Priorities in stereo equipment upgrades

November 1, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

11 comments on “Priorities in stereo equipment upgrades”

  1. This is just me and how I would handle the upgrading sichuation.
    If I have a really grate sounding pare of high end speakers, and my system was both digital and analog, then I would focas on what’s really emportent to me.
    But lets just say, that I already have a grate high end DAC.
    But for the analog portion of my system, I would get myself a tube power amp that is strong enough to drive my speakers, and would also give me the same sonic carictor that I’m expecting to get from it.
    But if you’re like me, and you don’t want a lot of clutter, then a really good tube preamp with a built in phono stage preamp is in order here.
    But also with the turntable, Paul is correct about the arm and cartrage, but I would use the highest quality audio cables I could find to hook it all up.
    But getting a detailed sound from my DAC, I would not go in to Walmart to buy a $30.00 CD player either.
    I would get some kind of an SACD transport, that is, if my DAC can decode DSD files.
    I’ve heard it said that, most bluerae players can perform this task.
    But thatt hasn’t been proven by and or to me as of yet.
    So, I would go with a stand alone transport that can do that for me, right out of the box.
    Lets face some true facts here.
    Cheaper CD players, have this thing that’s called jitter.
    If you pay very close atention to what you’re listening to, you can here that.
    And it doesn’t really matter if you have the best DAC in the world.
    If your CD transport isn’t up to snuff, your ears will let you know it.
    And so, get a really good CD or SACD transport for the digital side of your system.
    But again, this is just me and how I would go about doing the upgrades.

    1. What CD transport: I play all my CDs on my laptop’s DVD drive via foobar2000 configured for 512DSD output to a great DAC (IMHO – exaSound e62) via Audioquest Diamond USB cable. Audiophile Optimizer in Express Mode used in conjunction with both foobar2000 (CDs) and JRiver (YouTube). A couple of Audioquest Jitterbugs plugged into the USB ports of my laptop takes care of the jitter. I couldn’t be happier with the sound of my setup. Personally, I have found that speaker cables, interconnects, and digital cables can make a huge difference in sound quality, depending on brand selection.

      1. Good morning cymbalclash!
        I’m running an HP pro 3500 series desktop computer with a pare of Klipsch R-41PM powered speakers via USB.
        I’m also using Foobar2000 that’s also configured for 512 DSD.
        But just until I get my hands on a DAC that can decode DSD, I have no choice but to let my system convert DSD in to PCM.
        I don’t remember the names of the companies that made them, but I am running an external blueray drive and an internal DVD drive on my computer.
        I also have a C-Gate SSD hooked up to my computer via USB.
        And there, is where most of the music that I recorded is.
        But sense we’re talking about Foobar2000 here, can you tell me how to get Foobar2000 to play DSD files directly from Windows Explorer?
        Thanks in advance!

          1. Hi again cymbalclash!
            Foobar2000 is my difault program for playing my music.
            It grabs all my wave files.
            But this is what happens when I try to play a DSD file directly from Windows Explorer.
            As soon as I highlight a DSD file and press inter on it, a message pops up that says, “how do you want to open this file?”
            But the only way that I can get Foobar2000 to play DSD files, is doing a control plus O to allow me to open any file that way.
            Then I have to keep hitting the tab key until I get to the folder that has the DSD files in it.
            All depending on what kind of a mood I’m in, I do a control plus A to select all of them.
            And then, I tab over to the open button and press inter on it.
            And after that, Foobar2000 starts playing the DSD files for me.
            But isn’t there an easier way to do this?
            I just gave you all the method that a blind person has to go about doing things like this on a PC and or a Mack system.

            1. You can’t just double-click on the file and have it open in foobar, that’s what I do. If you want to play more than one file, click on the file tab and select open, then explore to the location where your DSD files are located. Select the files you want to load. Then right click on the first file you want to play and select play.

              1. Is all that clicking done with the mouse?
                If so, I can’t see how to do that.
                I am a JAWS user.
                What JAWS does, is takes all the text that pops up on the screen, and converts it in to speech.
                This is how all blind people operate our computers.
                But to get Foobar2000 to pick up the DSD files in Windows Explorer, I think it’s something that has to be done with the command line.
                I tried to research this on the internet, but couldn’t find anything that explains clearly, how to make this happen.
                But the thing still asks me, “how do you want to open this file?”
                I’m wanting Foobar2000 to treat my collection of DSD files the same way that it treats my wave files.
                But I’m not quite sure about how to make that happen.

  2. DAC Yes! My upgrade to QUTEST simply sounds ‘right’.

    For a lousy $69.95 Fidelizer Pro turned my Windows system from ‘sounds good’ to ‘I feel involved’. Stands up to A/B comparisons.

    It turns off all those unnecessary and noisome Windows background tasks.

    Some people know it can’t work. They haven’t experienced it. We know about those sad people.

    1. Good morning Secretguy!
      Have you ever thought about looking at either the Korg DS-Dack10R or the Black ICE Audio Glass-FXX DSD WIFI DAC’s?
      Both of them can do DSD.
      And the Korg is only 449USD.
      And the Black Ice Audio, is about 749USD.
      But only one of these DAC’s uses tubes on its outputs.
      And that one, is the Black Ice Audio Glass FXX-DSD WIFI.
      You mite want to look in to both of them!

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