On Thu, 26 Feb 2004, Simon Turner wrote:

> A few people (including me) are talking about buying rather expensive
> Dacs to achieve high end audio using PC's, Flacs and the Squeezebox.
> Is this realistic bearing in mind that we are replacing a dedicated CD
> player with a hard drive. Surely all the drawbacks that good CD players
> strive so hard to overcome are inherant (in spades) on a hard drive, i.e
> jitter, cheap power supply etc.
> In addition is it certain that the streaming process itself will not
> degrade the sound, or even that the digital-out on the Squeezebox
> outputs exactly the stream it receives?

Remember, no matter what, you're not going to improve the audio contained
on the original 16bit/44.1kHz CD you're getting your audio from.

That said, DACs (and ADCs) do make a difference. It's the reason why I
have a Metric Halo 2882 as my studio's audio i/o interface. Having a
better DAC in, say, the Sqeezebox or your receiver /could/ make a
difference, but the perceived difference is highly subjective.

First, higher qualitly DACs, such as those made by AKM Semiconductor, are
used to render the analog signal as true to it's digital input as
possible. No "warming" or "cooling" of different frequency bands, etc. The
audio being played is meant to sound as good, or bad(!) as it was
originally recorded.

Now think about what you have playing around with the audio pre- or post
DAC. You have an amplifier. You have speakers. You may have some sort of
DSP or EQ processing. These can (sometimes greatly) color the audio. Your
expencive DAC then is being counter-balanced. An exmaple of this: That
seemingly innocous "Bass Boost" button on CD players and such. Consumer
speaker systems.