DAC soundstaging?
Jun 1, 2013 at 10:02 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

pro1137

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I unplugged my DAC from my computer (because IEMs and background noise don't go well together).

When I plugged in the IEM directly into my computer, I heard something so...unexpected.

I've never heard such a drastic change in soundstage before. Whether it was the DAC itself or the DAC paired with my Rockit Sounds R-50.

Compared to my DAC, my onboard with my R-50 has a soundstage that sounds so immense. Though I realize that this is because what the differences that I heard from the DAC and my onboard are drastic.

What do you guys think? Was it the DAC, or the pairing?

The DAC is the EL-D02

 
Jun 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM Post #2 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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PCM2704 is a very basic DAC, some DACs I think actually use it as a USB receiver. Also, your on-board might have some stereo expander processing of some sort, kind of like 3D simulation. Look at the settings, see if any processing is switched on, and if anything's there, switch it all off and then listen again.
 
Also, is it just a more expansive soundstage? Or does that come with a trade-off for precise imaging?
 
Jun 2, 2013 at 8:26 PM Post #3 of 10

pro1137

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Quote:
PCM2704 is a very basic DAC, some DACs I think actually use it as a USB receiver. Also, your on-board might have some stereo expander processing of some sort, kind of like 3D simulation. Look at the settings, see if any processing is switched on, and if anything's there, switch it all off and then listen again.
 
Also, is it just a more expansive soundstage? Or does that come with a trade-off for precise imaging?


Oh, I checked to see if there was any processing going on as soon as I heard it. Nope, none.

The soundstage was both more expansive and more precise than the one on the DAC
 
Jun 2, 2013 at 9:40 PM Post #4 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Oh, I checked to see if there was any processing going on as soon as I heard it. Nope, none.

The soundstage was both more expansive and more precise than the one on the DAC


Not surprising, the PCM270x chips are primarily USB receivers. I'd have to admit though the auxiliary USB DAC on my Meier Cantate.2 is great for what it is. Not as great with sound staging as other sources, but I've tried the CD5004 on it and a bunch of other CDPs, and these all had a larger soundstage bu they're screwed up in one way or another. The Marantz put some drum rolls so far from where the other drum notes are, like above and to ne side of the cymbals, plus it was a bit too warm. The entry-level Cambridge put the drums inside my skull, in front of the rest of the band. So perhaps in a proper circuit it can at least be precise.

I had an HLLY USB DAC before using a similar chip and the only benefit to it was it was smoother than my Realtek.
 
Jun 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM Post #5 of 10

pro1137

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Not surprising, the PCM270x chips are primarily USB receivers. I'd have to admit though the auxiliary USB DAC on my Meier Cantate.2 is great for what it is. Not as great with sound staging as other sources, but I've tried the CD5004 on it and a bunch of other CDPs, and these all had a larger soundstage bu they're screwed up in one way or another. The Marantz put some drum rolls so far from where the other drum notes are, like above and to ne side of the cymbals, plus it was a bit too warm. The entry-level Cambridge put the drums inside my skull, in front of the rest of the band. So perhaps in a proper circuit it can at least be precise.

I had an HLLY USB DAC before using a similar chip and the only benefit to it was it was smoother than my Realtek.

So, I should just stick with my Realtek? 
 
Jun 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM Post #6 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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So, I should just stick with my Realtek? 

 
Of course. Whatever sounds better to the listener is more important. Now, using Windows volume control reduces the resolution, but if your external DAC sounds worse, that matters less. Maybe in the future you could get a better one, and this time get one with a battery or its own power supply and is known for great SQ for the money. Chances are another problem may be that your laptop may not be providing enough juice to it, or maybe that the circuit design isn't as good as the other DACs that use the same power source. To be safe, when you get a new one, get one that doesn't rely on the USB power.
 
Jun 3, 2013 at 4:58 PM Post #7 of 10

pro1137

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Of course. Whatever sounds better to the listener is more important. Now, using Windows volume control reduces the resolution, but if your external DAC sounds worse, that matters less. Maybe in the future you could get a better one, and this time get one with a battery or its own power supply and is known for great SQ for the money. Chances are another problem may be that your laptop may not be providing enough juice to it, or maybe that the circuit design isn't as good as the other DACs that use the same power source. To be safe, when you get a new one, get one that doesn't rely on the USB power.

I have a desktop, not a laptop, but I don't see what difference that would make.
People are recommending the FiiO E10, but I'm a bit skeptical about that one. What other options might there be at that price range? (~$60USD)
 
Jun 3, 2013 at 9:09 PM Post #8 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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I have a desktop, not a laptop, but I don't see what difference that would make.
People are recommending the FiiO E10, but I'm a bit skeptical about that one. What other options might there be at that price range? (~$60USD)

 
Some laptops aren't designed to output the full 5v through some of their USB ports, and you might need the the ones that do for other devices (like an external HDD). There's a long thread about it somewhere here, you can try the search function. In any case, some desktops also have this issue, but AFAIK it's rare.
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 12:31 AM Post #9 of 10

pro1137

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Some laptops aren't designed to output the full 5v through some of their USB ports, and you might need the the ones that do for other devices (like an external HDD). There's a long thread about it somewhere here, you can try the search function. In any case, some desktops also have this issue, but AFAIK it's rare.

Would a USB hub work, if that problem is an issue?
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 10:33 AM Post #10 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Would a USB hub work, if that problem is an issue?

 
Maybe. If you will try one, get one of those with a power supply that preferably isn't USB. Soem hubs work off a USB adapter/charger and I'm not sure how it supplies 5v to the outputs (ie it might have a full 5v to all of them, or less if there are devices on all of them, etc). Personally though, if you absolutely won't be using the hub on other devices, you might as well put the $30 or so towards a better DAC or headphone.
 

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