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View Full Version : DAC in Pioneer Elite VSX-26TX vs. DAC in SB3



jeffmeh
2007-01-25, 06:27
Does anyone know which DAC is incorporated in the Pioneer Elite VSX-26TX? All I can find on the web is that it is a "Burr Brown 96k / 24-bit D/A Converter." It does not indicate which Burr Brown model, and it is possible that they even used different ones for different manufacturing runs.

I'm curious as to whether the VSX-26TX DAC is considered superior, inferior, or equivalent to the SB3 DAC. If anyone has any insight into this I would be grateful.

P.S. I run the SB3 into the VSX-26TX through SPDIF, and do not enable any DSP in the receiver. That was the most convenient way for me to set it up, and I do like the sound. I do not feel compelled to try running the SB3's DAC through analog, but if someone can tell me definitively that the SB3's DAC is considered superior, I would be willing to invest some time experimenting. Of course, even in that case, it does not mean that I will like the sound better.

P Floding
2007-01-25, 07:49
Does anyone know which DAC is incorporated in the Pioneer Elite VSX-26TX? All I can find on the web is that it is a "Burr Brown 96k / 24-bit D/A Converter." It does not indicate which Burr Brown model, and it is possible that they even used different ones for different manufacturing runs.

I'm curious as to whether the VSX-26TX DAC is considered superior, inferior, or equivalent to the SB3 DAC. If anyone has any insight into this I would be grateful.

P.S. I run the SB3 into the VSX-26TX through SPDIF, and do not enable any DSP in the receiver. That was the most convenient way for me to set it up, and I do like the sound. I do not feel compelled to try running the SB3's DAC through analog, but if someone can tell me definitively that the SB3's DAC is considered superior, I would be willing to invest some time experimenting. Of course, even in that case, it does not mean that I will like the sound better.

A not too wild a guess is that anything surrounding the DAC (power, clock, receiver chip, etc) makes as much or more of a difference than what precise DAC is being used.

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-25, 08:09
Well, whether it's inferior or superior, only your ears can answer. It's very subjective and if someone were to suggest it's better or worse you would naturally hear the difference due to the placebo effect.

The VSX-26TX is an Elite model I believe - it's safe to say its DAC is no slouch. Then again the SB3 has a good DAC as well...so again, experiment.


P.S. I run the SB3 into the VSX-26TX through SPDIF, and do not enable any DSP in the receiver. That was the most convenient way for me to set it up, and I do like the sound. I do not feel compelled to try running the SB3's DAC through analog, but if someone can tell me definitively that the SB3's DAC is considered superior, I would be willing to invest some time experimenting. Of course, even in that case, it does not mean that I will like the sound better.

See http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?AVReceivers. Going digitally into the receiver, you can take advantage of any DSP mode you like without an extra A-D conversion. However if you use an analog input, as soon as you use any mode other than direct/bypass, you'll get an extra A-D conversion so the sound can be passed through the DSP.

So comparing analog and digital using direct/bypass mode with volumes matched is the closest you can come to a direct comparison. Fortunately this is pretty easy on most receivers since the SB outputs analog and digital simultaneously. Simply set the volume, put it in direct/bypass, play music and switch inputs. Some receivers will let you assign it to the same input that you can change with an analog/digital button. You'll only get a fraction of a second of interruption.

You can do rudimentary ABX tests by listening to analog, then digital, then closing your eyes and toggling the input button very rapidly. See if you can then guess which input is active.

jeffmeh
2007-01-25, 08:22
Thanks for the replies. Time is at a premium, so unless someone tells me that the SB's DAC should be much better (emphasis on should), I'm not going to bother experimenting. I suspect that my sound quality will be limited by the room and WAF, anyway.

Incidentally, I called Pioneer, and they could not give me any information other than that it was a Burr Brown 96 Khz /24 bit.

Eric Carroll
2007-01-25, 09:22
P.S. I run the SB3 into the VSX-26TX through SPDIF, and do not enable any DSP in the receiver. I do not feel compelled to try running the SB3's DAC through analog, but if someone can tell me definitively that the SB3's DAC is considered superior, I would be willing to invest some time experimenting.

I have a VSX-40TXi (scheduled for upgrade). I am attaching a SB3 to it as well.

I plan to use the digital connection, not analog, just like you have done.

The rationale for this is as Mark says above. The Pioneer takes any analog input and resamples it into the digital domain for DSP processing. So, if you go SB3 -> analog -> VSX you are D/A converting on the SB3 then A/D and D/A on the VSX. This adds an extra step of analog/digital conversion which is not required, and may add additional distortion or noise.

Use the VSX DAC - everything else is: your DVD player, your digital STB, etc etc.

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-25, 09:57
The Pioneer takes any analog input and resamples it into the digital domain for DSP processing. So, if you go SB3 -> analog -> VSX you are D/A converting on the SB3 then A/D and D/A on the VSX. This adds an extra step of analog/digital conversion which is not required, and may add additional distortion or noise.

Note direct/bypass modes are supposed to bypass the DSP, eliminating the extra conversion.

However this means you won't have the niceties the DSP can provide - no surround modes, usually no bass management and often not even any tone controls.

wdrazek
2007-01-25, 10:22
I run my SB into a Pioneer Elite VSX47. There is a different sound depending on whether I use the analog out or run digital into the AVR. Neither is clearly superior IMO and I go back and forth in terms of preference.

Eric Carroll
2007-01-25, 10:55
Note direct/bypass modes are supposed to bypass the DSP, eliminating the extra conversion.


Mark,

My VSX-49Txi has a "DIRECT" mode. The manual simply indicates it takes the "shortest path". Nowhere does it say it bypasses the DAC but I assume this is what it is doing.

If you wanted, you could run BOTH the analog and digital cables in parallel (since both are active) and A/B it for comparison. I know my 49Txi can terminate both and let you select analog or digital input paths.

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-25, 11:23
My VSX-49Txi has a "DIRECT" mode. The manual simply indicates it takes the "shortest path". Nowhere does it say it bypasses the DAC but I assume this is what it is doing.

Yeah, I've seen some of the manufacturers be kind of cagey with that feature. It could be that they're implementing basic things like volume control entirely in the DSP and need it all the time.

There are certain high-end pre/pros that digitize all the time: Lexicon and (I think) Anthem.


If you wanted, you could run BOTH the analog and digital cables in parallel (since both are active) and A/B it for comparison. I know my 49Txi can terminate both and let you select analog or digital input paths.

As I stated, this is the easiest way, and you can switch between both while the music is playing with only a fraction of a second dropout.

Eric Carroll
2007-01-25, 11:30
There are certain high-end pre/pros that digitize all the time: Lexicon and (I think) Anthem.


Well the Anthem Statement D2 is my next target upgrade :-) So I just happen to have the manual right here.

The D2 has a nicely named "Anlg-Dir" mode, which states "A/D conversion and Digital Signal Processing are bypassed and the preamp plays the traditional role of switching inputs and adjusting levels". So no DSP there.

I have not looked into the AVM series. It has a different audio system from the D2.

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-25, 11:36
Well the Anthem Statement D2 is my next target upgrade :-) So I just happen to have the manual right here.

The D2 has a nicely named "Anlg-Dir" mode, which states "A/D conversion and Digital Signal Processing are bypassed and the preamp plays the traditional role of switching inputs and adjusting levels". So no DSP there.

I have not looked into the AVM series. It has a different audio system from the D2.

That's why I said "I think". ;-) Plus they change things all the time.

One component that does a really good job of this is the Bryston SP2. Analog sound is their forté.