Digital future-proofing?

baldy38

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Oct 17, 2007
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Hi

What do you all think will be the future of digital audio connections?

Is a device (DAC/CD with digital input) with an optical input going to be enough for the foreseeable future, or will USB - and especially asynchronous USB - take over, to the point that lap top manufacturers start producing machines without optical outs?

Or is the optical out there for another reason that ensures it will stick around?

I'd be thrilled to hear your views - I'm currently contemplating exactly what device to buy next that will link my hifi up to computer audio. It's not an easy decision, and it seems streamers are still some way from being convincing rivals in terms of sound quality to computer-DAC.

Thanks
 

Lee H

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Oct 7, 2010
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I'm not convinced that physical connections have a long term future. All will eventually go wireless IMO.
 

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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Lee H said:
I'm not convinced that physical connections have a long term future. All will eventually go wireless IMO.
Agreed.

I also expect that the next big thing will be the elimination of cables (other than power) from the digital music equation.

You'll arrive home from work, whip out your smartphone and continue playing whatever music you were listening to in the car or at the office. kind of a combination of Chordette's Gem bluetooth DAC with Dynaudio's XEO wireless speakers. So just a pair of speakers and your phone or tablet will be your entire HiFi system; no seperate computers, streamers, NAS, etc...
 

baldy38

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Oct 17, 2007
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Thanks for the info so far. Interesting comments. I should add, however, that I'm looking for something reasonably high-end. At this stage, as far as I can tell, both wifi nor streamers are lacking somewhat in that sort of quality, aren't they?
 

kevinJ

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Nov 2, 2008
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I agree with the above.

Just make sure you have enough wall sockets to power all those wireless devices in the future :)
 

Ajani

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idc said:
Wireless power and signal. That means we can get hifis like they have in the adverts, no wires!
Wireless power will eventually be a reality for hifi, but I expect wireless signals to be standard long before then.
 

kevinJ

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idc said:
Wireless power and signal. That means we can get hifis like they have in the adverts, no wires!
Now that would be innovative!

And our ladies would like that too I guess: no more ugly garden hose type cables running from one side to another.
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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baldy38 said:
Thanks for the info so far. Interesting comments. I should add, however, that I'm looking for something reasonably high-end. At this stage, as far as I can tell, both wifi nor streamers are lacking somewhat in that sort of quality, aren't they?
Not really. The only issue is dropouts if you are sharing a wireless signal. I've been wireless for music transmission for a few years now. All my rips are on a NAS accessed wirelessly, otherwise I use Spotify and internet radio.
 

paradiziac

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Jan 8, 2011
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I don't think you can generalize by comparing "streamers" v "computer+DAC", it all depends on which ones.

I have a Mac mini > USB converter > DAC as I feel this offers the most flexibility as well as good sound quality.
 

steve_1979

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Jul 14, 2010
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I think that the future will be digital wireless because it sounds exactly the same as digital optical or digital USB (assuming the wireless signal is strong enough for there to be no dropouts).

If you're choosing between USB or optical for your PC it doesn't really matter because they will both sound the same. Optical cables do have the benefit of electrically isolating your PC from your DAC which means there's less chance of one damaging the other if there is an electrical fault.
 

tino

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Sep 29, 2011
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The chances are that your computer will become obsolete sooner than your hifi (within days if you count the endless software updates they need), so I wouldn't worry about a future-proofed buying decision too much. Wired connections will be around for quite a while although you would do well to make sure your wireless bases are covered. And I don't think that it is fair to say that a PC + DAC is better in terms of sound quality than a dedicated streamer. In fact something like a Stream Magic-6 can offer great sound quality and many digital interfaces e.g. ethernet, wireless, Bluetooth, USB, Toslink (optical), SPDIF coaxial ... that you wouldn't need a computer at all .. just a NAS drive ,or phone, or broadband connection.
 

Memphismusic

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Nov 16, 2008
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I just have my old A400 (and still sounding fine) amp hooked up to the computer with a couple of descent MA speakers and that's it job done - all the recording and actual CD playback I just use a stand alone computer cd/dvd writer. Simple, but very effective good quality sound, mixing good ole Hi-Fi and new computer technology.
 

George680

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Jun 28, 2009
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That's a very interesting discussion.

Speaking for myself. I am still using my cds only for listening to music at home. On-the-go, it's off course no Walkam or discman anymore.. but an iPod Nano with some nice headphones. I would not wish for more.

