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  • Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

    After about 25 years, my CD player finally died for good. What's the current consensus for best 2-channel music audio SQ system configuration?

    (While I'm at it, I wouldn't mind planing for the retirement of my almost similar vintage Dolby 5.1 receiver too. Right now I have a hodge podge of MP3 players, laptop with USB sound card, old HTPC, and finally a now dead CD player used only for critical listening. I'd also like to try and consolidate things as much as possible too.)

    1. Just buy another good CD player. (Don't want to use my DVD player because it's control display requires the TV to be on.)
    2. Analog output from PC assuming a good sound card.
    3. PC SPDIF output to new HT receiver.
    4. PC SPDIF output to stand alone DAC to receiver analog input.
    5. PC HDMI output to new HT receiver.

    I have no interest in pushing the law of diminishing returns or sacrificing audio for video, just looking for a reasonable configuration that will last a while.
    Last edited by MagicO309d; 09-15-2009, 03:08 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

    Here is a several pages long thread that discusses many aspects of what you seem to be interested in.

    http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150343

    One message that caught my eye made the point that copying CDs to a hard drive, using a loss less protocol, actually can store a copy that might be better than the original due to error correcting algorithms.

    Then, the question becomes whether a quality (professional type) sound card has a better DAC than a standalone DAC connected via USB.

    I will watch carefully what you and others who may respond recommend. I am in the same boat as you.

    Dick

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

      I have a great computer sound card but I often find the fan noise annoying. In order to tame this noise, a lot of time was invested... No one complains about the SQ. Is it the ultimate? I am quite sure that the m-audio delta audiophile has around a 105-110db s/n ratio.

      I really like simplicity. Unless you are ready to leap into a media center PC, stick with good old cd/dvd players. Look for a dvd player with buttons on the front. This is usually the most cost effective and easy to use. (Coming from a computer guy)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

        My $0.02 worth, stay all digital until the last minute.

        If you already have a a PC with CD/DVD drive have a look at something like
        http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=180-962

        Then go out optical and let whatever system you purchase (5.1 / 7.1) do the decoding (DAC part) since usually this will be better than most built into standard CD players

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

          If you go with your option #1, then you might consider:



          http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....-v2-CD-player-

          Usually retails for about $650 but currently being discounted heavily because there is a newer version. Still very highly regarded, I don't own it but others on this board prize it.

          IMHO, music from a PC is a non-starter for me because of the fan noise or the cost/effort of muffling it. Why build nice speakers and get a clean amp, when you are hearing the fan or hard drive spinning in the background?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

            You don't say what your budget is. If it's not bare-bones, and if you don't want to fiddle with a bunch of separate hardware and software, Sonos may be just what you're looking for.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

              Originally posted by Jonathan Anspach View Post
              You don't say what your budget is. If it's not bare-bones, and if you don't want to fiddle with a bunch of separate hardware and software, Sonos may be just what you're looking for.
              Regardless of what I wind up doing for a critical listening solution, I still will need to keep a PC connected to my system for at least party mixes and internet radio. (Life has been awesome ever since I gave up on handling video with my HTPC so that's my fiddln' patience limit! )

              As far as budget is concerned, is it still worth paying $500ish for a CD player today or is it more reasonable for SQ to gut my HTPC of it's video pretenses and just replace the CPU/motherboard, software, and maybe soundcard with silent, low power, audio capable parts for less money?

              At any rate, I don't see myself ever going beyond more than maybe a 4 ohm solid, midrage, $1,500 receiver or amp/preamp separates in the future because speakers are so much more fun.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                This is a thread where lots of folks here chimed in on their PC audio setups. I think it should give you lots of ideas.

                http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=211797
                Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                Twitter: @undefinition1

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                  Apple TV or Airport Express with PC running iTunes streaming with iTouch or iPhone for remote...Let the AVR do the digital decoding as someone suggested digital to the end. Harmon Kardon 2channel Receiver should do the trick nicely

                  iTunes remote app with iTouch is awesome...full cover art, sort by artists/title/etc...volume control.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                    Originally posted by Mayhem13 View Post
                    Apple TV or Airport Express with PC running iTunes streaming with iTouch or iPhone for remote...Let the AVR do the digital decoding as someone suggested digital to the end. Harmon Kardon 2channel Receiver should do the trick nicely

                    iTunes remote app with iTouch is awesome...full cover art, sort by artists/title/etc...volume control.
                    +1

                    or my choice Logitech Squeezebox Duet (you can stream Rhapsody or Napster with this). Similar concepts.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                      Not really a direct answer to your question, but somewhat related. Others will probably disagree, but my solution was to buy a PS3. Now, with a 120 gb drive and price drop to $299, seems like even more of a deal. You get:

                      a Blu-ray drive

                      upscales DVD's fine

                      acts like a media center, does a great job with photo slide shows

                      plays CD's, probably not as well as a dedicated CD player, but nobody complains about SQ these days

