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Adding a DAC to a DVD-V Player for improved CD Playback

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by CJROSS, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Guys thought I would post this review (from the Hifi-Choice forum) here for any people thinking of adding a DAC to their DVD-V players for improved stereo playback.

    I’ve came at this review with the thought of my old X-24K DAC as a standard point as comparison but when doing this over the weekend - I felt that going back to the no DAC option just listening to the DVD-V player on its own then I could give a real justifcation to the sound differences that each DAC gave the Pioneer – or to be precise the performance of each DAC as a ‘Source’. The differences between the DAC is noticeable but they have different qulaities – excuse the english dudes but I’ll try my best at mag review wording – no sniggering at the back !!

    I used the same discs in each case for the comparison including a DAD 24/96 & HDCD encoded CD’s. I used the DAD 24-96 in direct comparison with its CD version from a Chesky compilation. I also compared HDCDs v CD’s with the same tracks. All CD tested were mostly AAD’s and there was’nt a bad recording amongst them IMO.
    Pioneer DV-717 : First of all no DAC in place and surprsingly the DVD-V players sounds very acceptable, has a nice degree of separation and the only real drawbacks I found is that its bass sounded a little uncontrolled & it lacked warmth – the music was being played but it was painted in swathed brush strokes. But not the dire sound the hifi mags portray I have to add.

    Musical Fidelity X-24K DAC : adding the X-24K to the Pioneer changed the whole package to what I would call ‘music’ with articulate bass & very good separational qualities, most notable was the complex nature of some recordings I felt the X-24K really got into them and deciphered whats was happening, at the same time the foot was tapping so the music was coming through. Bass performance is the most notable improvement over the DVD player - bass now came from the speakers with good depth but also a very nice rate of ‘attack’. Midrange & treble performance in complex mixes were evident – so on the whole a very good upgrade to a medium priced CD or DVD player. (BTW the DAD 24/96 when played increased bass performance to a higher level – ie more bass & control, over its CD counterpart)

    TAG McLaren DAC 20 : slotted into the system, the first difference I noticed to be honest made me feel I was listening to my LP12, from the way the cymbals shimmered on drums, the warmth of the DAC was a real surprise to me to be honest, there is no doubt that I’m listening to a digital system but I could’nt stop cranking the volume up as high as it would go and finding myself smiling with what this DAC could. What it seems to do is really separate all the component parts and play them back in a really smooth manner with real vigour – the mix is still very coherent and no harshness evident. Again as I said a totally different character to the X-24K. I felt that the HDCD’s were again more detailed and smoother than the exact same recording on normal CD. Saying that I found a couple tracks I’ve liked previously on the X-24K (Turin Breaks to be precise) the singer has developed a sibilance not evident before in his phrasing – still sounds excellent though. So the DAC 20 does impose its character on the music being played.

    These views are of course in context to my system are also ………………….. IMHO dudes.

    Tracks used

    Dave’s Trues Stories “Sex Without Bodies” DAD 24/96 & CD
    Bryan Ferry “Oh Yeah” & “Avalon” HDCD & CD
    Sting All This Time “Fragile” & “Shape of my heart” CD
    B52’s “Good Stuff” & “Revolution Earth”
    Turin Breaks “Save Me”


    There are more reviews on the DAC 20 here from other guys who've bought it :

    http://www.futureforums.co.uk/hific...3&Topic_Title=The+Tag+DAC&Forum_Title=Reviews
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    “I sounds quite good but like many of you, I'm wondering how to make the next jump in sound quality. The TAG DAC20 is very interesting, do you know if its suitable with my system.

    I don't know if the sony735 is 24bit compatible. 24bit is within the digital out setup menus, I just haven't found that it does outputs 24bit. I thought i had some 24bit cd's but my pre-amp always displays 16bit. i don't know what's happening.

    Anyones help and advise in what to do next would be greatfully recieved.” Marco

    Marco – I’ve pulled this off the other thread to keep it on a DAC thread if that’s OK.

    I don’t think your 735 is actually 24/96 capable via its digital output dude IIRC, but it will still make a fine transport for the DAC 20 where signal is not imperative in the design as it reclocks the incoming signal, I would urge you to try the DAC 20 as it is fantastic sounding source and your amlification is top drawer for stereo playback as I recall from the old reviews. Using the 735 as a CD source on its own is a crime my friend you can really upgrade it with a DAC. No point spending money on a new CD player as your actually spending a big wad of money on the transport when adding a DAC for the same money to a DVD-V transport is no-brainer means your spending the cash on the sounds IMHO. And yes the DAC 20 is suitbale in your system, I know guys using Tosh DVD-V to drive it and reporting big results.

    BTW 24 bits word length information is only available from DVD-V (an old 2 channel standard called DAD 24/96) and from DVD-A tracks which are recorded in PCM 2 channel stereo and in reality these should be able to be played on DVD-V players with 24/96 PCM output but finding them is the real problem, Pioneer players where the only ones who made their players with this type of output resolution but Denon & Now Sony are including this output level for audiophiles who have an interest in fedding this level of signal. Ie in their new SACD-DVD-V player the NSV9000 a peach of a machine BTW .

