Jump to content
IGNORED

DAC EDUCATION (ADVICE)


Recommended Posts

I was seriously considering on purchasing apple TV to run all of my media, however after a few hours of thought and research i thought why not use my macbook? I figured my macbook was probably lacking in the sound card quality department so now i'm stumped in the search for an answer on....WHATS THE BEST MOST LOGICAL THING TO DO OR BUY???

SOOO THE BIG QUESTIONS:

1) Whats the best way to great sound to compliment my system?

2)Do all DAC's reduce jitter? If i purchase a DAC and hookup optical in from my macbook and optical out from the DAC to my Denon Receiver...does that reduce jitter or give me better sound or just literally translate digital into analog? example "thingee" http://www.audioxsell.com/classified/466934/Blue-Circle-Audio-USB-Thingee.htm

 

BACKROUND:

I have what i would consider a great mid-fi 5.1 system. I am only putting up numbers for people that are not familiar with the speakers and would be able to help me gain a better understanding on what would make the most bang for my buck since on what to invest on a DAC.

VIENNA ACOUSTICS COMMONLY FOUND AT MAGNOLIA STUDIOS INSIDE BEST BUY

LEFT & RIGHT: MOZART TOWERS $1,500(each)

CENTER: Maestro $1,295

REARS: WALTZ

SUBWOOFER: REL R-205 $1,200

Receiver: DENON AVR-4308 $2,700

Power Conditioner: Panamax 5300

 

-Initially i thought a premium external sound card would be the thing to do, but in doing more research the audiophile community seemed to be convinced that they are typically cheap and might be a weak link in my system.

-I then became introduced into EMPIRICAL PACE CAR 2 DAC and loved the idea that this box would essentially highly improve the jitter coming out of my macbook and make all my media on my computer sound better which sounds awesome music to my ears! I have a majority of everything stored digitally. I was very excited until i noticed the price tag $1,250 wopwhaaaa i know they have other models that connect via usb for half the price but still. I hear read great things and believe its worth the money for more hi-fi systems, but doubt it'd be worth my investment for what i have. I would have rather invested my money in better speakers.

Now the Nitty Gritty

I need to have some sort of output for 5.1 surround sound but would rather focus my money go towards something to give me the best sound for music...I assume if it whatever it is i plan to purchase plays music well then it will do more than enough for movies as most of my quality viewings will be off blu-ray and not compresed files but do have about 1.5tb full of movies and still want to do the best i can for them. Or should i buy a premium soundcard? Probably wont want to spend more than the mid $300 range unless i can be convinced otherwise???

 

I think this is good start to im pretty stumped and could use some education on this stuff!

 

Thank you to those who actually read this bohemith and any input advice would be appreciated!

 

Link to comment

Hi Alex - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. Wow, that's quite a post. The first thing that comes to mind after reading your post is that currently Macs don't offer Bluray playback. The second things is to just run optical out of a computer into your Denon receiver to see if you're satisfied with the sound. If not then go to plan B.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Hey Chris thanks for the response! Sorry for that novel length of a question but id been looking around and honestly hit a brick wall and greatly appreciate your feedback. I figure the optical sound from the macbook probably isn't horrible but if i have a good 9k worth of audio equipment i would hate to see my system have a weak link in an area that can have maybe much more potentially for a few hundred more? I guess that would be another question....how big would the difference be for me??

 

Link to comment

Hi hope this isn't considered as thread jacking but I'm in a similar situation to the OP in as much as for various reasons I'm currently listening to music on a HT system of around the same 9k mark although in my case using a Onkyo 905 AVR.

 

As a source I'm using a PC streaming (airtunes and airfoil) itunes, Foobar Napster, Spotify et al. Optical out of the AE straight into one of the optical ins on the AVR which is set to Pure Audio mode so al the extraneous video circuity is switched off and it sounds pretty good. Obviously not audiophile (whatever that is) but certainly not preventing me enjoying the music.

 

In an ideal world I'd either have a dedicated stereo system or a stereo amp driving my front L and R speakers so although I know it's a pretty unanswerable question would I be better off with an external DAC or invest a similar amount in something like the Peachtree Nova driving the front speakers ?

