i have only tried iTunes and Jriver. At first, I liked iTunes interface better, but Jriver is much more sophisticated for a tweaker like me. You can run scripts to change the filenames of thousands of tracks at once, its just easier to manage the 14,000 or so tracks I have in Jriver. I'm a PC by the way. When I switched to Jriver about 2 years ago, iTunes had no way to bypass the bad things that Windows does to an audio signal on its way to the USB port. Jriver and Jplay made a huge difference, one you can hear. I used to have a Rotel RB-1080, when I swapped that out with the A23, there was a lot more detail, mostly in the high end. I am hyper sensitive to high frequencies, so once I added the acoustical treatments, the brightness calmed down. If I went back to the 1080 today, I am certain the sound would lose detail and sophistication.
I typically use beach, but have been toying with Xtreme as well. My acoustic treatments are just simple foam factory 2 inch pyramid for now, tacked to the wall with finishing nails. Made a big difference in reducing high frequency ringing and improving imaging. Kind of jaw dropping what $100 of foam did. People who visit my room often usually can tell something is missing when I accidentally use the wrong driver in jriver, and jplay doesn't get activated. That's how important it is. These aren't experienced audiophiles, either.
Highend, I have been looking at the systems provided by SmallGreenComputer.com, they produce designs created per specs from ConputerAudiophile.com, still more expensive than entry level laptop, but possibly a guide for the future. Might start messing around with sound treatments. I can do those DIY much cheaper than an amp upgrade.
System edited: Got rid of the CD changer. Upgraded digital cabling and converter. Running J River 17 with JPlay plugin. Added a set of AntiCables. Might upgrade one of the following: Amp, Pre-amp, USB converter or even speakers.
System edited: A couple of updated pics to show some subtle changes this year, the sub woofer is now a permanent addition, updated the converter, added some software. Also borrowed a set of AQ Type 8 from a friend, this made a big improvement in sound.
Hi Highend, this is definitely one of the places to set sampling rate. I have set mine to 24/44.1, I don't have an option for 16/44.1 or I would use it. I would rather my Vlink and my DAC do upconversion, than have my computer do it. If you ever get a USB DAC, you need to go to that device in this same dialog box and set your preferred rate, it is different for every playback device. Another place you should check is in the playback properties of the software you are using. JRIver, windows media player, iTunes, foobar, I think they all have settings for bit depth and sampling rate on playback. OK maybe not windows media player, but I know JRiver can upsample bit rate and sampling rate, dunno about iTunes. If the settings in the playback software are different than in the windows dialog, I don't know what happens, but I think the windows setting rules. I just have JRiver set to "source" for all music, so it doesn't do anything to the signal.
I auditioned the Pangea PC against the Audioquest Forest USB, and the Pangea aounded better in every regard. my system is a little bright on most recordings, and I was thinking the copper-only Forest would roll off the highs a little. Well, it did roll off the highs, as well as the mids, and the lows. it sounded like my Quads were covered with wet blanets. this was my first experience hearing the difference a USB cable could make. I am toying with several ideas for my next upgrade, haven't made a decision yet. but I am certain the Vlink 192 would be an improvment over my current Vlink 96, how much of an improvement? Only one way to find that out...
Highend24, took a look at the Vlink192. It does feature 2 independent clocks, one for each sampling family, and it is galvanically isolated. However, it still relies upon USB power. Fluctuations in this power supply coming from the computer can affect sound quality... At $200 from audio advisor, this would seem to be a distinct upgrade from the Vlink96, and also a good value, compared to the more expensive converters out there. Audio Advisor has a 30 day audition period, so it is easy to try a Vlink192 out, and it is light so shipping it back would be cheap.
Milpai, agree that the quads are excellent, trying to pair them with better gear, specifically thinking about upgrading the USB converter and the amp. thinking JKSPDIF MKIII for the converter and either Odyssey, McCormack or PrimaLuna for the amp.
Highend64, welcome to the world of PC audio. I use my work laptop, an HP, it is a core i7 with 16GB of RAM. This is overpowered for audio applications, but i work on it as i am playing music. I have not considered a Vlink 192, but I will research it. i guess sub-consciously i wanted something different. I require certain things from a USB converter, it must have two clocks, one for each sampling family, it must be galvanically isolated, it must have its own power supply, etc. if the vlink 192 meets my specs, it would be in the running. I like the JKSPDIF MK3 because it is a quite elegant application of a battery powered converter, it does not require a wall wart. The DLIII upsamples everything to 24/96, i cannot remember what sample rate i was feeding it from my laptop, also cannot remember if this dac is asynchronus, but that point is moot because i am using a converter.. the DLIII's optical and digital coax inputs sound much better than its USB input, i don't know why, i simply bought more gear to solve the problem (Vlink 96), isn't that the audiophile way?
