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barondla
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cd player vs computer hard drive system

Has any one heard a computer or hard drive server system match the quality of sound from a really good cd player like the Ayre CX5e? Thinking of buying an Ayre, but many are telling me to buy computer or server system instead. Mnay say it will sound better. The Mcintosh server didn't do so well against the Ayre in the Stereophile review.
thanks
barondla
Not so worried about the convenience difference-just the sound.
Would love to hear from JA or Wes on this.

tomjtx
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Yes.

tomjtx
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Sorry, I am trying to become a minimalist.

I think Wes Philips compared the Logitech Transporter favorably with the Ayre.

I haven't heard a better DAC than Transporter and I've heard the Ayre and the Linn .

My CDP is in my closet and I will never look back.

If you like a tube flavor get the ModWright Transporter.

Either way you can't go wrong, IMO.

ncdrawl
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

as for someone saying "the hard drive system will sound better"... I believe that you should take any comments like that with a grain of salt. utter nonsense. there are too many factors involved from system to system to make any blanket claims.

It just depends on the sound card and the DAC, and of course which protocol you use to get the bits out of the computer..
(Like ASIO, for example)

Sound quality , at least on paper , has every bit of potential of cd players...

what I dont like is the whole "taking the human aspect out" side of things. I enjoy the ritual. I enjoy taking the media out and reading the liner notes. I enjoy sitting down and mashing buttons, twiddling controls.

Staring at a computer screen just isnt as sexy or involving.

I have a really nice computer based system at the office, but don't see myself ever using a computer as a primary means of playback.

Sound wise though, computer based systems have all the potential of physical players. My office system has no flaws that I can hear.

mrlowry
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Arcam makes a server that sounds close to, but not quite as good as an Ayre CX-7. I had an MS-250 at home for about a week and I will say that the instant access to any digital music in your collection was addictive, even for me and I tend to listen to whole albums instead of song hopping. Someone already mentioned the Linn, which I haven't heard but would certainly check out. Naim also has a unit that might be promising. The Transporter has also been brought up and there has been lots of good ink spilled on that piece of gear. Servers have one theoretical sonic advantage over a standard CD player which is the reduction of jitter because of the way that they import the CD data and the manner in which it is read off of the drive when the time for playback comes. But they also have some disadvantage too which include an electrically noisy, computer-like environment which isn't very hospitable to analog information. In most cases the hard drives also create mechanical noise, which can raise the noise floor of the listening room. Plus they create lots of vibrations and inject them into the equipment rack, which I believe can affect the performance of all of the other gear in addition to the electrical noise they MUST be radiating. The Transporter (and similar devices) of course being excepted because they don't have an on board hard drive.

My point is that AT THIS POINT, neither is the hands down superior technology. Each individual has to weigh the various advantages and disadvantages and make the decision that is best for THEM. However, the straight CD player's days are numbered as are those of the CD. They won't blink out of existence this year or the next but it will happen. The cost of distribution for CD's just cuts into record company profitability too much to continue to be allowed to existent. If I were in the market for a digital source I would buy a great DAC and continue to use my current CD player as a transport. Then when servers get better (solid state memory, etc) I could use the DAC with it. That's kind of a middle ground, wait and see strategy that gets you better performance today AND prepares you for the future.

dcstep
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

The DAC is the most important component. I've got a Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD player (arguably as good or superior to the Ayre mentions) with a great DAC that can be used independently. If I record to my iPod using a computer drive, Apple Lossless and error correction, when I play back with the iPod going through the Wadia 170i interface (that takes the iPod's signal prior to its DAC) then through MPS-5's clock/DAC (claimed zero jitter) the performance can't be distinguished from playback using the PD's onboard Esoteric transport.

I think the keys are, error-corrected uncompressed storage, a low jitter clock and superior DAC (in my case, preferably with upsampling for 44.1 sources).

Dave

barondla
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Wes did compare the Ayre to the Transporter. After reading the review I thought the Ayre was better sound wise. Wes said "The Ayre had a tad more shimmer in the upper registers, a slightly more physical presence, if you will, and a noticeably more dynamic contrast than the Transporter".
A little further in he said " because the Ayre provides higher resolution than the Transporter and I make my living comparing components, I'll continue to use the Ayre as my reference".
Doesn't seem like the Transporter was a match for the cd player. Just wonder if any are?
thanks
barondla

Would love to hear JA's take on this since he records using a computer set up and has the same Ayre cd player.

mrlowry
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

The way I read his comparison the Transporter was CLOSE to as good as the Ayre C5. But he did have a preference for the C5

JIMV
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

My problem with computer based systems comes from my experience with computers...They are simply NOT reliable over the long haul. Perhaps a system not connected to the internet in any way (and so not subject to the hundreds of thousands of computer virus's, cookies, keyloggers and rootkits out there, made of premier parts to audiophile standards and dead quiet in operation, with few to no moving parts (like a flash drive) might produce sound as good or better than a good CDP, but at what cost? I have an old Adcom CD player that dates from over a decade ago. It still works perfectly each and every time I use it. It does not need to be swept for virus's, does not run more noisily every year, and has not spent a day in the repair shop. I have owned 10-12 computers over the same time frame, not a one replaced due to obsolescence but always due to hardware failure or software messes so bad that repairing it costs more than replacement.

