How good are the on-board DAC's on the ultra high end CD players?
Feb 11, 2007 at 11:24 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 35

KrooLism

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I'm looking to purchase a very good CD/SACD player / transport in the next couple of months.

If you're spending over $5000 on a CD player, is the inbuilt DAC as good as, if not, better than the likes of say the DA-10, DAC1 or M902?

[size=xx-small]Some of the stuff I have been looking at is top models by:
Primare
Emm Labs
Musical Fidelity
Krell
Meridian
[/size]
 
Feb 11, 2007 at 12:41 PM Post #2 of 35

fjf

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It better be!!
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Feb 11, 2007 at 2:53 PM Post #3 of 35

markl

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IMO, you are much better off with a high-quality one-box solution than a cheap transport and separate outboard DAC. Your dollar goes further on the one-box solution (you're not paying for separate enclosures, fixed costs of producing two separate products, costs of marketing for each product, the cost of the components in the transport that you are by-passing and not even using, buying a fancy digital cable to connect them, etc.) plus you don't have to worry about "synergy" issues.

So, yes, get a nice one-box and be done with it.
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 3:24 AM Post #4 of 35

KrooLism

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Thanks.

I was thinking about the kW SACD by Musical Fidelity.

However, I just discovered, that if you are using the digital outs, you can only use normal CD's anyway.

Once you put an SACD in, you must use their analog outs.

However, having said that, the unit is $10 000 AUD. Are there models which serves as an SACD transport only?
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 3:35 AM Post #5 of 35

humanflyz

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Quote:

Originally Posted by KrooLism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks.

I was thinking about the kW SACD by Musical Fidelity.

However, I just discovered, that if you are using the digital outs, you can only use normal CD's anyway.

Once you put an SACD in, you must use their analog outs.

However, having said that, the unit is $10 000 AUD. Are there models which serves as an SACD transport only?



SACD digital transports are very costly, since they are usually accompanied by another DAC which is connected by some proprietary connection. Off the top of my head, Wadia, dCS, Esoteric, and EMM Labs all produce such a combination, but the price is extremely high. So you are better off getting a one-box solution that does SACD well.
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 5:07 AM Post #6 of 35

thomaspf

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Single box solution have the added advantage that the DAC does not need to recover a stable clock from a digital cable. The DAC in a single box player can be directly driven by a stable crystal oscillator.

There are a few 2 box solutions out there where that is still the case and the transport is slaved to the external DAC via a wordclock but this comes at a price.

For the average transport DAC solution the DAC needs have additional circuitry to dejitter the the extracted clock signal which is not necessary with a single box solution.

Cheers

Thomas
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 12:05 PM Post #7 of 35

Mr_Sukebe

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Quote:

Originally Posted by KrooLism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm looking to purchase a very good CD/SACD player / transport in the next couple of months.

If you're spending over $5000 on a CD player, is the inbuilt DAC as good as, if not, better than the likes of say the DA-10, DAC1 or M902?

[size=xx-small]Some of the stuff I have been looking at is top models by:
Primare
Emm Labs
Musical Fidelity
Krell
Meridian
[/size]



There's a variety of DACs in use. I seem to remember one of the Zanden and also the 47Labs using old Philips 1541 chips, which are non-oversampling. At the other extreme you have some very complex solutions from groups like Esoteric.

My take on this is that the DAC chip itself is only part of the puzzle and that it's quite easy to balls up a design, despite having the latest DAC, if you make a mess elsewhere.
So in a CD player, the following are ALL important:
- The DAC chip
- The CD transport itself
- communication between the CD transport and DAC
- Analogue output stages
- Digital noise suppression
- Clocks
- Power supplies
- Mechanical noise suppression

So I'm always a little bemused when people focus on just a single element of a design.
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 6:44 PM Post #8 of 35

neergan1216

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I would definitely go the one-box route also. However, my personal comparisons have not confirmed the superiority that high dollars should provide. A heavy enclosure, and higher priced components don't guarantee better sound. I have a modded mid-fi Pioneer DV-525 that has a larger soundstage, more believable midrange, and better separation than both Accuphase and Cary, and that's with modest amplification and cables. Somehow, the Pioneer hit the right design and combination of components.
 
