• If you ever spot Spam (either in the forums, or received via forum direct message) please use the Report button at the bottom of each post to make sure a Moderator can handle it quickly. Thanks for your help in keeping things running smoothly!

Totally confused now

Page 4 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.
A

Anonymous

Guest
Ashley James:I've just seen you comments so will add that jitter is only an issue when you either A to D or D to A and that modern DACs are largely immune to it. In addition to this, Manufacturers Application notes explain various ways of reducing it or removing it. Because ADM9.1s are used in Studios we use a sample rate convertor like Benchmark do to remove it altogether.

Devices like Airport Express, Roku, SB, ATV, PS3 or whatever all receive bit perfect information in the same way and will either work or not. They cannot function less well because the cable isn't right. All you'd get is drop outs or no sound.

CD's are stored differently on a computer to a CD player. A CD player has redundant data, it makes one pass, does the maths and if it doesn't get enough data, it first guesses and if that doesn't work, it mutes until it's collected its thought. It does this quickly so you don't notice.

A computer is different, HDs keep reading until they have all the Data. They load information onto the ram and do a checksum. Once they have all the noughts and ones in the program, they play it perfectly every time. They read CDs as CD players do, but once they have a read, it never alters any more than any other of the many programs you run.

Class D Amps are digital because they switch on and off thousands of times a second to produce the music. They are more efficient but have more distortion and a higher output impedance than Analogue Amplifiers. They are what you find in Telephones, PMPs and car audio where current consumption is an issue. There are some for hi fi and they are better than some analogue amplifiers, but not as good as the best.

I hope this helps and I'm forgiven.

Ash

Ashley again you contradict yourself. you have previously stated that all digital sources are the same (a gross and unquantified generalisation) and yet you now are telling us how differently PCs and CDPs operate in providing a digital signal. both are digital sources and yet, as you explain in some detail, both are very different!

not everyone on this forum is so easily blinded by your techno babble and product promotion that they fail to see the flaws in your arguments.

that said i would love to atend an open day to really hear what your products are capable of with any given source (as theyre all the same).
 

Alec

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
478
0
18,890
Ashley James:A computer is different, HDs keep reading until they have all the Data. They load information onto the ram and do a checksum. Once they have all the noughts and ones in the program, they play it perfectly every time. They read CDs as CD players do, but once they have a read, it never alters any more than any other of the many programs you run.

Ash

Forgive me for banging on, but presumably this is if the CD is ripped to the hdd, and not just played direct from the cd drive?

I could be wrong, and please someone let me know if i am, but if im right its a very important distinction, it really is.
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,232
4
19,195
Oh no,

Now we will have to read again about how AVI have the best military electronics designer in the world (how did Ashley get him out?) and how only he speaks the real facts that the whole industry have been hiding from us all this time because we are not able to handle the truth.

Again with how the world's top recording studios insist on only using AVI and how the beautiful people clamour to buy his products because only ADM9.1s are small enough to fit in their Lear Jets and yachts.

Again with the millions of ecstatic letters and emails AVI receive, thanking Ashley for saving their marriages/dogs/ears/souls by delivering them from the evil shysters who have been forcing hifi seperates on them all these years, making them miserable and unfragrant and poor.

Again with how due to a Cartel of non-believers in high positions within the British hifi press, AVI must reluctantly eschew 5 star reviews and sell abroad to less repressed, more Apple loving populations in lands where enlightened hifi publishers and liberated listeners have rounded up all the seperates manufacturers and had them shot!
 

Alec

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
478
0
18,890
chebby:Oh no,

Now we will have to read again about how AVI have the best military electronics designer in the world (how did Ashley get him out?) and how only he speaks the real facts that the whole industry have been hiding from us all this time because we are not able to handle the truth.

Again with how the world's top recording studios insist on only using AVI and how the beautiful people clamour to buy his products because only ADM9.1s are small enough to fit in their Lear Jets and yachts.

Again with the millions of ecstatic letters and emails AVI receive, thanking Ashley for saving their marriages/dogs/ears/souls by delivering them from the evil shysters who have been forcing hifi seperates on them all these years, making them miserable and unfragrant and poor.

Again with how due to a Cartel of non-believers in high positions within the British hifi press, AVI must reluctantly eschew 5 star reviews and sell abroad to less repressed, more Apple loving populations in lands where enlightened hifi publishers and liberated listeners have rounded up all the seperates manufacturers and had them shot!

Possibly the funniest read ever.

"unfragrant". hehe.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
manicm:Grimaldi:manicm:

Well fine, but if everyone is so sure about lossless formats why do Wadia, in their manual, prefer one to rip music in WAV instead of Apple Lossless format for their 170i Transport? Their reasons are purely for audio quality.

Unless ALAC is an inferior compression technology to FLAC?? In which case a lot theories will need revisiting. I'm still not totall convinced.

The only reason I can think of is that the Wadia dock has to get access to the iPod digital data stream and that this stream has to be converted from ALAC to PCM in the iPod and this somehow overloads the iPod. True the iPod can play ALAC lossless files but would normally output the analogue audio only ... perhaps outputting a digital signal is a bit too much for it.

You are wrong here - the Wadia 170i extracts the pure digital stream from the iPod, bypassing its internal DAC completely if one uses the default digital output. So there is NO conversion happening. Go to Wadia's website to confirm this.

