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Mike Beranek
2004-03-07, 19:15
Greetings -

I'm going to purchase a new Squeezebox or Slimp3 for another area of the
home and have two q's.

I was wondering if the DAC in the Squeezebox is the same as the Slimp3? I'd
like to "improve" the sound quality and would go with the Squeezebox if it
would help on the analog output side.

Also, if I understand correctly, using the digital output requires an
incremently expensive integrated/external DAC.

Does anyone make >$300US receiver/amp with a decent DAC that can take
advantage of the digital output on the SB?


Thanks,
Mike Beranek

Pat Farrell
2004-03-07, 19:34
At 09:15 PM 3/7/2004, Mike Beranek wrote:
>I was wondering if the DAC in the Squeezebox is the same as the Slimp3?

I'll let someone else address this one.

>Also, if I understand correctly, using the digital output requires an
>incremently expensive integrated/external DAC.
>Does anyone make >$300US receiver/amp with a decent DAC that can take
>advantage of the digital output on the SB?

I would not phrase it this way. Using the digital output requires
something that can accept the digital signal, which may be
more expensive. Usually, but not always, more expensive means
better quality.

I would not expect any ~$300 receiver or amp to be significantly better
quality than the DAC in a SqueezeBox. Mostly because in a ~$300 amp,
you have to spend some money on the amp part, maybe a tuner, some
switches, etc. so there isn't much left for the DAC to be better than the
one in the SqueezeBox. BTW, the squeezebox DAC is not
terrible. It is not bad. It is pretty good, and a good deal. It is
a good value for the money, IMHO. It just isn't as wonderful as
a $1000 DAC.

Stereophile has a glowing review of Music Hall Mambo integrated amplifier
in this month's issue, at about $1200 for amp with a very good DAC,
it begs to be connected to a SqueezeBox.

The really cool thing about a SqueezeBox is that it is so inexpensive
that you can get one, and listen and decide if the internal DAC is good enough.
If you are feeding it MP3s or WMAs, I have a hard time seeing how
it could be the weak link. And if you want more, you can spend between
$80 and $5000 on fancier DACs.

HTH
Pat

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-03-07, 20:27
On Sun, 2004-03-07 at 21:34, Pat Farrell wrote:

> I would not expect any ~$300 receiver or amp to be significantly
> better
> quality than the DAC in a SqueezeBox. Mostly because in a ~$300 amp,
> you have to spend some money on the amp part, maybe a tuner, some
> switches, etc. so there isn't much left for the DAC to be better than
> the
> one in the SqueezeBox.

I can't necessarily agree, Pat. I have a Samsung Home Theater system
that cost $299 at Best Buy. I've done A-B comparisons between the
analog outs and the TOSLINK digital. The optical out sounds noticeably
cleaner than the analog outs, with a certain subjective crispness that
the analog outs don't have. This isn't to say the analog outs sound
"bad". Just that to my (far from golden, I admit) ears, the DAC in the
receiver sounds a bit better. Now, this could just mean that the analog
inputs on this receiver are sub-wonderful, but the difference is
definitely there.

> If you are feeding it MP3s or WMAs, I have a hard time seeing how
> it could be the weak link. And if you want more, you can spend between
> $80 and $5000 on fancier DACs.

I'm curious what DACs come in at the lower end of the price spectrum.
The little bit that I've looked, it seemed that $800 was a low figure.
I'd be likely to try out something in the $200 range just for grins, but
I can't really justify 2x system price for an outboard DAC. I'd have to
go Onkyo shopping first (and I seem to recall the Onkyo build-in DAC is
pretty nice).
--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
Never Forget: It's Only 1's and 0's!
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Pat Farrell
2004-03-07, 21:33
At 10:27 PM 3/7/2004, Roy M. Silvernail wrote:
>I'm curious what DACs come in at the lower end of the price spectrum. The
>little bit that I've looked, it seemed that $800 was a low figure. I'd be
>likely to try out something in the $200 range just for grins, but I can't
>really justify 2x system price for an outboard DAC. I'd have to go Onkyo
>shopping first (and I seem to recall the Onkyo build-in DAC is pretty nice).

