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creativepart

Addons, i.e. regen, reclock, isolate - are they needed?

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I listen to vinyl about 50% of the time and digital from my computer (iMac 27") 50% of the time. For something like 8 years I've used a Benchmark Dac1 USB for all my digital listening. Probably 10 years ago I took all my CDs and using iTunes made ALAC copies of them - 720 in all. I've stored the CDs in the attic and listen to them from the computer. I use Audirvana Pro for my software.

 

I like Tidal, especially Masters with MQA (don't start please). Recently, to try something new I bought a Meridian Explorer2 and then replaced that with the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Dac. I like the Pre Box better than the Exp2 but I'm not sure yet about it being as good or better than the Benchmark.

 

So, I'm reading up on everything and contemplating a new Dac to be my main digital source. But confusing the situation I see LOTs of folks and lots of reviewers say how necessary it is to get one or two or even three addons to improve the USB signal from the computer. Then I see measurements and reports and reviews saying just the opposite. And, it's true that I've seen my share of addons that are worthless in my 50+ years of audio experience ( I built my first stereo system in 1962, literally, built it from Olsen Electronics parts).

 

Before going for a whole new dac I was thinking of one of the addons - like iFi Micro or similar. Or maybe go with the whole SoTM 200 kind of network device. Are these addons a must to consider before even thinking of a new dac... or is it just a fad if you've got a good dac in the first place?

 

PS. I'm not sure if I'd ever get rid of the Benchmark. It seems like one of those statement pieces you hang on to for a long time. But I may add another ~$2000 dac. Sometimes I wish I still had my Ack! Dac!. Anyway, I'm digressing.

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Since you like your Benchmark why not stay within the family. 

 

I've seen one instrumented instance where a USB dongle improved a DAC's output and that was the Schiit Modi 2 that was measured with a ~$24,000 Audio Precision Analyzer over at audiosciencereview.com. 

 

Benchmarks engineering pedigree is well earned and I'm sure that their inputs are properly engineered and won't be improved upon by a USB dongle.

 

Be for warned that even USB dongles can introduce noise as UpTone audio's was shown to do. 

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Yes, you might try their 2 or 3 DACs.  I've heard the 2 is a big increase over the 1.

 

I also suspect add-ons help (or help more) with DACs that lack top notch engineering (i.e not Benchmark)

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26 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

Yes, you might try their 2 or 3 DACs.  I've heard the 2 is a big increase over the 1.

 

I also suspect add-ons help (or help more) with DACs that lack top notch engineering (i.e not Benchmark)

+1. Just go DAC2 or 3 and call it a day. 


 

 

 

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Find a DAC with good I2s inputs and avoid USB if you can.

USB has served its purpose over recent years but is ultimately flawed even with all the add ons.

It will take a while for more playback hardware to implement I2s outputs but its coming and will take off over the coming years.


Audio PC - Gigabyte H97M-D3H, i7 at 800Mhz, RAM at 800Mhz & PPA OCXO Mobo, Teradak ATX Linear for 20 pin ATX on Mobo, Paul Hynes SR7EHD 12v, 5v & 5v supply on Mobo, Stammheim 12x LT3045's for 1.3v to RAM direct supply, JCat V2 USB Card, WTFPlay Linux Audiophile Player control by MELE F10, Startech LEX to REX on 12v Paul Hynes with 2x SLC cards and out by POE to ISO/Regen, PPA Red USB Cable, Lampizator Big7, Nige design Lifepo4 powered amp, Raidho C1s.

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13 hours ago, creativepart said:

Before going for a whole new dac I was thinking of one of the addons - like iFi Micro or similar. Or maybe go with the whole SoTM 200 kind of network device. Are these addons a must to consider before even thinking of a new dac... or is it just a fad if you've got a good dac in the first place?

 

PS. I'm not sure if I'd ever get rid of the Benchmark. It seems like one of those statement pieces you hang on to for a long time. But I may add another ~$2000 dac. Sometimes I wish I still had my Ack! Dac!. Anyway, I'm digressing.

