Jump to content
Hamer Fan Club Message Center

Digital transformation in home stereo


Recommended Posts

Not so easy as originally thought. Hooking up to Prime, Spotify, and the like is an easy task. However, transforming to CD quality or even higher audio resolutions is a different story. It started of for me with subscribing to Qobuz that I came to enjoy over months. For really streaming high resolution to the audio system that in my case is a classic analog amplifier from British manufacturer Myryad, it's not so easy. I'm sporting the MI-120 with record player cartridge and Canton cabinets.

Having the PC or notebook USB connected to the Terratec DMX 6Fire DAC, connected to the Myryad allows the high resolution streaming on wire. For another amp I have in the living room I came to buy the WTX Microstream from Advance Acoustics the other month. https://www.advance-paris.de/produkt/wtx-microstream/ It allows to stream high resolution audio from your mobile and DAC directly into the analog stereo. Pretty much a nice solution, but with a really crappy app that seems not sporting many updates if at all. It seemed to be a fail investment at first.

Since yesterday, I have made an improving step. Windows and Mac seem altering the bit stream whilst blending the various audio channels in the OS in either mixing console. That leads to effectively lowered resolutions processed on the output. Eventually, it came to discover Audirvana (https://audirvana.com/) that promises to bypass the OS built-in mixer and rather directly stream high res to the DAC.

To my surprise, Audirvana detects the WTX Microstream as an output channel. As a 2nd win, I now have a significantly improved high res wifi audio stream with full control from one application on the notebook that can even be remote controlled from the mobile.

Individual CDs not available from Qobuz like our own Jakeboy's 8-track Cadillac are getting ripped to Flac on the notebook and streamed in full CD quality.

Next step probably would be to replace the notebook with a low cost always-on Windows or Mac station operating NAS like in the background that I could remote control from my mobile with the Audirvana app. Check Audirvana for details.

Hoping the story is comprehensive and I could give some hints solving another one's streaming issues.

What are your solutions?

Edited by gorch
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/6/2020 at 12:57 PM, gorch said:

What are your solutions?

Playing internet content through my networked receiver and not worrying about it.

Joketime:

Q: "What's worse than an audiophile?"

A: "Nothing."

  • Haha 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used Bluesound nodes and powernodes for the past few years, and like them a lot.  

These wi-fi connect to each other and to the internet and serve as amps/preamps for existing speakers/stereos I've accumulated over the decades.  

Bluesound's parent company is Lenmark, which makes NAD stereo components.  I feel their products are well made and engineered and are almost elegant.   They are not inexpensive, but they are a good value - like Hamers.   

I've ripped all my CDs into their Vault - a 2 TB hardrive/preamp.  Now all my CDs are instantly available, anywhere in the house, in a lossless format, as are all the major streaming services and every internet radio station.  No static, CD quality sound, of any song I want, whenever I want it.  It is fantastic.  

I control it all from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  The app is easy to learn and works very well.  

Other systems do about the same thing, but I've invested in this one, and am satisfied with it.  A bonus: I don't have to deal with iTunes any more.   

 

  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I just moved to an apartment in the central of town. Will only stay here for six to 12 months. So I put all my CD's and vinyl in storage for the time being.

I have my stereosystem here and Spotify sounds good. But this system is high end so every nuance in the music is pretty much audiable. Spotify and mp3's does sound a bit lifeless compared to CD's and vinyl. So I was thinking I should go with Tidal for until I get my records, and life, back in order. 

The question (paging @JohnnyB) is, will the built in DAC in my Lenovo laptop be suffient and do lossless streaming justice? Or is it just pearl for svines and I can just continue to use Spotify, or buy a separate DAC to get the best out of Tidal? I rather not spend money on a DAC right now...... 😕

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing on any poster here, but I sure see a lot of people looking for validation about these things.  If you like what you hear, isn't that good enough?  "If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, RobB said:

Playing internet content through my networked receiver and not worrying about it.

Yeah, it's the classic S-curve for price/performance trade off: everyone gets off at a different floor.  If you've gone too far, it's like @fractal said above: you can't tell if it was worth it anymore, so you start relying on "experts" outside of yourself to justify your expenditures.  For me, that's become a major red-flag and I normally nope out once that happens.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. Technology like the Bluesound is a perfect solution for storing/playing cds. I'd just rather spend the $1300 (which I don't have...) on vinyl. Different strokes.

I still have a shit-ton of physical cds (all ripped to iTunes as AACs) that I'm slowly selling/trading. There are 18,000+ tunes on my iPod. To me, digital files are all about convenience, not sound quality. My car stereo sounds great with the iPod interface, but it's not an, "audiophile experience." Would it sound better with a 2TB drive with lossless files? Maybe. Probably on my home system, but not the car. I usually spin records at home, but I do have the option of playing iTunes, too. Sounds good enough for me...

 

Edited by RobB
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought a turntable and started listening to vinyl again...  then my son talked me into getting the Spotify Family plan just before going on vacation.

About a month of finding just about everything I ever wanted to listen to in fidelity good enough for me.

Sold the turntable and gave all of my albums to a high school kid who was really into vinyl.

Have not regretted it for one second, unsophisticated barbarian that I am.

  • Like 3
  • Haha 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, sixesandsevens said:

Yeah, it's the classic S-curve for price/performance trade off: everyone gets off at a different floor.  If you've gone too far, it's like @fractal said above: you can't tell if it was worth it anymore, so you start relying on "experts" outside of yourself to justify your expenditures.  For me, that's become a major red-flag and I normally nope out once that happens.

