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Cheap DAC for jittery digital source (Apple TV,...)


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Hello,

 

I would like to know what cheap DAC (100$-300$) you suggest for a digital source as an Apple TV or an Airport Express?

 

These are low-end and not low-jitter devices for the little I know. I have already read here, in the forum, recommandation about Valab DAC but with the warning that a low-jitter source is required.

 

Which DAC would you recommend?

 

Thanks,

 

John.

 

 

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The low end dacs probably have the exact same chip as the one found inside these low end, jittery devices. Thus you will get better sound out of the analog outputs because you are eliminating a whole slew of connections that can introduce additional jitter...

 

www.hifiduino.wordpress.com

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Thank you for your answer. This makes sense to me.

 

Still, would the additional jitter be more harmful than the possible improvement in the design of other (cheap) DAC and particularly the output stage of MF V-DAC, DACMagic, Beresford,...?

 

I wish I could be buy a Linn Sneaky DS (= good DAC on UPnP stream) but the price, the software ergonomics and functionality (+rather not Mac OS compatible), discourage me at the moment.

 

 

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I was just repeating your statement about the AE. Stereophile has published jitter measurements for the AE and found them to be decent. Thus any external DAC that improves upon the power supply and output stage should be an improvement, and since DAC chips are cheap in comparison, you are paying for PS, output stage, knobs, lights and casing.

 

In theory jitter can be improved with a reclocker/upsampler because a new clock is generated often based on a better crystal. I believe Dacmagic has an upsampler.

 

I myself use the AE to feed a Wolfson 8741 DAC through a resampler.

 

www.hifiduino.wordpress.com

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The other day, I have checked your website. It looks interesting project. I also find the link to the Opus DAC. I do not have any knowledge to allow me to look at DIY, even with pre-assembled module. It is a shame because I think projects like the ones drive by something like Twisted Pear under the look of a community could lead to a more objective approach without marketing or need to buzz around something. Still, there are surely good commercial products (in each price range).

 

About jitter improvement, this is a domain where for someone like me, without knowledge, you can read and understand everything. Sometimes upsampling do the thing, sometimes you read it is just marketing and not the amount of improvement promise,..., not the right way to do..., no need to worry,... I am lost.

 

Maybe, I should not worry too much as I am looking to modest devices. But I think some cheap DAC are more empty box than others. I am just trying to find a full one...

 

 

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I think it would be wise not to worry about jitter as this moment. No one really understand what is going on. Jitter has been described as "lack of focus" and "fuzyy/narrow soundstage", but if you look at the recording process, there are many, many microphones used to pickup the music and some are even inserted in places that you would not put your ear in :-). Thus I believe soundstage and focus are the result of the mixing process (the sound engineer determines the sound stage, plus he adds reverb and who knows what other enhancements).

 

So I am interested instead on the digital filters that are used in the DAC. If you believe the technical press, the "best" filter right now are "apodizing", minimum phase, soft knee type of filters. In theory, these filters reduce ringing, pre-echos and aliased noise in the transition band (don't let these words make you think that I know what is really going on :-)) suffice to say that ringing, pre-echoes and noise in the transition band are digital artifacts that makes music sound "digital"

 

Right now only top end DACs ($3K plus, and DIY kits) have these filters.

 

www.hifiduino.wordpress.com

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