I spent over 5 hours removing a mess from my old (3 years) XP machine this week and the computer has a fan that sounds like a jet engine. Adobe CS3 (which refuses to update) is no longer supported (after all, it is a entire 18 months old and only cost hundreds of dollars) so fixing problems with it means I either PAY Adobe to fix their software or fight with it myself. Webroot has instituted a new scam where, when their product fails to remove a problem, that it sees, you can either sit on hold on their 'free' tech support line forever (2.5 hours last month) or you can BUY additional service and go to the head of the line...

Ie; they sell you product that does not work out of the box and want you to pay to get them to fix it for you!

No, that is the world of computers...NO THANK YOU...

When the gear works each and every time and the manufacturers stand by their gear and there are no software update scams and repair is part of the product, not an extra cost, then a computer based system will hold its own.

Audio is a hobby I enjoy, Computers are a trial I endure. I do not intend to mix the two.

That is why the new PS Audio gear is so interesting...Computer technology without the PC horrors.

JoeE SP9
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

I'm with you JIMV. I make my living as a network engineer and I don't consider HDD's reliable enough to trust my music collection to one. That's why a RAID 5 with data striping is used in servers. They are set up for hot swapping. When one of the drives goes down it's replaced without powering down the server. The combination of striping and RAID make data reconstruction possible.

JIMV
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

I believe server based systems are today's equivalent to the early 1980's 'perfect sound forever' band wagon...perhaps in 25 years those server based systems will give us the reliability and sound quality we hope to enjoy but today they are a fad...

JoeE SP9
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Yeah, but there won't be all that choice vinyl at fire sale prices that "perfect sound forever" made available to people like me.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
I believe server based systems are today's equivalent to the early 1980's 'perfect sound forever' band wagon...perhaps in 25 years those server based systems will give us the reliability and sound quality we hope to enjoy but today they are a fad...

You couldn't be more wrong and I will generously assume you are speaking out of ignorance.

I ditched an 8,000 Transport/DAC system for the Transporter because it sounded better, not for the convenience.

Hard drive technology is inherently better than than a CDP but rather than spoon feeding you why , I suggest you get off your lazy rear end and do some research.

You really should do your homework before you make such blatantly ignorant statements.

JoeE SP9
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

I have to agree with JIMV on one point. Reliability. HDD's are just not reliable enough for me to get rid of my LP's, CD's and DVD's. RAID arrays were invented because HDD's are simply not reliable. Were it not for RAIDs with data striping and hot swap capability many business would have considerable down time on their networks. I know this because I'm a Network Engineer.
A friend just gave me a new file server. I'm going to set up a RAID5 array on it and find out how audio data responds to data striping. When I have some results I'll post them in a new thread. Speed is not really a concern. Data integrity is. There is a lot of built in redundancy in regular data. How well Reed Solomon (CD) error correction works in a striped environment is the important thing here. How an SACD data stream responds is another question. Although that will be harder to answer because of the encryption Sony built into DSD.
In the very near future solid state memory will be cheap enough to make several Terrabytes of solid state storage affordable. That will pass my personal reliability standards. Of course an EMP will still be able to turn that into processed sand.

barondla
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Have been reading about using computers for music on the Asylum. Many of the computer people say that a computer designed for music only - strip out internet, video games, etc can be reliable. They are touting the cMP2 home built with underclocked processors, no fans, seperate power supplies for clean & dirty power (even different power cords going to different ac house circuts). Dual HD for backup.
One problem I have with all this is none of the store bought servers have beat the Ayre cdp for sound quality. I don't consider the computer systems being more conveient.
Would love some of you computer experts to look over the cMP home built on the Asylum and give your opinion. Computers aren't my strong point.
thanks
barondla

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
How well Reed Solomon (CD) error correction works in a striped environment is the important thing here. How an SACD data stream responds is another question. Although that will be harder to answer because of the encryption Sony built into DSD.


Yep.
You won't be able to listen or store DSD data streams on any computer based system. Certainly not any commercial disc.

JIMV
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Tom, I cannot speak to server based system as I have never heard one, nor have I ever heard a $100K vinyl front end or a $20K CD front end. I live in flyover country and my local shops do not stock such esoterica.

That said, I do know computers. I spent 12 years buying them for a big computer reseller and have lived with computer problems as what I did for a living. In addition, I have personally owned 3 HP's, a Toshiba, four E-machines, 2 Gateways, an IBM, and currently own a Sony, E-Machine, and IMAC. ALL have a shelf life of maybe 5 years if I am lucky (except the IMAC which I use mostly as a backup to store pictures and documents).

A server based machine might sound like a choir of celestial angels BUT, it suffers the same inherent problem all computers have. It is made of cheap parts, relies on quirky software and is subject to attack over the internet, obsolescence due to better software, and part failure due to old age.

My point is not a slam on server based sound but on computer based reliability...the expensive server based system today that one has spent days or weeks loading with ones treasured music could be in the landfill in 5 years due to those inherent computer problems.

There are things one can do to mitigate this inherent flaw...one can buy a MAC, one can keep the thing off the internet and one can keep it serviced and back up ones files.

Someday, probably soon, almost every sonic advantage of a computer technology based system will be available on gear designed for music that bypasses the internet, is not subject to hardware failure, does not need constantly changing quirky software or a computer degree to insure reliability. The PS Audio approach comes to mind.

