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islander
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Joined: Aug 24 2007 - 12:41pm
digital audio

I'm a bit confused and I hope someone can help me out.
My mac is in the bedroom and my sound system is in the living room. I was considering getting a soundbridge, squeezebox, or maybe an apple tv to get music from the computer to the living room. Anyway, I can understand how analog output audio quality differs from device to device, but I was surprised to find out that the digital output does, too. Can someone explain that? Would the music I get from these devices be inferior to that from an attached CD player? Of course, the comparison would be between playing a CD in the CD player versus streaming a lossless format (or playing an MP3 CD in the CD player versus streaming an MP3).

By the way, I'm more discerning than the average person, but I don't have super audiophile ears.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Elk
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Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: digital audio

All other things being equal, streaming your digital signal from your computer to your system will sound the same as if it were played by a CD transport. The biggest factor is the sound of the receiving unit (such as a Squeezebox) or the DAC to which the receiver is attached.

The analog outs of the Squeezebox sound fine, not great, but good - the equivalent of a similarly priced CD player. I have not personally heard the others so I cannot comment.

You may want to look at the computer audio threads below as they may answer some of your questions.

dbowker
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Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: digital audio

The Apple Airport does a great job of getting the music from computer to stereo (if you already have a wireless network). I use it for streaming uncompressed files from iTunes, but I also feed it into a separate DAC and bypass the built in one on the Airport. It sounds much better, although not nearly as good as my CD player (which is at least twice the cost). In any case, for what I want for (quick and dirty way to make music happen while cooking, taking care of my kid or for parties) it's great. I use the Channel Islands Audio VDA-1 by the way. Very good for the price ($450)- unfortunately discontinued. The new VDA-2 is $699 so it gets pricey. Look on Audiogon maybe? Good luck!

islander
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Joined: Aug 24 2007 - 12:41pm
Re: digital audio

Thanks for your help.

Dbowker: Just one thing - when you say that your CD player sounds better, is that because it has a better DAC than your separate DAC (which you connect your Airport to)? Or do you mean that you send digital signals from both your Airport and CD player to your separate DAC, and that the digital signal from the CD player is better? If all digital signals are the same, regardless of whether they come from a CD player, Airport, or Squeezebox, I would assume you mean the former.

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