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Tinkerlin

External DAC into powered speakers

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I recently tried routing music through both a USB thumb drive and laptop running Roon directly into an Oppo 105d to try out its capabilities. The Oppo is in turn connected to powered speakers via an optical connection (I can mention the brand if needed). Even though the powered speakers have their own internal DAC, music routed through the Oppo sounds decidedly better than music that streams directly from the powered speakers (using an app or airplay to completely bypass the connected Oppo). It's not a slight difference -- even my partner who is as non-audiophile as you can get noticed a clear difference in an A/B test. I'm wondering how is this possible, since you normally connect an external DAC via an analog connection. Is the external DAC able to influence the sound, even though it's getting processed again in the speaker DAC? As the source of the music, perhaps the Oppo is helping to reduce jitter? Any other explanations?

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The topic was just discussed with some KEF actives this weekend.


I just have made the same experience with some active speakers under review, when I preferred (most of the times) my main DAC and analogue in to the speaker's USB interface (BOTH are XMOS U216!) and if I figured it out correctly, the speakers do not use a DAC for digital input because they process it digitally into DSP and amplification.
With an external DAC you may have some better DAC chips plus implementation etc. and perhaps preferential filters (i.e. slow roll off), the signal will then be coverted by an ADC before DSP and amplification.
It would be somehow intersting to measure the signal just before DSP to see if anything would be altered to the better/worst ???

Cheers, Tom

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I see - it may be the case that the optical input is bypassing the internal DAC. The Oppo DAC chips are definitely better, I was just surprised that it was so apparent even when passed digitally. I guess it's one of those cases where if it sounds better, don't worry why lol. But I was curious anyway...

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I think if you are using the optical out of the OPPO, the signal is just passing through...in other words it is a DDC and bypasses the DAC.  Optical will be decidedly better than BT or Airplay IMO.


QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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