I spend all day on there and I've not noticed anybody complaining about the quality, quite the opposite in fact.
And the fact that you've convinced yourself that Sonos is no good, so you're hearing what you expect to hear. I bet you couldn't reproduce the results blind.
Rather presumptuous of you to say you know what's going on in my mind. I wouldn't presume to say the same of you.
In any case, it was the other way round. Out of interest, I listened to the sources in parallel for a few days. I was surprised by what I was hearing. So I started looking for explanations.
I can't claim to have done a proper blind test under scientific conditions. But I did the best I could. Using the M-DAC's remote I rapidly toggled back and forth between the sources until I lost track of which I was listening to. Then I listened and guessed, and more often than not I correctly identified the source. Not perfect, I know, but at least sincere, sceptical and open minded.
What classical music are you listening to?
Appreciate your thoughts. Must say, through my Leema dac, I'm really enjoying the sound, so much so that I flogged my CDP!
Totally agree about the CDP: waste of space. DAC and streaming (from PC/Mac/streamer) is where it's at.
Audiolab 8200CDQ. Cake. Eating. Mmm, that's tasty. Ooh, look - more cake!
What's not to like?
As for the original question, it's a big one. I have a 'semi-traditional' hi-fi set-up comprising combined CDP/DAC (Audiolab 8200CDQ) feeding 2x Audiolab 8000Ms and then into a pair of PMC DB1i speakers. I think it's great, but I also have had a lot of experience with (Mackie) active speakers, which (as many have suggested) offer a cost-effective route. I'm also considering using a Raspberry Pi for HD audio streaming via USB (as has been suggested above).
I think you need to make some fundamental decisions first (active vs passive) and then consider what options are avilable to you from there. As I said, I like what I have (and bought most of it second-hand), but going fully active could also prove to be a cost-effective route. Good luck!
I spend all day on there
I hope you don't mean that literally
and I've not noticed anybody complaining about the quality, quite the opposite in fact.
Try googling Sonos forum modification or mod or similar. That'll turn up a few. You'll also find some similar discussions on other fora.
Try again using any other name brand audio equipment and you're likely to get the same sort of web pages from other paranoid people who have convinced themselves that a better power supply, for example, is the cure to some percieved design flaw by the original manufacturer.
Why is it that amateur DIY hifi types seem to know better than the manufacturer, who presumably has a competent R&D department?
Anyhow, perhaps you have heard a difference, but I'm not sure that DIY modding forums is the best evidence for it.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
Just got back from a demo of the naim and the cyrus, local shop was very helpful. I have to say I didn't notice a massive difference in quality between what I have and either option. That's not to say it didn't sound different as both did. The naim sounded the most different from what I have and the chap in the shop explained that this was because the dynamics were more muted than my marantz and it was not as bright as the cyrus.
That said I needed to use the shops demo disc rather than my own CDs to notice any appreciable difference as all my discs with indie music were not the best recordings. The shop have offered to lend me the naim for a weekend so I might do that to see if my opinion changes over time in my own house. I don't currently see the value in spending a four figure sum though.
Other than the sound both had an ipad app that was excellent, both looked ugly as sin with the naim looking like it had been hit by an ugly tree never mind stick. Both were impressive from an Internet radio and streaming point of view.
i think I've decided against the adm speakers. Whilst I broadly agree with the philosophy unless I can buy them used they are a bit expensive at £2200 including the sub, resale doesn't look the best on them looking at the auctions on ebay. It's difficult to demo them and compare them to what I already have. I am also questioning whether they would be a massive improvement over what I already have which probably cost a similar amount brand new, I wouldn't know until they arrived which is a pretty big bet on £2k of electronics.
so I might borrow the naim for a weekend and I might go and audition the linn, I might just save £1500+ and spend it all going to concerts instead.
Sure, why not? I sit at work all day, typically with not much going on and I idle away the time bouncing around between here, twitter, the BBC, New Scientist and the Sonos forum, amongst others.
Good man! (especially for the New Scientist -- very classy!)
Thanks, Overdose, that's really cheered me up. TBH I've been feeling quite paranoid lately, but reading your posts has really helped me get a grip on it. Cheers!
interesting thoughts about the Sonos being a "dirty" source. Do you mind elaborating as Ihave not had the benefit of your experience comparing it to other sources?
FWIW I find it works extremely well with a decent dac and could be a great solution for the OP.
OK, on the Sonos question (though I know the OP has already excluded it, but @p_m_brown and @Overdose both expressed surprise at my earlier statement that I found Sonos to be a "dirty" source).
I have two sources piping ALAC files into my M-DAC: (1) PC via USB and (2) Sonos ZP90 via digital coax (FWIW: the coax cable is Chord Co Prodac Pro VEE3 interconnect, which retails at £65 but I got "free" with some other kit). Using the M-DAC's remote, I can switch instantaneously between the two, and I've spent about a week doing this, lining up the same tracks in parallel and switching between them over and over again.
