CD player vs computer

alboy1975

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Hi, its become a bit of a habit posting on this site, but over the past few weeks I've learned a lot.

I was just reading the manual for my amp and the manufacturer recommended one of its CD players to go with it (of course they would, they are a business after all). Now I am absolutelyy, definitely, not in the market for new CD player, but it did get me thinking.

the CD player recommended is around £700 (arcam cd37 if memory serves), but why spend a fortune in today's market on a CD player? I spent a wodd of cash on a computer 3 years ago (well over 3k - no screen, keyboard or mouse) and one of the components I purchased was a sound card with the following specs for around the 150 mark:

Technical Specs

24-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion of analog inputs: 96kHz sample rate

24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion of digital sources: 96kHz to analog 7.1 speaker output

24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion of stereo digital sources: 192kHz to stereo output

16-bit to 24-bit recording sampling rates: 8,11.025,16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz

ASIO 2.0 support: 16bit/44.1kHz,16-bit/48kHz, 24-bit/44.1kHz 24-bit/48kHz and 24-bit/96kHz with direct monitoring

Enhanced SoundFont support: Up to 24-bit resolution

X-RAM: 64MB

Audio Performance (Rated Output @ 2Vrms, Typical Value)

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Weighted): Stereo Output 109dB

Front and Rear Channels 109dB

Center, Subwoofer and Side Channels 109dB

Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz (20kHz Low-pass filter): 0.004%

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input ): 10Hz to 46kHz

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/192kHz input): 10Hz to 88kHz (Stereo only)

Connectivity

Line in / Microphone In: Shared 1/8" mini jack

Speaker Out: 4x 1/8" mini jacks

Optical Out: TOSLINK 1

Optical In: TOSLINK

Intel HD Audio Compatible Front Panel Header: 2x 5-pin

Creative proprietary AND_EXT connector: Connects to one end of the AND_EXT cable. Connect the other end to the AND_EXT connector on the Sound Blaster X-Fi I/O Drive.

Creative proprietary DID_EXT connector: Connects to one end of the DID_EXT cable. Connect the other end to the DID_EXT connector on the Sound Blaster X-Fi I/O Drive.

I/O Drive Connectivity

Auxiliary input: Two RCA jacks

Headphone output and volume control: 3. 50 mm (1/8-inch) stereo jack

Microphone input: 3. 50 mm (1/8-inch) stereo jack

1 Optical Out supports stereo SPDIF out, multichannel out via Dolby Digital Live, and pass through of multichannel DVD sound

The DVD player in my computer is attached to the card and the card is connected to my amp, so what would the benefit be of spending hundreds of pounds, or even thousands on a CD player? I can understand people not wanting hulking great computer in their living room, but you could build a basic computer smaller than a separate CD player with a decent sound card in it and as an added benefit have mp3/flac etc set up through network accessible storage. You wouldn't even need a keyboard, mouse or monitor as long as you have an ipad or similar - install os such as xbmc, Linux or similar buy a remote access app and bob's your uncle

nb: pretty sure you could put front panel in computer with play, pause etc if you didn't,t want to fart around with remote desktops

 

gjm

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Try it. (If you haven't already.) It can be done - has been done - and there are some sound cards around that claim to be of audiophile quality.

An alternative might be to take what many do another step. Use a USB to S/PDIF converter, feed this into a DAC, and on to your mplifier. You can use Foobar (and many other programs, I've no doubt - I've not looked) to play directly fro a CD, and output using Kernel Streaming via USB. This completely bypasses any signal processing inside the computer (including your sound card).

Having options is a wonderful thing. :)

 

simon g

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Yes, try it for yourself. My opinion would be that, for a variety of reasons, the sound quality would not be on a par with a dedicated player.

I would recommend you try out a SBT ~ excellent quality straight from its RCA output. Can operate via a LAN and wirelessly, so removed from any PC 'noise' and gets the PC out of the listening room. The DAC in the SBT is easily the equal of a CD player in the £500 region.

 

john dolan

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If you rip your CDs to lossless flac with something like dBpoweramp and stream these to a SBT id say the sound would be a match for £1000 CD players.

If you use the EDO for usb out into say a M - dac you would then have sound to rival some very high end CD players.

For good sound for cheap put the ripped flac or wav files on a mem stick or external hd and play then through a cheap Blu-ray player.

 

AmDismal

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Creative soundcards used to be infamous for resampling everything to 48k, although it looks like yours should not.

You can get decent sound direct from a PC, but PCs tend to be electrically noisy, so it's not easy. Much better IMO to use a Squeezebox or an external DAC, especially if the DAC can be galvanically isolated from the PC and has asynchronous USB.

