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MP3 player ->USB DAC--> Amp via RCA: An impossible pathway?

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I was surprised to learn, after a lot of research, that the pathway in this message heading probably doesn't exist.


I have a couple of mid-size and component amplifers around the house that I'd like to use to play MP3, FLAC and other digital music data files. Burning MP3s to ISO-CDs and playing these does not appeal because of the huge amount of music I have in digital storage.


I have a good MP3 player, a Cowon iAudio 7. It has a USB port. I thought it would be easy to link it via USB cable to an outboard DAC with USB input. These DAC units usually have RCA-plug outs to connect to an amplifer.


But the Cowon's play/select controls are inoperable when it is attached via USB cable to a PC. In this mode it simply acts like a storage device, and requires a separate software-driven device with file management, navigation interface and a visual display at the other end to be of any use. For example, the Cowon works well in that state with car stereos fitted with a USB socket. The list of songs appears on the visual display of the car stereo head unit. I assume all this means the Cowon can't 'drive' another device such as a DAC via a USB connection.


So I'm still looking for a way to take the very small and portable Cowon to an hi-fi amplifier, plug it in via a digital (NOT 3.5 mm analogue socket) interface and stream its data to a DAC for playback where my good speakers are. I would like something portable that might, eg, be used for travel.


Does anyone have a suggestion for equipment and pathway that would cost less than $250? I'd consider an ultralong cable from my PC to one of the hifi units i have in mind, but this is an awkward solution. Also would consider a different MP3 player.


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As far as I can find out, there is no way to connect your Cowon iAudio 7 digitally to a DAC. Some of the Cowon players have digital output which could connect to the SPDIF connection on a suitable DAC, but none will connect to a USB DAC. If you were looking for a new portable player, you could consider an iPod and using it with a Onkyo or Wadia dock to provide SPDIF to an external DAC, but this is well in excess of $250.


The other option would be to look at either Logitech Squeezebox or Sonos systems. This connect via Ethernet (wired or wireless) to access the music stored on your computer. The output of these can be analogue for connection to a standard amp (or powered/active speakers) or digital to feed to a DAC (again via SPDIF). Again probably a little more than your $250 but very versatile systems (prices in the links)






...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.

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