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

The weak link in any A/V receiver is the dac section when compared to a dedicated dac. My experience with the Denon 5800 led me to conclude that it competed at around the $400 dac level and was surpassed by the $1000 dacs. That was with an older model, but it should still hold relatively true given all the bells and whistles that need to be packed into a receiver. I also think that a dac will make more difference than the interface to that dac, so if you asked me, I don't think optical will be the weak link in your chain.

 

Link to comment

SOOO THE BIG QUESTIONS:

1) Whats the best way to great sound to compliment my system?First off take your time. An external DAC will yeld much better results for stereo music vs. the internal converter in your receiver. For stereo sound [if you want to keep your receiver] you can get any number of DAC's in the $1000 price range like Apogee MiniDAC, MHDT Havana, Lavry DA10 or even Benchmark and run the stereo outs to your receivers IN jacks....for example

2)Do all DAC's reduce jitter?All DAC's will have some amount of jitter because you can not pass along data from point A to point B with "absolute" perfect timing. However the difference in DACs sound is not due 100% because of how effectively they handle jitter. If i purchase a DAC and hookup optical in from my macbook and optical out from the DAC to my Denon Receiver...does that reduce jitter or give me better sound or just literally translate digital into analog? Mac Book--->optical out--->DAC---->optical out---->Receiver. You miss understand what a DAC is, a DAC = Digital to Analog, meaning the optical INTO the DAC is digital and the signal coming OUT is Analog [optical refers to digital signal transfer]. You want to go Mac Book----> USB -or- Optical--->DAC---->analog stereo RCA---->Receiver.

 

Link to comment

Mr.C suggested that the weak link in any AV receiver is the DAC. But I would disagree.

 

While it isn't a stretch to think that a $1000 DAC will beat the DAC stage of a receiver, you could also find that a $400 DAC and $600 stereo integrated amplifier will beat the receiver. It's usually the analogue performance of a AV receiver which is limiting the overall sound chain.

 

So yes you can improve the sound quality by using an external DAC, however that DAC will be limited by the analogue parts of the AV receiver (both pre-amp and power-amp stages).

 

Of course this is a generalisation and different receivers have different strengths and weaknesses.

 

Eloise

 

PS. The OP did say... "Probably wont want to spend more than the mid $300 range unless i can be convinced otherwise???". My suggested steps for low budget would be...

(1) Run a optical cable (as Chris suggested first) from the MacBook to a spare input on the AV Receiver - you need a mini-TOSLink to TOSLink.

(2) Try a device such as the HiFace to improve the quality of the digital output - this time connected via Co-ax SPDIF.

(3) Look at an external DAC - though without spending more than $300 yours options are very limited.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment

Hi Chris (& all),

What I've read from Stereophile en heard in a specialized store here in Netherlands, the way to go is to use a DAC with an asynchronus USB port. Meaning, the DAC take over the timing control from your PC/laptop. This reduces jitter and digital noise.

 

These DAC's are expensive at the moment; it's a new technology. (Ayre e.g. 2700 Euro's in NL, cheaper in US, I guess). So, better wait. A good USB DAC for the time being is from Musical Fidelity (according to Stereophile and I know MF from their amps). Around $250.

 

Good luck,

Gerrit

 

Link to comment

Gerrit is right that the MF V-DAC is very good value, however I would definately try straight to your Denon to begin.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment

You have lots of good advice, the problem is hearing any of these recommended dacs. One is to just buy them used live with them and resell if not happy or if you want to try something else. Second is to work with a local dealer who will loan. Lots harder to find now-a-days. But they still exist. And don't forget pro audio internet shops. Many will let you demo, Benchmark and Lavry for instance.

 

And if you can see if you can attend a local meetup where equipment might be on demo.

 

And don't get too caught up in opinions on only one way to keep jitter at bay for instance. Benchmark does a good job without asynch USB, it is not the only way. And the comment about dacs sounding different is true even if jitter is kept in check. Much of the particular sound of the dac has to do with overall implementation not just the flavor of the year DAC chip or the interface methodology.

 

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

 

Link to comment
  • 10 months later...

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...