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Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

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Sources for your Harbeths

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  • #16
    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Can I jump in here please and put an alarming (for an old fogey like me) proposition to you all re sources?

    It's been suggested elsewhere that CD players will only be made for a very few years more (due to mechanism availability), as more and more music buyers download and store their sound files on computer....

    It's also been suggested that since only a few CD playing mechanisms are now being made and the DACs are very cheap now and have spectacular performance with reserves in processing way beyond the CD "Red Book" standard that it's pointless spending thousands on a CD player with heavy duty casework (where much of the cost goes).

    Have any of you out there in the world heard of similar rumours and, if so, how do you feel about this? I currently have many files of rare and unreleased music tracks stored on CDR and DVDR's as well as dotted about several hard drives and still like the "tactile" feeling of holding an LP or disk and physically putting it on or in the player...

    P.S. To the gentleman who enquired about the Naim CD player "sound" - it depends on the player! Their best models make you forget the "mechanics" of CD reproduction, whereas their basic models do sound a bit "flat" in perspective and sometimes harsh. The internal "tweakers" can have a field day with older machines, race-tuning them and improving their performance in key areas.

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    • #17
      Re: Sources for your Harbeths

      Originally posted by DSRANCE View Post
      Can I jump in here please and put an alarming (for an old fogey like me) proposition to you all re sources? It's been suggested elsewhere that CD players will only be made for a very few years more (due to mechanism availability), as more and more music buyers download and store their sound files on computer....
      I'm in my forties now but I expect cd players will still be available when I'm gone. CD was launched 25 years ago but the vinyl lp is still with us, and new models of turntables are appearing every other month it seems. I'm not sure that cd will hold the same appeal as vinyl, but I believe there are sufficient numbers out there who have spent 10 or 20 years investing in cd collections and will need players to replace broken or simply outdated models for many years to come.

      It's true that downloads are becoming increasingly popular, but this forum is testament to the fact that some people care about 'old school' hi-fidelity where, as you say, the tactile feel of an object and pride of ownership are not secondary considerations. Indeed, the two might be bound together - I simply can't imagine deriving any pleasure from having a colourless, wordless, (and relative to lps, odourless!) set of files stored away on a server sited under the stairs or wherever.

      I'm not convinced there's a need to worry about the demise of hard-copy music just yet.

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

        Like you I could not imagine a world without CDPs but having used the Squeezebox for about a year now, my mindset has changed. I still have a DVD player which is used for the occasional movie that I watch. Most times, I listen to music that has been ripped from my CD collection, stored in my pc and streamed via ethernet to feed a Squeezebox and DAC. I have the convenience of playing any song simply by pressing a remote and the music quality is excellent!

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        • #19
          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

          What I tried to put across is that CD players as we know them may not be with us much longer and that those which survive, may be of the computer CD drive variety. We're already seeing the death of the CD single and, currently, new "pop" music is being mangled at the mastering stage (hopefully there will be corrective re-masters as the "brick wall" limiting we're seeing on many recordings doesn't conver to MP3 at all well).

          There have been so many million CD disks made and sold I'm sure they'll have to be played on something. What I suspect is that the data will be transferred to hard disk (flac files?) and then read into the HiFi from there.

          Perhaps there may be a move finally into having the digital feed taken to the (active?) amp system directly. Apparently, the radio channels available via Mac computers is superb and better than the compressed digital converted to analogue for FM transmission that we (in the UK have to put up with).

          I'm on very shaky ground away from my "comfort zone" here. I hope the basic information is correct.

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          • #20
            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

            When designing, I listen to only a few seconds from each audio track. I recently ripped my entire CD collection (about 350 discs) and gave almost all away to charity shops. The ability to control a play list from a PC had transformed my ability to access and select test tracks for speaker evaluation from my listening position.

            However - the quality entirely depends upon that of the soundcard output connected to the PC. In my case I have to suffer an irritating low-level mains buzz across the speakers because the PC and hifi are both grounded and try as I might, I just can't solve the ground loop problems. This was never an issue with my CD/hifi system.

