Jump to content
IGNORED

Do I need an external DAC?


Recommended Posts

Hi All

Just getting back into high end audio after a loooong hiatus. When I was last there we were all extolling the virtues of vinyl and poo-pooing that evil CD medium.

 

Times change....the kids have been educated, grown up, and moved out on their own. Time to jump back in with both feet!

 

My question: I just purchased several used pieces (Thiel 7.2, Emotiva XPR-2 amp, and Audible Illusions Modulus 3B. I still have my Sota Sapphire for vinyl. I find these days though that my listening will be for the most part lossless flac from ripped cd's and downloads. Do I need an external DAC to go between my electronic source and the preamp or should the preamp sound fine on its own? I'm assuming the M3B must have it's own dac of sorts since it takes digital inputs such as cd, but I can find nothing talking about the type or quality of the preamp's internal dac circuitry. I'd really prefer not to add yet another piece of pricey equipment if unnecessary or repetitive.

What does everyone think?

Thanks!

Link to comment
Hi All

Just getting back into high end audio after a loooong hiatus. When I was last there we were all extolling the virtues of vinyl and poo-pooing that evil CD medium.

 

Times change....the kids have been educated, grown up, and moved out on their own. Time to jump back in with both feet!

 

My question: I just purchased several used pieces (Thiel 7.2, Emotiva XPR-2 amp, and Audible Illusions Modulus 3B. I still have my Sota Sapphire for vinyl. I find these days though that my listening will be for the most part lossless flac from ripped cd's and downloads. Do I need an external DAC to go between my electronic source and the preamp or should the preamp sound fine on its own? I'm assuming the M3B must have it's own dac of sorts since it takes digital inputs such as cd, but I can find nothing talking about the type or quality of the preamp's internal dac circuitry. I'd really prefer not to add yet another piece of pricey equipment if unnecessary or repetitive.

What does everyone think?

Thanks!

 

I believe that you are confused about the purpose of the CD and DVD inputs of your preamp. They are for the analog output of a CD player and a DVD player. There is no internal DAC in the Modulus 3B. If you intend to rip CDs and download digital music files you will typically need both a music server and a DAC. You might want to do an internet search for introductory articles, e.g. "computer audio getting started".

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

Link to comment
I believe you you are confused about the purpose of the CD and DVD inputs of your preamp. They are for the analog output of a CD player and a DVD player. There is no internal DAC in the Modulus 3B. If you intend to rip CDs and download digital music files you will typically need both a music server and a DAC.

 

No wonder I couldn't find anything in the literature about an M3B dac! Thanks for educating me. So then, is there no way of connecting a digital music source directly to the preamp, unless it has an analog output?

Link to comment

The iFi iDSD Nano is less than $200 from Music Direct (and other sources) if you want a DAC...don't start with anything more expensive until you know you want to go this route.

 

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

Link to comment
No wonder I couldn't find anything in the literature about an M3B dac! Thanks for educating me. So then, is there no way of connecting a digital music source directly to the preamp, unless it has an analog output?

 

That is correct. While it is possible to connect the analog output of a DAC with a volume control directly to a power amp, eliminating the need for a preamp, such an approach would be of no benefit to you as you obviously want to use your preamp for vinyl playback.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

Link to comment

To whet the appetite, you 'could' use a 1/8in stereo to dual RCA cable direct to the preamp from the computer. This is at the bottom rung so to speak, since the DAC in the laptop/PC/Mac is just designed for portable use. Quite often, noise from the computer is picked up by the cable, and the experience is quite unpleasant. The trick is to output the player software at 0db, so there's more signal than noise, however with quiet passages, the noise may come through. By noise meaning, you can hear the mouse move, that sort of thing and there's a good chance of hum breakthrough.

 

As InfernoSTi pointed out, start off with the respected ifi DSD nano or the newer micro, with a USB connection. The RCA output will directly connect to your pre-amp. Much of the crud compared to the direct analog cable is just about gone. Let the sound of that DAC stay with you for a while, if you have the itch to upgrade, there are many other DACs out there with all sorts of prices and performances to suit. The ifi DSDnano is small enough to keep for portable use/trips/other rooms, so the DAC won't be wasted.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

Link to comment

Thanks for everyone's advice and education. I have looked at the nano dac and at that price will probably give it a try. I'm curious though, about the volume control. It appears that it does double duty as a headphone amp. When utilizing it as a dac, does the volume control come into use or is it bypassed? If used, where should it be set at? And, since it does have a volume control, can it be plugged directly into an amplifier?

 

It comes with a Burr-Brown dac which from what I've read quite good. Would there be significant difference in sound between this and the stratospherically priced external dac?

 

Thanks Again!!

Link to comment
I have looked at the nano dac and at that price will probably give it a try. I'm curious though, about the volume control. It appears that it does double duty as a headphone amp. When utilizing it as a dac, does the volume control come into use or is it bypassed? If used, where should it be set at? And, since it does have a volume control, can it be plugged directly into an amplifier?

 

The volume control is connected either way (but not directly connected the way most are...see below). You can use it as the pre-amp for volume control or you can set it to 100% volume and use your existing pre-amp's volume control.

 

Thorsten Loesch, Head of R&D (AMR/iFi)

"The actual Volume control Potentiometer is not part of the signal path, but instead varies a DC voltage applied to an AD converter which in turn sends the position of the pot, derived from DC voltage to a Microprocessor. The Microprocessor then controls a 64 Step attenuator which form an integral part of the output stage. The complete output stage combines a differential input and lowpass filter, a 64 step stepped attenuator and a Output Amplifier/Driver. It allows both inputs from the DAC and outputs to be direct coupled (no coupling capacitors)."

 

I hope that helps...

 

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

Link to comment

 

It comes with a Burr-Brown dac which from what I've read quite good. Would there be significant difference in sound between this and the stratospherically priced external dac?

 

Thanks Again!!

 

I view DAC chips like names such as Cosworth, McLaren, Renault equivalents. All are great engines, but a Formula1 car they can not make alone. Same principle with the DAC chips apply. It's the overall package on how the sound quality works out, from input to well, when the rubber meets the road.

There are dedicated chips (for PCM) like Burr Brown, Analog Designs, ESS9018 and on and on, there are even DACs that don't have any dedicated DAC chips at all, FPGA (field-programmable gate array) which is a totally custom approach, especially for DSD.

 

As for value for money DACs, the ifi, Chord, Mytek, Schiit are popular here, but may not be to your ears' liking or they might. There's no ONE DAC that sits el supremo over any other, regardless of cost. They all have strengths and weaknesses, just like any other audio component, it's a matter of finding the right balance, and the ca$h ;)

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...