Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register
Decware Audio Forums
04/19/14 at 09:14:10


Pages: 1 
Send Topic Print
Computer vs Transport discusion and information (Read 9945 times)
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Computer vs Transport discusion and information
04/29/11 at 00:20:01
 
There is a lot of discussion about Computer/DAC setups and Computer/DAC versus Transport/DAC as separates or as CD players, including sidelines in threads on this forum. I find it a compelling discussion, and since we have the ZDAC, the choice is there for Decware users. It seems like a subject that could use its own thread, so I am starting this one. In fact the following is basically a fleshed out response to a side discussion in the Zen Ultra thread of the Decware News
http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1301477558/58#58
….please join in with your experiences and opinions.

Here is my simple (haha) take on the question of relevance of computer/DAC versus transport/DAC.

Wink


No matter what circuits or transport mechanism we use to decode and convey CD data, in the beginning, it is just that....data. Our most common choices for turning the data to music with the least compromise seem to be CD players (combined transport and DAC in one box), separate transports and DACS (offering mix and match potential that CD players don't offer), and Computer/DAC combinations. Each individual or combined setup is all about converting the data and making it sound good according to the tastes of the designers and users.

As far as I have been able to tell, the main technical differences between properly done error corrected, uncompressed Computer data taken from a CD, versus CD data through a Transport are as follows. All transport/DACs bring with them the issues are error correction and jitter, issues inherent to transports and the CDs themselves. So the technical difficulty for transports is extracting and conveying the data with as little error and jitter as possible. Then the DAC stuff happens, trying to correct or mask inherent errors and jitter, while converting the data into listenable analog music. Then comes the output section with its technical and sound choices. Choosing circuits and circuit paths brings a designers preferred tonal attributes to the stuff that shows up at the output jacks.

Properly done, with a good computer, error correction software (for extracting and correcting the CD data), and an optimized setup for transparent computer to DAC music serving, the issues of errors and jitter are virtually eliminated. This solves a bunch of the challenge transports bring to the picture. In this we theoretically have as good a beginning as is presently possible to get the CD data ready for the data-to-music conversion. As far as I know there is no technical question here. I can't conceive of any problems with the efficacy of eliminating (for the most part) the errors and jitter, thus simplifying the work of the DAC, and at the same time simplifying the circuit path.

Whether we get good sound or not is dependent on the proper data, equipment design, optimized systems components, system setup, and finally synergy. These are where the technology blends with tastes, both for design and listening.

To make this happen requires allowing our technological biases to shift to an open mind in order to deal elegantly with the details and issues of turning music into data, and then data to music. As with the transition from LPs to CDs, we are a recalcitrant lot, and once we find something we like, we tend to believe it is the end-all, so the digital transition is still not as refined as it should be. A big part of the problem was that we had pretty good sound, especially in the most refined systems with great tables. And most of the rest of the problem was that gear was designed so that tape and LPs sounded at their best.

So when the 44k CD data hit the scene, poorly derived from tape, and played on gear designed for tape and LP, it sounded awful. All the gear from mics to mixers, compressors, monitors, reverbs, and the rest in the studio, as well as what we listened with at home, was made to deal with the triumphs and deficiencies of the original mediums. Tape and LPs have native "warmth"  and compression, but also, they have a seemingly infinite "bit rate," a very particular set of criteria when recorded and reproduced.

CDs are mostly limited to 44K, not enough bits for it to sound like music, and are made and played from a deficient and still developing knowledge base......bizarrely, we still argue over how to work well with 1s and 0s. And our original digital recordings are also put down in bits, usually more than 44k now, but also very, very clean with no inherent compression and relatively noiseless.... This is a very different thing than tape and LP, and requires very different approaches to make it come out like beautiful music. Our heritage of many decades of tape/LP based gear development does not make shifting to digital an invalid pursuit though....As a medium to efficiently capture and convey music as accurately as possible it has great potential.

Wink

So even today, after several decades of digital development, if your desire is to convert to a computer beginning, the general knowledge is surprisingly immature. There are still many questions around the bit data and its conveyance. I have heard the difference between "lossless" compression files and uncompressed files. I have heard the difference between different USB cables. Both of these, some would argue, are delusional perspectives. The word on the net tends to favor the Mac Mini over other computers for a server. Many believe that using an external drive helps the sound. There is debate over output quality….USB, coax, toslink, and SPDIF….Some prefer one error correction software over others……and many more things. The point is that though data is 1s and 0s, how we move that data around and extract and convert it to music is still in relatively young state of development.

Lips Sealed

But I have found that if I dig for information, and experiment with an open mind, there is plenty of information to put together a great sounding rig. And in my experience, like with analog, there is as much need for proper setup, gear choices and the resulting synergy with Computer/DAC setups as there are for Transport/DACs… And since our recent technological legacy is relatively entrenched in making Transport/DACs sound good, the computer setup needs its own considerations and implementations to realize its potential.

And finally, it is always the tastes of the DAC designers that gives us the quality and flavor of the analog out…..the caps and resistors used, chips and clocks, the choice of NOS chips and Upsampling chips (and which ones), outputs sections, and so on. In this, the refinements and synergy of how this is all dealt with is determined by DAC makers tastes. Then, how the preferences of designers and listeners come together puts it in our court.

To me, in the question of transports reading and conveying CD data versus correctly implemented computer extraction and conveyance, there is little doubt that computers have greater potential. With it the DAC gets the best possible data, and there is for the most part, one less link in the chain. This in turn opens the door for the DAC to be designed without having to deal with the longterm issues of Transport/DAC design...jitter and errors.

But it is relatively new stuff, whereas transport design, and how they work with DACs has been refined with much attention over several decades, so it is no surprise that this arrangement can produce amazing music. But thankfully, in recent years, Computer/DAC is getting a lot more attention, and the inherent advantages of this method and ways of optimizing these advantages for making music are slowly being exploited.

And it is not all about the first stage. With a computer there is much potential to go further toward personally refining a system to taste. For example, the ability to apply Digital Signal Processing to the data pre-DAC, a refining potential that can be as clean as the DSP applied to the masters of all those CDs we have, but we can "master" our whole system with it so to speak.