M-Audio and others have a lot of DAs at lower prices.
Someone earlier on this list mentioned their
"transit" with is about $80.
The M-Audio SuperDAC2496 is about $300
http://m-audio.rjmg.com/index.cfm?pid=3279

Hang around the "pro audio" (home recording studio) folks
or the audiophile folks, and you'll see lots of DAs.

The RME line has a very solid reputation, they have a new product,
stereo DAC announced with no price.
http://www.rme-audio.com/english/adi/adi2.htm



Pat

morris_minor
2007-11-13, 09:47
At 10:27 PM 3/7/2004, Roy M. Silvernail wrote:
>I'm curious what DACs come in at the lower end of the price spectrum. The
>little bit that I've looked, it seemed that $800 was a low figure. I'd be
>likely to try out something in the $200 range just for grins, but I can't
>really justify 2x system price for an outboard DAC. I'd have to go Onkyo
>shopping first (and I seem to recall the Onkyo build-in DAC is pretty nice).

M-Audio and others have a lot of DAs at lower prices.
Someone earlier on this list mentioned their
"transit" with is about $80.
The M-Audio SuperDAC2496 is about $300
http://m-audio.rjmg.com/index.cfm?pid=3279

Hang around the "pro audio" (home recording studio) folks
or the audiophile folks, and you'll see lots of DAs.

The RME line has a very solid reputation, they have a new product,
stereo DAC announced with no price.
http://www.rme-audio.com/english/adi/adi2.htm



Pat

I use an M-Audio USB Transit hooked up to my Mac Mini to record vinyl from my Gyrodec SE > Era V Gold with great results. I'm a firm believer in checking out pro-audio gear as you miss out on the audiophile bullshit :o)

slimpy
2007-11-13, 10:10
I was wondering if the DAC in the Squeezebox is the same as the Slimp3? I'd
like to "improve" the sound quality and would go with the Squeezebox if it
would help on the analog output side.
Have a look at the hardware comparison page in the wiki:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?HardwareComparison
Not only has the sb3 a better dac but also all other parts are far superior to the ones used in the slimp3.
The sb3 supports more file formats (FLAC!) than the slimp3 and its larger buffer makes it less prone to music drop-outs.

-s.

slimpy
2007-11-13, 10:16
I have a Samsung Home Theater system
that cost $299 at Best Buy. I've done A-B comparisons between the
analog outs and the TOSLINK digital. The optical out sounds noticeably
cleaner than the analog outs, with a certain subjective crispness that
the analog outs don't have. This isn't to say the analog outs sound
"bad". Just that to my (far from golden, I admit) ears, the DAC in the
receiver sounds a bit better. Now, this could just mean that the analog
inputs on this receiver are sub-wonderful, but the difference is
definitely there.

Unless your system has a direct analog pass-trough (not common at the quoted price) it will convert the analog input signal to digital and then back to analog again. No need to explain that music quality suffers under those circumstances.

-s.

slimpy
2007-11-13, 10:27
This thread is over 3 years old!
Silly me, I should have looked at the date before posting...

Edit: at least I wasn't the one who revived it...

-s.

seanadams
2007-11-13, 12:23
I have a Samsung Home Theater system
that cost $299 at Best Buy. I've done A-B comparisons between the
analog outs and the TOSLINK digital. The optical out sounds noticeably
cleaner than the analog outs, with a certain subjective crispness that
the analog outs don't have.

It is almost certain that this receiver is digitizing its analog inputs - most do. In that case, the sound quality that you get when using its digital inputs will set the "upper bound", and anything you connect to the analog inputs will be limited by BOTH the quality of the ADC in the receiver, and the quality of the DAC in the source, and the interconnects and so on. Because of this, your result is unsurprising and also rather meaningless. A more valid test would be to compare SB3s analog output (level matched) to some DAC or other analog output.

Generally speaking, digital sources such as SB3 should be connected digitally unless you are feeding a purely analog (pre)amp.

seanadams
2007-11-13, 12:24
This thread is over 3 years old!


Heh


........

iPhone
2007-11-13, 13:04
This thread is over 3 years old!
Silly me, I should have looked at the date before posting...

