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Best digital source for my system, asking advice

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Posted on December 31, 2016 at 13:18:21
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
I'm looking for a possible alternative to my CD player ; I've been out of the loop for years re. Hifi, and after an extensive search for possible options I'm more confused than before .

My system is a 47 labs Shigaraki CD player with the Shigaraki DAC, and a Gaincard .
Sounding very nice still, but the CD player is starting to get a little shaky, and things have changed so much in recent years that I'm considering to try something else .

Preferably I'd get some simple 'digital transport' solution that provides the best possible sound quality, and can also be plugged into the existing Shigaraki DAC (to save some money ).

Could you give me some pointers on what to look for ?

I've seen SD card players, ones for USB sticks and SSD hard drives, USB - SPDIF converters for computers, Hifi iPod docks, all presumably capable of high quality output .

Also, I have a MacPro as my main computer close to the system, and a couple of older Macbooks that I could use as a dedicated audio player - if that's even an option ( as tried here : http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/musicloverdigital/digital.html )

For the Shigaraki DAC I have these specs :

Input sampling frequency : 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz (selected automatically)
Output Voltage : 2.1V
Digital Input : 1 S/P DIF unbalanced
Analog Output : 1 pair unbalanced

Thanks, and Happy New Year !

 

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RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on December 31, 2016 at 14:01:51
Cut-Throat
Audiophile

Posts: 11538
Location: Minneapolis - St.Paul Area
Joined: September 2, 2000
Why don't you look into something like Bluesound Node 2 that will plug into your DAC..... Get all your CDs 'ripped' to a Computer Hard Drive and you're Set. Get a Subscription to Spotify and have access to over 25 Million Tracks of Music for $10 a month.

Once you do this, You'll wonder why you didn't do this a few years ago.

Cut-Throat




 

RE: Best for my system, asking advice, posted on December 31, 2016 at 20:37:07
bare
Audiophile

Posts: 599
Joined: April 14, 2009
IF mine I'd be replacing the Gain Card Toute Suite :-)
Goalposts have moved far beyond that thing.
You will surprised what most moderne Amps can sound like.
A far bigger upgrade than the CD playback gizmo imo

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 02:27:26
Frihed89
Audiophile

Posts: 15185
Location: Copenhagen
Joined: March 21, 2005
It looks like you are pretty much into NOS territory with your current setup. Do you want to stick with this or move to higher resolutions with computer audio? Generally speaking, if you're staying with NOS and want a new transport, it may be wise to stick with the same mfr. Why not just get a new 47 labs transport (since I don't really know what "shaky" means). The other alternative NOS digital front end system (Transport + Dac) is Audio Note (UK) at a high cost to get the same quality (but different sound).

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 13:08:05
BRab
Audiophile

Posts: 795
Joined: January 28, 2002
I know it's a minority view but I along with many others find that the sq of a CD transport exceeds that of the digital transports you're contemplating. I'm using a Cambridge CXC CD transport and it's amazingly good. For all other digital sources I use the hdmi output of an SSD netbook (but any computer with hdmi would do) going into a $20 hdmi de-embedder with optical and coax digital output. Kanex is the brand I use. The resulting sq is better than using the computer's USB output.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 14:15:03
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Thank you, I will look into that !

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 14:25:49
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Thanks; for now, I want to stick with my NOS gear, and just test the waters by adding a digital source that is not a CD player , but offers at least equally high sound quality .

The Shigaraki transport is fine, just had to do a few repairs - sticky buttons, faulty remote sensor, cleaning and such .

 

RE: Best for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 14:32:18
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Quite the bold statement ;) .
You might be right that the Gaincard is obsolte, or maybe not, I don't know .

Either way, if I start looking for a replacement of the entire system, it will take me ages to test and put together new gear, and a lot of money to improve on the sound quality of my 'ancient' gear .

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 14:36:06
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Thank you, will look into that !

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 14:45:50
BRab
Audiophile

Posts: 795
Joined: January 28, 2002
Sorry, the price of the Kanex is around 60-70 USD. I got mixed up with my $20 ADC!

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 1, 2017 at 22:45:24
PAR
Audiophile

Posts: 2278
Location: South London
Joined: April 15, 2013
Contributor
  Since:
January 12, 2014
I agree with Cut-Throat except that as you live in Germany you have the option of using Qobuz instead of Spotify and the opportunity to stream in CD quality instead of MP3. This option costs more but is worthwhile IMO.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 2, 2017 at 01:19:23
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
I noticed, but that's still a fairly cheap solution .

USB to SPDIF converters of 'audiophile' quality can be quite a bit more .