Wink

So I made the leap, partially because I think this is where the cutting edge design is going, but mostly, because I prefer my Mini/ZDAC1 sound and flexibility to my Rega Apollo (a well designed CD player that retails for just a couple hundred less than my Mini/ZDAC1). But I definitely resisted the transition. And, very importantly, I only began to truly appreciate it after I tuned the system to the new sound this brought.

Are there Transport/DACs in this price range that sound this good? There may be, but I don't understand how the transport section can be better than a computer at its main job....the job of getting the CD data to the DAC. What causes quality transports to be good is more likely the refinement of the designers choices in making the problems inherent to transports relatively indiscernible to the listener.

In the end, they are two different things though, and the issues the Computer can eliminate from the matrix, creates a different starting point. So applying a computer front end to a system that had a transport will sound different and perhaps colder and too clean.....but this does not mean the computer is the problem. It more likely means that the computer system, files and cabling are not optimally implemented, or that the system has not been tuned to the source, or a combination.

This ramble is not by any means to say that this is the whole story. I am no expert. It is just the way I have been thinking today as I write this.


Cool
Any thoughts?????
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 6770
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and informatio
Reply #1 - 04/29/11 at 00:42:56
 
Sounds like you're having fun, at the beginning of the exploration. And having fun is what it's all about.

I'm having fun at the end of an exploration and don't feel the need to explore into a new method. I have enough material to listen to the rest of my life even if I live longer than I think I will, and I'm able to enjoy the sound of the recordings, and they inspire me to create a bit of music myself. I'm very happy with the way things are for me in playback right now. And having fun, which is what it's all about. I don't feel the need to move into this different method of playback myself.

I'm glad I've stepped away from a pursuit "of the perfect sound." I've concluded recordings and live music are two different things and no matter how much time and money and energy I throw at it, ne'er the twain will meet, which was some pipe dream of mine for some time. I know how easily I can fall into obsessions and decided it is healthier for me to obsess about how to be a better partner for the love of my life, a better son, a better friend, maybe better at executing some artistic pursuits. I really HAD been tempted to move towards a quest for even mo' better sound, but the Torii and SCD-XA5400ES have shown me a way to be happy with what I have and how to make my collection shine in playback. I'm surprised actually, and willing to be here at this point, happy.

There's my thoughts, but you knew I'd say that. Wink
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 04/29/11 at 00:54:17 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #2 - 04/29/11 at 00:48:14
 
I'm going the 'puter route right now. I'm figuring that I can use my Ipod - Wadia for kick around the house days but my laptop for when I want to really concentrate into the music. I still haven't compleatly figured out how it will be done but I will get there somehow.
I'm open to suggestions also, what is the "right " way. I'm currently just using FLAC files played through Winamp out my USB into my ZDAC-1. Is it the best way? I doubt it. But so far it sounds pretty good to me.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #3 - 04/29/11 at 02:39:31
 
Lon,

I would not quite call this the beginning for me since I have played around as a music player, recorder, and listener for about 40 years! But I get your point, and as Susuki Roshi said, beginner's mind comes with each moment!

I really appreciate that your system has reached a state where you are content to apply most of your creativity in other areas important to you, admirable pursuits indeed! And your thoughts on this forum are always interesting to me, both when they make me think a lot about what I am up to (like the above ramble) and when they point me toward something I want to try in my system.

Wink


Donnie,

I have a Mac, so we would be looking at different stuff, and I could make a post about my particular setup and settings if applicable, but  for the best possible sound with a computer, I think the main things to study are these:

1) Uncompressed error corrected data with the best available software for the job. This is as close to the master as you can get so I saw no need to compromise the sound with FLAC or Apple Lossless compression. I could hear the difference between Error corrected AIFF (Apple's WAV equivalent) and error corrected Apple Lossless when I tested it on my laptop at the beginning of my computer tests, and drives are cheap these days, but a lot of folks like Lossless. You can test that yourself and make your own decisions. I think the lossless compressions cut the files about in half.

2) Next is the software player and computer settings. If you have a player set to do nothing but pass the file data to your USB port, and the rest of your computer sound settings are all off except the USB output path, and that path is set to 16 bit 44.1K (like CD data) you will get the most accurate output. I think the thing is to be sure what hits the USB cable is exactly your error corrected data without processing.

3) Then cables. Since you are using USB, the thing I found is that USB passes power and data, and if I remember correctly, most share wire for these... Alternately, if the sound is on a separate wire, and it and the rest of the cable are protected from the power noise and other electronic interference, you will have less chance of the sequence of 1s and 0s losing anything on the way to your ZDAC. I currently like the Starlight cable from Tweekgeek, as it does this less expensively than most (100) and I heard enough difference to keep it.

3) Also, there is computer noise, and like with cables, this appears to be able to mess with the 1s and 0s as they head for the ZDAC1.

I have not tested this though. There is a lot of consensus out there that the Mac Mini does all this the best for the money, and if you are using a separate drive with the best, it is supposed to be even better, cutting more vibration and noise. Being a Mac user, having our laptop in regular use, and since they were relatively cheap, I just cut to the chase and bought a Mini. I have not tried the external drive yet, but will some day.

4) I put feet under mine too. Seems that vibration in any circuit will mess with the level of audio Decware gives us, so why risk it messing with the stream of 1s and 0s.

I know there is more, but the above has set me into some very happy listening and my contentedness slowed my research and experimentation down! Hope it is of some use.


Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #4 - 04/29/11 at 16:09:07
 
Will, like you, I have a Mac rig, and here is how my office listening rig is set up:

1. Mac mini [2008 1.66gHz Intel Core Duo; 2gb RAM] dedicated to music playback running Fidelia, with iTunes as the back-end library manager.

2. WireWorld Ultraviolet USB out to Audiophileo Model 1 USB-S/PDIF bridge;

3. PS Audio Digital Link III DAC w/ Cullen Stage IV Mods

4. Decware ICs out to Taboo; Taboo to Audez'e LCD-2 cans.

At home, I have the Oppo BDP-95 for BluRay, DVD-A surround, and SACD playback, plus a server with the same files as at the office [another advantage of the server approach is the ability to mirror storage in physically disconnected locations].

