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Digital: far too complicated?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Aspro, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Aspro

    Aspro Active Member

    At its inception digital was very simple - you just bought a CD player. With the advent of streaming it became a lot more complicated. You might well now have a NAS, streamer, DAC and network switch.

    For better sound quality you might then want to invest in an upsampler, USB purifier and reclocker (and possibly some other stuff I don't know about).

    Add in linear power supplies for this lot and your digital player box count could get into double figures! I'll own up to 6. I'd be interested to know the maximum box count among the PFM community.

    In essence all you are trying to do is convert data from your storage/streaming channel into an analogue signal. Do you really need 10 boxes for that? Isn't it all getting out hand? Where does it all end?

    I appreciate you can buy a one box solution e.g. an Auralic Aries Mini or Altair G1 with HDD fitted. Then again you could get their 4 box G2 combo for the price of a nice new car.

    Some think it's all snake oil (just ones and zeros). I'm not sure. That view implies you think the industry is either incompetent by developing products which have no real benefit or they know that and are cynically exploiting the market and consumers and reviewers fall for it.
  2. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    Get a decent DAC with a very good power supply and the rest is bollocks.

    I haven't heard much that beats a Logitech squeezebox into my Audio Note DAC.
  3. FL390

    FL390 pfm Member

    Better still, get a decent pair of wireless HiFi quality speakers, with or without streaming capability and get rid of all those unnecessary boxes and the tangle of wire that goes behind them.
  4. garyi

    garyi leave blank

    Agree with the big there although I love roon for the myriad options of where to stream from but in essence a pc of some flavour into a dac job done.

    i have a couple of boutique usb cables here makes sod all difference
    Funk, booja30, matt j and 2 others like this.
  5. Nagraboy

    Nagraboy pfm Member

    I mostly stuck with CD until the last couple of years, as high-end vinyl and computer audio seemed too complicated and technical. Having bought a Sony Walkman with SC card storage, I started ripping CDs. Once I’d done that, some time later I got a TIDAL account and a Chromecast Audio to plug into my Arcam DAC. Then I got Roon trial and was mightily impressed. Being a numpty, a went for the Roon Nucleus option and lots of stupid questions on their forum to get me sorted. So now I have:

    Roon Nucleus with 2TB solid-state drive
    Chromecast Audio streamer
    Arcam airDAC
    ...and a TIDAL account.

    I sometimes wonder if a streamer with TIDAL would’ve been good enough, but Roon is very good too.
    maccar likes this.
  6. brecklandboy

    brecklandboy pfm Member

    A very good post, Aspro.

    I know that streaming et al is currently flavour of the month but personally it has never rocked my boat. Despite the audio press trying to hammer nails into the CD coffin , its simplicity as a replay medium remains unmatched IMHO. Somewhere down the line it will doubtless be rediscovered as the 'new vinyl' and some manufacturers could restart production of players in a niche marketplace. If Sony ever relaunched production of their classic 1990s top of the range one box ES players, I would buy one in a shot.
  7. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    I’ve got a small fanless notebook with the lid shut so it’s no bigger than a modest book, a DAC and a pair of (active) speakers. Hard to get a simpler system. In my vinyl/active isobarik days had loads more boxes. You can make anything complicated if you try, but there’s no need to. My system gives me virtually instant access to millions of cds thanks to Qobuz. All of the rest is history. If you are a music lover you are in the promised land nowadays.
    Linds, SteveS1, booja30 and 3 others like this.
  8. Octavian

    Octavian pfm Member

    Almost exactly the way I see it. In faith based audio everything gets complicated because that is one of the main selling points.
    Julf likes this.
  9. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    This made me titter, when did hi-fi enthusiasts ever not make things more complicated?

    Naim with their power supplies, Linn with the LP12 upgrades others going from integrated amps to pre-power then mono locks. CD players turning into transports & dacs with upsampling. Etc etc.

    I laugh at myself as I have a full naim system with an LP12 & all the madness that goes with it.
    Rack Kit, suzywong and John Phillips like this.
  10. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    mjwolf likes this.
  11. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    After replaying LP and VHF FM radio, I started with CD, and at one stage [before the tumble in bitrate and quality] used a DAB tuner.

    I then started to use iTunes [on a Windows platform] with a small USB DAC.

    Eventually I ended up with iTunes on a Mac mini with an Audiolab MDAC.

    Now I just use the analogue out on the Mini and it seems more than adequate to me.

    My radio is a 1957 Troughline, which feeds my ESL via a Quad II Forty. It has to be said that this is somewhat better than my digital side.

    KISS every time, I say.

    Best wishes from George
  12. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    Vinyl could also be complicated if you wanted. Direct drive vs Belt drive, which cartridge to go for, VTA, VTF, Azimuth settings. Then onto the Phono Stage....Step up Transformer, cartridge matching etc etc.
    Yes digital can be daunting/complicated.
    It can also be pretty easy.....£500 to get a Bluesound Node2i. Connect it as you would a CD player & on to your wifi network or hard wire it to your router if possible. Get a free trial of Tidal &/or Qobuz. Decide which you prefer.
    Thats it. Sit back & enjoy the music.
    Tarzan and Torris12 like this.
  13. mjwolf

    mjwolf pfm Member

    booja30 and Julf like this.
  14. thebiglebowski

    thebiglebowski pfm Member

    It's not bollocks and where did I say 'expensive' I said 'very good' so stop misquoting me.
    hairyderriere likes this.
  15. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    I am pretty sure Laserdisc is the next vinyl.
    brumjam likes this.
  16. dave

    dave Plywood King

    KISS process stolen from George years ago: iMac with iTunes library ripped in AIFF, stored on a RAID station and AirPlayed over WiFi to a Naim Muso. No wires, no stands and no sacrifice to the Gods of HiFi required.


    George J likes this.
  17. mjwolf

    mjwolf pfm Member

    Apologies for assuming that you would equate "very good" with "expensive", although it's arguable that many people do.

    However, there is no need for any sort of special/extra/separate/linear power supply.
  18. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Absolutely. Digital does not have to be complicated. Both analogue and digital can be as simple or as complicated as you like. More boxes do not guarantee better sound. It is all about picking the right boxes and using them to best effect.
    booja30, Emlin, Rockmeister and 3 others like this.
  19. htm_1968

    htm_1968 pfm Member

    Can't understand this thread at all. If you have stable wi-fi and/or lan access to the internet then streaming is simple once you bother to RTFM for the kit.

    I would agree with @thebiglebowski about a streamer and DAC. I use an Aesthetix Pandora DAC and a Lumin D1. Plug everything in and it just works. I have a Innuous Zen MKIII with my CD rips, copied over from an ancient Vortexbox. Plug that in and it works. There is zero faff, zero maintenance, just turn on, select a piece of music and enjoy it. Add Roon for a bit of gloss, but still zero faff.

    My uber-cheap Pi based office system is similarly not troublesome at all. Turn it on and have a nice time listening to music.
    Julf and Gaycha like this.
  20. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I get the OP, but it can be simple as simple can be. I have a Spotify account. I steam music from my computer to a 'Gramofon' box. The Gramofon is getting spotify from the home WiFi. The computer simply wakes it up and tells it what to play. My computer is here, 40 ft from the Gramofon, which has a simple 'line in' to the amp. No special cables, nothing. It's never failed, is easy, cheap and sounds as good as Spotify can. Job done.
    Here she blows: https://gramofon.com
    Total cost, £50.

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