Edit: at least I wasn't the one who revived it...

-s.


Heh


........

But from reading it, looks like good answers. And hasn't technology changed in three years. Doesn't the tread need updated for that reason alone (since it has been brought back to life)? BTW, how long do threads stay open? Do they have a born on date and a stale date? I am new to the forum so I am semi-serious.

slimpy
2007-11-13, 16:07
And hasn't technology changed in three years. Doesn't the tread need updated for that reason alone (since it has been brought back to life)?
Nope, a slimp3 is still a slimp3 and a sb3 is still an sb3. And cheapo home theatre systems still don't have a direct analog pass-through.

BTW, how long do threads stay open? Do they have a born on date and a stale date? I am new to the forum so I am semi-serious.
Each post has a date, thus the date of the first post of a thread is its born on date. I have no idea how long threads stay open, but it happens from time to time that very old threads are revived by someone just by accident.
BTW, 74 posts is not exactly new ;-)

-s.

jimi00
2008-09-20, 08:25
I'll revive this thread once again beacause I have had the occasion to compare the analog output of my good old Slimp3 with a brand new SB3. Even if the parts and numbers should give a clear advantage to the newer model, all I can say is the Slimp3 wins hands down. The sound stage is more open and instruments sound like they are supposed to. Worse even, on lossless files, the Slimserver feeds transcoded mp3 to the Slimp3 which still sounds better than the SB3 natively playing lossless.
When I come to think about it, why should a Crystal DAC Chip be any worse than the cheapo Burr Brown DAC on the SB3?
In a nutshell, does technology have ears?

Phil Leigh
2008-09-20, 11:26
I'll revive this thread once again beacause I have had the occasion to compare the analog output of my good old Slimp3 with a brand new SB3. Even if the parts and numbers should give a clear advantage to the newer model, all I can say is the Slimp3 wins hands down. The sound stage is more open and instruments sound like they are supposed to. Worse even, on lossless files, the Slimserver feeds transcoded mp3 to the Slimp3 which still sounds better than the SB3 natively playing lossless.
When I come to think about it, why should a Crystal DAC Chip be any worse than the cheapo Burr Brown DAC on the SB3?
In a nutshell, does technology have ears?

Welcome to dreamland :o)

The SB2 or 3 beats the SB1 for sound quality.

How do you know that the instruments sound like they are supposed to? were you there when the recording was made?

Yes the BB chip outperforms the Crystal chip.

Oh and MP3 is better than lossless...we've been there - recently. I respectfully suggest you look at the rest of your gear. Then do some SERIOUS double-blind tests and report back.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant (it isn't meant to be). Your opinion is perfectly valid - I'm just responsing with mine, is all.

jimi00
2008-09-20, 14:40
Welcome to dreamland :o)

The SB2 or 3 beats the SB1 for sound quality.


That's NOT what I said. I was comparing a SB3 with a SLIMP3, not a SB1 (which, by the way, does not carry a Crystal DAC chipset).
I truthfully dare anyone who still has a Slimp3 unit to compare its analog output to the analog output of their SB3. I am very serious about this... or maybe, I'll just have to admit I got a lemon, and get my brand new SB3 fixed.

As for why I should know what an instrument sounds like is because I play music, I therefore can easily pick out the sound of a plucked guitar string or a crash cymbal in a recording.
"Welcome to dreamland" is not proper syllogism either.

Themis
2008-09-20, 15:04
I don't think that the Crystal is better (or worse) than the BB. It's simply a matter of overall implementation.
I'm not amazed that SB3 might sound worse than Slimp3, after all SBR sounds a bit under SB3 too. It IS intriguing, though, that the SliMP3 sounds better than the SB3 fed with lossless.
That's very strange, indeed. How would this be possible ?

(but I wouldn't dare to ask whether you are really sure)

jimi00
2008-09-20, 16:19
I dont have any audiophiles around me, but I recently had a friend over who wanted to show me his new power amp. So we played a bit with the sources to see what would give the best results and the SB3 got the worse rating between an iPod Classic, a Slimp3, a Denon DVD-1920 and the stereo dac of a Rotel RSP-1066 Receiver. The best sources were the Slimp3 and the 1066's DAC, we couldnt really pick out a winner. Here is the rest of my system: Trends Audio TA 10.1 (x2) bi-amplifying a pair of Elac BS243.


