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Hard Drive HIFI

nixon_fiend

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Jul 31, 2005
793
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Leeds UK, ,
Undertaking a rather long coach journey this weekend, I decided to purchase I copy of the latest HIFI world (the only mag worth reading) for something to fill the dull hours..

Therein I noticed an article comparing a new breed of source component - The HIFI Hard Drive.

I'm not saying I haven't come across the idea before, sure enough, there was a chap on HFC trying to flog a similar product of his over a year ago. However, this article got me thinking about who would want such a device!

As it happens, I've been trying to put together a decent 'hifi proposal' to the folks.. My old man is a fan of music and wants to have a decent set-up (who wouldnt?) So when I saw the Cambridge Audio CDP/Hard drive I initially thought of the parents.. no more faffing with CDs, just find the track and play it.

Buuut.. where do the CDs go? Sure enough, you need the CDs to load on the music, then what? They sit around in the attic? Get thrown out? (But what if the thing crashes and the music is lost?) And who wants to throw their CDs out? - That's like buying a picasso, taking a picture of it, then thowing out the painting! - So if the CDs are going to stick around.. why not use them?

Then there's the cost.. the CA unit is £600 - a fair price considering the technology, the size of the HD etc.. But the 640v2 CDP is only 250! And I suspect the CDP would provide as good/better sonics .. I'm not questioing CAs pricing.. both items look like stunning VFM.. but when compared against each other.. is it worth paying 350 extra - if you want to keep the CDs anyway? I'll say again, I'm not targeting CA, but rather the notion - the reality - of paying a lot more money for a HD machine

I also reckon that hifi snobbery is gonna kick in if the prices get much higher.. who wants to play a hard drive through their Wilson Sophias?

With the mp3 generation growing up with music on their computers (most of it from friends or kazaar I expect) I think these devices will become popuar.. but probably not for about 5-7 years

opinions?

 

audioboy

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Jan 25, 2006
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Guidlford, , United
Since getting my hard drive sourced system (Sonos) i haven't looked back. There is NO sound quality difference between the Sonos and my cyrus DVD8 going through the same amp and speakers. The cyrus is a very good sounding £1000 pound dvd player, but for £900 i got 2 zone players and one controller that sound just as good. The Sonos zone player has it's on built in amplifier which i use in my second room but if you want to use your own amp, you can either buy the ampless version or use the audio anologue outs to your integrated amp.

The system was simple to set-up and all my cds are stored as AIFF files on a large NAS. The controller is great, very ipod and that means it's easy to navigate (with a full colour LCD).

I'm sure a much more expensive source would sound better, but how much better. To be honest I don't think i'm going to spend money on a source in the future, but instead i'll look into buying a qualiy external dac to put the Sonos through.

 

T.white

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Dec 31, 2005
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South Wales, , Unite
audioboy wrote:

Since getting my hard drive sourced system (Sonos) i haven't looked back. There is NO sound quality difference between the Sonos and my cyrus DVD8 going through the same amp and speakers. The cyrus is a very good sounding £1000 pound dvd player, but for £900 i got 2 zone players and one controller that sound just as good. The Sonos zone player has it's on built in amplifier which i use in my second room but if you want to use your own amp, you can either buy the ampless version or use the audio anologue outs to your integrated amp.The system was simple to set-up and all my cds are stored as AIFF files on a large NAS. The controller is great, very ipod and that means it's easy to navigate (with a full colour LCD).

I'm sure a much more expensive source would sound better, but how much better. To be honest I don't think i'm going to spend money on a source in the future, but instead i'll look into buying a qualiy external dac to put the Sonos through.
I couldn't agree more with the comments above.

I'm using a Yamaha CDR-h1300 hdd/cd player and find it very versatile. What I've become used to with this player is the ability it gives me to select tracks or discs or even make compilation discs to hard drive and play the lot as and when I like. I can't say I'm hearing "huge" amounts of detail missing from the music through this player either and I've compared it with a few "decent" cdp's.

What the Sonos has above the Yamaha is obviously a better interface and larger storage capacity, thoughthe Yamaha isstill giving me the same type of freedom with the selection of music, which is infinitely more convenient than digging out cd after cd. A separate DAC is something I've considered and will possibly try in the future, and, if there's a noticable improvement, it will stay. However, The sound difference is certainly not "night and day" between the Yamaha and the Meridian 507 I own when run through a Primaluna prologue 1 and PMC GB1s.

