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Rusty Ankles
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What would it take?

As a newbie to the audiophile world and to computers, what would it take to create an audiophile type computer. CD-rom, a soundcard like M-audio or Lynx out to a preamp? Would windows media player or Winamp be sufficient? OR would a standalone player be my best bet?

ethanwiner
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Re: What would it take?

RA,

> what would it take to create an audiophile type computer. <

A good sound card is pretty much all you need, just to get audio into and out of the computer. Anything from M-Audio will do a fine job.

> Would windows media player or Winamp be sufficient? <

Yes, those are fine. Audio quality of software does not vary much (at all), only features and the user interface.

--Ethan

mikechai
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Re: What would it take?

Didn't login when I wrote the above post....

scotty
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Re: What would it take?

so it was u who did all the comment btw good stuff there

Rusty Ankles
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Re: What would it take?

Thanks you guys! That's awesome...so I record my music to a harddrive with no compression, and I can use Winamp and a good sound card to run the uncompressed signal to a pre-pro and out. I'll look into all your suggestions and see what I can do!

arnyk
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Re: What would it take?

High End sound card recommendations:

1. Lynx L22 (stereo) - $675
2. LynxTWO (4-6 analog out) - $975
3. Card Deluxe - $375

These two cards are just permutations of the same basic circuitry. The technical performance of these cards is fantastic. Here's a detailed technical report on the LynxTWO:

http://www.pcavtech.com/soundcards/LynxTWO/index.htm

You'll probably never see a Stereophile test report with numbers as good as the ones shown in the report above - their AP test equipment significantly underperforms the LynxTWO cards. They can be used as test equipment.

Budget sound card recommendations:

1. M-Audio Revolution - $59-79
2. M-Audio Audiophile 2496 - $99
3. M-Audio Audiophile 24192 - $199
4. M-Audio Delta 1010LT - $229

BTW, I own and use all of the above, so these recommendations are based on personal experience and long-term use.

Other sound card tests:

http://www.pcavtech.com/soundcards/compare/index.htm

schalliol
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Re: What would it take?

While not exactly a sound card, the Slimdevices Squeezebox 2 would provide you with a 24-bit Burr-Brown DAC as well as Toslink and Coax digital outputs. It's capable of playing FLAC and other lossless (and lossful) codecs, and it should basically be able to provide the same quality you'd get on a decent CD-Player.

Editor
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Re: What would it take?


Quote:
so I record my music to a harddrive with no compression, and I can use Winamp and a good sound card to run the uncompressed signal to a pre-pro and out.

To save HD space, check out the FLAC lossless compression codec. Winamp can read FLAC files and there is no loss of quality compared with uncompressed WAVs, in my opinion. And I second the recommendation of EAC.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mgalusha
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Re: What would it take?

Another vote for the Slimdevices Squeezebox 2. While it sounds pretty good out of the box there are several folks offering modifications (with Slimdevices approval) for these that raise it to an entirely new level. I have one of the units modified by Bolder Cable and have it connected directly to my power amps. No more preamp and associated circuitry. This is (IMO) where the little Squeezebox shines. The sound is amazingly good, regardless of the cost and the fact that it's inexpensive (even modified) is a bonus.

Mike

Scrith
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Re: What would it take?

I'd love to see a comparison between a $299 Dell (or some cheap computer) with an external USB device (like the M-Audio Transit) outputting a digital signal from FLAC files (ripped in EAC and played in Foobar2000, for example) to a $10,000 Class A redbook transport (both hooked up to the same DAC). Add a discussion of why playing back CDs in real time cannot ever hope to match the accuracy (not to mention amazing convenience) of CD-ripped lossless files stored on a hard drive, and I think it might help bring some readers into the 21st century.

Rusty Ankles
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Re: What would it take?

I've downloaded EAC and Foobar and I've decided to go with the Lynx L-22. It's more card than I'll ever use but the description and the specs are such that I have to hear this card...too...it's all about the sound! I should have it all together in about a week. Tip-o-the-hat to you all and thanks.

mikechai
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Re: What would it take?

Great choice.

Don't forget to report back your findings and a comparison with your conventional transport is much appreciated.

arnyk
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Re: What would it take?

>I'd love to see a comparison between a $299 Dell (or some cheap computer) with an external USB device (like the M-Audio Transit) outputting a digital signal from FLAC files (ripped in EAC and played in Foobar2000, for example) to a $10,000 Class A redbook transport (both hooked up to the same DAC).

I'd like to see a comparison of a Lynx L22 to *anything*. For one thing it would clean the clock of the older AP test set that John uses.

>Add a discussion of why playing back CDs in real time cannot ever hope to match the accuracy (not to mention amazing convenience) of CD-ripped lossless files stored on a hard drive, and I think it might help bring some readers into the 21st century.

Many people don't understand that one of the good audio rippers like EAC or CDEX combined with a $25 CDROM provide a more precise and reliable tool for getting digital audio data off a CD regardless of condition, than the finest CD players. The only exception would be copy-protected CDs.

PhilNYC
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Re: What would it take?