Until then the folk who enjoy playing and tweaking computers and enjoy music will fiddle with server based systems, spend hours keeping the thing working with the same joy they spend debugging the latest game software on their PC and insist the brave new age is here, exactly like the folk who sold us CD's did 25 years ago.

And, just like those folk, they will be right and wrong, The technology does support good, perhaps great sound, but at the cost of having to endure every computer horror we see with every other computer, reliability, hardware and software woes.

You can call it ignorance..I call it reality

jazzfan
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Dave aka dcstep wrote:


Quote:
The DAC is the most important component. I've got a Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD player (arguably as good or superior to the Ayre mentions) with a great DAC that can be used independently. If I record to my iPod using a computer drive, Apple Lossless and error correction, when I play back with the iPod going through the Wadia 170i interface (that takes the iPod's signal prior to its DAC) then through MPS-5's clock/DAC (claimed zero jitter) the performance can't be distinguished from playback using the PD's onboard Esoteric transport.

I think the keys are, error-corrected uncompressed storage, a low jitter clock and superior DAC (in my case, preferably with upsampling for 44.1 sources).

I'm a bit confused here. First you say that you use Apple lossless, which is a compressed format, albeit a lossless one, and then you say "error-corrected uncompressed storage". Uncompressed would be either wav or aiff, not Apple lossless. So which is it?

JoeE wrote:


Quote:
I have to agree with JIMV on one point. Reliability. HDD's are just not reliable enough for me to get rid of my LP's, CD's and DVD's. RAID arrays were invented because HDD's are simply not reliable. Were it not for RAIDs with data striping and hot swap capability many business would have considerable down time on their networks. I know this because I'm a Network Engineer.
A friend just gave me a new file server. I'm going to set up a RAID5 array on it and find out how audio data responds to data striping. When I have some results I'll post them in a new thread. Speed is not really a concern. Data integrity is. There is a lot of built in redundancy in regular data. How well Reed Solomon (CD) error correction works in a striped environment is the important thing here. How an SACD data stream responds is another question. Although that will be harder to answer because of the encryption Sony built into DSD.
In the very near future solid state memory will be cheap enough to make several Terrabytes of solid state storage affordable. That will pass my personal reliability standards. Of course an EMP will still be able to turn that into processed sand.

My computer based audio system uses two Drobo USB storage devices (Drobo) where each Drobo contains four hard drives in a proprietary "RAID" setup. The drives are hot swappable and the data is striped. I have no problems reading the music files from these devices other than the time lag which occurs after the units have been idle for several hours and the drives are spinning up to speed.

I prefer this system or a similar system using RAID to having to mirror all my data since with a mirrored system (which is simply having a full back up drive which is a copy or "mirror" of one's working drive) one get only 50% usable storage (1 gig of working storage + 1 gig of backup storage = 2 gigs total) versus about 2/3's usable storage (1 gig of working storage + 1/3 gig for redundancy = 1 1/3 gigs total). Plus all the backing up of the data is done automatically.

ncdrawl wrote:


Quote:
Yep.
You won't be able to listen or store DSD data streams on any computer based system. Certainly not any commercial disc.

The fact that Sony goes and develops SACD and DSD technology only to then abandon them, as in they no longer produce or support SACD, only means that high resolution digital audio will need to move forward using different technology, such as greater bit depth (24 bit instead of 16 bit) and higher sampling rates (96 and 88.1 kHz versus 44.1 kHz) offered by PCM encoding. Just about all the higher end music server systems have support for the native playback of high resolution PCM encoded audio. In fact, some of the systems and devices, such Logitech's Transporter, even offer native support for playback of losslessly encoded high resolution digital audio files, i.e. flac files.

Now with this being said I think that mrlowry hit the nail on the head when he wrote:


Quote:
My point is that AT THIS POINT, neither is the hands down superior technology. Each individual has to weigh the various advantages and disadvantages and make the decision that is best for THEM. However, the straight CD player's days are numbered as are those of the CD. They won't blink out of existence this year or the next but it will happen. The cost of distribution for CD's just cuts into record company profitability too much to continue to be allowed to existent. If I were in the market for a digital source I would buy a great DAC and continue to use my current CD player as a transport. Then when servers get better (solid state memory, etc) I could use the DAC with it. That's kind of a middle ground, wait and see strategy that gets you better performance today AND prepares you for the future.

It's not that a computer based music system (be it through a server or straight from a computer) is inherently "better" than a CD/SACD/LP based system but rather that computer based music is the way of the future. And right now that "future" is rapidly destroying the overall sound quality of the music because of its reliance on lossy compression (mp3s and iTunes). So until the audiophile community gets on board and begins pressing for lossless compression and higher resolution things are not going to improve but, and here's the kicker, CDs and SACDs are still going to go the way of the LP and become a small little market with limited selection and inflated prices. So the sooner we, meaning those of us who care deeply about the sound quality of the music we love, get with the program the better that "future" will turn out to be.

struts
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

I am sure the thought police will punish me appropriately for citing TAS in this forum but this article from Robert Harley's blog represents one school of thought, and one that I personally subscribe to:

  • Data errors are almost negligible in both cases
  • The only variable is jitter
  • S/PDIF is evil
  • Slaving the source to the DAC pretty much levels the playing field

Of course, for my money, and that of some others, the convenience of hard disk beats CD every time. If I want to indulge in ritual I'll spin some vinyl.

tomjtx
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

JIMV, I read your post to be commenting on SQ. Thank you for clearing that up.