Again you seem to totally misunderstand what is happening. The conversion from ALAC (apple lossless) to PCM is basically decompressing a lossless file to an uncompressed stream of data that is understood by an external DAC connected to a Wadia transport.

Given that the iPod EQ is not bypassed by the Wadia (as EQ needs to be set to OFF, otherwise the DSP in the iPod will colour the PCM signal) would imply that the iPod is decompressing the ALAC stream to a PCM stream internally. This would also explain why the Wadia supports only the file formats supported by Apple (i.e. no FLAC). As the iPod is having to decompress this may have some overhead associated with it which may impact the sound quality - but I am speculating on this as I said before.

So in fact you are wrong. Going to Wadia's website is not much use as the info provided there is minimal in volume and informative content.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
ifitsoundsgoodlistentoit:Ashley James:I've just seen you comments so will add that jitter is only an issue when you either A to D or D to A and that modern DACs are largely immune to it. In addition to this, Manufacturers Application notes explain various ways of reducing it or removing it. Because ADM9.1s are used in Studios we use a sample rate convertor like Benchmark do to remove it altogether.

Devices like Airport Express, Roku, SB, ATV, PS3 or whatever all receive bit perfect information in the same way and will either work or not. They cannot function less well because the cable isn't right. All you'd get is drop outs or no sound.

CD's are stored differently on a computer to a CD player. A CD player has redundant data, it makes one pass, does the maths and if it doesn't get enough data, it first guesses and if that doesn't work, it mutes until it's collected its thought. It does this quickly so you don't notice.

A computer is different, HDs keep reading until they have all the Data. They load information onto the ram and do a checksum. Once they have all the noughts and ones in the program, they play it perfectly every time. They read CDs as CD players do, but once they have a read, it never alters any more than any other of the many programs you run.

Class D Amps are digital because they switch on and off thousands of times a second to produce the music. They are more efficient but have more distortion and a higher output impedance than Analogue Amplifiers. They are what you find in Telephones, PMPs and car audio where current consumption is an issue. There are some for hi fi and they are better than some analogue amplifiers, but not as good as the best.

I hope this helps and I'm forgiven.

Ash

Ashley again you contradict yourself. you have previously stated that all digital sources are the same (a gross and unquantified generalisation) and yet you now are telling us how differently PCs and CDPs operate in providing a digital signal. both are digital sources and yet, as you explain in some detail, both are very different!

not everyone on this forum is so easily blinded by your techno babble and product promotion that they fail to see the flaws in your arguments.

that said i would love to atend an open day to really hear what your products are capable of with any given source (as theyre all the same).

As much as I don't like AVIs marketing approach and worship of the apple god, Ash answered your question correctly so there is no point dismissing his answer as techno babble just because you don't understand it.

This discussion is about streaming HDD stored music to DACs. A CD being ripped to a HDD can be ripped on a cheapo drive as it can be read multiple times (in contrast to a CD transport which has to get it right first time) - this makes an enormous difference. Some ripping software like EAC also allows for comparisons to be made to CDs ripped by others to verify the results confirming perfect rip results. Once the data is on a HDD it can be read with 0.0000000% error rate because a HDD employs a file system which means that data can always be verified as correct. So what you end up with is a perfect copy of the original CD which can then be streamed to a DAC.

By design a CD player can only dream of such accuracy. It has no luxury in being able to read the disc 2, 3, 4 or even 16 times. Thats why in a CD player the quality of the transport is paramount.

(Please lets not confuse this with a CD being read on a PC for immediate playback as this will sound terrible).
 

mikeinbrum

New member
Oct 22, 2008
28
0
0
Perhaps the best way to end the discussions is to arrange the aforementioned AVI open day! Ash is this something you could progress, you'll no doubt have many interested punters, and I for one am ready to put my money where my mouth is if your claims about your product are backed up by my ears!

The away day could consist of a demonstration followed by a Q&A session with you / one of your engineers. A factory tour perhaps? And maybe even a goodie bag containing a shiny pair of ADM9.1s to every open day attendee (hmm.... am I pushing it with that last one?)

I know you're a regular on the forums so it shouldn't be hard to arrange and you have already extended an open invitation so let's get some details sorted.

Oh. and. could you explain the disadvantages to FLAC? I think that's a question that's still outstanding on this thread?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Good grief what a lot of content for one thread! To fund my enjoyment of listening (as opposed to measuring and/or comparing...) music I've worked in a number of interesting jobs which have covered many of these topics in some detail and depth so I'll try to give some insight in layman's terms. I regularly work with audio and video codecs as well as designing, implementing and managing wired, wireless, optical, radio and satellite data networks for audio, video and data to pass across.

I'll pick just a couple of points now or this could be a very long post...

Is lossless really lossless? Yes.

The bottom line is that yes it is but it helps to define exactly what you are talking about in explaning it. A key concept is redundancy and some here refuse to accept there is any but if we understand redundancy to mean different things so this is not surprising. There is redundancy in music as there is in speech, in writing and in computer data which is the reason we can compress things and we see this in everyday use. In lyrics you often see the word 'chorus' written rather than rewrite the same words again. This is compression: we have conveyed the same information but in a far more efficient way without losing any meaning: it is lossless. We say CD rather than compact disc and again this is lossless compression; 2 characters instead of 12 giving 6:1 compression but we know that CD is shorthand for compact disc. In the digital world of 1s and 0s the redundacy is in the digital representation of the encoded music. Is practice you identify repeating patterns - the redundancy - and replace them with a shorter pattern e.g. replace all occurrences of 0100110010001101 with 11011. As long as the file contains the fact that 11011 represents 0100110010001101 and this is used when decompressing the file it is lossless and you recover the original bit pattern. Please note that this is a gross oversimplification of how it is done but you get the idea.

