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Need advice, dedicated CD or DAC?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I am currenty using my Sony DVP-NS75H as my sound source. I want to upgrade but I cannot decide if I should buy a dedicated CD player or a DAC since my DVP-NS75H has an optical out. What do you guys think will give me a better SQ upgrade? I am willing to spend $250, any suggestions?
post #2 of 28
I dont think you can find a $250 CD player that will have an internal DAC much better than your DVD player's. However, you CAN get an external DAC to feed with the IO port on the DVD player that would have a substantially better DAC. Most consumer electronics use low end DAC's like the Cirrus 4334 because they sound OK and are cheap... like .80 in 10,000 lots. Even a DAC like the Micro DAC uses a Cirrus 4398 which is the best they make, it sells for more like 5 or 6 bucks in 10,000 unit lots.

That being said, I think your $250 is better spend (in terms of SQ) on an external DAC.
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnlvx View Post
Most consumer electronics use low end DAC's like the Cirrus 4334 because they sound OK and are cheap... like .80 in 10,000 lots. Even a DAC like the Micro DAC uses a Cirrus 4398 which is the best they make, it sells for more like 5 or 6 bucks in 10,000 unit lots.
Nice of you to point out the price of the chips in 10K lot. What about the 100 and 1K price? No external DAC manufacturer in the world has yet made that many units of a single model. A typical external DAC is unlikely to have a production run of more than 1K. No manufacturer is going to sit on 50K worth of chips that would take them a year or more to use up. So pointing out the bulk price of any component does nothing to add to the decision whether to buy or not to buy a DAC.
post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herandu View Post
Nice of you to point out the price of the chips in 10K lot. What about the 100 and 1K price? No external DAC manufacturer in the world has yet made that many units of a single model. A typical external DAC is unlikely to have a production run of more than 1K. No manufacturer is going to sit on 50K worth of chips that would take them a year or more to use up. So pointing out the bulk price of any component does nothing to add to the decision whether to buy or not to buy a DAC.
It adds ALOT to the choice.

The prices are listed for comparison. The point is, to a company like Sony, which I'd be willing to bet, DOES produce its CD players in excess of 10,00 units (which is the only lot pricing I could find any info on while searching the net), even a 1 dollar variation on DAC price is a big deal in terms of the bottom line. For small manufacturers, its not, therefore they use chips that would feign to appear in consumer oriented gear which are leagues better for a nominal(in small quantities) increase in production price.

Therefore, the cost of DAC's in lots is a perfectly good thing to consider when your choice is between a mass produced consumer grade CDP and a custom or small run made external DAC for audiophile purposes.
post #5 of 28
Do you seriously believe that TI, MAXIM etc spend a fortune in developing an expensive DAC chip that wouldn't be used by any equipment manufacturer in any sort of mass produced unit? I somehow don't think they would waste their time, let alone cost of R&D.
But more importantly; the chip means nothing without a suitable circuit to support it. Take for instance the dirt cheap TDA154X series of DAC chips. Found in some of the world's cheapest CD players ever produced, and also in one of the world's most expensive DAC.

If you get impressed by the cost of the DAC chip instead of the design as a whole, then I feel sorry for you. Many audio designers must be shaking their heads in disbelieve when they read your comments. Snake oil was formulated just for such occasions.
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herandu View Post
Do you seriously believe that TI, MAXIM etc spend a fortune in developing an expensive DAC chip that wouldn't be used by any equipment manufacturer in any sort of mass produced unit? I somehow don't think they would waste their time, let alone cost of R&D.
But more importantly; the chip means nothing without a suitable circuit to support it. Take for instance the dirt cheap TDA154X series of DAC chips. Found in some of the world's cheapest CD players ever produced, and also in one of the world's most expensive DAC.

If you get impressed by the cost of the DAC chip instead of the design as a whole, then I feel sorry for you. Many audio designers must be shaking their heads in disbelieve when they read your comments. Snake oil was formulated just for such occasions.


Herandu, what is your problem? This guy had a question and I tried to offer some insight. I am not an expert on DAC chips but evidently you are. How does it help the poster to troll the thread and start an argument over the semantics of my ideas?

