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Computer streaming as a source (Read 5106 times)
Fireblade
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Computer streaming as a source
02/05/12 at 01:37:22
 
Hi all!  Not sure where to start this thread.  Just want to discuss with more experienced computer-source audiophiles (as well as anybody else interested or with suggestions) my current source setup, and maybe get some pointers.

As you already know, I'm waiting for the Mini Torii and DM945's. Yet, I've also been fine-tunning my source setup which wil drive that gorgeous coming Decware system.

I currently run Foobar2000 in 24 bit/44.1Khz - WASAPI mode through an HRT MS II USB/DAC.  I optimized my laptop (Win 7) for music streaming and configured Foobar2000 for WASAPI and MS II.

After 'will' (from this forum) made me aware of the fact (with which I now concur, after reading articles and listening for details) that original FLAC files sound at least slightly better in uncompressed WAV format, I now exclusively stream WAV files.  I manage to convert every FLAC file on the fly using a built-in, very fast Foobar converter just before sending it to the USB/DAC.

Just ordered a 1 Tb external hard disk drive for backup and memory expansion, to eventually swap part of my music collection to WAV.  Except from some issues with buffer adjustment in Foobar (mostly, but not completely taken care of by minimizing the buffer), I manage to offer an overall good source signal to my SS Bi-amp.

Evidently, I'm in no position to absolute judge the end sound result of this sourcing treatment yet, as my existing gear is not high-end and therefore not as transparent as the future setup.  Until then, I can only compare before and after, relative sound changes, and as far as I'm concerned this new source beats the crap out of my original Hi-Fi DVD/CD player (w/Toslink).

On the USB/DAC front, I have spoken to HRT's CTO (Kevin Halverson), and they offer an upgrade path to go from the MS II to the better sounding MS II + , for just the price difference (returning the original, of course).  I'm still not convinced to follow this path though, as I have some reservations about the MS II compatibility with WASAPI:

Some people have tried with some success connecting a self-powered USB Hub between the USB Cable and the DAC to assist in the power flow and eliminate the sporadic skipping and shuttering that happens only in WASAPI mode, using Foobar2000 (I have not had this inconvenience running other lesser players, like KM Player, for example).

Anyway (this has gotten longer than anticipated), I would be very appreciative of any comments and/or observations that may help me further evolve the best possible sourcing configuration within this computer-based realm.  I'm sorry for the extension of this message.  

Happy listening to all ...

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Lon
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #1 - 02/05/12 at 04:21:19
 
Have nothing to contribute here as I know far less about this than you, and really can't imagine going through all this effort as I am very happy with my RAM-digital lens transport and DAC and my discs, both audio and video. Like the process, don't like mixing music and computers much, and have so many discs and yet ironically don't find myself wanting the "convenience" that seems to be a big drive to rip and file.

Just want to say I know that there's a big element of fun in the learning and implementation here, so enjoy and happy listening! I know you'll find the right components and methodology.
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Fireblade
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #2 - 02/05/12 at 14:28:52
 
That's fine, Lon.  It's understandable.  I just feel the future is in computer music streaming, for it's intrinsic potential fidelity.   Also, it allows to go quite high in source sound quality without spending excessively.

IMHO, in the near future, some of the high-end gear manufacturers are going to design a high-end music-only computer/OS, to replace existing transports.  Something radically improved upon what's available today in, say, Apple McIntosh music servers.

All these years I've collected many CD's.  I started in NC when the first batches came out, in 1983.  Since then, I've lost a good portion of these due to initial mistakes in the manufacturing chemicals used in covering the magnetized info on the CD's (film erosion, peeling and perforations.)

Adverstised as a permanent (no mechanical friction or wear) medium, the CD's have not really fulfilled this goal.  Current manufacturing quality has improved but not that much.  Then there's the issue of having to clean each disc everytime.  When you accumulate several hundreds or even thousands of them, it's not a simple task.

Then there's the convenience of transportability.  You can change computers anytime and the basic process you have mastered remains the same.  Also, finding the right album/track you're looking for, etc., all becomes significantly easier.