                      HDMI output

                      2 channel analog output

                      not noisy

                      ability to play online media, such as Pandora

                      works with bluetooth DVD remote and keyboard so you don't have to use the game controller. Range is good, you can control it from another room or outside

                      Downside is you realistically need a display connected to control it, unless you can memorize the remote button presses needed to do what you want to do

                      Oh yeah, I hear it can play games, too. I have yet to purchase a game for mine, and I've had it since last Xmas.


                      On the patio, I just use a $40 DVD player with a USB port, enough buttons on front to play basic functions, works fine.

                      Stan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                        Digital out to a DacMagic will sound better than any receiver's DAC and quite possibly any sound card DAC.
                        "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

                        http://www.diy-ny.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                          Originally posted by MagicO309d View Post
                          1. Just buy another good CD player. (Don't want to use my DVD player because it's control display requires the TV to be on.)
                          Probably the worst of your four options, depending on whether Option 2 requires buying new stuff.

                          Originally posted by MagicO309d View Post
                          2. Analog output from PC assuming a good sound card.
                          Probably 2d worst of your four options, assuming it's cheaper than Option 1.

                          Originally posted by MagicO309d View Post
                          3. PC SPDIF output to new HT receiver.
                          4. PC SPDIF output to stand alone DAC to receiver analog input.
                          5. PC HDMI output to new HT receiver.
                          These should all be identical sonically. Standalone DACs in the modern age are kind of silly, except maybe in some esoteric circumstances.

                          Originally posted by jclin4 View Post
                          Usually retails for about $650 but currently being discounted heavily because there is a newer version. Still very highly regarded, I don't own it but others on this board prize it.
                          Six fitty for a stand along digital disk spinner is absurd in 2009. Even 50% of that is, considering how nonexistent the sonic difference is between bargain basement player and one costing several zeros more is. Especially if that disk is just a CD. Maybe the price would be more reasonable if the thing plays Blu-Ray, DVD-A, SACD, and regular DVD as well, and has a trick video chip.

                          Originally posted by jclin4 View Post
                          IMHO, music from a PC is a non-starter for me because of the fan noise or the cost/effort of muffling it.
                          Then get a Mac!

                          Originally posted by Mayhem13 View Post
                          Apple TV or Airport Express with PC running iTunes streaming with iTouch or iPhone for remote...Let the AVR do the digital decoding as someone suggested digital to the end. Harmon Kardon 2channel Receiver should do the trick nicely

                          iTunes remote app with iTouch is awesome...full cover art, sort by artists/title/etc...volume control.
                          +1 to all of that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                            Originally posted by MagicO309d View Post
                            Regardless of what I wind up doing for a critical listening solution, I still will need to keep a PC connected to my system for at least party mixes and internet radio. (Life has been awesome ever since I gave up on handling video with my HTPC so that's my fiddln' patience limit! )

                            As far as budget is concerned, is it still worth paying $500ish for a CD player today or is it more reasonable for SQ to gut my HTPC of it's video pretenses and just replace the CPU/motherboard, software, and maybe soundcard with silent, low power, audio capable parts for less money?

                            At any rate, I don't see myself ever going beyond more than maybe a 4 ohm solid, midrage, $1,500 receiver or amp/preamp separates in the future because speakers are so much more fun.
                            Sonos would let you do without the PC for playback if you wanted to. It gives you access to Pandora, Rhapsody, and internet radio.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Best 2-Channel Audio SQ from PC Configuration

                              "Even 50% of that is, considering how nonexistent the sonic difference is between bargain basement player and one costing several zeros more is. "

                              I bought the $300 Marantz CD player last year and did a shootout compared to my $99 Sony CD player . The test was over in about 2 and a half seconds . The better Marantz was an excellent investment and the Sony is a bedroom CD now.
                              I have a Mac but it's in the computer room , not the listening room or I would integrate it into the mix.

                              Comment

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