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Of course, because the source of the audio is terrible...
Whatever you decide you need something that process your files correctly and output the right signal to your loudspeakers.
Let's be clear, my desktop loudspeakers are the best I found to be used as laptop loudspeakers around 400€, which is already expensive to hear the incoming mail sound... but super cheap for HI-FI loudspeakers... but even that when I put music, it's wonderful. And you can listen at the same song in spotify free vs. FLAC and the difference is incredible.
Agreed, but the top 48" are ribbons - they are Carver speakers, old but still in perfect condition. Checking the manual they are actually a shade over 36kg. One of the things I particularly like about them is that with a low crossover frequency, the bass and treble power requirements are very well balanced, making them ideal for vertical bi-amping (one stereo amp for each channel, left and right)
The manual for the laptop says the 3.5mm headphone socket is "S/PDIF enabled" but I have no idea what that means, as it works just like an ordinary headphone socket, albeit loaded at the bass end. Any ideas?
I hardly ever turn the TV on, so I would rather not factor that into the equation.
It's a (usually fiber optic) based audio connection system. It means that jack can produce pure digital output for use with S/PDIF capable devices. Your stereo's amplifier should have a digital S/PDIF jack (it's almost a rectangle) that can take a fiber based cable. You'll need some sort of converter if you go that route but i strongly recommend that you do not.
I recommend you continue to use your laptop's HDMI to your TV (if i understand your setup) but you should consider getting an S/PDIF cable going from your TV to your amp assuming your TV supports it (many do)
I am not sure of the USB2 capabilities - is it a maximum of 192 kbps as I have heard mentioned? If so, the whole thing is a bust.
I have a feeling that this entire thread is outside my domain, being more "listening to the sound" than "listening to the music". I am not qualified to discuss with Audiophiles.
On the technical level: USB2 has a limit of 480 Megabits per second - fully sufficient for HD video, more than 2000 times the 192 kbps you have been hearing about.
Certainly, noone should pretend that USB is free of protocol overhead, no capacity wasted in waiting and negotiations. An application level connection will never obtain an effective application end-to-end performance close to 480 Mbps. But for plain sound, you are orders of magnitude from the bandwith limits. USB is perfectly fine for your use.
What I want is true CD quality - which I am paying for with Idagio+ - but not sure how to get it from the Win7 laptop I am using to the HiFi system without quality loss, which is currently apparent using the DAC built into the laptop.
If the only input to your "HiFi" is RCA, I don't think you should worry too much about any conversion that might take place elsewhere. Or am I misunderstanding what you're trying to do?
The way I read it, it's like someone who wants to put some video on VHS, but is worried about a 4K to 1080p conversion before sending the final thing over as an analog signal...?
The standard also specifies the form of digital audio encoding (2-channel signed 16-bit Linear PCM sampled at 44,100 Hz)
When you talk about 192kbps, are you *sure* it's 192k*bps*, or a 24bit 192kHz DAC converter?
True, CD quality is 704kbps (16bit*44kHz), and the 192kHz 24bit dacs are actually (suppose) to be doing 4608kbps...
But to be honest: the problem with most USB DACs is the quality and price of the interanls and shielding, not really the kbps, as they start typically at 48kHz 16bit DACs (CD and better "quality") but its the other interference that needs to be "handled" that makes their sound quality poor.
Also, "upsampling" isn't necessarily goining to make it sound better from 44kHz going to 192kHz
Maybe you can use a TV DAC, if you are planning to upgrade your TV someday and have the TV in the same room as your audio system.
I used to have one of those cheap hdmi splitters and it is resting in a drawer somewhere. It sounded awful.
Please consider that my amplifier is not a high end one, it is an 1983 AKAI, considered a cheap one in its day, but it packs its own punch
In 2018 I bought a SONY Bravia TV which includes a more than decent audio DAC. Inputs are: network (DLNA/UPNP... wired or wifi), chromecast, hdmi and USB (memory stick or hard disks), probaly also bluetooth. Output is a 3.5 stereo jack in 3 modes (headphone, fixed and variable which is controlled by the volume on remote).
Android TV gives plenty of choice for software, I use the included Chromecast audio receiver controlled by HiFi cast on my phone to play FLACs on my PC, and HDMI for CDs that i put in a blu-ray reader. Streamed FLACs and wired CDs sound so close that I cannot tell the differences.
I compared the Bravia audio out with the one of a Chromecast audio, the Bravia sounds distinctly better.
> is it a maximum of 192 kbps as I have heard mentioned?
The *signal* rate (bits/second) of USB is far better than what's needed for the *encoding* rate (bits/second) of the audio files/streams, especially USB2 which can do 480 Mbps. The *sample* rate (samples/second) of a DAC is multiplied by the bits/sample and number of channels--usually two--of the inputs to get the number of bits/second needed to feed it at the rate for highest quality. For CD audio, this is 1.411 Mbps, which is even achievable by USB1.
> but has lower sound quality, probably due to being a cheaper bit of hardware
Even a "cheap" DAC can do 192 KHz at 24 bits/sample but needs 9.2 Mbps to do that at highest quality.
Mainly what determines sound quality is the weakest component, of course. The analog stage electrical isolation (especially from the power source) tends to have the biggest impact these days, because fewer discrete components are needed in capable designs. A battery-operated device can achieve that isolation very easily. The digital bus (USB, I2S, SPDIF, etc.) can generally be considered equivalent to an audio noise wall, even with relatively cheap cables connecting the system nodes.
Now, the perceptual encoding of Adagio+ is below even the "encoding" rate of CD audio, but it's unlikely you will be able to hear much of a difference between that and a CD. OTOH, if your system--including your ears--can distinguish between CD and SACD rates, then you may need to invest more in a better DAC.
Are you open to buying an audio interface a musician would use, such as a Focusrite Scarlett Solo ? I've not used this particular one, but have been very happy with my Focusrite Clarett 8-mic channel system for recording the California Pops Orchestra. Unfortunately, the rest of the season's concerts have been cancelled.
The Air Force employs 275,000 civilians and contractors.
Their VPN network can only support 72,000 simultaneous connections.
That explains a lot...
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