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 2, 2017 at 02:51:55
Frihed89
Audiophile

Posts: 15185
Location: Copenhagen
Joined: March 21, 2005
You could also upgrade your transport within the 47 labs line.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 2, 2017 at 11:41:17
motberg
Audiophile

Posts: 52
Joined: May 19, 2013
Contributor
  Since:
December 0, 0000
You may want to consider a piece of pro gear using Ethernet from one of your computers.

https://us.focusrite.com/ethernet-audio-interfaces/rednet-3
http://www.atterotech.com/products/dante-aes-o/

There will be features that you do not need, and may be a little tricky to setup. But from what I have been reading seems a solid way to get high quality SPDIF from a computer source, even at a considerable distance.

 

it you get a USB to SPIDF converter, posted on January 2, 2017 at 14:06:36
G Squared
Audiophile

Posts: 4057
Location: Washington, DC Metro Area
Joined: November 16, 2004
You could rip your CDs to a MAC you already have and get a good audio player software Foobar, JRiver, HQ player or Pure Music and use your existing set up without the spinner. This approach makes a sensible short and long term transition path for small $.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 2, 2017 at 19:12:40
Duster
Audiophile

Posts: 12599
Location: Pacific Northwest
Joined: August 25, 2002
There are many options to choose from, and since I'm also a Mac user, I'll share my approach. My notion is to use a computer port that is dedicated to the digital signal (shared as a 3.5mm stereo mini-plug headphone jack) rather than use a multi-function USB port which tends to be noise-prone.

The key is to use a state of the art glass digital optical mini-Toslink to Toslink cable such as the Lifatec Silflex Glass Toslink cable from the Apple mini-Toslink digital optical port into a Monarchy Audio DIP (Digital Interface Processor) which reduces jitter, re-clocks the S/PDIF signal, and converts the digital optical interface to a 75 Ohm S/PDIF coaxial output jack or AES/EBU digital output jack for use with any DAC that features a digital coaxial rca input jack, or AES/EBU digital XLR input jack. From that point on, it's up to the downstream audio gear to present the audio signal, including the quality of the digital cable connected to the DAC.

The potential downside depending on your goals is that a USB interface is capable of outputting higher resolution audio files, while the mini-Toslink digital audio output function should be considered equivalent more or less to a high-quality Red Book source component, IME. Musicality is not so terribly dependent on very high-resolution files to be satisfactory, so you'll need to decide how important very high resolution is for your own wants/needs.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 2, 2017 at 20:34:40
Thorsten
Manufacturer

Posts: 4172
Location: Somewhere nice on planet dirt
Joined: September 25, 1999
Hi,

A simple solution would be to use a Google Chromecast Audio or an Apple Airport (seeing you are an Apple PhanBoi) and any device that converts optical SPDIF to electrical for your DAC.

Several suitable products exist (I am sure other inmates can chime in with their preference), several also use different strategies to reduce jitter, but they may jack the cost higher than you are prepared to absorb and several use sample rate conversion to 96kHz which your DAC does not handle without modification.

An alternate solution would be a USB-2-SPDIF converter, again multiple options are available to buy and a suitable long SPDIF cable.

A third option would be a dedicated streamer (from a 2nd Hand Squeezebox via Raspberry Pie etc. based options to high end hardware solutions) with SPDIF output.

It all depends on what you want to achieve.

Ciao T

At 20 bits, you are on the verge of dynamic range covering fly-farts-at-20-feet to untolerable pain. Really, what more could we need?

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:56:51
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Thanks, looks like another good way to approach this !

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 13:03:08
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Well, the Shigaraki is still running, and a Flatfish would be out of my range .

Right now I'm looking for a simple, affordable alternative to a CD player, or something I can use alongside it, without loosing sound quality .

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 13:13:28
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
Thanks, that's an interesting approach .

I'm not worried too much about Hi-Res files right now, more about a solution that provides CD quality and maybe a little above, and does deliver a clean, unmolested signal to my DAC .

Speaking of Toslink , my old Macpro actually still has an optical Audio Out .

 

RE: it you get a USB to SPIDF converter, posted on January 3, 2017 at 13:16:22
horst
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: April 24, 2004
But which one to choose ?

I've done some research on the latest Xmos USB / SpDIF converters, and there's a lot of gear available - mainly chinese - and even more opinions on it .

 

RE: it you get a USB to SPIDF converter, posted on January 3, 2017 at 13:52:56
G Squared
Audiophile

Posts: 4057
Location: Washington, DC Metro Area
Joined: November 16, 2004
There are smart and experienced people here to help. I run a USB DAC right out of my laptop.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 14:00:25
G Squared
Audiophile

Posts: 4057
Location: Washington, DC Metro Area
Joined: November 16, 2004
You can try that for the price of a cable.

 

RE: Lifatec, posted on January 3, 2017 at 15:00:35
cdb
Audiophile

Posts: 2725
Joined: April 6, 2001
Does Lifatec provide a Minimum Bend Radius (MBR) for their glass cable?

