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Old 20th May 2003, 03:21 AM   #1
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Default What to do when soundcard DAC beats standalone player's?

Before long I am going to have a soundcard with a DAC and jitter control that will exceed the quality of my standalone CD player's circuitry. (The soundcard will probably be a Waveterminal 192x. Or, possibly, a Lynx One. No way can I afford the Lynx Two.)

My standalone CD player is a TEAC VRDS-8. Not at all a bad machine.

My question is, am I likely to get better sound by using the standalone player as a transport and passing the digital signal through the computer's soundcard? Or should I just sell the standalone player and use my computer's internal drive to play CDs?

(The computer's fan noise level is quite tolerablly low.)

I also considered using some of the standalone player upgrade solutions from LC Audio, but after seeing the latest generation of soundcards, I am really begininng to suspect that one gets more bang for one's buck by investing the same money in one of the new soundcards . . .

Thanks in advance! Your sage advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 20th May 2003, 12:58 PM   #2
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Talking Bloody fan

Hi cdwitmer,

A fan is always a fan, and you'll hear it on quiet musical tracks, even if the fan is not noisy.
You'll even hear the hard discs spinning, they make noise too.
Not to mention cd-rom/dvd-rom spinning noise.
Ok, let's say it, a PC is a disater as a source for a (decent) hi-fi system.
You could put it on a room next door, and pass some cables to your main room.
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Old 20th May 2003, 02:19 PM   #3
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Hi, I use my PC conected up to my hi-fi for listening to some music, and quite a few movies. hOwever, i would sujest that yu keep the CD player, as when the DAC on the card converts the siganl it WILL be subject to a lot of electronic noise within the computer which will really upset the sound quality. I find this to be especialy noticable when I am watching DVD's, as the Drive obviously puts out a lot of niose which can be heard throug the speekers as a hig pitched whine that is very annoying. If I had teh time to build one, I would love to fit an external DAC to my setup to elimenate this noise, but at the moment I have other things to do (although, my new CD player is supposed to be upgradeable to feature a digital input, so perhaps I could try that). But I would not recomend using a PC as your only music scource, just because of the interference the PC will cause with the signal before it even reaches your amp.
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Old 20th May 2003, 02:25 PM   #4
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Default Quiet down that PC

There is an entire (small) industry out there making quiet fans, power supplies and other parts for PCs. I have a Q Technology power supply, Zalman heatsink and variable speed fan, and Maxtor HD with fluid dynamic bearings. My PC is quieter than the ambient noise in our apartment. Check out QuietPC.com as a starting point.

Look at using Exact Audio Copy (EAC) to rip your CDs to uncompressed WAV files. Then you can play back the WAV files with very low jitter and much quieter than your CD drive. I have set up a "server" with a 200Gb drive (300 CDs of space) in the hall closet, when playing back music my local PC never even accesses it's HD.

David
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Old 20th May 2003, 09:33 PM   #5
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Default Those are some pretty impressive cases!

Thanks, all, for the opinions and advice. Those Kanam HT series cases at quietpc.com are really impressive! With 8mm thick aluminum front panels, they sure *look* like they belong in an audio environment.
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Old 21st May 2003, 09:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Quiet down that PC

Quote:
Originally posted by net-david

Look at using Exact Audio Copy (EAC) to rip your CDs to uncompressed WAV files. Then you can play back the WAV files with very low jitter and much quieter than your CD drive. I have set up a "server" with a 200Gb drive (300 CDs of space) in the hall closet, when playing back music my local PC never even accesses its HD. David
David, given the falling price of HDD storage, your approach seems like a better and better idea to me the more I think about it. This may seem like a silly question, but how do you organize your music on your hard drive? I usually don't have much trouble finding one of my 500 CDs on its shelf, but I'm not so sure I could find it as easily in my computer! Especially when I want to consult the CD pamphlet while listening. I have a home library cataloging software but I'm not sure I can hot link to external files from it. It would be great to turn my music collection into one great big multimedia database that I could search and quickly click my way into the music . . . maybe I could set up an in-house website and use a standard Internet browser to navigate it . . . anyway, do you have a good solution in this dept.?

THANKS!
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Old 21st May 2003, 02:00 PM   #7
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Default Music Library

cdwitmer,

I have my music stored in a hierarchy like this:

\music\(artist name)\(album name)\(track number). (song title)

I originally used Easy CD-DA Extractor to rip my CDs, it has the ability to create these directory structures on the fly while ripping. I have gone back and started re-ripping using EAC because of its supposed better ability to get the data off the CD perfectly. It is not quite as user friendly as Easy CD-DA Extractor.

I am using Windows Media Player 9 for playback. Hey, it does HDCD...

I the living room I am using a Turtle Beach AudioTron . It lets you pick by artist, album, song title, playlist or genre. Also has a web interface for easier setup of long playlists.

David
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Old 16th June 2003, 05:42 AM   #8
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May I recommend the latest version of MusicMatch. It has a one up on the Microsoft product, as you can attach images (presumebly of the cd pamphlet) even to WAV files. Up untill this version, only mp3 files could have image attachmets.

As far as file organization, I use the Music Match database engine exclusively. I also used Exact Audio Copy to rip files, and keep them as uncompressed WAVs. After ripping around 1,000 CDs, I realized that organizing them in some type of a directory structure is not necessary, as long as you use Exact Audio Copy's file name creation utility, which names your new files with the track name, number, album title, etc. You then use Music Match's taging utility to automatically populate your database with values derived from the file names. It is a wonderfull process!!! May I also recommend a RAID storage system or at least an industreal level back up device. This way you can borrow CDs from firends, make copies and scan in the booklet, and expand your collection further, without any regard to the original CD. After doing this, I was able to sell the "redundant plastic" collection of around 400 CDs, and use that money to expand my collection by 150 or so new titles. The next question, is how to rip DVD-Audio?
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Old 16th June 2003, 06:07 AM   #9
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MusicMatch sounds good and I'll certainly look into it.

I have a question. I can see using EAC to dump discs onto a hard disk drive to obtain better sound, but as for scanning pamphlets and then selling off the original discs, is the return on the time investment worth it? Doesn't it take a lot of time to scan 400 pamphlets?

Thanks,

Christopher Witmer
Tokyo
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Old 16th June 2003, 07:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: Quiet down that PC

[QUOTE]Originally posted by net-david
[B]There is an entire (small) industry out there making quiet fans, power supplies and other parts for PCs. I have a Q Technology power supply, Zalman heatsink and variable speed fan, and Maxtor HD with fluid dynamic bearings. My PC is quieter than the ambient noise in our apartment.
-------------------------------------------------------
You must have a very noisy apartment.

People are being persuaded to spend loads on quietening products that reduce but not capable of silencing computers.

The only way is to use a Cyrix processor and ps with no fan. All this business about 21 dB fans is nonsense and you can achieve the same result by reducing fan speed to less than half it's rated value.

I am qualified in acoustics and took great trouble to build a low noise xp 1800 computer. I manged 51 dBC 10 mm from the casing but can still hear it in an ambient of 30-40 dBA. This gets worse as the fans deteriarate.

Save your money and build 'Sound' computers soundly.
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