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Do I need to pay attention to my DAC choice?

If we have, as suggested above, reached a technology 'plateau' with DACs in terms of the conversion of the digits to an analogue stream there remains the question of how well this analogue stream is handled subsequently. In particular how well the low-level detail is kept uncorrupted by RF and other interference. Judging from the many years of effort made in this area with phono preamps handling low voltage levels there is likely to be scope for improvement with the analogue output from a DAC.

Admittedly the voltage levels are generally higher than for phono output but a DAC is in the more challenging electronic environment of digital processing and its associated RF generation. I would not therefore be surprised if there remains scope for improving the sound quality we hear from DACs.
 

willem

Well-known member
DACs that measure well at the moment measure well above the threshold of human hearing, and generally also better than power amplifiers. So you may be right that there is still room for improvement in the measured response of the analogue stage, but that improvement will almost certainly not be audible. It does not really get any more perfect than perfect.
 
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ahofer

Member
It certainly interferes with enjoying your music when your streaming doesn't work, so I'd be tempted to focus more on that.

The Cambridge streaming capabilities are stable and excellent, IMO, and worth paying for. You can get a Cambridge CXN2 for about $800, I think, and Cambridge makes a good DAC.

Lumin also has solid streaming, but costs lots more money.

If you are computer literate, try Orchard's PecanPi DAC for under $500.

There aren't reasons to pay more, I suspect. I hear a lot of claims about golden ear DACs, but I haven't been able to tell them apart any more than the ethernet cable behind them.
 

willem

Well-known member
I am perfectly happy with my Chromecast Audio for streaming. It works great into the RME DAC, and I have never had such clean sound. Time now to start measuring response and activate the parametric eq of the DAC.
 

tIANcI

Member
The CXN v2 is a very decent kit for its price. One of the best value for money streamers. The unit is stable and easy to use. The onboard DAC works fine. I enjoyed it.

Moving up a bit you can look at the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a good unit but costs almost triple the CXN. The streaming quality is very clear. I replaced the CXN with this.

Bare in mind the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge is very much like the CXN in term of function and does have a line in that can also be used for phono (MM/MC).

Am most satisfied with the Mytek.
 

willem

Well-known member
As I said, these days DACs can easily be better than human hearing. Even so, not all DACs are equally good, and their quality often bears little relation to their price. Here is a test of an ultra expensive audiophile DAC: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-totaldac-d1-six-dac.8192/ The conclusion is that it is fatally compromised - it is just cr*p, and a total rip off (just like the audiophile DAC that was lent to Alan some years ago). Conversely, here is a test of a $70 usb DAC and headphone amplifier (only for balanced headphones, but that is irrelevant for the argument) that measures among the best measured DACs ever: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-e1da-9038s-bal-portable-dac-amp.8424/ The challenge is to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately the audio press is of absolutely no help.
 
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ahofer

Member
I am perfectly happy with my Chromecast Audio for streaming. It works great into the RME DAC, and I have never had such clean sound. Time now to start measuring response and activate the parametric eq of the DAC.
Yes, Chromecast is great (with digital out), functionally. However:
-they aren't making them anymore, so you have to go second hand
-they do break and don't have reasonable protection. In my case it took out a tweeter while frying itself. that could cost you more than a higher quality bit of electronics.

So if you like Chromecast functionality, use it in the CXN, along with some other built-ins in your kitchen, etc.
 

willem

Well-known member
As for the CCA:
It is true that they are no longe rmade, but new ones are still for sale in various places.
None of mine have ever broken, but I can imagine that they can. But what happened that it fried a tweeter? Was it by belching out very high/ultrasonic frequencies? My power amplifier (Quad 606-2) is bandwidth limited so I would hope it would not do that.
 

ahofer

Member
It was broadband noise, a bit of a lightning crack. I have no idea what it was. But it happened in another device (with the volume waaaay down). I threw it out immediately before it could hurt anyone else.

I've noticed more and more DACs with HDMI input. I suppose that means you could buy the video dongle, which also shows up as a renderer for audio.
 

willem

Well-known member
Over the last few weeks I have spent time getting used to the parametric equalizer and tone control functionality of my rme ADI-2 DAC. Of course, this demanded I delved into the arcane interface of Room Equalization Wizzard, but I managed to come up with some good measurements. In room response is now flat within about +/- 3 dB for the entire spectrum of 20-15000 Hz, and with a nicely downward sloping 'Harman' target curve. The only exception is a nasty peak around 25 Hz that I cannot get rid off.
 
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ahofer

Member
Over the last few weeks I have spent time getting used to the parametric equalizer and tone control functionality of my rme ADI-2 DAC. Of course, this demanded I delved into the arcane interface of Room Equalization Wizzard, but I managed to come up with some good measurements. In room response is now flat within about +/- 3 dB for the entire spectrum of 20-15000 Hz, and with a nicely downward sloping 'Harman' target curve. The only exception is a nasty peak around 25 Hz that I cannot get rid off.
I've admired that unit from afar.

If you don't mind, are you using a microphone along with the Room Equalization Wizard software to determine the correction profile (a la Anthem)?
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
25 Hz , is that a problem? My c7es3 rolls off below 45 Hz ( I think)
As you will know from blowing across the neck of a botttle, at a critical resonant frequency, the lightest energy input to a resonant system (breath) will ramp-up and sustain a lingering note. Try it.
 

Milosz

Active member
Over the last few weeks I have spent time getting used to the parametric equalizer and tone control functionality of my rme ADI-2 DAC. Of course, this demanded I delved into the arcane interface of Room Equalization Wizzard, but I managed to come up with some good measurements. In room response is now flat within about +/- 3 dB for the entire spectrum of 20-15000 Hz, and with a nicely downward sloping 'Harman' target curve. The only exception is a nasty peak around 25 Hz that I cannot get rid off.
I’ve been thinking to get that DAC for my Oppo 105D / QUAD Artera Stereo / Harbeth SHL5+ system. Is the equalization working as smoothly and is it as easy to use as the DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4? Is it equipped with a microphone for automatic calibration?
 
As you will know from blowing across the neck of a botttle, at a critical resonant frequency, the lightest energy input to a resonant system (breath) will ramp-up and sustain a lingering note. Try it.
So you think a peak in the room at 25Hz is noticable with for instance the M30 ?
 

BAS-H

Member
...The only exception is a nasty peak around 25 Hz that I cannot get rid off.
Can you change where you sit? I appreciate the likely answer being no in practice, but changing my living room around totally eliminated a ruinous resonant boom for me.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
The point I was hoping to make is that the peak as certainly a characteristic of the room, not the speaker.

If so, then any speaker, even a cheap and cheerful micro hifi speaker would excite the room resonance with just a little energy input. That is the nature of resonant behaviour: a little input, a big effect.
 
The point I was hoping to make is that the peak as certainly a characteristic of the room, not the speaker.

If so, then any speaker, even a cheap and cheerful micro hifi speaker would excite the room resonance with just a little energy input. That is the nature of resonant behaviour: a little input, a big effect.
Ok, thx for the explenation.
 
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