 

Gaffer

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Aug 22, 2005
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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
aaaah!....but for it to go "Hi-Fi" you'll need a seperate hard drive feeding into a custom DAC (because as we all know that sounds better
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).

Then a high-end company like meridian/naim/krell will introduce the outboard power supply for each component (4 boxes in total now).

Someone else will introduce "new up/oversampling technology" and still further "re-quantize to DVD-A standard" with an added box (5).

These added boxes will have to contain XLR only sockets because they make a big difference.

Then a more "mainstream" outfit will start selling 13 tonne behemoths which, when opened, contain nothing more than a little icky teeny weeny iPod drive (which by now can hold 200000000 songs, lossless) and a wire.

then machine dynamica will sell "special" aa batteries that contain "special mojo juice" that you selotape to the casing (or carry on the bus) to make it sound better.....

....and mpingo will sell you special ebony firewire cables "rubbed between the thighs of wizened old amazonian crones" to "enhance" your listening pleasure.....

only THEN will we have arrived at Hi-Fi
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wolfgang

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Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
1,167
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Glasgow, ,
nixon_fiend wrote:

Buuut.. where do the CDs go? Sure enough, you need the CDs to load on the music, then what? They sit around in the attic? Get thrown out?
As I remember even back then when visiting younger student dom the new and younger students don't have any CD based music system but everyone have a computer. When asked they still listen to as much as we the older forks. Just that their music collections were in some tiny portable hardrive on their table.

The music recording companies and hifi manufacturers just buried their head in the sand until Apple came up with a convient way for the rest of us to do the same.

 

jon

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Wammer
Jul 20, 2005
1,639
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, ,
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Gaffer74 wrote:

aaaah!....but for it to go "Hi-Fi" you'll need a seperate hard drive feeding into a custom DAC (because as we all know that sounds better
biggrin.png
).Then a high-end company like meridian/naim/krell will introduce the outboard power supply for each component (4 boxes in total now).

Someone else will introduce "new up/oversampling technology" and still further "re-quantize to DVD-A standard" with an added box (5).

These added boxes will have to contain XLR only sockets because they make a big difference.

Then a more "mainstream" outfit will start selling 13 tonne behemoths which, when opened, contain nothing more than a little icky teeny weeny iPod drive (which by now can hold 200000000 songs, lossless) and a wire.

then machine dynamica will sell "special" aa batteries that contain "special mojo juice" that you selotape to the casing (or carry on the bus) to make it sound better.....

....and mpingo will sell you special ebony firewire cables "rubbed between the thighs of wizened old amazonian crones" to "enhance" your listening pleasure.....

only THEN will we have arrived at Hi-Fi
biggrin.png
You forgot the audiophile USB cables...and hard drives sound so horribly *digital* until you bevel down the edges and colour them with green pen
wink.png
At any rate, just like you get various audiophile 'treatments' for CDs that seem designed to make them as much of a pita to use as vinyl, I'm sure someone will come up with similar crap...sorry, um, innovations...for hard (or flash memory) drives. And people will buy them
38786-6.gif.132cf51c49b8cd26f08985f56fa67647.gif


Have been listening to most of my music off my harddrive for the past couple of months. Incredibly convenient, and sound quality is pretty good. Bought one of these - http://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum7/5822.html - for the princely sum of 20quid, and the sound compares well to the budget (meridian 203 and cambridge 2i) external Dacs I've used
biggrin.png


 

dudywoxer

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Jul 19, 2005
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sunny scunny
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colin
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Or you can do the same as a number of people, my CD's live in the 'listening room' but as I spend more time listening when working, I have a older system in the office, using either Ogg or wav files, through a sound card into a denon receiver, and a pair of acoustic energy speakers. Very convienient, especialy when working, hours of music on tap, and as the PC I am working on is making a level of background noise, you don't notice the small amount of fan noise from the server. (music server, but also fax server, file server, print server etc)

 

davidcotton

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Wammer
Oct 9, 2005
364
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, , United Kingdom
Well I've just found out the price of having a harddrive based hifi.

My source is a qnap ts101 which from the start has been rather noisy. Certainly noiser than others from some of the user reports. Anyway having a chance to use it for more than a couple of hours over the weekend I did so. Whoops. First on friday night the whole thing locked up so the only way to turn it off was to do the tried and tested way of yanking the cord out the power socket (how technical!). Then Sunday evening was listening to the last five minutes of an audio story when the sound cut out. Checked the device and the green status light of the harddrive had turned to an alarming orange!