I started out ripping ages ago, before I realized how destuctive lossy rips were, and then went back and cranked up to ALC, and then went back and re-ripped, as close to bit perfect as I could all discs into AIFF. For my DVD-Audio, I rip on my iMac running VMWare using DVD Audio Extractor [a really nice program, and worth the fee]. That creates WAV files. Those files, as well as hi-res WAV or FLAC files that I purchase from Linn, HD Tracks, Reference Recordings, etc., I convert to AIFF using Fidelia.

The Audiophileo has a bit perfect test mode, and so far, this setup is delivering that most of the time [I don't stare at the display, but every time I test, the chain delivers bit perfect].

This setup makes for some very sweet music. I have nothing against transports whatsoever, but I find that having 1+ terabytes of music, that a server is one way to keep me exploring it. I can set up playlists that cause me to re-doscover music that otherwise would be sitting in a jewel box. That, plus the convenience, are what drove me to the computer side.

Folks interested in server based setups should check out http://www.computeraudiophile.com . It is an excellent resource. The publisher, Chris, is very knowledgeable, and there are some great FAQs.

Greg
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #5 - 04/29/11 at 17:38:04
 
Greg,

Excellent input! I was hoping for this sort of post in this thread....stuff that is clear and informative and doesn't assume we have all been watching the subject our whole lives! This is what has put me off about the Computer Audiophile forum in the past. Though I have always found good information there, it generally takes a lot of wading through to get near the bottom of anything. So thanks for the homepage link. I have not been there before (DUHHHH!) and I look forward to exploring the FAQs. I will also try to be more patient as I explore the forum with your recommendation.

I have not gone as deeply as you in computer serving, working only from CDs.

I have the Mini only at this point and it is the model just before the latest model design shift, so I have an external power supply that is considerably distanced from the gear.

I am using XLD software, ripping from the Mini disk drive into AIFF error corrected files stored and played from the Mini hard drive. I like to listen to albums, so send and store the rips in a Ripped Music Folder. This folder is designated in the XLD preferences as where to put rips and in the iTunes preferences as my iTunes Media Folder. I make sub-folders named as the albums and drag the fresh rips into them. Then, from an open Finder window, I drag the newly ripped album folder onto the "Playlist" title in the bar in iTunes, installing it as an album playlist there.

The Mini is set up with everything off except the USB to my ZDAC1 via a Wireworld Starlight USB cable. In the Audio Midi setup Utility, the Audio is muted in all ins and outs except the USB going to the ZDAC1, and that is set to 44.1K, 16 bit, 2 channel to match the CD data and ZDAC input. Then I play from iTunes with all of its EQ and the enhancement stuff off.

Pretty simple, and with the ZDAC1 followed by the ZSTAGE, very satisfying!
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 04/29/11 at 17:38:36 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #6 - 04/29/11 at 19:51:45
 
Will, you have a nice setup and workflow. So, are you playing out of iTunes? Looks to me like you are all set for some even higher-res stuff, and I suspect you would enjoy it. The HDTracks and iTrax sites are great sources. The new Stones hi -res releases are very revealing. The ZDAC can certainly handle it.

P.S. Nice USB cable you have there.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #7 - 04/29/11 at 20:39:16
 
Greg, thanks, and yes.....

I play out of iTunes.

Also, I think I would love high res stuff, but we are in the sticks and using a Verizon mobile modem, have limited bandwidth. I bet those files can be very smooth!

Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #8 - 04/30/11 at 03:41:47
 
You should give a listen to Fidelia. I have Amarra, Pure Music, and Fidelia. Each has its advantages, but I prefer Fidelia overall, and it is easily the cheapest.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #9 - 04/30/11 at 15:39:59
 
Greg, thanks for the tip. My initial impressions of Fidelia are good...very smooth. If you get time, I wonder if you could let me know your preferred settings.
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Brett
Senior Member
***




Posts: 69
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #10 - 04/30/11 at 21:17:29
 
I've been using a computer as transport from the beginning of my obsession with this hobby. A computer can transport all forms of digital. Having one machine do it all, and being able to store all your digital media and cue it up quickly is just awesome.

It seems the crux of the argument for 'not all digital transports are the same' is to say that digital data is merely data while it is being stored on a disc or on a computer hard drive. However, as soon as you attempt playback we are dealing with not only the accurate conveyance of digital bits (this is the easy part), but the timing through which those bits arrive. Jitter is the measurement of time related distortion and is measured in very precise increments. So the name of the game is to provide digital bits to the DAC with zero errors, but also with respect to accurate clocking (low jitter).

I'm with the camp that advocates as little manipulation to that original digital data as possible. No oversampling, no compression. Absolutely agreed that hard drive space is cheap so there's no sense in using "lossless" compression. It's important to rip data from discs with few errors so that the ripped data mirrors the data on the disc as closely as possible.

My computer is Windows based and uses Foobar for playback. Different media players have different sonic characteristics, which is rather dismaying when trying to hold onto the belief that everything digital coming out of your computer is the same. Even within Foobar as you try different output ASIOs for kernal streaming (effectively bypassing all Windows OS manipulations) it results in different sound. This, even though supposedly the ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) is outputting bit perfect. I prefer the DirectSound 2.0 ASIO. To me it sounds absolutely neutral and clean.

The great thing about proper USB is that the digital data packets are transported bit perfect without the necessity for clocking. This is why I have a hard time with special USB cables. A standard USB cable can transfer data without error, or else there would be total chaos in the computer world. All USB DACs have a master clock which takes the incoming USB data and then processes it with respect for timing. It is logical to conclude that it's is only after this crucial process of clocking that we need be careful with the conveyance of the digital signal.

USB from my computer is sent to an Empirical Audio Off-Ramp which then clocks the signal using an Audiocom Super Clock 4, and coverts to SPDIF digital output for my DAC to receive.