I don't think that the Crystal is better (or worse) than the BB. It's simply a matter of overall implementation.
I'm not amazed that SB3 might sound worse than Slimp3, after all SBR sounds a bit under SB3 too. It IS intriguing, though, that the SliMP3 sounds better than the SB3 fed with lossless.
That's very strange, indeed. How would this be possible ?

(but I wouldn't dare to ask whether you are really sure)

seanadams
2008-09-20, 20:12
Slimp3 has a very primitive DAC circuit, terribly noisy power rails in comparison to SB3, and is simply inferior by any metric. I'm not saying it sucked for its time, but we've come a long way since 2001. And it doesn't even support FLAC/AIFF, so everything is being converted to MP3. The sound you prefer is technically worse in every imaginable way. Maybe you just like the sound of mp3?

Phil Leigh
2008-09-21, 00:00
Are you sure that your audio/file settings for the SB3 are correct?

That would explain it.

Another less likely explanation could be the way the rips are done - if there is an issue here it could be masked by the mp3 transcode.

Or the SB3 could be faulty.

You need to see if your experience is repeatable with anothr SB3. Several people here have Slimps... (I don't, hence my comment on the SB1 which I do have) However you are also implying that you would prefer the Slimp3 sound to that of an SB1. Have you done that comparison?

jimi00
2008-09-21, 00:53
Are you sure that your audio/file settings for the SB3 are correct?

That would explain it.

Another less likely explanation could be the way the rips are done - if there is an issue here it could be masked by the mp3 transcode.

Or the SB3 could be faulty.

You need to see if your experience is repeatable with anothr SB3. Several people here have Slimps... (I don't, hence my comment on the SB1 which I do have) However you are also implying that you would prefer the Slimp3 sound to that of an SB1. Have you done that comparison?

Yes, I did check that the server does not transcode files for the SB3. Come to think of it, I'm sorry but these asumptions would not make sense anyways. If any of the above were the case, on what grounds could it explain that my Slimp3 sound better than my SB3 (appart from the fact that my unit could be faulty)?
I know this is the audiophile forum but couldnt we be a bit more logical? Why doesnt anyone else just listen to the two and give us his opinion?
(BTW I dont have an SB1, therefore I will not comment on it)

Phil Leigh
2008-09-21, 01:05
Yes, I did check that the server does not transcode files for the SB3. Come to think of it, I'm sorry but these asumptions would not make sense anyways. If any of the above were the case, on what grounds could it explain that my Slimp3 sound better than my SB3 (appart from the fact that my unit could be faulty)?
I know this is the audiophile forum but couldnt we be a bit more logical? Why doesnt anyone else just listen to the two and give us his opinion?
(BTW I dont have an SB1, therefore I will not comment on it)

They make perfect sense.

You are comparing MP3 on a SLIMP3 against lossless FLAC on an SB3, right?

1) If the SB3 was faulty it might sound worse than the SLIMP3
2) If the rips were faulty in some way they might sound better when transcoded compared to the raw sound of the FLAC, because the problem might be masked or reduced during the transcode.
3) If you were accidentally transcoding to (say) 128 for the SB3 it could sound worse than the SLIMP3 on a higher bitrate. Remember that these settings are player-specific.

All of the above have been previously encountered by other forum members, although not to my knowledge in the context of a comparison with a SLIMP3.

You've ruled out 3. That leaves 1 or 2 or your initial hypothesis that the SLIMP3+MP3 simply outperforms the SB3+FLAC.

What bitrate are you using on the SLIMP3?
How were the rips created? EAC or similar in secure mode?

Nonreality
2008-09-21, 01:47
The dac in the SB3 is a good quality dac. You will not beat it in terms of quality in a receiver under 1000-1300. You might like a cheaper receiver's sound better but that doesn't mean it's a better dac. It just means you like that sound better.

jimi00
2008-09-21, 03:59
They make perfect sense.

