The future is now PC to Stereo

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hofffam
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Post by hofffam » Thu Jun 23, 2005 8:54 am

Bomba - you raved about the Squeezebox software. My beef with most music management software is that they are simply awful at cataloging the music like I want to. Most of them are song-oriented, not album oriented. They seem optimized for song-buyers (downloads) rather than album buyers. Yes you can search by album, but I want to categorize by genre (jazz, blues), then by artist (album, not songs please). I want the software to mimic how I would store physical CDs on a shelf. All jazz in one section, sorted alpha by artist. Can Squeezebox do that?
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Shining Arcanine
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Re: The future is now PC to Stereo

Post by Shining Arcanine » Thu Jun 23, 2005 9:43 am

eidolon wrote:The CD player to a certain extent is going to become passe. People are more and more are going to rip their CD's in an uncompressed format straight to a hard drive. They'll use the computer through a DAC to play their music.
Is anyone doing this?
If so, what caveat emptor's do you have for those of us that are thinking of pursuing such a music playback system.
Recommendations
I'm looking a Apogee Mini-DAC with the USB option.
It seems many are going the MAC route.
Is the PC format safe?
Is one board better than another?

:?:
I ripped every CD in the house to my hard drive via Windows Media Player storing it in the WMA Lossless format. Now I play back classical music via my Logitech 5.1 speakers and Creative Audigy 2 sound card. With CMSS 2, my audio sounds very crisp and it is played from all of the speakers.

sundevil_1997
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Post by sundevil_1997 » Thu Jun 23, 2005 11:39 am

Edward Ng wrote:I don't rip to uncompressed, I rip to lossless compressed (a format known as FLAC; used to use Monkey's Audio before). I use foobar2000 to output via Kernel Streaming to an Echo Audio Mia MIDI sound adapter, which then sends the data via 75 ohm digital coax S/PDIF to a Benchmark DAC1, converting to analogue and then sending the audio via balanced XLR to a PS Audio GCC-100 control amp, driving a pair of Paradigm Studio/20s.
I just felt it important to say that I have no idea what you meant.

:shock:

That is all.
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Post by Steve Rosenthal » Thu Jun 23, 2005 12:09 pm

hofffam wrote:Bomba - you raved about the Squeezebox software. My beef with most music management software is that they are simply awful at cataloging the music like I want to. Most of them are song-oriented, not album oriented. They seem optimized for song-buyers (downloads) rather than album buyers. Yes you can search by album, but I want to categorize by genre (jazz, blues), then by artist (album, not songs please). I want the software to mimic how I would store physical CDs on a shelf. All jazz in one section, sorted alpha by artist. Can Squeezebox do that?
I realize you addressed this to bomba, so forgive me for butting in. The short answer to your question is yes.

Slimserver (the backend for the Squeezebox) uses iTunes to rip and categorize your CDs (or mp3s) and uses the iTunes-generated catalog. You can search by artist, genre, song, album, etc.

It's really very flexible. If you haven't visited the link, you should check it out. http://www.slimdevices.com

--Steve
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Post by Edward Ng » Thu Jun 23, 2005 1:00 pm

sundevil_1997 wrote:
Edward Ng wrote:I don't rip to uncompressed, I rip to lossless compressed (a format known as FLAC; used to use Monkey's Audio before). I use foobar2000 to output via Kernel Streaming to an Echo Audio Mia MIDI sound adapter, which then sends the data via 75 ohm digital coax S/PDIF to a Benchmark DAC1, converting to analogue and then sending the audio via balanced XLR to a PS Audio GCC-100 control amp, driving a pair of Paradigm Studio/20s.
I just felt it important to say that I have no idea what you meant.

:shock:

That is all.
:lol:

Okay, by ripping to uncompressed formats, you get, bit for bit, identical recording to the hard drive of the original music; this creates gigantic files, but they are identical in sound to the original CD. Most compression formats, like MP3, are lossy formats, meaning not only do they squeeze the music down in size, they also throw out part of the recording that you supposedly can't hear to save space. By ripping to a lossless compressed format, I get the same sound quality as the original source, but I do save some space (lossless compression typically saves 30-40% of the space that would otherwise be lost without any compression). FLAC is one type of lossless compression, as is Monkey's Audio. By using lossless, it ensures no change in the original sound, regardless of audibility.

foobar2000 is a freeware media player that can output audio to the soundcard in multiple formats. Different methods of sending audio to the sound card result in different actual audio signals reaching the sound card processor. Kernel Streaming is the most direct method of sending audio to the sound card; the sound is completely untouched. The bit rate is not changed, the sample rate is unchanged, nothing. This ensures that nothing can change or affect the sound, whether audible or not.

