Thread: The Audiophile Thread

  1. #1601
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    How so assuming that both come from the same source and are lossless? CD vs. FLAC? FLAC is compressed but lossless and is stated as being identical to the CD source at 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo audio. What am I missing? I don't want a debate, I'm just trying to understand.
    "Lossless" means different things to different people.

  2. #1602
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    Any suggestions on reasonably priced HQ streaming devices to replace the unsupported Squeezeboxes? It should be a simple component device, preferably with it's own HQ DAC like the Sqeezebox had and top-drawer software for control via iOS and Android. I haven' researched this for a while but last time I did I couldn't find anything in the price/performance sweet spot formerly occupied by SqueezeBox.
    Most of the audiophile rigs I've seen that use digital files use a laptop, a Raspberry PI or mini-Mac that feeds into a DAC. I haven't seen anything that does what your Squeezebox did.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  3. #1603
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    Most of the audiophile rigs I've seen that use digital files use a laptop, a Raspberry PI or mini-Mac that feeds into a DAC. I haven't seen anything that does what your Squeezebox did.
    Right - sounds like perhaps I should look at taking the "HTPC" route, for example https://www.assassinhtpc.com/audiophile.php

    Anyone here have or are considering an HTPC?

  4. #1604
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    I just want to be able to play my FLAC music library via a high quality streaming device without breaking the bank. I really like being able to browse folder, genre etc., search quickly to find stuff play random tracks, see the artwork, lookup artist info online or listen on the iPad if I'm not around a hi-fi, all of which I can do now with SqueezePad.
    Have you thought about buying an OPPO player? While the higher priced UDP-205 has a better DAC, if that isn’t an issue you can go with the UDP-203, at about half the price of the 205. It allows streaming from other devices like your computer and supports FLAC, amongst other formats. Since I have my music in ALAC format in my iTunes library, I prefer to use Appl TV...though I feed it through my OPPO UDP-205 so I can take advantage of its kickass DAC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    Q2: Any thoughts to the quality of streaming lossless vs. playing CDs? It seems to me both are digital so in theory should provide the same quality. Assuming you've made a good quality lossless rip, using the same AD or better converter why would one sound better then the other? There are other variables I suppose such as jitter, error correction, blah blah but I'm out of my depth there.
    I stream, unless it’s HDCD, from my iTunes library, as before, through my OPPO, and I don’t find any difference between streaming CD quality ALAC and playing the actual CD on the OPPO. FWIW.
    John Kelman
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  5. #1605
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Have you thought about buying an OPPO player? While the higher priced UDP-205 has a better DAC, if that isn’t an issue you can go with the UDP-203, at about half the price of the 205. It allows streaming from other devices like your computer and supports FLAC, amongst other formats. Since I have my music in ALAC format in my iTunes library, I prefer to use Appl TV...though I feed it through my OPPO UDP-205 so I can take advantage of its kickass DAC.


    I stream, unless it’s HDCD, from my iTunes library, as before, through my OPPO, and I don’t find any difference between streaming CD quality ALAC and playing the actual CD on the OPPO. FWIW.
    Thanks for the suggestion John, I'll look at the OPPO, although I'm not in the market for a DVD player if it fits the bill as a media server as well, maybe it's a viable solution for me.

    I've ripped CDs that are basically unplayable with EAC with excellent results and the sound is fine and at least I can't tell the rips from the original CD so I agree!

  6. #1606
    Up to the point of transducer output (speakers) , today consumer delivery hardware is pretty much commodity technology with a very high psychoacoustic quality level. The *real* improvements are coming from experiments with channel number, loudspeaker technology, and room acoustics treatment/amelioration. The rest is just audiophile wankery. ( I include turntables in the latter; that's for people who are enamoured of that particular brand of euphonic distortion, and maybe nostalgia, though I do miss the engagement of 12" album covers and packaging)

    the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the loudspeakers, the room : those are the things that really make a difference.

