Is a DAC needed?
Feb 27, 2006 at 1:01 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

SonicDawg

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I am currently listening to some jazz and classical albums in FLAC, and with the system in my sig. Will a DAC be the next significant upgrade? How much improvement can I expect to see with a $150~$180 DAC? and in that case, what are the best options right now, if I want to use my AV710 as the source (no USB DAC)?
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:40 AM Post #2 of 10

Thaddy

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I'm in a similar situation as you, and after a month of doing my research concluded that, yes, a DAC is worth it. I have a similar budget as you also, and I'm currently looking into the Lite DAC-Ah and the Zhalou.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:46 AM Post #3 of 10

fr4c

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I think you may want to consider upgrading your amp first, instead of a DAC. The Little Dot II is a good amp, but theres potential for a better one.

Just my 2 cents.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:57 AM Post #4 of 10

claymon

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hate to bud in, but what is it about getting the signal from digital to analog that improves the sound so much? And what do these $200 DAC's do so much better than a cheap one?

Sorry, i figured these questions would fit under the thread title. they are very n00bish. haha
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 4:25 AM Post #5 of 10

kwitel

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Quote:

Originally Posted by claymon
hate to bud in


you need to lay off the herbs my friend
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Feb 27, 2006 at 6:18 AM Post #7 of 10

nightfire

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Quote:

Originally Posted by claymon
... what is it about getting the signal from digital to analog that improves the sound so much? And what do these $200 DAC's do so much better than a cheap one?


DACs are actually more complicated than they sound. The problem is that the digital sampling data you have only specifies points - what the line voltage was at the *instant* the analog-to-digital converter took the measurement.

Somehow you have to turn this collection of voltage readings back into the original signal.

Straight interpolation would give you a straight line. This works fine for low frequencies because you've got so many sample points for each wave cycle (ie.. at 100hz, each wave gets sampled 440 times at 44khz sample rate). The straight lines work fine.

When you get to high frequency signals (ie 5khz), your number of data points per wave cycle drops dramatically. Straight lines won't work; they introduce all kinds of nastiness. Instead of a smooth curve, you get something like a jagged rock.

There are mathematical solutions to the problem which provide better (curved) interpolation based on historical and future values, and all sorts of complicated tables. The better the algorithms, the better the DAC.

Then there's the analog path itself. Component choice and quality affects analog bandwidth, accuracy, decay rates for capacitors (which can depend on the amp's internal impedance, etc.)

It's NOT simple to do DACs right!
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And that's where the cost comes from.
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Feb 27, 2006 at 7:52 AM Post #8 of 10

SonicDawg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fr4c
I think you may want to consider upgrading your amp first, instead of a DAC. The Little Dot II is a good amp, but theres potential for a better one.

Just my 2 cents.



Well I just got this amp (first tube
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) for less than a month... and I have not even started tube rolling yet
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. Nevertheless, I am liking the sound so far, warm, smooth, detailed, though with discernable noise (hisses, some cracks on high's). I am pretty sure that with new sets of tubes I can get a better sound with this amp. But based on your assessment, would a better amp be better than a dedicated DAC?
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 4:18 PM Post #10 of 10

johnas

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I used to have the same setup as Sonic Dawg. I recently bought a Micro DAC and it has made the most difference out of any of my upgrades, which have included more expensive amps.

While I like the sound of the stock Chinese tubes, 10$ Telefunken DAF91 tubes will greatly reduce the microphonics and background noise of the LDII.
 

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