As for reliability. I have a very old EMAC I use with 3 external HDs, 1 for primary and 2 backups. I stream the music to Transporter so I don't have a noisy computer in the listening room.
I have NEVER had a HD crash and the Squeezecenter software integrates well with ITunes.

I do store all my CDs so I have an ultimate backup with these.

I guess only using MACs has spoiled me a bit in terms of reliability.

I am fairly computer illiterate and have had very few problems with transitioning to a server based system.

jazzfan
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
JIMV, I read your post to be commenting on SQ. Thank you for clearing that up.

As for reliability. I have a very old EMAC I use with 3 external HDs, 1 for primary and 2 backups. I stream the music to Transporter so I don't have a noisy computer in the listening room.
I have NEVER had a HD crash and the Squeezecenter software integrates well with ITunes.

I do store all my CDs so I have an ultimate backup with these.

I guess only using MACs has spoiled me a bit in terms of reliability.

I am fairly computer illiterate and have had very few problems with transitioning to a server based system.

Tom,

I know that you're a big supporter of Logitech's Transporter and SqueezeBox, as am I, but I don't understand your almost blind devotion to Apple, MACs and iTunes. Sure MACs are much less troublesome than their Windows based counterparts but Apple is completely devoted to proprietary formats and flatly refuses to make iTunes compatible with the open source and non-proprietary flac format. As an audiophile running a computer based music server system this is a totally unforgivable transgression. My extensive hard drive based music library consists almost entirely of flac files and Apple's continued insistence on using it's own proprietary formats is, at this point, doing much more harm than good as far as losslessly compressed music is concerned.

In any case, thanks for your continued support in trying to get these Luddite audiophiles into the 21st century.

tomjtx
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:

Quote:
JIMV, I read your post to be commenting on SQ. Thank you for clearing that up.

As for reliability. I have a very old EMAC I use with 3 external HDs, 1 for primary and 2 backups. I stream the music to Transporter so I don't have a noisy computer in the listening room.
I have NEVER had a HD crash and the Squeezecenter software integrates well with ITunes.

I do store all my CDs so I have an ultimate backup with these.

I guess only using MACs has spoiled me a bit in terms of reliability.

I am fairly computer illiterate and have had very few problems with transitioning to a server based system.

Tom,

I know that you're a big supporter of Logitech's Transporter and SqueezeBox, as am I, but I don't understand your almost blind devotion to Apple, MACs and iTunes. Sure MACs are much less troublesome than their Windows based counterparts but Apple is completely devoted to proprietary formats and flatly refuses to make iTunes compatible with the open source and non-proprietary flac format. As an audiophile running a computer based music server system this is a totally unforgivable transgression. My extensive hard drive based music library consists almost entirely of flac files and Apple's continued insistence on using it's own proprietary formats is, at this point, doing much more harm than good as far as losslessly compressed music is concerned.

In any case, thanks for your continued support in trying to get these Luddite audiophiles into the 21st century.

Jazzfan, I totally agree with you but I am an exceedingly lazy asshole and Itunes is so easy to use.

There are a lot of MAC programs that will convert FLAC to ALAC and I will use those when I download flac files.

BTW, there is no DRM when ripping to ALAC and you can easily batch convert ALAC to FLAC using 3rd party software.

Please remember I am a dumb ass classical musician who is technologically inept and I was only trying to demonstrate that even I can adapt to a server based system.

jazzfan
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
Jazzfan, I totally agree with you but I am an exceedingly lazy asshole and Itunes is so easy to use.

There are a lot of MAC programs that will convert FLAC to ALAC and I will use those when I download flac files.

BTW, there is no DRM when ripping to ALAC and you can easily batch convert ALAC to FLAC using 3rd party software.

Please remember I am a dumb ass classical musician who is technologically inept and I was only trying to demonstrate that even I can adapt to a server based system.

Tom,

Now you have me completely stumped. iTunes and classical music definitely do not mix. iTunes only understands the artist/album hierarchy and when trying to catalog classical music the artist/album hierarchy does not do you much good.

And while you're right about the fact that there is no DRM when one rips CDs or converts files to the ALAC format, I wasn't referring to DRM but to the fact that Apple owns the rights to the ALAC format and can charge either the end user or another vendor (such as Logitech) a fee for the rights to decode their proprietary format. In fact this is exactly the reason why SqueezeCenter decodes ALAC files on the server and then streams the higher bit rate, i.e. uncompressed, wav file whereas with flac files the lower bit rate, i.e. compressed, flac files are streamed to the Transporter or SqueezeBox and converted to wav at the device. This is not an insignificant issue since streaming the higher bit rate wav files puts more strain on one's network and one also loses the ability to fast forward and rewind within a file or song.

So while Apple will not allow other vendor's hardware to decode ALAC files, Apple does freely give away iTunes, which of course contains the software code required to decode ALAC files. Confusing, yes but entirely unnecessary since flac is open source codec and no fees or rights are involved.

And by the way, while I use SqueezeCenter to manage my music library (along with a lot of time and effort on my part), I am not entirely happy with its cataloging abilities either but I do find SqueezeCenter somewhat less brain dead than iTunes so long as I'm extra careful with my file tagging and file/folder organization. I also use a program called "Moose" as the front end for operating my various Logitech devices from my computers, and again, it's nowhere near perfect but still light years ahead of iTunes.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

The last several posts are perfect examples of my problem with computer based systems...software that is not compatible, quirks, and a special language one needs to learn to make it work...

