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Fire Phoenix DAC-02 / the odac->o2 desktop rival - Page 4

post #46 of 244

I have had to explain what a DAC is on several occasions since getting my E17.

post #47 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by potatoos View Post


DACs convert digital signals (how sound is stored and transfered) to analog signals (the signal that headphones can actually use). You can get the digital signal to the DAC in many ways. The most common is via usb, but optical seems to be the prefered passage for high end audio. That said, the only real benefit that I see with using a udb to optical converter before sending it to the DAC would be if the DAC converts optical signals better than usb ones for some reason. Honestly, I am of the mindset that you don't want to be doing any more converting, and signal movement than necessary. It just opens doors to a new weakest link, but is Dsnuts notes an improvement, I will have to say that it is a real improvement (I trust his word). If you get the Fire Pheonix, preferably use the optical out on your motherboard, if you have one.

 

Gotcha, and with the ****ty USB on this, the preferred method to get the signal there is optical.

post #48 of 244

Using usb should be fine. Using optical should be better. If your motherboard doesn't have an optical out, I wouldn't worry about it.

post #49 of 244

I see the Fire Phoenix has inputs via USB, optical, and coaxial. Can anyone chime in on the differences in sound quality for transmitting data for each of these? I understand that the USB for this is kind of sketchy and I'm assuming that optical is the best, so I guess I am most interested in how coaxial stacks up. If anyone has any clue on the differences, I'd love to learn.

post #50 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by hipster2010 View Post

I see the Fire Phoenix has inputs via USB, optical, and coaxial. Can anyone chime in on the differences in sound quality for transmitting data for each of these? I understand that the USB for this is kind of sketchy and I'm assuming that optical is the best, so I guess I am most interested in how coaxial stacks up. If anyone has any clue on the differences, I'd love to learn.


What you have to understand is that optical, usb, and coaxial are all digital inputs. They are pathways for the information to get to the DAC. Imagine them all as roads. The main advantage optical, and the reason that higher end audiophiles prefer it, is that it can transport a higher bit rate than usb can. It can transport 192k 48bit while usb is usually limited to 96k 24bit. The thing is that you will usually not notice the difference. In fact, most recordings aren't even at 96k 24bit (non-audiophile recordings that is) so the improvement will be largely theoretical. The usb input isn't sketchy. The optical input just seems to be better, and I would venture to say that the placebo effect might have something to do with that. After all, a large section of the audiophile world is dictated by placebo. See the link below.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

post #51 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by potatoos View Post


What you have to understand is that optical, usb, and coaxial are all digital inputs. They are pathways for the information to get to the DAC. Imagine them all as roads. The main advantage optical, and the reason that higher end audiophiles prefer it, is that it can transport a higher bit rate than usb can. It can transport 192k 48bit while usb is usually limited to 96k 24bit. The thing is that you will usually not notice the difference. In fact, most recordings aren't even at 96k 24bit (non-audiophile recordings that is) so the improvement will be largely theoretical. The usb input isn't sketchy. The optical input just seems to be better, and I would venture to say that the placebo effect might have something to do with that. After all, a large section of the audiophile world is dictated by placebo. See the link below.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

Thanks for the info. My comment on the USB was in regards to something I read earlier in this thread about the Fire Phoenix having possible issues with jitter.

post #52 of 244

I honestly don't know enough about dacs to be able to tell you one way or another. I am more of a review reader than a spec analyzer.

post #53 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by potatoos View Post


What you have to understand is that optical, usb, and coaxial are all digital inputs. They are pathways for the information to get to the DAC. Imagine them all as roads. The main advantage optical, and the reason that higher end audiophiles prefer it, is that it can transport a higher bit rate than usb can. It can transport 192k 48bit while usb is usually limited to 96k 24bit. The thing is that you will usually not notice the difference. In fact, most recordings aren't even at 96k 24bit (non-audiophile recordings that is) so the improvement will be largely theoretical. The usb input isn't sketchy. The optical input just seems to be better, and I would venture to say that the placebo effect might have something to do with that. After all, a large section of the audiophile world is dictated by placebo. See the link below.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

 

These are good points. And note that Dsnuts original complaint about the USB was the cable is crappy. 

 

Also, while apparently the USB on the Fire Phoenix can only transmit 16 bit audio, there maybe no benefit in using optical to get 24 bit. Most CDs and downloadable music is recorded in 44.1kHz 16 bit. Upsampling to a higher sampling rate and higher bit depth does not improve the quality of the recording; perhaps it affects how the audio signal is processed at some point. It's apparently a highly debatable topic whether or not there is any benefit among those who have the technical background to discuss it. Personally, I can't tell any significant difference in upsampling music, but some say that they can. 

post #54 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

 

These are good points. And note that Dsnuts original complaint about the USB was the cable is crappy. 

