Digital Music. Direction and advise wanted.

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Sound Dragon, May 18, 2017.

  1. RockFanatic

    RockFanatic Member

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    I think we're just getting started in what I believe is a high fidelity renaissance. Right now there are too many formats, codecs, etc. and too many links in the chain. Not that you can't get great/pure sound but it's expensive and complicated. Also buggy at times.

    There was an article in Stereo Review magazine many years ago named Source and Speakers. The philosophy was modern electronics, amps, source (CD) players, etc. were fairly neutral and had a minimal influence. Except for under powered amps, Source and Speakers determine how enjoyable your hifi experience is. I still believe that but things aren't so simple any more.

    I've always attempted to get my somewhat modest systems to reproduce the music as it was intended to sound. Easier said than done without some sort of reference level. We have a tendency to listen to music the way we like it to sound. I try and sometimes fail to do that. (tweaking my gear to get it the way "I" like it) I always go back to my default mode. If the source, recording, master, etc. doesn't sound good I don't listen to it. Too much great stuff out there to waste my time and energy chasing that carrot. I'd rather look for the best source material that sounds good with as little processing as possible.

    I think in the next year or so things are going to get much, much better and far less costly. Let the high fidelity battle begin. Also, look for Spotify to go CD quality. All those shitty remasters with zero dynamic range and harmonics mixed to sound listenable with compressed formats will hopefully be a thing of the past. Compressed audio is the worst thing to happen to music in my lifetime. The de-evolution of high fidelity. Things are definitely looking up though. IMO
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  2. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    I am using a 30 watt class A amp - many would that that is underpowered. It just depends.....

    Many of the new remasters are the exact opposite of what you suggest - again it just depends.
     
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  3. RockFanatic

    RockFanatic Member

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    As far as your amp goes I guess that would depend on the speakers. I had a pair of AR-3a's and the were power hungry. Sure they'd play without a lot of clean power but it took a lot to actually drive them. And you're right about some of the remasters. I'm actually a huge fan of them. Just many are remastered to sound good In compressed formats. Not a big fan of those. I'm not sure what type of music you like but give a listen to Roxy Music - Avalon. 1999 Digital Remaster. I know that's an older remaster but it sounds fantastic.
     
  4. ldatlof

    ldatlof We are all steak Subscriber

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    The renaissance is already here. My amp is 3.75 watts of class A power. The OTs are $12 each. My DAC is $59 and is from China. My pre-amp is from China too. I am very happy with sound I get from .flac files which I ripped from my CDs (I used EAC). Spotify doesn't sound too bad either. I am not expecting reference sound from Spotify.

    IMO it is not that hard to set up a great sounding digital front end without spending too much $$$ especially if you are willing to use Linux. BTW, I would love to hear that Peach II. I once heard an Extreme and it was awesome.
     
  5. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I would not put too much stock into that Stereo Review article. Amps, sources and all parts of the chain play a large part in how everything sounds. Go and listen to a top notch system and then report back.
     
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  6. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So far the Peach has been a real anchor for this system. It has such a musical presentation but can do Audiophile if called upon. The system as a whole has synergy and that is so critical to this whole endeavor. I am not building this system to be a reference system per se, but I need it to reproduce the source accurately while remaining musical. Does that even make sense?

    Anywho, some changes are in the works which should bring me closer to my goal on the digital end. I have committed to buying a fellow Akers iFi Dac Mini and associated power supply and cables which I hope will elevate my Digital playback to that higher level I am seeking. I will abandon the HAP Z1 purchase for now as I gamble on trying to make the Mac and Dac combo work. After hearing a good friends digital rig and experiencing quality digital playback, I felt the need to upgrade this part more pressing than before.

    I have also buckled after spending a good chunk of today trying to make a USB restore flash drive and failing. I have purchased a snow leopard restore disk from Apple to get the MBP back up and running. The RAM has not arrived yet either so I will have the whole thing put back together by the end of the week. Along with the iFi Dac and stuff, It should be a real treat. I have a backup MacBook to use in the meantime so the tunes will continue.
     
  7. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well I am still not back to digital tunes just yet. I forgot what a massive pain in the ass upgrading any OS can be. I also want to make sure that I do not load or install a bunch of crap that I do not need. The SSD install was a pain too as I managed to tear the HD connector ribbon. luckily I had a spare or it would have been a wait to get the replacement part. The RAM installed easily enough. I wonder if I should have just gone ahead with the 16 gigs of RAM even though it allegedly would only recognize 8. well 8 should be enough for my needs.

    The iFi DAC should be here this week so I hope to have this MacBook project up and ready for testing out Music playback and library applications. I have a solid small test library of FLAC files already loaded on a Fire-wire G-Raid drive. I should have thought that purchase through a bit more though. It will most likely need to be upgraded to something larger in the not so distant future if I plan on staying with FLAC. I believe these drives can however be daisy Chained though so that is always an option. either way it will require some thinking and reading to figure out. They look really cool though and are solid drives that just don't quit.

    I am really looking forward to starting on the software side of this project. And once its all set up I hope to be able to leave it alone for a good while. Wishful thinking I am sure. My other concern is how involved I will have to be when ripping my music. I am not sure ho far I want to go with creating file folders. Initially I have it filed by artist for testing purposes. I am not sure if I want to take that a step further and create sub folders based on actual albums. on the one hand I like the idea of having everything organized for easy searching. But it really slows the whole process down to a crawl. i think though that it may be better to do the work now rather than regretting it later.
     
  8. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So the Hardware portion of this upgrade is complete, Not sure why I am updating this but maybe someone besides me may find it interesting. The MBP was much more of a pain to get back up and running as I stated earlier, but it is working great now and oh so fast! Looks like OS X El Capitan is as far as I can go. Though rumor has it that I could trick it into installing Sierra. Not sure if I want to tinker further or just leave it be. I really want to get on with the software tryouts.

