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seana
2007-07-27, 23:58
Hi all, hoping somebody can help me out with some questions. I have spent some time looking through the forums, but most seem much more advanced than my basic questions!

My current setup is a squeezebox 3, Denon 2805 home cinema receiver and Wharfedale EVO-2 40's. I have the SB3 connected to the Denon using the RCA connectors supplied. I run the receiver on pure direct. It sounds pretty good to me, but assume I could do better.

First question, which DAC should I use, the SB3 or the Denon? If it is the SB3, would I get better quality replacing the RCA's with something better (more expensive?).

Second question, I want to rip my current CD collection (in a no-brainer fashion). If I use iTunes with a custom 320 bitrate, would that be OK? Or is there a better solution?

Last question, when budget allows I may look at an upgrade. What would be the first upgrade to go for, a stereo amp or external DAC?

Sorry if these questions sound stupid, just learning!

Cheers
Sean

davep
2007-07-28, 00:40
Sean, first of all, welcome to the forum. Your questions are not stupid but actually have a very simple answer - at least the first two - listen and decide. The DAC in the SB3 is generally reckoned to be pretty good as a modern middle of the range device. The Denon I don't know at all so can't comment. However there is one person who can actually do a side by side comparison test - that's you! You should be able to connect the SB3 and the Denon via both analog and digital cables, such that the first of these uses the SB3 DAC and the second the internal DAC of the Denon. By switching between the two via the receiver you can listen to it both ways. A word of caution however with this type of testing, human nature usually perceives the louder of the two signals to be "better". It is unlikely that both signals will be closely matched in volume so you will be at risk from this effect. The easy way to overcome this is to avoid quick "A/B" switching and try listening to a song all the way through with each set up and do your best to set the volume for each about the same. After a couple of tracks like this you ought to know which you prefer - this then is the one you want.

On the ripping methodology, again your ears can help you decide what approach to use. 320k bitrate via iTunes may well be OK for you, but then again you may be able to appreciate higher bitrates - including lossless where no bits are thrown away. Try ripping a favourite track using several bitrates and play then back to see if they make a difference. If you want the best then lossless has to be the way as anything less will only transfer some of the data on the original track to the rip file and that can never be restored during playback, however good your gear.

On the upgrade the answer will depend on your ears again - it really is best to listen to options before buying. However, if you are intending to upgrade, this is one more reason to consider using a lossless format for your rips, as better systems in the future can reveal inadequacy in the source files if these are lossy type.

davep

adamslim
2007-07-28, 01:48
1 - you are the only one who can decide this - just listen!

2 - why not rip to Apple lossless - easy, and even if you can't easily hear any difference at the moment between 320 and lossless, this may change once you upgrade or get better at spotting lossy artefacts.

3 - the Denon AV amps are some of the better ones for music, I have found. A DAC improvement might cost quite a bit. I would personally be looking at the speakers as the best value item to upgrade next.

Adam

ceejay
2007-07-28, 04:27
FWIW, I used a Squeezebox with a Denon 2805 for quite a while. As Davep says, you need to try it yourself, but I definitely preferred using the DAC in the Squeezebox (ie using analog interconnect) over the alternative. In which case it is probably worth spending at least a few $ on a slightly improved cable (NB I'm thinking of $20-$30, not $200+!).

On your second question - lossless will sound better and is more future proof. Therefore Apple Lossless if you are committed to iTunes. FLAC if you are not.

On your third question ... tricky! IMHO there's not much point in upgrading one part of the system without thinking about the rest of it, I now have a Transporter and a nice new Arcam amplifier...

Ceejay

seana
2007-07-28, 09:06
Thanks all for you quick replies, greatly appreciated. I'll follow the recommendations and let you know how it works out... Spent most of today trying to sort out my Harmony with the Apple TV, SB3, DVD etc. etc.. Seems it never ends once you get started!

CHeers
Sean

Pale Blue Ego
2007-07-29, 14:46
Actually if you're using the same music collection with a Squeezebox and an iPod, 320kbs mp3 is a good compromise. It'll work well with both devices and you may have a very hard time hearing any difference between that and lossless.

Yesfan70
2007-07-31, 20:38
Hi all, hoping somebody can help me out with some questions. I have spent some time looking through the forums, but most seem much more advanced than my basic questions!

My current setup is a squeezebox 3, Denon 2805 home cinema receiver and Wharfedale EVO-2 40's. I have the SB3 connected to the Denon using the RCA connectors supplied. I run the receiver on pure direct. It sounds pretty good to me, but assume I could do better.

First question, which DAC should I use, the SB3 or the Denon? If it is the SB3, would I get better quality replacing the RCA's with something better (more expensive?).

Second question, I want to rip my current CD collection (in a no-brainer fashion). If I use iTunes with a custom 320 bitrate, would that be OK? Or is there a better solution?

Last question, when budget allows I may look at an upgrade. What would be the first upgrade to go for, a stereo amp or external DAC?

Sorry if these questions sound stupid, just learning!

Cheers
Sean

1) I agree with doing an A/B comparison. I have the Denon 3803 receiver. It is my second Denon and when I had my CD changer hooked to it, I much preferred the sound of the Denon's DAC's. I have not compared that to the SB3 since I have had mine in less than a week's time.

2) Most of my collection is in WMA Lossless. I plan on transcoding to FLAC for two reasons. 1- it is the SB's native format. 2- FF and REW are not disabled with FLAC.

3) The weakest link in the audio chain is going to be your speakers and/or the room they are in. I would upgrade the speakers and/or look to do some acoustic treatment to your listening room. If you are happy with your current speakers, I would mess around with placement.

I don't know how you have your speakers set now, but if you are like most people and have them up against the wall and firing straight out to the opposite end of your room, you will be surprised how much the midrange will improve by pulling them out from the back wall and how much stereo imagery will also improve by toeing them in toward the sweet spot. The best thing about placement is it doesn't cost you money so if a certain place doesn't work, you could always move them back.

signor_rossi
2007-08-01, 01:42
I don't know how you have your speakers set now, but if you are like most people and have them up against the wall and firing straight out to the opposite end of your room, you will be surprised how much the midrange will improve by pulling them out from the back wall and how much stereo imagery will also improve by toeing them in toward the sweet spot. The best thing about placement is it doesn't cost you money so if a certain place doesn't work, you could always move them back.

This is tremendously true for my setup. My MS 904i (rear reflex cabinet) sound much better now that I positioned them with more place at their back and at the right angle and distances (slightly more distance from speakers to listener than from speaker to speaker). They still are too dominant in the high range, though.

Bye, signor_rossi.