How important is the source?

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steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
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plastic penguin said:
Personally, I think vinyl adds an addtional dimension (simplicity)...
It's funny, I like vinyl because of it's lack of simplicity. The tactile element of having to fiddle with something mechanical to reproduce music is all part or the fun with vinyl. :)

I find that digital is more simple to use though. Just click on a name in a list and the music plays. How could it possibly be any simpler than that? You don't even need to search for anything, you just type in part of the artist/album/song name and the computer finds it for you. Extreme simples.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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chebby said:
maxflinn said:
chebby said:
maxflinn said:
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them...
Any in particular?
Go away, Chebby.
It's a pertinent question. I have - for instance - heard the NaimUniti on a number of occasions and I also happen to have owned it's near equivalent in seperates form.

I know it sounds better than my (functionally similar) M-CR603 but I wouldn't say it sounds £2000 better.

However, despite the price and VFM differential being so large - in my opinion at least - I would still buy a 'Uniti if I had enough money to afford one comfortably.

That's why I asked which 'high-end' streamer/DAC/amp/tuner in particular that you had heard to base your comment on.
Your question to Max is relevant.

However, your example is not, as both the units you're talking about have built in amplification, and are therefore not merely streamers / streamer + DACs. Therefore not strictly relevant to the thread, which is asking simply about source. (Edit: although in fairness to you Max did bring up amplification in his particular post.)

As a better example, have you had the chance to compare a sonos or squeezebox to the digital input of your Marantz, compared to using airplay? That would be more relevant.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I've only heard an AEX as far as streamers go, I've got an ATV3 but that just passes on digits to my ADMs. My opinions are not based on listening/demoing but on my own logic and what I've read.

For example, I've read and am happy with the general consencus that Jitter is a non issue, and DACs are barely different in terms of performance, as blind tests indicate, so I can't see how there can be much of an improvement in sound quality going from a competent streamer like an AEX to something exotic. I haven't compared, but would also doubt that a £3k CDP would sound much better than a CD6003.

I'm not stating that any of that is fact, or saying that any improvements that others have heard aren't real. I just fail to understand what could improve the sound to the degree that warrants the expenditure for some.
 

BenLaw

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Nov 21, 2010
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maxflinn said:
I can't see how there can be much of an improvement in sound quality going from a competent streamer like an AEX to something exotic.
would also doubt that a £3k CDP would sound much better than a CD6003.
warrants the expenditure for some.
Haven't you answered your own question? You accept that there may be some difference, even if it slight. And some people have lots of money, so therefore even a slight difference may make sense to them.
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
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BenLaw said:
As a better example, have you had the chance to compare a sonos or squeezebox to the digital input of your Marantz, compared to using airplay? That would be more relevant.
No I haven't. I'm not really too curious to explore those options as they would represent more components/cables etc.

(Besides, the digital input of my Marantz is fully occupied with the signal from TV/Blu-ray/Humax.)

I concede that the options you mention might sound better, but my motivation was minimalism and complete compatibility with my existing iTunes/iPhone/AirPlay/iMac way of doing things.

It isn't all 'compromise for convenience' though. Lossless (via Airplay) from the iMac and TuneIn Radio Pro (on the iPhone) sound extremely good especially with 320k from such sources as BBC Radio 3 and Linn Jazz Radio.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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chebby said:
BenLaw said:
As a better example, have you had the chance to compare a sonos or squeezebox to the digital input of your Marantz, compared to using airplay? That would be more relevant.
No I haven't. I'm not really too curious to explore those options as they would represent more components/cables etc.

(Besides, the digital input of my Marantz is fully occupied with the signal from TV/Blu-ray/Humax.)

I concede that the options you mention might sound better, but my motivation was minimalism and complete compatibility with my existing iTunes/iPhone/AirPlay/iMac way of doing things.

It isn't all 'compromise for convenience' though. Lossless (via Airplay) from the iMac and TuneIn Radio Pro (on the iPhone) sound extremely good especially with 320k from such sources as BBC Radio 3 and Linn Jazz Radio.
The question was no criticism of you. I would have no interest in any streaming beyond airplay if I had your setup, it would seem fairly pointless and certainly be impractical. I suspect the differences would be very small FWIW.
 