SPDIF is considered a flawed standard of digital conveyance due to it's method of converting the data bits and clock into a sort of bit clock infusion with the purpose of serving the combined signal as a single bus.

The SPDIF Receiver Chip in the DAC unit then has to receive this infusion and convert it back to the separate data bit and clock streams as it was before the SPDIF convertion. This is because DAC chips generally require that the data bits and clock be delivered through separate buses.

And all this hopefully done without altering the timing of the master clock. There is a lot of opportunity for jitter to creep in in the process of converting to and from SPDIF. The AES/EBU standard is the same process only using balanced interconnection cables. So while an improvement, it is still not ideal.

I˛S is the best means of delivering the digital signal after being clocked since it maintains separate streams for data bits and for clock timing. And it maintains this separation throughout and can be delivered directly to the DAC chip without the need for any conversion to and from SPDIF therefore bypassing at least two chips in the process. By taking out these additional manipulations you have lower jitter and fewer data errors if any.

The Off Ramp has an I˛S output so my next project is to ad a daughter board to my DAC allowing for I˛S input directly to the DAC chip. My DAC doesn't input I˛S natively so a little modification is needed.

Example here http://www.pavouk.org/hw/modulardac/en_ad1865i2s.html

Many DACs have I˛S inputs now.

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/ for Off Ramp info and using computer as transport related info.

Once the DAC does it's thing and you are dealing with an analog signal then it can be handled just as any other analog signal.

Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/01/11 at 04:37:33 by Brett »  
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #11 - 05/01/11 at 02:12:58
 
Brett, thanks for your thoughtful input.

It got me to thinking about several things, and I am glad you broached the jitter thing, though it makes my head ache. I sort of get it, but not altogether. Seems like it can come in many forms, like about anywhere in our electronic and clocking chain.....  the end result being that the data can get there altered/corrupted, or arrive with slightly off timing, ending up with smearing, introducing noise, and raising the noise floor, while causing that chilly "digital" sound. Seems like in audio transmission, errors and how jitter effects data are part of a whole in terms of their impact on our experience of music.

Also, I wonder if the sound difference in new USB cable technology isn't due, for the most part, to reduced jitter....damping and shielding, isolating power from data and whatever else they concentrate on to get the data through accurately and without adding electrical, electromagnetic or mechanical gunk. My guess is that this is the case.

And related to that, isn't computer to DAC data normally in real time, the clock of the computer syncing with the clock of the DAC? Seems different than passing data blocks to a printer or hard drive where the the timing of the 1s and 0s arrival is not so critical due to buffering in  the printer and the hard drive picking up the data and organizing it as it comes in?

Anyway, the technical details are a bit mysterious to me, and I tend to prefer the broader view with listening being the bottom line as refine the sound presentation we love......and however we resolve the issues of making digital data to music, it sure excites me when the end result is blissful absorption in the music! I have no doubt that my current sound is the best I have had and switching to the computer and ZDAC1 (and how they play together) is a notable part of that.

And where your explorations have, and are taking you, are really compelling. The concept of the Off-Ramp sounds quite sound....no pun intended. Do you find that you have solved most of the digital blues with it?
Wink


Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Brett
Senior Member
***




Posts: 69
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #12 - 05/01/11 at 03:20:49
 
The integrity of the digital signal really is such a delicate thing. Same thing goes for a low level analog signal. For a while now I've been thinking about how amplification in an audio playback system is a lot like multiplication in optics. Each amplification stage being like a lens in a really powerful microscope. In audio it is said that the most important component is the quality of the source be it CD or Vinyl. Just as the most important lens in a microscope is the first one. If there is any distortion in the optics of the first lens, then that distortion will be magnified several times by the subsequent lenses. A small imperfection early in the system will become a major problem later on in the chain. Same is true in audio. That's not to say that subsequent stages aren't equally important, but if the first stage isn't up to snuff than you wind up magnifying distortion.

So with this in mind, when we talk about the nuts and bolts of digital data and timing and getting it to the DAC chip in the most pure form, the outcome improvements can be substantial.

In the case of a USB DAC and also with an Off Ramp, the computer sees the component as a sound card and uses the USB cable as a bus through which to feed its data as needed. Audio files are read and data is provided to the sound card according to the time index of the audio file and so yes the rate at which the packets of data are transfered to be clocked by the sound card is probably within milliseconds of the ideal real time playback. And the signal is buffered so that a slight hiccup in data transfer will not result in an interruption of playback. However jitter is measured in picoseconds and there is one quintillion picoseconds within a millisecond. So by comparison, the job of the USB cable is really quite lax.

Another cool feature of the Off Ramp is that it takes the digital signal from the USB cable but operates on it's own power source rather than using the USB power tap. So all that dirty computer power naysayers point out is not an issue here.

Having said all that I have never tried a nice USB cable. And if it makes an audible improvement than my ears are open to it. Stranger things have happened. I'm just reluctant to pay out the money to find out.

I'm really happy with my digital playback. But I've got a long ways to go before being done. Crazy thing is how in depth you can get with it and then realize that it is just a small part of the overall system, each part needing equal attention. We go from talking about digital theory, to vacuum tube amplification theory which is a whole gamut of natural laws in practice. Audio transformers are so cool and mysterious. Then electrical signal to mechanical motion causing sound waves through speakers. And finally room acoustics which is a whole nother science in it's own right. This is why audio is the greatest hobby there is.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/01/11 at 04:25:07 by Brett »  
  IP Logged
Brett
Senior Member
***




Posts: 69
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #13 - 05/01/11 at 04:56:15
 
Here's a visualization of the separate components of a digital audio signal (I˛S) as the DAC chip sees it.



Continuous Serial Clock (SCK)
Word Select (WS)
Serial Data (SD)

As you can see the clock (SCK) is referenced quite separately from the data. The DAC chip uses this clock timing to put all the pieces together with proper reference to time as experienced by the recording artist when the music was created. Each peak and dip of the square wave is like the tick and tock of a clock.

