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bstcyr

software vs hardware

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I have a long history with audio (40 years) and a long history with computers (20 years) but the two are separate. The convenience of having my 3000 CDs available from a screen or a remote and also acess to high resolution music offerings has me thinking maybe I should...
I don't want to spend a lot of money to start and basically there seems to be two methods of optimizing getting the audio from the computer to the audio system. One is to use software like jriver, foobar, jplay or some other to clean up the audio stream before it leaves the computer and then stream it to and external dac via usb, or through a sound card. The other method is to play to a USB to S/PIDIF converter such as the musical fidelity Vlink and rely on the hardware to clean up the digital stream to the dac.
Maybe using both is the way to go (more complexity, more cost) or maybe the logitech touch is the way to go (least complexity possibly about the same cost) [ie. jriver with jplay plugin and musical fidelity Vlink vs logitech touch or maybe just the halide DAC hd].
Has anyone compared the software vs hardware approach.
My system is fairly high resolution - a couple of multi disc (CD/SACD/DVDA) players, a morrison pre, a couple of outlaw audio 7075 amps feeding a linkwitz electronic crossover driving a custom pair of linkwitz orion 3.3 speakers.
I'd be happy to hear any experiences and opinions.
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  1. Julf's Avatar
    Not sure what you mean with "cleaning up" the audio stream. Do you mean upsampling/dithering?
  2. bstcyr's Avatar
    In general I'm talking about getting the digital file from the computer (internal hardrive or NAS)to the DAC in the best condition for the DAC to play.

    Different software of course has different ideas about what this means and I'd be interested to know about opinions on any of the choices.

    With most software the "cleanup" is bypassing most of the computer internal processing, particularly Windows and sending out WASAPI or ASIO, and in the case of jplay possibly disabling more of the computer OS to decrease and interference of noise that might be caused.

    With some software there is the possibility of upsampling, which I guess strictly speaking is enhancing the signal rather than cleaning it up as well as changing the usb output to asynchronous.

    AND/OR

    rely on a hardware device such as a usb to S/PIDIF to prepare the digital file for the dac.



    hope this makes more sense?
  3. AudioDoctor's Avatar
    is to use one of the appliance type music servers and an Asynchronous USB DAC. After trying all the other ways, I think that this way is the best.
  4. 4est's Avatar
    If I understand the question it is not either/or but this/that.



    Pick a DAC, then a platform to run it on (Win, Mac, Linux or appliance server). It all works together. Maybe think of it this way. The computer and software are the turntable and the DAC is the cartridge.
  5. Julf's Avatar
    Thanks for the clarifications!



    "[i]In general I'm talking about getting the digital file from the computer (internal hardrive or NAS)to the DAC in the best condition for the DAC to play.[/i]"



    OK, the reason for my confusion was the word "cleanup" that to me implies improving something by removing dirt/inpurities - but I see you talking about transferring the digital data to the DAC as perfectly as possible, without introducing any distortion or noise.



    "[i]With some software there is the possibility of upsampling, which I guess strictly speaking is enhancing the signal rather than cleaning it up as well as changing the usb output to asynchronous.[/i]"



    I wouldn't even call upsampling "enhancing", as it doesn't add any information or "quality", it just converts it into a form that might or might not be easier for the DAC (depends on the DAC).



    "[i]hope this makes more sense?[/i]"



    Absolutely! Thanks!
  6. bstcyr's Avatar
    Hi Audiodoctor,

    Just making sure - you're saying that an asynchronous usb dac is better than a usb to s/pidif converter feeding optically to a dac, or would this be equivalent?
  7. AudioDoctor's Avatar
    I am saying it is better. Better than even an Asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter.