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    How can I play digital files?

    solderblob
    solderblob

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    Post by solderblob on Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:15 pm

    I have a fairly large collection of LPs and listen to them alot.  Some I've had since the 70s; others I've been acquiring from Discogs, Ebay, and my local thrift store.  They are all analog AAA so none are newer than ~1982.  But those sources are limited and I'd like to try newer recordings.  So, one option I've been considering is buying Hi Def downloads.  To my questions:

    Can I listen to Hi Def (24/96 or higher) using the things I have which are my laptop with Windows Media Player and Audioquest Dragonfly DAC plugged into my stepped volume control plugged into my to my VTA ST70?

    I've tried this setup with some mp3 files and "free stuff" and it works.  But what am I missing by not having a better/different music player and DAC and whatever else I see in Stereophile for 10s of thousands of $s?


    Thanks for any answers/recommendations/comments.

    dave
    peterh
    peterh

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    Post by peterh on Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:35 pm

    solderblob wrote:I have a fairly large collection of LPs and listen to them alot.  Some I've had since the 70s; others I've been acquiring from Discogs, Ebay, and my local thrift store.  They are all analog AAA so none are newer than ~1982.  But those sources are limited and I'd like to try newer recordings.  So, one option I've been considering is buying Hi Def downloads.  To my questions:

    Can I listen to Hi Def (24/96 or higher) using the things I have which are my laptop with Windows Media Player and Audioquest Dragonfly DAC plugged into my stepped volume control plugged into my to my VTA ST70?

    I've tried this setup with some mp3 files and "free stuff" and it works.  But what am I missing by not having a better/different music player and DAC and whatever else I see in Stereophile for 10s of thousands of $s?


    Thanks for any answers/recommendations/comments.

    dave

    No , you won't miss anything but convenience.
    But do try out and download files.

    In the future a dedicated computer might be more convenient, one that is always connected
    to the amp(s) and has a screen and pointing devices for it's dedicated use. Also storage
    that is safe and backed up( when you have 100+ MB of music you don't want to loose them
    due to a disk crash).

    A dedicated computer will also relieve you from Mr gates wintoys and allow some interface
    that stays alike for many years to come. Noone is happy about reinstalling lot's of
    stuff just because some mogul in seattle wakes up on another side. A dedicated music
    computer is optimized for just that, no huge apps no unneeded software that interferes
    with your choosing and listening habits. A wise choice will also eliminate virii hazards ( which
    is substantially improved by not using any browser for daily browsing)

    sKiZo
    sKiZo

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    Post by sKiZo on Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:06 pm

    An external DAC is a good thing. Not familiar with the dragonfly, but if it has analog out, you can plug that into the line in on the amp. Add a turntable using an RCA switch box. I found a neat one on Amazon (Nobsound Little Bear MC1022) for $20 ...

    Or ... a better option for me, a DAC with analog out that also acts as a handy dandy switcher as well. I use a Maverick TubeMagic D1+ which also acts as a tube buffer.

    PS - see if you can set up your player to use WASAPI. That's available on Windows 7 or newer and runs rings around the old DirectSound option for sound quality. Every player is different, but you should be able to find that option in the settings if it's available.
    solderblob
    solderblob

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    Post by solderblob on Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:30 pm

    The Dragonfly is supposedly a fairly decent DAC (up to 24/96) and I bought it a few years ago for using with headphones.  When I tried it with my stereo rig, I got a cable with a 1/8 in jack to go in the dragonfly analog ouput and RCAs on the other end to go into a preamp, or in my case, the stepped volume control.

    I believe WASAPI is in my Windows 10 on my laptop.  How can I tell if it's enabled?

    So, as Peter suggested, I think I'll go ahead and buy a download and give it a try...

    dave
    cci1492
    cci1492

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    Post by cci1492 on Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:58 pm

    I was asking the same questions as you a little while ago. I think it was WLT one of the members here that suggested Bluesound Node 2. The 2i is out now so the 2 goes for $100 less ($400, $300 for re-certified from Bluesound). I ripped all my CDs to flac, and put them on a shared drive on the home network (server in basement). The dac inside is pretty darn good too. If you're looking for a solution that does not include having a PC by the sound system, just a small network client, then the Node 2 is a solid one.
    solderblob
    solderblob

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    Post by solderblob on Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:37 pm

    OK, I made the leap and downloaded two records from Acoustic Sounds.  Both have tracks which, although Acoustic Sounds doesn't provide any provenance, are clearly the same as those on LPs I own.  One is a Decca/Vladimir Askenazy recording of the five Beethoven piano concertos; I have Decca LPs of PC 1, 2, and 3.  The other is RCA/Josha Heifetz playng a Beethoven violin sonata which I have on LP.

    My setup was the same as I mentioned above:  Windows Media Player from my laptop to the USB Dragonfly to my stepped attenuator to my VTA ST70 to my maggies.  Some observations:

    I still give the LPs higher marks for their tremendous three dimensional presentation, but the digital versions were close.  The LPs have more/better bass -- which I attribute to my turntable, Denon cartridge, and VTA PH-16 combination.  Digital has no pops, ticks, and surface noise, duh.  Digital had more overall dynamic range.  The digital playback had a very slight lack of transparency.  I can probably attribute that to the Dragonfly DAC which, although a wonderful little device, is probably compromised by it's small size and small price, relatively speaking.  Also limited to 24/96.

    So for now I'm keeping the door open to digital downloads and may be searching for a better DAC.  And as Peter suggested a small laptop dedicated to this.

    dave
    deepee99
    deepee99

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    Post by deepee99 on Sun Mar 24, 2019 6:57 pm

    I'm with Skizo on this one -- an external DAC is the only way to go.
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    buchela

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    Post by buchela on Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:55 pm

    I also recommend a dedicated computer for serious listening, specially with memory DDR4, the fastest possible if your budget allows. For casual listening, not that important.

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