Discussion in 'Arcam Forum' started by xxFLUIDxx, May 1, 2010.
Any first impressions?
Ermm, so what exactly will run-in and how will that affect the sound? We are talking about a DAC right?
I am really keen to know if Arcam rDAC will improve my sound from PC by upgrading from my current ESI AUDIO JULI@ soundcard....
Well there is certainly a marked improvement. To keep it short and sweet the soundstage is appearing to not wander any more and the clarity of the instruments has increased. Unfortunately I can't test the asynchronous do da as i'm not hooking this up to a pc, anyone else using it this way can shed some light?
Collected my rDAC this morning and it is running at the moment using a new Atlas Compass digital cable from my CD player and optical cable from my Airport Express
My dealer warned me both the DAC and cable reward with better performance when well burned in (not sure about that but will report any improvements noticed
I had a Dac Magic before this but sold it to purchase the rDAC
Initial impressions are very good
I feel the soundstage is now rock solid and a bit bigger than before and very noticeable with the CD player which i have done side by side comparisons switching between inputs
Detail retrieval seems better as well
Overall i would describe the sound as very accurate with more detail and more definition of the notes and individual instruments.
I am very happy and if the sound does get better with some use all the better
It has slotted nicely into my rack and i am looking forward to trying it with a lesser transport than my Arcam CD player
Just my 2p
I added a Cambridge DacMagic to my setup and sound out of my PC soundcard (not the same as yours) improved by a huge margin. Assuming your card has RCA or TosLink digital out then you could well see an improvement with a decent dac.
With the Arcam rDAC I would forgo SPDIF connection and go direct USB as it has dCS's async USB interface this should be the best way to connect a computer.
Yes, you are reading it correctly. The Macbook pro and the Mac mini have this output.
I'm not 100% sure, but I thought the MacBook Pro and MacMini only did upto 96k via optical dispite that spec quoted.
Also the USB interface of the rDAC is async USB (from dCS) so should have lower jitter and therefore improved sound quality.
And, regardless of the capabilites of the MacMini / MacBook Pro optical output's spec: the rDAC can only do upto 48k via optical.
As an aside, the Apple TV and AirPort Express are both only capable of 44.1 & 48k.
In summary, with the rDAC, the answer is pretty clear: if you use a computer as the source, use the USB connection.
That was my understanding of the place of things - though the silence from new owners is perhaps unusual in light of the thread traffic.
Having researched this a bit further I have found out that the hardware specs are correct but it was only working up to 96k in MacOS. At least this was the case in earlier Mac OS. I cannot confirm whether this has been fixed in the recent releases. However, if you dual boot into Windows (seriously), it is possible to get up to 192.
Please elaborate more on the CD player that you have used, and also more on the resulting sound quality.
Did you try both possible connections?
HI GUys, newbie here.
I'm a mac user and I rip all my CD on apple lossless. Although its lossless, its only limited to 16/44. I don't know if the rDAC is an upsampling DAC. I have encountered this HDtrack website that says they offer a native resolution of 24/96 (FLAC), but since I was mac user they told me to upload a player --mediamonkey..& of course I have to have a DAC.
Any thoughts guys if the rDAC is very good?
You've been listening to FUD again...
Apple Lossless is not limited to 16/44.1, though iTunes provides no functionality for up-sampling the files.
Equally iTunes supports more than just 16/44.1 (CD Redbook) format. However you do have to manually change the sample rate in the Audio MIDI control panel to use higher rate files. You need to do this before you start iTunes (or fully quit it and restart it). The alternative is to purchase Amarra or Pure Music software, or to use the free Play software (latest pre-release version).
Music downloaded from HDTracks website (or other sites) which are in FLAC format can either be converted to AIFF or Apple Lossless using XLD or Max, or can be played without conversion using Play, Songbird or a number of other application.
Hey Eloise, so you are saying eventhough redbook CD 16/44.1 in native files can be upsampled to your desired files when uploaded with apple lossless? OK. I will check that, but as of now I don't listen to them (harddrive files) on my main system-- this is why I'm looking for the rDAC. Have you tried to compare FLAC with ALAC? Although I'm really a mac diehard I do sometimes think that FLAC sound better than ALAC.. I downloaded mediamonkey because its free & can play FLAC files.