In the more mediate future, better binary super formats will be developed to record and store music files.  These would be revolutionary.  I think the transport industry we are familiar with today (optical magnetic reading), is a dead-end.  Evidently, there's a lot of interest-resistance involved, but sooner than later these facts will prevail.  Just my opinion, though.

Have a nice listening session, Lon ...
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Lon
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #3 - 02/05/12 at 14:47:02
 
Well, we can make our own future. With tens of thousands of discs in my house, I can safely say they are in my future.

I hardly EVER have need to clean a disc. I clean a few with glue on them when I first get them if they come in some of the poorly designed box sets.

And I've been collecting discs since '88 and haven't had a single one suffer from "cd rot" etc. Not one. So some of your major "gripes" here I just scratch my head over. Smiley

Anyway, I think there will also be a simultaneous development of new systems to utilize discs that will incorporate benefits of "computer audio" technology and allow collectors to enjoy their discs. My PS Audio "Duo" is a step in that direction, and I'm very very happy with it. They also believe in having an upgrade path. Playing my discs I don't have to spend time converting audio formats, ripping, etc. Just pop in and play and enjoy.

I see the allure of "hi-res" and the sound is great. . . but I'm happy enough with Redbook and I have glorious Redbook sound in my home. I could still go hi-res and burn to DVDR and play back using my PWT and my PWD if I get the bug. . . but I'm not likely to go crazy in that direction. So much music on hand right here right now, and it's music I love to listen to and explore.

Another reason that I have stayed away from computer audio is. . . I see so many using it for "free music." Which is just theft. And even if they're not downloading illegally they're buying cds, ripping them, selling the cd, and I'm not sure if that's really legal either. Anyway, it's turned me off and away.

Now, back to my musical enjoyment. Billie is singing about her "sweet hunk of trash." And Pops is now chiming in. That's the stuff.
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 15:03:50 by Lon »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #4 - 02/05/12 at 15:32:10
 
ost of the damaged discs were produced 5 years befiore your first ones.  The've learned some to better their process (the worst came from Germany, mostly DG but also some London Decca).

The other factor is climate.  I've been living in secveral countries and in some cases in very year-long hot, humid climate conditions.  Some fungi tend to eat the material covering the magnetized info out of CD's.  They leave spots and holes on that surface, where you can see light getting through the plastic CD.

As far as your reasons for staying away from computer sourcing, I agree from your point of view.  It's just a matter of convenience and/or practicality.  Then again, I bet you have not moved from your place, mostly.  I've had no real home or country for 30 years, up until the last two.

One thing that puts me off from all Billie Holiday's albums is the sound.  That wonderful voice is evidently not given a fair chance.  Her style is unique and you can sense about her voice, but mostly is a matter of mentally filling in what the recorded sound is not conveying.  It's like Caruso's recordings.  But I agree, the music is the whole idea.



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Pale Rider
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #5 - 02/05/12 at 15:52:06
 
Fire blade wrote:
Quote:
IMHO, in the near future, some of the high-end gear manufacturers are going to design a high-end music-only computer/OS, to replace existing transports.  Something radically improved upon what's available today in, say, Apple McIntosh music servers.

Stay tuned. There are already some good ones out there but my money is/will be on the PS Audio Silent Server, which may be close to production.
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 16:35:44 by Pale Rider »  

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Lon
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #6 - 02/05/12 at 15:53:16
 
Well, I would say that I listen to music recorded from 1918 through the forties ('Pre-tape' music) about 15 5o 20 percent of the time and have for years and years, and did before "digital media," and I can really enjoy the sound. Some of it, recorded directly to disc with one microphone, is GENIUS in its vivid sound. I confess it takes years to develop the "ear" for this type of sound, but I have and I prefer it in many ways to much of the later development in recording. In fact I think that its the listening to early recordings that has tempered my audio obsession, making me seek a "blanket fidelity" that is fair to all my recordings rather than trying to squeeze the very best sound out of any one type of recording. And the ability to enjoy a wide range of recordings is exactly what I love about my system.

