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All I need is an iPad, Amazon Basic RCA Cables and an my old AMP

Truth_In_Adv

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After several hours of reading threads on DACs, Cables, iPads and music services I've come to a conclusion that surprises me.

The best electronic components I can buy, that I am able to objectively hear a difference in comprises of stuff already in my house...

  • SOURCE - Apple Music Lossless - Per several discussions, a lossless source whether Tidal, Spotify, or Apple is good enough
  • DAC / PreAmp - Apple iPad - Per the thread on Apple/Google USB dongles and Ken Rockwell - using the iPad Pro as a DAC and connecting through the 3.5mm audio jack will provide results beyond what is audibly noticeable. The added benefit is I can use the iPad also as the pre-amp / volume control which is being done digitally so that it also is audibly excellent.
  • Cables - Per Amir's cable review, an Amazon Basic 3.5mm to RCA cable should be more than capable of performing exceptionally well. Additionally, since the iPad can run off a battery there is no ground loop noise or need for balanced cables.
  • AMP - I can connect directly from the iPad and use any of my several amps for 30 years ago.
  • SPEAKERS / SUB - These items are not 'electronic components' and excluded from my 'best I can buy' comment. They appear to be one of the most important parts in the mix. For now, I can select from several old speakers and subs already in the house.

While the above goes against my 'audiophile' experiences from the 80s and 90s...it makes intellectual sense and appears to be the 'spirit' of this forum.

And right now this is what I am listening to and it sounds pretty good.

So no need for an external DAC, pre-amp, or new and/or balanced cables. None of these items will change sound quality, sound stage or listening fatigue.

Speakers and Sub woofer selection, setting and placement do make a huge difference. I've been experimenting with this and I have lots of old equipment to try.

Lastly, room acoustics could be explored, maybe with the help with some software. I'm not familiar with this though and would probably use a PC vs a MAC.

Anyone care to share if I got this right or if I am missing something?
 

rwortman

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Tidal is mostly lossless except for the MQA files and they, in my opinion, are at worst equivalent to a 16/44 lossless file. Certainly it is incorrect to say Tidal only streams lossy, compressed audio.
 

Trell

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It’s great to be an audiophile today compared to when I grew up, not that I thought of myself as an audiophile back then or even know what it meant.
 
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Truth_In_Adv

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Rednaxela,

Thanks for your comments.

In regards to the Dongle - yes, the USB Dongle has a DAC/Preamp. However, if you have an older iPad/iPhone with a 3.5mm jack, the DAC that is being used is built into the iPad. In the very long thread on the USB Dongles there are some references to just using the 3.5mm port. Additionally, someone pointed to a Ken Rockwell post where he tested the 3.5mm ports on numerous Apple devices with the conclusion they were excellent. So while I could not find a review from Amir on the 3.5mm port, there appears to be 3rd party measurements that confirm exceptional performance.
 

Rednaxela

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Yeah can’t comment on your specific device but in general iDevices are known to leave little to worry about.

However, if you have an older iPad/iPhone with a 3.5mm jack, the DAC that is being used is built into the iPad.
So this is what you do? (Just out of interest.)
 

Willem

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Spotify may not be quite lossless, but its 320 mbps compression is good enough. Few people can hear the difference with lossless. The intenal DACs of Apple devices is usually very good, so I would not worry. You do not say what amplifier you are using. Amplifiers have been pretty good for a long time, but even so, not all of them are. Even so, what is probably most important is their output power. Watts used to be expensive, so many older amplifers do not have tooo many of them, but they no longer are expensive. Having them in abundance can make a real sonic difference. Ultimately, however, speakers make the bigest difference, and this is where there has been real progress. Finally, interaction with the room is almost as important as the speaker itself. You can measure in-room reponse with the free REW software and a cheap Umik-1 calibrated microphone. You can use the result to create an equalization curve to be used on your device (but realistically only for the lower frequencies, say, below 300 Hz).
 

delta76

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Tidal and Spotify are both not lossless. They only stream lossy, compressed audio.
Lossless streaming services include Apple Music, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz.
Isn't Tidal Hifi lossless?

Not their Master though
 

JeremyFife

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Sounds about right - funny old world isn't it :)

Perhaps a couple of things to think about; your amps are probably audibly transparent (don't know what they are, but it's a good assumption) ... unless you drive them to clipping, so watch out for that. Like you said though, they are probably just fine.

