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Which is best CD transport or ripped as FLAC to a NAS drive?

Discussion in 'audio' started by K'ford Pikelet, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Darren

    Darren All Business

    To you it does. But that's not something I enjoy. Different strokes.
  2. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    Just get a subscription to Qobuz and be happy. You can always get a man to walk in front of your streamer with a red flag if you are uncomfortable with change.
  3. notevenclose

    notevenclose pfm Member

    True. Only thing the physical media has going for it is invariably it sounds better. ;-)
    G T Audio and Darren like this.
  4. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    My own findings (not beliefs) are:

    a) I've not tried an expensive streamer, but have never been able to get lossless rips from computer to DAC (directly or via USB/SPDIF converter) to sound as good as the same CDs into the same DAC. Was so bored or curious I even burned a WAV copy of a ripped album back to CD, and it didn't sound quite as good as the original.

    b) Ditto rips through Chromecast Audio too - not as good as the CDs.

    c) Have also found SQ differences between CD transports.

    Can conceptually grasp the 'bits are bits' thing but it hasn't seemed to happen in practice.
    Darren likes this.
  5. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Bless you. The hard of understanding are always with us it seems.
  6. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    Looks like you need to do some homework...
  7. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    Again you need to do some reading and understand why certain manufacturers take a different approach to digital replay...
  8. Gaycha

    Gaycha Well-Known Member

    Agree. The Qubuz 24bit FLAC stream of Ryan Adams "Come Home' fed into my Benchmark HGC via SBT, is a thing of beauty to behold.

    The only problem is that there is nothing to tinker with or to tweak that makes any difference. You just have to listen to the music.
    AndyU likes this.
  9. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Extra processing can be worthwhile when it serves a purpose and is used intelligently. Converting 16 bit samples into (for example) 24 bit samples allows you to manipulate the signal whilst preserving all of its original dynamic range without compression or clipping. This in turn preserves fidelity to the original analogue waveform, whilst opening up some pretty cool possibilities like room correction. It can even result in shorter signal paths, for example by eliminating a preamplifier from the system.
    tuga likes this.
  10. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    Both are detrimental to the audio I'm afraid if we are talking about the best sound reproduction. Any manipulation or extra processing is changing the original data. Possibly adding something that wasn't there in the first place. Much better to treat the room than use DSP for room correction which reduces soundstage width and depth. It's OK for background listening but for faithful high-end audio reproduction where spacial information is needed to recreate the concert hall, it's far from ideal.
  11. whatsnext

    whatsnext Naimless

    I ripped my CDs with an old Cyrus 6 CD Player, dbPowerAmp and have never opened the OCD window of comparisons. Music sounds fine either via UpNp or Moode Player. Once a piece starts playing all concerns you guys think about get replaced by the music.
    JTWzen, Gaycha and AndyU like this.
  12. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    That rather depends on your goal. I am more interested in the analogue waveform the bits represent than the bits themselves. By changing those bits in a considerate way, you can compensate for some of the negative effects of the room and the playback chain, and hear something closer to what the artist actually recorded.

    A mix of DSP-based correction at the low end and physical treatment of higher frequencies provides great sound quality without stuffing the room full of traps. Used appropriately DSP-based correction does not have the negative effects you describe. It actually helps to reveal spatial cues and other subtle details by reducing modal boominess.
    marshanp and tuga like this.
  13. tuga

    tuga European

  14. tuga

    tuga European

    I've owned a 47labs DAC so I bought into that rubbish in the past.

    Some people will love it, just as many will hate it...

    Technical it's lower performance/fidelity.

    Jussi Laako from HQ Player has posted comparison measurements of many DACs (same DAC NOS, internal ASRC, HQ Player) at Computer Audiophile. Have a look. Or just go to Stereophile if that's easier for you.
  15. Dee-Kay

    Dee-Kay Member

    In my experience the quality & capability of the unit feeding the DAC have determined the result. I switched from CD as my preferred source to NAS & network music player (Naim ND-5XS) as it sounded better than my Naim CD-3.5. The convenience was a side benefit.

    Out of curiosity I used CD players, DVD & Blu-ray players and a variety of media player boxes into the Naim DAC and all sounded harsh and flat compared with the Naim’s own file transport. At this point I was only using the Naim’s internal DAC but had committed to the format enough to then buy a new Audio Note DAC, using the Naim as a “transport” for the files on my NAS. Unsurprisingly this brought about a dramatic improvement in SQ.

    I, like yourself was curious whether a “good” CD transport would sound better and after hearing a few, bought an AN CDT Two which has completely turned the tables; now my CDs sound better than the files of any format and by a very large margin. I one day may hear a file transport which turns the tables back in favour of files but in the meantime I’m enjoying music more than ever before. I’ve also gained a renewed appreciation of the CD format and the different approach to listening it promotes.

