A Surreal Dream full of Audio Knowledge!

An audiophile named John, he met the Audio Angel in his dream…


A: Do you ever confuse about why when you listen to the HD music file but you still feel it’s not HD enough? 

J: Yeah, I was wondering maybe is the way I play it wrong? Because now there are so many ways to introduce the digital music.

A: Let’s see how many ways you’ve tried and why you didn’t feel right, I might give you some advice about it.

J: That’d be great! Nowadays everyone got a smart phone in their hands as you can imagine, so firstly I just used my phone or PC to play the HD music provided by Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music, but it didn’t perform really well. 

A: I believe these platforms would suggest using hi-end headphones or an audio system to play, not just by the phone speaker. 

J: Exactly, so I used the wireless headphone connected by Bluetooth, it didn’t reach the expectation at all to be honest. 

A: Sure, it’s tempting to go for wireless headphones to stay on top of the newest technologies. But you have to understand that the music data would prefer running in a practical connection. 

J: So even if I get the HD music source, it’s still better to apply a wired headphone?

A: The answer you looking for is YES, wired headphones work in the same way as most speakers do. Basically, they’re miniature speakers intended for personal listening, the major reason that affects the audio quality is how music data being transmitted, technologically speaking, wireless headphones use radio transmission technology to transfer audio data, and the most common one used is Bluetooth. In Bluetooth transmission, an audio device encodes audio data into a compressed form due to the limited bandwidth. The data will be sent to the headphones via radio waves. Then, the headphone device decodes the music data and converts it into analog signals to your ears. And the interference in the air is inevitable, this is especially true when it operates under the same frequencies with other appliances, Wi-Fi routers, microwaves, and radios. The radio signals that they emit can adversely affect the audio quality, audio delays or even audio dropouts, so yes, if you longing for high quality audio enjoyment, every bass dynamics and music details are rather crucial, even with HD music source, wired headphone would be your favorable choice!

J: That sounds about right, so even I have the HD quality music source as Hi-Fi; Hi-Res, I still need to have the proper audio device to play it so it can perform the way it should.

J: But other than headphones, as I already have an audio system in my place, now Also has many ways to apply it, every playback method sounds different for sure, but how could I possibly figure out which one presents the music best that as the artist originally intended, I want to feel the emotions when the artist recording or performing the music.

A: Now we are stepping into the streaming music system discussion, are you ready?

J: YES, I crave for the ultimate audio enjoyment.

A: That’s great, but firstly I have to specify the several ways when you play the music:

1. Wi-Fi Remote Connection

2. DLNA(Digital Living network Alliance)

3. Online Streaming Services

4. Expert Music Player/Streamer

5. USB Audio

J: Yeah, there are many approaches to play streaming music since the network is so convenient, which is also the main reason why Digital Streaming Music is overwhelming the market right now.

A: There are two factors matter the most during these approaches: 1. The Bandwidth Range 2. The Transmission Route

A: Let’s talk about the Wi-Fi Connection first as it’s the easiest way to apply.

So when you control your music remotely, you might use Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Airplay, or other services to connect to your wireless speakers or other related audio devices, the truth is that different platforms serve different paths to connect, and they affect the sound quality presented.

*Spotify Connect is a way of playing Spotify through your wireless speaker, soundbar, AV receiver, voice-control smart speaker, or any other compatible device over Wi-Fi. You only have to use your phone to identify the speaker in the first place and then control music playback, to ensure the best quality possible, and Spotify Connect always streams in 320kbps, which is the highest bitrate Spotify currently offers. *Tidal Connect is more or less adopting the same strategy, but it provides a higher speed which is 1411kbps.

Does bandwidth matter?

YES, put it in an easy way to understand, imagine all the music data as cars, and the bandwidth is the highway, when the bandwidth is higher, it means the highway is wider, more cars can pass through it, but when the highway is rather narrow, and you still have the same amount of cars need to be transferred, you can only either make the cars compressed to a smaller size or let them slowly pass, otherwise that might be a traffic incident, so when the bandwidth is higher, the data can be transmitted faster and closer to that way it meant to be, so yes, the bandwidth does matter to the music quality. 

