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Do I really need a separate DAC for my Squeezebox?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

The upgrade of my headphone listening system is well on its way. I have a Schiit Magni on order and I will soon be getting some new headphones. The other part of the equation that I've been considering is a "better" DAC to go with the new amp.

 

I say better in quotes because it appears that the DAC in my Squeezebox V3 is pretty decent. I dug up some specs on my nearly 7 year old Squeezebox and was pleasantly surprised. Here's a summary from the Squeezebox Wiki. Pay attention to the Analog RCA ouputs section (in green) as that's how I'd be sending the signal to the Magni if I don't get a DAC:

 

 

Digital and analog outputs

  • All RCA connectors are gold-plated
  • Volume control is provided for all outputs
  • Multiple outputs may be used at the same time


Analog RCA outputs

  • High fidelity Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC
  • Two dedicated linear power regulators for DAC and line-out stages
  • Full 6.0Vpp line-level signals
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: over 100dB
  • Total harmonic distortion: less than -93.5dB (0.002%)


Digital S/PDIF output

  • Optical and coax digital connections
  • Dedicated high-precision crystal oscillators (no PLL, no resampling)
  • Standard IEC-958 (S/PDIF) encoding
  • Optical connector: TOSLINK 660nm
  • Coax connector: RCA, 500mVpp into 75 ohms
  • Sample rates: 44.1Khz, 48Khz, 96Khz
  • Audio format: linear PCM, 16 or 24 bits per sample
  • Intrinsic jitter: less than 50ps (standard deviation)


Headphone output

  • Standard 1/8" jack also functions as an IR blaster
  • Minimum headphone impedance: 16 ohms
  • Total harmonic distortion: less than 0.03%
  • Left/right crosstalk attenuation: 92dB

 

Here's the link to the Wiki: http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Slim_Devices_Squeezebox

 

It looks to me, based on my limited experience with such things, that the internal DAC is more than adequate, at least compared to the DAC's I've been considering in the <$200 range.

 

What does everyone else think? Am I missing something or can I save a couple hundred $$'s here?

post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

Bump. Any feedback most appreciated!

post #3 of 15

A serious Hi Fi listener will use external DAC for the Squeezebox.

 

I am using a Audio-Gd Reference one as the external DAC.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmychan View Post

A serious Hi Fi listener will use external DAC for the Squeezebox.

 

I am using a Audio-Gd Reference one as the external DAC.

I'd like to consider myself a "serious" listener but if I spend $100-$300(or more) for a DAC that doesn't do any better than the exising DAC I already have, I have wasted $$'s that I could have better used on music, headphones, etc.

 

What are you using the Audio-Gd reference DAC instead of? What are the benefits of the Reference compared to whatever DAC you had before? I'm just trying to avoid spending money on something that won't really provide any benefit.

 

Has anyone else added a separate DAC to a squeezebox system and if so, what were your impressions?

post #5 of 15
Never heard that Squeezebox, but my SBT analog outs sounded almost exactly the same as the $449 Peachtree DacIt I briefly owned.

-Daniel
post #6 of 15

I listened to my Squeezebox's internal DAC for many years, and I was perfectly content.

 

But then I got an external DAC, and the SQ improved.

 

So the short answer is, no, you don't have to.  But you will enjoy better SQ if you do upgrade to an external DAC.  

 

I've always understood the HiFi hobby to mean that you upgrade as you can, concentrating on the weakest link first.

 

So, if you can't afford to spend money on a DAC right now, the Squeezebox's internal DAC can suffice.  It's not like you absolutely have to upgrade right now.  But the DAC would officially become your weakest link, the thing that gets upgraded next...

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

I listened to my Squeezebox's internal DAC for many years, and I was perfectly content.

 

But then I got an external DAC, and the SQ improved.

 

So the short answer is, no, you don't have to.  But you will enjoy better SQ if you do upgrade to an external DAC.  

 

I've always understood the HiFi hobby to mean that you upgrade as you can, concentrating on the weakest link first.

 

So, if you can't afford to spend money on a DAC right now, the Squeezebox's internal DAC can suffice.  It's not like you absolutely have to upgrade right now.  But the DAC would officially become your weakest link, the thing that gets upgraded next...

I'm assuming from your signature that you upgraded from the Squeezebox to the Bifrost? That is something I've considered if I had the extra budget (waiting on a DAC upgrade for now and saving up some $$'s). It seems like a very good DAC. Can you give me a comparison to the Squeezebox DAC?

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruleof72 View Post

I'm assuming from your signature that you upgraded from the Squeezebox to the Bifrost? That is something I've considered if I had the extra budget (waiting on a DAC upgrade for now and saving up some $$'s). It seems like a very good DAC. Can you give me a comparison to the Squeezebox DAC?

 

Before the Bifrost I had a Cambridge Audio DacMagic.

 

It's been a couple of years since I stopped using the on-board DAC, so I'm going from  memory here, but I noticed the change as being improved imaging, larger, more focused soundstage, with smoother treble regions and enhance presence.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

 

Before the Bifrost I had a Cambridge Audio DacMagic.

 

It's been a couple of years since I stopped using the on-board DAC, so I'm going from  memory here, but I noticed the change as being improved imaging, larger, more focused soundstage, with smoother treble regions and enhance presence.