So it will always sound the same as the original CD? No.

Probably not. A CD player and a PC/MAC are very different beasts and the route to the the final output of 1s and 0s to the DAC are very, very different. My CD player has never caused a minor break in playback because it's busy running a virus scan or checking for email or any other of the numerous tasks it performs in the backgrouond of which we're aware of very few. Neither Windows nor OS X are real-time and sometime this is bad enough that is becomes noticeable.The nature of the data is also different. These operating systems are fundamentally designed for error-free reading and writing of files to a disk and is neither real-time nor time sensitive whereas music is and this is why music played from a computer CD drive can sound quite different from playing it from the hard disk and different again from playing it from RAM.

I've ripped music on my PC using EAC and played it back through my DAC and it doesn't sound as good as my CD player through my DAC. I've also listened to different CD players via this DAC and they don't always sound the same even though in theory they're sending the same stream on 1s and 0s. It's all in the presentation. It's also worth remembering that the digital signal on a CD is only an approximation of the source music - something is lost in the process and therefore to get back to analogue sound something has to be put back in and different kit will do this is different ways. These are suble differences and hard to measure but are part of the reason there is the CD vs. vinyl debate and the reason that sometimes a system has no soul or is too clinical or whatever.

Digital either works or it doesn't. Yes and no.

It depending on how you define it. In theory this is correct: yes or no, true or false, 1 or 0. If practice though a lot of digital is actually analogue. Analogue radio is an analogue audio signal carried by an analogue carrier. Digital radio is a digital data signal but is also carried by an analogue carrier; so is satellite TV, DECT digital phones, mobile phones etc. in fact all radio transmissions are analogue. Both analogue and digital signals are therefore susceptible to analogue interference but with analogue signals you get the raw signal interference and all whereas with digital you typically encode extra information in the signal so that if some is lost you can work out what is missing when you decode it from the extra information and if too much is lost you request it to be resent. When your Sky picture breaks up its likely caused by interference with the underlying analogue carrier. Digital signals such as SPDIF over copper are also analogue in nature as indeed is optical although this is only an issue over pretty long distances. This is getting a bit close to a cable discussion now though so we'll leave this one for another day! Suffice is to say that there can come a time when you cannot reliably tell 1s from 0s.

Lastly wireless was touched upon and, amongst other things, I design and deploy wireless data networks. These only give the (usually very effective) illusion of working flawlessly because they work quickly and generally can recover from errors and data loss before the effects are really noticeable. You'd be astonished at just what goes on behind the scenes. If the system is designed to accommodate the many shortcomings of the wireless medium it can be very effective but if not it can sound dire. I suspect that in general price will be a resonable indication of what you will get.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I wonder how relevant much of this is really because there are far more serious problems in hi fi than a digital source, which for most people is very much a done deal now. There were about a billion downloads sold last year, more than twice as many as CD Albums, sales of which are falling fast. The figures I'm quoting are approximate and American, they give an idea. Vinyl sales were 990,000.

When we first introduced ADM9's, the obvious concern of most that were interested was how the sound of a computer, that almost certainly had a part in making the music, would compare with prized CD players. Lots of people came here with them and did the comparison. The answer was that none was ever better and a surprising number were not as good. Drummerman has stated that he and his friends were unable to detect a difference between the Cambridge Audio 840C and the DAC in the 9.1s too. Many feel this machine is amongst the best, so it's a good indicator.

You also need to bear in mind that Gimmell, Reference Recordings and others are selling 24 Bit downloads that arrive and play perfectly as do movies, TV and computer programs, or for that matter this message I'm typing now and sending via optical digital cables with joins.

Catalyst is discussing theoretically and not quantifying the effect of the variables he's mentioning, but and this is very important, there are other factors in hi fi that have considerable bearing on the sound, but don't stimulate debate at all. Yesterday I saw an argument on another forum where very low powered amplifiers were being compared. A particular poster preferred the voicing of one to the other. The fact is that both will be limited in performance by the load they are presented with, neither will have sufficient headroom for some recordings and so will probably be clipping, and one has some very poor measurements that will make it harsh. On another (American Forum a poster correctly noted that once you got above a certain power level, there wasn't much difference between amplifiers, but that there was between speakers, so much in fact, that he preferred headphones because they didn't have the upper mid harshness that plagued so many).

I'm reluctant to hold an open day because of the treatment I've received from cynics on this and other Forums, even ones where I've never posted. Would any of you if you thought you'd be treated as I have? Also if you look at previous posting on this thread some are extremely combative and I have to ask why? What is the point? It will be easy to show that there is a great deal I don't know, that I make mistakes and far more when I'm attacked. That's how human beings are. If you're kind to people they respond better, but that is not the way of some Forums IMO.

However I'm always delighted to see anyone who really is interested and doesn't enjoy fights. Not only would they hear the controversial speakers, but also a number of different powered amplifiers driving different loads and connected to a device to indicate when clipping is occurring. Martin will show different distortions and how they affect the sound. The purpose of all this will be to illustrate the advantages of good technical understand and objective scientific assessment over simply trusting your ears.

