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Computer Source vs. CD Transport
#1
Of late, I am noticing that playback from computer source isn't as soul touching as spinning a disc in a high quality CD Transport. Here's my setup:

Computer : Roon Nucleus w/ ext hard disk and oversized Linear Power Supply using choke filter > AQ Diamond Ethernet > 440-Pro-CI
CD Transport : CEC TL0X under OREA Bronze x 3 > AQ Diamond AES/EBU > 440-Pro-CI

Comparison material : 16bit/44.1 kHz CD and the same resolution playback from TIDAL using Roon Labs thru Roon Nucleus

With the computer playback, the soundstage is very wide and relatively deep with imaging very stable but the overall perspective is a wee-bit on the colder side. The same playback via the CD Transport throws once again a very wide soundstage and much more deeper, more prominent central imaging and the perspective is now on the warmer side ... this is much more engaging and emotionally involving. 

Do note that playback levels have been carefully checked using a SPL meter between computer playback & CD Transport. 

Any thoughts on this ?
Roon Nucleus w/ LPSU & AQ Z3 + Roon Air & iPad  >  AQ Diamond ETH | CEC TL0X CD Transport + AQ Z3 + 3 x Orea Indigo > AQ Diamond AES/EBU 
2 X Devialet 440-PRO CI >  3 x AQ Wild  RCA-XLR | 12 x Orea Bronze, 4 x SR Atmosphere PC | B&W 802 D3 {Bi-Amped}  >  AQ Redwood - HF & AQ Oak - LF
PS Audio PP 12 + AQ X3 | Room Acoustics by GIK Acoustics & RPG Diffusers - SAM DISABLED - Washington DC - US
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#2
Hi, I would expect it to be better than Tidal, but not a file from your HD. A better comparison would be to rip the same CD to your HD and then compare. I have made a numerous comparisons in the past file vs. CD and the files were always better sounding. Kind Regards, Douglas
220 Pro/CI, Rega RP8/Apheta 2, NAS/Roon, Furutech e-TP86 power distributor, Audoquest NRG10, Furutech Flux-50 filter, Furutect Powerflux, Furutech Speakerflux, Sonus Faber Stradivari. 
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#3
Surly it is worth metioning that it is a mighty CD player that you are running. Is it really a surprise that it sounds a touch better than a relatively modest device streaming Tidal?
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#4
I'll agree with douglas' comment but that doesn't explain the difference between AES/EBU and ethernet.

There is two obvious differences in what is going on in the signal path. The first is the difference in power supplies involved and we know different power supplies can introduce different amounts of noise to the signal. Perhaps the transport power supply introduces a different amount of noise to the signal than the power supply for the Nucleus. The second difference is that you're using Roon AIR to stream to the Devialet so you've got a signal being fed to a buffer in the Devialet and the DAC is operating in asynchronous mode while AES/EBU is a real time transfer, the Devialet's DAC is not working in asynchronous mode, and the clock in the transport has an effect on the timing of the signal so jitter rates in the DAC are going to be different. You also mention having OREA Bronze under the transport but not under the Nucleus. That may also influence what you're hearing. I hear a difference in the sound from my server if I sit it on a shelf in my Grand Prix Audio rack compared to when I sit it on something different, and I hear a difference if I put it's outboard power supply on the same shelf in the rack as the server or if I put it on something different. Isolation can make a difference to a server in my experience.

While it's possible to argue that one path should be theoretically superior to the other, the bottom line is that there are differences and where there are differences people can have preferences. Lower THD is theoretically preferable to higher THD for example, but some people prefer the sound of a tubed amp with higher THD to the sound of a solid state amp with lower THD. Things like the spectrum of the THD influence can influence a person's preference as much or more than the amount of the THD.

I can believe that there is a difference in sound between your 2 sources and if there is a difference then it really doesn't matter what the cause of the differences is, each listener will prefer one over the other but not every listener is going to have the same preference. There's a difference between vinyl and digital disc and some people prefer vinyl, some prefer digital. Why shouldn't some people listening to your system and this comparison prefer the disc and others prefer the stream? I think that if you invited a number of different people over you may find some who agree with you and some who disagree.

The only other thing I can suggest is that you may be more familiar with the sound from the transport than the sound from the Nucleus. We often tend to prefer the familiar sound to the unfamiliar sound because until we become as familiar with the new as we were with the old, we tend to notice the things where the new is worse and not notice the things where the new is better plus we focus more on differences than on the overall presentation of the sound. With increased familiarity with the new we can find ourselves preferring the new over the old.

You're hearing a difference so you can expect to have a preference. Preferences aren't right or wrong, they have nothing to do with whether one is theoretically or technically better or worse, they're simply about like and dislike. If you're listening for pleasure, and I'd like to think you are, then like always wins out over dislike regardless of right or wrong, or of theoretically better or worse. As I said, however, familiarity plays a part in our assessments. The more you listen to the transport and the more you don't listen to the stream, the less chance there is that increasing familiarity with the stream will result in a change in your preference and the more you may reinforce your existing preference. There's nothing wrong with that, you don't have to force yourself to listen to the stream instead of the transport in order to find out if your preference will change and the fact is that if you do that you may not find that your preferences will change. It's impossible to predict because preferences are personal and subjective and, as I said, they aren't right or wrong. You can just continue to enjoy disc playback because you're listening for enjoyment.