A: Let’s talk about the DLNA secondly, sharing data over a home network(LAN), If you have a router in your home, you'll most likely be able to link DLNA-compliant products across your home Wi-Fi, as I emphasizing the “ Home Network “, it means that your network signals must be fairly stable and robust, so it can function correctly, as in no music data damage, and it is actually an ecosystem to set up, so it’s definitely more complex than just using phone or PC to play music. In this case, the thing that matters is the network quality, if you got a nice router, then that’s good, but normally you only have one router at home, what if you want to listen to the music while doing some other network-related activities, the network source would be shared, so it couldn’t perform as good as you expected, you need a strong network signal as you playing music thorough DLNA, seamless network integration.

In the meantime, if you are a NAS lover, it also requires great network source to function and transmit the music data.

A: Let’s move to the Online Streaming Services, so many choices in this area, Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, Amazon Music HD, YouTube Music, Apple Music, what’s good?

In this part, your home network quality still matters! The audio quality varies between services, and different platform serve different file types, DSD, FLAC, WAV, AAC, etc. These music files are high quality, as in lossless, no compression and distortion, so you can imagine the file size must be quite larger than other compressed forms, as we talked about in the Wi-Fi Connection part, file sizes are like cars, how you build up your highway for them would be a trick. As this kind of large files might be hard to store in USB, so you may adopt NAS to store your precious

music data, but wouldn’t it like long time to store it? YES, so you need to build a nice widely clear network highway for your music data, these are all in your home LAN, so you’ll need high speed network to save the time, and also need to ensure your signal quality won’t be damaged, as you already have the great music sources, we don’t want to jeopardize it during the transmission!

A: Then the Expert Player/Streamer, a streamer would sound differently over Wi-Fi or hard wired with Ethernet cable from your router. The Ethernet cable between your router and streamer changes the sound quality... the devil is in the details. Also got something to do with the power signal, there are many factors can impact the sound quality, a great audio system, you should make each part losslessly connect to each other as possible as you can, and make sure the power signal, the network signal, the transmissions are all in the good place, a streamer may also have both digital output and analog output, it depends how you gonna adopt it, as you having the good lossless music source as FLAC, you’d really need a great streamer to interpret it! A good music streamer can surpass a computer that’s for sure, after all, it’s originally designed for music playing.

A: Finally let’s discuss about the USB Audio, it’s quite direct as you may have known already, you store the music data first in the USB, then insert to you PC or Player or any other possible devices that can play the music stored in it, it doesn’t need Wi-Fi to connect, or network signal, or other cables to transmit data, as direct as it can be, the shortest path you can imagine, but it doesn’t have that much room to store all your music data like NAS or some portable hard drives, so it actually lacks big storage, but now the newest version is USB 3.2, it can afford 5Gbps, 10Gbps, and 20Gbps, so you can look for what you actually desire.

J: Wow, there are so many factors can affect the sound quality in both the way it plays or the devices it adopts, so tell me, do you have any conclusion about all these? 

A: Sure, that’s why I’m here, help you to sort it all out.

1. The Bandwidth Range_ the higher the better

2. The Transmission Route _ the shorter the better

All these connections are ascribed to “ Network “, good network serves quality transmission route, to make sure low interference get involved, furthermore, to ensure the transmission route even safe is “ Wired Path “, the real connection would be better than wireless, but yeah, it’s not as convenient as wireless, but I think the  sound quality is the most important thing to all the audiophiles, so even you have all the HD, Hi-Fi, Lossless, Hi-Res music files, they all still digital, you need to take good care of them until they become analog to serve your ears, in that case, we’ve showed wired better wireless, but why even it’s wired, people still feel not good enough? As I mention, transmission route, the shorter the better, during the transmission, the signal may get affected, and the power of it needs to be stable enough for sure, hence, some magical things to make sure the music data have a safe good trip, audio network switch, to purify the network signals come from your router, make a good path for the music data to transmit, and linear power supply to generate steady power signal for the device, to keep the power source as natural as it can be, and dc upgrade cable, to optimize the power signal, in audio world, every part matters till the music arrives at your ears! 

