Even more Musical Fidelity V-DAC versus the Cambridge Audio DacMagic

I was listening yesterday to the Cambridge DacMagic connected to my HP2133 via USB. The sound quality was really unpleasant: especially in the treble where it was very splashy and relentless. I then connected the DacMagic via an optical isolating USB hub. Not a practical solution, as the hub which is designed more for medical applications, is more expensive than the Cambridge. I won’t say the music was transformed into something truly audiophile but it was significantly better.

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My sentiments entirely

Very interested to read on Amarra’s website and I paraphrase ‘it’s easy to make music sound good on a computer but hard to make it sound fabulous’. I think they have been listening to my conversations.

Next week I’m in Munich for the High End show and by coincidence will be sharing a booth (or to be more exact one of my clients Thorens is sharing a booth themed Sources of the future as it’s vinyl and streaming with Higoto who are Germany’s streaming experts.

The demos will be of Thoren’s new Tri-Balance turntable, the Logitech Transporter and a Macbook running iTunes with the Amarra software into a Weiss DAC.

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ASIO v K Mixer v Kernel Streaming

Computer audio seems to generate emotions when discussing what products to use that really are odd. Ideally one would take a computer, connect a good DAC and play one’s favourite music using one’s favourite app.

If only it were that simple. The more I experiment the more I realise that CA is absolutely similar to analog audio or indeed any audio when taken seriously. Every change is audible.

Of course, just because a change is audible doesn’t mean it matters.

The expression bandied about on forums about Computer Audio is bit transparent. The theory is simple: it’s getting the bits from the Hard Drive out of the computer without them being manipulated/changed in any way.

I’ve tried many music playing apps and they all seem to sound subtly different. Even different releases of iTunes are reported to sort different. Life is far to short to bother to try different releases. As they say tried it once and didn’t like it.

For convenience for quick playback I tend to use VLC www.videolan.org. It seems to play almost everything audio and video and can even stream stuff over my network. It works well for Radio Paradise too.

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Another DacMagic power supply trial

Decided to use Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but slightly more unusually the DVD-A rip so the source is 24/96. Unlike quite a few DVD-A’s this one appears to have some content above 22k. Amazing though that given the total available dynamic range they still needed to ‘clip’ the recording. Still sounds rather good though.
To start I compared the standard power supply with the MaplinL54BR. Pleasant surprise, the Maplin delivers a subtlety of delivery that doesn’t emphasise any particular instruments. The original in comparison seems to make the bass line and the hi-hat a little more obvious in the mix of Dreams and decreases the importance of Stevie Nick’s voice.

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Wolfgang’s Vault

This site should truly sort the music lover from the hi-fi lover. Register for free on www.wolfgangsvault.com and listen to a choice of a huge amount of live recordings of great bands from years ago. So far I’ve listened to Elton John, Black Sabbath, Little Feat and Grateful Dead.

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Ripping and Computer Audio

The two subjects of CD Ripping and Computer Audio seem to be the most contentious around in the world of audio now. Theory one, is that it’s possible to get good sound from a computer feeding a DAC. The debate tends to be as much around whether a Mac is better than a PC as a source as which DAC is ideal. The general feeling seems to be that a Mac Book with a DAC costing around a £1k is cable of delivering better sound that a serious or very serious CD Player. I agree a Mac and a DAC is cable of delivering a very good sound – but not a great one.

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