What DAC are you using? I'm leaning to the arcam rDAC because of DCS
Erm ... yes and no. You could upsample CDRB 16/44.1 to 24/96 using something like Wave Editor and then compress it using Apple Lossless, though (to my mind / experience / hearing) there would be no point - and they would no longer sync to an iPod. If you downloaded high resolution audio in FLAC format, these could be converted to Apple Lossless for playback through iTunes (though as I say, with iTunes you need to manually select the correct sample rate in Audio MIDI unless you want iTunes / Mac OS X to upsample all your audio before sending it to the DAC).
You also asked FLAC vs. ALAC. There is both a factual and an opinion part to the answer to which is better. Factually: once each file is decompressed they are identical to each other and to a WAV of AIFF equivilent. Anecdotally however, on very revealing systems (and to some people on less revealing systems) the additional processing required for FLAC and ALAC may cause a noticable degredation of the sound quality - this is other people's opinions and I've never noticed a difference, at least not the "night and day" differences some people claim.
My DAC is part of my Musical Fidelity A1008 amp, but if I was looking at a new DAC around the price the Arcam rDAC would be high on my list due (at least in part) to Arcam's use of dCS's async USB technology.
Thanks Eloise. BTW, can't figure out if that name is for a he or she.. hehehe--just messing around. ANyways, it was very informative, will try it as soon as we have it here in the U.S.
I would both try the FLAC & ALAC. SInce HDtracks issue there songs 24/96 by FLAC, I think its NOT smart to convert files and besides I can play it on my mac thru mediamonkey.
Hope some of the owners will post there experience (good/bad) with the DAC
How are you running Media Monkey on your Mac? - this is Windows software! Are you using Parallels/VMWare or BootCamp? Using Parallels / VMWare is unlikely to give you the best sound quality due to all the layers of conversion thats going off.
Try downloading Play from sbooth.org - great way to play back FLAC (and other files) if you don't want to convert to an iTunes format - there will be NO loss of quality if you do convert. Play's weekness is in it's rather lacklustre GUI. Another alternative is Songbird. I'd encourage you to at least give these a try rather than using Media Monkey via emulation or the inconvinience of rebooting for Boot Camp.
PS. Sorry all - this is getting rather off the topic of the rDAC.
I used my Arcam CD17 connected both by Atlas Voyager RCA Analogue connection straight into my A28 Amp and also using a brand new Atlas Compass 75ohmn digital cable via the rDAC
The rDAC is connected to the A28 by Chord Chameleon Silver plus RCA cables
I switched between inputs on my A28 so could toggle between them for comparison purposes
Via the rDAC did sound a bit better than the analogue out of the CD player (although this still sounds brilliant)
There seems a bit more detail and everything is better defined and sharper with a bit more depth to the soundstage
I then tried it with my Sony Blu-Ray player and the sound was pretty poor the CD17 analogue output was much better which in some ways is not surprising as the CD17 uses a older version of the same DAC but it shows the Transport does make a difference or at the least the digital out put stage does
This was not the main reason i brought the rDAC it was for digital music from my Mac music server
I had a DAC MAgic but it could not deliver the same quality as my CD player hence the rDAC
I have to say the output is brilliant and easily matches my CD player and may be a bit better especially with high resolution ALAC files up to 24/ 96
I would say the direct USB connection is the cleanest and best of the 3 inputs but the optical does sound good from my airport Express
Loving my rDAC it delivers what i was looking for, only possible exception is I don't know if it can handle 24/192 tracks on any of the inputs but my Pusher is looking into that for me
Would highly recommend and think it is worth the extra over the DAC Magic
Perfect D-FENS, thanks a lot for also detailing the very interconnects that are in use.
Eloise, I stand corrected. Yes it's songbird not the mediamonkey. (I'm not using this on my main system for now since I don't have the DAC yet, hence the confusion).
Now back to the rDAC.. is it possible to have an unaltered signal if I chose to have my USB longer than usual--say 4 to 5 mtrs? I don't really want to wait for the wireless rDAC.. Any recommendation for a USB cable?