I have an M-Audio Audiophile 192, which sounds pretty good, as did my Asus Xonar soundcard, but I've always got better results taking the encoding out of the PC.

 

vacdac

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Agree with Simons & Johns comments re the SQ of the SBT as said tis v good & can be usefully improved with an external dac.

The C.A. streamers are a worthy alternative to the SBT. My own SBT + Musical Fidelity M1 dac were comprehensively bettered by the C.A. SM6 streamer for SQ. At a guess I'd think that the older NP30 which is now available for a bargain price of £250 from Richer Sounds should be more or less on a par with the SBT re Dac quality but may sound better due to better implemented analogue output stages as C.A. are more of a specialist audio firm & have a good reputation for building v good eqpmt at the money.

Although now superseded by the SM6 which has a much better spec the NP30 was originally sold at a different price point to the SBT at around £500 so really does look v tempting, particularly with Richers excellent 5year extended warranty for £25 & it being BNIB. No wallwart PSU either & your high spec PC would make an excellent platform to run a UPnP/DLNA server or LMS (Logitech Media Server) for SBT for that matter.

LMS has the advantage that it can run extremely well on a relatively low processing power Nas, even with a decent sized file based music library. UPnP however, as used by C.A.'s streamers & many other mfrs really does work a whole lot better when run from a machine with decent processing grunt.

I recently replaced my wheezy old Netgear ReadyNas Duo 2x1TB with a Synology DS213 WITH 2x3TB WD Red drives & the difference has been huge. All the annoying little wrinkles/glitches have simply vanished & everything is now uber slick. The enjoyment + ease of using it has been greatly improved & I'm a v happy bunny.......however if wanting to run one of these players with a Nas instead of a PC solution it can cost a fair bit.

C.A.'s Android controller App is complete shite BTW:td: :td: .....I've been using Bubble UPnP for Android for a while now & its extremely good & I actually prefer it to Squeezebox Commander for SBT which I actually really liked.

Personally I'd say if you'd be happy to spend around the same budget as the Arcam cd player just get an SM6 which will likely be all the player you could ever need + its built in dac+ pre-amp functionality gives you plenty of future options. Its built in Dac should substantially improve your current cd player, used as a transport. You could use the spare inputs for a Dab radio or TV.

 

aswillman

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I've got a couple of CA products as I B test for them & would agree with the above sentiments in using uPNP or DLNA. I differ in that I use Windows Home Server - I preferred it to both Vortexbox and a NAS. This was purely because of the cataloguing of Asset PnP being superior IMHO. The CA Stream Magic app works well on an iDevice with this & is quick to load. (A friend using the NP30 I B tested has had issues with the CA Android app as well. CA are aware). I use a SM6 and have to say its a great bit of kit. The converters aren't shabby & it has a nice array of digital inputs if you wanted to plug a computer or external HD directly into it.The servers are not high powered, are quiet & cool & can be placed well away from the HiFi. My current system is a PowerNAS with th OS on a SSD & 4 drives in a RAID5. It works well.

 

alboy1975

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by SBT i take it mean a soundblaster titanium - that's what i have (chamipon edition) 3.5 plug to rca atm mind u. and I use dbpoweramp to convert. got my amp back from repair today and listened to flac to looseless copy of james blake, blow my mind

 

simon g

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by SBT i take it mean a soundblaster titanium - that's what i have (chamipon edition) 3.5 plug to rca atm mind u. and I use dbpoweramp to convert. got my amp back from repair today and listened to flac to looseless copy of james blake, blow my mind
Er..no. SBT = Squeezebox Touch.

 

Humpty was pushed

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by SBT i take it mean a soundblaster titanium - that's what i have (chamipon edition) 3.5 plug to rca atm mind u. and I use dbpoweramp to convert. got my amp back from repair today and listened to flac to looseless copy of james blake, blow my mind
No Allan, I think they mean the Logitech Squeezebox Touch. Great piece of kit about to be discontinued though....

 

budgetblown

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I run usb to spdif to pre, sound quality is rather nice.

But then again, it is a multi-channel pre. And multi channel systems are the ultimate.

I'll get my coat.

 
V

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No Allan, I think they mean the Logitech Squeezebox Touch. Great piece of kit about to be discontinued though....
whats it like compared to a 'sonos' ?

 

Humpty was pushed

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The Sonos uses its own network protocol to stream from a base station to one or more satellite players.

Can't say I can hear a big difference in sound quality, but the Sonos works out much more expensive and is much less user-configurable.

The SBT just works, and is flexible, with digi out if you want to add a DAC, and has a great support community, and costs under £200......