Some of you may not be aware that Stereophile thoroughly tested an Airport Express a year or two back. It measured a bit worse than an MF DAC from it's analogue output, but was Bit perfect digitally, so just as good as a CD transport. I believe it is still on their site if you're interested.

I have a couple of customers who use PS3s and stream their Movies from the same computer. One can watch a film straight through while the other skips back and forth and yet it all works perfectly. Music needs less bandwidth and is less of a challenge, but there are rubbish routers out there that give all sorts of problems.

Ash
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
catalyst:
Good grief what a lot of content for one thread!
I've ripped music on my PC using EAC and played it back through my DAC and it doesn't sound as good as my CD player through my DAC. I've also listened to different CD players via this DAC and they don't always sound the same even though in theory they're sending the same stream on 1s and 0s. It's all in the presentation. It's also worth remembering that the digital signal on a CD is only an approximation of the source music - something is lost in the process and therefore to get back to analogue sound something has to be put back in and different kit will do this is different ways. These are suble differences and hard to measure but are part of the reason there is the CD vs. vinyl debate and the reason that sometimes a system has no soul or is too clinical or whatever.

Catalyst,

I suspect that the amount of content here reflects the desire of people to take computer audio seriously and the current state of confusion. The iPod has opened up lot's of possibilities but now people want something better than low quality MP3's. Sorting the fact from the fiction is not always easy!

Your post is most interesting and enlightening but you lost me on the bit I've selected above. When you say it is all in the presentation what do you mean by this? What is responsible for the presentation and how do we achieve the presentation we want? I've listened to the Sonos and MAC/Supernait and not been impressed. It does sound like "computer audio" to me. Clinical and without soul. But I also listen to Internet Radio via a Fubar III and I amazed how good it can sound. Everyone points to the quality of the DAC and this seems to make sense, but I find it difficult to understand how my Fubar can sound better than the DAC in the Supernait. Given that the Fubar is not expensive, why do Sonos and Squeezebox not just include this level of DAC if that's all it takes? I feel your point is the answer but I can't quite get my brain around it. Could you please expand on it?

I'd also love to know which DAC you use and how you made your choice. I've asked a number of times how to choose a DAC but never got a straight answer. Is it just a question of selecting a particular chipset or is it a question of auditioning?

Ashley James:
I'm reluctant to hold an open day because of the treatment I've received from cynics on this and other Forums, even ones where I've never posted. Would any of you if you thought you'd be treated as I have? Also if you look at previous posting on this thread some are extremely combative and I have to ask why? What is the point? It will be easy to show that there is a great deal I don't know, that I make mistakes and far more when I'm attacked. That's how human beings are. If you're kind to people they respond better, but that is not the way of some Forums IMO.
Ash
Ash, that is such a shame. You are easily one of the most combative people on the forum and it is sometimes difficult to tell whether, or not, you are deliberately bating people. I notice that none of the WHF team took up the challenge either, but I expected more of you. Your latest post seems to be some sort of rant, all be it without the anger you sometimes show, but I'm lost as to what the point of it was other, than to try to give some justification as to why you don't want to hold an open day. Life is short, most of the people on the forum seem to be open minded (although I agree not all), so surely you should have the strength to stand up to what you believe and demonstrate it. If not at least attend the Bristol Show and let us see what all the fuss is about? Most people seem to be just trying hard to understand the validity of your points.

You have also continued to avoid answering what you meant by your comment on FLAC having disadvantages. Please can you explain this comment. Is this just because of your preference for Apple product or is there a real foundation behind this comment? I really don't want to rip all of my CD's to FLAC only to hear you say later "I told you so"!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Of course I'm not quantifying the effects of the variables - are you serious? I'm talking about listening to music. If you really need things to be quantified then let me know how to measure how music makes me feel and what units to use and I'll happily draw you a graph. Perhaps we could adapt the Wong-Baker scale for music appreciation to make it more understandable to the layman?

The things that I care about is how the music sounds to me and how it makes me feel. Listening to music is an analogue experience - there are no digital answers so why do we insist on asking for them? Yes/No. Better/worse. 1/0. It's all relative and it's personal so there are no absolutes. I recently bought a new car from a shortlist of five I drew up. I found it hard to split them so made a decision on a fairly arbitrary criteria. The truth is that there were five correct answers to the question of which car should I buy and I'd have been happy with any of them and indeed the reality is that there were probably the same number again which I didn't look at but would also have been perfectly good. I'm sure there are also a dozen other systems - perhaps including those speakers who's name I can't remember - which you could replace my system with and I'd still enjoy greatly.

There are more variables in the process of enjoying music that we could identify between us so why don't we concentrate on how we hear the music rather than fixating on measuring it. What's the point in asking: Exactly how many times better is Mozart than the Ting Tings? Why isn't my rendition of My Way as good as Frank Sinatra's even though we sing the same words to the same tune? (It isn't to the majority of the people I know including me but my version is infinitely superior in the minds of my children, bless them). Is red better than blue? Is my amp better than your amp? Is my digital source better than yours? What's the point in asking questions without absolute answers when you want an absolute answer? It's all about presentation and perception. There are no absolutes.