CD player based system...put in CD....

I'll stick t that for now...

barondla
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Have been looking at other cd/computer options like the PS Audio. Zero One makes both ripping cd player/HD transport & an all on one unit. So does Pinnacle. How I love the look of the Pinnacle remote. The display is where it belongs-on the remote, not across the room on the machine. BUT, it can't play a cd without ripping it first! The Zero One can play cd without ripping.
The Ayre sure does speak to me with ease of use. Seems hard to beat for sound too. Don't think the HD method is more convenient. Have been there with photography. Can pluck a transpareny from its slide page quicker(usually)than I can find one of my digital shots on the computer.
Have to decide a course of action soon. My digital is starting to act up.
thanks
barondla

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
I wasn't referring to DRM but to the fact that Apple owns the rights to the ALAC format and can charge either the end user or another vendor (such as Logitech) a fee for the rights to decode their proprietary format.


It's worse than that, jazzfan. Afaik Apple has never released any specifications for ALAC, under paid or free license. All third-party implementations of ALAC (i.e. everything apart from QT itself), both encoders and decoders, are based on David Hammerton's reverse-engineering of the codec from the file format which he released into the public domain for free under the MIT License.


Quote:
In fact this is exactly the reason why SqueezeCenter decodes ALAC files on the server and then streams the higher bit rate, i.e. uncompressed, wav file whereas with flac files the lower bit rate, i.e. compressed, flac files are streamed to the Transporter or SqueezeBox and converted to wav at the device.


If true, this would seem to be a strange design choice. If Slim's implementation is based on Hammerton's code (which can accept input from stdin) there is nothing I can see that would prevent it receiving a streamed file and decoding it directly to PCM. ALAC is quite similar to FLAC in its basic anatomy but Apple made some interesting design choices with ALAC whose motivation is not entirely clear since they don't appear to result in superior compression. Compared to FLAC, decoding is more computationally complex to a degree that is quite difficult to model, at a rough guess I would say about 10-25%. That is the only reason I can really see for wanting to decode ALAC at the server, however I am sure Sean could enlighten us as to the rationale behind the actual design decision.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
The last several posts are perfect examples of my problem with computer based systems...software that is not compatible, quirks, and a special language one needs to learn to make it work...

CD player based system...put in CD....

I'll stick t that for now...

Jim,

I do not mean to be disrespectful but if one had taken the same approach to music playback some 25 years ago when the CD first came out one would now be stuck listening to primarily LPs which were released over 25 years ago. Seems that I have to keep on beating that dead horse:

Like it or not, physical media is disappearing and it's disappearing quickly. As mrlowry so aptly stated: "The cost of distribution for CD's just cuts into record company profitability too much to continue to be allowed to existent." In other words, why on earth would a record company produce a physical CD, complete with case and booklet when they can sell you a download for almost the same price? The CD's days are numbered.

Sure you could still purchase the download (which hopefully will be available as some type of losslessly compressed file rather the lossy compressed files which are common today) and burn it to a CD for playback in your quaint CD player or...

you could store the downloaded file on your computer (and most likely the file is already on your computer after you downloaded it) and listen to it via a music streaming device and a music server.

It's absolutely amazing to witness the audiophile community once again left behind, as they did with at the dawn of CD, as they clutch, ever so tightly, their cherished CD players.

barondla wrote:

Quote:
Don't think the HD method is more convenient. Have been there with photography. Can pluck a transpareny from its slide page quicker(usually)than I can find one of my digital shots on the computer.

Not true, I can find not only any given artist or album in a matter of seconds but any given song. This is because of the file tags and I do admit that tagging is a big pain, however, I'm hopeful that as music servers become more popular tagging will become easier. There is one drawback: forget the name/title and it's lost since there is no pile of CDs to wade through to jar one's memory.

On the upside another bonus is that as one's music collection grows the amount of space required to store it does not change very much - my two Drobos take up the same amount of space today, when they are filled with music files, as they did when I first brought them and they had no music files stored on them.

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Quote:
I do not mean to be disrespectful but if one had taken the same approach to music playback some 25 years ago when the CD first came out one would now be stuck listening to primarily LPs which were released over 25 years ago. Seems that I have to keep on beating that dead horse:

LP's wear out, CD's don't so the universe of decent software is very large. In addition, the CD replaced vinyl because it avoided all the problems with getting decent sound from that vinyl...no setup ritual, no stylus tweaking, no worries over disc noise...all you needed to do was put the CD in and push play. Digital is a rush back to complexity and the quirks of vinyl but 10 fold worse as it also involves computer software and all the problems that come with that.

As to CD software going away, I disagree...brick and mortar stores selling such are fading but the internet has more music on CD than ever, new and used, and at a better price than ever. CD's might go, but not for decades, long after my 57 year old ears are shot.

We cling to our CD players because we do not desire to turn the music hobby, already rife with folk who spend more time tweaking than listening, into a computer hobby with music as a side.

Folk who like to constantly play with their PC, play with the game of the week, fix the software quirk of the day, and also like music will set up many (incompatible) systems to play that music on their gear and it will often sound wonderful. I am not of that mind set and do not have that training.

I cherish putting the disk in the machine and having music each and every time.