Furthermore, I wouldnt waste your energy feeling sorry for me because I could really care less about what you feel sorry about. I also doubt that any designers really care about my comments either. I'd appreciate it if you'd quit being so belligerant and stick to the questions at hand and try to help the person who had the question. You also might want to direct your aggression elsewhere because I'm not playing your game.

Thanks
post #7 of 28
You can get a Marantz Cd-5001 for 299.99. I know it's 50 bucks over budget but it has a great dac, it'll sound sweet.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by Johnvlx
I dont think you can find a $250 CD player that will have an internal DAC much better than your DVD player's. However, you CAN get an external DAC to feed with the IO port on the DVD player that would have a substantially better DAC. Most consumer electronics use low end DAC's like the Cirrus 4334 because they sound OK and are cheap... like .80 in 10,000 lots. Even a DAC like the Micro DAC uses a Cirrus 4398 which is the best they make, it sells for more like 5 or 6 bucks in 10,000 unit lots.

That being said, I think your $250 is better spend (in terms of SQ) on an external DAC.
You know it's not just the DAC that affects sq. Alot of DVD players have 24bit dacs and sound like rubbish. It's because of really terrible op amps and capacitors in the unit. You can put a fancy name on it and it'll sell like hot cakes but that doesn't mean it'll sound as good as hot cakes taste. A dedicated cd player like a NAD, Cambridge, or even Marantz, will not only have good dac, but also good parts that won't ruin the sound on its way to your interconnects.
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsudaMan View Post
You can get a Marantz Cd-5001 for 299.99. I know it's 50 bucks over budget but it has a great dac, it'll sound sweet.
Super tempting. Its the same price as the Micro DAC. That would eliminate the need for me to keep the rig near my computer for USB access.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsudaMan View Post
You know it's not just the DAC that affects sq. Alot of DVD players have 24bit dacs and sound like rubbish. It's because of really terrible op amps and capacitors in the unit. You can put a fancy name on it and it'll sell like hot cakes but that doesn't mean it'll sound as good as hot cakes taste. A dedicated cd player like a NAD, Cambridge, or even Marantz, will not only have good dac, but also good parts that won't ruin the sound on its way to your interconnects.
Thats a good point. I suppose thats the reason that many "cloned" amps dont sound just like the originals. Slightly different supporting parts will create slightly different sound.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
The Marantz 5001 does not have any reviews though, I was actually considering that too along with the NAD C521BEE.

Another question:

1. Does it really matter what my optical sound source is? I mean all it does is convert the CD bits straight to light for transmission to the external DAC.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by flargose
The Marantz 5001 does not have any reviews though, I was actually considering that too along with the NAD C521BEE.

Another question:

1. Does it really matter what my optical sound source is? I mean all it does is convert the CD bits straight to light for transmission to the external DAC.
You can't really find any reviews online for the cd-5001, however it is pretty highly acclaimed in the UK - What Hi-fi gave it 5 stars, I'm pretty sure Hi-fi Choice also gave it a good review - and they take their budget hi-fi really seriously there.

The Marantz has a dedicated headphone out that's supposed to sound great. Also has pitch control - cool for musicians.

As far as using your cd player as a transport - it does matter, you still need a good laser to read the cd, you also want a cd player that is responsive/fast at cuing things up. Most dvd players, except for high-end ones, have really slow response times. The transport does matter. You want something that is worry free and quick performance. I recommend a good quality stand alone redbook cd player.
post #13 of 28
If most of your listening is done through CDs, then I would get a good stand alone CD player. If you see yourself moving toward the computer/MP3 route, then a separate DAC would be more versatile.

Personally I have one of each. The best of both worlds.
post #14 of 28
I found the 5001 on eBay too for ya.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Marantz-CD-5001-...QQcmdZViewItem

No pics though.. hmm
post #15 of 28
AudioAdvisor carries the Marantz CD-5001: http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo...umber=MACD5001

I'd recommend waiting for a "demo" unit to show up though, I've seen one show up every now and then. "Demo" units just refer to units that have been returned and are essentially b-stock, nothing wrong with buying b-stock. The demo units I've seen were $250.

And here are some user reviews of it: http://www.audioreview.com/PRD_344941_1586crx.aspx

Also look into the NAD C525BEE ($300), their update on the classic C521BEE.

Cambridge Audio also sells their Azur 340C for $370.
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