Any how thanks for starting this thread. As you can see I really enjoy pouring over this stuff.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #14 - 05/01/11 at 16:21:03
 
When I was running my system on an Apple TV, before I got hooked on hi-res files, I considered putting an Empirical Audio Pace Car re-clocker on The ATV. Info here: http://www.empiricalaudio.com/products/pace-car-reclocker

It was impressive the difference that re-clocking, and by extension, asynchronous USB, can make. Taking the computer "out of the clocking business" is huge. In the end, I decided not to invest that kind of money—let's be honest, most high-end audio product makers are not as focused on value as Steve—in a system tied to the ATV. And I am glad I didn't. The Audiophileo is a huge improvement for me, and to my ears, reminds me of the effect I heard when I listened to a Pace Car. Detail, clarity, and air all improved.

For my next DAC, the Empirical Audio USB DAC is on the short list with the W4S, Ayre, Metric Halo and Cosecant. All are asynchronous; never going back. That's he only thing that keeps the ZDAC off the list.

One interesting thing I noticed about the Pace Car is that Empirical says that using it means you can use a cheaper USB cable, presumably because the cable is less critical. Of course, that doesn't keep Empirical from selling multi-hundred dollar USB cables. Wink I have 2WireWorld Ultraviolet cables, because I wanted a quality cable that I knew met USB spec without spending an arm and a leg. As it turns out, Audiophileo supplied the very same cable with their Model 1. I think the rub with USB cables is that, depending on their use, the role of power in the cable, and whether the cable itself meets USB spec (so many do not), and whether there is post-cable reclocking going on, the cable can make a difference.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #15 - 05/01/11 at 23:53:29
 
Wow, I'm finding out that everything that I am doing is wrong. It sort of depresses me, I was hoping thet everything I was doing was getting closer to the "truest" sound.
I'm thinking about shutting everything off and just humming to myself, but my timing is worse than my Dell's.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #16 - 05/02/11 at 02:00:49
 
Wow...this is really interesting. I am enjoying this trip into cutting edge front end technology. At the same time, I am reminded of the relativity of technology as it relates to sound and how we listeners use it toward our own ends. In each step my system has taken, it is always from a place I thought was so satisfying, how could it get so much better? But it does! And from this thread and Pale Ryder's recommendation, the very inexpensive Fidelia player's advantages over the iTunes I had been satisfied with...may be yet another little "leap."

Like Brett, I love this hobby! And the microscope analogy....the importance of the first lens being like the source in audio systems, hyper important since its attributes are amplified by what follows. I really like this, but with my system, I am also particularly attuned to his thought that each part is equally important.

And now, realizing my Mini/ZDAC source may not be in the technological cutting edge of data movement.... I was really scratching my head. Like Lon has indicated when talking about his satisfaction with his system, in part due to his beloved Sony 5400 disc player, and how it sounds better to him than anything else he has had, here I am, right now, with an audio system so beautiful that it has the ability to transport me into the experience of music, and from the less than optimal Redbook Cd stock....it just blows my mind.

Cool

But the ZDAC, coming from years of experimentation with circuits, chips, clocks and all, by a guy who has proven to me I can trust his sound decisions, it all worked for me....my trust was well placed. And regardless of theory, to my mind and body, it is a very good beginning in a system for which I can't possibly distinguish between the importance of one part over another!

The Mac/ZDAC is followed closely by the Zstage and its circuits and tube doing its "filtering," refinements, and enhancements; then the Torii and its many tube stages doing their part, and with my preferred tube sets in place; then the MG944s......with Decware interconnects and speaker cables tying it all together; and an assortment of power cables I moved around to suit my tastes; a bunch of Herbiesaudiolab stuff; and my room and power treatments tailored to suit my tastes........And last, but not least, all of it was designed by and built by three people working together toward a particular sound criteria.....Steve and ZYGI working independently, but interactively as Decware, and me working with their brilliant tools to make it all like I like it in my house.

As hard as I try, I can't think of a single one of these things that is less important than another to my system, and each improves on my very revealing and musical source, as the source improves the rest.

So, the nature of good tube gear and stuff designed for it supports the source = first-lens theory, but once that source is a good enough, and if the rest of the parts are synergistic, then everything makes everything else better at the same time! In this the technical efforts that led to the system parts are not unimportant, but they are now integrated into a sort of living thing that is very likely much greater than the sum of the parts! What an awesome opportunity to be able to play the game at this level!!!!!

And what a great opportunity to share information and experience in this forum.....the questing music lovers enabling each other toward a more refined musical experience! Thanks guys, and I hope it keeps on coming!!!

Smiley
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 6770
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and informatio
Reply #17 - 05/02/11 at 02:20:36
 
Will, glad to hear that your system is where it is and has you this happy!

I'm so pleased that I have finally gotten to this level of sound, and the hardest part of the audiophile hobby is possibly knowing when to stop. I'm hoping I'm done. Smiley At least for a while. I can't stop buying recordings though because I spend so much time listening and everything sounds (and looks) so damned good!

I take turns reveling in different components. My SACD player astounds me with its natural and open sound that makes cds sound like SACDs. The ZDAC asthonishes me on how it transforms my cable DVR from blah to killer. The CSP2 sometimes just amazes me in how it can transform the sound by gain and volume control. And the ZBox shows me everytime I think I don't need it that it adds that final bit of magic that makes the recordings have just the right texture and shape.

Sure, I could begin a whole new adventure into a 'puter based system. And I do see the appeal, it's cutting edge, it's what the hip kids are doing. Wink But I'm happy.  I never really imagined I'd be able to have a system like this, and I might start pinching myself. . . .
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/02/11 at 02:22:10 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #18 - 05/02/11 at 06:17:41
 
Lon, I agree, it is real joy. Cool I feel sort of like the cat that got the canary.

Pale Ryder, I finally had a chance to play around a bit with Fidelia doing direct comparisons with iTunes. At first I thought it a mixed bag, very smooth and nice micro detail, but a bit too warm for my tastes with default settings.

Then I started adjusting the preferences. I don't have much idea what many of the settings are, but in playing with them until I liked the sound most, I am feeling very impressed! Amazing detail and micro detail without hard edges, increased image density and space, smoothness, increased bass articulation. Thanks for the tip.