  7. #1607
    Quote Originally Posted by Rael View Post
    Yeah, I don't understand why Tull/Ian Anderson insist on lossy Dolby Digital as opposed to blu-ray or even MLP for DVD-Audio for the surround mixes. I know that the cost of manufacturing was listed as an excuse, but I would think if King Crimson and Marillion could afford to issue 5.1 surround mixes on blu-ray that Jethro Tull could do it. Still, I have to say that most of those Tull surround mixes sound pretty good for what they are...but lossless would make those box sets definitive.
    I doubt there would be any audible difference in a level-matched, blind comparison at normal listening levels.

  8. #1608
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    I agree that's the bottom line. I ask because I've seen a lot of controversy around high-end CD players vs "ripped" or downloaded digital files etc. and wanted to get the take of the audiophile gurus lurking about...



    How so assuming that both come from the same source and are lossless? CD vs. FLAC? FLAC is compressed but lossless and is stated as being identical to the CD source at 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo audio. What am I missing? I don't want a debate, I'm just trying to understand.

    Thanks
    Apple Lossless is also compressed and lossless. But Apple Lossless doesnít support 24/96 like FLAC can. For me, the only reason to use FLAC is for the higher resolution. Iím not saying higher resolution is necessarily better, but it can be and if mastered properly, is closer to the source. 16 bit 44kHz forces compression in the amplitude dimension, not data compression. Amplitude compression can be devastating to sound quality, especially if it is done digitally.
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  9. #1609
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    16 bit 44kHz forces compression in the amplitude dimension, not data compression. Amplitude compression can be devastating to sound quality, especially if it is done digitally.
    Explain please. Are you saying 16-bit lacks dynamic range?

  10. #1610
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    Apple Lossless is also compressed and lossless. But Apple Lossless doesn’t support 24/96 like FLAC can. For me, the only reason to use FLAC is for the higher resolution. I’m not saying higher resolution is necessarily better, but it can be and if mastered properly, is closer to the source. 16 bit 44kHz forces compression in the amplitude dimension, not data compression. Amplitude compression can be devastating to sound quality, especially if it is done digitally.
    Not true. I have up to 24/192 as ALAC in iTunes, and they absolutely play with no problem...and a/b'd to a CD of the same record, this is not down-sampling; the high res files sound like they should (when properly mastered, the caveat!): much better. Places like HDTRacks and ProStudioMasters don't sell high res WAV files; they sell AIFF, which can also be imported and played in iTunes in higher than CD quality res. I typically buy AIFF (call me anal), then import into iTunes and convert to ALAC. But I've a/b'd AIFF 24/192 files to ALACs of the same, and they sound the same to my ears.
    John Kelman
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  11. #1611
    Quote Originally Posted by ssully View Post

    the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the loudspeakers, the room : those are the things that really make a difference.
    Well, I'd agree these are the major components. But also, not to be ignored: the DAC in whatever device you have, the player (my OPPO UDP-205 sounds a whole lot better than even my old 105D). And some amps pair better with certain speakers. The Tetra president's eyes popped when we set up my 333's through a Leema Tucana II amp; he said he'd never heard them sound so good, and now recommends Leema to folks willing to cough up the $$ (I was lucky; got a floor model with full warranty for $4K when it was selling for $7K...and then, about a month later the price went up to $9k, so I got a $9K amp for $4K, shipping included from Toronto!).

    But I would agree that mixing, mastering and speakers are the biggest components to making for a quality sounding recording.
    John Kelman
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  12. #1612
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion John, I'll look at the OPPO, although I'm not in the market for a DVD player if it fits the bill as a media server as well, maybe it's a viable solution for me.

    I've ripped CDs that are basically unplayable with EAC with excellent results and the sound is fine and at least I can't tell the rips from the original CD so I agree!
    I dont know what you use for a DAC, but the one in the 205 kicks serious butt.
    John Kelman
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  13. #1613
    Quote Originally Posted by ssully View Post
    Up to the point of transducer output (speakers) , today consumer delivery hardware is pretty much commodity technology with a very high psychoacoustic quality level. The *real* improvements are coming from experiments with channel number, loudspeaker technology, and room acoustics treatment/amelioration. The rest is just audiophile wankery. ( I include turntables in the latter; that's for people who are enamoured of that particular brand of euphonic distortion, and maybe nostalgia, though I do miss the engagement of 12" album covers and packaging)

    the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the loudspeakers, the room : those are the things that really make a difference.

