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 Post subject: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:02 am 
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Location: scarborough, ON, CA
In general terms, I understand what a DAC does but,
I'm pretty foggy on what would be considered the preferred source to feed the DAC and where it is placed in the order of components.
Also, would I look for in a DAC if I was going to buy one?
Help.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:15 am 
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Location: Kingston, ON, CA
Your speakers require an analog signal to be sent to them.

A DAC converts a signal that is digital to one that is analog. Most CDP's have a DAC on-board, hence the analog outputs. A CDP is referred to as a transport when there is no DAC present (or the DAC is bypassed via the digital outputs).

To listen to digital files (on a music server or computer), you have to convert the digital signal to analog. Although some music servers have their own on-board DACs.

So you would place the DAC between your source (CD, computer, etc.) and your amplification components (i.e. integrated amp or preamp -> amp).

What to look for? One consideration is what is the maximum resolution of your digital source (i.e., 44.1kHz/16 bit, 96kHz/24 bit, 192kHz/32 bit, DSD) then go from there. Tube vs solid state?

You can pay as little as $49 for a DAC and as much as $100,000.

HTH.

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Last edited by NordicNorm on Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:16 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
most dacs will have multiple inputs to feed to them. USB, coax and toslink are the most common inputs, so any source that outputs a digital signal could connect to an outboard dac. Computer, streamers, cd players all have there own built in dacs however a better quality presentation is usually achieved in connecting then through a dac. This is dependant of course on the dac selection.
The dac then connects through a line level input to your amplification set up.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:14 am 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Simply put: digital music source-->DAC-->amplification-->speakers

Your questions of what is the preferred source has a wide range of options. If you want basic, get an old notebook, use iTunes and use an USB cable to hook to the DAC. Of course you need to have your music in digital format.

There are different ways of accomplishing the same task, you need to pick one you are comfortable with.

As for DAC's I have owned a $200 one, a $700 one and a $1400 and price does make a difference.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:14 am 
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Location: Stratford, ON, CA
Hi,

Oh boy. I am of the hands-on school. We can all offer you descriptive words and the posters above have done a fine job, but there is no substitute for just trying things out.

Start at the lower end. You want an inexpensive external DAC with an asynchronous USB implementation. Be sure and check that first. This means that for data transferred via USB cables (such as a laptop), the DAC will reclock the data and thereby reduce any jitter. Most DACs come with flexible inputs - coaxial digital, TOSLINK optical, and USB. Suppose you are streaming data from a computer - then use USB. Suppose it is from a CD player - then use coaxial digital or TOSLINK depending on the player. TVs have varying digital outputs and so do cable boxes and satellite receivers. Just match the outputs to the inputs on the DAC box.

Don't worry if your first DAC cannot decode super hi-rez streams. 96 Khz sample rates are high enough for your purposes. CDs for instance are sampled at 44.1Kh.

Cambridge Audio has been making external DACs forever and there are lots of them for sale around used for a snip. A newDacMagic100 will be a terrific learning tool, and includes an instruction guide.

PS - Simcoe Sound (Barrie) has new DacMagic 100s on sale this month for $279. Hard to beat.
PPS - Parts Connexion has refurbished units (black or silver) at $240.

Cheers,
David Neice

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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 5:50 am 
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Location: Saskatoon, SK, CA
I've been researching DACs and DAPs as well. Currently I can direct play FLAC files from my home server to an android client. All fine and dandy. But I'm curious about some of the USB DACs in this application. Will there be an appreciable difference in audio quality if running the output from the android client machine's micro USB through a DAC instead of just out through the headphone jack? Is it even worth the time and effort to try and do this?


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 6:32 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
ToddSecksington wrote:
I've been researching DACs and DAPs as well. Currently I can direct play FLAC files from my home server to an android client. All fine and dandy. But I'm curious about some of the USB DACs in this application. Will there be an appreciable difference in audio quality if running the output from the android client machine's micro USB through a DAC instead of just out through the headphone jack? Is it even worth the time and effort to try and do this?

by Android client I assume you are speaking of a phone or tablet. in using the headphone out, you are not only doing the D/A conversion in the device but also amplification.
in using a USB connection then you are bypassing that stage in the device and sending the signal to a dac that will do the D/A conversion but also pass an analogue signal off to your amplification. This method is purpose built for this whereas the Android device is designed to amplify for headphone use.
Benefits can vary depending on the dac selection etc.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 6:40 am 
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Location: Saskatoon, SK, CA
mpublicover wrote:
by Android client I assume you are speaking of a phone or tablet. in using the headphone out, you are not only doing the D/A conversion in the device but also amplification. in using a USB connection then you are bypassing that stage in the device and sending the signal to a dac that will do the D/A conversion but also pass an analogue signal off to your amplification. This method is purpose built for this whereas the Android device is designed to amplify for headphone use.
Benefits can vary depending on the dac selection etc.


Yeah phone and tablet. Most of the time, the application would be headphones, but sometimes line out into an amp. I get "pretty good" sound right out of the Androids. It's the benefits part that have me curious.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 7:32 am 
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Experiences vary on this. I suggest you try to arrange a loaner from dealer or purchase something your comfortable with from a store with a return policy first and form your opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 8:21 am 
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Location: Gabriola, BC, CA
If I download high res files in Apple Lossless or FLAC and then convert to Apple Lossless from a source like HD Tracks, how do I ensure that the high res is maintained and passed to the DAC. Does iTunes library maintain high resolution? Is it not true that DAC can only process the quality of signal it receives? Finally, if I use Airplay to send high res music to my Marantz Audio Receiver and its DAC will the high resolution be maintained when sent to my Macintosh amp? Any helpful comments would be appreciated. :D


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 8:34 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
stereobuddy wrote:
If I download high res files in Apple Lossless or FLAC and then convert to Apple Lossless from a source like HD Tracks, how do I ensure that the high res is maintained and passed to the DAC. Does iTunes library maintain high resolution? Is it not true that DAC can only process the quality of signal it receives? Finally, if I use Airplay to send high res music to my Marantz Audio Receiver and its DAC will the high resolution be maintained when sent to my Macintosh amp? Any helpful comments would be appreciated. :D

iTunes library is compatible with high rez in the ALAC format. Airplay however will down sample those files to CD quality for wireless streaming. Your iTunes library will show the resolution of the files to ensure you have maintained them as high resolution through the conversion.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 3:04 pm 
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Location: Gabriola, BC, CA
Thank you mpublicover. Very helpful! If I understand the implications it would seem that the only way to ensure the high res is maintained in transmission from iTunes library through to the speakers is to hardwire the computer to an external DAC and amp or to the MarantzAV centre's DAC using a cable. Would USB or Thunderbolt be best? :D


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 3:44 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
if your using a Mac, then you may be able to output high rez through Toslink.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202730
you'll need one of the 'Apple Toslink' cables, or the adapter bit may be able to bypass an external dac.


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 Post subject: Re: DAC dummy
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 4:47 pm 
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Location: Gabriola, BC, CA
Again mpublicover thank you. I will look into acquiring the Toslink cable. :D


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