Does ‘ripping’ from a CD affect quality?

I may not have golden ears (they’re silver, remember?), but I have never been able to detect a difference in quality from a ripped CD. However just the other day I was listening an album recorded on my phone (from a CD), then ‘cast’ via google’s Chromecast Audio (which is supposed to transmit data be bit perfect and uncompressed). I was listening via my NAD pre-amp, Arcam power amp and Castle speakers – one of a variety of systems I have built over the years. I then put on the original CD and sent it via the same DAC (the mojo) via its co-ax connection and onwards through the same analogue chain.

The difference was actually quite stark. And that was allowing for gain differences (not always easy but with practice on the volume control and repetition I can learn to discount this factor).

Although the cast version continued to be perfectly pleasant and listenable, compared to the CD, the bass was flabby and the imaging was quite noticeably more 2D, confining layered female singing voices to left and right, whereas the CD brought them out in from of the speakers to a certain extent. I am quite surprised by the less than subtle results here.

I know that I am in fact comparing more than one change at a time (CD direct versus a rip copied to a phone and cast via another piece of hardwear, but that said, in theory the above all takes place in the digital domain and should be transparent.

Anyone have any comments on this? Feel free to say I’m imagining the differences – it’s all digital innit? or conversely, that what was I expecting- I’m comparing apples and oranges … discuss…..

Chord Mojo versus Dragonfly

2018-03-27 21.04.21So, i’m getting to grips with this baby. The reviews are mostly accurate I’d say, but DAC’s (albeit ones with a headphone amp built-in), are always gonna be subtle, compared to headphones, speakers or amps. I tend to back away slowly with arms raised, from any reviews which claim a ‘night+day’ revolutionary difference between DACS.

I consider myself to have, if not golden ears, then certainly silver ones and it took me at least half an hour after set-up in the shop, to start to be able to put into words the differences I was hearing between my Dragonfly DAC and the Mojo.

So, the Mojo has a smoother sound, but that smoothness does not, to my ears, result in any decrease in detail. Quite the opposite in fact. This, to me indicates that the smoothness is an innate characteristic of the hardwear, rather than the shortcut which i feel some lesser devices employ- simply filtering off higher frequencies to give an ‘analogue’ type sound. Um, no.

The Dragonfly, on the other hand, made vocals stand out that little bit more- they were less a part of the whole soundstage and more distinct, yet flatter sounding. Overall though I prefer the Chord and it’s soundstaging is magnificent; when used in line-out mode through speakers, I was hearing layered female vocals, way out from the speakers. That said, for the purposes of this comparison I was not able to use the Dragonfly through speakers.