            As an intermediary solution I bought a not very expensive CD multi-disc player which is very handy and I have the feeling that its audio quality is better than my PC/soundcard solution.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

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            • #21
              Re: Sources for your Harbeths

              Alan
              Apart from the sound card, it also depends on whether you are playing the track bit perfect. This will depend on your ripping process. As you say, the quality of the sound card is also very important which I agree. One option is to take the digital information via usb into a decent external DAC (like the Altmann Attraction or Benchmark) and then into your pre or integrated amplifier.

              Dsrance: I know what you mean about the future of CDs. I think that with the proliferation pc and other wireless streaming devices, with music stored in the pc or an external hard disk, it is a matter of time when the marketers find a way of selling music without the need o a physical disc which we call the CD. Apple has been very successful with their i-Tunes and other i-stuff. Sad but sure!

              I thought I was an old fogey with all these new digital innovations. Surprisingly, it was not such a steep learning curve as I had feared. My entire CD collection (over 1,000 songs), all bit perfect (either wav or flac files) are only the press of a button away!

              How do the songs sound? Well, with my Altmann Attraction DAC, I can safely say that one would have to pay at least USD2,000 for a CDP that is in the same league!

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              • #22
                Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'bit perfect'. Surely all CD ripping must be bit perfect? If it wasn't, then presumably, any bit in the music stream could be imperfect. It could be a low order, low significance bit that would effect some sound right down on the noise floor .... or equally, if the imperfection is random, it could be a significant bit in which case one would hear a loud glitch. I admit that having given away all my CDs I have found that one or two tracks that I've ripped have serious glitches and some minor ones. It pays to check as you rip.

                As I understand it, the CD audio error correction system is extremely robust; take a stanley knife to an audio CD and make some deep cuts - it will probably play perfectly well. But when a CD is ripped as digits bypassing the audio error correction system (true or not?) it seems much more vulnerable to surface condition. Would anyone like to prove this with some research as to the error correction system in audio and digital data CDs?
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

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                • #23
                  Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                  As I understand it, not all CD ripping software is the same... I'm way out of my depth on this one, but apparently EAC software takes chunks of data from the CD and won't stop until a "bit perfect" copy is achieved. Apparently this isn't always done with other software.

                  Alan, I'm not sure that modern CD players will cope today with deliberately abused CD's as you describe, as many machines made since the mid nineties cut back on interpolation if not error correction too - if a disc is outside the red book spec it probably won't play on a more modern player (I'm happy to be proved wrong though...) although many early nineties players had error correction the equivalent of Shure cartridges in the LP world, able to play almost anything with no stress.

                  I'm finding these changes both frightening (taking me out of my fifty year old comfort zone {I started VERY young :)}) and also exciting. Apparently a really top notch soundcard (around ?100 - 150) can out perform a sizeable number of CD players and at least one of UK manufacturer will shortly have a preamp (and integrated) with digital as well as analogue inputs able to work with computers as well as "legacy" audio sources.

                  I hope someone here can do more research on ripping accuracy of different software.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                    Originally posted by Ferdinand777 View Post
                    Vpi scout, JMW 9 arm, shelter 501, bent audio step up, GSP Gold Era V.

                    Very musical combo.
                    Totally agree with the VPi Scout JMW 9 Signature/ Shelter 501 mkII is a very musical combo. The bass has deep impact/slam and those highs are just superb. Very warm sounding and complements the Harbeth sound.

                    I've set my VTF to 1.8g. I'd like to know what you set your VTF to?

                    Regards,
                    Joel

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                    • #25
                      Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                      Originally posted by DSRANCE View Post
                      As I understand it, not all CD ripping software is the same... I'm way out of my depth on this one, but apparently EAC software takes chunks of data from the CD and won't stop until a "bit perfect" copy is achieved. Apparently this isn't always done with other software.
                      I find EAC really difficult to understand and all on forum seems to agree that the rest are compromised in sound quality.

                      I end up using Zero Audio's Ti-48 transport that rips my CD into an internal HD. Sound quality is quite a big jump from running my Pioneer DVD player as a transport + the convenience.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                        As this has become a discussion on ripping and DACS I thought I would provide some background. I use my HL5 with a Squeezebox (which is also my DAC) and have ripped all my collection to my PC (several hundred CDs) and am a software engineer by profession so understand a bit about bits :).

                        First of all there is the ripping (loading CD to a disk based computer) then the playback.

