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Rega apollo dedicated Cd player Vs these DACs


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Hi everyone

 

First, I am new to this forum and to DAC technologie.

 

I am slowly building my audiophile system (McIntosh amp and B&W speakers) and I am now looking for a source. At start I though I would buy a dedicated CD player but the idea of being able to connect multiple digital sources (music server and DVD) to my system via a DAC got my attention.

 

The CD player I was looking foward to buy is a Rega Apollo and the DACs that seems to be nice (from the reviews I've read around are : Cambridge DacMagic, MusicHall DAC 25.2, PS Audio – Digital Link III DAC, Benchmark – DAC1 USB and the Stello DA100 Signature (I have a 1k budget max.).

 

My questions are :

Is the sound quality from these DAC comparable to the sound quality of the Rega Apollo? In other words, with a transport and one these DACs will I get a sound quality comparable to one generated by a Hi end CD player (I mainly use CDs)? (The audiophile store in my town doesn't have DACs, so I can't listen to them)

 

Is the transport source very important? From what I know, the transport only sends 0 and 1, them DAC does the important job, so having a cheap transport is ok? is this right?

 

I play rock music (form heavy metal to pop rock) which of these DAC would you suggest me to buy?

 

Thanx

Pete

 

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are usually regarded as better able to retrieve the 0 and 1s than a hi-fi CD player. If you already have a DVD player and/or a computer, you've got all you need for the task. Rega redundant.

 

The Cambridge is getting good reviews and seems a versatile unit. It's handy being able to switch between sources, especially as more and more are coming equipped with digital outputs. It's also relatively inexpensive, which may be important if you can't get to hear them. If you don't like it for some reason, you should recover most of its value on eBay.

 

I'm not familiar with the others - to some extent it dpends if you also want the DAC to act as a traditional preamp and incorporate an analogue volume control. (You can alter vol in the digital domain on a computer but I believe it does this by throwing away 1s and 0, so not recommended.)

 

Have fun!

 

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Pete try and borrow the CD player and compare it to a few of the dacs you mention, my suspicion is that the dacs will be every bit as good if not better and a great deal more versatile, especially if you intend to listen to some hi-res material in the future. Keith.

 

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This might be interesting (not the Apollo, but another rega player in comparison): http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=51316.15;wap2

 

One DAC that I would suggest adding to your list is the Lavry DA10 (or DA11 if you want a remote for it). My friend found it to be more to his taste (heavy metal to lighter stuff) than the CA 840C and the Benchmark DAC1. I'm pondering either the lavry, benchmark, or ps audio dacs right now.

 

A cheap transport will add more jitter to the signal, but most of these dacs should deal with incoming jitter fairly well. So while you can use a cheap transport, you will hear some difference on some of the dacs with different transports.

The right dac can achieve comparable or superior results to a high end cd player, especially when paired with a low jitter computer source.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Pete,

 

I have done an AB test on the Apollo vs the Benchmark.

 

I would say both are great, but have a different sound.

 

The Rega is smooth and warm, the Benchmark is very accurate and a bit less warm.

 

Both are of equal quality, too bad Rega does not make a stand alone DAC.....

 

The downside to a Rega alone is that you lose the opportunity of running your DVD or music server through it.

 

You will have to decide what is most important to you....

 

Jeff

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some years ago I bought an Audio Analogue Paganini MkII CD player, more or less on the same level of the Rega player at the time. Recently I ripped my CDs to WAV.

Playing the original CD on my CD player, and using it only as a transport to my DAC (AQVOX MkII), the sound is worse than when playing the WAV files either from the laptop with Wireworld USB cable, or from the PS3 with Wireworld Super Nova 5+ optical cable. Playing files, there is better instrument separation specially in orchestral passages and in rock, for example, it is easier to separate notes coming from an electric guitar, it also seems that extreme frequencies are better represented.

Comparing the CD player directly to the amplifier with the CD player used only as a transport, it seems that the AQVOX DAC is more neutral. The AA DAC section of the CD player seems to be tuned to make female vocals sound sweet and velvety, jazz sounds fantastic, but sucks when playing rock.

I would add to your list the AQVOX and the WEISS DACs. Please think about the type of connection needed (USB, Firewire, Optical, electrical 75 ohm, electrical 110 ohm), maximum transfer rate for each one, and if you need an headphone amplifier included or not.

It also makes a difference if you live in the US or in Europe, a $1000 European DAC (with taxes included) will cost around $1500 in the US with less taxes (transport, distribution, ...). To a $1000 American DAC, bought online in the US, you will have to add around $400 in transport and taxes if living in Europe.

 

 

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The AQVOX DAC is probably at the same level of the Lavry and the Bechmark.

Comparing the AA Paganini CD player (at the time, at the level of the Rega) only as a transport, with the PS3 optical drive, used only as a transport, there is no noticeable difference between the two. The difference is much clearer between types of transport, files versus CD transport.

 

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I bought the PS audio Digital Link III finally. It will be more usefull than a dedicated CD player.

 

I did a blind buy, because there wasn't any store in my town that sells DACs, but with the 300 usd rebate I thought it was a pretty good deal.

 

So far I'm really satisfied with it's performance, again I haven't listen to other products, I can only compare with my old CD player (an old Sony but a goos one). The signal quality is better with less distortion, loud music sounds less agressive to my ears. There is a major gain in bass quality (I never listened to music with loudness before, because it was too boomy). Now the bass is much more precise and tight. High frequencies are more spaced and detailled.

 

At first I felt the diffrence was noticeable but subtle, but with more listening time I now truly beleive that this is a strong upgrade to my system.

 

Thanks everyone for sharing yours thoughts

Pete

 

 

 

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