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Need advice regarding my dCS Elgar DAC


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I have recently entered the world of CA and have been having fun with my secondary system which is a MacBook > V-DAC II > Pioneer AVR > Linn Ninkas.

 

I am about ready to try using the MacBook on my main system which is an NEC Belt Drive CD transport > dCs Elgar > dCs Purcell Upsampler > Wavelength Duetto Amp> AvanteGarde Uno Speakers. In order to use this older DAC, I will need to convert USB to S/PDIF, presumably, so can someone suggest a shortlist of such converters that I should consider? I have become a bit perplexed by the incredible number of these devices available and pretty much all of them claim to be the ultimate incarnation of said converter. I don't want to spend silly money on this as it may just not be what I ultimately want, so where should I begin?

 

In addition, I have not seen any mention of the Elgar as I've browsed through the forums, but can anyone opine on how it stacks up with the more modern and recent DACs now available?

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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I'm sorry Keith, but I'm not sure I follow you. It's a regular Elgar, not the Elgar Plus, if that's what you mean?

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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You asked for a converter. Suggest the Musical Fidelity V-Link II, about 140 dollars. Works for me, though my DAC is greatly inferior to your dCS I would think. Maybe a dealer would let you try it for a day or two on a 'sale or return' basis?

 

Maximum speed is 96K, 24 bit. I think your old(ish) DAC would probably not need anything faster. I assume the Elgar has RCA connectors, the V-Link works with those or Toslink. Maybe you might need an RCA to BNC for the DAC, I obviously don't know what it has. Don't forget to buy a suitable USB cable!

 

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Keith, I'm pretty sure it just needs one cable. I have only ever used a regular Red Book CD Transport with it, and obviously that only uses one cable. I will get more information on this though.

 

Mark, thanks for that recommendation. I am currently using a MF V-DAC II on my secondary system for casual listening and I have been pleased with it so far, so presumably the V-LINK will be a quality item too. I'll see if there is one available locally for audition. I'm not sure where to start on a "suitable" USB cable because: A) I can't understand why it makes a difference (although I by no means deny it) and : B) None of the stores in my area appear to carry anything other than the cheapest, most basic USB cables.

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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Keith, I would certainly like to be able to play hi rez files, but I am presuming that the Elgar will limit my ability to do this. From what I can gather, it is unable to handle anything over 16/44, so I don't know what will happen if I try to put a higher resolution signal into it. As you can probably gather, I'm not technically savvy, I just like music, lol.

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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N Hi, I am sure the DAC is capable of higher resolution than 16/44, my earlier question was aimed at trying to determine whether your unit had two digital inputs, early DCS dacs could handle hi Res but the signal was split between two wires, the only converter capable of handling dual wire is afaik the Weiss INT202 which is a superb unit but expensive.

I believe each single wire was capablee of handling 88.2, you may have to Chaco with DCS quoting the serial number of your unit.

Keith.

 

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I have an Elgar Plus and i need two aes wires to get beyond 96k. If 96k is sufficient, one wire will do, either aes, spdif or optical.

 

Just to put an additional option out there: Have you considered using a good soundcard like RME? I use my Elgar that way and it works like a charm.

 

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Hi Johniboy. I haven't considered anything like the sound card you mentioned. To be honest, I barely know what I'm doing with even the Elgar, let alone anything more "exotic". I'm definitely old school and I haven't done a very good job of keeping up with some of the latest technology or options.

 

I suppose I better dig out the Elgar manual and figure out just what it can do and what it can't. It was such a major investment back in the day that I just want to find a way of using it with my MacBook. I suppose that it's entirely possible that a $200.00 USB DAC might be better than it is these days, who knows?

 

In any event, if the Weiss option mentioned previously ($1800.00 USD) is the only way to get the most out of my ripped and downloaded music, I may as well sell the Elgar and get a new highish end DAC that does it all. I would rather explore the other options first though.

 

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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sorry, i missed that you want to use a macbook. then you definitely need an external soundcard like the weiss int202. it is probably one of the best options out there.

 

don´t be fooled, the elgar is still a very good and will compete with many modern "high-end" dacs!

 

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Several times the price of the V-Link, but likely to give better sound, I think, is the Wavelength Audio Wavelink at $900 US.

 

I own the V-Link and liked it with an old Theta DAC, but the performance of the USB input in my new $450 DAC (Schiit Bifrost) is substantially better than that combination. Have never heard the Wavelink personally, but have also never heard a Wavelength Audio equipment owner do anything but rave about it. Wavelength's principal, Gordon Rankin, is I believe the inventor of the asynchronous USB interface and thus essentially fathered current USB-to-S/PDIF converters as a category.

 

Not sure what your price range is vs. selling the Elgar and getting something new. What would you say your desired budget for a converter might be?

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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@Keith

 

I may be wrong, but I don't think any dCS DAC is capable of 24/192 via single wire connection.

 

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.

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"I suppose I better dig out the Elgar manual and figure out just what it can do and what it can't. It was such a major investment back in the day that I just want to find a way of using it with my MacBook. I suppose that it's entirely possible that a $200.00 USB DAC might be better than it is these days, who knows?"

 

Unlikely that a $200 USB dac will give better sound than your DCS on redbook. Where the new dacs shine (one that would be more in line with the cost of your DCS) is in playback of higher resolution files through something like your MacBook.

