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Transport Vs Streamer


oldius
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Thanks to @luvpies for a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon of listening, today. The purpose was to ascertain the differences between my trusted SBT and John's Audiolab CD transport (I don't know the model number). We listened to a range of music: Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs; Jono McCleery's Live Pagodes; John Coltrane's Crescent and a few others for good measure but these were the main pieces. We used the same DAC (Technics SH-X1000) and the same cables: my Mogami digital coax and Klotz speaker cables (no idea which model numbers, sorry). Basically, the only change was the source, everything else was unchanged. John's recent purchase of his JBL L96 inspired a visit from me and I was seriously impressed with his system; we arranged the 'source off' as a result.

Previously, I have not heard a difference between streaming through the same DAC. To be clear, my version of streaming is playing FLAC files from my hard drive and then through the SBT. Today, differences were clear: the Audiolab gives a fuller tone in the bottom end and more separation between instruments in the mid-range. This was less noticeable with more simply recorded material but very clear with more complex mixes. Both sources were enjoyable but the Audiolab of John's was preferred by both of us and the difference was clear across all tracks. We did not share opinions until the end of the session but, like a true geek, I wrote my own impressions in a note book. John was confident that he would remember, I was not!

The best thing, as always, was sharing a few tunes with a mate. Cheers, John.

 

EDIT - Output on SBT is digital only. Volume fixed 100%.

Edited by oldius
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I hear a subtle difference between playing CDs on the Wadia, and the same song via the SBT which feeds the digital audio into the Wadia. Its very subtle.

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The obvious question is how you get the files in the first place. If it's by ripping the CD, then despite the 'bits are bits' argument, it always seems to me that it's another process where errors could potentially creep in.

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Feel the music young Skywalker.......Trust your ears......if it sounds better it is better....:o

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In my ‘Auralic stick or twist’ thread I compared streamers to a CD transport and DAC. My Marantz transport always won and so am not surprised that you heard what you heard.

Just surprised that companies like Linn tell us that a ripped CD will always sound better than played in a CDP but I am pretty sure that I have not heard anyone on here say that yet. 

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43 minutes ago, DomT said:

In my ‘Auralic stick or twist’ thread I compared streamers to a CD transport and DAC. My Marantz transport always won and so am not surprised that you heard what you heard.

Just surprised that companies like Linn tell us that a ripped CD will always sound better than played in a CDP but I am pretty sure that I have not heard anyone on here say that yet. 

I've seen that suggestion before, but never with any sensible reasoning. To rip the CD, you need to play it. Different, maybe. But better?

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Super Wammer

ah great debate . got 4 cd players /transports here and tommorrow we have a mini session trying an audiolab cdt with a fellow audiophile . yesterday we played my bel canto cd2 direct into a lovely class AB amp and it was not bad at all . had the privelige of listening to a beautiful amr cd playing like one in this video 

one of my fave brands msb no longer makes cd transport . the dealer only does esoteric which is mega expensive. very nearly bought a moon 260 transport but held off 

one of the cd players i use as a transport is a marantz cd6007 . gosh you would think it cost double the 400 quid price. silky smooth operation of drawer , excellent remote . and buttons so easy to use . just feels quality . anyway , is it as good as the cd2 ? well i think the ced2 just pips it for openess and hearing detail. but the 6007 costs a great deal less . 

the atc cd2 looks good vfm at 1750 . anyone tried one ?  JTC on here has just got a cec and be great to hear his thoughts about ease of operation , noise ? etc etc 

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I will have to try it again but when I tried before I could not tell the difference. I used some bit perfect software.

That was before I got my Node2 so maybe worth trying again.

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24 minutes ago, rabski said:

I've seen that suggestion before, but never with any sensible reasoning. To rip the CD, you need to play it. Different, maybe. But better?