Would you say the Bifrost is a step up from the Cambridge Audio DacMagic? I'm thinking of adding Sonos to my system and may budget in an external DAC....thinking about the Bifrost.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by markm1 View Post

Would you say the Bifrost is a step up from the Cambridge Audio DacMagic? I'm thinking of adding Sonos to my system and may budget in an external DAC....thinking about the Bifrost.

 

In my estimation is most definitely is a step up.  Mind you, the current model of DACMagic is a DACMagic+, I haven't heard that one, so i can't comment.

 

Likewise I haven't heard the DAC in the Sonos, so I can't comment on that either.

 

To me, the Bifrost sounds much more fluid, almost sweet in the treble, without sounding overly romantic. I would say it has what I'm tempted to call a tubey sound, but it hasn't given up any bass authority or control to the DACMagic either. 

 

I personally can't believe that it only costs $350!  It sounds to me like it should cost a lot more, Schiit could easily ask for more for it IMHO. That's without the USB option BTW...

post #11 of 15

I upgraded my SB Touch with a V Dac II.Absolutely worth it.

I am feeding it with a LiPo Battery.Not to expensive and a good starters DAC.

I am now searching for something more "beefier" upgrade virus has struck again...
 

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

 

In my estimation is most definitely is a step up.  Mind you, the current model of DACMagic is a DACMagic+, I haven't heard that one, so i can't comment.

 

Likewise I haven't heard the DAC in the Sonos, so I can't comment on that either.

 

To me, the Bifrost sounds much more fluid, almost sweet in the treble, without sounding overly romantic. I would say it has what I'm tempted to call a tubey sound, but it hasn't given up any bass authority or control to the DACMagic either. 

 

I personally can't believe that it only costs $350!  It sounds to me like it should cost a lot more, Schiit could easily ask for more for it IMHO. That's without the USB option BTW...

Much Thanks!  That is one heck of an endorsement-I think you've made my decision.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by markm1 View Post

Much Thanks!  That is one heck of an endorsement-I think you've made my decision.

 

 

Awesome!  Be sure to allow a bit of time for burn-in, and also be sure to post your impressions.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

 

 

Awesome!  Be sure to allow a bit of time for burn-in, and also be sure to post your impressions.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

 

In my estimation is most definitely is a step up.  Mind you, the current model of DACMagic is a DACMagic+, I haven't heard that one, so i can't comment.

 

Likewise I haven't heard the DAC in the Sonos, so I can't comment on that either.

 

To me, the Bifrost sounds much more fluid, almost sweet in the treble, without sounding overly romantic. I would say it has what I'm tempted to call a tubey sound, but it hasn't given up any bass authority or control to the DACMagic either. 

 

I personally can't believe that it only costs $350!  It sounds to me like it should cost a lot more, Schiit could easily ask for more for it IMHO. That's without the USB option BTW...

 

 

I'm slowly improving my sound system both HP and speaker system. I'm replacing things one component at a time. I've got my first set of cans and Asgard 2 on the way.

 

Next in line will be upgraded speakers and then I'm thinking of going Sonos to take music into different zones, etc.

 

So, yeah, I'm debating a DAC now. I'll post something if I end up getting the BF...that's the direction I'm thinking of going.  I actually don't listen to music thru my PC that much.

 

I listen mostly through a Onkyo receiver which allows me to access music through my network via wifi, CD player and stream music. The DAC on my Onkyo is decent. I don't have a wide reference point. It sounds much better than my crap PC sound card DAC certainly.

 

If I end up the Sonos route, I'll have to assess the DAC....my understanding is that it's a little better than my Onkyo which isn't bad.

 

Per the Bifrost, I'll need USB for my PC, and SPDIF for my Onkyo receiver. Both my PC and stereo are adjacent to each other in a computer room. I'm imagining I'll run Sonos through the Onkyo receiver.

 

It would also be nice to be able to run the Bifrost into my CD player which is attached to my receiver. My CD player (also an Onkyo) has a HP jack and I've been listening to my Grados straight through the jack w/o the aid of an amplifier as it's still being processed by Schiit. TBH, the sound from my Grados straight from the CD player jack w/ a well recorded CD ain't bad!

 

And, streaming listening to my Grados from the receiver all things considered sounds OK-better than my old Pioneer speakers which will be my next upgrade.

 

Long way to say, I'm really just researching how I might want to throw a DAC in the mix and I think I'll have a better sense of things after I hear the sound from better speakers and then Sonos.

 

Perhaps with the Bifrost and AS-2, I would be apt to listen to my PC a bit more. My notion is that that folks w/ Sonos utilize the Sonos system more than their PC as it's very intuitive to use and allows you to access a whole lot of stuff-PC music, streaming, etc., etc.

 

Thanks again on your input regarding the Bifrost!


Edited by markm1 - 3/13/13 at 10:29am
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelamvr6 View Post

 

In my estimation is most definitely is a step up.  Mind you, the current model of DACMagic is a DACMagic+, I haven't heard that one, so i can't comment.

 

Likewise I haven't heard the DAC in the Sonos, so I can't comment on that either.

 

To me, the Bifrost sounds much more fluid, almost sweet in the treble, without sounding overly romantic. I would say it has what I'm tempted to call a tubey sound, but it hasn't given up any bass authority or control to the DACMagic either. 

 

I personally can't believe that it only costs $350!  It sounds to me like it should cost a lot more, Schiit could easily ask for more for it IMHO. That's without the USB option BTW...

Thanks for the feedback. My Magni should arrive in the next couple of days so I'm interested to see how that improves the sound. It also sounds like I need to start saving my pennies for a Bifrost!

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