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!
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