                        When you rip a CD you can do it really fast - 10 15 20 times the the speed you use to play the CD but there is a danger that you will lose data or rip erroneous data. This does not happen often - it requires a damaged or dirty CD, but it does occur. For my collection it occurred on about 1 in 20 CD and often cleaning them with an Alcohol swab fixed the problem.

                        The problem is how can you be sure that the CD you rip is bit perfect.?

                        EAC
                        originally did this by ripping twice and comparing the results - if the results were identical then the rip was almost certainly OK (the chances of the error being exactly the same are very low). If there were differences EAC would rip the compromised part of the CD several times and guess at the best results .

                        DbPowerAmp another ripping software then had a good idea. Lets say the user rips a CD and it is perfect (no errors). The checksum, of the results (basically a number calculated from all the bits ripped) for each track could be stored in a central database. Then another user comes along and rips. The rip software checks the checksum against the central database and if the number is the same then that track was ripped OK and there is no need to rip it twice to double check.

                        Accurate rip is now used by both EAC and DbPowerAmp as well as multiple ripping when needed. Both are fine software that you can use for ripping. There may be other programs that do the same but these two are well known and are market leaders. EAC is free and DbPowerAmp costs after the first month about $35 per year. EAC is harder to use then DbPowerAmp and DbPowerAmp has more online tagging basis available - you pays your money and takes your choice.

                        Having ripped your CD perfectly you then want to play them back. For that you need a DAC (Digitial analogue converter). You have one on your soundcard so you could use that and run a cable from your soundcard to your preamp. Most people feel that DAC on soundcard are poor and so stream the bits from the PC to an external box that has a DAC. There are boxes that are just DACS, boxes that combine DACS with amplifiers and even boxes that combine DACS with equalizers. Audiophiles often feel they can here differences between DACS and are prepared to spend a lot of cash for a quality DAC. Lesser mortals are less sure they can here differences. You need to listen yourself to decide.

                        Steve

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                        • #27
                          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                          Hi Steve
                          as an aside I found tidying up the spdif (rca) out of the SB3 via a pulse transformer gave much better results than buying a more expensive DAC (I use a Lavry DA10). Without wanting to turn this into a modders thread here are the details that my tech passed to me:

                          "I was able to mount the pulse transformer right next to the S/PDIF RCA socket, shortest route to the output for less interference, best location for soldering work. I did not have to de-solder the L8 and L9 coils, I just bypassed them, so the mod is reversible. I have conformed that the RCA for S/PDIF works fine."




                          This is the pulse transformer you want:http://au.farnell.com/1087809/electr...questid=196962

                          "I have tested the S/PDIF output with four kinds of cables, please see attached pics. The (Arlec) ANTSIG coaxial cable 75 ohm works the best (approx. $10). I found the choice of cable became very critical after the mod, and found the Audioquest Ruby 2 became very unstable (was usable before the mod), but the ANTSIG coaxial is rock solid and perform better after the mod......DIY stuff.....hehe!!!"

                          In my testing I preferred the SB3 to the spdif out of my Transporter and about the same as TP AES out.

                          Cheers
                          Andrew

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                          • #28
                            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                            Dumb questions alert.

                            What is a pulse transformer?

                            Does it work to improve the TOSLINK output of the SB2? I use the SB2 with a Meridian F80 with TOSLINK input only.

                            Does it work to improve my Transporter?

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                            • #29
                              Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                              Hi guys, contemplating getting a CDP to partner the Lavardin IS and Harbeth Super HL5 combo. any favourite CDP to recommend? Tks

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                                Originally posted by coredump View Post
                                Hi guys, contemplating getting a CDP to partner the Lavardin IS and Harbeth Super HL5 combo. any favourite CDP to recommend? Tks
                                Hi Coredump

                                I have a venerable Quad 77 CDP and an Oppo universal player, and have auditioned the Rega Appollo but in the end I went the SB3 route and have not looked back! The wireless network route is the way of the future, IMHO. It is so much more convevenient to rip your entire CD collection in lossless format and stream the data via a wireless router to the SB3. You will need a very good PSU to feed the SB3. I am using the Paul Hynes' PSU which I find excellent in providing clean DC power, its also much better that a sealed lead acid battery.

                                Best Regards
                                Dennis

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