Best £30 I ever spent (on hifi at least)...
Some time ago I was getting discontented with my Cambridge Azur CD/amp & Ruark Epilogue combo. Sounded excellent with most music, but I'd heard good surround systems for movies, so took the plunge into 5.1 (as per signature). I sold the trusty Azur amp & gave my Ruarks to a friend (so I still get to see them every now & then..yes sad but true).
However, having got everything set up, I loved the results from Bluray, Internet Radio & Spotify via Airplay, but was a little disappointed with CD. I'd assumed that the CD's DAC would be better than my AV amp's DAC, so used an RCA connection to let my CD do the conversion. However, when buying CD's of albums that I'd heard on Spotify, although I could hear more detail, the treble was a bit shouty (not an issue on any other sources) and PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing) wasn't as good as my old stereo system, which was its primary strength. And once you have a system that does PRAT well, anything else just won't do...to my taste anyway.
I was beginning to consider new CD players, or even a separate stereo system, but I thought I'd just try an optical cable from the CD to AV amp and see what happens. Visited my local Richers (a very convenient but often costly 5 minute walk from my house). My jaw has been on the floor for the last couple of hours playing all my favourite CD's again!! The PRAT has returned, the music is alive, more organised. Each instrument stands out more distinctly & the harshness in the treble has gone. It's still got bite, but I'm no longer reaching for the remote to turn the volume down.
So my conclusion is that the DAC in my AV receiver is better than my CD's DAC...much, much better. The £30 for the cable was money well spent indeed.
My respect for my AV receiver continues to increase. It's a superb all-rounder with all the bells, whistles & gizmos, but a jolly well sorted sound, and now I've got the CD source singing to its full potential, it's honestly better at 2-channel than my old stereo combo. Sorry to sound so gushy but I'm well chuffed...partly at the musical results, but also at the money this little cable has potentially saved me!