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Laptop as a credible source?

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stevebrock's picture
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Been having a play about tonight!

Just connected up my MacBook Pro full of ALAC files fed straight into my Rega DAC being controlled by iOS remote app!

Well for the life of me I cannot distinguish it from red book CD played on my  Rega Apollo R/DAC - in actual fact just been playing Kate Bush - 50 words for snow ALAC and can actuallly hear things I havent heard before - is this really possible or am I hearing things? 

 

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Overdose's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

stevebrock wrote:

Been having a play about tonight!

Just connected up my MacBook Pro full of ALAC files fed straight into my Rega DAC being controlled by iOS remote app!

Well for the life of me I cannot distinguish it from red book CD played on my  Rega Apollo R/DAC - in actual fact just been playing Kate Bush - 50 words for snow ALAC and can actuallly hear things I havent heard before - is this really possible or am I hearing things? 

I've always found computers to be perfectly viable as digital sources. Streamer, storage, media and disc player, all in one place.

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matt49's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

Others will disagree, but I'm with Overdose on this one.

Dutus's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

I have a "conventional" hi-fi with a Pioneer DV-LX50 universal player (about the only thing it won't play is Blu-Ray), Nakamichi Dragon cassette deck, Rega Planar 3 record deck, Tascam DA-20MkII DAT deck and a Mission Cyrus II amp with PSX power supply.  But I listen to Spotify via my laptop connected to the hi-fi via a Tascam US-144MkII audio interface.

Quite frankly the sound is virtually as good as the rest of my hi-fi.

Makes you wonder why people flaff around with all these streamers.

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Dutus

stevebrock's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

Well i have gone through a few more CDs and admittedly they all sound superb..........When Morcheeba - Big Calm came out circa 1998 I had a Marantz CD63ki sig and I could hear things on Track 4 that I have only been able to hear on the KI - fast forward 14 years. I cannot hear the same detail on my Apollo R/DAC combo but I can now hear it on ALAC via optical into my DAC.

I guess the transport in the Apollo R is losing some information then? Am I thinking along the correct lines? Are all cdp transports not created equally?

mmmmm I best play some vinyl!

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Rega RP6, Nagaoka MP-200, White Belt, Michell Tecnoweight, Rega Fono MM

Rega Quattro, Couple 1 & 2

 

 

 

 

 

davedotco's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

Believe it or not, you can even 'systembuild' with a laptop....... Wink

A solid state drive, better ripping software (I like XLD), good playback software (or tweak itunes), an asyncronous USB DAC and you are on the way, depending on how serious you want to get.

On the other hand, just load up Spotify and send via an AEX/Apple TV. Mind you there are ways to improve even that.......... rolling on the floor laughing

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MajorFubar's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

The source's job, be it from a computer via its hard-drive, streaming from the internet, or even a CD player playing direct from a good ol' CD, is to send bit-perfect digital audio to the DAC with minimal jitter. There's no reason why a computer can't do that just as well as a CD player, and in fact there are several reasons why theoretically it should be able to do it better.  So no, you're not imagining things.

Don't forget nearly all modern music is tracked (recorded) straight to a computer to start with. So it's a silly fallacy that they're inferior audio sources. It implies that nearly all the recording studios in the world are compromising the quality of their recordings.

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davedotco's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

MajorFubar wrote:

The source's job, be it from a computer via its hard-drive, streaming from the internet, or even a CD player playing direct from a good ol' CD, is to send bit-perfect digital audio to the DAC with minimal jitter. There's no reason why a computer can't do that just as well as a CD player, and in fact there are several reasons why theoretically it should be able to do it better.  So no, you're not imagining things.

Don't forget nearly all modern music is tracked (recorded) straight to a computer to start with. So it's a silly fallacy that they're inferior audio sources. It implies that nearly all the recording studios in the world are compromising the quality of their recordings.

Quite right.

One additional point, computers are electrically noisy environments, out of band noise (particularly RF), can have a nasty effect on audio equipment. The ability of a DAC to reject or minimise this noise varies from model to model and without some pretty sophisticated equipment it can be impossible to quantify. If a DAC that normally sounds good is found to sound brash or even just a bit bright in a different system then noise could well be the issue.

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

MajorFubar's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

Indeed, and this is why generally it seen as a good idea (both in HiFi and in pro-audio) to keep the DAC (or ADC) physically separate from the core computer hardware.

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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

davedotco wrote:

[One additional point, computers are electrically noisy environments, out of band noise (particularly RF), can have a nasty effect on audio equipment. The ability of a DAC to reject or minimise this noise varies from model to model and without some pretty sophisticated equipment it can be impossible to quantify. If a DAC that normally sounds good is found to sound brash or even just a bit bright in a different system then noise could well be the issue.

Mate said using optical stops that.

MajorFubar's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

...which is correct, but converting an electrical signal to light, transmitting it down a a FO cable and converting it back to electricity again obviously adds extra links in the chain which don't exist with a coax/USB connection. So if I was one of the people converse in the fine art of hair-splitting, I'd argue that the opportunity for data-corruption during the conversion/transmission/conversion processes cancels-out any benefits of using an transmission-system immune to electrical interference.

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davedotco's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both electrical and optical SPDIF protocols. they are both theoretical, such as the limited bandwith of optical connections and practical such as the usual poor implementation of electrical connections. It is not straightforward. At the highest level and providing the signal is within the bandwidth limitations, optical is probably superior, but you would never know this from the hi-fi world.

I am always surprised that this area is given such little attention, much is made of the difference between near identicle DACs yet the consistent use of rca terminated cables and their jitter inducing impedance mismatch can be far more important.

Those of a certain age will no doubt remember the Audio Alchemy 'Dac in a box', a cheap and entirely average add on DAC from times past. What was much more interesting, was Audio Alchemy's more expensive units which used the I2S format to pass the data stream from box to box.

They auditioned as clearly superiour to the more mainstream offerings from the likes of Arcam and Meridian but did not sell in any numbers, odd.

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

I never realised there was still any debate about laptops being a credible source (when used with an external DAC).

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stevebrock's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

chebby wrote:

I never realised there was still any debate about laptops being a credible source (when used with an external DAC).

 

There isnt, I just thought I would share my findings!

 

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aero's picture
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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

Sorry, this is an appeal for info rather than a reply, as I'm totally new to Hi-Fi (no kit at all yet). I have a fair amount of music in (legal) MP3 format, stored on my laptop. Although I could plug my laptop into an amp as an aux input, I don't really want to have to do this because I'd need my laptop turned on and connected to the amp to listen, which is restrictive.  

What I think I might need is a large hard drive to which I can transfer my MP3s, which can also function as a viable source to be connected to the amp (via a DAC if desirable/necessary/possible). It would need a user interface of some kind to allow me to search and select which MP3s to play. 

Does this exist? If not, are you aware of other solutions for people in my situation (of which there must be many)?

Thanks for any tips.

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RE: Laptop as a credible source?

You could put your music on a mem stick or external hard drive and plug them into a Squeezebox touch or even cheaper a Blu-ray player.Smile

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