Digital Audio Adventures

I have been experimenting with digital audio for a while now, and have read a number of articles written in Absolute sound and Stereophile. I have an older Windows 7 device that has been selectively updated-and please people-KEEP Windows 7 if you do high end audio. 8 and I understand 10 do not allow you to make the necessary modifications in the software to get to audio nirvana. Most of that is hidden, and geared toward low res files.
I digress. If you want to upgrade your older computer for audio- do two things right off the bat-install a 240GB SS Hard drive (7 times faster than stock) and a current 24bit/192 soundcard. Those two will set you back $600 or so, but are well worth it. I use the USB out to my Cary Audio 100T DAC, but it all runs through that soundcard. I found my J River was being down scaled to 16bit/44 by the old soundcard, no matter how you tried to get by it. It is frustrating to no end to download a good high res file and have it screwed up by an old soundcard.
Also I have found that power cords make a noticeable difference-upgrade that too and you will hear it-for the better. Play with different power cords-they will have different effects. I am using a lesser expensive Siltech for my computer.
Finally, the DAC is very important. The DAC’s in the computer soundcards are good, some better than others, but an independent DAC is superior. It doesn’t rely on a power supply that was designed to be the minimum necessary for the computer to function. Computer power supplies are notorious for some fluctuation, much greater than tolerated by high end DAC designers. The computer clocks are also not that precise, fine for digital, not for high res audio. The very design of the computer and its lack of internal isolation also adds jitter and distortion. My Cary Audio DAC 100T has high grade power supplies, a super accurate clock (all input is reclocked), and superb circuit isolation. This is typical of most high end DAC’s. The end result is audio nirvana-which I define as NO digital artifacts, smooth detailed reproduction, and music one can listen too for hours with no fatigue. Nirvana is very, very close to vinyl-my reference for all audio. Cary’s info is at http://www.caryaudio.com/products/dac-100t/
One note is the quality of the file-16Bit/44 can sound very good depending on the source. Better is 24/96 and 24/192. DSD is supposed to be the best, but as yet very little is out there on this format. I do find FLAC to be a bit better than WAV for PC’s. As always there are exceptions. I would be careful with 32/384-no one records in this format, and all files of this type are upscaled to the best of my knowledge.
I hope this helps you find your ideal digital. Contact me if you have questions at [email protected]

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