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In Reply to: What formats does it support? posted by Robert Joe on December 20, 2006 at 20:52:58:
I'm not really a tekkie when it comes to formats, but the Burwen Bobcat is 2 pieces #1 is the software which is actually a plugin for Windows Media Player, meaning it only works with Windows Media Player, which I doubt plays FLAC. #2 is the DAC and in my system, windows recognizes it as a DAC without any special drivers, so anything I play though my PC plays through it. So if you use something other than WMP that does play FLAC, I assume the DAC will accept the output just fine - but you won't be able to use the Burwen software component (which I never use anyway).
I play MP3 internet radio, itunes downloads, and have used a variety of audio players like Jriver, Windows Media Player, itunes, winamp, foobar - all played perfectly well. I've never used FLAC, but if you have a player that plays FLAC I'm pretty sure the output to the Bobcat DAC would work fine because I believe the player does the conversion and outputs a standard 16/44 signal to the DAC.
the question is: what accounts for the superior sound you're getting...the fact that you are running tunes off your hard drive, or the BB software or the DAC? I mean, if you don't use the BB software, then presumably any decent dac with a usb input would produce the sound you're getting.
in other words, what makes this unit worth $2000?
thanks for your input.
I don't know what makes the bobcat worth $2000 any more than I know what makes other USB dacs worth $7500 - all I know is I couldn't possibly enjoy music any more than I do already, so for me $2k is all it takes - any more would be a waste of money. All I can say is for me it isn't the software since I don't use it - but the DAC will be my last, I've simply stopped looking. And that's after owning CD players such as the Naim Nait 5, Quad 99 CD-P, Njoe Super Tjoeb 4000, Cyrus CD6, Rega Planet 2000, Musical Fidelity X-ray with independent power supply and tube buffer, and probably a bunch of others I've long fogotten. In short, I'm no longer an audiophile, just a music lover.
I know it's a trite old overused expression in audio, but to me the Bobcat doesn't sound like any of the above CD players nor anything at all in particular - it sounds invisible to me and that's what I prize. The music simply sprays all over the room through my Quads and when presented with a 23' wide 10' deep soundspace with beautiful tonality and exquisite detail any further analysis is just splitting hairs. I strongly suspect USB has something to do with it's success judging from other posts on this page, but in the end care not. I've never investigated different formats - just stuck with WMP and couldn't be happier - and itunes for internet radio sounds more than good enough at 128k+ bitrates to really enjoy a world of music every night. Internet radio is just one of two huge bonuses of having a PC based system - the other is having digital domain EQ as both WMP and itunes have.
The final arbiter is that the number of CD's I consider unlisteable has dropped to around 5% since I've switched to the bobcat - if there was any value in a CD from the recording studio, the Bobcat can find it and reproduce seemingly - I credit it's neutrality for that. The ones that are unlistenable aren't usually harsh bright or brittle, just very poor stereo and tonally devoid - but a 5% failure rate I can live with.
If you're unsure of that kind of outlay, there are plenty of economical USB DAC's talked about on this page - start small, see if you feel the USB transmission is a major contributer - but it's hard to separate what contributes to the bottom line just by listening in my opinion. But at least you can experiment with a variety of formats and internet radio and digital domain EQ - then if you upgrade you'll be ready for an apples to apples comparison.
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