Echo Audio Mia MIDI is my sound card; S/PDIF is a digital audio transfer signal format, and the standard cable type for S/PDIF transport is a coaxial cable with either RCA or BNC end connectors with a 75ohm impedance rating.

The Benchmark DAC1 is a digital to analogue converter; it takes digital audio data and turns it into actual sound, which is then sent on to the amplifier.

Balanced XLR is a type of interconnect; it is used to transport sound from a source device to an amplifier or active speaker set.

PS Audio GCC-100 control amp is a new type of amplifier that, functionally, is equivalent to an integrated amp, which traditionally combines a preamp with a power amp. The control amp, however, directly controls gain to adjust volume, rather than using an attenuator, which throws out sound in order to reduce loudness. The component that does this in the control amp is PS Audio's patented Gain Cell, which also acts as an amplification device. As such, the control amp is a single device that both controls the volume of the audio signal as well as amplifies it and drives the speakers.

Paradigm Studio/20s are my loudspeakers.

-Ed
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sundevil_1997
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Post by sundevil_1997 » Thu Jun 23, 2005 1:15 pm

Edward Ng wrote:Paradigm Studio/20s are my loudspeakers.
Speakers?!? Ahhh, that I understand! (I sound like that doofus Dad in that Dell commercial).

Thank you for your very patient and fully understandable (honestly) description of what you were saying. Today...I am a little smarter. :)
SPCR: Boldly covering the broad range between "quiet" and "silent".
As a result of finding this site, my computer isn't any quieter...but at least I'm much more aware of it.

BobDog
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Post by BobDog » Thu Jun 23, 2005 2:05 pm

Ralf Hutter wrote:
sthayashi wrote: Finally, a BIG Caveat Emptor is that DVD-A and SACD are unrippable with respect to their highest quality formats (SACD is downright unplayable with respect to its encoding).
Right on bro. I won't be getting rid on my stand-alone CD player until PCs can support these higher quality audio formats. CDs already give you enough of an audio quality hit over vinyl, it seems stupid to take yet another, just for the sake of removing a stand-alone CD player from your equipment rack.
I think that SACD is dead and DVD-A never really amounted to anything anyway. This is too bad, a real shame IMHO, because SACDs sound GREAT with good playback gear. However, if you must go the hi-res rout, there IS a way (not many know of this either…).

EMM Labs basically makes the Sony Sonoma DSD mastering workstation (or at least the card and software therein). EMM Labs DACs, such as the DCC2, and transport, the CDSD, both of which I owned (and loved) use a proprietary Optilink AT&T DSD-capable data interface. The Sonoma machines also use the same Optilink interface—in and out. I have been told by the EMM Labs people that one can use a CDSD to rip commercial SACDs onto a Sonoma machine via-Optilink—and then, obviously, one would use the Optilink output to drive a EMM Labs DAC.

Expensive? Yes, very. But it IS 100% FOR SURE possible to archive your SACDs to a music server. Because of copyright fears, Sony would not allow their Sonoma workstations out of their sight for several years (only leasing them and loaning them and such), but they have now become available (to industry-players and maybe the general public) via Super Audio Center. In theory, the Sonoma sound card and software could be operated outside a Sonoma workstation, though I do not know if this has been attempted. I also do not know if Super Audio Center would be willing to sell the card and software alone or, indeed, how much this would cost.

