New system: Is HDD stored music a real hifi option?

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VoodooDoctor

New member
Sep 23, 2007
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Did battle with a Roku Soundbridge this evening, which I borrowed from a friend. Unfortunately, it wouldn't read files from my Terastation without my having to hack the NAS. Not something that I am willing to do when I'm only messing around with a borrowed piece of kit.

Managed to get a few tracks to play from the hard-drive with the Soundbridge and they sounded great, not even lossless format, and much better than a cable directly from the headphone socket of my laptop into the amplifier playing Lossless.

The whole streamer situation at the moment is doing my head in. Most of the more popular and cheaper solutions rely on me hacking the NAS, which has the potential to become a very expensive solution. I ripped all my tracks to WMA Lossless because my Onkyo 905 doesn't support FLAC. At the moment, the best streamer solution for me is a Sonos as it reads a Terastation without the need for hacking. However, it doesn't support WMA Lossless and may never do, which will mean me having to convert to FLAC and then lose the Onkyo compatibility.

I'm currently getting an oldish laptop repaired and I reckon that my best solution will be a Benchmark USB DAC from that into the amplifier. However, the UK price of the DAC is double the price of the currency converted US price, which is crazy even taking into account the overheads.

So, do the WHFS&V team know of any products on the horizon that will support WMA Lossless and not require NAS hacking?
 
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Anonymous

Guest
[quote user="VoodooDoctor"]Did battle with a Roku Soundbridge this evening, which I borrowed from a friend. Unfortunately, it wouldn't read files from my Terastation without my having to hack the NAS. Not something that I am willing to do when I'm only messing around with a borrowed piece of kit.

Managed to get a few tracks to play from the hard-drive with the Soundbridge and they sounded great, not even lossless format, and much better than a cable directly from the headphone socket of my laptop into the amplifier playing Lossless.

The whole streamer situation at the moment is doing my head in. Most of the more popular and cheaper solutions rely on me hacking the NAS, which has the potential to become a very expensive solution. I ripped all my tracks to WMA Lossless because my Onkyo 905 doesn't support FLAC. At the moment, the best streamer solution for me is a Sonos as it reads a Terastation without the need for hacking. However, it doesn't support WMA Lossless and may never do, which will mean me having to convert to FLAC and then lose the Onkyo compatibility.

I'm currently getting an oldish laptop repaired and I reckon that my best solution will be a Benchmark USB DAC from that into the amplifier. However, the UK price of the DAC is double the price of the currency converted US price, which is crazy even taking into account the overheads.

So, do the WHFS&V team know of any products on the horizon that will support WMA Lossless and not require NAS hacking?
[/quote]

Thanks for sharing your experience. Good post!
There are advantages and disadvantages of using a USB DAC. In the end, personally, I am AGAINST USB DACs. Long story short, they introduce unwanted jitter and in the end you lose a lot of what you gain in form of "better data stream". A very high quality sound card coupled with a decent quality interconnect or any damn soundcard with a SPDIF output into the coax of an amp with Digital inputs, is the way to go.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello.

Sorry to divert a bit but, I was wondering while reading this thread whether playing some lossless music files on my laptop via a squeezebox wired digitally into my Supernaits onboard DAC would be better than playing them out of the laptop via a cable from the headphone socket ( as my laptop does not have a digital out ) straight into the amp, would be grateful for any guidance in this matter...............
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for the advice fr0g, I will look into the purchase of a squeezebox........
 

jules51

New member
Apr 2, 2008
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ranjeetrain:Not sure what you are really saying. If you meant that "final sound quality", i must admit, that's a valid point too.

So talking of "other components" that affect the "sound", assuming rest of the set-up would remain the same. (1) SMPS (2) DAC (3) OP Amps and other components

(1) A good HDD based player must also make use of an "adequately capable" power supply.

(2) Same DAC will always produce the same output given the same input whether its installed inside a standard CDP or a convergence product. Since an HDD based system will produce better quality data stream, the DAC will perform even better. So if a Rega CDP uses a certain Wolfson DAC, it can be said a HDD based player will produce the same analogue signal using the same DAC (till that stage). And we are still left with the benefit of better quality data stream.

(3) OP Amps and other components play an equally important role in the final sound. So if a convergence product makes use of the same OP Amps, Capacitors and other components, it still will produce sound with the same characteristics.

We are still left with the benefits of better quality data stream, enhanced usability, and availability in long term. And if you replace the HDD with a solid state storage device, you have one solidly built, virtually maintenance-free system that's not so prone to vibrations, blips, pops, skips and the list goes on.

I believe the reason why convergence products are not making a cut with audiophiles is that no one is really trying to come up with a system that meets the expectations of an audiophile. So far they are being manufactured and marketed more like life-style products than an audiophile's toy.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
HDD is just another repository for a stream of 1,s and 0s. The 1s and 0s are sent in packets with an identifier and checksum digit. the packets are reassembled and squirted into an onboard or outboard DAC. The DAC makes the noise. No mains hum or rubbish can interfere with the data packets and modern clocking pretty much eliminates all timing errors in majority of modern $30 DAC chips that feature in most DACs £100-£2000. Even a modest inbuilt DAC such as the one in Squeezebox Touch can produce very good results with FLACs.

Use an upmarket DAC such as Benchmark and feed with lossless files and the sound is truly hi fi quality. I put away CDP for good once I had ripped all my CDs. Even the industry admits that CD was always a compromised media, not so with a new era in mastered for digital FLAC, MPx, 24 bit 192hz sound. Makes 16bit 44.1hz look dated.

I wouldn't run a NAS box, since linux can be quite hard to understand and you will still need a PC or server for downloads. Instead look at a fanless windows home server solely for music. Hook it to your wi fi router, network a squeezebox (or sonos, but no 24bit support yet with these), then feed your hi fi. Add in a DAC if you wish - but just to get going and test the water, a source and streamer are fine.

The Benchmark DAC is a superior product, but DACmagic good enough - you can quickly and easily add these.

£250 1TB fanless WHS running Squeezserver software.

£220 Squeezebox touch

£200 Dacmagic

ethernet connect everything

That will give you a good system to start with. Start to look at Benchmark level DACs and you have a serious quality source feeding into your hi fi.

Active speakers next....
 

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