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Should there be a difference?

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
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I recently ripped all my CDs in to lossless FLAC using dBpoweramp and have them stored on a Intel NUC PC that was lying around the house. Objective is to run a PLEX server so that I have my music on my phone and also to be able to switch between albums without getting out of the couch while listening to HiFi.

My CD player runs into my DAC with a COAXIAL cable and my Intel NUC runs into the same DAC with an optical cable.

Now when I play my music from PC, it sounds weaker than when played using a CD player. I have tried different tracks to rule out the placebo effect (I hope). I use PLEX media player when playing the tracks from my computer. Considering there is the same DAC in the middle and the source of the lossless tracks are the same, should there be a difference in sound?
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
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Yeah, volume not matched, also just sounds like it has less life, don't know how to explain it though :unsure:
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
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When comparing recordings they must be at the exact same volume, or the louder will sound more live than the quieter one.
Increase the volume of your NUC to match and you will find the differences will disappear.

Bill
 
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Al ears

Moderator
When comparing recordings they must be at the exact same volume, or the louder will sound more live than the quieter one.
Increase the volume of your NUC to match and you will find the differences will disappear.

Bill
Hopefully ..... :)
I'd consider the coax a better option over optical.
 

plus 1

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Dec 5, 2019
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Yeah, volume not matched, also just sounds like it has less life, don't know how to explain it though :unsure:
is the sound "thinner", "bleached out" sounding, bass not as full or deep ?

(a bit like comparing a black and white tv to a colour one but in audio if that makes sense ?).
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
34
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When comparing recordings they must be at the exact same volume, or the louder will sound more live than the quieter one.
Increase the volume of your NUC to match and you will find the differences will disappear.

Bill
I did, frankly I thought that plex player is to be blamed
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
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Hopefully ..... :)
I'd consider the coax a better option over optical.
I normally would have used the USB option but i think there is something wrong with the USB port of the DAC. The computer doesn’t recognize, even when i try to install the MF driver. Didnt test it out much though cause i didnt think cable would be an issue.
 

plus 1

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Dec 5, 2019
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i'm not sure its relevant but when i compared playing cds off my laptops cd/dvd drive into my amplifier vs my cd player the sound was lifeless and bleached out by comparison.

(same quality freebie interconnects used on both)

and no i dont think it was due to level matching - it was less full / rich sounding (?)
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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I can think of 3 issues (there can be others, of course).

1. Most reviewers recommend coaxial over optical, even though in theory optical should be better. On my Naim 172xs it's actually the other way around, but that's because the coax implementation is worse than the optical one. In your case, the coaxial is probably the better one. One way to test this is (provided your cd player also has an optical output) to use your optical cable from the NUC to connect the CDP to the DAC. If it doesn't, try borrowing one that has the option (or a Blu-ray or another cd spinner that does). If CD playback is lifeless as well now, then it's the optical connection OR the optical cable (yes, I know I'm opening a can of worms here, but it's worth trying).

2. This is an aspect I've been skeptical about, because I haven't had the chance to test it myself, and because on paper it shouldn't matter, but a lot of people swear by the quality of the transport (your 2 transports here being the CDP and the NUC) - that's why you see products like the Audiolab CDT6000 or Melco or some Lumin streamers that don't have a DAC selling for higher prices than a bog standard Blu-ray player or Synology NAS with digital outputs. An "audiophile" NUC might be better suited, but again I haven't tested this.

3. Something might be lost in the lossless conversion. I haven't tested this either, because I'm not spinning CDs, and it also makes no sense - but I read some reports about this. One easy way to test this is to rip some tracks to WAV and compare.

Hope this helps.
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
34
7
45
i'm not sure its relevant but when i compared playing cds off my laptops cd/dvd drive into my amplifier vs my cd player the sound was lifeless and bleached out by comparison.

(same quality freebie interconnects used on both)

and no i dont think it was due to level matching - it was less full / rich sounding (?)
its just the low response seems more prominent from the CD player. you can actually feel the drums with the CD player but from the computer, it sounds more like...oh well they do sound like drums but with less life. not sure if I am being able to explain it here.
 

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
34
7
45
I can think of 3 issues (there can be others, of course).

1. Most reviewers recommend coaxial over optical, even though in theory optical should be better. On my Naim 172xs it's actually the other way around, but that's because the coax implementation is worse than the optical one. In your case, the coaxial is probably the better one. One way to test this is (provided your cd player also has an optical output) to use your optical cable from the NUC to connect the CDP to the DAC. If it doesn't, try borrowing one that has the option (or a Blu-ray or another cd spinner that does). If CD playback is lifeless as well now, then it's the optical connection OR the optical cable (yes, I know I'm opening a can of worms here, but it's worth trying).