I ran out of $$$ before I could build my own SACD server (that and, as I said, I think SACD has little if any future) and have settled for a scaled down PCM-based HTPC/Krell set-up. But all the pieces are there—maybe someone here will take up the challenge and build themselves the ultimate computer/workstation music server? If so, I would LOVE to hear how it goes!
Last edited by BobDog on Thu Jun 23, 2005 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bomba
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Post by bomba » Thu Jun 23, 2005 2:58 pm

Steve Rosenthal wrote:
hofffam wrote:Bomba - you raved about the Squeezebox software. My beef with most music management software is that they are simply awful at cataloging the music like I want to. Most of them are song-oriented, not album oriented. They seem optimized for song-buyers (downloads) rather than album buyers. Yes you can search by album, but I want to categorize by genre (jazz, blues), then by artist (album, not songs please). I want the software to mimic how I would store physical CDs on a shelf. All jazz in one section, sorted alpha by artist. Can Squeezebox do that?
I realize you addressed this to bomba, so forgive me for butting in. The short answer to your question is yes.

Slimserver (the backend for the Squeezebox) uses iTunes to rip and categorize your CDs (or mp3s) and uses the iTunes-generated catalog. You can search by artist, genre, song, album, etc.

It's really very flexible. If you haven't visited the link, you should check it out. http://www.slimdevices.com

--Steve
Although I do have an IPOD mini and Itunes on my PC, I do not use Itunes to organize my music. I simply rip all my music into "My Music" in a folder hierarchy: My Music--Talking Heads--Remain in Light, for example.

If you wish you could further organize by Genre. However, Slimserver or the Squeezebox2 could care less about your organizational skills. You simply install Slimserver, point it to the folder(s) where you store your music, in my case My Music, and it gains access to all the music & folders within. As Hoffam has pointed out, both with Slimserver and the Squeezebox, you can browse music by genre, artist, song or album, or search using the same categories. Slimserver, Winamp Itunes etc. are not looking at the folder structure or even the file names, they are looking at the ID tag stored with each song file, that includes artist, album, track number, genre, etc. When you rip music, it is very important to ensure that the tags are generated correctly. For mp3 format, Windows Media Player works pretty brainlessly and automatically, recognizing the CD inserted and pulling the ID info off the internet. It also generates a folder hierarchy in your My Music folder that I've described. For ripping FLAC, you'll have to be a more active participant in the process. This link compares digital music file formats and includes a link to a guide on the hydrogenaudio forums that I used to configure FLAC and Exact Audio Copy for losslessly ripping my music collection.

Any number of SB2's can be controlled either with the remote or by the PC running Slimserver. You can even stream over the internet to a client such as Winamp on a remote PC. The SM2 Vacuum Fluorescent Display is truly readable from 12' away and the UI makes it easy to browse, search and cue up albums, songs, etc. from your couch. There are also some gee whiz features and plug-ins like stock tickers, weather reports and RSS feeds. I am enjoying the ability to cue up Internet radio stations with a couple clicks of the remote as well. Finally, the SB2 and its predecessors have an active community which develops the open source software and communicates on a forum like this. All in all, a cool concept, product and implementation.
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Post by sthayashi » Thu Jun 23, 2005 8:11 pm

Ralf Hutter wrote:FWIW, people who's business it is to keep data safe will tell you that HDDs are a poor backup medium. And while I'm certainly no expert (hell, not even much of a rookie) when it comes to data backup, my anecdotal experience with thousands of pressed CDs vs. >100 HDDs over the the past 20+ years firmly favors the pressed CDs as an archival backup media
My point is that multiple hard drives affords a level of redundancy and proper care should ensure data reliability, i.e. when one hard drive dies, you replace it immediately.
Perplex wrote:What do the experts recommend? tape backup?
I listen to John Cleese.
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scruzbeachbum
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Post by scruzbeachbum » Thu Jun 23, 2005 9:30 pm

I listen to John Cleese.
Sweet!
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Post by Tiamat » Sat Jun 25, 2005 1:40 pm

One of the bad things about the cd industry now is they are starting to make it very difficult to play their cds on computer cd players. Take the newest Foo Fighters CD. It doesnt play correctly unless you install software (why should we install software to play a cd, this is dumb).

Cambridge Audio is soon coming out with a new CD player that has a 160GB harddrive built in. The CD player is identical to their 540C and basically functions to do what we want -

No hassles with copyprotected cds (since "real" cd players can play them no problem)

Don't have to deal with soundcard since you get to use a great solution from Cambridge Audio

It has ethernet port, so you can transfer your mp3s FLAC, etc to the harddrive if you wish, you can rip your cds if you wish, etc.

The "bad news": 1700$ price tag.

It will be out end of summer (thats what they have promised).

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