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FLAC/WAV from USB stick?

admin_exported

New member
Aug 10, 2019
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Having recently moved to a bigger house, I've been able to resurrect my old amp and speakers, and for the first time in years have a proper system in my living room. Result!

However, that leaves my headphone-based system (Graham Slee Novo and Sennheiser HD650) without a source. I've been looking into music streamers and DACs, but don't think they're for me. I wouldn't use most of the features, and don't particularly want the PC on in order to listen to music.

So I need another CD player - and for convenience, it would be useful to have a front USB input like my NAD. I haven't used it much, but with the CDs stored downstairs it would be useful to have a selection stored on a USB, ripped to WAV or Flac, for the headphone system.

Here's where my problem lies. Rather to my surprise, my C565BEE won't play WAV through its USB port - I've tested it - and it seems that others like the CD6004 are also limited to MP3 and WMA through their front USB inputs. That seems really strange to me.

So - does anybody know of a player that will play hi-res music from a USB stick?
 

8009514

Well-known member
Jan 7, 2008
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18,540
This came up a year or two ago. If I recall there's not many units that will recognise WAV/FLAC on the usb input. The Naim Uniti is one that does if I remember correctly. Probably others that do it as well but I expect you'll have to pay out a bit to get something that does what you want.

Rich
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I had a similar problem recently. Unlike you I spent a lot of time, and a fair amount of money, trying to set up a computer based system to play back hi-res music. However, the sound was worse than playing the same music from red book CDs. Eventually I ended up buying a Cambridge Audio 651 BD. It plays FLACs and WAVs from the front USB port both from memory sticks and hard disks. However, after months of experimentation I realised that the sound is better if I burn the high-res files onto DVD-A disks and play them like that. I have tested this repeatedly, had other people come over for a blind listen and DVD-As sound noticeably better than the same music from FLAC files from USB. Incidentally, the 651 BD lets you stream music if you change your mind, although it only streams WAV files, which are still relatively rare.

I use a Bel Canto CD5i DAC/amp, have the same B&W speakers as yours. The sound is stunning and you will have a pretty good BD player to boot. If you can afford it I would strongly recommend this player. I spent a lot of money trying to get alternatives to work, wish I had this advice at the time...
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I'm sure the Naim is very nice but unfortunately I have to eat, too :)

Having done a little more digging, the Marantz SA-KI Pearl Lite will read AAC and WAV through its USB port according to one review. The new Yamaha CD-N500 all-rounder will do the same. Nothing seems to read FLAC, but for me WAV would do the job.

My NAD will read WMA, so I'll try ripping to lossless WMA and see if I can hear a difference.

Won't spend more than £500, so if I can't find exactly what I want, I guess I'm in the market for a good sub-£500 CDP to use with a headphone-based system.
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
748
261
19,270
Why don't you just convert the files before you store them on the USB Device? TRy nchsoftware for their Switch Sound File Converter. Otherwise, couldn't you use a ipod? It seems a long way around the houses just to play a USB in another format.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
jjbomber said:
Why don't you just convert the files before you store them on the USB Device? TRy nchsoftware for their Switch Sound File Converter. Otherwise, couldn't you use a ipod? It seems a long way around the houses just to play a USB in another format.
Not sure I understand - convert them to what? My only options appear to be MP3 or WMA. MP3 sounds audibly poorer through the 'phones and won't do; I haven't tried WMA. I simply wanted CD-quality audio through my headphones without resorting to the PC or spreading CDs all over my house.
 

theadmans

New member
Jun 4, 2009
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I know you say you don't want a streamer but have you considered a Squeezebox Touch?

This is much cheaper than most CD players and sports both USB and SD card inputs. What is more if you don't want your PC on you can run the Touch with it's own internal server to play stuff on a USB stick or SD Card. I do this with mine and have bought a 64GB stick for about £20. The Touch is very well setup for playing Flacs. You can get a lot of flacs on a 64GB stick. If you have a wireless router the Touch can get stuff like Spotify too (premium subcription 320kbps sounds pretty good) - again you don't need a PC on for this.

What is more the Touch is small and light enough to move around the house easily - or even take on holiday with you (with your music on a stick).
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
748
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19,270
Just to recap, as I am a bit confused. You are using your current NAD downstairs, with the amp and speakers. That leaves you with a headphone amp and headphones upstairs. You want to leave the CDs downstairs and play music upstairs off a USB stick. You don't want a streamer, as you won't use most of the functions, but you want a CD player just for USB sticks.

The short answer is to buy another NAD CD player and convert the music to WAV files. You are happy with the sound.

However, just as you wouldn't use most of the functions in a streamer, similarly you wouldn't use the main function of the CD player. So something like the Denon DNP-720AE will read the memory sticks and be a bit more 'future-proof' for your needs.

If I'm reading the situation wrong, then please feel free to say so.
 

Cypher

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Jun 8, 2007
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I know for sure that the Marantz CD6003 and CD6004 reads WAV files from a usb stick.

But why don't you buy a Pioneer N-30 or Denon DNP-720AE ? They read WAV and FLAC files from a stick.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
jjbomber said:
Just to recap, as I am a bit confused. You are using your current NAD downstairs, with the amp and speakers. That leaves you with a headphone amp and headphones upstairs. You want to leave the CDs downstairs and play music upstairs off a USB stick. You don't want a streamer, as you won't use most of the functions, but you want a CD player just for USB sticks.

The short answer is to buy another NAD CD player and convert the music to WAV files. You are happy with the sound.

However, just as you wouldn't use most of the functions in a streamer, similarly you wouldn't use the main function of the CD player. So something like the Denon DNP-720AE will read the memory sticks and be a bit more 'future-proof' for your needs.

If I'm reading the situation wrong, then please feel free to say so.
It's not as clear-cut as that. Having decided that connecting my PC and amp is a non-starter - I have enough fights with Windows at work - and having also decided that most of the functionality of a streamer is redundant to me, I decided I wanted a CDP with the option of playing high-quality (ie WAV or similar) files from a USB stick. The idea was that I'd rip some of my favourites to a USB for convenience, not that I'd never play CDs upstairs. In late 2012 I didn't expect to have any difficulty finding CDPs with this sort of functionality.

It's not that big a deal, sound quality is more important especially with a setup as revealing as the Novo/HD650s. I'll take my gear into a dealer and demo some of the usual suspects at some point.
 

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