    While I agree that modern, consumer level electronics have improved to the point where it is at a fairly high level, better high end gear does still sound better.

    Now, the differences may be considered slight to some people, to others, those differences may stand out like a sore thumb. Especially when they have speakers at the high end of audio. Slight differences, when heard through midfi type speakers (which have also improved in recent years), become more obvious through speakers with very high resolving capabilities, transient response, transparency, accuracy, etc.

    Add to the above, the same equipment in an acoustically treated room, and the differences become even more noticeable.

    If those differences are not enough for some to warrant the differences in price, it is completely understandable. Everyone has their own point of diminishing returns.
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

  14. #1614
    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post
    While I agree that modern, consumer level electronics have improved to the point where it is at a fairly high level, better high end gear does still sound better.

    Now, the differences may be considered slight to some people, to others, those differences may stand out like a sore thumb. Especially when they have speakers at the high end of audio. Slight differences, when heard through midfi type speakers (which have also improved in recent years), become more obvious through speakers with very high resolving capabilities, transient response, transparency, accuracy, etc.

    Add to the above, the same equipment in an acoustically treated room, and the differences become even more noticeable.

    If those differences are not enough for some to warrant the differences in price, it is completely understandable. Everyone has their own point of diminishing returns.
    Good post, and I agree completely. I was blown away at how much better everything (and I feed pretty much everything, including my Smart TV and Apple TV, through my OPPO in order to take advantage of its DAC) was when I upgrade my OPPO BDP-105D to the UDP-205 a couple weeks ago. Rottersclub was over and, while I don't know if he recognized this as the reason, noted how particularlyt sweet my rig was sounding.
    John Kelman
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  15. #1615
    Looks sweet. I'd get one, if I could justify being in the market for one (I'm married and my current players are in good working order).

  16. #1616
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    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post
    While I agree that modern, consumer level electronics have improved to the point where it is at a fairly high level, better high end gear does still sound better.

    Now, the differences may be considered slight to some people, to others, those differences may stand out like a sore thumb. Especially when they have speakers at the high end of audio. Slight differences, when heard through midfi type speakers (which have also improved in recent years), become more obvious through speakers with very high resolving capabilities, transient response, transparency, accuracy, etc.

    Add to the above, the same equipment in an acoustically treated room, and the differences become even more noticeable.
    Speakers, room, ears... and MATERIAL to show up the differences. Very few recordings push the boundaries.

  17. #1617
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Not true. I have up to 24/192 as ALAC in iTunes, and they absolutely play with no problem...and a/b'd to a CD of the same record, this is not down-sampling; the high res files sound like they should (when properly mastered, the caveat!): much better. Places like HDTRacks and ProStudioMasters don't sell high res WAV files; they sell AIFF, which can also be imported and played in iTunes in higher than CD quality res. I typically buy AIFF (call me anal), then import into iTunes and convert to ALAC. But I've a/b'd AIFF 24/192 files to ALACs of the same, and they sound the same to my ears.
    24/192 ALAC May exist in ITunes, but ITunes did not manage and push those files to an iPhone. It was said that high res files like that are supported via the file folders now in ios11 in iphone/iPad. Of course how something special sounds depends on the system used for the compare.
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  18. #1618
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Well, I'd agree these are the major components. But also, not to be ignored: the DAC in whatever device you have, the player (my OPPO UDP-205 sounds a whole lot better than even my old 105D). And some amps pair better with certain speakers. The Tetra president's eyes popped when we set up my 333's through a Leema Tucana II amp; he said he'd never heard them sound so good, and now recommends Leema to folks willing to cough up the $$ (I was lucky; got a floor model with full warranty for $4K when it was selling for $7K...and then, about a month later the price went up to $9k, so I got a $9K amp for $4K, shipping included from Toronto!).

