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Can your pc ever be a credible alternative to a top quality cd player?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by paulr, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. paulr

    paulr
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    Is it possible to use your pc as a quality music source linked to a line input on a quality amp and speakers?
    What would it involve,i'm prepared to spend up to £400.

    :cool:
     
  2. robjohn

    robjohn
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    Erm, no? Depends on your ears, speakers, amp ect............

    How long is a peice of string?

    I listerned to a pair of BW nautilus the other day, linked upto 8 naim preamps and an naim amp! A lot of amps and pre anyway. And the sound was................... well wonderfully.

    The point I am trying to make it that if you are using high end speakers, amps and a low spec pc with a let say £20 cd rom it is hardly going to be aswonderfull as a high end dedicated cd player. There are a lot of factors that go into buliding a high end system. One of the biggest are your ears. oh and a big wallet, maybe
     
  3. Pootle

    Pootle
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    erm yes, but you get what you pay for. I too have Nautilus speakers with Naim power amps but fed direct from a revo sound card. Its pretty good, but not wonderful, I live with it cos its convenient to have the PC do everything.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that if I got one of one of these it would be pretty awesome however. (its the DAC you want to look at)

    You can read Branxx' review of real high end sound cards compared with seriously expensive kit over on avsforum
     
  4. rOAdeh

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    lots of very long and technical posts about this on avsforum - i think the general concensus is that a pc with a top of the range sound card and also perhaps an external dac can compete with perhaps all but the most esoteric high end cd player setups
     
  5. Pootle

    Pootle
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    ROAdeh: Snap
     
  6. paulr

    paulr
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    I'm not on about using my pc cdrom drive.What i'd like to do is store all my music on my hard drive.

    Is MP3 the only way to do this?
     
  7. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Definitely agree with some of the previous posts.....with a very good quality sound card(Lynx or similar)and possibly an external DAC or upsampler,a PC is capable of keeping up with some pretty good conventional systems.

    If you're prepared to spend up to £400 on the card,you should get decent results,and as advised above,Branxx's posts are pretty much the definitive answer from here.

    I use a modestly priced sound card,but with an offboard upsampler/interpolator and DAC,with very good results,but the total cost is well above your planned spend.

    As for your question about music storage on hard drives,MP3 is not what I'd choose,due to data compression with a lossy format,and the resultant flat,nasty sound even at the highest current MP3 sampling rates.
    If you use something like EAC( www.exactaudiocopy.de ) to extract files to your PC,and a player such as Winamp to bypass windows Kmixer(which samples all inputs to 48kHz with resultant loss of quality in the processing),then you should get decent results.
     
  8. paulr

    paulr
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    Thanks guys for the advice.
    I have a few days off work atm so i'll do some experimenting.

    (One big negative to listening to music through stored files is that you get occasional pauses when your pc is busy doing something else.)
     
  9. Pootle

    Pootle
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    EAC is defintely the way to go, I then use monkey's audio for lossless compression.
    I did start by using MP3 lame with r3mix, but I have several CD's where it was obviously loosing out compared to the original , so switched to lossless compression (well it does save some disc space over uncompressed). Then you can use winamp, or foobar as a player, both of which can be made to sidestep Microsoft's attempts at quality improvement.
     
  10. paulr

    paulr
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    Okay...so i use EAC and Winamp.

    What other weaknesses are there before the signal reaches the input of my amplifier?

    What does this mean..

    ""but with an offboard upsampler/interpolator and DAC""
     
  11. paulr

    paulr
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    btw my amp is a Pioneer A400 (old but still good) and a pair of £500 stand mounted Tannoys.
     
  12. Underscore

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    Briefly toyed with the PC jukebox idea myself. The tools that I started setting up were:

    EAC (ripping to single WAV with CUE file to ensure truely gapless playback of live CDs)
    Monkey's Audio for lossless compression (~50% compression)
    winamp with ASIO or kernel streaming output plugin to bypass Kmixer

    HTH,

    _
     
  13. robjohn

    robjohn
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    if you are going to spend £400 on a sound card + pc, surley you could go for a really good dedicated cd player. if that is all that you are after?
     
  14. Underscore

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    My idea was to be able to store my couple hundred CDs in the attic and have them all stored on a PC for playback on-demand. Agreed, if you just want a CD player, I would suggest getting a CD player.

    _
     
  15. paulr

    paulr
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    I already have a couple of good cd players,its just i like the idea of having music on demand while i use my pc.I already have a quality amp and speakers set up next to it.
    Also my cd's tend to be either downstairs or in the car,or borrowed etc,etc.

    Its more a case of convenience tbh.
     
  16. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Sorry...what this means is that I don't use the sound card as anything more than a digital output from the PC....after that,the SP/DIF runs into a Perpetual Technologies upsampler...this takes 16bit 44.1kHz CD,and upsamples it to 24bit word length,and 96KhZ sampling,and interpolates the data between 16 and 24 bits,before running into a Perpetual Technologies DAC.

    The end result is pretty close to DVD-A,and by most reviewer's reckoning(and mine)quite close to the sound quality of a dCS system,and easily the equal of most midrange Wadia or Levinson systems,at a fraction of the price.

    www.av123.com is the best place to begin if you wanted to look at the gear.

    If I hadn't already had those,I would have considered getting a really good PC sound card(a Lynx or similar)and using that instead.
     
  17. paulr

    paulr
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    Thanks again.
     
  18. Planet__

    Planet__
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    Chaps, this is what I was kinda asking about in another thread. I do waffle on, but it's all relevant info.

    Seems not many check out that obscure part of the forum. Any info would be greatly recieved!
     

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