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danielcollins90's picture
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Basic DAC Question
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Hi everyone  Smile

Firstly, I'm new to this and I'm about to make my first purchase on my way to a descent system (Monitor Audio BX5's).

I've currently got a relatively poor setup - an out of the box Onkyo HTR990 and some of those THX Speakers they come with (crap) so I'm slowly upgrading and replacing everything in the setup.

When I went and listened to the BX5's we got talking about a DAC as a lot of the music I listen to is on Spotify Premium/NAS (MP3, yes I know..) the latter I'm slowly getting copies of FLAC audio as the quality difference is night and day.

Anyway - I digress. Maybe I'm missing something simple but I can't understand how you could impliment an external DAC. The item suggest's its an Digital-to-Analogue-Converter but I don't understand how it could do just that when you could only ever hook it up to something that has analoguous output? I.E. my phone has a 3.5mm jack out.. that's already analogue at that stage so how could a DAC be used?

Maybe I'm missing something simple but I'd appreciate it if someone could shed some light on something that confuses me.

Thanks,

 

Daniel

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Hi Daniel,

welcome to the forum!

It depends what you're going to store your music files on. A lot of people use Macs/PCs/NAS drives, and this is a good way to go if you're going to have a large music collection that won't fit on a phone. Typically these boxes will output files digitally over USB. You can of course use the internal soundcard in your Mac/PC, but a dedicated external DAC can produce better results (which isn't to say it always will).

Also an external DAC can provide a number of different inputs, which is useful if e.g. you still use a CD player or if you want to add something like a Sonos streamer. You can then use the DAC to switch between inputs.

There's been a move recently towards building DACs into amps, which certainly saves space and can be better VFM.

On the other hand, some people say the internal DAC in the iPhone is perfectly good enough.

I hope that helps.

Matt

Poor man wanna be rich / Rich man wanna be king / And a king ain't satisfied / Till he rules everything. 

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RE: Basic DAC Question

danielcollins90 wrote:

Hi everyone  Smile

Firstly, I'm new to this and I'm about to make my first purchase on my way to a descent system (Monitor Audio BX5's).

I've currently got a relatively poor setup - an out of the box Onkyo HTR990 and some of those THX Speakers they come with (crap) so I'm slowly upgrading and replacing everything in the setup.

When I went and listened to the BX5's we got talking about a DAC as a lot of the music I listen to is on Spotify Premium/NAS (MP3, yes I know..) the latter I'm slowly getting copies of FLAC audio as the quality difference is night and day.

Anyway - I digress. Maybe I'm missing something simple but I can't understand how you could impliment an external DAC. The item suggest's its an Digital-to-Analogue-Converter but I don't understand how it could do just that when you could only ever hook it up to something that has analoguous output? I.E. my phone has a 3.5mm jack out.. that's already analogue at that stage so how could a DAC be used?

Maybe I'm missing something simple but I'd appreciate it if someone could shed some light on something that confuses me.

It depends from the amp you choose and how you want implement your DAC. If you buy something with - for example - integrated DAC and Bluetooth, Ethernet or Airports ports technology, you can stream your music from your phone directly to your amp.

If you buy a simple amp and you connect a DAC, you need some music server (like a pc, a NAS, whatever) to send your music to your DAC. It will serve it to your amp and then to your speakers.

In your case, I will buy an integrated amp with integrated DAC and bluetooth/airport/ethernet technology so you can stream your files directly to it. For example a NAD D 7050, even if a bit expensive, could be the right solution for you and it will sound good with your new speakers.

Writer and musician based in Roma, Italia - Pro-ject Debut Carbon 2M Red Technics SL-521 Goldring 2100 ION ITUSB NAD D3020 Rotel RA-12 Philips cd Dragonfly 1.2 Nakamichi 550 MA BX2 Dali Zensor 3 Grado SR80i Superlux HD668B Sennheiser HD201

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Hi Daniel, Matt and Max have sum it up, but i have one question, what NAS do you have?

regarding the phone question you're right, but if you output the music from the usb, the signal will be digital and some DACs are ithing ready so they have a USB A input and you can connect any divice into it. 