    But I would agree that mixing, mastering and speakers are the biggest components to making for a quality sounding recording.
    The DACs in an Oppo are a waste of money, unless you are listening to headphones. I would rather stream the player digitally to my Pioneer Elite receiver which has the same DACs, but room correction is executed in digital before the conversion. Plus, every other audio source gets to benefit from the DAC, not just the player.
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  19. #1619
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Explain please. Are you saying 16-bit lacks dynamic range?
    Yes, compared to the best analog tape recorders which were used as the reference spec for DSD and SACD. Over 100 dB in a 100 KHZ bandwidth. Nobody digitally archives in 16 bit 44 KHZ. 44k Hz canít really sample audio from a real drum set, accurately.
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  20. #1620
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Well, we've had this discussion before. No sense pointing you to the facts yet again.

  21. #1621
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    24/192 ALAC May exist in ITunes, but ITunes did not manage and push those files to an iPhone. It was said that high res files like that are supported via the file folders now in ios11 in iphone/iPad. Of course how something special sounds depends on the system used for the compare.
    It's not iTunes thatís the limitation; it's iPhones and iPads (all iOS devices, for that matter). But I use those same ALAC files on my FiiO and they are definitely higher res than the 24/48 max that current IOS devices support. Ditto, when I use Apple TV to stream from my iTunes library on my Mac into my living room system.

    So, the problem isnít iTunes; itís IOS devices. And Iíve heard rumblings that Apple may start supporting higher resolutions on them.
    John Kelman
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  22. #1622
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    24/192 ALAC May exist in ITunes, but ITunes did not manage and push those files to an iPhone. It was said that high res files like that are supported via the file folders now in ios11 in iphone/iPad. Of course how something special sounds depends on the system used for the compare.
    And the DACs in IOS devices are average at best. When listening to CD quality music on my iPhone and iPad, I use an OPPO HA-2 portable headphone amp/DAC, and the difference in sound is significant. I also use the HA-2 with my Mac, as its DAC also beats the Mac's onboard DAC.

    Again, the issue is IOS...I didn’t see that IOS 11 supports higher resolutions. Will have to try it...though I’m still partial to my FiiO for portable high res music.
    John Kelman
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  23. #1623
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    The DACs in an Oppo are a waste of money, unless you are listening to headphones. I would rather stream the player digitally to my Pioneer Elite receiver which has the same DACs, but room correction is executed in digital before the conversion. Plus, every other audio source gets to benefit from the DAC, not just the player.
    Sorry, you are mistaken... all my other sources (Smart/Fibe TV, Apple TV) are fed into the OPPO and use its DAC - that is one of its selling points, for folks who don’t have a strong DAC elsewhere, as is my case; my OPPO is the only device in my living room rig with a DAC. I actually, and intentionally, have a very simple setup:

    OPPO UDP-205;
    Leema Tucana II integrated amp;
    Tetra 333 Speakers.

    Add to that:
    Apple TV 4K;
    Bell Fibe TV DVR;
    Samsung 55" curved UHD 4K Smart TV;
    Logitech Harmony Hub universal remote (great as it is WIFI, not IR based, supports a surprising amount of gear - I was surprised that it supports my Leema - and the IOS app is also great).

    Obviously if you have an equivalent or better DAC elsewhere in your rig, you wouldn’t need the 205; the roughly half-priced UDP-203 would serve perfectly as a multi-format disc player. But I don't, and since the Leema only supports analogue connections including balanced XLR ins, and the UDP-205 has balanced XLR outs (the 203 doesn’t), it became a very affordable way to get: a great DAC, which can be fed from all my other sources; a better connection to my amp; and a multi-format disc player supporting everything up to and including 4K Blu Rays.

    So for me, it’s a terrific solution. And sorry, man, but you are absolutely mistaken in your thinking that only music played ON the OPPO player can take advantage of its DAC. For more detail: I feed my Apple TV to the OPPO via HDMI; and feed my Smart TV/Fibe TV to it via digital optical cable (tried ARC: HDMI, which worked until I tried to get the universal remote to properly switch to it and could not, even with Logitech's help; the OPPO distributor in Canada was the one who suggested that ARC: HDMI can be problematic on a number of fronts, so digital optical cable would be a better solution...and it is). And were i not using Apple TV to stream my iTunes library from my Mac in the office, I could stream using the OPPO, and it would also feed through its DAC.

