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418 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 193870 28-Mar-2016 01:32
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I've been delving into HD audio recently. Thus far only 48khz, but will make the dip to a higher end DAC, and a USB turntable for encoding HD flacs soon.


I wanted to hear about peoples experienced with HD audio system. Preferences for DACs, vinyl, studio masters, HD audio online sites, amplifiers, speaker set ups. What you think of the sound differences versus 320 kbps or regular flac. 


Bit of a new area for me, and I think in general, I'd love to hear from some of the audiophiles for whom this is already familiar ground :)

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  Reply # 1520647 28-Mar-2016 08:55
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I've been an audiophile for 40 years, and still have my collections of vinyl and CDs - which I rarely play now.
For the past 5 years I've collected 24-bit studio masters, mostly of classical music.
I have had various systems over the years, each costing as much as a small car (I no longer need a car!).
Heavily into high-end headphones.
My current system is mostly NAIM, with Stax headphones and B&W speakers.
My music is now all 24-bit FLAC, preferably at 24/96 or higher, but 24/48 is OK.
Even with my tired old ears, I can hear a real difference between CDs and 24-bit - but only when using high-end gear.

The difference is most marked with good headphones.
The difference is lost with cheap gear - specially with nasty speakers.


My preferences:


Best: 24-bit
Second: vinyl on a good system
Third: CDs on a good system
Last: MP3s on any system - horrible!


There is a huge amount of good material coming out now in 24-bit.
Go for it!


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  Reply # 1520696 28-Mar-2016 11:10
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It would help to know what gear you have now, what size room you're working with and if you preference is 2-channel or multi-channel music?


And of course... what's your budget?




I use HD Tracks, B&W Society of Sound and occasionally the Linn forum for content.




DAC wise I used to run a stand-alone USB DAC but I wasn't overly happy with the performance, and the USB / optical / coax implementation on my pre-amp smokes it.


Computer based audio:


MacMini running Amara - connected to an asynchronous USB DAC (built into my preamp). External 3TB firewire HD. Initially most non-essential services were turned off on my MacMini, but over time it has kinda become a multi-purpose media hub / server... Basically, it has become somewhat less purist over time, mainly with the aim of increasing usability. All files are FLAC and AIFF (as well as MP3 for use in one of our cars).




I'm in between phono stages at the moment, I may just treat myself in a few months though... mainly new pressings in my home, but it doesn't matter if it's an old or new piece of vinyl, it goes through the SpinClean before I play it, and all records sit inside decent record sleeves.




I own CD's, I still buy CD's... but my CD player sits at work where it's used as a USB DAC... fed into a headphone amp at the moment.


I hardly ever spin discs on it at work though, effectively it works as a soundcard!




I have a few Blu-ray audio discs, but they never really leave their case. I watch / listen to quite a few Blu-ray concerts, but only in 2-channel as I run stereo at home.


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  Reply # 1520706 28-Mar-2016 12:04
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I have a large collection of FLAC based high-resolution audio, mostly studio masters of rock/pop and whilst I really like it and would choose hi-res over standard redbook CD, for me vinyl has won me over and I now buy all of my new music on vinyl and have been slowly building up my collection of older albums as well.


DAC wise I have had a number from independently designed (Beresford Caiman and Bushmaster) to more recently a Rotel unit and now a Plinius Aspire 980 integrated amp that has a built in DAC and DLNA streaming.


Transport wise I've mostly used a Logitech Squeezebox Touch which can go up to 24/96 and has a fantastic iPad interface for control. Now I'm using the Plinius with JRiver Media center for control which also has pretty slick iPad interface.


For interest's sake, my turntable is a ProJect Debut Carbon with a perspex platter, Speedbox and updated stylus (Ortofon OM30) feeding into the excellent phono stage on the Plinius and feeding out to Monitor Audio Silver 6 speakers.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1525864 4-Apr-2016 16:28
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Well, specifically now my budget is quite low, because I am looking for extra income. But that will be remedied soon, and when it is, I'll get what I need.


I don't need network streaming, or transport, because I have a wired system on which my computer, my media, and my media viewing/listening all take place. 


I currently have a combination of an 80s faux-modular phillips amp, and some metal cone seventies speakers (which are delicious).


I would quite like to try multi-channel audio at some point, and have some kind of spatializer to emulate multi-channel with dual channel sources, simply because one of the perceived benefits for me, is the sense of 'presence' or being there, and I suspect that a surround system could enhance this.


But I also think it may be benefical to have specialized speakers. My current speakers have a good spread and deep bass, but I have come across a sheet speaker design that replicates treble incredibly, and it would be interesting to incorporate this, and a bass specialist speaker, because the other perceived benefit of HD is dynamic range - the very high, and very low, and the fidelity there of.


My room isn't huge at all, and when I move, it will probably still be quite small - with a fair bit of padding furniture, so no real sound bouncing. Not a bad space for sound.


So I'd probably just use a USB external DAC of some kind, and a sonically okay turntable with USB, and auto-converting. But of course, if I go multi-channel, I'll need a new amp/speaker set-up. In which case, there are amps that contain HD dacs, right? All the same, a seperate DAC is probably cheaper, so long as it's asynchronous USB though, that should be fine. 


My first curiousity is probably the turntable - are there any affordable but decent turntablets like this? i understand a lot of that market is relatively poor quality sound wise. 


And I suppose the second would be about DAC, and if there are varying qualities of those.


And third - amp, again prefering affordable. Doesn't need streaming, or fancy functions, just an auto surround coverter for multi-channels, and perhaps if this is a wise course, some specialized speakers for top and bottom end. This being the most expensive part, ideally I could use my wood box metal cone speakers in it, without too much cost involved 



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1525866 4-Apr-2016 16:30
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Interesting to see how complex it can all get!


Is there a benefit to a pre-amp outside of headphones? 

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  Reply # 1526026 4-Apr-2016 21:23
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Project turntables are everywhere - bright colours and fancy materials for tonearms make them popular.


Don't discount Rega / Thorens and the other brands though, budget is a consideration, but as always with turntable - setup is key! Oh, and cleanliness.




Don't get hung up on a turntable that has USB connectivity, you can get phono stages that offer this.




Most home theatre amps have high-res DAC's, some of which handle everything you can throw at them, but whether they can play the small number of high-res multi-channel files you can get on USB... that's a different story. I know Pioneer's could play 5 channel FLAC a few years back, but who knows now?


Then again, a decent Blu-ray player can stream multi-channel audio USB files when connected to the amp via HDMI.


Only one home theatre amp I know of features an asynchronous USB connection - it's certainly not a common requirement for most theatres.




The cost of DAC chips isn't high, their implementation is where the difference is...

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  Reply # 1526034 4-Apr-2016 21:41
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I have a large collection of audio- modern audio. The recordings are so lousy. So i have pure lossless lousy audio.

Swype on iOS is detrimental to accurate typing. Apologies in advance.

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  Reply # 1526036 4-Apr-2016 21:56
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Music that you like is out there.


Music that is well recorded is out there.


Music that combines both elements... well, it take a little more work, but it's out there.

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