 

My Synology NAS is full with Flac files that I stream into my Rega DAC though a usb cable. I controle everything with an App called DS Audio in my ipad, but you can use it with android and windows. 

So you will always need a DAC to improve you SQ, it might be in your PC, built in in a amp or a external DAC like mine. 

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Have a look at the WDTV, that

Have a look at the WDTV, that would seem to do everything that you need.

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Just want to say thank you everyone for taking the time to help me.

Let's take a step back and say what I'd like to achieve, then work out a technology path from that.

I've got a QNAP TS469 Pro (which I love) and serves things up via DLNA/FireFly (DAAP Server) I'm pretty flexible as to how I intend to listen to music in the future.

At the moment, I'm listening to 320kbps mp3's, FLAC and for the vast majority Spotify - although after listening to some stuff side by side (mp3/CD) I'm starting to buy CD's as the quality difference through the Monitor Audio's is like night and day. 

So I'm looking as possibly getting a Cambridge Audio Azur 651 CD player, this solves the CD part of what I'd like to do. I have a Samsung BD-H8900M which I use for Spotify, DLNA and BluRay's (or the PS3 through PS3 Media Server). 

Now I haven't heard Spotify through one of these devices through a descent pair of speakers so I don't know if the DAC is any good on any of the above. 

Long term I'm gonna stop using Bluetooth streaming because of the poor quality and move towards a receiver with AirPlay from the Mac and hopefully Spotify on board. I've not found a single "Network audio streamer" that has Spotify on board that's ~£1000 (£1k is my limit on that, of which it'd have to be pretty amazing at that price point) but I've found lots of stuff that does 90% of what I want. 

Was also looking at the Arcam Solo Neo which also has a CD player in it, I'm trying to keep as few seperates as possible.

Hopefully this sorta gives light to why I was asking about how to connect to a DAC... I'm taking it that a DAC is only gonna be good from a source which has a digital undecoded output? I.E. PC, Phone (via USB?) or USB stick.

Thanks for your time.

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Just seen the post about the NAD.. that's pretty much perfect for what I want... had NAD stuff in the past so I'm more than happy with the quality of there items. Think that's gonna go on the list!!

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Just seen the post about the NAD.. that's pretty much perfect for what I want... had NAD stuff in the past so I'm more than happy with the quality of there items. Think that's gonna go on the list!!

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RE: Basic DAC Question

You will not need a CD player! I buy CDs but i rip them into Flac files using db Poweramp and they are stored in a independent file with the cover art work in my synology NAS, and then played into my Rega DAC. 

I'm sure QNAP will have the same app as Synology do, so you'll only need a USB cable and a DAC or a Amp with a DAC built in like the NAD! 

Rega RP6/Goldring Elite>Clearaudio Basic Plus

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RE: Basic DAC Question

danielcollins90 wrote:

Long term I'm gonna stop using Bluetooth streaming because of the poor quality and move towards a receiver with AirPlay from the Mac and hopefully Spotify on board. I've not found a single "Network audio streamer" that has Spotify on board that's ~£1000 (£1k is my limit on that, of which it'd have to be pretty amazing at that price point) but I've found lots of stuff that does 90% of what I want. 

How about a Sonos Connect?

It has Spotify on board and comes in just under £300. It has digital coax and optical outputs, so can feed straight into a DAC.

The SQ is really very good, and the GUI is fantastic.

You have to have a Sonos box connected (via ethernet) to your router, but if it's not convenient to connect the Connect to the router, you can use a Sonos Bridge for the purpose (£30), which will talk to the Connect via its own wirless network.

Matt

PS I'd also agree with Hifioutlaw re. the CD player. I wouldn't bother with one: just rip your CDs in whatever lossless file format you prefer.

