Improving streaming of Apple lossless to Arcam A85

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korgua

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Mar 15, 2024
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The first I've seen of this SMSL SU 1, looks like a possible solution. Buying from Amazon should be easy to return stuff if it doesn't work out?
That way you chuck some money at the problem and then Amazon chucks it right back LOL
If you like wires you could use the computer's USB out to the SMSL.

SMSL SU-1 does read well https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/smsl-su-1-stereo-dac-review.44029/

Plenty of wires so one more won't harm and if using Airport with the SMSL-SU1 is suboptimal, I will use USB direct from a PC.
 

My2Cents

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Nov 10, 2023
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Thank you, all very interesting information. I agree...Apples and Oranges but it triggers my curiousity and desire to learn more.....which I have and very grateful for everyones input. I have ordered the SMSL SU-1 based on input from this forum, followed by watching / reading reviews. it was a no-brainer.

The Airports are definitely 802.11n, when I hookup the SMSL SU-1, I will test it over ethernet as well. I assume it would be a valid comparison to hookup a computer via USB to the SMSL - this would eliminate what everyone is saying is the weakspot.

In my cave, all the power is APC Smart UPS protected, incl A85 / CD, not sure how effective that is as eliminating noise, never spent time researching that.

I am intrigued to see if I use USB only from a PC direct into the DAC, what the improvements / differences will be. As you quite rightly say, it could be the rips are the weakest link but at least I will have minimized the times the digital files are altered.

What would be your software recommendation for making bit perfect RIPS?
I posted a link to a techradar article, perhaps it may be of interest.
I have some 'purchased' hi res audio files on my hard drive (24/96 .wav's and 24/192 FLAC's) I personally don't think the sound is 'all that' (playing from a MacBook USB 'out' to the my amp's USB 'in').
These files are from HD Tracks and are supposed to be 'well recorded and mastered'
It could be my gear.
Ripping CD's as a backup is a very good thing to do as CD's do have a 'finite' life.
However, many original CD's played on a good player and into a good amp/speakers will usually sound better than any digital streaming version because...
If your collection goes back to the late 80's/90's/00's you will actually own versions that were specifically mastered for CD from the original masters that are often no longer available anywhere today.
An example of this is Joe Jackson's 'Body and Soul' album. All of the streaming versions are terrible because they have clicks in the exact same places (they are all using the same 7th son of a 7th son copy).
The original master was lost (along with thousands of others in the WB Los Angeles fire). It was a very well recorded and crafted album. I only have an mp3 @ 192 kbit/s copy of my original CD but it still sounds better than any streaming version.
Also, I personally cannot find a decent streaming version of Pink Floyd's DSOTM. Every remaster just gets worse.
 
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korgua

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Mar 15, 2024
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Good day, thank you to everyone who took the time to share their knowledge.

I purchased an SMSL SU-1....then purchased another one....but that is not the whole story.

I hooked up the SMSL to the Airport Express optical output. Definitely a step up all round, I am useless at all the jargon...soundstage, dynamic range....safe to say, to my ears, it met my expectations and was much closer to the sound I was enjoying direct from CD.

I did trial Exact Audio copy and made some flacs. I followed an online guide to tweak the settings EAC settings

The rips took much longer, to be expected with the more serious error checking, compared to iTunes. Some albums took 1 hour and it was not due to any obvious physical defects, I have always played a CD a few times and then stored it away, once ripped. It was interesting to get the EAC report, so far, clean bill of health on the rips made with EAC.

To my ears, the FLAC files played no different to the lossless ALACs I had created with iTunes, which is a relief as I do not want to re-rip everything. This was comparing the playback in Foobar2000 with the SMSL USB connected.

I connected a laptop to the SMSL via USB, with RCA out to the A85, there was no noticeable difference between using the SMSL fed from the optical of an Airport Express. This might be subjective but it does let me keep the option to stream to the Airports...but that will probably be never.....given:

Where things did get spicy were discovering 24bit / 96khz+ tracks. With FooBar2000 I played some well regarded HD tracks via USB to the SMSL.

If nothing else, the ability to play HD tracks has been a complete revelation.

As I mentioned right from the get go, I like to understand the tech and this exercise has been very worthwhile.

To celebrate I purchased a 2nd hand pair of Dali Mentor Menuet original editions.....awesome in every way.

I might have to trade my horse in for a normally aspirated diesel next.

Thank you again for the valuable input.
 

Fandango Andy

Well-known member
Good day, thank you to everyone who took the time to share their knowledge.

I purchased an SMSL SU-1....then purchased another one....but that is not the whole story.

I hooked up the SMSL to the Airport Express optical output. Definitely a step up all round, I am useless at all the jargon...soundstage, dynamic range....safe to say, to my ears, it met my expectations and was much closer to the sound I was enjoying direct from CD.

I did trial Exact Audio copy and made some flacs. I followed an online guide to tweak the settings EAC settings

The rips took much longer, to be expected with the more serious error checking, compared to iTunes. Some albums took 1 hour and it was not due to any obvious physical defects, I have always played a CD a few times and then stored it away, once ripped. It was interesting to get the EAC report, so far, clean bill of health on the rips made with EAC.

To my ears, the FLAC files played no different to the lossless ALACs I had created with iTunes, which is a relief as I do not want to re-rip everything. This was comparing the playback in Foobar2000 with the SMSL USB connected.

I connected a laptop to the SMSL via USB, with RCA out to the A85, there was no noticeable difference between using the SMSL fed from the optical of an Airport Express. This might be subjective but it does let me keep the option to stream to the Airports...but that will probably be never.....given:

Where things did get spicy were discovering 24bit / 96khz+ tracks. With FooBar2000 I played some well regarded HD tracks via USB to the SMSL.

If nothing else, the ability to play HD tracks has been a complete revelation.

As I mentioned right from the get go, I like to understand the tech and this exercise has been very worthwhile.

To celebrate I purchased a 2nd hand pair of Dali Mentor Menuet original editions.....awesome in every way.

I might have to trade my horse in for a normally aspirated diesel next.

Thank you again for the valuable input.
Glad it worked out for you. I recommend the SMSL as someone recommend it to me. It had a similar uplift with my WiiM Mini as you experienced with your Airport Express. DAC technology has moved on so much recently that you can now get great DACs for a reasonable price. The internal DAC seems to always be the week point in older or budget streamers so it was a fair guess it would help you.
 

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