Best way to get the best out of lossless files?

Hello all,

Sorry that I know I can get this info from many threads in here, but I could not alchemy them into one answer I want.

I have couple hundred CDs ripped into lossless format: WAV and apple lossless. I have to work out of country for about two years, but I wouldn't carry all of my audio gears with me.

So I will carry one HDD, one compact integrated amp that has 24/192 DAC (this is what I am building right now using LM3886). Speakers, I haven't decided yet.

What is the best way to get best sound quality out of these lossless files in a compact form factor? Laptop + USB DAC? Raspberry Pi? Or is it better to buy a dedicated music server?
Let me say the budget is around 1,000 USD, but it's flexible.

Thanks,
Doug
 
A laptop, DAC, and headphones sounds like a good portable solution to me. You could buy an external USB hard drive to store all the audio files. You could certainly use a Raspberry Pi and connect the external USB drive, but it won't have an interface without adding one (keyboard, mouse, monitor).

A small format, not very powerful laptop (choose one with long battery life!) with a good quality USB DAC, the external USB drive, and good quality headphones will provide high quality playback during your travels.
 
A HDD seems an unncessary extravagance given you only have a couple of hundred CDs worth of audio. When ripping to FLAC (ALAC is presumably quite similar) then I get 3 to 4 CDs per Gb. So half a dozen 32Gb TF cards would be all you'd need. Get a mobile phone with a decent audio output and which accepts a TF card, this would work fine as a source.
 
...FLAC (ALAC is presumably quite similar)

ALAC is FLAC but still be improved, AFAIK FLAC development has ceased. Given the size of HDs these days, and how little music you are taking i'd suggest AIFF (like WAV but with explicit metadata) -- i had most of my CDs ripped to ALAC but in the end redid them all in AIFF. ALAC requires decompression on playback but requires about ½ as much diskspace. I couldn't see be away from my laptop so i'd use that as source -- you already have a DAC, as long as it is USB or Firewire you are probably fine.

I am putting a similar road-trip system together, and would look at something like the Dragonfly to go with my (well executed) 3118 amp and uMar-Ken6 speakers.

dave
 
Firefly dac

You mean DragonFly Kevin?

dragonfly_callout2.jpg


USB Digital Analog Converter

dave
 

gwingn

Member
2016-03-04 9:39 am
For a truly portable solution why not go for a good music player? I use A Fiio X3ii myself which you can use either as a high quality 192/24 DAC for a laptop or run as a self contained 'walkman'. It'll take a 128 or 200G microSD card which should hold your complete 200 CD collection.

If you send its co-ax digital output direct to something like the tiny FXaudio D802 digital amp you don't need anything else except speakers and the SQ is just stupidly good for gear at any price let alone the asking price here. If you use headphones you don't even need the amp and speakers as the Fiio on its own will be all you need :)
 
Even the very inexpensive Behringer USB DAC is very competent. In terms of the digital side, just use a lossless compression algorithm: after decoding, they're all the same bits, or they wouldn't be lossless. Audio quality while it remains in the digital domain is identical so pick whatever is most convenient. DAC and subsequent stages are where it matters. A Pentium, provided it has enough horsepower to decode, will sound the same as your laptop, provided it's attached to the save DAC.
 

infinia

Member
2005-05-15 9:51 am
SoCal
REALLY ? this is the age of 'the internet of things', carrying AROUND any disks or physical memory/ is so 90's. hehe
look into setting up a streaming service using PLEX or similar for all yours or friends devices.
I'm using the free version and it's simply amazing! seems fully supported on many levels. haven't dug too far under the hood yet.

simple search yields https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=plex+streaming+lossless+audio
there are many threads on dealing with device audio DAC solutions yes.
 
Last edited:

dynomike

Member
2015-01-31 9:10 pm
For a truly portable solution why not go for a good music player? I use A Fiio X3ii myself which you can use either as a high quality 192/24 DAC for a laptop or run as a self contained 'walkman'. It'll take a 128 or 200G microSD card which should hold your complete 200 CD collection.

If you send its co-ax digital output direct to something like the tiny FXaudio D802 digital amp you don't need anything else except speakers and the SQ is just stupidly good for gear at any price let alone the asking price here. If you use headphones you don't even need the amp and speakers as the Fiio on its own will be all you need :)

This makes sense to me! Full portability with good headphone amp, and a digital output for your DIY amp/DAC when you are at home.

If you wanted to run custom DSP (headphone response correction, room correction, etc) then a computer-based setup would be better, with a USB DAC. One of the fanless Intel Atom laptops would be a good bet - I just picked up an Acer that has 15 hours battery with the display on for under $200. For DACs there are lots of good options.

As others said, you could use SD cards for storage or just a USB hard drive. Or set up a home media server and use your phone's internet to stream from there. Or just use TIDAL.
 
Hello all,

Sorry that I know I can get this info from many threads in here, but I could not alchemy them into one answer I want.

I have couple hundred CDs ripped into lossless format: WAV and apple lossless. I have to work out of country for about two years, but I wouldn't carry all of my audio gears with me.

So I will carry one HDD, one compact integrated amp that has 24/192 DAC (this is what I am building right now using LM3886). Speakers, I haven't decided yet.

What is the best way to get best sound quality out of these lossless files in a compact form factor? Laptop + USB DAC? Raspberry Pi? Or is it better to buy a dedicated music server?
Let me say the budget is around 1,000 USD, but it's flexible.

Thanks,
Doug

A Raspberry Pi 3, with an IQ Audio Pi-DAC+, and optionally a Pi-Amp for Pi-DAC+, a matching case, a laptop power supply and a large (64G+) Flash drive will give you everything you need. It ends up being the size of two or three decks of cards.

The Pi-DAC+ has a built-in high-quality headphone amp, the Pi-Amp for Pi-DAC+ gives you 35+35W class-D amplifier to drive a decent set of speakers.

You would get in under $200, let alone the $1000 of your budget.

The IQ Audio gear is brilliant, refined, reliable.

Use Moode as your music player and you can stream, play from HDD/USB, play radio over the net, be your own AP and stream at the beach, if you want. It's clearly the best music player available for the Pi.

If you want some small, transportable speakers, have a look at NXT (the technology, not a brand name). Flat, light and with a surprisingly good sound.

No doubt panned by the cognoscenti, as a travelling set, the Pi with NXT is hard to beat.
 
Folks like the Dragonfly DACs. Cheaper and standalone might be an old metal backed IPOD. They have great DACs and are really cheap. I picked up a gen 3 classic IPOD a couple weeks ago for $3 big dollars with $5 big dollars shipping. There are adapters to replace the little hard drive with a CF card for $8 big dollars with free Amazon Prime shipping and $30 bucks or so for a CF card. Store everything as Apple Lossless. Only trick is you need to charge them with Firewire. Folks don't know that and list the IPODs as 'as is' because they won't charge on USB. The upright docks have a line out that skips the volume control, or just plug good headphones or high efficiency speakers into the headphone jack.