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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 6:49 pm
Posts: 176
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
I started with a netbook using iTunes and it was simple and bomb proof. I used Windows XP and had auto updating shutoff for the system software and iTunes. It worked great but I always thought that I could achieve better sound.

JRiver piqued my interest so I went with an ASUS ultra book and Synology NAS. Nothing short of a nightmare. The ASUS would lose the NAS connection everyday and heaven forbid if the computer fell asleep. I think most of the problems was the ultrabook but it was enough for me to purchase an Aurender music player.

The Aurender is out of your price range but others have recommended players that fit your budget. A music player has to have good hardware and good software. The Aurender seems to have both but it isn't perfect. I have never compared it to the netbook/ultrabook setup so I can't comment on the difference in sound.

Since I got back into this hobby I have only streamed music and this is my choice of how I want to play and listen to music. I did try Tidal for 2 months and it is built into the Aurender. It worked fine but not enough for me to pay every month for it. I like owning my media. I like loading up the player and just let it play for hours without any effort on my part.


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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 12:20 pm
Posts: 2269
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
DanielS wrote:
Two or three years ago I replaced a MacBook Pro laptop, running Audirvana software, with a Sony HAP-Z1ES music player. Best system upgrade I ever made, not just in terms of bang for the buck but also in overall better sound.


Which DAC did you have for your MacBook Pro? I also have a HAP-Z1ES and although it is pretty good it is not much of an upgrade to my MacMini + K-03... they are just different. One thing I haven't try is using the K-03 as the DAC for the Sony but I am too lazy to haul the Z1ES to my main system.


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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 3:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:47 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Ottawa, ON, CA
The HAP-Z1ES replaced the built-in NOS DAC in my Red Wine Audio Isabella preamp.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 5:12 pm
Posts: 94
Location: Bowser, BC, CA
I've been doing a lot of research on replacing my MacBook Pro music set up lately.

I ran across the Allo DigiOne player the other day as well as a Darko review. The majority of reviews are excellent and Allo seems second to none on customer service and fixing any bugs that may crop up. ( I read through a lot of forum chat dating back to the original Digione inception) For the most part the current version is plug and play after initial set up.

Darko and others rate it very highly for the price. Long story short, I pulled the trigger and am certain I will be dumping the MacBook after comparison of course.

The price seems right and this isn't a device that you have to piece together or touch a soldering gun for. And you can ditch the USB connection for SPDIF if your DAC is compatible.

https://darko.audio/2017/08/allos-digio ... pberry-pi/

_________________
Amp: Line Magnetic 508
Pre amp: LTA MZ2
DAC: LKS MH DA004
Turntable: Rega RP1 w/ Rega Fono Mini A2D
CD Player: NAD 517
Speakers: ANK Kit 03 :D
Misc: Auralic Aries Mini, Space Tech ASX 103, TakeFiveAudio power/interconnects


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:15 am
Posts: 799
Location: Brantford, ON, CA
I started out with a MacMini, old style with exterior power supply...various software and buggy. Decent sound.

Then went to an intel nuc with jriver with a synology nas..pretty phenomenal, but still buggy. Much better than a CD player though..digital eq handy for compressed recordings.

After trying some other pc setups I went to an Aurender...runs excellent and love the app. Awesome sound too...but pricey and ultimately depends on the mastering. Tidal is a mixed bag, but like to be able to listen to newer/varieties of music...then download what I like.

PCs are very very noisy environments as are dacs...but when implemented right sound fantastic for music. There’s always compromises, really depends on your budget and needs.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:25 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Voodoo Funk wrote:
How about recommendations for something that allows streaming and playing files from a NAS but which DOESN'T have a built in DAC...and doesn't have to be connected to the Internet in order to use the NAS portion.

I would like to connect to a DAC I already own.


Raspberry Pi, loaded with the software of your choice - I suggest Max2play. ~$50 and you're done. You'll need to fiddle with it a bit, but it's not bad at all.

You won't get a nice case, or a thick aluminum front panel, but the sound quality will be indistinguishable from any other streamer.

-- 03 Jun 2018 13:10 --

Pick the functionality and features you want and don't worry about sound quality.

Think for a minute about Tidal - its data is bouncing around the world, routed through miles of cheap blue cable, barely functional switches, up to satellites and back down again. Through fibre optic cables, squeezed through cheap coax, underground - god knows where and with what integrity.

Yet those packets of data arrive at your house safe and sound, with checksums that match, and then pass into your DAC. Digital data is incredibly rugged. If shitty infrastructure and poor connections would cause any grief to your digital signal, Tidal would be utterly unlistenable.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:41 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 12:20 pm
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
May be I have tin ears :lol: but I don't think asynchronous USB is that bad. SPDIF is not perfect, too.

A lot of these "music servers" or "media players" are just specialized PC/Raspberry Pi hardwares with improvements to the digital and/or the analog audio outputs, and some have better components installed as well such as LPS. For instance, the Sony HAP-Z1ES is most definitely a specialized LINUX box. I can't see why you can't optimize a Windows/LINUX PC or a Mac to do the same (e.g. stopping/removing unnecessary background processes in the OS, etc). A lot of fiddling to the hardware and software, yes, but it can be done. Lots of suggestions and guidances you can find online. As for bugs... all complicated software based products have bugs. Am I not frustrated sometimes with my CAS setups? Yes, but I can live with that. It depends on your tolerance level with this kind of thing I supposed. Dedicated players are no totally immune to this, too. But, I can see the merit of having one of these because of the lower maintenances and plug-and-play factor. As for easy of use: I am not saying a PC/Mac/Raspberry Pi box is better than a dedicated players but my Audirvana Plus setup (together with the A+ remote app on my iPad and iPhone) is totally fine IMHO. Not the best I have seen for sure but not really that hard to use IMHO. YMMV of course. Modern PC/Mac platforms have more than enough juice to process audio stream and files (FLAC/WAC and even DSD) and they have good enough bandwidth onboard. I have experienced some hiccups once in a while with streaming but it is probably because of a network problem or something somewhere, and I have never experienced any issue when playing files (FLAC and DSD) locally within my home. Even with streaming services like Tidal (I have subscribed to Tidal HiFi) musics sound great and problem free most of the time. You will have the same inherent network issue with streaming on dedicated box anyway.

The Raspberry Pi based ones are intriguing, though, especially if you want to experiment with CAS w/o breaking the bank.

I am not saying a dedicated player is a waste. It is certainly not my intend. I can see why some may prefer that. What I am saying is that the other way, which may have some efforts involved, is not really and totally inferior.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:45 am
Posts: 39
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
My solution may not work for everyone, but I've really found it to be convenient for the way I listen to music on headphones (60% desktop rig, 40% portable/on-the-go).

I have an Onkyo DPX1A DAP, which has about 460 GB of space between two micro SD and internal storage. It's not even totally full at the moment. I use an OTG USB cable to connect it to my DAC (Gustard X20U Pro) when I want to listen on my desktop setup, and then when I want to listen to the same music out of the house or not at my desktop rig, I disconnect and plug in my IEMs. Works really well for me. I can't really get Spotify/Bandcamp to bypass the Onkyo's DAC to play through mine, so I added a $45 Chromecast Audio connected via Optical to the DAC, and can control via my computer or iPhone. Works as well as any wifi streamer for when I need it. I also have a completely separate turntable setup that is for analog only, and an Amazon Alexa, which honestly sounds like garbage but is so convenient given I have 3 kids under 5. I've thought about getting a streamer, but I find that my use of DAP as portable server plus music player has worked out really well, and the UI on the Onkyo is as good as anything I've seen in the DAP category.


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