If we take the example of the extended advertising feature for AVI speakers - I forget the model number - can we not accept that these may be the best answer for some, may be one of the many right answers for some and may be wrong for some? Is there any mileage in getting angry and frustrated with people because your favourite answer isn't one of theirs. Are they wrong? Are they stupid or are they just wanting to enjoy the process of listening to music? Are they exercising choice and freewill? Am I deluded for wanting to stick with my CD player and CD collection rather than buying someone else's idea of perfection? Ashley we get the idea that you like your product and would like to sell more. On that point I have so say that I find your sales technique quite unique and I suspect it's a very effective way of matching demand to supply. It has certainly made me look at AVI products in a new light.

It's easy to tell whether things are different but not nearly so easy telling whether things are better or worse and that is because different is factual and better is often perception and very much so when it comes to music and it's also subject to change. Whenever perception is involved there are no absolutes. I can hear differences between some interconnects. These vary from obvious to very subtle but I'd usually really struggle to tell you which I preferred and my preference, if I was required to state one, may well change from day to day depending on what I'm listening to or how I'm feeling or any of the myriad other variables.

Measuring and quantifying isn't always constructive. I'm a Cyrus owner and recently tried a PSX-R on my transport which promised even greater resolution and detail and it did just that. The increase in detail was quite noticeable and I was really quite amazed by the extra detail it managed to dig out of the CD. (See Wong-Baker score of 0 for my level of amazement) It also robbed the sound of a lot of its musicality and it quickly went back (See Wong-Baker score of 4 for enjoyment).

Presentation and perception. With a music server downloading from the internet you'll never have to load a CD into a drive again. For some this alone is a deal-maker and for others a deal-breaker. Buy what makes you happy and enjoy the music. By all means take advice from others - indeed this is to be recommended - but listen and make up your own mind. I spend a lot of my time streaming bit-perfect audio and video across networks from computer sources and have a lot of this sort of kit kicking around my house but I still enjoy thumbing through the CD racks, slipping a CD out of its case and watching it slowly gliding into the player and anticipating the joy to come. I find this very satisfying indeed. For background music when I have friends over you can't beat making up a playlist on the PC and playing from there. When I really want to indulge myself however it's the CD player every time.

To put things into perspective. I once spend a good while at a friends house setting up his hifi working on positioning, changing cables (converting him on the way), adjusting furnishings etc until it sounded its best. He didn't like it - it was too treble-heavy for him and I couldn't understand it. Whilst he was out I tried a little experiment. I pulled my rather flush-sitting ears out from the side of my head to try to mimick his rather impressive pair of air-brakes and, sure enough, it became treble-heavy... Same source, same, presentation, different perception.

Buy what you like and what you can afford and set it up as you like it. For extra satisfaction sit back and have a laugh at those who waste their time hearing music rather than listening to it.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Catalyst,

I'm really not sure what out of my post caused such a response. I assumed you were talking about some technical aspect that influenced the presentation as most of your post was technical. I misunderstood. Of course I don't expect some formula as to why someone likes one sort of music and someone else likes another. That is not what I thought you were referring to. I hope your rant made you feel better!!!!!!!!!!
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
988
16
18,895
Great post catalyst, I applaud you!
DLD - I think catalyst's last post was referring to this:
Ashley James:Catalyst is discussing theoretically and not quantifying the effect of the variables he's mentioning
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I must get the hang of responding to specific quotes rather than in general to intemperate people. I'd hit send before I even noticed your posting so nothing aimed at you at all and apologies for any distress caused! I'll respond to your questions in a minute and quote this time!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
i have to agree with catalyst, i think we are all missing the point here. if some people like the sound of low powered (high ditortion) valve amps then good for them. if the measurements your equipment produces are not theoretically indicative of true "hi-fi" who cares! all that matters is that you like the sound and it lets you enjoy your music.

im not sure about others, but to me music is a very personal thing, as such how i like my music to be reproduced probably differs to everyone else. one mans "forward" could be anothers "dynamic" whilst my "extended" could be your "distroted".

the only measurement that really matters is the size of the smile on your dial!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
But of course that is the only thing that matters. That was surely never in debate?

Mike started off the post by saying he has made the move to digital music and is not totally happy with the results. I have also chosen to make the same move. My CD collection is now so large that I end up buying CD's only to find that I already have them in my collection. When I want to listen to a CD I can also seldom find it. Migtating my collection to the computer seems to solve both of those problems. As an experiment I bought the fubar to see how it would sound and I'm happy with it. But like Mike I have not been happy with other computer audio I have heard. Surely, this post has been trying to identify what makes these differences. I now want to upgrade my main stereo to computer audio and start ripping my CD's, but find it difficult to work out the best way of doing it. With most people saying go FLAC and Ashley saying not to, it becomes more complex.

Some people swear that power cables make a difference, some don't. What I have been trying to understand is what are the factors that influence computer audio. Only I can work out whether those factors make any difference to me but I can't find that out if I don't know what those factors are. I wasn't asking Catalyst to determine my choice of music or what car I should buy. But to use the analogy of buying a car, I can't decide whether or not ABS is of any importance to me if I've never heard of ABS!

The difficultly with computer audio is that very few dealers seem to have anything other top of the range systems like the Naim or Linn boxes for people to listen to. We are therefore largely buying in the dark. It is like having to buy a car without being able to test drive it. Buying an iPod was never a major risk. If you don't like it you've not wasted much money. But when you get to the level of the AVI kit you're talking about a significant amount. Therefore trying to understand the issues is surely of significance. I assume Mike posted on here to get some quidance on what to try to get the sound he wants and surely that is what most of the posts are about?