WinterRacer

New member
Jan 14, 2009
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When I used to have a separates system, I bought a Cyrus XT-SE to play CDs though my Cyrus DAC-X. I couldn't hear any difference at all between it and a Squeezebox Touch into the same DAC. I decided it was a complete waste of money and sold it, still got a TT though. This can sound ok, but not as good as the streamer.

The source does matter, choose one that's easy to use and gives you the functionality you need.

(hopefully I won't be accused of making anything up this time!)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
I can't see how there can be much of an improvement in sound quality going from a competent streamer like an AEX to something exotic.
would also doubt that a £3k CDP would sound much better than a CD6003.
warrants the expenditure for some.
Haven't you answered your own question? You accept that there may be some difference, even if it slight. And some people have lots of money, so therefore even a slight difference may make sense to them.
I guess I have answered it to a point, IF there are differences, and I'm certainly not qualified enough to say that there aren't, but I do feel that they're likely to be less dramatic than I've heard them described.

Sorry about the slow replies, my broadband is on the blink :)
 
A

Anonymous

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John Duncan said:
maxflinn said:
I've only heard an AEX as far as streamers go, I've got an ATV3
OK so that's two streamers and no turntables. How many CD players?

maxflinn said:
I've got an ATV3 but that just passes on digits to my ADMs
No it doesn't, it resamples to 48k.
I'm not sure of the relevence of my experience with source's, JD? I've already said what I've heard anyway.

Here's how I see it...

Digital data can never be improved by any means of transport to the DAC, and by the same token, it can never be made worse either, it all gets there or it all don't.

This means that to coin a phrase, any "extra detail that is dug up" is not done so in the digital domain, pre-DAC, in fact and hypothetically speaking, if one CDP is more detailed than another, it's because it is not losing as much detail, not because it's digging more up, every DAC gets all the digital data.

Now, if a given CDP is losing detail, it can't be doing so in the digital domain, so it must be being lost in conversion.

But here's the thing, why would it only be the finer details that are being lost? Why not something obvious like vocals or drums? Data loss would have to be random, so why is random data not lost?
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
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alchemist 1 said:
MajorFubar said:
Garbage in, garbage out
Agreed :)
Whilst the source can be considered important in this regard, there are not that many sources surely, that actually introduce garbage, so the phrase is rather disengenuous.

I would accept that one could be rather less choosey over a digital source than an analogue one.

Speakers still have the greatest potential for affecting sound quality and in that context, are clearly the most important thing to get right, but then they still need to be driven and controlled properly, so perhaps the speakers and amplifiers need to be considered as a whole?
 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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maxflinn said:
John Duncan said:
maxflinn said:
I've only heard an AEX as far as streamers go, I've got an ATV3
OK so that's two streamers and no turntables. How many CD players?

maxflinn said:
I've got an ATV3 but that just passes on digits to my ADMs
No it doesn't, it resamples to 48k.
I'm not sure of the relevence of my experience with source's, JD? I've already said what I've heard anyway.

Here's how I see it...

Digital data can never be improved by any means of transport to the DAC, and by the same token, it can never be made worse either, it all gets there or it all don't.

This means that to coin a phrase, any "extra detail that is dug up" is not done so in the digital domain, pre-DAC, in fact and hypothetically speaking, if one CDP is more detailed than another, it's because it is not losing as much detail, not because it's digging more up, every DAC gets all the digital data.

Now, if a given CDP is losing detail, it can't be doing so in the digital domain, so it must be being lost in conversion.

But here's the thing, why would it only be the finer details that are being lost? Why not something obvious like vocals or drums? Data loss would have to be random, so why is random data not lost?
The relevance is that you have this tendency to make bold statements like the above without appearing to have heard any of the things you make bold statements about. Further, since you asked the original question and appear to have some strong views on the subject, perhaps it might give readers some context so that they might decide whether your opinions are borne of experience or not.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Overdose said:
Speakers still have the greatest potential for affecting sound quality and in that context, are clearly the most important thing to get right, but then they still need to be driven and controlled properly, so perhaps the speakers and amplifiers need to be considered as a whole?
Indeed, speakers make the most obvious difference. That isn't the same as 'quality' to me, though.

