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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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  • #31
    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Originally posted by denjo View Post
    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


    very nice option. oh, I've got a wireless network router on standby, simply get a SB3 for myself.. btw, connection was set up between my laptop and a DAC to the amplifier.

    seriously, sometimes we do crave for a decent CDP for some serious listening..

    something like this:

    Burmester classic line 061
    Burmester Rondo line 052
    http://www.burmester.de/en/produkte/...hp?product=2,6

    Comment


    • #32
      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.
      My nephew who is 4 years old accidentally destroyed my Shelter 501mkII. I still love him to death.

      Anyways, the good news is I went and bought a Dynavector DV-XX2mkII and this combination also provides excellent synergy. Bass has low end impact and also very tuneful. The 501mkII has warmth in the bass but was lacking the oomph in impact. XX2mkII has lots of impact.

      I also noted that the Shelter cartridge did not have pin point focus in its soundstage... in a neutral setup the sound the Shelter gives is similar to one moving to a tube amplifier. It has midrange bloom, easy on the ear and romantic. It is never analytical. XX2mkII has excellent focus and produces a wider soundstage. 501mkII was more in between the speakers when it comes to soundstaging.

      XX2mkII is more neutral sounding. I've read a review where they compare this to a Lyra Helikon SL cartridge. I've never auditioned a Lyra Helikon SL but as exchange rates here where I am from is not so great with US to AUD - I bought the XX2mkII cartridge instead.

      Finally to me, this combination works! I am hoping my nephew has learnt his lesson and I get to keep this cartridge for some time. Otherwise... I will be broke forever!

      Happy listening people!

      Comment


      • #33
        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

        Has somebody auditioned the Icon Audio tube pre-amp LA4 and MB25a mono block tube amps, as these are among the components I intend to use with my new HSL5's?

        Comment


        • #34
          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

          How do one go about selecting a CD player? TIA..

          Comment


          • #35
            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

            VPI Super Scoutmaster w/ JMW 9 signature arm
            Super Platter upgrade
            Dynavector XX2 MKII cartridge
            Simaudio LP5.3 & PSX5.3 phonostage
            Esound CDP w/RAM mods
            I'm happy!

            Comment


            • #36
              Re: Sources for your Harbeths

              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
              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?
              Originally posted by steve View Post
              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
              I have ripped my 600+ CD collection to my Mac using iTunes and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Compression) and am running it through an mhdt Havana tube DAC. I am more than delighted with both the sonics and the convenience. One benefit of using a Mac as opposed to PC is that everything you need for good sound is built in, and the iTunes software really is very practical and very easy to learn - useful whether you use an iPod or not.

              I've also read that one should be sceptical of the "bit perfect" notion - any software used these days should accomplish that as a matter of course: iTunes certainly does.

              Comment


              • #37
                Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                "I've also read that one should be sceptical of the "bit perfect" notion - any software used these days should accomplish that as a matter of course: iTunes certainly does. "

                Are you 100% sure of that - EAC certainly does and has been tested by many users. So does DBPowerAMP? ITunes may be or may not - EAC bit perfectness makes it slower then many rivals although accurate rip has solved that problem in many cases.

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                • #38
                  Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                  Originally posted by steve View Post
                  "I've also read that one should be sceptical of the "bit perfect" notion - any software used these days should accomplish that as a matter of course: iTunes certainly does. "

                  Are you 100% sure of that - EAC certainly does and has been tested by many users. So does DBPowerAMP? ITunes may be or may not - EAC bit perfectness makes it slower then many rivals although accurate rip has solved that problem in many cases.
                  100% sure? Not having done the test myself, not really, I suppose. But I'm fairly certain that either Stereophile or Absolute Sound did a product review (I think it might have been Wadia's new iPod dock, but I'm not certain) in which they compared the bitstream from an Apple Lossless file with the bitstream of the CD from which it was ripped, and found the two to be 100% identical. Also, if you google "iTunes bit perfect" you will find a fair amount of discussion on the topic, the consensus of which seems to be that if you turn off the equalizers, sonic "enhancers" and other geegaws, iTunes is bit perfect.

                  Can't imagine why it would be otherwise, really. I mean, when a computer reads software off a disk, it has to read it bit for bit perfectly, or the software won't function. This is routine. Why would a piece of digitally-encoded music get worse treatment?

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                    Originally posted by EricW View Post
                    100% sure? Not having done the test myself, not really, I suppose. But I'm fairly certain that either Stereophile or Absolute Sound did a product review (I think it might have been Wadia's new iPod dock, but I'm not certain) in which they compared the bitstream from an Apple Lossless file with the bitstream of the CD from which it was ripped, and found the two to be 100% identical. Also, if you google "iTunes bit perfect" you will find a fair amount of discussion on the topic, the consensus of which seems to be that if you turn off the equalizers, sonic "enhancers" and other geegaws, iTunes is bit perfect.

                    Can't imagine why it would be otherwise, really. I mean, when a computer reads software off a disk, it has to read it bit for bit perfectly, or the software won't function. This is routine. Why would a piece of digitally-encoded music get worse treatment?

                    Bit perfect playback has nothing to do with the ripping software, or the media player itself. It's about how the operating system interacts with the media player. In Windows XP for example, there's a program called KMixer running in the background that allows the OS to mix system sounds with music files (on a Mac, things are slightly different, because the OSX kernel also includes an Audio MIDI controller that can wreak merry hell if not correctly configured - you become a victim of the Mac's success in the studio). Even when not configured to make loud email ding-dongs when playing music or letting you play along to the keyboard parts, the mixer can still be running in the background and that's potentially undermining your data files. In practice, in both cases, it means KMixer or Audio MIDI can resample 44.1kHz data to 48kHz by default, and the upsampling algorithm isn't particularly good in the Windows version. So you can end up with higher signal-to-noise ratios and data reduction.


                    Ayre has some useful information on its pages (http://www.ayre.com/usb.htm), to help configure PC and Macs to work with the company's new QB-9 DAC.


                    I'm of the opinion that this is more folk devil than automatic underminer of sound quality. I've yet to encounter someone listening to a computer source and spotting whether the output is or is not bit-perfect. These are still early days with computer-based audio, though and I reserve the right to be wrong.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                      Originally posted by EricW View Post
                      I have ripped my 600+ CD collection to my Mac using iTunes and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Compression) and am running it through an mhdt Havana tube DAC. I am more than delighted with both the sonics and the convenience. One benefit of using a Mac as opposed to PC is that everything you need for good sound is built in, and the iTunes software really is very practical and very easy to learn - useful whether you use an iPod or not.

                      I've also read that one should be sceptical of the "bit perfect" notion - any software used these days should accomplish that as a matter of course: iTunes certainly does.
                      Hi Eric, I too enjoy using my iMac, iTunes, and Havana DAC combo - it provides an exceptionally good musical experience, and it wouldn't surprise me if CD players become extinct when more people become aware of the high performance and flexibility of this approach.

                      Just a thought: I have been using ALAC when ripping my CDs to my Mac until recently, when I switched over to AIFF. The down side of AIFF is much larger file sizes (more than double), but the up side is that it allows you to replace the stock iTunes audio engine with the higher performance Amarra Computer Music Player offered by Sonic Solutions (the studio people), which offers quite a bit higher performance than the stock iTunes engine, while still retaining the full functionality of iTunes. The Amarra is only available for Macs, but now having heard what it can do I suspect that the approach of replacing the stock iTunes sonic engine with a high performance version will catch on. Just when you thought it was safe in the land of computer based audio, out comes something like Amarra that shows there is more to be extracted from the format. Given that a lot of studios use Sonic Solutions, it's nice to have their software for playback as well, and get the same sort of performance they're getting in the studio. The down side? It's expensive ... but I suspect more companies will enter the fray and bring prices down to earth.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                        Hi there Alan, good to have a knowledgeable industry guru in our midst... ;)

                        Here is another good link for the best possible computer based sound: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

                        I must admit that I do not agree with the recommendations to set the output of your Mac to 24bit/96kHz for all audio files. In my opinion, upsampling from 16/44.1 to 24/96 has never resulted in more accurate sound. It might be 'nicer', but when you listen closely, timing and imaging are smeared and there is less solidity to the sound. I always aim for native sample rates.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                          Everybody is going forward with digital audio in iMac and iTunes while I am going backwards by getting a turntable. I got my first turntable, a Rega P5 just recently and have to say vinyl certainly has its own charm. I have not stopped listening to LP's since getting the P5 although I currently have only 4 records in my collection. My CD player has been left untouched for about 1 week now.