Having owned the BM DAC1 for a couple of years when they first came out and also owning NOS DACs similar to the Ack, as Mansr suggested, there might be little difference with many of these add on devices with the BM. The BM resamples everything on input which helps poor sources, but holds back better ones. It tends to homogenize the inputs for better or worse depending on taste and quality. I'd try a different DAC using different tech if you are looking to experiment. If you are looking at keeping the BM and want to improve it, I remember mine being sensitive to power. As a caveat, something like the Uptone Regen might help if for no other reason than it replaces the USB input power. I replaced my BM with a Berkeley and then a Weiss. I am now back into DIY bettering all of them. I have never regretted selling it. The BM is a statement piece only because they say it is so. Despite the PRaT and punch, it had a "whiteness/greyness" to it that obscured inner detail. If I had to go back, I'd get another Weiss, but I have no Firewire. It took quite a lot of work to better Weiss' digital out. I kept it quite awhile for that alone. I'd love to hear their present USB devices.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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1 hour ago, sligolad said:

good I2s inputs

 

I've seen mention by reasonably credible sources of I2S' inadequacy as an box-connecting interface.

 

This is from the LavryEngineering wiki:

 

I2S
Overview

The I²S interface format, pronounced as "I squared S" stands for "Inter-IC Sound" or alternatively, "Integrated Interchip Sound." Frequently, because of limitations in the text formatting it may appear written as "I2S." The primary application of this interface is to connect digital audio IC's located on the same printed circuit board.
Basics

Once the digital information is generated by the AD converter; it must be transmitted to the next device for storage or processing. Internal to the AD converter system; the I2S format is commonly used to connect the AD converter IC to a digital audio interface IC; and typically consists of three signals:

• The Bit Clock which has one cycle for each "bit" in the serial data output of the AD converter.
• The Word Clock which is at the sample frequency, and each half cycle is used to define whether the serial data is the left channel or right channel data (most contemporary converters are "stereo" two channel units). Sometimes referred to as "Left-Right Clock."
• The Serial Data which is the digital code containing each sample's voltage level information. The information alternates between left and right channel data.

This format is not intended for (external) transmission between digital audio devices and is subject to the same jitter and noise considerations as any other high frequency interface. Please see bit clock and AES for more details. Digital audio formats designed explicitly for transmission between pieces of equipment have an "embedded" bit clock as part of the electrical waveform, and the coding of the electrical waveform allows for these very high frequency signals to be transmitted with signal transformers; which allows them to work properly. Formats like I2s do not have the means to address serious issues that arise when transmitting very high frequency signals more than short distance because it requires DC transmission. The discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this subject.

 

 

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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1 minute ago, semente said:

 

I've seen mention by reasonably credible sources of I2S' inadequacy as an box-connecting interface.

 

This is from the LavryEngineering wiki:

 

I2S
Overview

The I²S interface format, pronounced as "I squared S" stands for "Inter-IC Sound" or alternatively, "Integrated Interchip Sound." Frequently, because of limitations in the text formatting it may appear written as "I2S." The primary application of this interface is to connect digital audio IC's located on the same printed circuit board.
Basics

Once the digital information is generated by the AD converter; it must be transmitted to the next device for storage or processing. Internal to the AD converter system; the I2S format is commonly used to connect the AD converter IC to a digital audio interface IC; and typically consists of three signals:

• The Bit Clock which has one cycle for each "bit" in the serial data output of the AD converter.
• The Word Clock which is at the sample frequency, and each half cycle is used to define whether the serial data is the left channel or right channel data (most contemporary converters are "stereo" two channel units). Sometimes referred to as "Left-Right Clock."
• The Serial Data which is the digital code containing each sample's voltage level information. The information alternates between left and right channel data.

This format is not intended for (external) transmission between digital audio devices and is subject to the same jitter and noise considerations as any other high frequency interface. Please see bit clock and AES for more details. Digital audio formats designed explicitly for transmission between pieces of equipment have an "embedded" bit clock as part of the electrical waveform, and the coding of the electrical waveform allows for these very high frequency signals to be transmitted with signal transformers; which allows them to work properly. Formats like I2s do not have the means to address serious issues that arise when transmitting very high frequency signals more than short distance because it requires DC transmission. The discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this subject.

