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GOlson
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Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please

Hi to the group.

I have been reading the posts on the group for a few weeks now...very informative; thanks.

I would like to stream music from my HP laptop (using Foobar 2000) to my EAD DAC...using the PC data-stream as a transport. I know I need a USB or Firewire connected device to do the output. I would really appreciate some direction from those of you that might have gone down this path. I'd like to keep the investment under $300 as I start to play with this 'music-server' stuff, but if a bit more $$ would result in a much better solution I'd certainly consider it. What would you recommend and why?

Thanks,

Gregg

CharlyD
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please

I assume you seeking a way to connect your EAD DAC to your PC. I also assume your EAD DAC has S/PDIF or AES/EBU for digital input. If your laptop does not have a S/PDIF output, you could use the M-Audio Transit ($100). This device will connect to your laptop via USB and outputs S/PDIF. It also includes a 24-bit 96kHz DAC. For better quality, check out the E-MU 0404 ($200). This rather plain looking pro box includes a very good 24-bit/192kHz DAC or could output S/PDIF or AES/EBU digital to your EAD. My bet's on the 0404 in sound quality.

RGibran
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please

Buy a Squeezebox (SB3) new direct ($300.00) or used on Ebay. That way you

jazzfan
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:
Buy a Squeezebox (SB3) new direct ($300.00) or used on Ebay. That way you
CharlyD
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:
That way you
Editor
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:
The Squeezebox will support a maximum sample rate of 48kHz prohibiting playback of high resolution audio at 88.2kHz or 96 kHz. The Transporter (and the 0404) support those sample rates.

Only 96kHz, I am afraid. The Transporter doesn't support 88.2kHz files, which I am increasingly getting annoyed about the more I am falling in love with the one I bought. (It's a hardware design decision, apparently, and not something that can be changed with a firmware revision.)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

RGibran
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:

Quote:
The Squeezebox will support a maximum sample rate of 48kHz prohibiting playback of high resolution audio at 88.2kHz or 96 kHz. The Transporter (and the 0404) support those sample rates.

Only 96kHz, I am afraid. The Transporter doesn't support 88.2kHz files, which I am increasingly getting annoyed about the more I am falling in love with the one I bought. (It's a hardware design decision, apparently, and not something that can be changed with a firmware revision.)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John,

Sean has said since demand for 88.2 has now materialized, he would investigate if there is a way to make the Transporter do it.

We Transporter owners can only hope.

Do you have some insider personal correspondance you care to share with us?

RG

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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:
Sean has said since demand for 88.2 has now materialized, he would investigate if there is a way to make the Transporter do it.

Cool. Though I did stumble over this smug statement earlier in the thread: "I think the key point is that mainstream hifi reviewers are going to get out of their depth with the 'new' technology." I have an entire library of 24/88k2 AIF files, which is the format I archive my Stereophile recordings in. While 96kHz-sampled files play fine, the 88k2 files do not play on the Transporter, period, whether or not I am "out of my depth" with technology any newer than the steam engine :-)


Quote:
Do you have some insider personal correspondance you care to share with us?

Not that I can share, unfortunately. But what I was told is basically the same as what Sean Adams said in the thread you refer to.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Elk
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


Quote:
Alright, I'm confused here and calling USB DAC's "evil" isn't helping.


I'm sure the OP's comment was well-intentioned and based upon a number of earlier reviews of DAC's with USB inputs. When connected via USB these DAC's that did not sound as good driven by USB versus S/PDIF or AES/EBU, presumably because of the high jitter exhibited when using USB.

Benchmark is one of the first to claim that they have solved this problem. I have no direct experience with the DAC1 USB so I cannot comment on whether they have succeeded.

CharlyD
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please

Guess I was a little gun shy after the exhorbitant use of that term (evil) by our current regime.

I also read the measurements section on the Bel Canto DAC 3 by JA and was quite surprised to see the poor jitter performance when transferring 16-bit/44.1kHz data over USB; especially when the transfer of 24-bit data over that link was even better than Toslink (as it should be). The USB protocol can certainly transfer audio data at any commonly used sample rate/word size, and the receiving device (DAC) should be able to establish the correct timing for that data. The transfer of 1's and 0's of digital content stored on a hard drive must traverse several layers (OS, driver, player, codec, port-I'm sure I'm leaving something out), all of which can affect performance, prior to arriving at the DAC. After extensive web searches, I can't say that I've found a definitive statement (including technical data and measurements-I want evidence) on how all these components can be configured to insure that all the bits of the original content are arriving at a USB-connected DAC at the precise time. If any of you guys out there know of such a description, please post the link.

JA - I'm sure that you peruse this forum from time to time, and I'm also sure you would agree that many of your readers have interest in audiophile-grade playback of content stored on hard drives. An article describing the issues of how such transfer can be successfully implemented, including description of the impact of all the layers I mention above, would be very interesting. The Slim Devices Squeezebox/Transporter and the Linn Klimax DS appear to be successful implementations for TCP/IP. Are there USB devices that can achieve bit-transparent, low-jitter playback for all common sample rates and word lengths? How do all the components need to be configured to achieve this playback (e.g. when is ASIO necessary)? What about firewire? A few paragraphs on multi-channel content would also be interesting.

RGibran
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please


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Benchmark is one of the first to claim that they have solved this problem.

Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio might take issue with that. You can read his comments regarding USB in Wes Philips news article HERE , and of course on the Wavelength website.

Also, From Benchmarks WIKI, regarding USB devices:

CharlyD
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Re: Laptop PC to External DAC -- Advice Please

No apologies expected or necessary about the "evil" adjective. I'm trying to get a handle on the underlying technology of PC-based audio, and, as you've probably discovered, it's a pain. As an expample of my confusion, here's a quote from Wes Philip's news piece:

Quote:
If you understand what "kernel-streaming" is, you probably have enough computer smarts to employ it to bypass XP's kmixer app to allow your USB DAC to communicate transparently with the standard Microsoft USB driver, with bit-transparent results.


And from the Benchmark wiki:

Quote:
With sample rates up to 96 kHz, we have tested and proven that Kmixer is bit-transparent under normal operating conditions. That is, it will not affect the audio whatsoever, as long as the volume is set to 100% and only one application is playing audio.


That certainly doesn't sound like bypassing the kmixer.

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