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Best out of iTunes for £500

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gylo's picture
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Joined: 3 Mar 2012
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As a lapsed hi-fi buff I would like to invite your thoughts on improving my set up to get the best out of the music I have. Its presently stored on a iMac using iTunes and delivered thought the house over Wi-Fi!

Music predominately stored at 256kbps AAC and played on the iMac with Harman KardonSoundSticks III 2.1 Channel Sound System.

I regularly patch it through to the Living room via an Airport extreme Wi-Fi and a cheap £40 DAC into a Naim Audio Nait 3 amp to my Polk Audio R8 speakers. We still use a Marantz CD-63 Special Edition and Rega P3 turntable but less frequently.

Not impressed with the sound at present, started playing with bit perfect but its problematic with the airport express and multi-speakers!

 

Considering the quality of my library is it worth buying a Arcam rdac with wifi?

 

 

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CoolGylo

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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

I think the first step will always be to re-rip the files as lossless (assuming you ripped them from CD rather than downloaded them). AFAIK, the main thing people use Bit Perfect for is for getting a bit perfect perfect digital signal (i.e. as it was originally recorded without the computer changing it through unnecessary processing).

A decent DAC can help make even compressed files sound better. 256kbps AAC sound really good run into the DAC section of my setup, but lossless sound better. Whether spending the money is worth it to you is impossible to say. Maybe you could audition it and see how you like it.

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AlmaataKZ's picture
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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

your sources are good enough and even at 256 the limiting bit is still the speakers. this is where you can get real improvement.

look into some actives like small Genelecs e.g. 6010a, 8020a or Adam Audio Artist 3 or 5, or similar.

more accurate sound guaranteed.

 

Overdose's picture
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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

gylo wrote:

As a lapsed hi-fi buff I would like to invite your thoughts on improving my set up to get the best out of the music I have. Its presently stored on a iMac using iTunes and delivered thought the house over Wi-Fi!

Music predominately stored at 256kbps AAC and played on the iMac with Harman KardonSoundSticks III 2.1 Channel Sound System.

I regularly patch it through to the Living room via an Airport extreme Wi-Fi and a cheap £40 DAC into a Naim Audio Nait 3 amp to my Polk Audio R8 speakers. We still use a Marantz CD-63 Special Edition and Rega P3 turntable but less frequently.

Not impressed with the sound at present, started playing with bit perfect but its problematic with the airport express and multi-speakers!

Considering the quality of my library is it worth buying a Arcam rdac with wifi?

What is it that isn't right with the sound? Is it definitely the computer side of things? Which system is the one lacking?

First check your settings, make sure that in 'midi setup' in 'utilities' the input and output bit rate and frequency are set to the file type you are listening to, mainly 16/44000 I would imagine. iTunes is bit perfect if set up correctly this way.

The cheap DAC may be the problem, but what is the airport express connected to?

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gylo's picture
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Joined: 3 Mar 2012
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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

Computer is located in family room and hi-fi in living room, so I use wifi to the AE which has an optical link to the little DAC which has has a good cable to the Naim amp. I will look at the itunes settings!

I just want it to sound like the CD as best i can.

Cheers! 

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CoolGylo

gylo's picture
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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

I appreciate that the speakers attached to iMac (Harman Kardon SoundSticks) are adequate rather than good, but the Polk Audio R8 speakers are very nice to my ears when I use vinyl or CD, just the iTunes stuff is a little lack lustre!

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CoolGylo

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RE: Best out of iTunes for £500

I think your issue with sound quality is throughout your music chain, not in one particular component - (1) you use lossy formats, which doesn't really add much to your music experience; (2) you use iTunes directly, which is considered to be a mediocre quality player, (3) you use wi-fi, (3) airport , and finally (4) cheap DAC. Since you report that you're fine with your speakers/TT/CDP combination, then you should look into any of the above four issues to find areas for improvements.

 

If you can get your files in the lossless format, this is where you should start. If not, there isn't much you can do to improve this part of your music chain. ITunes settings will probably not help, you should look into getting a better media player for your MAC, something like Pure Music. All of them have free trials, so it is worth checking. If you can get your music transfer via local network vs Wi-Fi, then you should definitely try this.  If you have to stick to wi-fi, then buy a good DAC with wi-fi capability. One that comes to my mind is Audioengine D2, and I believe it fits your budget. Or try Nad DAC 1, which is cheaper, and you will have some funds available to buy a good media player for your Mac.

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