 

Also, while apparently the USB on the Fire Phoenix can only transmit 16 bit audio, there maybe no benefit in using optical to get 24 bit. Most CDs and downloadable music is recorded in 44.1kHz 16 bit. Upsampling to a higher sampling rate and higher bit depth does not improve the quality of the recording; perhaps it affects how the audio signal is processed at some point. It's apparently a highly debatable topic whether or not there is any benefit among those who have the technical background to discuss it. Personally, I can't tell any significant difference in upsampling music, but some say that they can. 


From the Schiit website, in the Bifrost faq section.

"I heard about this fancy new upsampling stuff, where they take 16/44.1 and magically make it into 24/192. Does your DAC do that?
Not just no but hell no. None of our DACs will ever do sample rate conversion. Our goal is to perfectly reproduce the original music samples, not to throw them away and turn everything into a mystery-meat soufflé. Sample rate conversion destroys all the original samples. What goes in isn’t what comes out. We worked hard on a microprocessor-controlled, bit-perfect clock management system to ensure that all the original music samples going into Bifrost are delivered to the D/A converter, whether you’re running 16/44.1 or 24/192, rather than cheaping out and throwing in a sample-rate converter so we could use a single clock."

Again, I am not a spec analyzer, but I prefer to not have the signal go through more steps than necessary as it opens the door to a new weakest link.

post #55 of 244

I had no issue using usb at all. In fact it sounds just as good as my optical. The only issue I had was with the cable they threw in with the dac. It was causing my dac to overheat and then shut down. I am lucky I figured out what the issue was before it cause some type of permanent damage. I threw away the poop they included for a cable and used an older one I had on one of my external hard drives and it fixed the issue right a way..The sound quality is not a leap over usb but rather how efficient my music is getting to my headphones..I do feel the optical box helped improve even more clarity than previously using usb. I would say if you guys are interested in this hidden gem of a DAC. Just try one out and see for yourself what it does for your music.

 

It is a shame many will overlook this DAC simply because it is not a name that people recognize as a high end DAC manufacturer. I never heard of these guys myself. But I do know what they threw in these that make them sound so damn good. It is worth your $90 cash and then some. My internal Titanium HD using a burr brown sound chip don't touch the pure sound clarity and dynamics for music on the Fire Phoenix.

post #56 of 244

This seems to be a higher end version of the Fire Phoenix DAC-02

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SHIYUN-DAC-05-Upgrade-Version-OPA2604-192K-24BIT-USB-DAC-Headphone-Amplifier-/180729792395?pt=UK_MusicalInstr_Amplifiers_RL&hash=item2a1455c78b

Seems it's using a beefier amp and has some upgraded components. Opinions?


Edited by Disharmonic - 10/1/12 at 12:59pm
post #57 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post

I had no issue using usb at all. In fact it sounds just as good as my optical. The only issue I had was with the cable they threw in with the dac. It was causing my dac to overheat and then shut down. I am lucky I figured out what the issue was before it cause some type of permanent damage. I threw away the poop they included for a cable and used an older one I had on one of my external hard drives and it fixed the issue right a way..The sound quality is not a leap over usb but rather how efficient my music is getting to my headphones..I do feel the optical box helped improve even more clarity than previously using usb. I would say if you guys are interested in this hidden gem of a DAC. Just try one out and see for yourself what it does for your music.

 

It is a shame many will overlook this DAC simply because it is not a name that people recognize as a high end DAC manufacturer. I never heard of these guys myself. But I do know what they threw in these that make them sound so damn good. It is worth your $90 cash and then some. My internal Titanium HD using a burr brown sound chip don't touch the pure sound clarity and dynamics for music on the Fire Phoenix.

 

i bought these Fire Dac.   how much time did you waited for arrival?   2 weeks?

i was going to by the Fiio e17, but for the price i rather buy these even if its nor portable.

 

heck,  i am even considering buying both fiios,  the have become useless with the S500,  they dont need a lot of power, even my Clip+ drives them easy. 

post #58 of 244
Thread Starter 

Ok, there is a lot to answer in this thread.

 

 

These days I try to focus on my office work, and a different interest, so I don't have much time to dissect comments or questions piece by piece. =]

 

 

Towards the start of the thread there were some comments on implementation versus parts.  Someone said if you buy every top spec part for a computer, and build a computer, it'll be fast, right?

 

Precisely, if you use top spec parts and construct the computer properly, with everything theoretically performing at it's highest capacity, or somewhere up there, then you have a very fast computer with everything in harmony.

 

If you have twenty anti-virus softwares running, put the RAM somewhere it's overheating, fed the Intel i7 chip the incorrect voltage supply, have crunching noises and constant 16kHz hum from your screen, the implementation of the parts was not very good.

 

When you talk about an Intel i7 chip you have to assume it's in a proper circuit and not using Windows 95 and so on in the discussions surrounding it's performance.  The same is true of DAC chips.