 

You should totally relly on your own ears. I have a pair of Blue Aura WS80i speakers in the kitchen. Wireless with a sampling quality of 48,1Khz. They sound killer with Spotify and mp3 files. I think the digital processing does something to the lower resolution file, perhaps upsampling. Don't know, but they sound great. My Sony WX-10003 headphones has killer signal processing from Sony. They sound awesome with Spotify and mp3's. Both these systems are made with this kind of listening in mind. Car stereo also sounds great if I play music through my Sony Experia 1 phone, it has great sound processing that upsamples, and a great dac.

I used to be in charge for a pro recording studio for +10 years. I am used to listening to mixes, pre-mastering stuff and the finish product. My ears are biased to hear every damn glitch in the final mix. I bought a pretty good home system, over 15 years ago. It is still holding up. But as this is a high resolution system that is more un-forgiving, with a great pair of two way speakers - good enough to mix or do a quick mastering with - I really hear a difference in sound when listening through this set up. MP3's and Spotify does sound "thinner", it's like drinking a light beer versus a good full lager. Both are good, but I will take the lager every time. Listening through this system is what the music was supposed to sound like. It is pretty much like sitting in the studio, (depending on the sound in the actual room of course).

I just moved to a smaller place and I am thinking of getting rid of this big set up and just get a pair of active Gelenec studio speakers and a small preamp for the CD and vinyl player. I just need to have studio quality sound at home, even for our own band stuff. So that I can listen to mixes and stuff and know that it sounds right.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2020 at 12:42 AM, Disturber said:

I just moved to an apartment in the central of town. Will only stay here for six to 12 months. So I put all my CD's and vinyl in storage for the time being.

I have my stereosystem here and Spotify sounds good. But this system is high end so every nuance in the music is pretty much audiable. Spotify and mp3's does sound a bit lifeless compared to CD's and vinyl. So I was thinking I should go with Tidal for until I get my records, and life, back in order. 

The question (paging @JohnnyB) is, will the built in DAC in my Lenovo laptop be sufficient and do lossless streaming justice? Or is it just pearl for svines and I can just continue to use Spotify, or buy a separate DAC to get the best out of Tidal? I rather not spend money on a DAC right now...... 😕

Meridian Audio of England introduced a decoding scheme in 2015 called MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). It introduces mirror-image frequency curves to compensate for the very steep filter slopes during digital recordings (which screws up the phase relations between various voices and instruments, and restores those drastic slopes into gentler, more natural and musical decoding slopes that neutralizes that edgy "digital sound." I've heard a laptop-based presentation of MQA-processed  playback, and it was wonderful, with authentic-sounding timbres and the authentic-sounding imaging and soundstage  usually missing from raw digital.

When MQA was introduced, MQA-ready DACs were scarce and expensive, usually going for $1,000 or more. But now, audio able company, AudioQuest, makes spacer.png

USB DACs that decode MQA. They are available in their Black, Red, and Cobalt models, with the Cobalt at the top-of-the line for a relatively low $299.95 USD.

spacer.png

MQA-encoded files are available on Tidal.

There are lots of high-end reviews about MQA and performance of the Dragonfly DACs.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/meridians-mqa-one-listeners-impression.

Stereophile Dragonfly Cobalt review by Stereophile's former chief editor.

I first listened to vinyl from 1972 (first stereo) until 1987 (when my turntable broke and I bought a CD player). Then in 2007 I bought a new turntable and went back to (mostly) vintage vinyl for 13 years and counting.

If I decided to downsize and switch to streaming, this MQA/Dragonfly/Tidal combo is what I'd go for.

Want to listen through your amp and speakers instead of headphones?

Get a pair of these that fit your budget. Plug the mini-plug into the Dragonfly and the RCA interconnects into your preamp or integrated amp.

g_PGICPM3R_FRONT2.jpg($14.950 or pgicca3r_1.jpg ($49.95--$99.95)

 

Edited by JohnnyB
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

networked marantz nr1200 here running highest quality spotify direct, all issues sorted.  controlled thru phone app but signal never sees phone, wireless, or bluetooth, etc... 

It's feeding yamaha ceiling speakers in the main living area; there's no prescribed focal point or "listening spot" so not really clinical in measuring quality, but it sounds really great and the convenience can't be beat.   Expanding to other spaces would involve Denon's HEOS system, and introduce wireless into the equation, but not headed there presently.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Right after work today I came to fiddly with my new signal chain solution, trying to operate the stereo in the living room from the mobile app while the notebook remained in the office room. Sometimes the technique still seems confusing with the wifi channels. All participants need to be on the same channel. And it seems that an old repeater I put under the roof top confuses the connects with a slow response. Never mind, eventually it all connected and the sound was really full, clear and strong. I think it was worth the investment for both Audirvana and the WTX Microstream.

Regardless of digital, I'm still a vinyl lover and keep buying vintage vinyl. However, there is music out there that is published digital only. And I don't want to miss out on the quality when listening just because major services keep streaming lower bandwidth. The new car doesn't have CD anymore. So I had to invest into streaming a bit. That doesn't mean to overperfectionize or even go high end. Which I really adore. Though, I'm rather "the Hamer off..." guy. Seeking great or solid solutions for a fair price.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...