Help a n00b! DAC helpful?
Mar 28, 2006 at 7:02 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

Chimpie

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Guys, need some advice!

I currently have a Sennheiser HD595 hooked up to a Firestone Cute Beyond amp hooked up to a X-Fi XtremeMusic. I wonder if it helps to buy the Firestone Spitfire DAC? I know, a better (=more expensive) DAC would probably help, but it is not an option for me at the moment... The HD595 probably wouldn't be worth it. Plus... the Firestone product are so freakin' cute!!
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Mar 28, 2006 at 10:00 AM Post #2 of 10

Elephas

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I haven't heard the Firestone Spitfire DAC. It's a DAC I've been curious about. I think the HD595, as well as most headphones, improves significantly with a better source.

A couple of related threads:
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=150213 Excellent review by gerG
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=146787

There are many options at that price range, including some non-OS DACs. I've had good results with the Moodlab Dice and Mhdt Lab Dialogue II.

If you're set on a matching DAC for your Cute Beyond, the Spitfire seems like a good choice.

Here's a Cute Beyond in red which was briefly in my possession. (click to view)

 
Mar 28, 2006 at 10:48 AM Post #3 of 10

Chimpie

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Thanx for ur reply!
If I use the Spitfire DAC, will I still be able to use the utilities from Creative, like CMSS-3D or alike? Otherwise it would be a waste of money to buy a X-Fi!!
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Mar 28, 2006 at 2:40 PM Post #4 of 10

Roasty

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i'm a noob with DACs as well.. just wondering, what exactly does a DAC do besides convert a digital signal to analog?

i mean, if i use the same DAC and alternate between my 2 sources ie cambridge azur cd player and emu0404, and hook up the DAC to my headphone amplifier, will the sound produced be the same regardless of which source i use?

does the final sound produced depend also on the quality of the digital out of the source?
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM Post #5 of 10

Elephas

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Chimpie, I'm not sure what the specs are with the Spitfire, but it should work with your X-Fi's optical or spdif coaxial outputs and the Creative software. Be aware that the software may or may not be detrimental to overall sound quality. You might check in the Computers-As-Source forum for other X-Fi users using external DACs.

Roasty, a DAC does exactly that, convert digital signals to analog. Some DACs are very simple, with only one type of input and output. Others have more features, multiple inputs and outputs, and extras such as built-in headphone amps. Note that iPods and sound cards with analog outputs and headphone ports have DACs built-in, as well as standalone CDPs. When we talk about DACs here, we're usually referring to external DACs.

The sound quality of two transports with the same DAC and output to a headphone amp should be very similar. Differences would be between the transports, the type of digital cable used, and the cables themselves. Some people dislike toslink and prefer spdif RCA coaxial, for example. The final sound produced is dependent on the whole audio chain, from the original source (lossless file, CD, etc.) to the transport (hard drive, CDP, etc.) to the source (CDP, DAC, etc.) and then headphone amplifier. Cables may or may not have audible differences to you.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 5:14 AM Post #7 of 10

Roasty

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Elephas
The sound quality of two transports with the same DAC and output to a headphone amp should be very similar. Differences would be between the transports, the type of digital cable used, and the cables themselves.


thanks!

assuming we have 2 setups, A and B, and assuming the only component different from the 2 setups is the CD player (all other components, headphones, amplifier, DAC and interconnects are the same), would there be a world of difference if setup A used a cheapo portable cd player and setup B used a higher end cd player? or would they still sound the same?

reason i'm asking is because if all other components in the chain of sound are the same, and if by using a DAC you bypass the cd player's internal DAC, then the only thing that would change the final output sound would be....
confused.gif
!?!?
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 6:21 AM Post #8 of 10

Elephas

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This can get complicated, and what you're asking is the subject of many discussions and arguments among digital source users. It becomes more fun when a PC and USB is brought into the fray.

It is possible that a inexpensive PCDP as transport sounds worse than a full-size home CDP. Most PCDPs only have toslink output. You are bypassing their internal DACs by outputting to a DAC, but they still have to spin and read the CD. Jitter is the main issue.

Some DACs such as the Benchmark DAC1 are known for their jitter-reduction. In this case, it is possible that the PCDP sounds similar to the home CDP.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 6:35 AM Post #9 of 10

devwild

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Chimpie
The HD595 probably wouldn't be worth it.


Don't undersell the HD595, it is a very good pair of headphones and benefits quite a bit from a quality source, moreso than an expensive amp in my opinion due to how easily they are driven. You make it sound like it's a pair of ipod earbuds.
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Mar 29, 2006 at 7:24 AM Post #10 of 10

Chimpie

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Quote:

Originally Posted by devwild
Don't undersell the HD595, it is a very good pair of headphones and benefits quite a bit from a quality source, moreso than an expensive amp in my opinion due to how easily they are driven. You make it sound like it's a pair of ipod earbuds.
wink.gif



Lol... Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my HD595. But I'm currently using it from my X-Fi -> Firestone Cute Beyond amp and was just wondering whether a external DAC would make a world of difference using the HD595... I mean... It's not exactly a Orpheus...
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