You are comparing MP3 on a SLIMP3 against lossless FLAC on an SB3, right?

1) If the SB3 was faulty it might sound worse than the SLIMP3
2) If the rips were faulty in some way they might sound better when transcoded compared to the raw sound of the FLAC, because the problem might be masked or reduced during the transcode.
3) If you were accidentally transcoding to (say) 128 for the SB3 it could sound worse than the SLIMP3 on a higher bitrate. Remember that these settings are player-specific.

All of the above have been previously encountered by other forum members, although not to my knowledge in the context of a comparison with a SLIMP3.

You've ruled out 3. That leaves 1 or 2 or your initial hypothesis that the SLIMP3+MP3 simply outperforms the SB3+FLAC.
What bitrate are you using on the SLIMP3?
How were the rips created? EAC or similar in secure mode?

I catch your drift but as I said earlier, even non-transcoded mp3s sound better on the slimp3, so that about reduces the possibilities to:
1) My unit is faulty
2) The slimp3 is actually better than the SB3
3) As NonReality suggests, I might just prefer the sound of the slimp3 over the SB3

I dont have another SB3 to compare and check if there is a problem with my unit. I live in Europe and sending my unit back for support would be a costly pain.
On the other hand, I might as well repeat myself... would it be shamefull for anyone to run an A/B test and tell us what they think?

opaqueice
2008-09-21, 05:30
On the other hand, I might as well repeat myself... would it be shamefull for anyone to run an A/B test and tell us what they think?

I'm not sure many people here have both. But frankly speaking, the odds anyone will agree with you are near zero.

The other day I ran a little test on an integrated amp - an Outlaw RR2150 I bought for a secondary system. Among other inputs the Outlaw accepts USB and has a miniplug adapter on the front for ipods etc. Using a Mac laptop we compared the headphone out (going into the miniplug) versus USB, knowing (from past experience) that the headphone out is pretty low grade.

There was no comparison - the USB sounded decent, while the headphone out sounded significantly distorted. But of the two friends with me, one (someone without much experience with sound systems) disagreed - he thought the distorted headphone output sounded better! When we compared to the same track playing on a CD player (which sounded more or less identical to the USB) he started to change his mind - or maybe just caved under the pressure.

So, to some people distortion sounds good. That's fine - enjoy it! Your life will be easier and more affordable. Just don't expect to convince many others.

Nonreality
2008-09-21, 05:40
I catch your drift but as I said earlier, even non-transcoded mp3s sound better on the slimp3, so that about reduces the possibilities to:
1) My unit is faulty
2) The slimp3 is actually better than the SB3
3) As NonReality suggests, I might just prefer the sound of the slimp3 over the SB3

I dont have another SB3 to compare and check if there is a problem with my unit. I live in Europe and sending my unit back for support would be a costly pain.
On the other hand, I might as well repeat myself... would it be shamefull for anyone to run an A/B test and tell us what they think?I think the best thing for you is as you suggest, a double blind test. But in your case you need to add a good cd player and do a couple of complete tests to assure yourself that it is correct. Do both against the cd not against each other to see which is more accurate. This will tell you if it's just a sound you like rather than a problem. I think anyway. :)

mvalera
2008-09-24, 09:39
I catch your drift but as I said earlier, even non-transcoded mp3s sound better on the slimp3, so that about reduces the possibilities to:
1) My unit is faulty
2) The slimp3 is actually better than the SB3
3) As NonReality suggests, I might just prefer the sound of the slimp3 over the SB3

I dont have another SB3 to compare and check if there is a problem with my unit. I live in Europe and sending my unit back for support would be a costly pain.
On the other hand, I might as well repeat myself... would it be shamefull for anyone to run an A/B test and tell us what they think?

My vote is for #3. I think you are just used to the sound quality of the Slimp3.

Blind test or not Sean, the designer of both units, definitively answered this already. The SB3 is superior to the Slimp3 in almost any measurement. Also FLAC definitely has superior sound to MP3 in any situation.

Mike

Phil Leigh
2008-09-24, 09:46
Phew - I think the SD product line is a bit young to have a flat-earth retro movement (although Firmware 15 nearly achieved that!)