OK, so only my ears and brain making the judgements, but I got a pretty consistent picture. Source (1) is OK, but (2) has smeared leading edges to the notes and an overall grainy sound, especially (but not only) at high frequencies. In addition to listening through the amp and speakers in my signature below, I've also spent a lot of time listening through Grado SR325is plugged into the M-DAC: same result.
I also spent two days comparing Sonos > M-DAC > Naim Superuniti against USB memory stick > Naim Superuniti: same result.
Why should this be? The theory is Sonos spent loads on the interface, and the after-sales service is excellent IME, but the electronics inside the (rather nice) boxes is cheap and nasty. That's not just my view. Go on to the Sonos forums and you'll find plenty of people who aren't happy with the sound.
So now I've given up using Sonos as a hi-fi source; it's just not a pleasurable experience. Problem is: I love the networking capacity and interface of Sonos, which are truly class leading IMO. (And also my family love it.) So I'm in a bit of a quandary about what to do with the new "big" system I'm building downstairs in the living room. Linn Majik DS is a nice, though pricey thought (hence my earlier recommendation to the OP.)
I hope that sheds some light.
The ZP90 has relatively poor jitter performance (north of 250pS RMS if I recall correctly), though I am not sure I would classify that as 'dirty'. This is an order of magnitude worse than premium quality streamers. This used to matter, but these days most DACs have some form of jitter mitigation circuitry, and I am surprised that the M-DAC is sensitive to this. Any decent design of DAC shouldn't depend on the stability of the input S/PDIF stream for its local clock and therefore sound quality of a decent DAC should be independent of the streamer used.
yes, I understand that the DAC reclocks the signal from S/PDIF, but presumably this is still less optimal, at least as far as clock jitter is concerned, than piping the signal through asynchronous USB.
Also presumably there are other sources of jitter than the clock in the Sonos, e.g. the PSU.
Not looking to disagree, just trying to understand.
In an ideal world, the clock used to step the samples through the D2A chip in the DAC would have zero jitter, and be mounted next to the D2A chip on the DAC circuit board. Arguably the worst place to put it is in a separate box, and embed the clock signal in the audio data, then send it over a bandwidth limited link (S/PDIF) to the DAC.
The problem with a local DAC clock and S/PDIF is flow control. If you use a local clock in the DAC to drive the D2A chip, unless the data arrives at exactly the right speed down the S/PDIF link you get underflow or overflow of data. Async USB solves this problem as the DAC can control the speed at which data arrives. So in answer to your question, async USB is better - all other things being equal.
To be honest, given that a streamer takes up a couple of square inches of circuit board real estate, there is no good reason for not having the DAC and the streamer co-located. Thats how I would do it.
Getting back to Sonos, I personally dont think there is anything wrong with Sonos at all. If your DAC is dependent on the clock stability of the incoming S/PDIF link, you have the wrong DAC.
In my experience, PSU arguments are usually made by those selling PSUs.
Exactly, or at least, normally, the TV wouldn't be - I've streamed via my Sony telly without a hitch many times. However, it's restricted to PCM, so if you want FLAC, or whatever, you lose out.
No, but the TV is capable of playing FLAC files as far as I understand.
Some might be, but I imagine not all. Mine (Sony KDL-CX523) doesn't for one. Tried it off USB stick and nope. The specs make no mention of FLAC either. So while theoretically TVs might be capable, it's not offered as standard.
Onkyo TX-NR818 / Tannoy DC4 speakers / Marantz UD-7007
AVI Lab Series & Marantz CD63 MkII KI CD players / various cables
Thanks, that's very informative and helpful.
So, you're saying that (a) you see nothing wrong with Sonos (which contradicts my experience, but let's put that to one side) and (b) it's a bad idea to have the clock signal embedded in the audio data and send this via S/PDIF to a separate DAC (which is the only option with Sonos, as it has no USB out). This leaves me in a bit of a quandary. It suggests I'd be better off either using the DAC in the Sonos ZP90 (then I won't have the 'two clocks' problem) or replacing Sonos entirely with a better streaming solution. Or have I failed to grasp something?
If you don't mind me asking have you tried the Sonos direct into the power amp stage of the amp, ie using the sonos as the pre amp, and if so was it really that bad?
I only ask as this is what I do, Roksan power amp and MA RS6 and it sounds good to me (esp BBC radio 6) not tried putting the CD player through the line in, but do feed the TV through it and it sounds fine too.
But I think the OP who I was directing the response at, does have a FLAC capable TV, as he wrote...
" I changed this by buying a WD my book live and ripping my CD's to flac files and then streaming those through my Panasonic TV to the Beresford. That has resulted in a slight reduction is background noise and a bit more detail."
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