When dealing exclusively with redbook cd files it is not clear cut as far as a HD based transports superiority over a good CD transport. I had a client that went for quite some time unconvinced that a tricked out Mac Mini w/ Pure Audio or Amarra was actually "better" than his older cd players output into a an Audio Research Dac 8.

 

The short of all this is that if you like your current cd transport into your DCS then chances are good that you will like your laptop into it. Just know that you will be doing this excersize mainly for convienence and not looking to a higher level of sound quality.

 

By the way, the interface I would recommend is the Halide Bridge S/PDIF Bridge which is a USB to RCA interface w/ cable attached making for a nice sounding and neat connection for your situation.

 

http://www.halidedesign.com/

 

David

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Hi,

 

I owned a dCS Elgar+ for five years before upgrading to Scarlatti. I think you will find the Elgar will still outperform most current DAC's and unless you already have a serious high-end system you will not be hearing it's full potential. If your Purcell supports it I recommend you upsample all your red books CD's and PCM data from your Macbook to DSD for best performance. And the suggestion that dCS level performance will ever be available for $200 is wishful thinking.

 

The Elgar & Purcell will only accept data up to 96KS/s on its single-wire (AES, RCA or BNC) interfaces. It will however accept 176.4 and 192 over dual-wire AES and for this you need a professional PC interface card, for example RME. Unfortunately this also requires a PCI bus which you obviously don't have available on the Macbook. I think therefore unless you can use a Mac/PC desktop with PCI bus and get hold of a professional sound card with dual-AES support you will be limited to playing 96KS/s data from your Macbook. I doubt dCS will make a software update available to enable high sample rates for the earlier units but you could drop them an email and ask.

 

dCS have released a single-wire software update (v1.20)for Scarlatti DAC which does support all sample rates up to 192KS/s over AES, RCA & BNC interfaces.

 

JRiver Media Centre, Windows 7, Dell E4300 with SSD > Revelation Audio Labs power-free USB cable > dCS Scarlatti > Transparent Audio Reference Balanced Inter-connect > Krell FPB700cx > Transparent Audio Reference Speakers Cables > Wilson Audio System 8, Transparent Power Cables & Hutter Rack

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And the suggestion that dCS level performance will ever be available for $200 is wishful thinking.

 

Though I think you're certainly right as of now, the level of progress made over time in such a computing-technology-dependent area is an interesting issue. My Theta Pro Basic II DAC, $2000 initially 20 years ago, then given an $800 upgrade a couple of years later, is outdone by my newly purchased Schiit Bifrost ($450, including the $100 USB option). Granted, that's 20 years vs. perhaps 5 for the Elgar and $2800 vs $15K. But Moore's "law" marches on, and in another 5 or 6 years, who knows?

 

For now, though, the Elgar with an interface such as the Wavelink, Halide Bridge or V-Link will do very, very nicely.

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I just want to express my appreciation for the time and effort everyone has taken to help me figure this stuff out. My comment about the Elgar being under threat by a modern $200.00 unit was a fear, rather than any wishful thinking.

 

It seems I'm still in good shape though with one of the converters mentioned. I am leaning toward the Halide Bridge, as this seems to be a fairly straight forward approach and fits into the budget without me feeling like I'm wasting a bunch of funds or inhibiting the Elgar too much.

 

I shall report back on my findings once I have everything in place.

 

Thanks again.

 

 

 

Neil M.

 

CA System 2013 i7 Mac Mini, JRiver, AQ Cinnamon, MF V Link 192, Teradak PS, DACiT, W4S STI 1000, Linn Ninka's

Main System (Analogue) LP12, Ittock, Klyde, Lingo 2, Kairn, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

Main System (Digital) CEC TL51, dCS Elgar, dCS Purcell, Wavelength Duetto, AvanteGarde Uno's

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Get the Halide - that is what I'm using with my dCS Scarlatti DAC. V-Link is cheaper, but you need to factor in an extra USB cable and an extra SPDIF cable - and those may be costly at this level.

 

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, MojoAudio super regulator, Pink Faun Ultra OCXO USB card

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

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I may be wrong, but I don't think any dCS DAC is capable of 24/192 via single wire connection.

 

You are 100% correct. dCS Puccini with v1.3 software and dCS Scarlatti with v1.2 software installed will do single wire 24/192 just fine.

 

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, MojoAudio super regulator, Pink Faun Ultra OCXO USB card

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

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  • 1 month later...

I seriously doubt that an Elgar & Purcell will be outperformed very easily and without serious money. I intend to buy a pair now for a reasonable amount of money and still think that I'm making the bargain of the decade. I'll be feeding it with a SB Touch which can only go up to 24/96 anyway. AFAIK the Purcell will be able to work with a single input up to 24/96 and will upsample to 24/192 which can be passed on to the Elgar through a double balanced digital connection.

Has anyone done some recent comparison of this duo with more modern high-end DACs? I'm buying blind (I know, kind of crazy, but the price is just too good to pass by)

best regards

André

 

LDMS Minix Server>Lampizator TRP w/ VC>Gryphon Diablo>Heil Kithara

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', (Power); Douglas Cables 'Mirage' (XLR); Douglas Cables "GLIA" (speaker cables & jumper); FTA Callisto (USB)

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo & TRP)

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