I think you're selling the fidelity of Holiday's recordings short. She didn't start recording til after the worst of the early technology (acoustic horn recording) had ceased, and by the time of her Verve recordings there was certainly nothing that had to be 'mentally-filled in' about the sound of her recordings. Even her 'thirties recordings for Columbia labels can sound EXCELLENT. It may not hurt to revisit her work if you enjoy her art.

I live in a hot and humid climate as well. It's true, I haven't moved since 1998, and hadn't moved before that since 1990 (the year of my marriage to my late wife) but I moved a LOT before then. Even if I had all my music in a box of hard drives, I'd have tons of stuff to move, instruments (at present 20 stringed instruments, two drum kits, a keyboard, and five instrument amps), books (thousands), etc. I am the son of a collector of things, and I have the gene fully blown!

I do have cds from before the beginning of my collecting. I just haven't seen the rot or the fungus growing on my discs. Maybe I'm lucky. On the flipside, when I was living in Houston for Helen's cancer treatments, we had two external drives with music and other files on them for the convenience and portability of entertainment and work files. One went belly up in six months, for no apparent reason. Made me VERY wary of this technology, in fact this was the main reason for some time that I did not pursue computer audio. That and the fact that when a computer server was set up in my house by a then-roommate digital engineer, I didn't really hear any sonic benefit.

I applaud your thirst for discovery and the very future of audio. Enjoy the search and discovery. I'm set.
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 16:00:41 by Lon »  

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Pale Rider
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #7 - 02/05/12 at 15:59:08
 
Lon opined:
Quote:
Another reason that I have stayed away from computer audio is. . . I see so many using it for "free music." Which is just theft. And even if they're not downloading illegally they're buying cds, ripping them, selling the cd, and I'm not sure if that's really legal either. Anyway, it's turned me off and away.

I think that can be a problem. Not this boy (I have all my discs or legitimately-purchased downloads; I do not agree with Paul McGowan's recent musings on "sharing," and what others do does not define my moral code), but I am sure some do. But another factor here is hi-res downloads. Several vendors are already having good success with these, and it's only a matter of time. I am no eco-freak, but downloads are a green factor, too.

And the he teased with this:
Quote:
Well, I would say that I listen to music recorded from 1918 through the forties ('Pre-tape' music) about 15 5o 20 percent of the time and have for years and years, and did before "digital media," and I can really enjoy the sound

Do tell! Got any links?
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 16:01:37 by Pale Rider »  

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Lon
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #8 - 02/05/12 at 16:05:54
 
I certainly was not inferring that anyone here was a digital theif! Smiley

And yes, I've experienced great sound from hi-res recordings (just listened to a Muddy Waters recording that was stupendous) but it's really just a novelty for me, good for analyzing the system, etc. I live in Redbook and DVD media limitations quite happily, and really fear getting wrapped up in the "very best fidelity" and forsaking the many recordings I have. It's just a personal choice I've made, to hang with the range of fidelity that I have so much of. If I were REALLY to go crazy about high fidelity, I'd probably go back to analog, because I just love that sound so much. But I can't find the music I want in the format here. I could never feed the ever-burning fire with lps bought locally or the chanciness of buying lps over the 'net. But I can concede that that may be one of the best paths to sonic bliss.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #9 - 02/05/12 at 16:19:16
 
Fireblade, FWIW, I don't think transcoding on the fly is quite as effective as converting the files and storing them as either WAV or AIFF. Just my two cents. Youre adding one more task to the processor.

My computer audio system:

1. Synology Diskstation 411+ NAS and 2010 Mac mini each syncing a complete copy of my 1.6tb library. NAS transcodes AIFF to WAV for both my DAC and my Oppo BDP-95 (which I mostly use for the multi-channel files.

2. Mac mini runs PS Audio eLyric Music Manager.

3. PS Audio PerfectWave DAC/Bridge Mk II connected over wireless network (though the PWD is connected via Cat5 to an Airport Extreme extender which connects to the wireless network over 5gHz). Seems to work well. DAC can acces either the NAS or the EMM. I will likely add a second box running EMM to access the NAS files, or in the alternative, the PS Audio Silent Server when released.