Reason I still use a cd player at home, is simply because I can fully understand it. There's no compressions, no streamings and no computers and networks around, I like that. And the sound from my system is just really wonderful to me, and will be for years to come8)
 

DocG

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May 1, 2012
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baldy38 said:
Thanks for the info so far. Interesting comments. I should add, however, that I'm looking for something reasonably high-end. At this stage, as far as I can tell, both wifi nor streamers are lacking somewhat in that sort of quality, aren't they?
For high-end (I mean: high-end) wireless streaming, you could consider the Devialet Premier, with AIR protocol:(http://www.whathifi.com/review/d-premier). Sounds fantastic. No difference versus a wired connection to me.
 

shooter

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As soon as Apple sort out the bandwidth issues with iCloud and higher resolution music thats where all music will be stored; or varients of the iCloud. Stream from the cloud to your home hub. Mastered for iTunes is already happening and Apple have started dropping optical drives and ports from some of their Mac's, the future of the iCloud is where its at, after that who knows...
 

paradiziac

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shooter said:
As soon as Apple sort out the bandwidth issues with iCloud and higher resolution music thats where all music will be stored; or varients of the iCloud. Stream from the cloud to your home hub. Mastered for iTunes is already happening and Apple have started dropping optical drives and ports from some of their Mac's, the future of the iCloud is where its at, after that who knows...
Agreed, but first they have to figure how it's all going to sound much better than Spotify, they'll sure want to charge more than a tenner a month for unlimited access ...
 

amcluesent

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>it seems streamers are still some way from being convincing rivals in terms of sound quality to computer-DAC.<

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one! The peeps at Linn, Naim, etc. may also have a view... :?
 

steve_1979

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paradiziac said:
Agreed, but first they have to figure how it's all going to sound much better than Spotify, they'll sure want to charge more than a tenner a month for unlimited access ...
Much better than Spotify?

I think that Spotify Premium has exellent sound quality that's just as good and lossless ripped from a CD.
 

paradiziac

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steve_1979 said:
paradiziac said:
Agreed, but first they have to figure how it's all going to sound much better than Spotify, they'll sure want to charge more than a tenner a month for unlimited access ...
Much better than Spotify?

I think that Spotify Premium has exellent sound quality that's just as good and lossless ripped from a CD.
I meant much, not much. ;)

Spotify is very good...
 

shooter

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amcluesent said:
>it seems streamers are still some way from being convincing rivals in terms of sound quality to computer-DAC.<

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one! The peeps at Linn, Naim, etc. may also have a view... :?
Forgot about the Linn, Cno likes it, a lot, and we know he is a man of distinction.

Naim; you can only go on experiances...
 

steve_1979

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Jul 14, 2010
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paradiziac said:
steve_1979 said:
paradiziac said:
Agreed, but first they have to figure how it's all going to sound much better than Spotify, they'll sure want to charge more than a tenner a month for unlimited access ...
Much better than Spotify?

I think that Spotify Premium has exellent sound quality that's just as good and lossless ripped from a CD.
I meant much, not much. ;)

Spotify is very good...
Ahhh. I see. :) ;)
 
A

Anonymous

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Why go wireless for audio when there are mains cables that still have to be used, and can be used to transmit a signal.

Front end (streamer, computer, what have you), sends digital music over the mains cables directly to the active speakers :)
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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shooter said:
As soon as Apple sort out the bandwidth issues with iCloud and higher resolution music thats where all music will be stored; or varients of the iCloud. Stream from the cloud to your home hub. Mastered for iTunes is already happening and Apple have started dropping optical drives and ports from some of their Mac's, the future of the iCloud is where its at, after that who knows...
There are a number of problems with this.

1. Network reliability. I frequently have my network drop out. Even when it is working, content providers (e.g. BBC IPlayer) sometimes cannot keep up with demand and you get an irritating break in the program. Broadcast (aerial or satellite) and concrete media are extremely reliable, streamed from an external source isn't.

2. Network availabilty. There are a great number of places with poor or no network availability (see story on BBC today).

3. Security. As Lehman brothers shows, there is no guarantee that even the biggest corporation cannot fail -where is your content then?. As RBS shows, there is no guarantee that software cannot fail catastrophically.

4. Consumer resistance. My other half is a well educate middle aged woman who is not interested in technology. She has no real idea what my newly purchased squeezebox is and is perfectly content with CDs thank you very much. If she doesn't get it, then the idea that the majority of people will install home networks to connect to the iCloud is somewhat implausible.
 

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