Got in touch with the guy who runs the company who said to send it back to him and he'll copy the files off and swop it over for a new drive before anything else drastic happens so fair play to him!

Moral of the story? If your going to have a hard drive system make sure you have a back up of all your files in a safe place!

 

T.white

Wammer
Wammer
Dec 31, 2005
570
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0
South Wales, , Unite
davidcotton wrote:

Well I've just found out the price of having a harddrive based hifi.My source is a qnap ts101 which from the start has been rather noisy. Certainly noiser than others from some of the user reports. Anyway having a chance to use it for more than a couple of hours over the weekend I did so. Whoops. First on friday night the whole thing locked up so the only way to turn it off was to do the tried and tested way of yanking the cord out the power socket (how technical!). Then Sunday evening was listening to the last five minutes of an audio story when the sound cut out. Checked the device and the green status light of the harddrive had turned to an alarming orange!

Got in touch with the guy who runs the company who said to send it back to him and he'll copy the files off and swop it over for a new drive before anything else drastic happens so fair play to him!

Moral of the story? If your going to have a hard drive system make sure you have a back up of all your files in a safe place!
That's a bit of a bugger.

With the Yamaha I use though, I have virtually all the original cds, so it's not a problem. I only use the hard drive for convenience.

 

andrew1810

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Wammer
Jul 20, 2005
104
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Northumberland, , Un
My personal opinion on this is that some audiophiles will never even consider a system like this and will stick to vinyl, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just the way it is.

The younger generation IMO will base everything around the ipod which is why so many AV amps etc. now have ipod sockets.

The wireless players at the moment sit in between the two and I think are bought more as a gadget than a piece of hifi equipment, especially looking at the places that stock them.

For the market to survive, the companies need to work out what they are doing really, either target audiophiles with an expensive, top end option, or go mainstream and cut the price, include a built in amp etc.

If I was slimdevices, Sonos etc. I would create an ipod dock which would act as a server for wireless clients with built in amps (and possibly a sonos style remote as a cost option), most people have an ipod so why not combine the two

The cambridge audio, hifidelio etc. are a good idea but the cambridge is unreliable and certainly in the future, downloaded music will probably overtake CD for the majority of people.

 

Davewhityetagain

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Jul 24, 2005
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andrew1810 wrote:

My personal opinion on this is that some audiophiles will never even consider a system like this and will stick to vinyl, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just the way it is.The younger generation IMO will base everything around the ipod which is why so many AV amps etc. now have ipod sockets.

The wireless players at the moment sit in between the two and I think are bought more as a gadget than a piece of hifi equipment, especially looking at the places that stock them.

For the market to survive, the companies need to work out what they are doing really, either target audiophiles with an expensive, top end option, or go mainstream and cut the price, include a built in amp etc.

If I was slimdevices, Sonos etc. I would create an ipod dock which would act as a server for wireless clients with built in amps (and possibly a sonos style remote as a cost option), most people have an ipod so why not combine the two

The cambridge audio, hifidelio etc. are a good idea but the cambridge is unreliable and certainly in the future, downloaded music will probably overtake CD for the majority of people.
We have in ways been down this road before, "CD" look at the claims made for that, one being records not needed or wanted quality claims too

 

jon

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Jul 20, 2005
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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
andrew1810 wrote:

My personal opinion on this is that some audiophiles will never even consider a system like this and will stick to vinyl, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just the way it is.The younger generation IMO will base everything around the ipod which is why so many AV amps etc. now have ipod sockets.

The wireless players at the moment sit in between the two and I think are bought more as a gadget than a piece of hifi equipment, especially looking at the places that stock them.

For the market to survive, the companies need to work out what they are doing really, either target audiophiles with an expensive, top end option, or go mainstream and cut the price, include a built in amp etc.

If I was slimdevices, Sonos etc. I would create an ipod dock which would act as a server for wireless clients with built in amps (and possibly a sonos style remote as a cost option), most people have an ipod so why not combine the two

The cambridge audio, hifidelio etc. are a good idea but the cambridge is unreliable and certainly in the future, downloaded music will probably overtake CD for the majority of people.
I'm some people will stick to vinyl; what will be interesting is if anyone sticks to CD when they can have huge numbers of CDs (or downloaded tunes) stored on big hard drives, using lossless compression...

As PCs come to play more of a role in the home (i.e. if Microsoft has their way...or if competitors become stronger) it might be that we have a PC in most rooms of the house anyway - so not sure if these standalone hard drive servers will even be necessary. Maybe there'll just 'high end' versions, and cheap 'mini system' type options, with PCs fulfilling most roles in between...

