Streaming vs direct connection from computer


#1

I’m interested in whether streaming to the DS DAC using the Bridge or 3rd party hardware such as the Auralic Aries has any inherent sound quality advantages compared with, say, a direct USB connection from a mac running Bitperfect or Audirvana + or a PC running JRiver.

Assume the mac or the PC has been optimized for music playback.

Has anyone done a comparison?


#2

I will probably have some info for you at the end of next week.


#3

Me too I have 6 on order and just got a confirmation.


#4

Have you received your Aries shipment, Gordon?


#5

Having the new DS in for just about a month now, I’m looking for the next step, and because of the above, the Aries has just caught my attention. Looks like a sweet piece of kit, and the price point is nice.

I’m not concerned at all about ‘network storage’, as my current setup has my entire library on dedicated disc at the rack. No need to stream music around various parts of the house, either… it’s a smallish place and all of our listening is in the living/kitchen area.

What I am interested in, though, is expanding my horizons with new music. To date, I’ve only heard Pandora. I was going to sign up with Mog, which became Beats, which seemed in turmoil. Services like Pandora are not a good deal for me, as the SQ seems to stink and, no matter what ‘station’ I create, I always seem to get the same songs over and over. (Why do they think that Paul Simon is connected to every genre?)

Could someone quickly bring me up to speed on streaming? What services are available that have both good SQ and wider variety/selection? Did I see that Hi-Rez or DSD are available for streaming?

I could probably live a long time from what I’ve ripped to disc, but having the ability to hear things I never would have chosen would be great.

Thanks!


#6

Qobuz is your answer.

16/44 lossless, 17 million tunes.


#7
audiobill said Qobuz is your answer.

16/44 lossless, 17 million tunes.


Available in the U.S.?

From a cursory glance at the site, it looks as though it’s limited to European countries.


#8

Give Spotify a try. Qobuz is not here yet, coming later this year I believe.


#9

Register for the trial and then send them an email and they will hook you up.


#10
Frode said I will probably have some info for you at the end of next week.
Any update on your comparisons - streaming via computer direct connection?

#11

Hi, alcarp;

I just got a message from my dealer that he will receive it today, which means that I will have something for you tomorrow :)

BTW; Here is an impression from a guy at CA:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/auralic-aries-hardware-impressions-and-information-21261/index7.html#post341133

If I am not much mistaken he has the same music server setup as Paul, and the Aries match the SQ after 4 hours of play.

All the listening impressions I have seen so far has been positive. One of the the CA reviewers says it beats everything older than 2 years and all COTS based PC setups. You really need to tweak the best solutions out there or use top notch dedicated music servers in order to top it.

And then there is the comfort issue which is waaaaay better (still some bugs remaining on the Lightning DS app, though).


#12

Thanks Frode. Look forward to your review.

I’m particularly interested in what music players like Bitperfect & Audirvana bring to the party which would not be there, of course, with using a streamer like the Aries.

Are these players just meant to overcome some of the limitations of using a general purpose computer or do they add something more? I’m not sure whether the people on the CA forum who report comparisons of CA playback vs streamers are using these players.

I was always under the impression that streamers and music servers were mainly for convenience and ease of use and meant for those who cannot or will not have a computer in their listening room. Maybe streamers like the Aries and the Aurender have reached the point where they offer better sound quality as well.


#13

Frode said

COTS based PC setups.
And COTS is ?

#14

Commercial Off The Shelf.


#15
alcarp said I'm particularly interested in what music players like Bitperfect & Audirvana bring to the party which would not be there, of course, with using a streamer like the Aries.

Are these players just meant to overcome some of the limitations of using a general purpose computer or do they add something more? I’m not sure whether the people on the CA forum who report comparisons of CA playback vs streamers are using these players.

I was always under the impression that streamers and music servers were mainly for convenience and ease of use and meant for those who cannot or will not have a computer in their listening room. Maybe streamers like the Aries and the Aurender have reached the point where they offer better sound quality as well.


When I got into digital audio a couple of years ago, I got the impression that using a computer to play audio had a number of drawbacks. The sound functions built into Windows and Mac OS are not exactly audiophile quality, which opened up the market for players such as Audirvana (which may also provide some convenience facilities, such as library management, as well as better SQ). Computers are electrically noisy which is not good for quality playback. So I ended up with a NAS running MinimServer and feeding the Bridge, which has always provided excellent SQ–now, with the DS, it is awesome. It is convenient since I can access music from anywhere on the network. I also happen to prefer using a tablet to having a computer in the music room.

I think that nowadays the two technologies can provide more or less equal SQ, but computer/USB users must take some steps to make this happen: use a lower-powered CPU, not the latest quad-core beast; shut down unneeded processes; etc. There is a lot of info out there about this. An off-the-shelf, general-purpose computer is probably not going to give optimal SQ. Streaming over ethernet has its problems too, as those of us who have struggled with the idiosyncrasies of the Bridge know. But SQ is easy with a well-bdesigned streamer. So pick your poison.


#16

Sorry to be persistent but a NAS also contains a computer and its associated electrical noise. Why wont this be carried along with the signal on ethernet?

Do you then have to use an ethernet isolator?


#17
alcarp said Sorry to be persistent but a NAS also contains a computer and its associated electrical noise. Why wont this be carried along with the signal on ethernet?

Do you then have to use an ethernet isolator?


Normally NAS boxes use slower/less powerful (and therefore less noisy) CPUs, so there is less noise to begin with. I have read that the ethernet connection does not transmit noise the same way or same amount as USB does, but I honestly do not have the technical background to say much about this. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can jump in.

#18
alcarp said
Any update on your comparisons - streaming via computer direct connection?
Aries to DirectStream update;

I just got time to hook up the Aries yesterday evening.

Here is the status this far:

Hook up and powering unit = OK (it comes without power chord and batteries for the remote).

Discovering my wifi - No success (mac filtering in my router has implemented the Aries and router firewall has been deactivated/UDP is ‘allowed’).

Ethernet connection - Success.

Upgrade of firmware - No detection of v1.5 on Auralic servers (comes with v1.4).

Tried to control my Lumin renderer from Lightning DS = Success (remote is stable, but not the Lightning DS app).

Tried to control the Aries from my Lumin app = Success .

Detection of DirectStream over USB = Success (JCAT cable).

UPDATE:

‘Upgrade of firmware – No detection of v1.5 on Auralic servers (comes with v1.4)’

  • Direct hardwired connection of Aries to my router fixed this.

‘Discovering my wifi – No success’

  • After updating to v1.5 my wifi networks now were discovered.

So now it is playing music wirelessly.

Attached are some pix of the USB connection to the DirectStream;

Hirez.jpgSingle_DSD.jpgDSDtoPCM-Transcode.jpg


#19

Last night I compared the sound of the DS from

a) Synology NAS running MinimServer, feeding the Bridge via an AudioQuest Cinnamon ethernet cable

b) CAPSv3 Carbon computer running foobar2000, feeding the USB input with a generic Radio Shack USB cable

The USB was enjoyable, but the Bridge was clearly more subtle, more detailed, more relaxed (in a good sense) with noticeably better reproduction of instrumental timbre.

I admit that the comparison was not quite fair because of the cable issue and because the USB input on the DS has many fewer hours on it than the Bridge connection. I am researching USB cables and will let you all know what differences I hear with a better cable and as the USB input gets more broken in. I may also try Fidelizer on the Carbon. It wouldn’t surprise me if the USB input got closer, perhaps even equal to the Bridge. But no one should doubt the potential SQ of ethernet streaming.