 
V

Voice_Coil

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The Sonos uses its own network protocol to stream from a base station to one or more satellite players. Can't say I can hear a big difference in sound quality, but the Sonos works out much more expensive and is much less user-configurable.

The SBT just works, and is flexible, with digi out if you want to add a DAC, and has a great support community, and costs under £200......
:zip:

 

cjr

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I run usb to spdif to pre, sound quality is rather nice.But then again, it is a multi-channel pre. And multi channel systems are the ultimate.

I'll get my coat.
There are loads of Behringer UCA202 users on the forum doing exactly the same Leigh to 2 channel digital pre or MC AV pres ...... sounds rather spiffing to me. Cant see the need to go any "further". And that is comparing to CD anlg quality.

 

vacdac

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As usual Colin you've omitted the limitations of the Behringer UCA202. No matter how many times you bang on about it these simply won't go away. :nup: Lack of 24bit support or for sampling rates above 48khz do somewhat limit its fitness for use in many file based music library setups, sorry but this really will matter for many people.

Many of us have progressed well beyond the lashups you seem happy with & are such a vociferous champion of. That you don't see the point of going any further is fine. I do often agree with your thoughts on Foo/Cables etc, just not on this as it happens. In the context of what advice is being asked for in this thread & as the OP already has a suitable soundcard I'm not really sure why the UCA202 even merits a mention in this thread??? :dunno:

In my main set up I currently effectively have three Dacs if I include the Audiolab 8000AV processor which I also use for my integrated AV/Stereo setup. I'm already using various additional pass thru's to increase system flexibility & to hook up all my digital sources. The 8000AV used as a stereo Dac does up to 24bit/96khz+ has onboard HDCD ability. This also allows me to keep HDCD playback on the menu which otherwise I would have lost when I 'downgraded' from my last ceedee player to the diddy TEAC PD300iii which I currently use as a cd transport.

I also use a couple of Pro Audio USB interfaces, mainly as recording tools & whilst deffo more than good enough for this, their analogue line level output stages are their weak link for playback in a decent/accurate Hi-Fi setup. For quick playback of my 24bit vinyl recordings for editing/cleanup I don't use my Alva Nanoface at all. Instead I use Asynchronous USB straight into my C.A. SM6.......errrrrm cos it sounds shit loads better than thru the Nanofaces analogue outs. This is still easily apparent through my other Dac options if I take optical out from the Nanoface, so its deffo the analogue output that is found wanting.

I somehow doubt the UCA202's line level outputs will better those on the OP's soundcard & if he decides to go with an external Dac & take an SPdif output from his soundcard then the biggest gain is likely to be the analogue output stage of the external Dac.

There are loads of Behringer UCA202 users on the forum doing exactly the same Leigh to 2 channel digital pre or MC AV pres ...... sounds rather spiffing to me. Cant see the need to go any "further". And that is comparing to CD anlg quality.
 

Nick1881

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My computer has a reasonably high end sound card, Asus Xonar thing, it's pretty more though.

I dont think a SBT is needed, I used a JKDAC32 connected to my amp, I play FLAC's with JRiver MC and use my iPad to control it, works perfectly. I also borrowed an Arcam CD37 on home demo and it didn't sound any better.

 

vacdac

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Computers can be an electrically noisy environment in terms of audio SQ & use of a decent streaming solution totally removes this from the equation, with no need for aftermarket/specialist solutions to address this if this becomes an issue.

 

cjr

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Fair points on the 96khz+ audio file limitations of 48khz SCs but has the OP specifically said that? he wants 16/44.1khz AFAICT. Previous "lash ups" of mine have included "pure 24 Bit 96khz LPCM" DVD transports into DACs that would accept signals from such a device, using DAD 24/96 LPCMs stereo discs. Also been into DVD-A, SACD and HDCD & Vinyl for a few years. I think the audiophile BS that permeates this hobby is dribbling into PC audio now. Having compared previous USB DACs/Soundcards (M-Audio Transits 24/96, Firestone Spitfire II USB DAC & a couple of PC SPDIF connections to DAC/Digital Pres/Digital stereo amps & AV amps. I can hear from a UCA202 piping SPDIF a comparable sounds to a "CD player" running in anlg mode into same amp. I was simply telling him that plenty of people use them and enjoy them (thus his card should be plenty fine - you are possibly right his SC is probably "better" than the 202 so no need to spend more on it!).

You can return to bashing in the SBT v the Sonos old chap. Oh and I have ripped HDCD to audio files in the past and heard them played back on a suitable HDCD DAC (TAG).

 

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