    I was, in fact, originally using just RCA outs from the TV into my Leema until recently and, when I finally connected it to the OPPO via digital optical cable so that it now goes through the 205's DAC, the improvement in sound was pretty darn profound.

    So for me, this is a really great solution.
    Last edited by jkelman; 10-25-2017 at 03:07 PM.
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  24. #1624
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    Yes, compared to the best analog tape recorders which were used as the reference spec for DSD and SACD. Over 100 dB in a 100 KHZ bandwidth. Nobody digitally archives in 16 bit 44 KHZ. 44k Hz canít really sample audio from a real drum set, accurately.

    While not completely related to what you are saying above, there does seem to be a couple good reasons for higher than 44.1k, that are audible to some.

    The first reason, is that, it is very expensive and hard to build a brick wall filter designed to filter at 22k (half of 44.1, as per Nyquist theorem), that does not have artifacts that are audible down into the audible range of human hearing. When you move up to 96k or 192k, a much shallower filter can be used, which are easier and cheaper to build, and will not have any artifacts in the audible range.

    But more importantly (to me at least), and also very interesting, is the following information based on some recent studies from psycho-acousticians and neuroscientists on interaural time differences.

    There have been quite a few studies that show that humans can hear ITD as low as about 5 micro seconds (although 7 micro seconds seems to be more common findings), in other words, the difference between when a sound enters one ear, then the other. This is an evolved survival mechanism. Our ancestors, if they heard a twig snap, for example, needed to know immediately what direction the sound was coming from, and how far away it was, in order to make instantaneous fight or flight decisions based on that information.

    Sampling rates of 44.1k have a time resolution of 22.7 microseconds, which is 3 times worse than our abilities. 96k has a time resolution of 10.4 microseconds, still a audible. Not until you get to 192k, with time resolution of 5.2 microseconds, inaudible .

    So what does this mean? It means that imaging and soundstage will be reproduced, to some extent, inferiorly.

    To me, with 44.1K, musicians seem as if they are flat, like cardboard cutouts in layers in the soundstage, instead of 3 dimensional, the back of the soundstage seems to collapse inward like a trapezoid, instead of a rectangle, it seems shallower, and doesn't extend as far beyond the edge of my speakers. Several friends and I compared (with reasonable double blind setup) hi res downloads and 44.1 of the same classical and jazz recordings, and these differences were pretty much universal. When we tried the same comparisons with mainstream rock and pop recordings, the differences were mostly inaudible. Probably because all the time information, that is usually present in classical and jazz recordings, where the engineer is trying to capture a musical event, with all the ambient information and musician position in the soundstage, intact, does not exist in mainstream rock and pop recordings. Most of that ambient information is masked by studio techniques.
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

  25. #1625
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post

    There have been quite a few studies that show that humans can hear interaural time differences as low as about 5 micro seconds (although 7 micro seconds seems to be more common findings), in other words, the difference between when a sound enters one ear, then the other. This is an evolved survival mechanism. Our ancestors, if they heard a twig snap, for example, needed to know immediately what direction the sound was coming from, and how far away it was, in order to make instantaneous fight or flight decisions based on that information.

    Sampling rates of 44.1k have a time resolution of 22.7 microseconds, which is 3 times worse than our abilities. 96k has a time resolution of 10.4 microseconds, still a audible. Not until you get to 192k, with time resolution of 5.2 microseconds, inaudible .

    So what does this mean? It means that imaging and soundstage will be reproduced, to some extent, inferiorly.
    That appears to make some sense... But I guess I'm confused. How can the sampling frequency -- which affects the upper sound cutoff frequency -- can have an affect on the ITD, which is the delay between sound reaching one ear versus the other?

    Particularly with recordings that aren't recorded binaurally, where ITD is a factor. In a normal multitrack recording ITD isn't even considered. SFAIK

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