The factors that influence the end decision are clearly too mumerous to quantify but that is not what I thought catalyst was meaning. Clearly my mistake for which I apologize for the confusion.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
When I say it's all in the presentation I mean:-

We do not listen to streams of 1s and 0s. These run through a DAC which turns the stream of 1s and 0s into an analogue wave form. It is highly likely that the waveforms produced by different DACs will be different to some degree. The electrical waveform is then modified, either intentionally or not, by the circuitry, amplified, sent through conductors to speakers which then turn this analogue electrical waveform into sound pressure waves which hit our ears eventually after following, and being altered by, a path determined by the environment they are in. At this point the sound enters our ears and a separate process of perception takes place. There are many, many other variables in addition to these factors which makes it impossible and pointless to try to measure it. Sure you can measure jitter, latency, frequency response etc. but none of this will necessarily tell you how you will percieve, amd more importantly appreciate, what is presented to you.

A digital signal has a fixed number of values it can take. A sound wave which is 1V peak-to-peak can, and will, at some point have every possible voltage value between -0.5v and +0.5v i.e 0.1040766543V, -0.4999906V. If you had 4-bit digital resolution you could have only 16 possible values for the voltage in 0.0625V steps which, apart from 16 points, will only be an approximation. When digitized you would have a jagged wave which is not truly accurate and this is what is on the CD. For a given voltage the digitizer will need to decide which of the values it can choose from to use. In practice the resolution is far higher and you shouldn't really notice but the DAC still gets fed with the raw data to form a jagged wave. The design of the DAC and the circuitry determines how it creates the audio signal from this.

For a more visible example look at digital TVs which get the same signal but may have quite different looking pictures. A great analogy is with upscaling where a 576 line video picture is scaled to fit 720 lines or 1080 lines. In this case the TV has to invent the extra pixels, decide which lines to insert them between and what colour and brightness they should have. Some do this really well and produce crisp, sharp, stable images. Others don't and provide blurry, indistinct, shimmery images. A DAC has a similar job to do with a digital audio source.

The best way to get the presentation you want is to listen to some kit and choose the best sounding option you can afford bearing in mind that this may not be the most expensive. If you want to modify the sound of what you have then I'm sure there are many who would give you suggestions of things to try and this to me is part of the fun (and the frustration) of enjoying music.

Since you have asked I use a Cyrus DAC X. I chose it because the sound it makes puts a grin on my face. I always look at Cyrus first but not exclusively because I like the fact that they come in small boxes. If there are several good items I like which are similarly enjoyable (even though different) then, all things being equal, I would probably choose the Cyrus for this reason. If however something else sounded better and wasn't outrageously overpriced then I'd buy that instead.

Some of the reviewers may be able to give general guidance on particular DAC chipsets as this is something they will get into but I'm sure they'd also agree that you do need to listen. If you're buying hifi to enjoy listening to music then you really must audition. If you're buying to impress people with how much cash you have or how cheaply you can do it or you're a sheep who only buys 5-star rated products then you probably don't need to audition; you'll be happy with whatever it sounds like because you have to be and need to be.

As far as the Sonos/Squeezebox thing goes it's a matter of economics and value. There comes a point where 5% `better' costs you 50% (or more) more so for a significant part of the market this isn't worth doing. If you want to sell a lot of products they need to be seen to offer good value. I think my CDP was good value. Some of my friends think I'm a nutter spending that much. They'd be as unhappy with my CDP as I'd be with theirs because in both cases we'd have CDPs which we don't see as giving us value. Mine would be ridiculously overpriced to them and not worth the money and their's wouldn't sound very good to me and not worth the money.

I liked your comment about a sound being 'clinical and without soul'. You can't measure that but it's real and you can hear it. Buy what makes you happy and if that is a fraction of the cost of the what 'should' be the best then enjoy the money you've saved.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
DLD my reason for not liking FLAC is that it has no advantages over Apple Lossless (or the Windows equivalent) and won't play in iTunes, which is what most of our customers use. Audiophiles don't, for no reason than I can relate to. If it works best, offers Movie and TV program rentals and purchases as well as an opportunity to try 30 second samples of 8.5 million tracks, allow access to your photos for TV slide shows (via iPhoto) and is based on what Sound On Sound say is the best Music production software (logic Studio 8) money can buy, then I reckon it's good enough and more convenient than playing FLACs on open source software, that's all. Sound quality isn't the issue, it's convenience.

What I am certain of is that if you import CD's to your computer and use a good quality DAC, the sound will be just as good as from a CD player using the same DAC. Theoretically, it might be better, but you won't hear it. You're welcome to come and see us and try whatever test you like to satisfy yourself that is correct if it helps. The only problem I'm aware of is this XP issue that we had on two PCs at work, they gave audible distortion, even with M-Audio drivers and the 2496 PCI board. One IT chap couldn't fix it, but another did. Apple just works fine, but if you've been experimenting with a PC, perhaps this is what's upsetting the sound.

I don't know whether it helps, but I have two laptops and an Apple TV in our main room and an Airport Express in the sitting room and I have Mini connected to the TV too. All are controllable by my iPod Touch and I can send music and video from anywhere to anywhere and get just as good a result if not better as I ever got with CD players, but with less boxes and more convenience. Nothing would persuade me to go back, so I don't know what's spoiling the results you're getting, but I promise you it is worth persevering because it's what an awful lot of people are doing with great success.