Extreme tweaking I leave to my vinyl system.

I am trying not to say anyone who does cherish computer based play is wrong, getting bad sound, or is wasting their time. I am saying they are suffering from early adopters syndrome and might be leaping into complicated systems before the standards and conventions are established...like the DVD audio/SACD fight or the Beta/VHS wars of yesteryear but 100 times worse as the path to perfect computer based digital sound seems to have a thousand branches...

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

But, Jim, there is no tweaking if you don't want tweaking.

Use Itunes to rip and you are done, period.

I have my entire library at my fingertips organized far better than I ever would organize my CDs. I can browse CD covers on my Itouch hit a button and it's playing on my stereo. Far less work than shuffling through my chaotic collection of CDs hopelessy looking for "where in the hell did I put that" CD

For me , it is far less work to have a server system than a CPD.

Believe me, a server system can be wonderful for lazy, disorganized audiophiles like me.

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All of which requires access to the internet which invites the over 900,000 current viruses, cookies, rootkits and keyloggers out there right into your music system...

NO THANK YOU....

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Quote:
All of which requires access to the internet which invites the over 900,000 current viruses, cookies, rootkits and keyloggers out there right into your music system...

NO THANK YOU....

No, it doesn't require the internet.
If you rip all your music you could do this w/o an internet connection.

But I only use MACs so I don't need to worry about viruses.

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Quote:
LP's wear out, CD's don't so the universe of decent software is very large. In addition, the CD replaced vinyl because it avoided all the problems with getting decent sound from that vinyl...no setup ritual, no stylus tweaking, no worries over disc noise...all you needed to do was put the CD in and push play. Digital is a rush back to complexity and the quirks of vinyl but 10 fold worse as it also involves computer software and all the problems that come with that.

As to CD software going away, I disagree...brick and mortar stores selling such are fading but the internet has more music on CD than ever, new and used, and at a better price than ever. CD's might go, but not for decades, long after my 57 year old ears are shot.

We cling to our CD players because we do not desire to turn the music hobby, already rife with folk who spend more time tweaking than listening, into a computer hobby with music as a side.

Folk who like to constantly play with their PC, play with the game of the week, fix the software quirk of the day, and also like music will set up many (incompatible) systems to play that music on their gear and it will often sound wonderful. I am not of that mind set and do not have that training.

I cherish putting the disk in the machine and having music each and every time.

Extreme tweaking I leave to my vinyl system.

I am trying not to say anyone who does cherish computer based play is wrong, getting bad sound, or is wasting their time. I am saying they are suffering from early adopters syndrome and might be leaping into complicated systems before the standards and conventions are established...like the DVD audio/SACD fight or the Beta/VHS wars of yesteryear but 100 times worse as the path to perfect computer based digital sound seems to have a thousand branches...

Your points are well taken and, believe it or not, I do understand and sympathize with a lot of what you're saying, nonetheless, there are a few things which need clarification.

1) While you are correct that CD software isn't going away, what I am trying to point out is that file downloads will most likely become the primary means of distributing music. In fact, if the iTunes current sales figures are to be believed, downloading already IS the primary means of distributing music. And as I already stated, commercial CDs will become like LPs: available but with a limited selection and high prices and almost no NEW music available in that format.

2) While people like Tom and myself may be early adopters, sitting on the sidelines while "standards and conventions are established" is not a good option because the needs of audiophiles are not, at present, being considered by whomever it is that is establishing those "standards and conventions". Case in point: lossy compression and inadequate music management software.

So basically what I'm saying is that audiophiles need to be pro-active and help guide these "standards and conventions" so that our needs are addressed. Needs like making high resolution downloads readily available, developing music management software which goes beyond the overly simplified "artist/album" structure and more useful metadata instead of cute little tricks like "cover flow". Of course the best way to be pro-active is with our wallets and if audiophiles are going to cling to physical media while everyone else embraces downloading then the future does not look very bright for those who enjoy good sound.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Continuing my little side discussion with myself...


Quote:
In fact this is exactly the reason why SqueezeCenter decodes ALAC files on the server and then streams the higher bit rate, i.e. uncompressed, wav file whereas with flac files the lower bit rate, i.e. compressed, flac files are streamed to the Transporter or SqueezeBox and converted to wav at the device.


I am still intrigued by this architecture. Ralph, if you have a link or reference where this rationale is explained I would be very interested. Trawling around Bugzilla over at Slim Devices I can only find open bugs on this issue (none that have been closed with any statements of philosophy or policy). None of the comments seem to offer any explanation as to why they have chosen to decode on the server.

In fact if, as would appear to be the case, the Slim default is to convert ALAC to FLAC at the server, for subsequent decoding on the client, I am even more mystified. There is no known way to transcode directly from ALAC to FLAC because of the significant differences between the codecs (e.g. ALAC uses adaptive Rice parameters whereas FLAC uses fixed), thus to do so would entail a decoding from ALAC to WAV (or PCM) and then encoding to FLAC which is a compute-intensive process. I cannot for the life of me understand why this would be preferred to the obvious alternative of just streaming ALAC to the client and decoding there.

Simple facts are:

  • All 3rd party implementations of ALAC are based directly or indirectly on Hammerton's code.
  • Hammerton's code supports streaming
  • Hammerton's code (and many derivations of it) is available under free public license.
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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Having a Mac has nothing to do with reliability. A hard drive is a hard drive. It is the reliability of hard drives which I and others question.

