♫ Episode #47 – 10 Ways to Connect Your Computer to Your Stereo

By Kirk on April 7, 2017

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  • I like your Next Track podcast and listen to most episodes. One suggestion: Sometimes there are good comments posted on the Next Track website after a podcast. I suggest you start each new podcast by spending a couple minutes on the comments from the prior podcast – answer any questions that might have been posted, or just comment on your agreement / disagreement with comments. No need to mention specific names, of course.

  • I would like to hear more about Apple TV and streaming iTunes match music. This podcast pricked my interest in connecting my iMac to my receive or using my Apple TV 3

  • I am left smiling and dismayed by the contrast between Dave’s vast technical knowledge (and obvious passion for music) and his contentment with the lowest quality of playback gear. A $200 receiver? Good enough. Ditch the outboard DAC for the 50 cent stock one on the computer? Saves on clutter. I love the show and I honestly found myself wondering how I could get the guy into, say, an entry-level integrated amplifier from a quality manufacturer like Naim or Rega. The power supply quality alone would improve every facet of sound quality. Meanwhile, I love the show and learn a lot every week.

    • I think you mean Kirk. If you listened, you’ll have noted that the receiver has its own DAC; how else can I send a digital signal to it? It may not be quite as good as the standalone DAC I had before, but it sounds fine to me.

      And I see no upside to spending the type of money it would cost for a receiver from one of those brands. The $200 receiver sounds as good as a more expensive one that I sold about a year ago. So, yeah, I’ll stick with good low-priced equipment rather than spending the price of a car on my audio system.

  • Thanks for all the good info guys. You talked about using electrical wiring for data, etc.; that’s been around for eons – called PLC (Power Line Communications) in some camps – I remember such as a kid (some 60 years ago… yikes) where it was used in a theater for intercoms.

    • It’s been used for intercoms for a long time. That was probably the case as well in the apartment building I grew up in. But for network data transfer, I think it’s only been commonly used for a couple of decades.

  • Thanks Kirk,

    And that’s fine with me. Every time you comment on your area of expertise it is clear to me that you’ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know.

    Concerning your receiver, at that price point the manufacturer is only trying to provide the required features in the cheapest possible way. For $1200, you could get an integrated from, say, Hegal, with a robust power supply and a high quality DAC. “Damping factor” is a measurable quality that you would hear in the form of better control of the bass cone of your speakers. Transients would sound more intense and exciting. Meanwhile, you’d experience better dynamics and the music would hold together during complex or energetic passages. There is a “sweet spot” at the entry-level of the high-end.

    Granted, you’d hear the benefit more on something well-recorded like the “Three From the Vault” box (as opposed to the hit and miss recording quality of the bulk of Dead recordings). I’m hoping to change your mind!

    • I had a much better Yamaha AV amp, that was designed for audio quality, and, frankly, there wasn’t that much of a difference. I’m not willing to spend that much for an amp. I might go as much as $500, eventually, but even then, I’m not sure that it would really be worth it.

      • Whatever gear you use personally, I hope that you two continue to keep an open mind where audiophile topics are concerned. Audiophiles can be a loyal audience, obsessives as we are. The case for lossless streaming over MP3s, for instance, is a topic I have strong views on, and which is right in your show’s wheelhouse.

          • Well, if you mean that it would make no sense to burn copious amounts of cellular data to stream for mobile listening, then I agree. But Tidal lets you download an unlimited amount to carry on your mobile device. So I load up my phone at home over WiFi.

            If you mean to suggest that lossless music does not sound meaningfully better in mobile contexts, then I respectfully disagree. It may be less of an issue with earbuds, but MP3s still sound flat, lifeless and unmusical to me with buds. Meanwhile, when connected by USB cable to my car’s audio system, the difference between iTunes Mp3s and Tidal lossless files is profound. I am fond of saying that, “friends don’t let friends listen to MP3s.”

  • For Ethernet connections without a hub/router, what about using a crossover cable? Here you’d normally assign the IP address manually. Just another option.

    • I guess that would work, but it’s not that simple. With my receiver, I can open a web page in Safari on my Mac to make those changes, but others would have to do that manually on the device.