    On another front, The iFi DAC and Power supply and Gemini and Mercury Cables. After wrapping my brain around the thin set of instructions and overcoming a slight set back, I got music to play. AND BOY DOES IT PLAY! It sounds phenomenal! Clear and clean with such dynamics. I may be a convert to this digital filtering thing. I mean the Peachtree DAC was no Slouch by a long shot. But this iFi Stack is just plain better. And at 3 times the cost retail for all pieces it should be.

    Much more listening to be had for sure. For now though just enjoying some Pandora While playing some tunes.
     
  9. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Playing with ROON and Tidal tonight. I feel like a kid who jumped in the deep end of the pool for the first time. Sound is incredible and the integration is a bit overwhelming. This is going to take some getting used to. On the bright side, The iFi Dac and power supply combo along with the iFi cables have really elevated my digital playback. It does not have the musical warm sound of my vintage Sony x777es but not much sounds quite like that. It does however match and probably exceeds my DVP 9100 es on redbook.I will play some high rez files during my more in depth sessions this weekend.

    If I can get the hang of this set up, I may just stay here for a while.
     
  10. +48V

    +48V hi-fi or die

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    With time you'll dog-paddle your way around most of the pool. Seek an edge and enjoy...soon you'll be kicking and stroking all about an incredible universe of music and options.:)
     
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  11. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    It is always a good idea to sit with a new system a while.
     
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  12. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So I have been so busy playing with Tidal through Roon that I have neglected to RIP more music. Admittedly it has the same appeal as watching paint dry so I can't be too upset with myself. I have noticed however that Roon does not always recognize greatest hits or best of compilation albums and will instead organize the track to its actual corresponding album. This is a little aggravating because it will then fill the missing tracks of the album in with tracks from Tidal. This is in theory great as you can save a ton of money by only buying greatest hits albums and ending up with full discographies. But it is not a true representation of your actual music library and I am honestly not sure how I feel about that.

    maybe I should have tried Roon on its own first before signing up for Tidal. On the other hand and with the exception of artists that are not on Tidal, one could essentially not by any more music and just stream it. As long as you have a Tidal membership, you have music. This Digital experiment has forced me to reassess how i want to pursue music purchasing moving forward as an unintended consequence. I should be happy with this and simply refocus on Vinyl for media purchases moving forward. But I have always had an affinity for owning my media and I am unsure if I want that to change.

    Also experiencing some growing pains as I fumble through the Roon application itself. In some ways it is straight forward and in others it is a bit complex. The Core server and the remote are not always in sync about whats playing. I may have moved on to another album but the screen still shows the previous one. Either way, Tidal is a hit with me and will most likely be staying. If I can master its radio station feature, I may even abandon Pandora. The real bright spot in all this continues to be the iFi Nano and power supply along with the iFi USB cables. I have had a few instances where I lost connectivity to the DAC from the MBP. The weight of the cables in the USB port has me thinking of bracing it some how to lessen the strain on the USB port on the DAC.
    Thanks for the advice given so far. I hope to have this part of the system locked down somewhat so I can pivot towards the analog side.
     
  13. prisoners

    prisoners AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Congrats on reaching a stopping point with the hardware. Had I seen this thread earlier I would've chimed in about how much I love my HAP-Z1ES and how it's become my main source by far and how well it incorporates Spotify and how I no longer worry about computer OS issues or wi-fi drops and how for someone who already owns/likes Sony ES gear it's a perfect companion and how considering the cost of a quality DAC you get so much more with the Sony (whew!!).
     
  14. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    But the Sony DOES have a OS, it is just an embedded system and you don't see it. but it can and will eventually break and that means it has to back to Sony.
     
  15. prisoners

    prisoners AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    OK, but a non-user accessible anything that can fail applies to almost everything in this hobby. I was referring to all the other software options that have their strengths/weaknesses and may or may not play nicely with Mac/PC hardware. Sony has a self contained playback system that just works without all the fiddling. It's plug and play.
     
  16. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Honestly, If Sony would open up to having more streaming services primarily Tidal this would have been a no brainer for me in purchasing the Hap Z1 es. I mean its beautiful and my love of ES components should be well known by now. I may well revisit the HAP Z1es, as I ranked it higher than my other streaming box choices. For now though the MBP and at least Tidal will remain. I plan on trying Pure by Channel D next week and Jriver after that before settling on one. Roon has its strengths but it is not without weaknesses.
     
  17. FoolForARadio

    FoolForARadio AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Look into Sonicorbiter SE and the like. It is, I think, a pretty noisefree Ethernet to usb converter. It is Roonready, which is what I use, but it also supports other streaming softwares. Have fun!
     
  18. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Enjoying Roon and Tidal for a brief free moment of respite which is rare these days. I am hesitant to give up this Roon and Tidal combo as it sounds so good. But I would like to see if I could get by without Roon. I find that most of my listening has been using Tidal and so if nothing else, Tidal stays. I am not super thrilled with what Roon does with the music
    Library.

    The next software trial will be Pure. I have high hopes for this application since it uses iTunes to database the music library and I am well acquainted with iTunes already. It handles the music playback and processing. I hope that It has a light learning curve as the trial periods are short and my time is just too limited to tweak to much. There is something to be said about plug and play capability.

    Well that's all for next week. For now a nice sit down with Sting singing his greatest hits. 20170617_144630.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  19. enginedr

    enginedr Well-Known Member

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    I am using Pure Music and like it . Made to work well with I Tunes I have not tried it with Tidal yet I have a large Redbook
    lossless library . The Pig is also using it .
     

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