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GeoffreyW's picture
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HD audio track playback

I'd appreciate any guidance you can give to clear up my uncertainties re playing HD music tracks downloaded to my laptop, on to a Naim Uniti, which will be the latest spec for the original Uniti. Presumably I can't just connect the two via a USB cable and play these tracks directly, so will have to use a USB flash drive? I'm not looking to use streaming or NAS yet, as I've only got one or two HD tracks, but this will probably increase once I've actually listened to proper HD music.

 

My laptop, an Asus X5DIJ series, has HD capabilities with Via HD Audiodeck, but no optical output, only USB, which I use to listen on my phones via my Fiio E7. Am I right in thinking that the HD audio files can be stored in their original form on my laptop, but only be played to the limit of my soundcard - 16 bit 44 (CD) or 48 (DVD) KHz?

This brings me to my next question - is there any need to use high speed drives? The data transfer rate during music playback won't be as high as during video playback, will it?  And are there any recommended drives? I'm thinking of starting with a 16GB Sandisk Cruzer.

Help, please.

 

Geoff

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RE: HD audio track playback

GeoffreyW wrote:

I'd appreciate any guidance you can give to clear up my uncertainties re playing HD music tracks downloaded to my laptop, on to a Naim Uniti, which will be the latest spec for the original Uniti. Presumably I can't just connect the two via a USB cable and play these tracks directly, so will have to use a USB flash drive? I'm not looking to use streaming or NAS yet, as I've only got one or two HD tracks, but this will probably increase once I've actually listened to proper HD music.

 

My laptop, an Asus X5DIJ series, has HD capabilities with Via HD Audiodeck, but no optical output, only USB, which I use to listen on my phones via my Fiio E7. Am I right in thinking that the HD audio files can be stored in their original form on my laptop, but only be played to the limit of my soundcard - 16 bit 44 (CD) or 48 (DVD) KHz?

This brings me to my next question - is there any need to use high speed drives? The data transfer rate during music playback won't be as high as during video playback, will it?  And are there any recommended drives? I'm thinking of starting with a 16GB Sandisk Cruzer.

Help, please.

 

Geoff

 

Geoff I'm not familiar with the Uniti, but in general using a laptop with its built in connections means either USB or optical. If you don't have an optical output then you're clearly limited to USB. The quality of the USB connections depends upon primarily the DAC you are feeding and its' windows driver; and software you are using to stream the file from your PC - usually some kind of media player, windows media player for example comes bundled with Windows, but you can do much better.

I have got J River's Media Player 17 on my laptop, which can take exclusive and direct control of the output soundcard, in my case is the Cambridge Audio ASIO driver that I installed with the DACmagic+. This shows as an option when running through the windows sound operating menus, and is also listed in the J River software. It all sounds a little dunting, but if you can install and re-arrange files in Windows then setting this up is no more complicated in practice.

So in summary, things to bear in mind:

Streamer (or media player) software

DAC USB driver (usually downloaded of the website of the DAC manufacturer)

Run through the windows sound set up menus and make sure you have got any "exclusive use" boxes ticked

 

Finally make sure your DAC is switched to USB if it has this option, and you should be good to go.

 

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RE: HD audio track playback

The NaimUniti doesn't have a computer-compatible USB input, so use a USB stick, copy files to it from your computer, then plug it into the NU for playback.

If you want some more files to play with, have a look at Norwegian record label 2L's Test Bench page, where you can download a variety of pieces at various resolutions to try.

Go to www.2l.no, click the '2L Brand Store' top right, and scroll down to 'Test Bench HD audio files'.

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RE: HD audio track playback

Thanks, guys. As I'm not too clever fiddling with computers and their settings, I think I'll stick with Andrew's suggestion, and use USB sticks. Mind you, having just read the Uniti (wonder if Naim considered Uniti , bearing in mind it's origins?) pre-release blog, it could get costly in downloads. May look into NAS next year, though.

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RE: HD audio track playback

Does the NU not have s/pdif inputs? I'm sure you can get USB -> s/pdif adapters

 

I've just realised from Andrew's post the NU must have an onboard DAC. You could buy a cheap separate DAC and fee one of the analogue inputs on the NU (assuming it has them). 

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RE: HD audio track playback

I already have a CYP DAC, SteveR750, which I use from my Humax Freesat and my Panny Freeview PVRs, but I'm hoping that the NU on-board DAC will be a significant step up from the CYP.

The NU has, so far as I recall, two optical and two coax inputs at the rear, and an S/PDIF on the front, so are you saying that I could take a USB feed from my laptop and connect direct to the NU using a USB - S/PDIF cable? That would make life a lot easier, providing I can still feed hi-res 24/192 music that route. Not that I've got more than acouple of tracks at the moment......

It also has wired/wifi capability, so it would be good if I could connect my laptop using ethernet cable rather than wifi, and stream from my laptop.

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RE: HD audio track playback

You'll need to Google a USB to S/PDIF converter. Lots around from ebay around £20 to thjose costing ££several hundred. Worth doing some research first to make sure you don't screw the sound up. 

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RE: HD audio track playback

I'll have a look, SteveR750, as well as for a 5 metre optical lead to connect my A/V system to my NU (when I get it!). Had a play last night, using the optical audio out from my tv rather than the analogue out, but there's a synch issue, which I don't think will go away when fed through the NU? I'll just have to mute the tv, if necessary.

As I'm moving from several boxes to one, for simplicity, I want to keep the A/V side of things simple, too, to avoid having to change several settings just to improve the tv sound occasionally.

 

Many thanks for your help, Steve, much appreciated. I'll post feedback when the NU is up and running.

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RE: HD audio track playback

You're welcome Geoff. I would try and get th shortest optical cable that you can get away with, as they are a bit lossy.

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RE: HD audio track playback

That's a surprise, SteveR750, I'd have thought that the opposite was the case.

 

It'll have to be 5m long, due to the routing, but the best I can afford.

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RE: HD audio track playback

GeoffreyW wrote:

That's a surprise, SteveR750, I'd have thought that the opposite was the case.

 

It'll have to be 5m long, due to the routing, but the best I can afford.

Not sure why - after all its just a mirror folded into a pipe, the signal is transmitted by bouncing off the walls of the cable. The longer it is, the more reflections, and the more opportunity for jitter. A short, straight connection is the ideal. From what I have read, you can't spend much on optical cables, it seems that the market has decided that trick USB cables are where the money's at. Ironically I could understand how an optical cable could have a better surface therefore optical conductivity which could translate into reduced transmission loss hence a price / performance relationship. I'm still struggling to understand what you can do to a USB cable to achieve a similar outcome.

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RE: HD audio track playback

As my tv only has phono or optical out options, I'm stuck with them, Steve. The Humax also has phono(not tried) and s/pdif outs, and the Panny HDR/Bluray has optical and coax, though I haven't figured out how to get sound from them. However, as we're not great film/DVD watchers, I'll probably just stick with the phono outs from thge telly.

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RE: HD audio track playback

My system is connected thus:

PC via USB

Humax Optical audio into DAC, HDMI to TV

BD player optical audio to DAC, HDMI to TV

 

TBH you're not missing much by not connecting the Humax box, apart from being able to stream radio via your system, but the SQ is nothing special.

The BD link is far more interesting, obviously!

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