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  1. #1
    Simon Turner
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of the CD beequalled or bettered?

    A few people (including me) are talking about buying rather expensive Dacs
    to achieve high end audio using PC's, Flacs and the Squeezebox.

    Is this realistic bearing in mind that we are replacing a dedicated CD
    player with a hard drive. Surely all the drawbacks that good CD players
    strive so hard to overcome are inherant (in spades) on a hard drive, i.e
    jitter, cheap power supply etc.

    In addition is it certain that the streaming process itself will not degrade
    the sound, or even that the digital-out on the Squeezebox outputs exactly
    the stream it receives?

    Regards,
    Simon Turner
    Brighton UK

  2. #2
    Pat Farrell
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of theCD be equalled or bettered?

    At 04:12 AM 2/26/2004, Simon Turner wrote:
    >Is this realistic bearing in mind that we are replacing a dedicated CD
    >player with a hard drive. Surely all the drawbacks that good CD players
    >strive so hard to overcome are inherant (in spades) on a hard drive, i.e
    >jitter, cheap power supply etc.


    A lot of "jitter" is just a buzzword used by the audiophile community to
    sell very expensive gear. Jitter is properly a difference in clocking between
    digital and analog signals.

    Digital signals do not have jitter. Convertors have jitter.

    In any CD player, there are two conversions. Two places for jitter.
    First, the analog pits on the CD are read and converted to digital PCM.
    Second, the PCM is converted thru the DAC to analog. Most audiophile
    talk is about the second. Hardly anyone talks about the first, but when we
    extracted data from 40,000 CDs, we found that different drives got
    different bits from the same CD. Don't know if it was jitter or error
    correction,
    or cheapness, but there was a difference.

    In a SqueezeBox world, the first possible jitter is gone. You use your favorite
    rip/extraction software to read the digital audio and put it as a WAV, MP3,
    ogg,
    flac, etc.

    The second is a possible concern with the SqueeseBox world, but
    an external DAC resolves it. The Benchmark site has good information on
    what they do to control the effects of jitter in their DAC-1.

    Cheap power supplies? like the wallwart that comes with a SqueezeBox?
    Actually, with an external DAC, the power inside the SqueezeBox has
    zero impact on the sound. But be fair, the whole SqueezeBox costs less
    than the power cable that audiophiles obsess about.

    To my view, the beauty of a SqueezeBox system is to remove all
    attractiveness of the audiophile $5000 "cd transport"
    The $300 Sbx probably has a $20 DAC, but I can replace it with one
    costing $200, $1000, or even $20,000 if I want to, and not have to
    touch my CDs or server. Very cool.

    >In addition is it certain that the streaming process itself will not degrade
    >the sound, or even that the digital-out on the Squeezebox outputs exactly
    >the stream it receives?


    I can't talk about how bit accurate the SqueezeBox outputs are, but
    streaming is
    just data transfer. Using TCP/IP, it is error protected and ordered.
    It is just a pipe, as long as there are no big drop outs.

    The beauty of digital audio is that it is digital, it flat works or does not.
    No room for subtle degradations.

    The point in getting a better DAC is that the DAC process has huge
    room for non-linearities. Both the DAC and ADC sides can make clear
    and audible differences.

    Pat

    p.s. I've noticed that the traffic volume on this list is higher than
    advertized.
    And that there are several kinds of different threads (how come my server
    doesn't
    work, how do I do X, how to make it sound better, techniques to create
    a music farm, etc.) At some point, it will make sense to have separate
    lists for
    different types of discussions. Anybody got an idea as to when that split
    should occur?

  3. #3
    alexd
    Guest

    List reorganisation - was: [OT] Audiophiles: Can theaudio reproduction of the CD be equalled or bettered?

    On Thu, 2004-02-26 at 12:06 -0500, Pat Farrell wrote:

    > p.s. I've noticed that the traffic volume on this list is higher than
    > advertized.
    > And that there are several kinds of different threads (how come my
    > server doesn't
    > work, how do I do X, how to make it sound better, techniques to create
    > a music farm, etc.) At some point, it will make sense to have separate
    > lists for
    > different types of discussions. Anybody got an idea as to when that
    > split
    > should occur?


    When anybody with a question can pick the right list without anybody
    else telling them that said question belongs on a different list. In
    other words, never. Accurate thread Subject:s would be helpful, enabling
    one to easily ignore irrelevant threads.

    alexd
    --
    http://alexd.mine.nu

  4. #4
    NOT a Slim Devices Employee kdf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    9,493

    List reorganisation - was: [OT] Audiophiles: Can theaudio reproduction of the CD be equalled or bettered?

    Quoting alexd <troff-news (AT) blueyonder (DOT) co.uk>:

    > On Thu, 2004-02-26 at 12:06 -0500, Pat Farrell wrote:
    >
    > > p.s. I've noticed that the traffic volume on this list is higher than
    > > advertized.
    > > And that there are several kinds of different threads (how come my
    > > server doesn't
    > > work, how do I do X, how to make it sound better, techniques to create
    > > a music farm, etc.) At some point, it will make sense to have separate
    > > lists for
    > > different types of discussions. Anybody got an idea as to when that
    > > split
    > > should occur?

