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@DuckTollerHi, we discussed months ago about the purchase of a streamer and a DAC for my audio system. Regarding the recently purchase of the lumin u1 mini the question if it is worthwhile to purchase a DAC/preamp or simple a DAC.  If you ask me the comparisons between rpi4-volumio and lumin u1 mini I would say definitely YES with the latter the music opens wide more flourishing more lively.

Thanks

Nikos

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3 minutes ago, nikolaos1969 said:

@DuckTollerHi, we discussed months ago about the purchase of a streamer and a DAC for my audio system. Regarding the recently purchase of the lumin u1 mini the question if it is worthwhile to purchase a DAC/preamp or simple a DAC.  If you ask me the comparisons between rpi4-volumio and lumin u1 mini I would say definitely YES with the latter the music opens wide more flourishing more lively.

Thanks

Nikos

Happy Sunday to Greece, my friend Nikolaos!

First of all, I am happy that you got what you wanted with your u1 mini! I think it is a very sweet spot of gear. I noticed the QNAP NAS as well, which in my opinion gives you some come calm on the digital side of audio. I understand that the DAC now is the next step in question. Which would be your budget for the next step?
If I remember correctly you are using a Cambridge CX 81 (I looked it up in between ;-) with DAC (ES9016K2M) included, correct?


As an option , you may want to discuss the sq difference between the analogue input/external DAC vs internal DAC in a Cambridge forum/ FB group, because you may have better chances to get their anecdotal evidence about the perceived difference.
Please take into account that a DAC should not have "a sound" per se but transfer the digital signal as transparent as possible.
I have heard/read that many implementations of ESS DAC chips tend to sound bright in comparison to the more "mellow" conversion output of AKM DACs, however the best DAC performance I have had recently has been with the Allo Revolution and the ESS9038q2m chip, which beats (in my ears) the ESS chips I have heard (in my system), the AKM4490 and the BB DSD1793 chips (used by iFi). However that DAC is not on the comfort side of things and is more a potent technical and  financial viable solution for audiophiles on a budget, because in the global picture it may lack some comfort standards (Balanced analog outputs, a choice of digital inputs) which would for example disqualify it for your system, because you would want to have a DAC that enables you to use of the balanced inputs of your amplifier.

If you flesh up your digital back end with a DAC equal to the price of your streamer you may reach the limits of the analog front end. I think it will sound excellent whatsoever. but you will know that your analog front end now (may be) getting outclassed by the  quality digital side, because the CX-81 is evidently excellent for it's price but nonetheless a compromise AIO device which may not arrive at the quality of i.E. a MOON pre / amplifier combination or the next level Cambridge separates. Pepping it up with an external DAC at perhaps the same price level as the Integrated may leads you to imbalance.
If you are ready to face that dilemma, I'd advise you to look at RME AD-2 DAC FS, the OKTO DAC8 stereo or into the Denafrips / Holo Audio range of DACs. If you're in for used ones, you may want to look in the range of Armature DACs (Audiophonics house brand) which were offering Denafrips and Holo designs at an interesting price, but have been recently discontinued.
Below the RME (in price) you'll find an armada of chi-fi DAC's which are usually unbeatable by price/performance standards and perfect if you look for checking out designs and chips for yourself (it's akin to smartphones)

Draw a list of what are the features you want from a DAC in order to narrow down your choices. I.e. with u1 mini as source you won't need PCM1536 and DSD1024 as an option, which in turn suits the OKTO (without internal streamer) very much.

Some food for thought - enjoy your Sunday
Tom

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Re. Pre-amp function with a DAC:
IMHO this is a feature supporting the shortening of the signal path towards a power amp, which in turn would not help a lot in conjunction of an intergrated amplifier without a passthrough to avoid the analog line stage of the amp. The CX81 works obviously the opposite way, you have a preamp out for using it as preamp only, circumventing the line stage does not seem part of the equation.

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I personally prefer going DAC direct to my active speakers, no additional preamp in between.
So, I have always opted for a DAC with a very good built-in analog volume control. So far, this choice has worked very well for me.

