobar2000 (using the playlist URL). This way you can play Spotify content with exclusive mode, and use all of foobar2000's plugins, like EQ, resampling, spectral analyzers and what have you. A bit clunky, but a neat option in my book. Might be more worth it when Spotify Hifi is finally available (lossless, but still CD quality only), until then foobar2000 will happily decode Ogg Vorbis for you (Spotify Premium doesn't seem to use MP3).

Then there's paid for software like Audirvana and HQPlayer. The latter is famous for supporting lots of different filters for upsampling, which could be interesting to explore, but with most Schiit DACs there will be an extra upsampling step to 352.8 kHz (for multiples of 44.1 kHz) or 384 kHz (for multiples of 48 kHz), with the exception of Bifrost 1 and Modi Multibit, which don't go beyond 192 kHz. Some people like to use NOS DACs for that so that they are in complete control of the filter. Especially interesting with Holo Audio DACs since they support 1,536 kHz (at least the Spring 2/3/May) so you can use filters comparable to what a Chord M Scaler uses.

And there are more options that people like, including playing indirectly via a Roon server, or a network endpoint for HQPlayer (like the iFi ZEN Stream), or a streamer with DLNA support (like BluOS devices and many more), DANTE as a virtual sound card over the network, and more.

*regarding the highest bit rate, in some cases the DAC can receive 16, 24 and 32 bits, but may still operate at 24 bit internally, which I think Schiit's DACs do, so I typically set 24 bit since I'm unsure whether 32 bit uses integers (like 16 and 24) or floating point numbers (32 bit WAV files use floating point numbers), which generally speaking can cause issues where a whole number like 5 suddenly become, say, 5.0000001 (which is why some financial applications use integers and calculate with whole cents instead of fractions of dollars). However, after reading this answer, it sounds like all 24 bit integers can be exactly represented by a 32 bit floating point number, so 32 bit is probably completely fine.
Anyway, unlike sample rate conversions, using a higher bit rate is unambiguous and perfectly reversible, so it's perfectly fine to send 16 bit audio to a DAC that is set to 24 bit.

Hope that was what you were looking for, and as always, corrections are quite welcome.
 
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