    There’s likely a particular synergy in using one manufacturer’s transport and DAC, particularly with the AN NOS approach but I also suspect the attention to detail in selecting a professional level mechanism, multiple high quality power supplies; tank-like construction and high end components such as the Black Gate capacitors has a lot to do with the results.

    There appears to be much about digital music reproduction we still don’t fully understand but in my experience, digital sounds better the less you try to process and the more you isolate it from electronic noise and physical vibration much like analogue. The better CD transports I have heard have been substantialy built and invariably with clamped CD top loading designs including those from AN & CEC.

    I suspect the Teddy DAC is more revealing than the DAC in my Naim so I’m sure you would hear an improvement with a good CD transport. I also suspect there are many better ways to feed the files to your DAC which would give similar improvements. My advice isn’t original but would be to buy with your ears and if you can’t, trust the experienced over the theorists.

    Sorry that get a bit wordy!
  16. tuga

    tuga European

    On the subject of DAC chips, here's something that the late Charles Hansen of Ayre wrote at Computer Audiophile:

    The thing that I see over and over and over in this thread is an irrational belief in the importance of the DAC chip itself. Just about everything affect the sound of an audio product, but when it comes to DACs, I would rank (in order or sonic importance the general categories as follows:

    1) The analog circuitry - 99.9% of all DACs are designed by digital engineers who don't know enough about analog. They just follow the app note. The specs on the op-amps are fabulous and digital engineers are inherently seduced by the beauty of the math story. There are minor differences in the sound quality between various op-amps, but it's kind of like the difference between a Duncan-Heinz cake mix and a Betty Crocker cake mix. 99.8% of the op-amps are used a current-to-voltage converters with the inverting input operating as a virtual ground. This is probably the worst way to use an op-amp as the input signal will cause the internal circuitry to go into slewing-limited distortion. http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/anablog/4311648/Op-amp-myths-ndash-by-Barrie-Gilbert

    With discrete circuitry, the only limit is your imagination. You are free to adjust the topology of the circuit, the brands of the parts, the active devices, the bias current in each stage - anything you can think of. Think of this as going to a world-class patisserie in Paris and seeing all the different things that can be made.

    2) The power supplies - 99.9% of all DACs use "3-pin" power supply regulators, which are pretty much op-amps connected to a series pass transistor. Everything in #1 applies here.

    3) The master clock - jitter is a single number assigned to measure the phase noise of an oscillator over a fixed bandwidth. It is far more i important to know the spectral distribution of the timing variations and how they correlate to audible problems. 99.9% of all DACs use a strip-cut AT crystal in a Pierce gate oscillator circuit. It's pretty good for the money but the results will depend heavily on the implementation, particularly in the PCB layout and the power supplies (#2).

    It's hard to rank the rest of these so I will give them a tie score.

    4) The digital filter - 99.9% of all DACs use the digital filter built into the DAC chip. About a dozen companies know how to make a custom digital filter based on either FPGAs or DSP chips.

    4) PCB layout - grounding and shielding, impedance-controlled traces, return currents, and return current paths are all critical. For a complex digital PCB, 8 layers is the minimum for good results.

    4) The DAC chip - almost everything these days is delta sigma with a built-in digital filter. Differences between different chips is one of the less important aspects of D/A converter designs. Both ESS and AKM have some special tricks to reduce out-of-band noise, which can be helpful, but not dramatic.

    4) Passive parts - the quality of these can make a large difference in overall performance, especially for analog. Not many digital engineers sit around listening to different brands of resistors to see what sounds best.

    These are just a few of the things that make differences in the way that a DAC will sound.
  17. tuga

    tuga European

    JL says that, mathematically speaking, upsampling Redbook then downsampling it again will result in the original file.
    Since he's been working on telecom at high level for at least a decade and has designed one of the best music file processing/playing engines I have no reason doubt his word.

    But as Strictly Stereo, I'm more interested in the reconstruction of the waveform.

    Audiophiles get hung up on concepts. Some of them like single driver speakers or NOS DACs for Redbook have low performance potential and are best avoided, unless the end user intentionally chooses to go for the lower fidelity.
    Some NOS DACs use the TDA1543 which even Philips say it's for low performance applications (and this is corroborated by the specs).
  18. Thanks Dee-Kay that's really helpful. I'll short list a few transports and give them an audition.
  19. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    I agree with you about 47 labs and its not a good example of the technology. I have been designing and building audio equipment for 40 years, 25 years commercially including DACs during the last 10 years so I don't need to read Stereophile to know what works and what does not. Too many quote measurements, articles and accuracy without knowing what it takes to make music sound lifelike through electronic equipment.
  20. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    You really don't get it, do you! I won't waste my time on this thread any longer.

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