My choice of DACs also offer at least one analog input (this has been useful for home cinema setup).

My latest DAC Lindemann Musicbook DSD 20 also comes with a streamer, but I mostly use it with my Macmini connected via USB.
 

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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Great to discuss with you Duck, in the meantime thinking about DAC's I am posting a link regarding a breakthrough project worldwide first taking place at the observatory of Helmos mountain at Peloponnese perfecture in Greece. The next gen of telecommunications "fibre in the sky" the transfer of voice and data between earth stations and satelites via laser beams.

https://www.ekathimerini.com/culture/256473/helmos-chosen-for-scylight/

 

You are invited to visit Greece and the Greek Islands and hope someday sitting on a beach listening to music directlty from audio system.

regards

Nikolaos

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Nice project!!
And I am happy that Greece has been appointed to helm that breakthrough.
Sounds like in the future we will have holgographic music perfomances at the beach (inlcluding the necessary social distance! but without the nerving body controls. There will be a bigger logistic project to get the artist's fanbase to selected beaches, but ... )

I have visited some Greek islands in the past and have lovely memoirs from then.
My teenage son visited Corfu last year with his friend's family who are originating from there. One special week without pandemics. He had been as well to Athens with his mum while I was dog keeping (and profited listening to music all over the house and around the clock...)
When travelling returns to a different normal, Greek islands are definitely back on the menu ...
 

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I just got a Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 for the office and can recommend. It also uses the ESS9038q2m chips. I'm using it RCA out to a Naim NAP 110 amp and Kef Ls50's. I'm also using  a microRendu 1.4 as the streaming input via USB, but if I didn't happen to have one (i was going to sell it) I would be perfectly happy with the built in Roon streaming, though the mR brings a bit more body, albeit losing the nice screen image of what's playing, and of course brings more complexity to the set up. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: opticalModule> Sonore microRendu 1.4> Matrix Mini-i Pro 3> Naim NAP 110>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack, Moon Audio DIN>RCA, USB A>C. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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4 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Nice project!!
And I am happy that Greece has been appointed to helm that breakthrough.
Sounds like in the future we will have holgographic music perfomances at the beach (inlcluding the necessary social distance! but without the nerving body controls. There will be a bigger logistic project to get the artist's fanbase to selected beaches, but ... )

I have visited some Greek islands in the past and have lovely memoirs from then.
My teenage son visited Corfu last year with his friend's family who are originating from there. One special week without pandemics. He had been as well to Athens with his mum while I was dog keeping (and profited listening to music all over the house and around the clock...)
When travelling returns to a different normal, Greek islands are definitely back on the menu ...
 

Well, I would love to meet you. I think covid19 will be a step forward to deploy the telecom infrastructure and communication technologies. Yes, CXA81 https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/eur/en/products/hi-fi/cx-series-2/cxa81

uses the DAC you mentioned. Around 1,000€ is an affordable amount. What I do not know is how the CXA81 perform without its own DAC. I have never read anything about this because I suggest many users rely on its own dac. Connecting lumin via usb to DAC and then via DAC XLR analogue output to CXA81 XLR analogue in. You have not mentioned MQA what is your opinion.

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5 hours ago, mevdinc said:

I personally prefer going DAC direct to my active speakers, no additional preamp in between.
So, I have always opted for a DAC with a very good built-in analog volume control. So far, this choice has worked very well for me.

My choice of DACs also offer at least one analog input (this has been useful for home cinema setup).

My latest DAC Lindemann Musicbook DSD 20 also comes with a streamer, but I mostly use it with my Macmini connected via USB.
 

Hi, I was about to purchase Lindenmann bridge or network because its app is very intuitive but I was disappointed because no usb audio is available. My amp is designed to perform at its best sample rate PCM or DSD only with USB audio.

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34 minutes ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Hi, I was about to purchase Lindenmann bridge or network because its app is very intuitive but I was disappointed because no usb audio is available. My amp is designed to perform at its best sample rate PCM or DSD only with USB audio.

