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lwhitefl's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: Jul 10 2006 - 10:46am
High Resolution Music Servers

Music servers seem to be gaining mainstream audiophile traction over physical media - even for high resolution files. I've started reading articles and posts on the subject and I'm becomming very interested in the concept though I have no desire to become an early adopter. I currently have about 150 RBCD's in my library that I would like to preserve, but I'm mainly interested in high resolution content. I've been enthusiastic about SACD and have about 200 in my library. But many SACD's are expensive or out of distribution, and of course much music material is simply not currently available in any high resolution format. Music downloads seem to offer the promise of making all music much more available in formats ranging from highly compressed MP3 to uncompressed high resolution files having the potential to rival the master recording.

Based on material I

struts's picture
Last seen: 23 hours 49 min ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:02pm
Re: High Resolution Music Servers

Hey Len,

IMO the key thing here is to distinguish between theory and practice. There are theoretical differences in the performance potential of these interfaces which unfortunately might provide a pretty poor indication of how they perform in any given implementation. All of them can deliver good sound if implemeted well and all of them can deliver poor sound if implemented poorly. Moreover, there are plenty of other considerations (abstract, e.g. circuit design and concrete e.g. component choice) that can render interface differences less significant or even moot.

To compare them on a (reasonably) level playing field one would need one DAC that implemeted all four (and I am not aware of any product actually available that does). One could then compare, subjectively and with measurements, and decide which one preferred. However it is always possible that one might still prefer another completely different DAC based on one of the 'inferior' interfaces.

JA's tests of the dCS Scarlatti (it may be a very expensive 'statement' product, but afaik it is the single component on which JA has tested and compared the most interfaces) showed that, in terms of quality, USB (Asynchronous) > Coax > Toslink. I have not seen any comparisons of FireWire with USB, although its architecture is similar to that of Asynchronous USB so it should in theory be capable of similar performance. However, while these findings may be indicative of the order of precedence of well engineered examples of each, they may equally well not be, and they certainly don't offer a solid foundation for any broader generalizations.

Digital audio is an area, like many others, where the relative importance of the practice still dwarfs that of the theory. Classic audio engineering preoccupations such as power, grounding, shielding, vibration etc. are still critical determinants of the resulting sound quality, quite aside from digital design choices such as the signal interface.

I suspect this wasn't the answer you were looking for but in some way at least I hope it helps.

RGibran's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: High Resolution Music Servers

With that type of setup couldn
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