Feb 12, 2007 at 10:43 PM Post #9 of 35

Welly Wu

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What kind of specific manufacturer's models are you thinking about because it is kind of difficult to compare the aforementioned DACs to something we are not aware of that you may be interested in? Also, which features do you want or need?
 
Feb 13, 2007 at 4:16 PM Post #10 of 35

KrooLism

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I just read one of the member's review on the Krell SACD Standard about the time it takes for the CD to load. 20 Seconds for normal and 10 seconds for SACD's.

Well - Krell is OUT. That is one of the features I hate the most about some CD players.

Also part of the reason I am staying away from the Primare and leaning towards the A5.

A5 also sounds oh so sweet. I'd love to try their kW.
 
Feb 13, 2007 at 5:51 PM Post #11 of 35

Imperfectcircle

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There are only a few high end dac chips to choose from, so whether its a $5000 cd player or a $500 they usually use the same few dac chips, CS4398, WM8740, AD1955, BB1794...etc. The difference is how they are implemented. So the answer to your question is that whether its a $500 or $5000 dac/cd player the Dac chips are usually the same, but thats where the similarities end. The high end units will have much better power supplies, lower jitter clocks, better transport, and a higher quality analog stage just to name a few.
 
Feb 13, 2007 at 8:02 PM Post #12 of 35

Welly Wu

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Yeah, well you better get used to long disc load times for these so called high end source components. The Ayre Acoustics CX-7 Evolution took between 8 - 12 seconds to load a CD. My Denon DVD 5910ci takes about 15 - 20 seconds to identify and load the type of disc I put in. The Ayre C-5xe takes at least 12 - 18 seconds to identify and load a disc.

I agree with the others that it is better to get a one box unit to save money.
 
Feb 13, 2007 at 8:59 PM Post #13 of 35

aphex944

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Quote:

Originally Posted by neergan1216 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I would definitely go the one-box route also. However, my personal comparisons have not confirmed the superiority that high dollars should provide. A heavy enclosure, and higher priced components don't guarantee better sound. I have a modded mid-fi Pioneer DV-525 that has a larger soundstage, more believable midrange, and better separation than both Accuphase and Cary, and that's with modest amplification and cables. Somehow, the Pioneer hit the right design and combination of components.


The Pioneer DVD players have incredible performance for the money-- both new and old models. My main CDP was a modified Pioneer DV-414, and I loved it's sound. One of the best players I've heard hands-down even compared to $1000+ players is a modified Pioneer DV-578.

Out of the box, the cheaper players might not be that great. The nice thing is that sometimes they use the higher end DACs, and the analog stage can be modified pretty much however you want. I've found you can achieve the same, if not better, performance than multi-thousand dollar units.
 
Feb 13, 2007 at 11:22 PM Post #14 of 35

Happy Camper

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Quote:

Originally Posted by aphex944 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The Pioneer DVD players have incredible performance for the money-- both new and old models. My main CDP was a modified Pioneer DV-414, and I loved it's sound. One of the best players I've heard hands-down even compared to $1000+ players is a modified Pioneer DV-578.

Out of the box, the cheaper players might not be that great. The nice thing is that sometimes they use the higher end DACs, and the analog stage can be modified pretty much however you want. I've found you can achieve the same, if not better, performance than multi-thousand dollar units.



I like the versatility of formats as well. Has been a very dependable universal player for a mid fi level component (at the time).
 
Feb 14, 2007 at 2:06 AM Post #15 of 35

Welly Wu

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You may want to try a used Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi as it has better video performance and very similiar audio performance to the DV-79AVi. I auditioned both at the same time before I switched sources and I say that the older 59AVi is a better value. Both do SA-CD and DVD-Audio and the CD performance is quite good too.

Otherwise, you could go with the Denons such as the 2930ci, 3930ci, or if you have the money, the 5910ci which I have. It is by far the best source component I have auditioned and owned.
 

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