4. PWD/Bridge connects to Decware Ultra. From there, it is all Decware, though with. Few AudioQuest and MAC ICs.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #10 - 02/05/12 at 16:20:59
 
Quote:
I certainly was not inferring that anyone here was a digital theif!  


I know; no such inference was taken. But there is no question it is a huge activity.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #11 - 02/05/12 at 16:37:18
 
I have large CD collection.....and as Lon mentioned, I have never had a problem with a single Disc. I have been collecting since 1990. I can grab each disc with a particular memory of when too (well, not all 900+ of them).

Anyway, I keep abreast about streaming....and hi-rez files. However, how I decode the red book standard from my disc's is just fine with my AA gear with the PMD100 filter from prof Johnson of Reference Recordings. Whom I had the pleasure of meeting one year at the Pavek Museum.

When the physical media of discs dries up.....then I suppose I'll have to get in to it. I love being a late adapter. The last decade and counting I learn from the early adopter beta testers Smiley . You have a finite amount of net time.....and I understand the hobbyist of this.....I just chose not to spend my time on it, or being a slave to my PDA or Facebook either. IT gets in the way of my music listening and fulfillment.  -Stone
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 16:45:08 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lon
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #12 - 02/05/12 at 16:37:40
 
Greg, one way to insure great fidelity of early music on cd is to look for the work of John R. T. Davies. Davies was a great musician who collected 78s of early jazz and jugband music etc. and transferred them with great skill to analog and digital media. There are labels which have featured his work and offered great collections, such as HEP, Frog,Timeless, Origin Jazz, King Jazz,JSP and (my favorite) Jazz Oracle. His work has also been used by the majors such as RCA and Columbia and Universal. His 'protege' Ted Kendall also does great work, carrying on the tradition so to speak.

Here are some favorites

http://www.jazzoracle.com/catalogue/BDW_8047.asp

http://www.jazzoracle.com/catalogue/BDW_8053.asp

http://www.hepjazz.com/bios/wilsont.html

http://music.barnesandnoble.com/The-Hot-Fives-Sevens/Louis-Armstrong/e/788065010...

http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,1047397,00.html

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-first-of-the-singer-songwriters-key-cuts-1924-...

Also any of the Mosaic Records sets of early music have wonderful transfers. The Ellington ones blow all the previous ones out of the water!

www.mosaicrecords.com

And there are excellent sets and single cds from Columbia Records that have great sounding transfers:

http://www.allmusic.com/album/r708516

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=12424

http://www.popmarket.com/fats-waller-his-rhythm-if-you-got-to-ask-you-ain-t-got-...

http://www.popmarket.com/billie-holiday-lady-day-the-complete-billie-holiday-on-...

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-groove-juice-special-r241184

Just a few favorites. There are so many more!
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 16:45:47 by Lon »  

Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+DS,
PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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Fireblade
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Posts: 702
Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #13 - 02/05/12 at 17:21:05
 
The recordings from Billie are best from 1930 to 1941 (her prime), not good sound quality, in my experience.

Pale Rider, I'm not too sure I follow the descrption of your system, as I have no real familiarity with the available computer audio media yet.  I'm sure these new coming digital designs will be something else.

When I bought my first CD's, back in 1983, people would literally run to get access to every new box of CD's arriving to the ensuing stores.  It was a case of demand exceeding by far supply capacity.  You could not find the music you wanted, and could only buy what was available.

I assume this was part of the reason why production was not completely reliable, as was shown years later with the described phenomena.  The bulk of my damaged discs came from that time.

There are many ways to cook an egg ...  indeed



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Pale Rider
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Re: Computer streaming as a source
Reply #14 - 02/05/12 at 17:40:07
 
Lon, thanks for those resources. Much appreciated. Am starting with the Billie Holiday Lady Day collection. On to others after that.
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« Last Edit: 02/05/12 at 18:00:52 by Pale Rider »  

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
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