IMO Audiophiles often pick complex solutions to simple problems because they are understandably worried about making sacrifices in sound quality, but I'd caution against this because I find that once they switch to computers, people begin to realise all the benefits, they like the extra radio stations and all the other things their old hi fi couldn't do. itunes is designed with all this in mind and makes life easier.

Ash
 

mikeinbrum

New member
Oct 22, 2008
28
0
0
Ash I hope you reconsider the possibility of holding an open day. I'm sure that the 'haters' will not wish to be proven wrong and will stay away. Only those with an active interest and an open mind would make the effort to attend. I'm sure it would generate positive publicity for your company, and go some way to repairing a seemingly fractious relationship with those at WHFS&V should they be invited along too.

Failing this, I would like to come individually. Please let me know how I can go about organising this.

Thanks.

Mike.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Mike

We're back on Monday, so just email me or phone and that goes for anyone that's interested.

Ash

PS with sincere apologies for de-railing the discussion.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
catalyst:
When I say it's all in the presentation I mean:-

We do not listen to streams of 1s and 0s. These run through a DAC which turns the stream of 1s and 0s into an analogue wave form. It is highly likely that the waveforms produced by different DACs will be different to some degree. The electrical waveform is then modified, either intentionally or not, by the circuitry, amplified, sent through conductors to speakers which then turn this analogue electrical waveform into sound pressure waves which hit our ears eventually after following, and being altered by, a path determined by the environment they are in. At this point the sound enters our ears and a separate process of perception takes place. There are many, many other variables in addition to these factors which makes it impossible and pointless to try to measure it. Sure you can measure jitter, latency, frequency response etc. but none of this will necessarily tell you how you will percieve, amd more importantly appreciate, what is presented to you.

A digital signal has a fixed number of values it can take. A sound wave which is 1V peak-to-peak can, and will, at some point have every possible voltage value between -0.5v and +0.5v i.e 0.1040766543V, -0.4999906V. If you had 4-bit digital resolution you could have only 16 possible values for the voltage in 0.0625V steps which, apart from 16 points, will only be an approximation. When digitized you would have a jagged wave which is not truly accurate and this is what is on the CD. For a given voltage the digitizer will need to decide which of the values it can choose from to use. In practice the resolution is far higher and you shouldn't really notice but the DAC still gets fed with the raw data to form a jagged wave. The design of the DAC and the circuitry determines how it creates the audio signal from this.

For a more visible example look at digital TVs which get the same signal but may have quite different looking pictures. A great analogy is with upscaling where a 576 line video picture is scaled to fit 720 lines or 1080 lines. In this case the TV has to invent the extra pixels, decide which lines to insert them between and what colour and brightness they should have. Some do this really well and produce crisp, sharp, stable images. Others don't and provide blurry, indistinct, shimmery images. A DAC has a similar job to do with a digital audio source.

The best way to get the presentation you want is to listen to some kit and choose the best sounding option you can afford bearing in mind that this may not be the most expensive. If you want to modify the sound of what you have then I'm sure there are many who would give you suggestions of things to try and this to me is part of the fun (and the frustration) of enjoying music.

Since you have asked I use a Cyrus DAC X. I chose it because the sound it makes puts a grin on my face. I always look at Cyrus first but not exclusively because I like the fact that they come in small boxes. If there are several good items I like which are similarly enjoyable (even though different) then, all things being equal, I would probably choose the Cyrus for this reason. If however something else sounded better and wasn't outrageously overpriced then I'd buy that instead.

Some of the reviewers may be able to give general guidance on particular DAC chipsets as this is something they will get into but I'm sure they'd also agree that you do need to listen. If you're buying hifi to enjoy listening to music then you really must audition. If you're buying to impress people with how much cash you have or how cheaply you can do it or you're a sheep who only buys 5-star rated products then you probably don't need to audition; you'll be happy with whatever it sounds like because you have to be and need to be.

As far as the Sonos/Squeezebox thing goes it's a matter of economics and value. There comes a point where 5% `better' costs you 50% (or more) more so for a significant part of the market this isn't worth doing. If you want to sell a lot of products they need to be seen to offer good value. I think my CDP was good value. Some of my friends think I'm a nutter spending that much. They'd be as unhappy with my CDP as I'd be with theirs because in both cases we'd have CDPs which we don't see as giving us value. Mine would be ridiculously overpriced to them and not worth the money and their's wouldn't sound very good to me and not worth the money.

I liked your comment about a sound being 'clinical and without soul'. You can't measure that but it's real and you can hear it. Buy what makes you happy and if that is a fraction of the cost of the what 'should' be the best then enjoy the money you've saved.