 

 

You are quoting Lavry? Despite the inherent problems with transferring data and clocking at these rates, there appears to still be sonic advantages in using external i2s devices in some(many) situations. Some of those advantages MAY even be because they are external. This is off topic though.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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For $179 the Schiit Eitr might be worth a shot. It's garnered some great reviews and you can return it if it doesn't suit you.

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31 minutes ago, Melvin said:

For $179 the Schiit Eitr might be worth a shot. It's garnered some great reviews and you can return it if it doesn't suit you.

Please do not take this wrong, but it is a mixed up world 'cause of Lola if this does sound better. And it very well may! The BM ASRC is supposed to negate any/all differences in it's inputs. It didn't IME with my BM. Even cables made a difference, but the BM always retained its "house sound". Love it or hate it, there is different.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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53 minutes ago, 4est said:

Please do not take this wrong, but it is a mixed up world 'cause of Lola if this does sound better.

 

I didn't .. love the reference!

 

2 hours ago, 4est said:

As a caveat, something like the Uptone Regen might help if for no other reason than it replaces the USB input power.

 

I was thinking along these lines as well (with the added reclocking and USB/SPDIF conversion). 

 

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2 hours ago, semente said:

 

I've seen mention by reasonably credible sources of I2S' inadequacy as an box-connecting interface.

 

I am speaking from experience after spending 7 years wringing the neck out of USB with power supplies, cables, isolation and regeneration devices from 3 different sources including Uptone.

 

And while all the USB items work in accumulation and gives improvement it was not until I tried playing redbook and Hires files without USB and over I2s with cheap cables (successfully used 1 metre cable) that I found the real magic in playback from both a Lampizator Big7 and Meitner MA! with mods.


Audio PC - Gigabyte H97M-D3H, i7 at 800Mhz, RAM at 800Mhz & PPA OCXO Mobo, Teradak ATX Linear for 20 pin ATX on Mobo, Paul Hynes SR7EHD 12v, 5v & 5v supply on Mobo, Stammheim 12x LT3045's for 1.3v to RAM direct supply, JCat V2 USB Card, WTFPlay Linux Audiophile Player control by MELE F10, Startech LEX to REX on 12v Paul Hynes with 2x SLC cards and out by POE to ISO/Regen, PPA Red USB Cable, Lampizator Big7, Nige design Lifepo4 powered amp, Raidho C1s.

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3 minutes ago, Melvin said:

 

I didn't .. love the reference!

 

 

I was thinking along these lines as well (with the added reclocking and USB/SPDIF conversion). 

 

LOL And I am not trying to disparage the Benchmark, but suggesting that the inputs are likely to be less responsive to these sort of devices as suggested by the manufacturer. The drawback being that they seem to only take you about as far as they are already in performance.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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2 hours ago, 4est said:

something like the Uptone Regen might help if for no other reason than it replaces the USB input power.

But the Benchmark doesn't use the USB power, it has it's own power supply.

 

Thanks all for the responses. I see they are exactly as I've seen previously - a mixture of addons are good AND addons don't do much/anything. I just wanted to know the opinions of the CA group. I thought many here were "addon positive" but see that there are others here not so inclined.

 

My two current DACs (Pre Box S2 and Benchmark) are on the lean, brighter and analytical side. I'm keeping myself open to warmer sounding Dacs as I study this more. The Holo Audio Spring DAC comes to mind. And maybe the Yggdrasil?

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5 minutes ago, creativepart said:

But the Benchmark doesn't use the USB power, it has it's own power supply.

 

Thanks all for the responses. I see they are exactly as I've seen previously - a mixture of addons are good AND addons don't do much/anything. I just wanted to know the opinions of the CA group. I thought many here were "addon positive" but see that there are others here not so inclined.