To me they can change the colour and the depth of field - a bit like a camera lens aperture setting and filters. The source can change the focus, however, and if it isn't sharp to begin with you can't improve it later. An out of focus picture can be very pleasant, impressionistic you might say, but it isn't accurate.

In danger of overdoing the analogy, so I'll leave it there.

As to digital sources, I was really hoping a year or so ago that this might be right for me. Not convinced about using a laptop, I listened to Olive 04HD. Then I heard a Naim demo of their top NDX and thought this must the bees knees. Well it was until they fed it through the Naim DAC. Massive improvement. Then they added outboard power supplies, making it still better. Once we got over £10k just for the streaming I started to glaze over! Also heard a Linn Klimax system in a friend's house, and that's probably as good as it gets. Brilliant indeed, but quite different to his more modest Linn Sneaky, both from the same NAS.

Conclusion? Digital is just as variable as analogue. You'll soon be reading about sound differences between hard drives, let alone SSDs. I 'get' analogue and CD, and I hate fiddling with computer stuff, routers and heaven knows what, aside from which I don't lke the idea of all that electrical garbage near my music! But most of all, I simply do not believe that digital storage media are 'safe' in the longer-term - at least not 40 years safe, unlike my 1970s LP, which still play beautifully.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
jaxwired said:
It all depends on the mastering process used on the CD. That Tull CD was mastered at the worse possible time for CD mastering, the early 80's. The engineers didn't know how to master for CDs at the time. But worse, many of the recordings that were re-released on CD in the 80's were not created from the original master tapes. The record companies were scrambling to re-release everything and they didn't worry about finding the original masters so they used whatever copy they found first which was often a copy of a copy of a copy, etc.

If you want to know which format sounds better, vinyl or CD, compare recent releases. If you primarily listen to pre-1990 music, then vinyl is a very good choice.
Most of the music I listen to is pre-1990 (a lot of it pre-1980) and the masterings are fine, though I seek out the good ones. Essentially, if it has Barry Diament, Joe Gastwirt, Zal Screiber or their ilk on it, it's a safe bet. Check out Steve Hoffman's forum for more information - should be on any music fan's Favourites/Bookmarks list if they're into this stuff.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
John Duncan said:
maxflinn said:
John Duncan said:
maxflinn said:
I've only heard an AEX as far as streamers go, I've got an ATV3
OK so that's two streamers and no turntables. How many CD players?

maxflinn said:
I've got an ATV3 but that just passes on digits to my ADMs
No it doesn't, it resamples to 48k.
I'm not sure of the relevence of my experience with source's, JD? I've already said what I've heard anyway.

Here's how I see it...

Digital data can never be improved by any means of transport to the DAC, and by the same token, it can never be made worse either, it all gets there or it all don't.

This means that to coin a phrase, any "extra detail that is dug up" is not done so in the digital domain, pre-DAC, in fact and hypothetically speaking, if one CDP is more detailed than another, it's because it is not losing as much detail, not because it's digging more up, every DAC gets all the digital data.

Now, if a given CDP is losing detail, it can't be doing so in the digital domain, so it must be being lost in conversion.

But here's the thing, why would it only be the finer details that are being lost? Why not something obvious like vocals or drums? Data loss would have to be random, so why is random data not lost?
The relevance is that you have this tendency to make bold statements like the above without appearing to have heard any of the things you make bold statements about. Further, since you asked the original question and appear to have some strong views on the subject, perhaps it might give readers some context so that they might decide whether your opinions are borne of experience or not.
Fair points, JD, I haven't heard any expensive streamers or CDPs, and I do make bold statements, the above borne from curiosity tempered with what I've read, though what I've read can, IMO be termed experience, and I think that it's a valid counter to the hands on, listening experiences that others report.

