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Being a gentleman of ah ... how shall we say ... ah ... more mature years, I am 'social distancing' big time, i.e. staying home most of the time - so I signed up with Idagio, THE classical music streaming site. Currently I am taking the sound part of the HDMI stream and feeding it into my somewhat over-the-top HiFi system using RCA stereo connections. I have two different HDMI adaptors. The HDMI to RCA audio and PAL/SECAM vision has better sound quality than the HDMI to Audio 3.5mm jack and VGA, which, of course, gives a full 1080p picture, but has lower sound quality, probably due to being a cheaper bit of hardware. Because the old laptop I am using had multi-media aspirations, a lot of bass boost was put into the headphone socket, making it unusable for a direct connection.
I am thinking about buying a USB input Digital to Analogue (DAC) device which will output to RCA to feed the HiFi. With my Adagio+ subscription, I get 320kbps/44.1 quality, but 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.
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.
Knowing little about hardware, I would be very grateful for any guidance from the CP hive-mind.
I remember discussing hifi phones with you earlier. I have an LG G7 with an ESS ES9218P chipset. (The low power version of the DAC that Mark Levinson uses)
The phone is cheaper than any DAC with comparable sound quality.
Ah, yes, I remember that now. I think you are right - a new high quality phone (or tablet?) with a good DAC would be a very sensible route, looking at the price of some stand-alone DACs. Being already a Mark Levinson fan (a pair of stereo amps, bi-amped), if it's good enough for them ...
As far as I know, it's only LG that has gone serious HiFi on their phones, among the mainstream manufacturers at least.
And I don't know about their tablets, I think it's only the G and V series phones that have ESS DAC.
But I can say that the sound quality is better than my Denon reciever, which certainly isn't bad.
It's a funny experience having better sound using spotify on the phone than when playing a CD.
I can get the G6 out here, and it seems to have a slightly better spec than the V series equivalent, so I will probably give it a punt.
I have a reasonably top-end Denon CD player, and it sounds very good. I also have the Otto Klemperer Beethoven Symphonies set on CD and vinyl, and the same recording is also available on Idagio. In terms of audio quality the CDs are slightly ahead of the vinyl. mainly because of the expanded dynamic range possible on CD, but the Idagio version is behind them both - hence my quest to improve performance of the streaming source.
I own a set of KEF EGG loudspeakers which I have connected to the PC (lenovo laptop, nothing special) through USB.
The Loudspeaker has an integrated DAC and connects digitally to the PC (DAC acts as a sound card), file is interpreted into the DAC and goes out to the speaker directly giving you the best sound possible without things in the middle.
PS: Using HDMI the sound card used is the one in your PC... which won't be great...
Ain't that the truth! See my last post above. My objective is to get a high quality signal into my pre-amp, from where on the sound is very high quality. The streaming source is currently the weakest link.
Incidentally, my speakers are at the other end of the scale - six feet tall and 30 kg each!
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)