    >
    > When anybody with a question can pick the right list without anybody
    > else telling them that said question belongs on a different list. In
    > other words, never. Accurate thread Subject:s would be helpful, enabling
    > one to easily ignore irrelevant threads.
    >
    > alexd


    My feelings on this is really that the advertising should change. It has said
    5-10 messages/day since I've been a user. This goes back to when this was on
    yahoo groups and it was still well over 5 messages a day. Sean, Dean, Kevin,
    Patrick...yer gaining in success and profile, why not admit it

    -kdf

  5. #5
    Founder, Slim Devices seanadams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    2,879

    List reorganisation - was: [OT] Audiophiles: Can theaudio reproduction of the CD be equalled or bettered?

    Fixed.


    On Feb 26, 2004, at 12:48 PM, kdf wrote:

    > Quoting alexd <troff-news (AT) blueyonder (DOT) co.uk>:
    >
    >> On Thu, 2004-02-26 at 12:06 -0500, Pat Farrell wrote:
    >>
    >>> p.s. I've noticed that the traffic volume on this list is higher than
    >>> advertized.
    >>> And that there are several kinds of different threads (how come my
    >>> server doesn't
    >>> work, how do I do X, how to make it sound better, techniques to
    >>> create
    >>> a music farm, etc.) At some point, it will make sense to have
    >>> separate
    >>> lists for
    >>> different types of discussions. Anybody got an idea as to when that
    >>> split
    >>> should occur?

    >>
    >> When anybody with a question can pick the right list without anybody
    >> else telling them that said question belongs on a different list. In
    >> other words, never. Accurate thread Subject:s would be helpful,
    >> enabling
    >> one to easily ignore irrelevant threads.
    >>
    >> alexd

    >
    > My feelings on this is really that the advertising should change. It
    > has said
    > 5-10 messages/day since I've been a user. This goes back to when this
    > was on
    > yahoo groups and it was still well over 5 messages a day. Sean, Dean,
    > Kevin,
    > Patrick...yer gaining in success and profile, why not admit it
    >
    > -kdf
    >

  6. #6
    Mark Bennett
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of the CDbe equalled or bettered?

    Pat Farrell wrote:

    > At 04:12 AM 2/26/2004, Simon Turner wrote:
    >
    > To my view, the beauty of a SqueezeBox system is to remove all
    > attractiveness of the audiophile $5000 "cd transport"
    > The $300 Sbx probably has a $20 DAC, but I can replace it with one
    > costing $200, $1000, or even $20,000 if I want to, and not have to
    > touch my CDs or server. Very cool.


    This is exactly my position and I can see no reason why it shouldn't
    be true.

    >> In addition is it certain that the streaming process itself will not
    >> degrade
    >> the sound, or even that the digital-out on the Squeezebox outputs exactly
    >> the stream it receives?

    >
    >
    > I can't talk about how bit accurate the SqueezeBox outputs are, but
    > streaming is
    > just data transfer. Using TCP/IP, it is error protected and ordered.
    > It is just a pipe, as long as there are no big drop outs.


    Completely seconded on the network front. If this wasn't true then
    computer networks as we know them would never work, and they
    clearly do.

    I also can't believe that the squeezebox or server is corrupting
    the data - if it is then it's pretty subtle. It would be very
    interesting to capture the digital stream coming out of the
    squeezebox and then comparing it with the original. As long as
    you're using WAV as the source and get the data alignment right
    it really should be identical.

    This is theoretically possible if someone has a PC with S/PDIF
    in. Unfortunately I do not, although I'll add it to the spec
    of my intended SlimServer machine to allow me to find out.

    > The beauty of digital audio is that it is digital, it flat works or does
    > not.
    > No room for subtle degradations.


    I'm not so sure I agree with this statement in this context.
    In absolute terms you're completely right, but this is different.

    The problem with CD player's is that they do occasionally read
    the disc wrongly, and when the error correction is overloaded
    they send out bad information. This damages the works/doesn't
    work argument, because a few bits here and there wrong in the
    data stream, which the mechanism interpolates to fill in for,
    would be very hard, if not impossible, to detect subjectively.
    As a whole I would expect them to appear as a subtle degradation.

    The really old CD players used to indicate when the error
    correction failed to correct errors, most players now hide that
    information.

    I suspect that in most cases the uncorrected error rate is pretty
    low, if not zero, but I wouldn't like to put money on it.

    The squeezebox really should have zero errors all the time, since
    hard disks and computer networks have so much error correction
    built in that it isn't likely to happen. If you get glitches on
    the squeezebox it's probably going to be because the buffer empties
    than any other reason.