So far, I see no downside except that it is a bit quirky between uses, needing to restart the program, and I miss the checkbox for individual songs in iTunes for editing album playback....guess i'll just make different playlists. But man, the sound...... Smiley
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/02/11 at 07:22:00 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #19 - 05/02/11 at 14:24:38
 
I think that the joy and the pleasure in the music is all that matters. I was very happy with previous iterations of my system. I expect that moving up to the Ultra/Torii/ERR combo for the HT system will be wonderful. I have also found that each step is an educational process. Whether a microscope or a telescope, each stage of magnification or resolution reveals something new. But without the resolution and color fidelity, the magnification, like watts, is just more power. Just like the fact that a point & shoot camera might have a "bigger zoom" than a fine prime Nikon or Canon lens, does not mean that within any given focal length or composition or soundstage, it will show the same clarity and accuracy of something done right. I think the synergy is "something done right." Just like the different tubes in my Taboo and ZSTAGE; by definition, their different sonic results suggests there is some level of inaccuracy in the final outcome. The different sound results cannot all be accurate, can they?  I suppose, at one level, they are accurate, but then there is divergence, like the jungle greens of Fuji Velvia, or the etched blue of Ektachrome, the butter cream skin of Kodachrome. All of it rewarding, and from some point of view, along some vector, accurate.

With the Mini and the ZDAC, though I have not heard the latter, and uncompressed files, I suspect you are well "out past the nebulae" in your resolving. I know you mentioned having slow download speeds, so I thought I would make a recommendation or two for hi-res recordings you can order, and that you can then copy on to your hard (you don't even have to rip, just drag and drop files; Fidelia will play these just fine). Check out the Reference Recordings and MA Recordings offerings. A wide variety of tastes. And some stunning fidelity.

Yerba Buena Bounce: http://www.referencerecordings.com/HRxHCSF_DETAIL.asp

ma: http://www.marecordings.com

And somehow, you need to get either of the Moonlight Acoustica ( http://www.aixrecords.com/catalog/moonlight.html ) or Goldberg Variations Acoustica ( http://www.aixrecords.com/catalog/goldberg_bd.html ) either from iTrax or directly from AIX. I know you're not on super broadband, but either is worth the download wait.

I will be shocked if your system doesn't sing on these. Although toys are fun, at the end of the day, it is about the joy, not the toy.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #20 - 05/02/11 at 15:56:19
 
Yes, for me, the technology is a vehicle to the beauty be it a good lens or a good DAC, but then there is photoshop these days, (at least for me) and like with tubes, it offers the chance of refining something relatively accurate, into something more resolved, and beautiful. No artist I know of who consistently makes good art, is/was a weak technician with their medium. But technique without heart and expression is empty.

On the other hand, I agree, there is nowhere to go without a truly good lens. No disagreement there, and thanks to the experience of others involved in this quest for great sound, both with advise and gear, I have gotten somewhere very satisfying fairly efficiently. But as we all know, once something gets really good, even small refinements can be fairly revelatory!

My net thing is limited to 5GB/mo, the speed is pretty good. But this allows the occasional big file, and I can go to town too. So thanks for the recommendations. I will get some high-res things in here one way or another.

I wish there was an easy way to audition gear. It is interesting that at a certain level, the details of circuit synergy becomes the big player in the game. But it is also clear that those circuits are really important! My personal tastes go more toward smooth detail than warmth, and since it is only in the hearing and preferences of the listener that the "best" is found, I would love to compare the ZDAC/Zstage with a comparably priced asynchronous DAC.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/02/11 at 15:57:52 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #21 - 05/02/11 at 16:31:50
 
Edited:
Then I started adjusting the preferences. I don't have much idea what many of the settings are, but in playing with them until I liked the sound most, I am feeling very impressed! Amazing detail and micro detail without hard edges, increased image density and space, smoothness, increased bass articulation. Thanks for the tip.


No question it has its quirkiness still, but these traits definitely make it worthwhile, plus having the ability to play all sorts of files is huge. I predict you will continue to love it!

And like you, I wish there was an easy way to audition gear. Again, the synergy is everything, and to your point about smooth detail vs. warmth—on which you and I are on the same page—the only way to know whether you are getting what you want out of the equipment is to listen. Reviews can be very helpful, especially with reviewers who are consistent in their lexicon, but there is no substitute for listening. But I have also found that there are a fair number of Decware aficionados or "apprecionados" out there in multiple forums, whose value perspective is strong enough to hear through the high dollar audio hype, and their listening reviews can be very instructive. I noticed this in particular when I clicked through a number of the links Steve provides to other high efficiency speaker sites.

And at bottom, I am so convinced that Steve designs and builds really great stuff, that I am confident that stuff other than my amp is likely to be the gating factor in resolution. The one exception I currently have pending is my order of a Cavalli Liquid Fire headphone amp. It is a hybrid tube/MOSFET design, by a guy whose designs are well respected. He previously designed headphone amps for others to build. Some of his designs were converted to kits. I got to hear one someone had built at a head-fi meet (I plan to take my Taboo to future meets myself), and it was very nice. Cavalli decided to get in the production business himself, and his first product is the Liquid Fire. Pre-production reviews are very encouraging, but the hype of "OMG, this is an entirely new level" is something about which I have learned to be cautious.

