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How do you play high quality digital music *LOCALLY* - (CD quality - or higher)?

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Joe Hone:
I used to produce albums for bluegrass, Christian and rock artists. Nowadays I produce for a weekly radio show. I don't think that makes me an expert but it does mean that I've dabbled with music in various formats for years.

I have a mental block with FLAC - if the CD is in WAV, why compress it to another format when you can use freeware like Exact Audio Copy to copy it to a hard drive? With the price of hard drives being so affordable these days I don't see the need to compress audio to save space.

Since you have a vintage amp and speakers that you like the sound of, and since you'd like a higher quality sound to listen to, in my opinion the best option for you is CD-->computer using EAC then computer-->DAC-->amp-->speakers. I do this signal chain in the studio using a DAC, an amp I like the sound of and high end passive studio monitors from the 1980s that I also like the sound of.

It is true that many DACs will sound different, but it's a subtle thing and not very noticeable unless you are comparing them on higher end systems in tuned environments. Also, unless you have crazy good ears often a DAC won't sound different to you than the soundcard on your computer. I prefer using a DAC over the soundcard probably because it's what I'm used to. Finally, there are DACs for sale now for around $100 that sound as good as DACs from years ago costing many times that amount.

Slightly off topic, but there is really no debate that mp3 sounds inferior to WAV and FLAC. In fact mp3 sounds inferior to mp3! You can hear this for yourself. With a freeware program like Audacity you can export any song to mp3 and change the kbps from 145 to 320. Then do a comparison. The 145 kbps version will have harsh sibilance - the S and TH sounds - compared to the 320 kbps version. You will also hear a thinner sound overall, less bass and muted mids compared to a louder and more brittle sounding high end.

tomos:
I used to produce albums for bluegrass, Christian and rock artists. Nowadays I produce for a weekly radio show. I don't think that makes me an expert but it does mean that I've dabbled with music in various formats for years.
-Joe Hone (September 22, 2022, 02:46 PM)
--- End quote ---
Thanks Joe :up:
Point taken about FLAC.
I'm not rushing into this, so am reconsidering using a pc or a pi computer.

My CD player, and my DAC (afaik) allow connecting a USB thumbdrive, but then there's no user-friendly way to  actually play the contents. I find it hard to understand how expensive the solutions on offer are.

Anyways, will try the above option first -- connect an old phone to my DAC, and see how that goes. Software seems to be one of the big problems with streamers, but there's a good choice on phone or computer - so not a problem there. Cable arrived today...

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