Hi Folks,

I am currently investigating a new home system and some of the questions I have are with respect to digital audio. My questions are:

1. All other components remaining equal (speakers, amps, preamp, etc.) is there any loss of audio quality in playing a FLAC file vs the track from a CD?

2. If there is a noticeable loss then what CD player would you recommend for a $1000 budget.

3. If there is no noticeable loss and I were to convert all my CD library to FLAC files and store them on a network accessible media server what source component would I use to stream this through my system - again keeping the budget to $1000?

4. Are there quality sounding CD players (first and foremost for CDs) that would allow the FLAC files to be processed through it and output to the preamp?

The system I am looking at would be comprised of the following:

Odyssey Stratos HT-3 Extreme
Odyssey Khartago 2-channel Basic
Odyssey Lorelei front speakers
Outlaw 975 AV Processor

If you require any additional information to respond then please let me know.

Thanks for your assistance!
This is nearly impossible to answer, as it depends so much on the DAC. I used a Leema Antilla CD player and now an Ayre QB9 with Mac Mini. I think both AIFF and Apple lossless are slightly better than CD, but that, I am sure, is because of the better DAC.
It is a question that is extremely easy to answer for yourself. Given a quality DAC, load up Foobar on a PC, get the ABX compare plug-in and test yourself. If you can't score better than random (50%) there is no point in using WAV.

I have done it and can hear no differences on my system. I will try again once I have a better resolving DAC and Jplay installed. I do think preloading to RAM could make a difference. I'm not sure what Jplay does functionally but the optimal path would be would be FLAC - > RAM decompression -> playback of decompressed WAV file from RAM.

The point is decompressed FLACs are bit-perfect. If you hear a difference, it is a result of the playback system, and that is possible, but unlikely. See this post on Computer Audiophile as well, and this is an objective test you could also repeat yourself:
Binkleyc - I have done extensive listening comparisons between the two formats on my system, and have found the wav format to be better, usually by a significant margin.

It seems the computeraudiophile article is saying if it can't be measured, it can't be; and I couldn't DISagree with him more. I trust my ears more than I trust ANY measuring equipment.

Maybe his problem is that he's using a Windows based system . . . (that's just a joke (kinda)).
Just replace your active preamps with a good transformer passive linestage (TVC), and you will probably hear the difference. Most active preamps add so much noise, distortion and compression that all of these differences are masked. I used to use a ML38 with extensive mods, including about 30 feet of point-to-point pure silver wiring. It thought it was really transparent. Not bad, but not even remotely close to a good TVC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Like someone said, hard drives are dirt cheap. Just leave them wav if you hear a difference