 

ronc

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Jan 14, 2006
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I have a Yamaha HDD, too.

I use the Yamaha for "casual" listening (ie when my wife is in the same room, and we are talking, with music in the background) and I usea Wadia transport (through a dCS DAC and Purcell upsampler) for listening on my own.

There IS a very noticeable difference in sound quality, even after I give the Yamaha a helping hand by running it through the TacT and/or the dCS. I wish there wasn't a difference, though, because the Yamaha is SO convenient. Somewhere in Japan there is probably some guy working on a Hard Drive which produces the same quality as a Wadia, or even a Zenden or whatever. When that eventually comes to market I shall buy it, at any price short of personal bankruptcy!

 

Sastusbulbas

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Jan 19, 2006
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Steve
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I myself have thought of the computer/hard drive music source set up.

A few of my friends have went this route too.

Personaly, I was looking at a couple of Hitachi HD drives in a midi or standard PC case with a silent heat sink power supply, a gig of memory, and a decent CD writer.

All run from a middling motherboard with a pretty standard processor, and a 15" tft.

No fans all heatsink.

Windows XP and experiment with some of the Media players and use lossless only files.

Dampen the case, use Kimber or similar for rewiring the whole inside, and de-couple the drives and power supply, stick on some RDC cones and put it on a nice platform.

No fancy computer bits appart from the best possible sound card with digital out, just basic semi decent stuff, for running only the operating system, recording , and music playback.

Only thing is that it sounds more HI-Fi than audiophile, though more convenient it sound no better than some 300 disc multi player hooked into an external DAC.

Maybe with seperate never connected or valve power supplies, silver wiring, the HD and CD drive in a special block of lead and sorthbane, and the motherboard in a seperate transparent perspex case it would sound a little better.

 

Sastusbulbas

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Jan 19, 2006
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Steve
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
dudywoxer wrote:

Or you can do the same as a number of people, my CD's live in the 'listening room' but as I spend more time listening when working, I have a older system in the office, using either Ogg or wav files, through a sound card into a denon receiver, and a pair of acoustic energy speakers. Very convienient, especialy when working, hours of music on tap, and as the PC I am working on is making a level of background noise, you don't notice the small amount of fan noise from the server. (music server, but also fax server, file server, print server etc)
A couple of us also do this with our MP3 players, and a couple of the other guys use their laptops.

 

julian2002

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Dec 15, 2005
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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
i've been runing a pc / squeezebox based hi-fi for the past 2 or so years now and would no way go back to cd's. once squeezebox got their digital output sorted out the quality of my squeezebox / dax decade is about 90% of the best cd replay i've heard and at a fraction of the cost. i use a (very) old pentium 2 pc with a sata card, 500gb of hdd and about 300meg of ram in it. it can be a bit grindy on large playlists but usually sits there for weeks on end doing it's thing with no complaints. all the music is stored as flac ripped from the originals which are stored in the bottom of my wardrobes in large boxes just in case.

i've shyed away from integrated boxes as you are limited to what playback format / compression you can use and have limited capacity upgrade possibilities. that said i've not looked at more modern solutions but then why buy an expensive audio pc when you can do what you need with a cheap pc and if you want a funky remote / handset then jsut get a bluetooth phone and connect to the slimservers browser interface. that said i've never felt the need as the s/box's remote / screen does the job.

 

Anthony

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Jan 9, 2006
2,057
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103
Edinburgh, UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
where will all the artwork and designgo?

album artwork is so nice to look at and read as part of the experience. i can imagine that a lot of people just download albums onto a harddrive and put it through an amp and speakers.

i love the whole concept of sitting down with the album cover/booklet and leafing through whilst listening. song lyrics, artwork, funky design cases, reading the 'thanks to' bit and finding out who was an influenceetc. all adds to my enjoyment and general musical education.

 
E

earl of sodbury

Guest
These unholy unions of CDP/hard drive will disappear in time - they appeal to a certain generation not quite ready to commit to computer-based music, but the mass-market will go entirely PC-based in coming years - after-all what's the point of a second box you don't really need? Your PC is familiar and offers a multitude of user interfaces that no standalone hard-drive based box can offer. CDs are a red-herring in all this: so far as the mass market is concerned downloads are where the future lies.

Us audiophiles will of course continue to plough our established furrows until our personal firmware expires...
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So CD etc. has a future, but perhaps only forone moregeneration.