 

The ESS ES9018 sounds and/or performs better in current out over voltage out, you won't hear it's potential with NE5532 right after it, and so on, right?  I'm sure there's lots of weak ES9018 designs and it's a sensitive chip, in a lot of circuits perhaps it's only running at 75% capacity, or your transducers (speaker / IEM) is only yielding 75% of it's sound quality?

 

However you look at it, it's not like you can make a Yamaha chip designed for a smartphone outperform the ES9018, even if they both measure dead-flat in SPL and have the same channel seperation or what have you.

 

 

The CS4398 is a flagship chip from Cirrus Logic and they've put a lot of work into it, years of research.  There's nothing to say the Fire Phoenix is yielding top capacity from it, but a DAC without the CS4398 sure isn't!

 

 

I don't have the Fire Phoenix but I have a similar CS4398 DAC, and it sounds a hell of a lot better with AD797BR on the line-out rather than the NE5532P.

 


 

 

Now for the USB, optical, coaxial topic.

 

 

Yes these are all digital pathways, different ways to transfer the information.  None of these have inherently higher sound quality than the next one, they'll all differ depending on the circuit before and after them, the sender and receiver.

 

There are weak USB receiver chips, and there are high-end USB receiver chips.

 

 

The stock Fire Phoenix was

 

Laptop --> USB cable --> CM102 --> CS4398

 

 

Dsnuts changed that to

 

Laptop --> USB cable --> TE7022 --> optical cable --> CS8416(?) --> CS4398

 

 

The second path is longer, yes, which will always invite more room for error, but if the CM102 is the weak link in this DAC it could be worth it, if the TE7022 and CS8416 really sound better, and you have equipment or perception which will notice that.

 

In my very brief tests so far I can't notice much or any difference between the CM102 and a higher-end USB connection into coax so I think the CM102 could be OK as it is.

 


 

 

For the more basic questions some people are wondering WHAT IS A DAC?  Well to put it simply everything in digital audio in order for you to hear sound, will have a DAC, even in videogame consoles or your smartphones, there is a DAC there.

 

If you're using a normal laptop or PC tower with average to higher sound quality transducers, chances are you'll notice a difference by improving the DAC, that is, completely bypassing the internal sound-card.

 

What you need after the DAC section is an AMPLIFIER, amplifiers don't only increase volume, they increase the sound quality (sometimes) by harnessing the purity of the electrical signal, or sometimes silghtly colouring it.

 

It's like if sound (the electrical signal) was a vast beautiful landscape, the amplifier is the quality of the window you're looking though (or a more accurate analogy, the quality / effect of the TV screen you're looking at the recording of the landscape on).

 

TV's differ a lot like audio components.  Most people don't care and just want to watch the movie!  Some people are 'tv-philes' and want 600Hz ultimate colour accuracy uprendered 1080i with interpolated gaussian CMYK+K whateverz!!!

 

That's what audio lovers are doing they're listening for the deep contrast levels and higher resolution just like you see in TV playback.

 

Just so there's no confusion 24-bit / 192kHz and FLAC are not necessary in digital audio like blu-ray is necessary for a 1080P TV screen, not even anywhere close, just fyi.

 

 


 

As for ODAC + O2 rivals, here's another one to consider -->  http://www.head-fi.org/t/626632/tiny-dac-big-sound-impression-of-stoner-acoustics-ud100-vs-odac#post_8683491

 

No I haven't the UD100, but my private hunch is it will rival the Dragonfly and ODAC to 95% or higher.

post #59 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

 

These are good points. And note that Dsnuts original complaint about the USB was the cable is crappy. 

 

Also, while apparently the USB on the Fire Phoenix can only transmit 16 bit audio, there maybe no benefit in using optical to get 24 bit. Most CDs and downloadable music is recorded in 44.1kHz 16 bit. Upsampling to a higher sampling rate and higher bit depth does not improve the quality of the recording; perhaps it affects how the audio signal is processed at some point. It's apparently a highly debatable topic whether or not there is any benefit among those who have the technical background to discuss it. Personally, I can't tell any significant difference in upsampling music, but some say that they can. 

 

I did a quick informal comparison between the USB and Coax inputs on my Phoenix using the same Computer and media software. I did not find any major differences, but this is just an anecdote. I use mine on USB. My only gripe is that the headphone volume and line out are both controlled by the same rotary control and inserting headphones does not cut the line-out. I mostly use mine with a speaker amp so leave the volume on max, I just have to remember to rest it when plugging in headphones...but for $90 it is an absurd bargain

post #60 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick_charles View Post

 

I did a quick informal comparison between the USB and Coax inputs on my Phoenix using the same Computer and media software. I did not find any major differences, but this is just an anecdote. I use mine on USB. My only gripe is that the headphone volume and line out are both controlled by the same rotary control and inserting headphones does not cut the line-out. I mostly use mine with a speaker amp so leave the volume on max, I just have to remember to rest it when plugging in headphones...but for $90 it is an absurd bargain


i should get mine in 2 weeks.

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