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2005-02-16, 12:46
Can someone recommend a good DAC for the budget conscious music lover

Emile

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com] On Behalf Of Triode
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 2:28 PM
To: Slim Devices Discussion
Subject: [slim] audiophile cred

Michael,

If you want serious hifi and are using an external DAC then you don't
want lots of analogue stuff in the transport! Why pay for it?

With a separate DAC, the beauty of devices like the squeezebox is that
they are only responsible for sending a digital bitstream out of the
back end. The signal is in the digital domain the whole way though so
no errors which are induced. Assuming you have a good digital copy of
the original music on your server and stream it uncompressed to the
squeezebox, an accurate bitstream will come out of the digital out.
Arguably if you rip your music with something like EAC (which checks for
errors at reading time) and store an uncompressesed or losslessly
compressed (e.g. FLAC) copy, then you have a more accurate copy on your
hard disk than many CD players manage to read.

To get the ultimate hifi quality you really need a dac which is capable
of removing any jitter on the link from the slimserver.
Although the jitter on the output is very low (as good as many CD
transports to my ears), it is not the lowest. [My CD transport is
noticably slightly better that the squeezebox with a simple dac - but
then I've spent more that the cost of the squeezebox on upgrading the CD
transport...!] However I would put it as good as many off the shelf
transports. One of the problems with CD players is all the high current
motors and servos necessary to read the disk can impact the clock and
signal processing unless lots of attention is played to the power supply
design - putting the cost up. For squeezebox and devices like it, there
is no need as all this stuff is done in the PC.

Audioasylum PCAudio: http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/bbs.html
usually has interesting stuff to say about PC based hifi.

Adrian
----- Original Message -----
From: "momerath" <michael.warnock (AT) gmail (DOT) com>
To: "Slim Devices Discussion" <discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:03 PM
Subject: [slim] audiophile cred


> Hi,
>
> I got my squeezebox last week and I'm really pleased with it so far.
> I think it sounds great as transport for my Ack dAck, which is fairly
> transport sensitive, and I was very pleased with the analog out
> quality from the little critical listening I've done of it so far. I
> trust my ears more than other audio enthusiasts, but there is a
> recently started thread on my discussion forum of choice (head-fi.org)
> concerning the design of the SB. The last comment posted was this:
>
> well, unless there are components mounted from bottom, which I don't
> believe, than there is no serious analog output circuitry, I can't see
> chip markings from the pic here, what I see is some Micronas IC, some
> all-in-one solution with integrated DACs and amps and everything, and
> some smaller one next to it, probably some logic.. regarding digital
> output, there is no transformer coupling.. I'd say it's as simple and
> cheap as you can get.. my comments are based purely on seeing this pic
> here.
>
>
> I just wanted to give those here, who might have knowledge to the
> contrary, to chime in and, perhaps, prevent potential customers from
> being turned off. And, of course, I'd love to know that the $280 I
> spent wasnt on something "as simple and cheap as you can get".
>
> The thread can be found here:
>
http://curie.rad.mcw.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www6.head-fi.o
rg/forums/showthread.php?threadid=106254
>
> ~Thanks,
> Michael
>

Robin Bowes
2005-02-16, 13:23
Emile_Weekes (AT) Dell (DOT) com wrote:
> Can someone recommend a good DAC for the budget conscious music lover

Heh, this is the sort of OT stuff the forum weanies love :)

I've got an Art DI/O - cheap if you can find one. Also, the M-Audio
SuperDAc is highly thought of.

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

Mark Bennett
2005-02-16, 14:25
Another DAC which seems quite popular and is reasonably affordable
(as far as audiophile goes) is the Benchmark DAC-1.

It works well with the SB, and there are several of us on this list
using them.

I'm driving a Meridian G02/G57 balanced pre/power amp feeding Kef
Reference speakers from mine, and it sounds great.


On Wed, 2005-02-16 at 20:23 +0000, Robin Bowes wrote:
> Emile_Weekes (AT) Dell (DOT) com wrote:
> > Can someone recommend a good DAC for the budget conscious music lover
>
> Heh, this is the sort of OT stuff the forum weanies love :)
>
> I've got an Art DI/O - cheap if you can find one. Also, the M-Audio
> SuperDAc is highly thought of.
>
> R.
--
"The biggest problem encountered while trying to design a system that
was completely foolproof, was, that people tended to underestimate the
ingenuity of complete fools." (Douglas Adams)

Robin Bowes
2005-02-16, 14:44
Jason wrote:
> Unless you have a very good amplifier, excellent speakers and are playing
> lossless material the benefits of an outboard DAC are going to be marginal
> at best. The integrated DAC in most newer home theater recievers would
> sound excellent to 99.9% of users out there.

True. I did some tests using my DI/O and a modded Perpetual Technologies
P-3A with P1A Digital Correction engine and neither I nor the owner of
the P3A/P1A could hear much improvement over the stock Squeezebox and
either of these DACs on my unmodified stereo (Rotel RA820A, B&W DM610
speakers). In fact, he preferred the sound of the Squeezebox!

I've since modded the RA820A (capacitors, preamp opamp, bypassed all
tone-control circuitry, preamp out) and am using it to drive the HF
speakers with an RA850 driving the LF speakers. I can now hear a
difference between the Squeezebox and my DI/O, but it's very subtle -
there are slight tonal differences, but the main difference is that DI/O
sounds more musical, refined, smooth, less tiring to listen to (and
other such audiophile bollocks!).