Catalyst,

Thank you so much for that reply. Most appreciated. As I said before, my problem with listening is availability, not helped by not having a car. I hope to get to the Bristol Show and hope there is a reasonable selection of computer audio on display. My last trip showed that I liked the Leema Pulse and Naim 5i amps. My confusion and the reason I am trying to understand the factors at play is that I didn't like the MAC/Supernait. The 5i to me had soul and set my feet tapping. The Supernait gave me a headache. Given that they both had the Naim sound this confused me. I've looked at the DAC XP and I'm really tempted because I like my 6VS, but when I add the cost of power amps it goes over where I'm comfortable spending, unless I'm absolutely sure. I've also looked at getting the Leema or Naim 5i and adding a DAC but most DAC's don't seem to have remote control. As all my kit is turned on by a Harmony remote this is a nuisance factor. Like you I view a 5 star review as just something to add to audition list. But given that I still have all the hifi I've ever bought and that the only addition in the last 8 years is the Fubar, I definitely am not buying to impress! My biggest shock was liking the sound of the Fubar. It was purchased direct from Canada and expected little from it, but it's a lovely little piece of kit.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi DLD,

I have a 5i which I have used with various DACs including Stello and my Benchmark and hope to try the Lavry soon as it is supposed to pair well with Naim. It is not possible to turn Naim stuff off via remote control by the way, they are designed to be left on all of the time. What speakers were you using the Nait/Supernait with?ÿ
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Ashley James:DLD my reason for not liking FLAC is that it has no advantages over Apple Lossless (or the Windows equivalent) and won't play in iTunes, which is what most of our customers use. Audiophiles don't, for no reason than I can relate to. If it works best, offers Movie and TV program rentals and purchases as well as an opportunity to try 30 second samples of 8.5 million tracks, allow access to your photos for TV slide shows (via iPhoto) and is based on what Sound On Sound say is the best Music production software (logic Studio 8) money can buy, then I reckon it's good enough and more convenient than playing FLACs on open source software, that's all. Sound quality isn't the issue, it's convenience.

What I am certain of is that if you import CD's to your computer and use a good quality DAC, the sound will be just as good as from a CD player using the same DAC. Theoretically, it might be better, but you won't hear it. You're welcome to come and see us and try whatever test you like to satisfy yourself that is correct if it helps. The only problem I'm aware of is this XP issue that we had on two PCs at work, they gave audible distortion, even with M-Audio drivers and the 2496 PCI board. One IT chap couldn't fix it, but another did. Apple just works fine, but if you've been experimenting with a PC, perhaps this is what's upsetting the sound.

I don't know whether it helps, but I have two laptops and an Apple TV in our main room and an Airport Express in the sitting room and I have Mini connected to the TV too. All are controllable by my iPod Touch and I can send music and video from anywhere to anywhere and get just as good a result if not better as I ever got with CD players, but with less boxes and more convenience. Nothing would persuade me to go back, so I don't know what's spoiling the results you're getting, but I promise you it is worth persevering because it's what an awful lot of people are doing with great success.

IMO Audiophiles often pick complex solutions to simple problems because they are understandably worried about making sacrifices in sound quality, but I'd caution against this because I find that once they switch to computers, people begin to realise all the benefits, they like the extra radio stations and all the other things their old hi fi couldn't do. itunes is designed with all this in mind and makes life easier.

Ash

Ash,

Thanks for that. I get your logic now. It is very difficult. Given that I have two iPod's my plan was to rip to FLAC and use that for streaming and listening in my study, as well as converting it to MP3's for listening on the iPod's. The logic being that with an open standard I would not be locked into a particular vendor format. After your comments I'll give that some more thought.

One of my main considerations is that I also want to centralise my video. As well as Internet TV, where I find more interesting technical programmes (why is WHF not on Miro?), I also hope to include satellite TV cards so that I can record all TV to the computer. PVR's are all very well but they have such limited disk space and are stuck in one room. This is one of the reasons I look to Windows or Linux. Apple are great when their product does exactly what you want but it can be very restrictive with less satellite cards supported etc. I'm not into the MS versus Apple debates. My view is that you decide what it is you want to do and then find which technology does it best.

For me the centralisation of video is even more important that music. If necessary I can listen to music on my iPod and be quite happy with that, but even on the touch I find watching video tiring. I hoped to understand the audio side before I spend too much time on the video as it is so much more complex. One of the reasons I want to understand the technology is because the Netgear EVA9000, which is due to be released early this year, does audio and video streaming. If the sound quality is dictated by the DAC then I needn't be too concerned about how well the Netgear does audio. Like many people I'm also hoping that Apple will give both the Apple TV and MAC Mini a serious upgrade so that they can be considered too.

Technology has never been so complex and I think it is likely to get much more complex after this year's CES! At the moment the entire emphasis is on music but I understand that even Sonos are working on a new product that does video. Interesting times!

Thank you for all your help and your patience.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Octopo:
Hi DLD,

I have a 5i which I have used with various DACs including Stello and my Benchmark and hope to try the Lavry soon as it is supposed to pair well with Naim. It is not possible to turn Naim stuff off via remote control by the way, they are designed to be left on all of the time. What speakers were you using the Nait/Supernait with?ÿ

Thanks for that. Yes I know Naim kit needs to be left on all the time but I can just tell the Harmony that it should never turn it off. But what I can't see is how to change the input on the DAC if I switch to radio for example. I had hoped that the DAC would some how auto-sense the input when I changed from streaming to radio but Russ Andrews said they don't work like that. It's not a deal breaker, but it would be nice. I emailed Benchmark and they said that the sales staff have been asking for a remote control for two years and the techies won't do it.

Which DAC are you most impressed with? When I spoke to Russ Andrews yesterday and they said they've stopped doing the Stello DAC due to lack of demand! That really shocked me. With the dollar as it is I'm not sure it is a good time to buy from abroad so I'm curious how/where you trialled them?

My speakers are KEF Reference. Quite old now and I can't remember the model number.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts