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Jim McCall
2004-12-27, 11:31
I have read a bunch of posts relating to DACs and I am just a bit confused.
Right now I have the squeezebox graphic output to a relatively humble
Kenwood receiver via a TOSLINK cable.

Some questions:

does my receiver have a built-in DAC?

What would change for me if I got a separate DAC? Where would it go?

With what kind of cables do you hook up a separate DAC?

Would a high end receiver/amp have a much better DAC built in?




Thanks!

Jim

Jack Coates
2004-12-27, 11:38
Jim McCall wrote:
> I have read a bunch of posts relating to DACs and I am just a bit confused.
> Right now I have the squeezebox graphic output to a relatively humble
> Kenwood receiver via a TOSLINK cable.
>
> Some questions:
>
> does my receiver have a built-in DAC?
>
> What would change for me if I got a separate DAC? Where would it go?
>
> With what kind of cables do you hook up a separate DAC?
>
> Would a high end receiver/amp have a much better DAC built in?
>
>
>

ooo boy, here comes the audiophile argument!! Heh, hopefully not.

A Digital Audio Convertor is the component responsible for turning
zeroes and ones into analogue sound for use by your amplifier, speakers,
and ultimately ears. The Squeezebox includes a middle-of-the-road
component. Some people have done double-blind testing and have ranged
from pleased to thrilled with the sound of it, though others complain
mightily.

External DACs can be purchased in prices ranging from "computer" to
"automobile", and you can hook your Squeezebox to these via TOSLink so
that they'll do the digital-to-analogue conversion instead.

If you're happy with the sound of your system, be happy. If you're not
happy, or you just want to buy some new gear, then it's time to go shopping.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip since 1996!

JJ
2004-12-27, 11:55
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim McCall" <jim (AT) elasticmedia (DOT) com>
To: "Slim Devices" <discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>
Sent: Monday, December 27, 2004 11:31 AM
Subject: [slim] DAC: what exactly is it and who needs (wants) it?



A DAC is a digital-to-analog converter. Generally a chip or set of chips
that convert the digital signal to a usable, audible analog signal.


>I have read a bunch of posts relating to DACs and I am just a bit
>confused.
> Right now I have the squeezebox graphic output to a relatively humble
> Kenwood receiver via a TOSLINK cable.
>
> Some questions:
>
> does my receiver have a built-in DAC?


Yes.


> What would change for me if I got a separate DAC? Where would it go?


It might sound better. This will be highly dependant upon the rest of
your system, how well it resolves subtle differences in source signals,
and, of course, your own ability to both hear and appreciate the
differences.


> With what kind of cables do you hook up a separate DAC?


The Squeezebox has two digital outputs - the optical toslink that you're
using now, and an RCA connector. The RCA output would use a (digital)
coax cable with two RCA plugs at either end.


> Would a high end receiver/amp have a much better DAC built in?


It may. I'm not aware of many amps that have built in DACs (although I'm
certain there must be a few), but receivers targeted at home theater
applications generally do. A better receiver may have a better quality
DAC. Typically a two-chanel DAC for audio use would be a standalone
device.

Your Squeezebox also has a built in DAC. If your receiver has any spare
analog inputs (Aux1, CD Player, Tape, etc.) then you could run the analog
audio from the Squeezebox into the receiver, just as you would an external
CD or tape player. This will require a pair of RCA-RCA cables, one for
each left/right channel.

I'd recommend comparing the Squeezebox's DAC with the DAC in your
receiver. If you hear differences and find a preference of one over the
other then it may be worth investigating better sounding DACs for your
system.

thnmnt
2004-12-27, 12:01
my take on external DACs.

if you're not happy with the sound of your system...by new speakers.
if you're still not happy - buy a new amp/receiver
if you're still not happy consider that you made the wrong choice of amps
and speakers and repeat.

if you are absolutely positive that that that is not the problem - buy the
ART DIO dac for 120 bucks (check the net for all the mods on this thing) and
be happy that you've bought a dac that sounds like it costs 10 times the
price.

if you're complaining about the sb's dac quality while listening to
compressed audio..smack yourself in the face and say "i am a moron, my ears
are not that good" into the mirror 3 times.

--t

ps. i have an external DAC - i listen to compressed audio - i am a moron.

in my defense, i had this thing lying around anyway so i just hooked it up
for kicks. i've kidded myself into thinking the sound is *slightly*
improved. and...uh, i think i'm right.




