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Thread: Sources for your Harbeths

  1. #21
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    Default 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!

  2. #22
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    Default 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

  3. #23
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    Default 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.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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

  5. #25
    Naimeo Guest

    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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.

  6. #26
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    Default 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

  7. #27
    tricka Guest

    Default 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

  8. #28
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    Default 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?

  9. #29
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    Default 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

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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!

  13. #33
    codel Guest

    Default 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?

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

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

  15. #35
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    Default 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!

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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?
    Quote 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.

  17. #37
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    Default 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.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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?

  19. #39
    AlanSircom Guest

    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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.

  20. #40
    Jeff Day Guest

    Default Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Quote 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.

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