                          I can't believe it music companies stopped producing vinyl when compact disc starts its invasion in the mid 80's. With the current sound I'm getting from my Pat Metheny Group Travels ECM LP, I just cannot bring myself to listen to similar ECM CD's anymore which left me somewhat cold and emotionless. My only gripe is on the rare selection of LP's available on the market and the extra maintenance and care that need to be given to both records and turntable. I will probably get into digital audio by getting a Logitech Transporter or something similar when CD is confirmed a dead format with mainstream recording companies reducing production capacity or ceasing production completely.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                            Originally posted by ryder View Post
                            Everybody is going forward with digital audio in iMac and iTunes while I am going backwards by getting a turntable. I got my first turntable, a Rega P5 just recently and have to say vinyl certainly has its own charm. I have not stopped listening to LP's since getting the P5 although I currently have only 4 records in my collection. My CD player has been left untouched for about 1 week now.



                            I can't believe it music companies stopped producing vinyl when compact disc starts its invasion in the mid 80's. With the current sound I'm getting from my Pat Metheny Group Travels ECM LP, I just cannot bring myself to listen to similar ECM CD's anymore which left me somewhat cold and emotionless. My only gripe is on the rare selection of LP's available on the market and the extra maintenance and care that need to be given to both records and turntable. I will probably get into digital audio by getting a Logitech Transporter or something similar when CD is confirmed a dead format with mainstream recording companies reducing production capacity or ceasing production completely.
                            Hey Ryder,

                            I think most of the folks that I know have also kept their vinyl rigs as well as adopted the iMac/iTunes/USB DAC approach. The better computer + USB DACs front ends out there (Wavelength Cosecant, Mhdt Havana) are performing quite a lot better than the best DACs fed by a transport just a few years ago, and arguably, are on par with (or exceed) vinyl in many ways now. The performance is high enough that even a number of the vinyl-philes I know are considering dumping vinyl rigs as a source completely and investing the $ in more music.

                            A while back I heard a short demo of tapes from The Tape Project, and they pretty much blew away the best vinyl, like my 45rpm Acoustic Sounds LPs. It may be that the highest performance analog approach may be to go with tapes from The Tape Project, which incidentally has the side benefit of allowing for a studio quality conversion to digital to use as digital source material should one desire to.

                            Times are changing in audio sources, with the result being there are a number of very good options to choose from that yield very high levels of performance.

                            Best, Jeff

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                              Hi Jeff,

                              Thanks for the response. It is quite fascinating to hear that good computer audio is now on par or better than vinyl since my impression as with the some of the vinyl-philes out there is that digital still lacks something compared to vinyl. From what I know there are quite a number of hardcore vinyl-philes who still stick with their high-end rig, and I guess they must have lived with analog for the rest of their lives having more than 1000 LPs in their collection.

                              Anyway I presume the best CDPs out there are equivalent in sound quality with computer audio + the best DACs, and it's just a matter of convenience, flexibility and cost-advantage of the latter that have caused most folks to dump CDPs(and vinyl) apart from the close sonic performance between the two. My current turntable blows my aging Krell CDP out of the water with the same music on both CD and LP and as such, my impression alongside a few hardcore vinyl lovers is that the best vinyl rig will still be quite a bit better than the best CDP/computer+DAC. As you have mentioned, times are changing; I and the rest of the old-school vinyl-philes may have not listened to the best digital yet.

                              I will most likely venture into computer audio sometime next year when more exciting new technology gets introduced into the market alongside with some interesting DACs at more affordable prices. As for now, the turntable(and CDP) is here to stay.

                              Cheers.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                                Ryder:

                                It's been a while since I owned a turntable, but I know what you mean. However, I will say that the mhdt Havana DAC (bought, now that I think of it, on the basis of reading Jeff's review of another mhdt product, the Paradisea +) is really an exceptionally musical piece of gear, for a digital product. To give you an idea, I ran my Mac straight into the USB input on my "second system" amp, the Aura Note (which is a very nice and musical little piece of equipment) and then into the mhdt DAC and the Aux input of the Aura Note, and it was absolutely no contest. The Aura Note, which had sounded fine on its own, was clearly more harsh, edgy and unmusical compared to the mhdt.

                                In a bout of what might be audiophile craziness, I then added a Bel Canto USB-Link. It did make a further improvement in definition and clarity, but the basic smooth and easy and musical - yet highly revealing - character of the Havana was unchanged. Maybe it's the non-OS architecture, maybe it's the buffer tube, maybe it's good design overall: but it's head and shoulders above most CD players I've heard. It probably sounds closer to your Rega than you might imagine possible.

                                Eric

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