A: Remember it! You need good network and good power source to keep your streaming music as real as the original data. Now you can wake up and gear up yourself a real good audio system, go enjoy the optimal music experience and let all your friends jealous! 

The end...

Cited From SONY Just as high-resolution picture quality has changed the way people watch movies, high-resolution sound quality will also change the way you listen to your favorite music.
Couldn’t even read it. Too long. Just being honest. The subject was boring.
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I'll stick to black plastic disks with a stylus tracing a spiral groove! Thank you Emile Berliner!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King's men couldn't put Humpty back together again. Just like streaming!
This fantasy dialogue sounds suspiciously like it was modeled after the Bhagavad gita, the ancient text where Lord Krishna and Arjuna converse about the meaning of life. I will concede, though, that conversations about audio matters are more profound than the subject of life. 

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How many myths can you put in 1 thread?
I lost count in this 1. Also, it’s been proven a dozen years ago music played back from a hdd sounds better than from a cd.
Dedicated streamers are not better than  mac/pi, it boils down to the software reading the music if you do things right, and that’s not using usb.
Also,  bandwidth speeds you specified are way overkill for what’s needed for audio. How big do you think each music file is? Take a look. With those speeds you can move hundreds of files per second. More important, USB is the worst connection to use for audio, I don’t care what release they are on, what cable you use, or what gimmick(tweak) you are using to try to make it better.
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Here....sit back....


There....better now? *enigmatic S*

I thought so.....

...but you still should have caught the pencil that wasn't....;)
Thanks for the link, anotherbob....TwinFreaks still seemed to be written by acidheads for the same crowd, based on the number of psychotic intervals scattered within....

Yeah, no wonder that coffee was so great....happens every day of late....

There's 'something' about Starbucks that concerns (at least) me....another 'roadside distraction' that may come to some as 'too attractive'.....overtime.....😏
Poorest thread ever published here, and there have been some stinkers.
Garbage from top to bottom.
OP is reveling in his fantasy that low grade digital sources produce great sound.  No point in trying to tell him, guys, he's probably deaf.
End  result Avery good dac - streamer combo like and of the Bricasti 
M-3, M1,M-21. Make music without the added noise and any music files coming from a computer server is isolated for music comes through Ethernet cable 
signal is intact and  digital signal is s not unpacked until it reaches
the dac-Streamer . When done correctly  dac-streamer  comboisthefuture,
less powercords, less cables , seperate Linear  power supplies 
pre and post power isolation dual Multibit dac s  and processing
todo correctly cost $$  and sounds excellent ,
and using good quality  digital cables do count like theWireworld 
Ethernet Platinum 8 , and even a very good Ethernet Regen Hub can clean up the Digital signal.
"...all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty back together again." - streaming is just like Ron Popeil's VegaMatic applied to music recordings!
...all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty back together again." - streaming is just like Ron Popeil's VegaMatic applied to music recordings!
 Streaming files from a local HD sounds as good, sometimes better, than the actual seedee playing in the machine.

Streaming from Quobuz gets you about 95% of the way there.
Dear Willy,

I love this! Actually very informative. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. Some of your points are very important. I believe the shortest signal transmission path is always best. Its one of the reasons the ‘Magic DAC’ in the Devialet Expert Pro is so amazing. Ultra short signal path from digital signal input, to processing to analogue, then to amplifier. I believe if the speaker wires are at 10ft and around 12 AWG or under then it makes no difference to the signal if that wire is shorter.
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