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In Reply to: RE: With a digital source, why preamps at all? posted by andy evans on June 11, 2017 at 23:51:35
I can't say if your sound card works the way some older CDPs with digital volume controls did, but those things lost info., when attenuating.
I strongly favor listening level control in the analog domain. The issue of bits being thrown into "oblivion" is not present. Perhaps you should try SY's "heretical unity gain" setup. A very knowledgeable man went to enormous lengths to achieve transparency.
FWIW, I have a pretty darned good digital playback setup that's "dropped jaws" on several occasions. I then pulled out a LP with the late Sir Neville Marriner conducting a Haydn symphony and "reality" set in. Really good digital is fine, but it is not quite up to really good "vinyl". Of course, large numbers of people are getting better sound out of digital than they did with phonographs. That's a reflection of how poor their LP playback chains were. Hands down, digital offers more "bang for the buck", but good (unfortunately VERY expensive) analog playback chains are superior. I'm lucky I bought in peak revenue times. I certainly can't afford the "up scale" analog stuff now.
Edits: 06/12/17Follow Ups:
You can't credibly make those claims re: digital versus turntable without posting system details... or at least giving us an idea of what sources were compared.
"Confusion of goals and perfection of means seems to characterise our age." Albert Einstein
Some details follow.
Digital: a Rotel CDP as the bitstream source into an anti-jitter filter and on to an AVA FET-Valve DAC.
Phono: SOTA Sapphire TT/SME Series V arm/AT OC9 LOMC.
FWIW, a dealer I did business with called the digital chain "reference". To be fair, this was several years ago and digital definitely continues to improve. JMO, digital still has a way to go, before it catches up with 1st class analog.
BTW, that LP has been and remains my CD "killer". Again, fairness requires me to state that recording quality frequently is more important than any particular technology. A well done CD beats a crappy LP and L_RD knows plenty of crappy LPs were pressed. ASMoF/Marriner and a very competent recording crew did a SUPERB job on "The Queen". "Maria Theresa" on the flip side is excellent too.
Eli ... is this the Haydn LP that you're calling your "CD killer"? (Link below.) If so, I'd like to locate a copy. (It shouldn't be difficult as there are four on eBay at the moment.)
I also wanted to "+1" the following, which you stated in an earlier post:
[R]ecording quality frequently is more important than any particular technology. A well done CD beats a crappy LP and L_RD knows plenty of crappy LPs were pressed.
Although I might change "frequently" to "always"? This is why (IMO) we need both great analog and great digital sources in 2017, and why we shouldn't have a predisposition toward either.
Living in a neighborhood that's considered the hipster capital of the world, I have a girlfriend, numerous friends, and lots of acquaintances who are absolutely convinced of vinyl's superiority. I've demonstrated for many the fact that this is hardly an across-the-board fact. The truth is, given the freedom to select the recording, I can easily prove that Tidal streamed from an iPhone to my DragonFly is far superior to my analog rig.
It might well be the same master tape, but my LP is London Speakers Corner. If that pressing is readily available, go for it.
Quality of recording is definitely a very critical factor. "You can't turn shit into gold."
My situation is that I like easy classical listening and had to transition over to digital streaming for the following reasons.
1- When I was in NJ FM died. Now I'm living in Arizona it's a little different. Reception is the issue but my antenna days are over with this house.
2- I was in college for about 10 years and had to travel REAL light. So my stereo (Dynaco SCA-35 and A-25 speakers) and records all disappeared with the help of my brother-in-law. As well as having those years NOT building and tweaking out a system.
3- Through the late 80's and 90's I was SO excited when ebay started that I was trading stereos once a month and I didn't focus on what was really important in audio.
4- Now I use a Marantz NA7004 network streamer. It's pretty good and I do like the variety of classical music. I do realize that it all comes down to a good engineered recording. Without that it doesn't matter what you're using.
5- I'm trying to max my system to what I have and what I use it for. Not a fantasy of a system I don't have - or need.
Sherwood S-5000 integrated amp - love that little thing
CJ pre and Latino ST-70 - my favorite
CJ pre and Marantz 250M fully restored and upgraded - Wow!
CJ pre and NAD C275BEE just to break things up.
Marantz NA7004 network streamer
DIY Zaph Audio SR-71 with stereo subs
LPs are always worth a listen - I'm a musician and I had thousands. But I just don't have room for them, I'm not about to fork out hundreds of pounds on styli, I'm not going to get up every 20m and change the side and on and on and on. I listen to music while I work on other things, and I want my mouse to do the walking.
The thing about digital volume controls is to design your system so that your listening volume is close to the maximum on your computer. So typically you attenuate very little. That's certainly how I've configured it. Just 2 amplification stages. Just enough.
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