I have to be generous and assume they're closed for the holidays, since they aren't currently responding to email.

A few points off for not stating that on their website...

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 16:36:01
samac
Audiophile

Posts: 648
Location: midwest
Joined: August 28, 2004
Hello, horst,

The Bluseound Node 2 is excellent. It has great functionality, build quality and the BluOS is really good as well. It has really enhanced our listening experience. It is also my opinion that it is a very good value as well. Good luck in your new source search.

Cheers,

Scott

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 3, 2017 at 20:12:39
fred76
Audiophile

Posts: 1480
Location: Manila
Joined: February 28, 2004
Hi horst,

Duster gave good advice.. Since you have a Non-os dac with limited sampling rates, Toslink glass cable is a good idea via Macbook.. And an alternative to the Monarchy Audio DIP is the Synchronous IFI Audio SPDIF Ipurifier. It has a hybrid toslink/coax input for reclocking, de-jittering, etc..

 

RE: it you get a USB to SPIDF converter, posted on January 3, 2017 at 22:57:58
paco
Audiophile

Posts: 1225
Joined: April 26, 2000
i use this; works very nicely

 

RE: Lifatec, posted on January 4, 2017 at 09:52:05
Duster
Audiophile

Posts: 12599
Location: Pacific Northwest
Joined: August 25, 2002
I don't know that particular information, but the Silflex jacket is extremely supple and can be routed with a more severe bend radius than any other Toslink cable I've experienced, and far more than a typical digital coaxial cable, for that matter.

 

RE: Best digital source for my system, asking advice, posted on January 4, 2017 at 13:19:48
Cut-Throat
Audiophile

Posts: 11538
Location: Minneapolis - St.Paul Area
Joined: September 2, 2000
I don't own a Bluesound Note, but I do recommend it for people just getting into Streaming Audio from a Computer. (A Bluesound is a Computer)

A much better and cheaper alternative to the Bluesound Node is the Raspberry Pi 3, at less than $100..... I hesitate a bit to recommend the Pi to those just getting into Computer Audio as it requires a little more thinking than just plugging it in. But, it is still pretty much Child's Play for a rainy afternoon... PiCorePlayer has made it pretty simple. (Link Below)

And LMS running on the Pi is a far superior interface than the Bluesound Note.... You should try a Pi 3 and see for yourself. It is cheap enough that you can't go wrong.

Cut-Throat




 

Thanks Paco nt, posted on January 4, 2017 at 13:42:16
G Squared
Audiophile

Posts: 4057
Location: Washington, DC Metro Area
Joined: November 16, 2004
.

 

RE: Best for my system, asking advice, posted on January 7, 2017 at 14:36:07
Crazy Dave
Audiophile

Posts: 12627
Location: East Coast
Joined: October 4, 2001
Oh yes, it is obviously obsolete. Send it to me and I will give it a proper burial in my system ...

Dave

 

Many Dumb Questions for Cut Throat, posted on January 9, 2017 at 19:16:40
Newey
Audiophile

Posts: 537
Location: Chicago
Joined: December 26, 2012
OK. I'm completely at sea with digital audio, so I'm struggling to parse out what you're saying here.

" Bluesound Node 2 that will plug into your DAC..... Get all your CDs 'ripped'.

I've looked that thing up, and it doesn't appear to play CD's at all. Did I get that wrong?

It looks like just a stramer. Is that right? Or, does it do other stuff?

So, putting together what you're saying, I get the following:

You're saying that one may use ripped CD's [by some unidentified process] PLUS streaming as all of your sound sources? Is that right?

And, you to get streaming, you have to pay for it. And, one source which you can pay for is Spotify, which costs $10/month.

And, the streamer plugs into a DAC.

Final question: would you rip CD's to a computer hard drive just using the computer's disc player, or do you have to pay $$$ for some fancy CD player in order to do the job?

Thanks.
Severius! Supremus Invictus

 

Answers.........., posted on January 10, 2017 at 07:21:19
Cut-Throat
Audiophile

Posts: 11538
Location: Minneapolis - St.Paul Area
Joined: September 2, 2000
Yes, you can use your CD drive on your computer to "Rip" (Load) them to your hard drive..... Then you can stream Music whether it is on-line or on your hard drive. There is some good software out there to do this. I used DBpowerAmp and it was about $39 or so.

https://secure.dbpoweramp.com/store_purchase.aspx?p=9

So yes you've basically got everything pretty right......

Cut-Throat




 

Thx [nt], posted on January 10, 2017 at 18:46:36
Newey
Audiophile

Posts: 537
Location: Chicago
Joined: December 26, 2012
t
Severius! Supremus Invictus

 

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