We'll see. I figure on certain cuts, I will prefer either the Taboo or the Liquid Fire, and that depending on which way it goes, one will stay in the office and one will go home.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #22 - 05/03/11 at 00:43:07
 
I see the need for another piece of equipment. There needs to be something that can take a file, buffer it, reclock it and release it the correct time domain. The buffering would be the important thing. You need to hold the information so that it could be put together correctly.
Is there anything out there that does this?
I know in high speed machining we have had problems with transferring information from our CAM systems into the controllers of the machines rapidly enough. When you can put a buffer into the system it helped with the transfer of program and you get a more accurate part. This is the same thing that we are trying to do with our music files. Get them to the the end product as accurately as possable.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #23 - 05/03/11 at 03:44:34
 
Donnie, if I understand what you are saying, I believe you will find the Empirical Audio Pace Car Re-clocker does exactly that that. But then, in reality, so do most of the asynchronous devices out there. I am not sure if you are emphasizing the need for a buffer to address a known technical defect, but I am not aware of a need for more buffering than is already built into devices like the Ayre, Cosecant, W4S, etc. But perhaps I am missing your point.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #24 - 05/03/11 at 22:32:25
 
Pale, It was a incomplete thought of mine. I hadn't thought it through.
I was thinking that perhaps some of the issues that people hear is from insufficient data transfer. And that a buffer would work like a capacitor in a electrical circuit. Like I said, not a complete thought, I get them fairly often. That could by why I'm not filthy rich.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #25 - 05/04/11 at 00:06:37
 
Donnie, if I get what Brett and Pale are talking about with these USB interfaces, and with DACs that have integrated asynchronous USB interfaces, they sort of do what it sounds like you are thinking about. Here is a sort of dopy review of a bunch of USB interfaces I found.
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue51/usb_converters.htm

But then I think.....your ZDAC1 is designed with very low jitter in mind too. Since Steve did the research and experimentation, and undoubtedly looked a lot at this issue, it might be worth a talk with him to get his take on it before investing in a USB interface. When I read about the Empirical Audio interfaces mentioned earlier in this thread  http://www.empiricalaudio.com/products/
I see that they would help us as follows; "you will hear differences in cables, power cords, formats and playback software. It masks nothing." Sounds like the ZDAC sounds to me. Some more subtle than others, but I can easily hear differences in all these things in my system.

Huh
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 6770
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #26 - 05/04/11 at 00:23:46
 
That's a good point. I can hear those sort of differences on cds with my SCD-XA5400ES, and with my ZDAC-1 and any source connected to it.

I found that for ME the quest for "the perfect setup and sound" was a path to stark raving madness. Smiley I know I'm close and that's more than good enough to me.

Listening to some new Japanese jazz cds that  arrived in the mail today from Dusty Groove in Chicago, and the sound is superb, I've just been drifting along happily, surfing and listening and sipping some hot chai. Life is so good sometimes!  ;D
Back to top
 
 

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #27 - 05/04/11 at 02:30:28
 
The more that I read about this, the more it points that I don't know Jack about anything. I went the route of the 'puter and Ipod to make it easier to handle music and not have all of the hassles that my days with vinyl had become.
Right now my ZDAC is down for the count, on it's way back to East Peoria, I need to buy a Apple computer because my Dell is a POS. I'm using the wrong software and I need to spend about $50,000 on a USB cable. I'm thinking about going back to motorcycle racing, I spent more money, but I knew what I was talking about.
But, and this is a huge but, my stereo sounds way better than I ever thought a stereo could. I'm not going to get wrapped up in the minutia and just sit back and listen to my music on a system that sounds way better than it should.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 6770
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and informatio
Reply #28 - 05/04/11 at 03:18:16
 
Hope the ZDAC is back very soon my friend. I can imagine and almost feel your pain.

You're right, sit back and enjoy the wonderful sound of your system. Your amp is a wonderful thing. Just being able to listen toi music in your home is an amazing technological marvel, and to get the quality we do as Decware system users. . . well past generations couldn't even dream about it. Sometimes I just feel amazed at what's possible and how fortunate we are.
Back to top
 
 

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #29 - 05/04/11 at 05:37:14
 
Glad the ZDAC is on the road to repair. I totally feel the pain!
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
mac5u
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 100
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #30 - 05/05/11 at 01:13:21
 
Will,

What is stopping you from trying out an asynchronous DAC?  You mentioned something comparably priced to a ZDAC /ZStage.  You can find a Music Hall 25.2 on AudigoN from time-to-time at a price easily lower than the ZDAC/ZStage combo.  I don't own one but heard one in friend's system.  It is async and you have a choice of either solid state or tube output.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
mac5u
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 100
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #31 - 05/05/11 at 01:36:22
 
Greg (Pale Rider) mentioned several DACs above that would serve equally well, and most likely better, but all are also at a price point above the MH.  I mentioned the MH as an easy entry / easy exit for you in case it didn't suit your tastes.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #32 - 05/05/11 at 01:46:56
 
Actually, it looks like the 25.2 is easily available for quite a bit less than the ZDAC, and the 25.3, the newer version, is available at Amazon for 595. It may well sound very nice, and it seems to receive nice reviews, but that TI chipset would not be my first choice. And I would be surprised if it had the level of musicality of the ZDAC, asynchronous or not.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #33 - 05/05/11 at 01:51:05
 
Quote:
Greg (Pale Rider) mentioned several DACs above that would serve equally well, and most likely better, but all are also at a price point above the MH.  I mentioned the MH as an easy entry / easy exit for you in case it didn't suit your tastes.


That is a very valid point.
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #34 - 05/05/11 at 03:11:45
 
Mac5U, Sorry, bad English....I really love the ZDAC1, especially with the Zstage, but the Zstage, I strongly suspect I would want with any DAC since it is a great sounding tube stage, but of equal importance a gain stage.

But...... in my previous post, though I meant (in my own pathetic mind) the ZDAC, not the ZDAC/Zstage, as I consider it now, I would be surprised if any 1500 DAC out there could beat this combination. And even if a 1500 DAC sounded better than the ZDAC, the lost functionality of the Zstage is likely a deal breaker for me.

And this brings up another point I was not clear on in my earlier post. I am not dissatisfied, in need, or even suspicious.....more just curious how Steve's design efforts would compare with a well implemented DAC that incorporates async technology.....my guess being that it would stack up very well.

Trouble is, to audition anything good just out of curiosity is not easy. It usually costs a 10-15% restocking fee, and typically needs a long burnin to really hear. So for me, buying a used DAC or a new one makes little sense at this point unless it sounds more compelling than what I have.

I have no doubt that the async is a good tool, but also I have no doubt that it is only part of a very big story. I think what we hear is the bottom line. And which circuits, clocks, chips, wires and all are important.....but most important is that they are optimized for synergy, and with sound (judged by trusted ears) the most important thing, no matter which jitter solutions are used.