>
> ooo boy, here comes the audiophile argument!! Heh, hopefully not.
>
> A Digital Audio Convertor is the component responsible for turning
> zeroes and ones into analogue sound for use by your amplifier, speakers,
> and ultimately ears. The Squeezebox includes a middle-of-the-road
> component. Some people have done double-blind testing and have ranged
> from pleased to thrilled with the sound of it, though others complain
> mightily.
>
> External DACs can be purchased in prices ranging from "computer" to
> "automobile", and you can hook your Squeezebox to these via TOSLink so
> that they'll do the digital-to-analogue conversion instead.
>
> If you're happy with the sound of your system, be happy. If you're not
> happy, or you just want to buy some new gear, then it's time to go
shopping.
>
> --
> Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
> Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip since 1996!
>

Michael Amster
2004-12-27, 12:06
> ooo boy, here comes the audiophile argument!! Heh, hopefully not.
>
> A Digital Audio Convertor is the component responsible for turning
> zeroes and ones into analogue sound for use by your amplifier,
> speakers, and ultimately ears. The Squeezebox includes a
> middle-of-the-road component. Some people have done double-blind
> testing and have ranged from pleased to thrilled with the sound of it,
> though others complain mightily.
>
> External DACs can be purchased in prices ranging from "computer" to
> "automobile", and you can hook your Squeezebox to these via TOSLink so
> that they'll do the digital-to-analogue conversion instead.
>
> If you're happy with the sound of your system, be happy. If you're not
> happy, or you just want to buy some new gear, then it's time to go
> shopping.
>
I will jump in here since I have an external DAC and am "an audiophile"
but listen on all sorts of equipment as is necessary (I will never
upgrade my car stereo and will keep work stereo's simple due to the
environment).

Since the Analog signal is what eventually gets amplified and reaches
your ears, you can often construct a better signal with better parts and
devices. Additionally, some people believe that you can avoid jitter
(the issue of your clock signal intersecting your musical signal in the
right places to produce the right bits). I don't think most Midfi
equipment will resolve enough detail to make a difference - if you can
borrow a DAC from a friend and try it out, judge for yourself.

I have a pretty high end Pre/Pro for home theater - B&K Ref50. It has
built in DACs. I still prefer the squeezebox run through my outdoor Art
DI/O DAC (modded). It sounds better to me. Would I hear it from the
next room - doubtful. So if you listen in the background and don't want
to spend money - then don't bother. If you are going to use FLAC, and
have a good system with good speakers and plan to sit and really listen
to your music, then you will possibly find value in an external DAC.

Then again, you may just be bitten by the Audio bug where you must
upgrade because things always sound "better". I have found that a happy
medium of DIY projects and incremental improvements keeps me happy. I
keep busy - and I like what I hear. I can definitely live without more
changes, but if they do not cost me a mortgage and my wife tolerates my
soldering, then we are all happy.

Anyway, there are a number of lower cost DACs that get consistently good
writeups:

Art DI/O - about $100 dollars from FullCompass - must mod the output
signal to change from pro gear level of 7V to consumer 2V. Two
resistors and a cable will get you this - or buy an already modded one.

Nixon Tube DAC - http://www.scott-nixon.com/dac.htm

And, the current stereophile darling: the Benchmark DAC ($975)
http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/

-MA

Michael Scott
2004-12-27, 19:06
Since we have audiophiles in the crowd, can anyone recommend a good and
affordable A/D converter to use for digitizing my old 12" vinyl LPs?

I would also need decent software (maybe with EQ pop/click removal) that won't
bankruupt me.

I run SuSE Pro 9.1 (No windoze software please). TIA
----------------------
- Mike Scott
- mscott (AT) pyewacket (DOT) org

Graham Ridgway at home
2004-12-28, 12:03
of course it depends :-))

What is your destination format and system? Lossless or MP3?
Is your record deck an audiophile one? Is your target an audiophile system?
If you are trying to get lossless through an audiophile system, then stop
now. Just play the records! If you ripping to a lossy format (such as
MP3), then this is what I have done...

I have had good results using 'budget' hifi, recording albums using a #200
Thorens record deck, a #300 Pioneer "Precision" series amp as a pre-amp and
a good spec creative sound card.