  7. #7
    Pat Farrell
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of theCD be equalled or bettered?

    At 05:11 PM 2/26/2004, Mark Bennett wrote:
    >Pat Farrell wrote:
    >>The beauty of digital audio is that it is digital, it flat works or does not.
    >>No room for subtle degradations.

    >I'm not so sure I agree with this statement in this context.
    >In absolute terms you're completely right, but this is different.


    No, it really isn't. :-)
    Actually I think we are in agreement here.

    >The problem with CD player's is that they do occasionally read
    >the disc wrongly, and when the error correction is overloaded
    >they send out bad information. This damages the works/doesn't
    >work argument, because a few bits here and there wrong in the
    >data stream, which the mechanism interpolates to fill in for,
    >would be very hard, if not impossible, to detect subjectively.
    >As a whole I would expect them to appear as a subtle degradation.


    Correct. Since Red Book audio is read as analog pits, there is
    plenty of room for the reading/extracting process to go wrong.
    And the specs have assorted error correction techniques, and
    finally some "fake the last signal" stuff to avoid silence.

    And PC readers vary in quality a lot. The cheap ones do not
    extract reliably. I use the TDK Velo ones, which are more expensive
    but a lot more accurate. It is next to impossible to find out what
    the real error rate is, some of the errors are caught and fixed in
    the drive circuitry before it gets out to any real part of the CD player.
    The errors have to be pretty massive before the main player
    error fixup routines are called.

    It might be cheaper to buy new CDs for the few that won't read
    than to worry about it.

    >I suspect that in most cases the uncorrected error rate is pretty
    >low, if not zero, but I wouldn't like to put money on it.


    It can be very high. Depends on the CD drive, the media,
    surface grease, dirt, etc. It is common for two drives to extract
    different files from a single CD.

    >The squeezebox really should have zero errors all the time, since
    >hard disks and computer networks have so much error correction
    >built in that it isn't likely to happen. If you get glitches on
    >the squeezebox it's probably going to be because the buffer empties
    >than any other reason.


    Again, this is really a separate issue.
    Once the data is properly extracted ("ripped") then
    you can transfer it all you want. The Sqbx will only
    glitch if it is not fed fast enough.

    A suitable network should more than keep an DAC happy.
    And if not, you can replace hubs with switches, which are nearly
    as cheap. Red Book audio only needs 150kB/s. Which is trivial
    on any decent network. Even 96/24 stereo only needs about
    four times that, still trivial.

    Pat

  8. #8
    Bhavesh Patel
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of the CD beequalled or bettered?

    I use an M-Audio Transit USB outboard DAC (around $80 US) and the sound
    quality coming out of it is simply phenomenal. I've had relatively
    higher end setups in the past (Adcom GCD-600 CD player, Adcom Preamp,
    Bi-Amped speakers (Adcom amps), quality interconnects, proper speaker
    placement, etc), in addition to Naim, Arcam, and some others, and this
    easily rivals the best I've had. Most importantly, the clarity of the
    music has been awesome. I am hearing things that I never heard before,
    understanding words that I never understood before, and hearing a wider
    stage with good depth.

    Regards,

    Bhavesh


    On Feb 26, 2004, at 3:12 AM, Simon Turner wrote:

    > A few people (including me) are talking about buying rather expensive
    > Dacs
    > to achieve high end audio using PC's, Flacs and the Squeezebox.
    >
    > Is this realistic bearing in mind that we are replacing a dedicated CD
    > player with a hard drive. Surely all the drawbacks that good CD players
    > strive so hard to overcome are inherant (in spades) on a hard drive,
    > i.e
    > jitter, cheap power supply etc.
    >
    > In addition is it certain that the streaming process itself will not
    > degrade
    > the sound, or even that the digital-out on the Squeezebox outputs
    > exactly
    > the stream it receives?
    >
    > Regards,
    > Simon Turner
    > Brighton UK
    >
    >
    >

  9. #9
    Pat Farrell
    Guest

    [OT] Audiophiles: Can the audio reproduction of theCD be equalled or bettered?

    At 04:49 AM 2/27/2004, Simon Turner wrote:
    >I just want to summarise this thread.
    >It seems to me that it is very likely that if CDs are ripped to Flac using
    >Exact Audio Copy in sercure mode and a good DAC is added to the digital
    >output of the Squeezebox then there is no real reason why the analogue
    >signl to a hifi amp should not be more accurate than that obtained from a
    >very expensive CD Player.
    > Hmmm... better sell my CD player quick....


    Correct, except you probably don't want to talk about "more accurate" in this
    context. Better to think in terms of "exactly the same as" rather than "more"

    And of course, accuracy is not really a goal anywhere in music.
    Recording engineers select between microphones to make the music
    sound "right" and to give it the proper emotional impact. If you check
    the professional audio recording world, there are long discussions
    about the coloring of this microphone, or preamp, or monitor. Let alone
    recording studio, or concert hall acoustic signature.

    Pat

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