Highend64, in regards specifically to the PS Audio DLIII, it drastically improved the sound from my CD changer, which is where it was implemented before I got into PC audio. frequency extension, soundstage width and overall clarity, all were made better with the DLIII. It is a bit long in the tooth compared to more modern DACs, but if you implement an excellent clock in the USB/SPDIF converter, the DAC becomes less important. By the way, don't use this unit for the USB input, implementation is very bad. This is why I bought the Vlink, which improved the USB performance considerably.
i would rather have a USB/SPDIF converter that takes 44.1 signals, all my music tracks are redbook rips. The Vlink is 24/96 only. my laptop automatically up converts the music signal to 24/96 because of the vlink. I'd rather have something non-windows doing that. I'm more concerned about the converter than the DLIII right now, and I plan to upgrade the vlink to a JKSPDIF MKIII sometime soon, unless I upgrade the amp first. Both upgrade paths should improve the quality of the hi frequencies. Right now the highs are brittle, I would prefer more air. otherwise, the sound is detailed and the mids are rich. Soundstage is broad and deep. The lows could be deeper, but what I have in the low end is well controlled and accurate.
I decided to upgrade the speakers instead. I'm starting to have mild tinnitis and i want to try soft dome tweeters. Plus, if i'd bought a nice converter, my head unit's cost would have doubled what i'd spent on the bx5 speakers, and in my opinion that's not the right balance. I'm still planning on getting a converter, but not until next year. trust me, everyone on Audiogon will hear about it when it happens, at least those who care to read my posts. I always do a lot of research on this site before a purchase.
OK, read the review, thanks, another glowing recommendation for the RX6. The current sound with my BX5s is a bit bright, and I am wondering if the RX6s will tame this at all, because I think the BX5s have the same tweeter. I was thinking about giving silk dome tweeters a go, or bringing in some Focal Chorus 800 series towers, to see if the sound improves. But the brightness could be alleviated with a set of used RX6s and an upgraded USB/SPDIF converter...ay?
what's new about them? I don't have a subscription. If they came out with an improved model, that might be why I'm seeing two sets of RX6's for sale on this site. They are fairly rare used. If I had the $$$, I'd be on the fence between used Quad 22L2s and used MA RX6s. I want to try silk dome tweeters for a while, so...
Ray, I did just buy one, about a month ago. I have been battling fatigue in my ears, and the onset of constant ringing which might be tinnitis. Haven't been to a doctor yet. All that said, I am still enjoying the system, albeit at much lower volume! Bought a decibel meter to monitor my listening sessions. Also invested in some PC Audio gear: Pangea USB cable out of the laptop to a Vlink, then using a Lifatec glass fiber cable into the DAC. Running iTunes with Jplay. I'm pretty happy. Except for the ringing. Every listening session I have, I start thinking about how good these little MAs sound, and how pissed I'd be if I tried to upgrade and wound up not liking what I bought!
Regarding a rack, my current fave is this one: http://www.standsandmounts.com/vtiblseries4shelfaudiovideoracksilverpolessilvercapsbl404ssb.aspx And regarding Monitor Audio, I have very little to compare them to, only the B&W 685s they replaced, but I think the MA's are better in every aspect except the mid-range sound, which I found to be thinner than the 685's. These certainly won't be my last speakers, but they will have to last for the next couple of years.
Timrhu, that is on my list. Also I need a decent rack. I am tired of looking at plywood on metal, its gotten uglier recently. Suggested locations for treatment: 1 - behind and to either side of sitting position, in the corners 2 - directly behind the electronics, maybe 2 panels straddling the rack 3 - ??? I need something to control the high frequencies, music like Interpol and Cocteau Twins tends to ring a bit.
Thanks guys. I'm planning to replace the changer with the Rotel 1055 sometime in the future, and get the Denon up into my HT system. I also dream of owning the MA RX6 someday. But in the near future I have set a goal of filling my CD shelves before I buy any more gear.