I think the reasoning is that you can buffer the data, and read it from a cache, rather than '"on the fly" - this tallies with my experience up to a point: my former reference digital source was a PSAudio PWT that read the disc to a RAM buffer, before passing the data to my DAC - the same files played from my NAS or Qobuz were perceptibly inferior (though differences were marginal once I'd invested more seriously in my streaming "chain") - I have similar results using the facility of my Auralic to directly connect a high quality disc drive - it buffers from the disc in a similar way.

 Possibly Linn make the assertion because they can't make a decent CD player....

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1 hour ago, DomT said:

Linn tell us that a ripped CD will always sound better than played in a CDP but I am pretty sure that I have not heard anyone on here say that yet. 

Linn told us that you don't need to clean dirty records - just play them, then clean the stylus.

Linn told us that undriven speakers in the listening room ruin the sound.

Linn told us that "hi-res" files sound better than 16/44.1 because of "stair-steps".

Ivor T told me that I'd made a huge mistake ditching the LP12 for an SME, and also that his Subaru diesel estate car was faster than my 911. I just stood there grinning at him.

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36 minutes ago, Blzebub said:

Linn told us that you don't need to clean dirty records - just play them, then clean the stylus.

Linn told us that undriven speakers in the listening room ruin the sound.

Linn told us that "hi-res" files sound better than 16/44.1 because of "stair-steps".

Ivor T told me that I'd made a huge mistake ditching the LP12 for an SME, and also that his Subaru diesel estate car was faster than my 911. I just stood there grinning at him.

You forgot the 'is this a lemon?' advertising about CD and digital.

Yet to hear a streamer as good as my CD transport, one may exist one day, but the Wadia takes some beating via ST optical.

Edited by It Cost How Much!?!
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1 hour ago, rabski said:

I've seen that suggestion before, but never with any sensible reasoning. To rip the CD, you need to play it. Different, maybe. But better?

There are a few variables. If you rip a cd, bit perfect to a SSD and then play it back, why should it not be as good or not better than using a CD player? CD player will have noise and vibration that could effect the sound quality. 

I will try using rips stored on a usb stick, see if that’s better, same or worst than my CD player. 

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21 minutes ago, StingRay said:

There are a few variables. If you rip a cd, bit perfect to a SSD and then play it back, why should it not be as good or not better than using a CD player? CD player will have noise and vibration that could effect the sound quality. 

I will try using rips stored on a usb stick, see if that’s better, same or worst than my CD player. 

But what's being discussed here is using the CD as a transport, thus outputting a digital signal. If the digital signal can be affected, then the digital signal that produces the rip will be equally affected.

If we're talking about ripping using a different method (different transport mechanism) you may have a possible cause, though I doubt it's noise or vibration, but rather the handling and initial process of turning a laser-read signal into a digital voltage signal.

Much as I hate the thought, I would be more than surprised if anyone could discern any difference in a blind test.

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Some interesting points. The FLAC files were ripped using BitPerfect software. Both used a Coax digital input on the same DAC. I do not know why there may have been a difference and I err on the sceptical, but the difference was too clear to ignore. I would happily live with either, so we are talking about small margins, but the transport in to DAC was better than the streamer into the same DAC. I have not previously been able to discern a difference between streamers using the same DAC.

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15 minutes ago, rabski said:

But what's being discussed here is using the CD as a transport, thus outputting a digital signal. If the digital signal can be affected, then the digital signal that produces the rip will be equally affected.

If we're talking about ripping using a different method (different transport mechanism) you may have a possible cause, though I doubt it's noise or vibration, but rather the handling and initial process of turning a laser-read signal into a digital voltage signal.

Much as I hate the thought, I would be more than surprised if anyone could discern any difference in a blind test.

I understand what you mean. But the ripper and the CD player are not the same, in this case? Then how good is the ripping software? 
Does Bit perfect give you a perfect result? Mine was ripped on my computer with a really cheap cd drive but still sounded fine.

I would be interested in comparing downloads v cd, if you can be sure they are the same masters. 

I only had one streamer, so I don’t know what the sound differences, would be but I found adding a LPSU to my Node made a difference. I have struggled to find differences between CDP transports in the past.

Edited by StingRay
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