 

My two current DACs (Pre Box S2 and Benchmark) are on the lean, brighter and analytical side. I'm keeping myself open to warmer sounding Dacs as I study this more. The Holo Audio Spring DAC comes to mind. And maybe the Yggdrasil?

 

Lean and analytical is usually the result of a frequency response imbalance.  Sometimes it's caused by impedance mismatch between DAC/preamp or preamp and amp. Rarely it's something that can be fixed by USB addons.

 

Try to measure and DSP your system, you'll find this much more enlightening and satisfying than deploying various addons with unknown and unproven properties. 

 

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@creativepart .. my Schiit Eitr suggestion was primarily due to their Gen 5 USB technology which may (or may not) be superior to the USB input on the BM1. Lots of folks think it's up there with the best of them. Of course, if you decide to go with an Yggy the point is moot. There are so many great DAC choices today .. best of luck.

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3 hours ago, 4est said:

Having owned the BM DAC1 for a couple of years when they first came out and also owning NOS DACs similar to the Ack, as Mansr suggested, there might be little difference with many of these add on devices with the BM. The BM resamples everything on input which helps poor sources, but holds back better ones.

Update. Not well known is BM DAC2 series (prob. DAC3 to) not use ASRC for USB input only.

 

2 hours ago, 4est said:

The BM ASRC is supposed to negate any/all differences in it's inputs. It didn't IME with my BM. Even cables made a difference, but the BM always retained its "house sound". Love it or hate it, there is different

"House sound" you hear is of DAC1 series. Lived with two BM DAC1s, now have DAC2 with (USB in) different, better sound. Happy to stop rolling DACs now.

Maybe non-ASRC is difference, maybe other ?

And responsive to USB add-ons also.

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1 hour ago, creativepart said:

But the Benchmark doesn't use the USB power, it has it's own power supply.

 

Thanks all for the responses. I see they are exactly as I've seen previously - a mixture of addons are good AND addons don't do much/anything. I just wanted to know the opinions of the CA group. I thought many here were "addon positive" but see that there are others here not so inclined.

 

My two current DACs (Pre Box S2 and Benchmark) are on the lean, brighter and analytical side. I'm keeping myself open to warmer sounding Dacs as I study this more. The Holo Audio Spring DAC comes to mind. And maybe the Yggdrasil?

 

Which speakers are you using?

Valve amplification?


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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1 minute ago, look&listen said:

Update. Not well known is BM DAC2 series (prob. DAC3 to) not use ASRC for USB input only.

 

"House sound" you hear is of DAC1 series. Lived with two BM DAC1s, now have DAC2 with (USB in) different, better sound. Happy to stop rolling DACs now.

Maybe non-ASRC is difference, maybe other ?

And responsive to USB add-ons also.

I believe you, but have no first hand knowledge DAC2/3 and the OP has the DAC1.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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3 minutes ago, semente said:

 

Which speakers are you using?

Valve amplification?

Well, when I tell you you'll point out that I was looking for more warmth and my system isn't really known for warmth to begin with. My amp is the Musical Fidelity A5 and my speakers are B&W CM6s.

 

I should explain that the warmth I'm looking for is really something smoother and less analytical sounding for digital to better match my vinyl setup (VPI Classic 1 TT/Dynavector 20X2L, EAR 834P phonostage, Bob's Devices Stepup).

 

I'm not looking to go all the way to warm sounding amps and speakers.

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11 minutes ago, look&listen said:

"House sound" you hear is of DAC1 series. Lived with two BM DAC1s, now have DAC2 with (USB in) different, better sound. Happy to stop rolling DACs now.

Maybe non-ASRC is difference, maybe other ?

And responsive to USB add-ons also.

I'd like to see you discuss that with John Siau.

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1 minute ago, creativepart said:

my speakers are B&W CM6

Never admit to semente that you have B&W speakers.

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15 minutes ago, mansr said:

Never admit to semente that you have B&W speakers.

 

1005423172_NicolasCageLaugh.thumb.gif.410e9715336a79eb4fba8ade104f5c41.gif


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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