I've also been impressed with the SqueezeBox2. I've been using a wireless one (stock, unmodded) feeding an outboard DAC into my system from a Mac running iTunes with superb results. Not quite as good as my heavily-modded Sony transport in terms of sonic performance, but the conveniences of having thousands of songs available at any moment via remote control more than makes up for it in non-critical listening situations.

Rusty Ankles
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Re: What would it take?

I got my card in and I setup EAC and Foobar...it was very easy actually...I had to use an adapter since I don't have balanced inputs on my pre-pro..yet..anyway I feel my system has taken a MAJOR step up in sound quality. I was using WMP,Winamp, and an Adcom GCD-700 searching for the sound I now have and as I upgrade my equipment, especially my pre-pro I'm sure music will sound even better. The Adcom was the strongest competitor but the Lynx has tighter bass and a more open..kinda unconfined sound. Anyway this post was mainly to say thanks to you guys for your excellent recommendation. This is so freakin' awesome as I have everything in one package, music/movies and the net. Next will be to change my case to fit on my component rack and the upgrade of my pre-pro. Thanks again to all!!

rhess
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Re: What would it take?

I took this approach:

Compute Platforms: Power Mac running Mac OS X; iTunes 5; music encoded as AIFF, ALE, AAC (320kbps). Toshiba TabletPC running Windows XP; iTunes 5; same software library as the Mac since the Mac also acts as a file server. Salling Clicker and my mobile phone as a remote control when needed.

Audio Output A: M-Audio FireWire 410 from the Power Mac, coax digital cable to a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 192K Tube DAC to a HeadRoom Max Headphone Amplifier using one of Sennheiser HD-600 or Etymotic ER-4S. The M-Audio replaced a USB based EMI A26/A62m.

Audio Output B: AirTunes to an AirPort Express Base Station over 802.11g, optical digital output to my primary rig for critical listening.

Both the Mac and the laptop can send audio to my rig. The laptop is the only compute platform that sits with my rig. The Mac resides elsewhere in the house.

Bottom line: I use iTunes as my interface to my music library, and either AirTunes/Airport Express or FW410 to easily route music to any location in my house. One can create a high-end digital audio workstation/server with very little money these days.

mudge
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What do I need for a best sound experience on a laptop

Hi guys,
I'm a newbie to the audiophile world and I'd appreciate your help. I have a Toshiba Satellite laptop and I listen to a lot of digital music. I have small laptop speakers, but I want to get to a higher level. What do I need to, let's say, throw a party using the music I have on my laptop. A better surround sound, I listen to classical and rock music with Windows media player or WinAmp.
Thanks
Mudge

Jim Tavegia
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Re: What do I need for a best sound experience on a laptop

Depending upon your playback equipment....
I am using a JA recommended Echo Indigo I/O 24/96 sound card which can also be used for recording with a couple of decent mics and a mic pres. It is very small and slides into the Cardbus type II slot in the side of you laptop. Street price is $165.00. Sound blaster makes a similar one that sells for $99 but I have not heard it. Echo makes other higher end computer recording cards and have a more recording professional appeal. Listen to both if you can.

The Echo's small size allows me to leave it in and it still fits in my soft laptop carrying case. Whether driving a stereo system or just through my Grado SR 60 ($69) or 80 ($99) headphones the sound is very nice.

For more money you can up the quality and get USB or Firwire digital break out I/O boxes. www.musiciansfriend.com has many of these available.

The output of all of these can go into your "real" stereo system with proper cables and give excellent results.

mudge
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Re: What do I need for a best sound experience on a laptop

Thanks Jim. I will look into the Echo Indigo I/O 24/96 sound card.
Mudge

ohfourohnine
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Re: What do I need for a best sound experience on a laptop

Mudge, if you go for the Griffin iMic recommendation, send me your address and I'll send you one I have sitting in a drawer. I wouldn't recommend that you use it though. Check out the Headroom guys. Their USB stuff works.

j.wales
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Re: What do I need for a best sound experience on a laptop

Hello all - First time poster - have been reading for a few weeks now - Beginning the journey into the high end audio world - just bought my first item - speakers

Related to this topic - Any opinions on Windows Media Audio Lossless - with Media Center 2005 - over wired ethernet to a Linksys MCE Extender to the amplifier either through RCA or optical

I recently had my apartment renovated and I ran CAT5 throughout - any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. I love the convience of the "music server" but I can hear a difference with the current set up as described above

j.wales
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Re: What would it take?

I am evidently computer challenged - I have installed EAC, but cannot figure out how to encode into FLAC. any help would be greatly appreciated

jazzfan
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Re: What would it take?


Quote:
I am evidently computer challenged - I have installed EAC, but cannot figure out how to encode into FLAC. any help would be greatly appreciated

To find out about all things flac go to FLAC web page.

That will get you the flac encoder/decoder but to get it to work with EAC is another story. To do that you have to set EAC's compression options to work with the flac external program and then set the correct parameters for the compression. It can get to be a bit of a chore, but you only have to set it up one time. I'm not that familiar with using flac for compression since I only use the program to decode files so perhaps someone else can jump in and help out here.

Also be sure that you have the proper plugins installed for your media player to be be able to play back flac files. Winamp, foobar and even Windows Media Player can all play flac files with the proper plugins installed.

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