When I was at Lindemanns in May 2019 after I visited them at the MHE, I was informed that the app is only a revetment of the ROON functionality, i.e. a handcrafted surface without any specific functionality. Could you confirm that @mevdinc in real life???

@nikolaos1969 the musicbook features a DAC and delivers an analog signal via XLR balanced to your amplifier XLR in (analog) using the preamp line stage. That is the standard way any DAC would use for forwarding the signal to your amp.

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58 minutes ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Connecting lumin via usb to DAC and then via DAC XLR analogue output to CXA81 XLR analogue in.

In my opinion, you may prefer the option using the AES/EBU port of the Lumin to an AES/EBU input at the DAC of your choice for DoP or PCM up to 24/192 and USB only for (upsampled) formats of higher bandwith than that. However, you ears need to confirm ...! And you need to find a DAC with AES/EBU below 1k.
For the missing information you ask best where you find a lot of owners of the CX 81, Cambridge forums or owner groups at Facebook for example.

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22 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

When I was at Lindemanns in May 2019 after I visited them at the MHE, I was informed that the app is only a revetment of the ROON functionality, i.e. a handcrafted surface without any specific functionality. Could you confirm that @mevdinc in real life???

@nikolaos1969 the musicbook features a DAC and delivers an analog signal via XLR balanced to your amplifier XLR in (analog) using the preamp line stage. That is the standard way any DAC would use for forwarding the signal to your amp.

I have the Lindemann Musicbook DSD 20 and, as I already sated, I hardly use the streaming section and their app. Supplied app is very basic and I only use it sometimes to control the volume.

I was seriously considering an upgrade to the new version, Musicbook Source, which apparently has a better app and streaming functionality.
But the Source does not have USB input and I just don't understand their decision about not including it. They told me that their network streaming is very good and there's no need for USB.
The lack of USB input stopped me from going ahead with the upgrade to be honest.
 

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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1 hour ago, DuckToller said:

I think it is a scam to earn money without any proven advantages compared to existing formats, but a backdoor to control consumers. It is a marketing jerk, based on mingled truth and lies, organised for control and earnings. I haven't heard a MQA file that sounded better than the original FLAC file, but my personal experience is quite limited.
I would stay away from it or ask myself the necessary questions before I would spend money on it:
- Why should I trust a format that doesn't work bitperfect?
- Why should I support a company that does not deliver any piece of objective evidence about the added benefit of their invention.
- How can I trust a company that claims the format "sounds as the artist intended" without ever asking the artists (but the label perhaps) and enable a mass conversion of Warner provided "master" tapes for Tidal use?
- How should I give my money to people govern a company like MQA and behave like mobsters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSv0lcHlawk - hint: This is Chris, the owner of this forums having the MQA crew wrecking his presentation at RMAF 2018

I have suspections against companies that use strategies I have seen in politics for years to overcome objective proof & opinion holders which questions their proposed qualities, companies which pay for influencer to interrupt threats like "MQA is Vaporware" or rather trying to attack Archimago personally instead to show scientific results that his finding were untrue ?
I dislike DRM because it is the expression of everything the music industry hates about their consumers

No MQA for me - your mileage may vary - but you may want to reflect on your tendencies towards marketing influence (this are the guys who earn money with their PR)

I will agree with you as soon as MQA does not provide bitperfect sound can not be regarded as a standard

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1 hour ago, DuckToller said:

In my opinion, you may prefer the option using the AES/EBU port of the Lumin to an AES/EBU input at the DAC of your choice for DoP or PCM up to 24/192 and USB only for (upsampled) formats of higher bandwith than that. However, you ears need to confirm ...! And you need to find a DAC with AES/EBU below 1k.
For the missing information you ask best where you find a lot of owners of the CX 81, Cambridge forums or owner groups at Facebook for example.

Using AES/EBU digital port sounds better than USB port ? Tell me your opinion about denafrips ARES II. If I find a used armature I I think I will go for it. A second option is RME ADI-2-DAC-FS DA Converter. I think OCTO DAC8 is too expensive regarding using rpi.