I can point to things that may account for the difference you hear but I can't explain how those things cause the differences or what makes you prefer one result over the other. You hear a difference and I don't think there's any reason to question that. You have a preference and there's no arguing about preference. We all have our own preferences when we're confronted with differences. Pay my airfare so I can come and visit you, listen to the same comparisons, and I'll tell you which I prefer but that won't make a difference to you. If I were you I'd take the money my air fare would cost and instead of buying me a plane ticket to visit I'd buy more discs to play in your transport.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#5
@David A

Appreciate your long post and guess spinning discs is more familiar territory to me ever since I lost my Metronome Kalista CD Transport in an earthquake in 2015 that destroyed my entire system and I had to start all over again from ground zero. I leaned over to computer playback for the last 2 years and now that recently I managed to get hold of this CEC TL0X transport, it opened my doors to my 3500+ CDs that I had (some of which are already in Files hence available via Roon & Roon Nucleus) but of late, find the actual CD to have the emotional impact ... 

I wonder should I try the USB connection from the Nucleus to my Devs, how that's going to hold vs. the Ethernet ?  Whats your opinion on this ?
Roon Nucleus w/ LPSU & AQ Z3 + Roon Air & iPad  >  AQ Diamond ETH | CEC TL0X CD Transport + AQ Z3 + 3 x Orea Indigo > AQ Diamond AES/EBU 
2 X Devialet 440-PRO CI >  3 x AQ Wild  RCA-XLR | 12 x Orea Bronze, 4 x SR Atmosphere PC | B&W 802 D3 {Bi-Amped}  >  AQ Redwood - HF & AQ Oak - LF
PS Audio PP 12 + AQ X3 | Room Acoustics by GIK Acoustics & RPG Diffusers - SAM DISABLED - Washington DC - US
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#6
I don't know how USB from the Nucleus to the Devialet would compare to ethernet. All I can say is that I've tried both from my Antipodes, which was the bottom of the Antipodes range at the time I bought it, and I felt they were close but ethernet had the edge. This was despite the fact that the USB connection enabled me to eliminate a potential source of noise by removing an ethernet switch in the connection path. Some might argue that if I had a better ethernet cable or used one of the USB improvement devices of various kinds I could have done better and USB would have come out as superior. And maybe my preference for ethernet was simply personal preference for one thing over another.

I think you will get better results with ethernet if you make a configuration which has the USB input disabled and better results with USB if you make a configuration with ethernet disabled. Having both enabled seems to cause a slight drop in quality, perhaps more for the USB input than the ethernet input in my case. It is a small drop but I think USB does sound better with only one of those 2 inputs enabled. It still didn't sound quite as good as ethernet but the difference between them was smaller and it was small between them anyway with both inputs enabled. It's a lot easier and quicker to make A/B comparisons with both enabled. Switching configurations and having to choose a new audio zone when you do makes it impossible to do quick A/B comparisons and that could be affecting my perceptions. I'm trying to be scrupulously honest and admit all of the issues which could call my perceptions into doubt, especially since I've said that the differences I hear are very small. It's a lot easier to be wrong with small differences than with large differences as I think you will know.

Roon recommend ethernet between server and end point and the Devialet is our end point and your server is a Roon product. Antipodes recommend USB output. There's more than a few differences between the Nucleus and my Antipodes, and I'm using the stock Antipodes power supply whereas you're using a different power supply. We're hardly making the identical comparisons that would be ideal in a research quality listening test.

All I can really suggest is that you try it if you want to but I can't predict what decision you'll reach. You're using what I regard as a better server than mine, and a better Devialet than mine, so you may hear a bigger difference than I do but that isn't guaranteed.

I may try revisiting the USB/ethernet comparison again after we get the Roon Ready update and the Devialet can accept RAAT. That may make a difference, especially if my Devialet's USB input shows up as Roon Ready. Some comments about RAAT on Roon's website seem to suggest that Roon can communicate with some USB DACs via RAAT but I may be reading those comments wrong. We've got a poster here who goes by the moniker of "Confused". If he hadn't already grabbed that user name I may have because there are times when I really find computer audio confusing. I've got close to 50 years experience in non-computer audio and 18 months in computer audio. I still feel like I've only started finding my way with what I'm doing at times.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#7
I think comparing an all-in-one computer server from software company Roon Vs a SOTA CD transport is a bit unfair.

On the other hand I would be quite interested in how my dCS Network Bridge at a much lower price point compares with the venerable CEC TL0X.
440 Pro, Linn Sondek LP12 Ittok, Phasemation PP-300/T-300, Vivid Pardo V1.5, Squeezebox Touch, Teddy Pardo PS, Mac Mini SSD, Roon

Viard Audio Silver HD S/PDIF cable, Viard Audio HD12 power cable, Supra CAT6 LAN cables, Audioquest Carbon USB cable
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