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I'm going to look into those Drobo RAID's. Thanks for the tip.

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The only reason Mac owners don't have to worry too much about viruses is because there aren't enough of you! 97% of the computers out there are not Mac's. The small percentage of Mac's does not invite the malicious interest that PC's do. It's simply a matter of numbers. No computer or operating system is totally immune from hackers unless you don't connect to the internet.

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Quote:
Having a Mac has nothing to do with reliability. A hard drive is a hard drive. It is the reliability of hard drives which I and others question.

AND, MAC's are also susceptible to attack...it is just that they are such a minor part of the market that attackers do not consider them worth their time.

Something else a lot of MAC owners who did a boot camp loading of windows software forget is that they are just as vulnerable operating with windows on a MAC as they are on a PC.

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Sometimes I'm tempted to write some code that is totally malicious to shut up all those "holier than thou" Mac owners. Maybe, then they'll stop crowing about a system hackers don't consider important enough to mess with!

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Quote:
A hard drive is a hard drive. It is the reliability of hard drives which I and others question.

And that's what backups are for. RAID is not backup. Most home computers/servers fail from heat buildup or power surges either of which can take out multiple drives. Backup to external drives that are then disconnected from the computer are my preference. YMMV

RG

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Have to disagree jazzfan. Supporting computer audio now is not the same as supporting cd 25 years ago. 25 years ago the cd players were standardized. Take the very first Magnavox, put a disc in and it played. Don't recall any glitches in that respect. To this day they work the same way.

CDs will survive. The record companies need it to survive. They just don't know it yet (they are pretty stupid business people). If all an artist needs to do, to put out an album, is have it on the internet why do they need they need a record company? Record companies give you distribution, and promotion. Artists will cut the record companies out. Don't you find it interesting that they are selling new LPs at Best Buy & Hot Topic. According to your theory that would be unthinkable. LPs have to be more trouble than CDs. But you can't down load an LP. All large businesses strive to to make product so "complex" that others don't have the resources to compete. Few of us can press our own LPs. Most artists could download their new album to the internet. In the short run down loading may help the big labels. In the end it will destroy them. Actually this may be a good reason to adopt computer music.
thanks
barondla

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Quote:
But I only use MACs so I don't need to worry about viruses.

Don't get complacent. I run only Macs and through discussions with a contact who administers a large Unix server array for a major internet service provider I've learnt that as Macs become more popular so the shits of hackers are beginning to write viruses to attack them. So, keep your anti-virus software up to date, Macs aren't immune even if they don't provide the open invitation that Mr Gates sloppy spaghetti code ( read virus highway) does.
And while we're on the subject of IT, and at the risk of repeating myself, if anyone is silly enough to rip all their CD's onto a hard drive and then either not back up all their music files or get really smart and sell the CD's on eBay, HARD DRIVES CRASH AND LOOSE ENTIRE MUSIC COLLECTIONS ON A FREQUENT BASIS.
Ripper beware!

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Reading this thread is making me nervous about hard drive failure.

I just replaced the original hard drive in my ten year old Dell PC, not because of a failure, but because a 13GB drive is a little on the small side these days, and I realize it can't last forever. This machine has been running eight hours a day on average, during that time. I've not had a hard drive failure in any of my other three machines either. Apparently my experience with drive reliability is unique?

That being said, I do keep copies of all my data on more than one machine, as well as having optical disk backups of the most important stuff.

I also admit to picking up some nasty malware three or four times over the past ten years, but a simple windows system restore has generally taken care of it.

I'm new to the serious side of computer audio, I.E non-acc, non-itunes. I have high hopes for 24/96 music file downloads from sites such as HDtracks, from which I recently downloaded their free sampler. I also managed to get an ASIO driver working with Foobar just last week, and a ripped CD routed by USB to my DAC, sounds the same to me as the S/PDIF output of the same CD, from my CD player.

The current music library on my asus eeepc is mostly ALAC ripped from my CD collection, but I see a lot of hi-res flac downloads in my future. But there will always be a place for my CD player as well. I think there is room for both storage methods, just as many people play both vinyl and CD's today.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

I have 3 HDs for my music, 2 are backups. I also have the CDs as as the "ultimate" backup.

I do understand MACs are vulnerable, but realistically they are less so because there are fewer of them around.

Looking back at my post I realize my smiley could be taken as smugness.
It was not meant that way.

I hate all those smug apple assholes, especially the ones that work in the apple stores

I use MACs because I am so computer illiterate that I don't want to deal with any program or machine that requires thought.

I am too lazy to tag my own rips and Itunes still allows me to find classical titles with less effort than tagging them myself

My CD racks are proof of chaos theory and, for the theologically inclined, could be thought of as an example of Hell for anyone looking for a CD.

JF, I hopes this clears up why I use Itunes. It is likely quite inferior to your solutions but seems to fit the bill for my sloth like ways

I am thinking of switching fron DirecTV to ATT Uverse. But am hesitating because they install a new home Wi Fi router.
Will I have to learn a new password ? will I have to remember my old password?

It's just too much..........I would have to actually think.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
How well Reed Solomon (CD) error correction works in a striped environment is the important thing here.

Don't know if I understand your point here, JoeE. When you rip a CD the PCM samples are wrapped in the audio codec you are ripping to and the RSC from the CD is effectively discarded.