Poor man wanna be rich / Rich man wanna be king / And a king ain't satisfied / Till he rules everything. 

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Your QNAP have a HDMI out put, you can stream HD video directly into your TV (if has HDMI input) 

Your NAS has a media center, so streaming audio throught a USB will be most certainly possible.

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RE: Basic DAC Question

If you are not overwhelmed with cash after buying an amp with a DAC onboard the WD TV-Live is a good alternative to the Sonos, connect it to a NAS (or in my case a PC in another room)  via Ethernet & stream .flac (it has USB too) give it a internet connection via a Home-Plug or router &  use either the Spotify or Deezer apps built in along with others, connect to the DAC via an optical cable - The interface is great via HDMI which I run through my TV - You can also stream photographs & video through it, you can pick them up at around £60.

As for sound quality connected to a DAC via an optical cable it sounds just as good as my Pioneer streamer (now sold) & a Cyrus streamer I borrowed for a while - Compared directly to my Cyrus CD transport (and a Roksan K2 CDP I had) connected to the DAC via coaxial I cannot hear any difference, & nor can anyone else & as it’s just another PC part  there is no reason it should - That's using Monitor Audio RX2 & RX6 speakers & Roksan K2 amp so quite revealing - Don’t spend good money on an expensive streamer it’s not necessary - Sonos are VG too though.

The music comes out of the speakers ~

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Neptune_Twilight wrote:

If you are not overwhelmed with cash after buying an amp with a DAC onboard the WD TV-Live is a good alternative to the Sonos, connect it to a NAS via Ethernet & stream .flac (it has USB too) give it a internet connection via a Home-Plug or router &  use either the Spotify or Deezer apps built in along with others, connect to the DAC via an optical cable - The interface is great via HDMI which I run through my TV - You can also stream photographs & video through it, you can pick them up at around £60.

As for sound quality connected to a DAC via an optical cable it sounds just as good as my Pioneer streamer (now sold) & a Cyrus streamer I borrowed for a while - Compared directly to my Cyrus CD transport (and a Roksan K2 CDP I had) connected to the DAC via coaxial I cannot hear any difference, & nor can anyone else & as it’s just another PC part  there is no reason it should - That's using Monitor Audio RX2 & RX6 speakers & Roksan K2 amp so quite revealing - Don’t spend good money on an expensive streamer it’s not necessary - Sonos are VG too though.

the WD will be redundant, he as a media center in the NAS, so why adding another one...?

 

Rega RP6/Goldring Elite>Clearaudio Basic Plus

Synology NAS>Rega DAC>Pathos Classic One MKIII>Dynaudio Excite X12

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Just making the point that instead of an endowed NAS a basic none interface NAS a PC or a even a 2TB USB hard drive along with a £50 WD TV-Live Live and an optical cable via a DAC you have sound quality just as good as a £900 CD player or even more expensive streamer & listen to internet radio if you feel inclined saving a fair amount of cash.

The music comes out of the speakers ~

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Neptune_Twilight wrote:

Just making the point that instead of an endowed NAS a basic none interface NAS a PC or a even a 2TB USB hard drive along with a £50 WD TV-Live Live and an optical cable via a DAC you have sound quality just as good as a £900 CD player or even more expensive streamer.

He already has a NAS, so only need a soud card for the PC, or a external DAC or a amp with a DAC built in! The OP say in the first post that he wants to gradualy upgrade is existing system, so starting by a Amp with a built in DAC is a good start.

Rega RP6/Goldring Elite>Clearaudio Basic Plus

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RE: Basic DAC Question

Unless I'm missing something he/she still want’s a streamer with Spotify on board? An amp with a DAC IMO if you don't already have a decent amp is the way forward I agree totally - I already had the K2 so bought an Arcam DAC - Excuse me with bells on if I’ve missed something as I’m using a tablet & don’t have reading glasses with me.

The music comes out of the speakers ~

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