Streaming, CD's and other idiot questions

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
Hi All

I've recently upgraded my system a bit and am now wondering if I should also upgrade my source components my system is now as follows:

Sony BDP-590
Coax Cable
Panasonic TX47DT50b
Optical Cable
Beresford Caiman Gator
Marantz PM6004
Biwired PMC DB1+ Speakers
Atacama Nexus 6i Stands

I am using the Blu ray to play my CD collection which is reasonably old and battered and streaming music unlimited through it. I have a computer or 2 both with itunes libraries on which the TV streams but they are all at fairly low bitrate. I am considering the following options:

1. Buy a Marantz CD6004 secondhand and worry about HD audio at a later date.

2. Buy a western digital my book nas unit and rip my CD's to FLAC files and stream those through the TV (FLAC is not compatable with the blu ray)

The big question is whether I would see any improvement from buying a CD player. Also would FLAC files through the TV sound better than CD's? Because the CD's are old and battered would all the information on them translate into a decent FLAC file anyway?

The other option would be not to worry about it for the moment and then upgrade the source components when higher resolution files become more common or streaming becomes better quality than the CD's I already have. Of course that will involve buying the whole lot all over again unless something like itunes match allows you to download new versions.

I did also look at the Marantz na7004 but am put off by the price at nearly £400, and the worry that it won't actually do much more than my other components are capable of doing.
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
Hi,

I've ripped all my cd's to flac files, completely lossless, and store them on a NAS. Initially I did this so that I could use the networking capabilities of my OPPO BDP-93 to stream the files through the system I had then. This way everything was accessible easily, no looking for cd's.

Since then I've upgraded a bit. I now have a Yamaha RX-A2010 AV receiver which will also stream the flac files, so I can use it or the OPPO now. Quality is as good as the original cd's.

The "old" system is now in the conservatory, and having the flac files on the network is great, as I can access them through my Popcorn Hour and play them out there.

In addition I recently put a Panasonic TX-L32E5B tv in the master bedroom. It can also stream the flac files over the network. It's connected to a Yamaha YAS101 soundbar, so sound is nothing to write home about, but it's fine for a bedroom system.

Everything is networked through homeplugs.

So, in conclusion, ripping your cd's to a NAS can work out to be very convenient. I would recommend, and recommend flac as no need for you to compress the life out of your music.
 

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
So am I right in saying if I stream the FLAC files through the TV to the Beresford via toslink the sound quality in theory should be better than that coming out of the blu ray spinning the disc. The TV must change the format to PCM I guess.

I am struggling to understand all this technology at times.
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
I don't get the impression that you're struggling at all, you seem well on top of it :).

I may have misled you a bit, I only use the tv to view and select the files, it's either my OPPO or Yamaha AV Receiver that's playing them, by way of their networking capabilities.

I would think that going through the tv and then toslink may reduce the quality, but am sure there are others here who can give a more definitive answer.
 

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
Cheers mate, I read somewhere that some of this kit limits some of the digital out to non hd, something to do with copywrite. Assuming my tv doesn't have this problem I assume the quality is down to the lossless file as because it's digital the quality should be maintained. I might rip a new CD to my computer and see if I can stream it and compare it to the same disc played.
 

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
Just to update I've compared some meatloaf and Adele on flac through the TV on an sd card vs playing the discs in the blu ray and I think there is a little more detail. I may be imagining it but it certainly doesn't seem any worse so I've ordered the wd drive.
 

sergiup

Distinguished Member
OK, you're essentially trying to figure out which digital transport does a better job (streaming -> TV or CD -> BDP) and which part of the Beresford DAC sounds better (coax or optical). From a purely practical point of view I'd suggest ripping all the CDs to FLAC anyway - it's so much easier to use and it means that once it's done you are no longer potentially damaging your CDs further; I think this will overrule pretty much all the other (potentially very minor / inaudible) differences.

I take it you have a reasonable quality coax cable from the BDP to the Beresford already? I don't mean a £50 cable, just good enough :)

I'm not sure what you mean about certain devices restricting HD audio output - keep in mind that the CDs and FLAC files you're playing and up being simple two-channel PCM streams up until the Beresford, they're not HD audio in any way; once through the DAC they're analogue to the amplifier. The BDP will output PCM, and so will the TV (unless either one is told to do some kind of processing of course). You may be confusing this with HDCP - which, if an unlicensed device is detected on a connection such as DisplayPort, DVI or HDMI then the source will only output a lower quality or nothing at all: eg DVD-Audio will be output at the same rate as a CD instead. You don't have any of these more complex protocols / connections in the mix so it's not something to worry about. Have a read if you want to know more.
 

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
You've hit the nail on the head there, that is what I am trying to find out and my concerns over the output are exactly that. You are correct that I am confusing my HDCP with PCM, everything is set to output in PCM. The BDP has the coax cable that beresford sell that retails for £20-£30 I think - its a big thick thing so I'm sure its of reasonable quality. The BDP is not capable of FLAC though it will only play MP3, AAC and WMA9.

So essentially I'm guessing in theory my TV could act as a streamer for the FLAC files into the DAC through the optical connection, in theory removing any of the jitter etc that the BDP transport would cause. Presumably I could also use the TV for the satallite radio channels which I assume must be a fairly high bit rate.

Considering what a fairly normal TV is capable of and a reasonable BDP like the OPPO mentioned, why would anyone buy something like the Marantz NA7004 apart from to make their stack look pretty or be able to play the music without switching a screen on?
 

sergiup

Distinguished Member
Ah well, if you're going to start picking on jitter and all that then I wish you luck for the next several hundreds of posts :D

It sounds like the coax cable is nothing to worry about. In terms of jitter, it could appear on any TOSLINK connections whether they're optical or coax, so in theory you're exposed to it; in practice however, I very much doubt you'll actually notice it at all so don't worry about it. Both coax and optical have up and down sides, but I find it very hard to believe that almost anyone would really notice the potential issues in real life. You will of course be removing and potential repeated CD reading errors outside of that transfer to FLAC, and as I've said, it's also so much easier to not keep changing CDs...

I guess people buy dedicated streamers just because they're one neat box, and because of the idea that they may be of a better quality; ironically, the Logitech SqueezeBox Touch wasn't a particularly expensive device and yet it does very well as a streamer and is also a good DAC, so it's not really as simple as pay more == get better quality. I also for one don't really want to power on the TV every time I listen to music, so a smaller dedicated device is better for me - mind you, right now I still use my PC for Spotify which is a massive overkill.
 

jjgreenwood

Well-known Member
Ok cool that puts my mind at rest, just have to wait for my nas to turn up and then rip all my CDs again. You can use your blu ray to play Sony music unlimited sergiup, I prefer it to spotify as it has oasis and other Sony music bands on that are not on spotify. They are upgrading the catalog to 320kbps as well but I'll admit the menu isn't as slick.
 

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