However in another sense RSC is effectively striping. RAID 5 is actually a degenerate case of RSC (those with an appetite for the math clicky here for details). Maybe that is what you were referring to?

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Quote:
I also admit to picking up some nasty malware three or four times over the past ten years, but a simple windows system restore has generally taken care of it.

System restore does not remove serious malware...you need a good virus protection software to do that. In addition, most good virus protection software is designed to keep the virus from getting aboard in the first place. I have had malware that has killed the machines ability to do a system restore and have had to remove it by cutting the PC off the internet and then sweeping in safe mode.

That said, they are always behind the latest attack. They protect you from yesterdays threat. I use webroot on both PC's, Spyware Doctor on my XP machine and AVG on my Vista. I have a MAC spyware protection program as well though I use it so seldom that I cannot remember its name.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:

Quote:
How well Reed Solomon (CD) error correction works in a striped environment is the important thing here.

Don't know if I understand your point here, JoeE. When you rip a CD the PCM samples are wrapped in the audio codec you are ripping to and the RSC from the CD is effectively discarded.

However in another sense RSC is effectively striping. RAID 5 is actually a degenerate case of RSC (those with an appetite for the math clicky here for details). Maybe that is what you were referring to?

I checked the link.
Yes.
I didn't fully explain. The reference to RSC was out of context. I'm going to do some experimenting. I only have access to RAID 5 right now so that's what I'll be messing with!

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Sorry JoeE, I linked the wrong paper by mistake. This is the one I had in mind.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:
I'm going to do some experimenting. I only have access to RAID 5 right now so that's what I'll be messing with!

Hi JoeE,

I've been using a RAID5 setup on my music server for about 3 years now. My main machine, on which I am writing this, has 6 hard drives and is used as the music server. There's a basket of 4 SATA drives used for the RAID5 array, driven by a Promise RAID controller. There's also 2 IDE drives I reused from an older machine. One is the boot drive, and the other on which I keep Acronis TrueImage backup images of the boot drive. The second IDE drive also has some backups of important personal data from the RAID5 array for extra safety (basically everything except the hundreds of GB of music). This machine is in the spare bedroom of my apartment. In the living room is my stereo, which also has an (almost) silent PC driving a Benchmark DAC1 from the S/PDIF output of an E-MU 0404 PCI card. Streaming of the music between rooms is done via ethernet over power line adapters, which are a bit faster than using wireless and work quite well. Since this is an apartment, I can't just run ethernet cables in the walls .

The only time I've ever had a problem with glitches when streaming the music is when I was doing so at the same time I was downloading some very large files from the internet to my server (the machine with the RAID5 array). The RAID5 setup is rather slow on write, as it has to compute the parity data when it writes. So it was writing these large files to disc, tying up the RAID controller with lots of parity computations. This caused a buffer underrun when streaming the music to my other machine. However, the RAID5 is plenty fast for reads, so normal music streaming is not a problem. I now know not to download big files on the main machine while streaming music to the computer that's hooked up to my stereo. Since I've stopped doing that, I haven't had any problem at all.

I'd never use the built-in RAID controller of any motherboard though, as I've had nothing but problems with them. With a separate RAID controller, if the motherboard fails, you can replace the motherboard, slap in the RAID controller to the new one and be back up without much hassle. I've had to do exactly that when the original motherboard of this machine took a dump.

The other thing I want to do is get a NAS to back up the RAID5 array for extra protection. I worry about more than one drive failing at once, or a second drive failing while the array is rebuilding after replacing an already-failed drive, or just a computer failure that corrupts the RAID array. The NAS devices seem to be coming down in price considerably, so I think I will get one with 4 1 TB drives pretty soon.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system


Quote:

System restore does not remove serious malware...


Maybe not, but it has always eliminated the "your computer may be infected-click here" constant multiple pop up window type malware I seem to encounter. I realize there is other malware, but I've personally never encountered one that system restore has not resolved. I guess I'm lucky.

I also use an anti-virus program, but it was totally ineffective in recognizing, protecting, or cleaning in these instance's.

When I installed a larger hard drive last week, I chose to do a fresh install of XP Pro, rather than clone the old drive. It always feels so good when I start from scratch!

edit: I just remembered, my neighbor was infected with a similar program last week, and I could not get a system restore to complete. I suspected the malware was blocking it. I did end up making some registry changes that at the minimum has made the bug go dormant. But he's happy for now.

But ya, I don't know how impatient people or other mere mortals can deal with these machines. They can be a pain.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

A recommendation for your friend...get virus protection. Even the free stuff off the web is better than nothing. If he is running XP I recommend Spyware Doctor. Get it from a store (ie, get the disk) if possible. Then physically disconnect the PC from the internet. Next reboot into safe mode...run the virus protection in safe mode. Next do a system restore while in safe mode and go back a few days. The machine will come up in normal mode but missing the new virus protection software. reconnect t the internet, Reload it and run a scan..

That should stop that specific problem. It has for me more than once.

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Re: cd player vs computer hard drive system

Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately the up to date Mcafee, both my neighbor and I run, wouldn't even recognize these things, as I said before. Maybe it's just Mcafee? I wasn't able to do system restore in safe mode either, it just ended, then displayed a message that system restore was not successful, on his machine. Some of these things are insidious.

It won't stop me from using my PC as a music source though.

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