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AES/EBU vs. USB - depends on your ears -

Okto - long delivery time & no used market. Available without Pi for less.

ARES II/Denafrips - search Forums here, good choice but maybe overspecced for your system

RME - you can't go wrong ...

Armature - Holo or Denafrips design?

 

Think, beside format specs, at that price point features like

Display, Remote, Connectivity,

Headphone out, analog stage & volume control, power supply and aesthetical preferences are important, too.

 

 

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18 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Re. Pre-amp function with a DAC:
IMHO this is a feature supporting the shortening of the signal path towards a power amp, which in turn would not help a lot in conjunction of an intergrated amplifier without a passthrough to avoid the analog line stage of the amp. The CX81 works obviously the opposite way, you have a preamp out for using it as preamp only, circumventing the line stage does not seem part of the equation.

The reason discussing the DAC/preamp is that Lumin u1 incorporates LEEDH processing, https://www.luminmusic.com/support-leedh-processing.html, and that can be achieved via a pre-amp.

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36 minutes ago, nikolaos1969 said:

The reason discussing the DAC/preamp is that Lumin u1 incorporates LEEDH processing, https://www.luminmusic.com/support-leedh-processing.html, and that can be achieved via a pre-amp.

I was very interested in LEEDH and thought that it would be implemented in more DACs and used by more software players. At one point Audirvana was going to use it as well but subsequently dropped it
Software volume control is getting better and better but it's still not 100% lossless.
So, I decided to opt for DACs that offer very good analog volume such as my Lindemann.

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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1 minute ago, mevdinc said:

I was very interested in LEEDH and thought that it would be implemented in more DACs and used by more software players. At one point Audirvana was going to use it as well but subsequently dropped it
Software volume control is getting better and better but it's still not 100% lossless.
So, I decided to opt for DACs that offer very good analog volume such as my Lindemann.

Very interesting, thanks

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On 2/22/2021 at 5:24 AM, DuckToller said:

AES/EBU vs. USB - depends on your ears -

Okto - long delivery time & no used market. Available without Pi for less.

ARES II/Denafrips - search Forums here, good choice but maybe overspecced for your system

RME - you can't go wrong ...

Armature - Holo or Denafrips design?

 

Think, beside format specs, at that price point features like

Display, Remote, Connectivity,

Headphone out, analog stage & volume control, power supply and aesthetical preferences are important, too.

 

 

Which one of Armature DAC's

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-without-volume/armature-cronos-r2r-balanced-xlr-dac-24bit384khz-xmos-xu208-p-11831.html

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-without-volume/armature-asterion-holo-spring-r2r-balanced-xlr-dac-24bit384khz-dsd512-p-12038.html

Both products are discontinued. Do you consider it a disadvantage for future upgrade or something else?

 

regards

Nikolaos

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7 minutes ago, nikolaos1969 said:

Hi Nick,
If you'll find it used, I'd prefer the Holo Audio Spring I design of the ARMATURE Asterion. Thus, only at half the price of the orihginal offer (est. 750-800 Euros). However they aren't available at the usual sources for used gear, and upon reflection I need to admit that mentioning that brand wasn't one of my most brilliant ideas.
For availability, as well in the used markets, you better look on Denafrips Ares II or the Pontus (reviewed here), as Denefrips has started the pre-order of the Pontus II (2) already.  In case you like the review linked above, there is a sales of the Pontus in Italy ...  I have understood that many Denafrips owner tend to upgrade in the Denafrips line of DACs.
However, that device may fit quite well with the output capability of your U1 mini.

The consequence you may face by integrating these type of quality in your chain could be that the limitation for better sound will change from the digital side to the analog part of your system, and you will never know if this is real or not, without starting upgrading on the analog front end. The crux of our hobby ...

Good luck, Tom

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Maybe a misunderstanding?

They write:

The DAC

Packed into the compact half 19” format factor, this little gem is filled with the finest high-end electronics, offering a reference class conversion from SPDIF coaxial, SPDIF optical (ADAT compatible) and USB to RCA, XLR, TRS and mini-TRS.

 

 

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