Seems to me that every trend that comes along becomes "the truth" in our world, and in the process, we tend to become lax in our creative process, often missing trial and error discoveries due to our ever-shifting myopic focus. Now a lot of the talk is rightly focused on Jitter and noise, along with other things that prove that digital music it is not all 1s and 0s. And the jitter guys say jitter is most important, while the noise guys say noise is.

Luckily though, there are folks with little companies, good ears and good minds trying hard to fulfill their own creative audio desires....like Steve Deckert, Bob Ziegler, Eric Hider @ Db Labs and their ilk, who think inside and outside the box....their experimentation taking them to places they did not expect to go, and ending up with great stuff at reasonable prices. My taste for sure, but I am happy with my ZDAC, just curious.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/05/11 at 06:14:06 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
mac5u
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 100
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #35 - 05/06/11 at 00:12:07
 
Curiosity is a big part of this hobby, Will.  You have plenty of experience trying different things in your system.  There is always the chance that a new component will fix one thing but maybe break another thing, or said in another way, reveal an unknown weakness in the system.

I won't argue the merits of asynchronous vs. the method that Steve employs.  Brett and Greg seem to have a good handle on the theory and experience to back up their positions.  

Shortly after reading Brett's post on 05/01 at 11:23, I went to the Wavelength website and reviewed information on the Concepts pagehttp://www.usbdacs.com/Concept/Concept.html.  A lot of what he wrote made sense and seemed to parallel the points Brett was making so I finally started to get it.  Namely, clocking problems associated with SPDIF goes away.  

From Wavelength:  [The asynchronous DAC, in this case, the Cosecant Brett mentioned earlier] tells the computer it can do 16, 24, 32 bit audio at various sampling rates up to 192K.  Since the USB receiver only has to handle these frequencies, the clocking to the separate DAC IC has almost no jitter. SPDIF actually has to be synched to the exact frequency of the transport (i.e. if the transport is working at say 44.0896K instead of 44.1K the dac has to sync to that frequency).

Therefore there is no interface jitter like you see in SPDIF. So using USB we have a zero error protocol to link the computer to the DAC and very low jitter.

What Steve does to minimize this issue, I am not sure but from what I understand, using other than an asynchronous DAC, the computer controls the audio transfer rate, and the USB device has to follow along updating the Master Clock.  In your Mac Mini, you mention you have turned off all but the most essential processes so that helps a lot.

With gas going up as much as it is, I am re-thinking my plans to drive to Decfest this year.  I really want to do it, though, and it seems a great way to overcome some of the issues of auditioning equipment. Using this example here, it would be easy to listen to an asynchronous DAC against the ZDAC /ZStage.   Whether the difference would be discernible, and if so, whether it would be as discernible in your own room with your own equipment is another matter but it does provide a starting point to consider if a home audition is a worthwhile exercise.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #36 - 05/06/11 at 06:03:54
 
Thanks Mac5u,    Yes, there is little doubt async technology is a good thing. I guess I currently judge my stuff by its ability to completely engage me in the music, and if it does that without async, thats good with me.

When my system is tuned nicely, my mind shifts around from amazement, to gratitude, to disappearing into the beauty and back.... I have never experienced this with any other system, and by the sounds of other's reports on their systems, this appears to be a relatively rare thing. So I am very happy with the technology I have. Curious still, and always on the lookout for refinements, but in a good place. This is by no means saying that async is not a good thing.
Wink

This discussion has peaked my interest, no doubt, I just reckon no one thing is enough to make a good DAC. I might explore trying a async interface one day. Who knows.

If I recall correctly you have had the home audition jitters too Huh, wanting to hear some Decware gear before diving in. If this is still the case....I hope you can get the gas money to go to Illinois. I can't imagine you would regret it.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/06/11 at 06:05:15 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #37 - 05/17/11 at 00:25:42
 
How do I error check the music files in my computer? Is there a online service for this? How do I know if my files are intact and compleat?
I've got nothing but time to kill until my ZDAC gets back, I might as well put it to good use.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #38 - 05/17/11 at 15:51:57
 
Donnie, I have only used error correction with Mac software from CD to files. There is definitely good Windows software for the job, but, I don't know it. Seems to me there is some talk of Windows extraction and playback software in the long ZDAC thread if you want to wade through it. Seems like if you could check out the specific software, then you could find out if file to file error correction was possible.

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1269827547

Also, have you checked out...

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/forum     and
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/faq

Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #39 - 05/18/11 at 01:06:15
 
Thanks Will,
I'm digging into this. Who knows where I will end up at. If no one hears from me in a few days you will know that I have went off of the deep end.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 6770
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and informatio
Reply #40 - 05/18/11 at 01:35:04
 
But wait. . . isn't THIS the deep end?

Cheesy
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/18/11 at 01:35:36 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+(2),Torii Mk III, PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100, Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable IC: Evo and UL, Mapleshade:Double Heiix Samsonv2+v3 and 4"platforms,Herbie's IsoCups+Tendft
  IP Logged
Donnie
Seasoned Member
****


Why does it hurt
when I pee?

Posts: 627
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #41 - 05/18/11 at 02:05:20
 
Lon,
You are right, my first post was about me dropping off into the deep end here. I guess that now I am dropping off into the "Double Secret" deep end.
I have learned so much in the last few months around here. Many would have thought that I was some kind of wacked out weirdo who wanted to play computer files through a tube amp. Now I see that there are quite a few others that have put MUCH more effort into it than I.
I guess that I am going to hang around here for quite a while. I want to see where this story ends.
Back to top
 
 

Owner of the infamous RED TORII
  IP Logged
Pale Rider
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1272
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #42 - 05/18/11 at 05:17:07
 
There's a deep end?
Back to top
 
 

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1085
Re: Computer vs Transport discusion and information
Reply #43 - 05/18/11 at 05:37:03
 
Wink
Back to top
 
 

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
  IP Logged
Pages: 1 
Send Topic Print