So as Jason suggests, unless you're using high-end gear, stick with the
native Squeezebox analogue out.

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

Michael Amster
2005-02-16, 19:24
Call FullCompass -
<http://stores.ebay.com/Full-Compass_Workstations-Audio-Video_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZQ2d1QQftidZ2QQtZkm>
Ask them to beat this price - they often sell the Art DIO for $129. It
is a great DAC for cheap - there are tons of mods -
<http://www.siteswithstyle.com/VoltSecond/ART_DIO_MODs/ART_DIO_MODs.html>

I have a heavily modified one and am working on a from scratch unit that
cannibalizes the ART DIO digital board...
Sounds good with the SB - it is a fine transport as is - will update the
PSU and hardwire the plug - that should be as good as it is worth doing
for tweaks...

-MA

Robin Bowes wrote:

> Emile_Weekes (AT) Dell (DOT) com wrote:
>
>> Can someone recommend a good DAC for the budget conscious music lover
>
>
> Heh, this is the sort of OT stuff the forum weanies love :)
>
> I've got an Art DI/O - cheap if you can find one. Also, the M-Audio
> SuperDAc is highly thought of.
>
> R.

Robin Bowes
2005-02-16, 19:55
Michael Amster wrote:
> I have a heavily modified one and am working on a from scratch unit that
> cannibalizes the ART DIO digital board...

Michael,

How are you getting on with that project? I'm considering doing exactly
the same thing and would be very interested in learning how you get on.
I seem to recall form the DIOMods list that you're have difficulty in
getting it working?

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

Michael Amster
2005-02-17, 12:01
Robin Bowes wrote:

> Michael Amster wrote:
>
>> I have a heavily modified one and am working on a from scratch unit
>> that cannibalizes the ART DIO digital board...
>
>
> Michael,
>
> How are you getting on with that project? I'm considering doing
> exactly the same thing and would be very interested in learning how
> you get on. I seem to recall form the DIOMods list that you're have
> difficulty in getting it working?
>
> R.

Well, yes - I need an oscilloscope and do not own one. I am sure that
my 3 PSUs are working as designed (+5V digital, +5analog and +-15v
analog). I am pretty sure that my digital board is getting all the
right signals, however I have no way to know if it is locking on the
input signal. I can try swapping in another digital board (I have two -
one vanilla and one with clipped leads - mistake and modified with
blackgate caps) to see if it changes things, but so far, no go. One
thing that does seem to matter is grounding - do not ground your digital
PSU back to the same ground plane as the analog one. However, other
than that, I do not know my issue keeping it from being done. I was
hoping that Jean-Paul Borde would help me out with some suggestions, but
I am stuck at the moment.

-MA

Robin Bowes
2005-02-17, 12:35
Michael Amster wrote:
> Well, yes - I need an oscilloscope and do not own one. I am sure that
> my 3 PSUs are working as designed (+5V digital, +5analog and +-15v
> analog).

+5 analog? What's that for? As far as I could see, the DI/O requires +5V
for the digital board and +/- 15V for the analogue circuitry.

I am pretty sure that my digital board is getting all the
> right signals, however I have no way to know if it is locking on the
> input signal. I can try swapping in another digital board (I have two -
> one vanilla and one with clipped leads - mistake and modified with
> blackgate caps) to see if it changes things, but so far, no go. One
> thing that does seem to matter is grounding - do not ground your digital
> PSU back to the same ground plane as the analog one. However, other
> than that, I do not know my issue keeping it from being done. I was
> hoping that Jean-Paul Borde would help me out with some suggestions, but
> I am stuck at the moment.

Well, keep me posted. I'll let you know how I get on, but it's likely to
be months before I get chance as I'm moving jobs/house at the start of
March.

Good luck!

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

Michael Amster
2005-02-17, 13:14
Robin Bowes wrote:

> Michael Amster wrote:
>
>> Well, yes - I need an oscilloscope and do not own one. I am sure
>> that my 3 PSUs are working as designed (+5V digital, +5analog and
>> +-15v analog).
>
>
> +5 analog? What's that for? As far as I could see, the DI/O requires
> +5V for the digital board and +/- 15V for the analogue circuitry.

Jean-Paul pointed out that J1-3 is actually an Analogue +5v signal -
check the thread on the DIO list to which we both subscribe - just look
for Borde or Amster - you will see an email where he goes through every
input and tells what he is doing on his project. Hmm. I will try
wiring it to the same PSU as my digital +5v to see if that is an
issue....anyway he insists that it makes a big difference in how the
board sounds - also a big fan of the higher quality bypass caps on the
digital board - hence my Blackgates (cheap at this size). I will plug
at it as my wife now thinks the project is an eyesore in our home office :)

>
> I am pretty sure that my digital board is getting all the
>
>> right signals, however I have no way to know if it is locking on the
>> input signal. I can try swapping in another digital board (I have
>> two - one vanilla and one with clipped leads - mistake and modified
>> with blackgate caps) to see if it changes things, but so far, no go.
>> One thing that does seem to matter is grounding - do not ground your
>> digital PSU back to the same ground plane as the analog one.
>> However, other than that, I do not know my issue keeping it from
>> being done. I was hoping that Jean-Paul Borde would help me out with
>> some suggestions, but I am stuck at the moment.
>
>
> Well, keep me posted. I'll let you know how I get on, but it's likely
> to be months before I get chance as I'm moving jobs/house at the start
> of March.
>
> Good luck!
>
> R.