I don't want to sound jerk but when you say a bit more detailed so on & so forth...-- is this really that small improvement? 10-20% perhaps of what you already been hearing?
CAn you also give feedback on a native HI-res files played on mac via the rDAC..
It is hard to quantify improvements especially when both bits of kit are of high quality the rDAC is better than the CD17 on it's own and it outperforms the DAC Magic by some margin as for native HD tracks it does a great job for me with everything up to 24/96
The USB input in particular is a big improvement even at lossless CD quality
Hope this helps
Below is some interesting information my pusher garnered from Arcam ref the performance of the rDAC and it's inputs
Coaxial input supports up to 24bit 192Khz sampling frequency
USB input supports up to 24bit 96Khz sampling frequency
Optical input supports up to 24bit 48Khz sampling frequency
Suprises me that coaxial is the highest quality input as in my mind it is the least likely to connect to computer based higher resolution lossless music
He is going to find out Arcams thoughts behind this and I will report back
Just because if supports a higher sample rate, doesn't make it a higher quality input...
The reason that USB is limited to supporting just 24/96 is that Class 1 USB Audio is limited in support to 24/96 at 2 channels. To get 24/192 support you need to move to supporting Class 2 USB Audio or develop your own transfer protocols. Both of these methods have their problems: Class 2 USB Audio has very limited support - Mac OS X 10.6.4, latest versions of Linux but not Windows nor is Windows native support looking close - also Class 2 USB Audio is a later development and dCS hasn't yet developed any interface which uses it; alternatively you could develop your own protocols like M2Tech have - in this case you are hampered by having to have computer engineers to develop drivers, or buy in existing technology which has limited support. When Windows gets updated, (even potentially Servive Pack releases) you have to do all the testing and (potentially) develop new drivers - you loose the elegance of the "native" operating system supplied drivers.
On the other hand, SPDIF receivers supporting 24/192 are ten a penny. To transfer audio from a computer to DAC the ideal interface is to use async USB (or FireWire) as the DAC then controls the flow of data from the computer. In this way you minimise the jitter and therefore maximise the sound quality.
Here ends USB audio 101...
I did not actually ask for USB 101 and don't feel any improved for your class
I was only pointing out the sample rates the different inputs on the rDAC are capable of processing (Your Welcome) and my surprise that the Coaxial was the highest as most computers accept Optical or USB but not coaxial
All of this is secondary for me as OS X limits the optical to 24/96 anyway
Sorry I didn't mean to cause offence in explaining why the USB is limited to 24/96 while the Co-ax can do 24/192. You initially said that you were "surprised" that the co-ax could accept higher sample rates, I was just trying to explain why that is so to save any unexpected surprises in the future!
The "limitations" on each of the 3 interfaces had already been commented on in this thread and is listed in the specification section of the manual available to download so I'm surprised "your pusher" had to interrogate Arcam to gain this information! So again it shouldn't have been a surprise!
Please feel free to ignore me if you don't want to learn something you might not already have known...
Who does supply in the UK such the Atlas Compass 75ohmn digital cable. May i take it that your dealer had it suggested to accompany the rDAC?
Yes my dealer stocks Atlas cables
They used to stock Chord but changed to Atlas some time ago
I had the Atlas speaker cables upgraded from Chord and was impressed with them
It was the cable I heard the demo with and they had a reduced price cable offer when I brought my rDAC and I needed a cable so it was a no brainer
I have chord cables too and they work well also
Hey guys. Been waiting from a call from my arcam dealer but they never did. I really can't wait so I called them.. Guess what? They may wait until the "cedia" show before ordering it. By his estimate it could probably be september when they can finally have the rDAC! How stupid this is.. The other thing about arcam is that they don't sell products thru internet. So, its up to the dealers here in my place to hold & wait..
Not sure if Cleveland UK or Ohio (assume UK!)but would have thought a call to Arcam would result in either an alternative local provider or a wee word in your dealers ear. Not in Arcam's interest to have dealers who provide indifferent service I'd have thought. Can't though understand why your dealer can't just place the order for you. Bizarre.
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