As we know it is very easy to be seduced by price tags and to hear what one expects, perhaps wants, to hear, so I like to look for the reasons that can explain differences, should they exist.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
FrankHarveyHiFi said:
I suppose it depends on which reports you read. I did hear that digital downloads finally overtook sales of physical formats recently, which doesn't really tally up with what you say above. I don't believe any reports I read - all I see is a lot of vinyl available on Ebay, more record stores springing up over the UK, and our open evenings with Diverse Vinyl being very busy indeed - if they didn't feel it was worth driving from Newport to take part, I'm sure they'd say so.

I don't think Classic cars are a good analogy. Efficiency and safety has nothing to do with a turntable, although engineering does - the performance of the turntable relies on it's engineering. The number of turntables we sell online and in store would suggest that turntables are from disappearing to rubbish heaps - SME arms are still very popular, as are Gyrodecs and rega decks.

:)
Vinyl in comparison to digital downloads or CD purchases are so minor it's untrue. It's popular, partly through nostalgia, partly through some kind of cache if you have a fancy deck. Personally, it was of its time for me - nice to have for many years, sound quality very good/excellent but long term, moving house and storing them was a pain the backside. Plus CD delivered more in terms of sound quality and convenience.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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maxflinn said:
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
what I've read can, IMO be termed experience
Wasn't Ashley critical of people doing this? Posted on the thread which inspired Steve's 'synergy' thread.
:wall:
Fine. I'll say it then. Reading about does not equal experience. And it is important to be clear when posting on hifi forums whether one is passing on what one has experienced or what has one read from others.
 

bigblue235

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Aug 22, 2007
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maxflinn said:
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
what I've read can, IMO be termed experience
Wasn't Ashley critical of people doing this? Posted on the thread which inspired Steve's 'synergy' thread.
:wall:
Regardless of who was critical, they're right. In this regard, reading something doesn't give you experience. You may form your own theories based on what you've read, but there's a reason that passing your theory test isn't enough for a driving license :)
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
what I've read can, IMO be termed experience
Wasn't Ashley critical of people doing this? Posted on the thread which inspired Steve's 'synergy' thread.
:wall:
Fine. I'll say it then. Reading about does not equal experience. And it is important to be clear when posting on hifi forums whether one is passing on what one has experienced or what has one read from others.
Fwiw, this is what he said: "I think another issue that perpetuates these myths is the fact that opinions are repeated numerous times in posts by people without first hand experience of whatever it is they are suggesting."

Mods, feel free to delete these posts, I recognise they're not very helpful :shhh:
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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the record spot said:
Vinyl in comparison to digital downloads or CD purchases are so minor it's untrue. It's popular, partly through nostalgia, partly through some kind of cache if you have a fancy deck. Personally, it was of its time for me - nice to have for many years, sound quality very good/excellent but long term, moving house and storing them was a pain the backside. Plus CD delivered more in terms of sound quality and convenience.
As a society we have become lazy because products are being constantly produced to make our lives far simpler, easier, and quicker. CD was accepted because everyone thought it was " perfect sound forever", and because they didn't have to turn a CD over half way through. People will always buy the simplest and easiest solution.

I don't buy records because of nostalgia. I buy them because generally they produce a more believable and convincing experience. Very few CD based systems, if any, can reproduce the sort of three dimensionality that a good quality turntable can. and I'm not discussing that one further.
 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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BenLaw said:
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
BenLaw said:
maxflinn said:
what I've read can, IMO be termed experience
Wasn't Ashley critical of people doing this? Posted on the thread which inspired Steve's 'synergy' thread.
:wall:
Fine. I'll say it then. Reading about does not equal experience. And it is important to be clear when posting on hifi forums whether one is passing on what one has experienced or what has one read from others.
Fwiw, this is what he said: "I think another issue that perpetuates these myths is the fact that opinions are repeated numerous times in posts by people without first hand experience of whatever it is they are suggesting."

Mods, feel free to delete these posts, I recognise they're not very helpful :shhh:
Au contraire.
 

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