I have had a computer audio installation as a part of my system for the past nine years. I started with a very simple single PC/JRMC/JRemote installation and over the years have progressed to dual PC/JPLAY Femto/AO 3.30 Beta/Process Lasso Server/Fidelizer Pro/BubbleUPnP. In the time that I have used computer audio, I have used Windows 10/2012 Server (GUI and Core)/2016 Server/2019 Server. I have always used my Naim Audio DAC, powered by a Naim Audio XPS power supply. I recently changed my S/PDIF converter from M2Tech HiFace Evo to Singxer SU-1. The sound that I am able to achieve now is without doubt, superior to the sound quality achieveable with my original Windows 10/JRMC/JRemote setup. Had JRiver not prevented the use of JPLAY with their software, I might still be there. Although JRiver referred to JPLAY as 'a hoax', my experience was that it did indeed significantly improve sound quality. My current setup is good. It is largely stable and reliable and it enables me to enjoy music although I have always felt that something just isn't right.
On Saturday, I went to my local vinyl store for the first time in years. It was Record Store Day and I wanted one of this year's available RSD releases. When I brought the record home and played it, I realised what was wrong. ith digital audio, both CD and DAC based, the sound seems recessed and flat. With vinyl the sound comes into the listening room with the listener, offering an almost holographic presentation of the music. I tried a few more digital vs analogue comparisons and found that my initial experience was consistent. Playing a vinyl album offers a quality of sound that is vastly superior to either of my digital sources.
I am aware that my computer audio equipment is long in the tooth. I have never heard a really good high end computer audio setup. It would I'm sure, make for an interesting comparison. I can't afford to get myself a high end computer audio setup. Having retired from work, my upgrading days are gone. I wonder though if it is the case that digital sound cannot rival its analogue counterpart. There are many who will tell you that this is the case.
As previously mentioned, I would be really interest to hear a comparative listening test between a high end computer audio setup and a high end vinyl setup.
Each has its relative advantages. CD is low maintenance, computer audio is mostly low maintenance and vinyl, by comparison, is relatively high maintenance. The listener is required to turn or change the record every twenty minutes or so, styli need to be treated with utmost care and kept clean. It can be a hassle.
I have a friend who is a devotee of analogue sound. For many years, he has built his own turntables and has frequently attempted to explain to me in technical terms why digital recording and replay can never equal analogue. He does not have and has never had, a digital source component in his system. I wonder if he is right and that a reference sound can never be achieve with digital components. The lack of general availability of vinyl will of course, influence equipment choice. I am most certainly glad that I have retained my vinyl collection of around 3500 albums, mostly purchased in the 1960s and 1970s.
Wonder where the audiophile market will go from here.