This produces 44.1khz wavs that I split into individual wav tracks and write
these to CD as CD Audio and encode them using Lame.

This produces very good MP3s for use on my 7 unit slim system and in the
car. The audio CDs sound very much like a Thorens record deck playing
through a Pioneer amp! Ie budget and not Audiophile.

I can't recommend any software as mine is all windoze. I don't process the
sound at all though to remove any hisses and clicks as I prefer it the way
it comes off the record. I just split the wavs using software called
LPRipper prior to encoding.

HTH
Graham
(I am not an audiophile, but do have a high end hifi - Linn, Naim and B&W)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Scott" <mscott (AT) pyewacket (DOT) org>
To: "Slim Devices Discussion" <discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 2:06 AM
Subject: [slim] How about ADC? (Was: DAC: what exactly is it and who
needs(wants) it?)


> Since we have audiophiles in the crowd, can anyone recommend a good and
> affordable A/D converter to use for digitizing my old 12" vinyl LPs?
>
> I would also need decent software (maybe with EQ pop/click removal) that
> won't
> bankruupt me.
>
> I run SuSE Pro 9.1 (No windoze software please). TIA
> ----------------------
> - Mike Scott
> - mscott (AT) pyewacket (DOT) org
>

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-12-28, 12:20
Michael Scott wrote:

>Since we have audiophiles in the crowd, can anyone recommend a good and
>affordable A/D converter to use for digitizing my old 12" vinyl LPs?
>
>I would also need decent software (maybe with EQ pop/click removal) that won't
>bankruupt me.
>
>I run SuSE Pro 9.1 (No windoze software please). TIA
>
>
Gentoo all the way, here!

I don't claim to be an audiophile, but I'm getting what I consider good
results with a Sony turntable, a vintage Yamaha CR-620 receiver and a
generic sound card. I record with Audacity and clip out the nastier pops
by hand. I haven't played with Audacity's noise removal filter yet, but
as I progress into the less well-maintained sections of my vinyl, I'll
give it a try. I record each album as one long wav.

For mastering, I load the wav into gcdmaster and set the track markers.
Then I burn an audio CD. Finally, I feed that audio CD back into grip
and rip it to MP3 (lame --preset extreme) for inclusion in my server
collection.

As an aside, the ID algorithm on FreeDB must use some good fuzzy logic.
I've seen several of these home-built CDs get identified correctly!
--

Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
"It's just this little chromium switch, here." - TFT
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Pat Farrell
2004-12-29, 13:15
Just to chime in with a quick comment, containing my biases, etc.

At 01:31 PM 12/27/2004, Jim McCall wrote:
>Right now I have the squeezebox graphic output to a relatively humble
>Kenwood receiver via a TOSLINK cable.

The build-in SqueezeBox DAC is not bad. Probably on the
order of those built into consumer "home theater" receivers.
I bought a Sony receiver with 5 channels and all sort of features
for $300 at Circuit City. I can't tell any difference
between either the SqueezeBox's $5 DAC or the Sony's $5 DAC

>With what kind of cables do you hook up a separate DAC?
>Would a high end receiver/amp have a much better DAC built in?

Many people argue that fancy digital cables are a way to make
Stereo store owners rich.

The kind of cable depends on your external DAC, the SqueezeBox
has both Optical (toslink) and coax plugs. In the pro audio world,
optical is not favored, but they do high sample rates and long word
lengths, something that red book CDs can't do.

I think that my Benchmark DAC-1 made a huge difference.
But I have a $2000 amplifier (not a receiver) and $4000 speakers.
My advice is that if you don't have serious speakers, placement, amps,
etc. then why bother with a fancy DAC?

I bought the Benchmark thinking I was going to use it to monitor
in my recording studio, and tried it in the main stereo for giggles.
Now if I want on in the studio, I'll have to buy another.

YMMV, etc.

Pat


Pat Farrell pfarrell (AT) pfarrell (DOT) com
http://www.pfarrell.com

Ken Stuart
2004-12-30, 22:17
On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 20:06:33 -0600 (CST), Michael Scott <mscott (AT) pyewacket (DOT) org>
wrote:

>Since we have audiophiles in the crowd, can anyone recommend a good and
>affordable A/D converter

Doesn't exist (as stated).


--
Cheers,

Ken