2. This is an aspect I've been skeptical about, because I haven't had the chance to test it myself, and because on paper it shouldn't matter, but a lot of people swear by the quality of the transport (your 2 transports here being the CDP and the NUC) - that's why you see products like the Audiolab CDT6000 or Melco or some Lumin streamers that don't have a DAC selling for higher prices than a bog standard Blu-ray player or Synology NAS with digital outputs. An "audiophile" NUC might be better suited, but again I haven't tested this.

3. Something might be lost in the lossless conversion. I haven't tested this either, because I'm not spinning CDs, and it also makes no sense - but I read some reports about this. One easy way to test this is to rip some tracks to WAV and compare.

Hope this helps.
Hey thanks.

I can try the CD player with optical but it will not be the same cable considering the NUC takes the mini port for output. So its a different optical cable, like the one you use on chrome cast.

I can also try experimenting with wav files. To be honest, the music sounds pretty great when I am running Plex on my phone and listening with my headphones, but then again, that's not an apple to apple comparison.
 
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abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
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Lossless means lossless (Identical to the original) if there are any changes than it is not lossless.

A good quality transport can help if you play the CD live (Less error correction is required) but using a computer drive it reads many times until it gets 100% of the information off the disc. (So as long as the disc spins then a £12 CD/DVD drive will match any transport at any price. (Unless you are playing the CDs live)

As mentioned it is possible that the manufacture of the DAC has done a better job of the coaxial input than the optical input, but any manufacture worth their salt will make sure that both are identical. (If not I would send it back and get one that has been designed properly)

Match everything up (use a quality DAC) and do a double blind test and you will find there is absolutely no difference between them.

Bill
 

Jimboo

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
510
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1,270
I recently ripped all my CDs in to lossless FLAC using dBpoweramp and have them stored on a Intel NUC PC that was lying around the house. Objective is to run a PLEX server so that I have my music on my phone and also to be able to switch between albums without getting out of the couch while listening to HiFi.

My CD player runs into my DAC with a COAXIAL cable and my Intel NUC runs into the same DAC with an optical cable.

Now when I play my music from PC, it sounds weaker than when played using a CD player. I have tried different tracks to rule out the placebo effect (I hope). I use PLEX media player when playing the tracks from my computer. Considering there is the same DAC in the middle and the source of the lossless tracks are the same, should there be a difference in sound?
Seriously , you guys that rip and store, why don't you just stream?
 

Jimboo

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
510
210
1,270
You are just being a hobbyist here. I don't want to have rows of CDs anymore on a shelf or in a box. The vast majority of music is available now via streaming , simple as.
Hifi buff says , mmm. How can I complicate matters and waste my money? I know , take the CDs , rip them for hours when I could be actually listening to music , buy another piece of unnecessary soon to be improved form of storage and then add a computer that will have an operating system of a relatively short life and find a DAC to add ( that you will feel the need to replace because it will be electric blue with another light for mqa+ ! ) And then buy an all in one media package to control it on your computer so that you can see the pretty pictures that were on the cd in the first place.
I mean why use an app and and access the music when you can keep dicking around making life complicated , expensive and the need to have more boxes?
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
402
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19,070
Seriously , you guys that rip and store, why don't you just stream?
Most music on streaming services is remastered, not original, so the only way to have the original at your fingertips is by ripping the original disc. (Same with vinyl where most of the re-pressed versions are not as good as the original after being re-mastered)

Note: while there is nothing wrong with a re-master if done right, most are just the original compressed (Reduction in dynamic range) to make them sound louder.

Plus as mentioned above streaming services have a limited range of material compared to what’s gone before. (Niche material in particular)

Bill
 

Jimboo

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
510
210
1,270
Hi Bill , streaming claims by some to be hi Res , therefore the ultimate source. Tell me what music you cannot find? I have very niche tastes and I am yet to encounter a problem. The same argument was used against CDs. It's only available on records so I will not buy CDs .
Of course if you are ripping remastered CDs then ....
 

batonwielder

Well-known member
May 13, 2008
32
2
18,545
I'm curious if you are able to find a solution. I've always felt that my streaming via web or my own nas, with or without a dac, has never sounded as good as my previous cd players.
 
Last edited:

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
34
7
45
I have been collecting tapes and CDs ever since i was 10. Vinyl being a more recent hobby though. Quite frankly, the music i want to listen to 95% of the times, i own it. As a matter of fact, sometimes i wonder whether paying 25 bucks a month is worth it for me. But it does come in handy when i am not home.

but yeah, having a wall full of CDs and Vinyls is more of a hobby for me. I still buy books. 😃
 
Last edited:

Fahad

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2020
34
7
45
I'm curious to find if you are able to find a solution. I've always felt that my streaming via web or my own nas, with or without a dac, has never sounded as good as my previous cd players.
I am going to find an old DVD player today or tomorrow (somewhere in the storage) and use the optical port to check this. Like some people here suggested that it could be a DAC issue.
 

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