Source: Standalone OR transport + dac + etc.
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Bayerdynamic

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Hi, right now I am trying to build up a system around my Sony CD3000. I will get a proper amp in the future (ppa, perreaux or whatever) but right now I am rather worrying about a decent source since the amp can only amplify what's already there....

Actually I have 2 questions, a specific and a more general one:

1. With a current budget of around 200-300$, what would be better in terms of sound and upgradibility and synergy with the Sonys: A good standalone such as the Music Hall 25 (or any other moddable cd player) OR a decent transport (e.g. Nec drives, Toshiba 3950, etc.) + Art Di/O (or another DAC in the that price range) + some mods for the Art Di/o?

2. General questions: what do you guys think is better when it comes to real highend audio quality: Either an AWESOME standlone (cary, etc.) thus following the "KISS" ruel (Keep It Simple and ...something I forgot....) OR a transport + dac + jitter filters + reclocking devices + etc.? Because supposedly all the cables and outputs and inputs inbetween would degrade the sound quality even if its digital transfer such as between the transport and the dac. Wouldn't a one-box solution be better? On the other hand: inside the box: Don't the different stages have to be connected anyway meaning CABLES, so why are standalones supposed to be better then (regarding really high high end)? I mean the standalone's trasnport has to somehow connect to the internal dac....
 
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usc goose

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my desktop set up source is a optimus cd-3400 to a modded art dio and i really like it. but i think for most people it would be best to stick with a one box solution. (it's Keep It Simple Stupid where i come from btw)

i went the 2 box way just because i like the ability to tweak my system as much as possible, that and it's just kind of cool to be a little different. and especially with the art dio be aware that there is a little false economy going on with that little guy since it does take a little bit of work and extra add ons to make him really sing.
 
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sbulack

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If you are going to go with a CD transport + DAC solution, keep the AOS Piccolo DAC in mind. I have one as as upgrade to my computer audio system (a substantial upgrade for an incremental price). I also tried it with my Pioneer DV-563A player, which has an optical digital out. Even though the DAC chip in the Piccolo is a Burr Brown segmented architecture chip, very similar to the DAC chip in the 563, the sound from the DAC is quite a bit more detailed, and the voice separation substantially better than the analog audio from the 563. Since I have the DAC, it is quite versatile for use in both my computer audio rig and my offline rig. Also, take a look at what these folks thought about the AOS Piccolo DAC compared to the Art Dio:
http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showt...threadid=62599

Again, IF you are thinking of the standalone DAC solution, in your budget category, keep the AOS Piccolo DAC in mind.
 
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kyo

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I've been talking to Matthew Anker of sacdmods.com and LC Audio recently about using the ZapFilter in the Music Hall CD25. It turns out that the DAC chip used by the Music Hall is a single voltage DAC with a DC offset, so it is compatible with the ZapFilter. Given the amount of room in the Music Hall, it's highly probable to fit both the ZapFilter and a new clock in it as well. FWIW, I just ordered one and plan on doing the mods down the road.
 
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lan

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external DACs don't do SACD or DVD-Audio so if you're interested in hi-res audio, you have no choice but to get a standalone unit.

If you're going to go separates, a DAC will allow you to eventually upgrade and find the sound you like by trying various ones. You have flexibility but headache of another power cords and a digital cable to work with.
 
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ted_b

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Quote:

Originally posted by lan
external DACs don't do SACD or DVD-Audio so if you're interested in hi-res audio, you have no choice but to get a standalone unit......


Huh? Why do you say that? Hi-rez is all about analog, not digital. A DAC will affect redbook only, so whether you are looking at a transport that also does SACD/DVD-A or one that is just redbook, the DAC decision is just the same.

To me the decison is multi-faceted because not only can you upgrade the redbook capability of a cd player with a DAC, but you also can do it by modding the guts of the player.....or both. If you add that the player is capable of hi-rez, then the mod becomes more complex, but also affects postively the hi-rez output. Then later, add a good DAC to upgrade the redbook even more....assuming the DAC has better technology than the clock, etc that you threw in with the mod.

Ted_B
 
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markl

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I would rather get a mod-ed hi-rez player (SACD/DVD-A) than a CDP with an outboard DAC. Mods will affect both hi-rez playback and CD playback equally, but if you stick an expensive DAC on a low end SACDP or DVD-A player, you've got low-end hi-rez sound and better quality CD playback, probably defeating the purpose of having the hi-rez in the first place.
 