Hand-in-hand with speaker placement and room treatment is Measurement and EQ. Adding a measuring microphone and software like (free) REW gives you that objective view and lets you know if any changes you make are actually making a difference. Don't think REW works on iPads but there will be plenty of people here to advise.

Enjoy, and Welcome :)
 

staticV3

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@delta76 According to Goldensound's investigation, if an MQA version exists for a track and you choose HiFi instead of Master, Tidal will stream the lossy 44.1 MQA file instead of the lossless original, just without unfolding anything.
 

MarcosCh

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The only thing missing is how are you going to do the crossover mains/sub? Unfortunately this is where electronics can get complicated and a bit more expensive (or a lot). Amps with variable low and high pass filters are rare or expensive. Subs tend to have only low pass....
 

DVDdoug

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While the above goes against my 'audiophile' experiences from the 80s and 90s
Not that much has changed in regard to sound quality unless you go-back to analog sources or further-back to the tube days. The early MP3s usually weren't very good either.

We do have a lot more sources to choose from and we have multi-channel movies & concerts. Electronics is cheaper and power (Watts) is cheaper and higher-power is more common.

And "audiophiles" are still mostly "nuts" with lots of money and they "hear things" that normal people can't hear (and they can't actually hear in blind listening tests) and they use all kinds of meaningless-flowery language to describe the sound. ;) ,
 
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Truth_In_Adv

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With your iPad wired to your stereo, you can still remote control it using your iPhone:

Because I am using the 3.5mm jack and a 15ft Amazon Basics Cable, the iPad is in my lap on the sofa.

I have total control Apple Music and volume at all times. It's awesome!

I don't have to use an IR remotes or a second device...the 15 foot cable makes it all work and since the DAC is the internal Apple DAC the volume control works. If I hooked up an external USB DAC, I'd need to control volume elsewhere.

Amazing, I am spending less money and getting a better user experience - at least for me.

However, I have not tried an external DAC....maybe I'd like it better...that is what my 30 year old experience tells me...but this site says it won't make any difference.
 
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Truth_In_Adv

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Spotify may not be quite lossless, but its 320 mbps compression is good enough. Few people can hear the difference with lossless. The intenal DACs of Apple devices is usually very good, so I would not worry. You do not say what amplifier you are using. Amplifiers have been pretty good for a long time, but even so, not all of them are. Even so, what is probably most important is their output power. Watts used to be expensive, so many older amplifers do not have tooo many of them, but they no longer are expensive. Having them in abundance can make a real sonic difference. Ultimately, however, speakers make the bigest difference, and this is where there has been real progress. Finally, interaction with the room is almost as important as the speaker itself. You can measure in-room reponse with the free REW software and a cheap Umik-1 calibrated microphone. You can use the result to create an equalization curve to be used on your device (but realistically only for the lower frequencies, say, below 300 Hz).
I am currently using a Krell KSA 50 Amp and Audio Physic Virgo speakers and the paired Audio Physic sub woofer.

I don't listen very loudly and find myself around 40-60% on the Apple Music volume slider.

I've been reading up on using REW

Watched a number of videos and read numerous articles on speaker placement (Audio Physic website, Sterophile article on Virgo speakers, LOTS video, Wilson Audio video...) a challenge I have is the speakers are in my game room which is 22 ft wide by 14 ft deep; however, the furniture has the room divided into two areas so the speakers are in a 'room' that is 15' x 14' but the is no wall on one side....I can't find any articles that explain how to set up speakers when the room is not symmetrical. I've tried to incorporate the principals I've read and feel like I am getting the speakers to 'disappear' with a broad sound stage in between the speakers. It's probably good enough but would I enjoy trying to get things better.

Still looking for a solution of listening fatigue.
 

Apesbrain

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DVDdoug

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The only thing missing is how are you going to do the crossover mains/sub?
Amir just reviewed an active crossover. You can find them cheaper, starting at around $100 USD. Or, you could spend a couple-hundred more dollars and get an Audio Video Receiver which will have a (line-level) subwoofer output and "bass management".

And with an AVR you'll get a bunch more features and you could even use those extra speakers for surround sound. (I like to use a Dolby "soundfield" setting for some delayed rear channel reverb when I'm listening to regular stereo recordings.)

Still looking for a solution of listening fatigue.
I don't know... That's mostly psychology... Turn it off when you aren't enjoying it! :p
 
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