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lan

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Quote:

Originally posted by ted_b
Huh? Why do you say that? Hi-rez is all about analog, not digital. A DAC will affect redbook only, so whether you are looking at a transport that also does SACD/DVD-A or one that is just redbook, the DAC decision is just the same.


If you're interested in SACD and DVD-Audio, you'd probably want to mod the standalone player which would increase the quality of SACD, DVD-AUdio, redbook, or anything else it plays. And like you said the external DAC only affects redbook. Iit's more cost effective this way.
 
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ted_b

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Quote:

Originally posted by lan
If you're interested in SACD and DVD-Audio, you'd probably want to mod the standalone player which would increase the quality of SACD, DVD-AUdio, redbook, or anything else it plays. And like you said the external DAC only affects redbook. Iit's more cost effective this way.


It looks like we're all saying the same thing: for redbook only players, the options are simple; buy a good one or buy a decent transport then a decent DAC; for hi-rez players (which by default also play redbook) the upgrade option that makes the most sense initially is a mod, since it upgrades the hi-rez output as well as the redbook output. Then you could later look to a DAC for better redbook if you are still not satisfied with modded redbook sound.

It's the way I'll be going. Once Matthew Anker is caught up on his standard inventory Sacmods he's offered to mod my SCD-XA777ES. Then, I'll demo something like a Bel Canto DAC 2 to see if it's at all worthwhile. MY gut says it won't be, after the mod.

Ted_B
 
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saint.panda

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I'm interested in the second question, whether it can be generally assumed that for high end, a one box solution is better due to the several inputs, outputs and cables degrading the quality in a 2 (or more ) box solution....
 
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Bayerdynamic

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Thank you for all the posts!

A few questions: I've checked the AOS website. Is the Piccolo the same as the PPA DAC (if put into an external enclosure)?

EDIT: I checked the website again...it is the same...the sostenuto looks tempting as well...

Does a decent transport + an external DAC such as the AOS Piccolo or even the Art Di/o really sound better than a decent standalone such as the Music Hall 25 (or even higher up such as a rega planet 2k) unmodded?

As regarding Sacd/hdch, at the moment I don't see the need and in the future I might follow ted_b's advice.
 
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ted_b

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Quote:

Originally posted by saint.panda
I'm interested in the second question, whether it can be generally assumed that for high end, a one box solution is better due to the several inputs, outputs and cables degrading the quality in a 2 (or more ) box solution....


The same one-box tradeoff discussion can take place in any part of the audio chain, as is historically seen clearly in the preamp-amp-tuner vs integrated-tuner vs receiver. The integrated school says the benefits are reduced interfaces (cabling), integrated architecture (everything built to work together), standard user interface (uses one remote, one faceplate), usually economicaly beneficial (cheaper). The seperates school says "best of breed" focus will always beat a "jack of all trades, master of nothing" design, better flexibility to upgrade the weakest parts of the audio chain independently, cabling and seperate power supplies are better in seperate boxes to reduce cross-talk, rfi, hum, etc.

As for a DAC and cd player, the only cabling that's really addded is one digital cable (coax or toslink) and a separate power cord (usually a good thing anyway). That's it. The analog cabling now connects from the dac instead of the cd player (assuming your not running hi-rez and need analog cables from the player as well).

Ted_B
 
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zimmer

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One concern that keeps crossing my mind when I consider the one box versus two box question is how long will the one box's drive unit will be supported by either the manufactor or possible second party sources. Sometimes support can disappear in a rather short period of time - I think Linn stopped supporting the transport on the Karik last year, a unit that could have been purchased new three or four years earlier. I am concerned about how long CD only based drive units are going to be built by the major suppliers but I suppose that repair might still be possible somewhere.
 
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I second Bayerdynamic's question:

"Does a decent transport + an external DAC such as the AOS Piccolo or even the Art Di/o really sound better than a decent standalone such as the Music Hall 25 (or even higher up such as a rega planet 2k) unmodded?"
 
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markl

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Quote:

"Does a decent transport + an external DAC such as the AOS Piccolo or even the Art Di/o really sound better than a decent standalone such as the Music Hall 25 (or even higher up such as a rega planet 2k) unmodded?"


Impossible to answer, obviously it depends on what DAC, what transport and what stand-alone unit you are talking about.
 
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