    CD is only optimal to 16bits/44.1 khz even DTS encoded & HDCD encoded discs (which sound amazing on the DAC 20) only DVD-V goes higher ie 16B/48 or 24B/96.
     
  3. marcoeser

    marcoeser
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    Reading the white paper on the DAC20 I've realised that it won't work within my system. My 735 is connected to my TA-E9000ES via a digital coax. I've come to the conclusion that the only way I can put any unit between the two is via the analogue links. Unless every time I want to play a CD instead of a DVD I unplug the the coax and plug it to the DAC20 which is connected to my TA-E9000ES via analogue.:( this won't happen.

    Now if there was a DAC that could sense a 5.1 signal and bi pass it to its digital output and vice versa sense a 2 channel signal and then pass that through its filters then that would be magic and a must buy.

    I may be wrong in my thinking here (I wishfully hope so) but I think I'll have to look for another device.

    So I'm a little unhappy, i just have to do some more research.

    Any ideas are welcome.

    marc.
     
  4. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hello CJRoss

    Thank you for contacting the Helpdesk.

    To answer your question: Yes, the DAC20 will pass through the digital information from a DVD player up to 48 kHz. This information is also re-clocked inside the DAC20, helping reduce any jitter. However, improvements in sound quality will depend entirely on the quality of the output from the DVD player, the cables used and the quality of your AV processor.

    As you mention, the DAC20 will certainly improve the quality of you two channel listening and by passing the signal through to your A/V pre-amp you will allow you greater system integration.

    We hope that you find this useful but if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at the Helpdesk.

    Best regards,

    Helpdesk Technical Advisor
    TAG McLaren Audio Ltd
    * http://www.tagmclaren.com

    > Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 10:38 AM
    > To: helpdesk@tagmclaren.com
    > Subject:
    >
    > Dear TAG Helpdesk :
    >
    > "DAC 20 does it pass on a DVD-V bitstream signal (48khz) from it's digital output?"

    I have recently came into posession of a wonderful TAG DAC 20, and I use it in tandem with a DVD-V transport for hifi duties (very pleased I am with it BTW) but I also use the DVD-V player for movies and was wondering as the DAC 20 accepts a 48khz
    signal if I could route a bitstream signal through the DAC via its 75 ohms RCA Coaxial output to a AV DD 5.1 amp. Thus using it for music duties and AV 5.1 duties - does it stream on DVD-V 48khz bitstream signals from its digital output.

    FYI I currently have the DVD-V set to PCM output mode for better music processing but I am interested in using the DAC 20 in between DVD-V player and a coaxial only AV pre-amp which has only 1 coaxial input so that would entail changing the output mode to bitstream.

    Any comments or information appreciated guys.

    Regards

    CJRoss
     
  5. marcoeser

    marcoeser
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    I wrote the following to TAG:

    Can you confirm what output options are there on the DAC20. The white
    paper for the DAC20 only mentions an analogue output. I will need to connect the DAC20 between my dvd player and sony ta-e9000es av amp using only a digital coax cable to the digital coax of the av amp. In the case of playing audio cds will the dac reclock & upsample? and in the case of playing dvd films will only reclock the 5.1 signal?

    The problem/situation of the sony ta-e9000es is that there is no analogue pass through, all signals pass through the internal DAC. To make the most of this amp it is best advised to only use digital inputs. So I am wondering if your DAC20 fully integrate into my system.


    They replied:

    Hello Marc

    The DAC20 has a RCA, coaxial digital output.

    Using the DAC20 to use a kind of 'digital switch box' will be okay. I.e., if you connect the digital out from your DVD player to the input on the DAC20 and then to your AV amp, this will be fine. However, DO NOT connect anything to the analog AUDIO OUT as this will simply result in a very loud noise that could do some serious harm!

    There is no upsampling or processing of the incoming signal if used in this method, as the signal is passed through the DAC20 unchanged.

    If you want an analog signal from the DVD player via the DAC20, you will still need to set your DVD to PCM output.




    This was very informative, but bad news for me as I would of liked to use both outputs. So the dac's not an option for me :(

    marc.
     
  6. BigDG

    BigDG
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    Ive been reading this with interest, i have a SONY DVP-NS900 and a YAMAHA DSP A1 will i be able to make use of the Maclaren DAC and if so any ideas what sort of improvements i should find.
     
  7. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    DG – these threads may be of interest to you :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=35777

    http://archives.futureforums.co.uk/...these+days+%3F&Forum_Title=General+Discussion

    http://www.futureforums.co.uk/hifichoice/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=52

    I posted this thread on another forum (Hi-fi choice) trying to highlight the availability of good quality DAC transports and it involves the NSV-900 (imho THE way to get into DACs at this time – a good quality DVD-V player with a good output, oh and the bonus of SACD) your player is capable of 24/96 pcm output which makes it a very reasonable transport IMO adding a DAC is good step forward into audiophile territority IMO. BTW DG A friend has just bought the NSV-900 and feels that it is pretty competent in its CD abilities BTW. If your were using it in tandem with a DAC 20 I would recommend feeding the DAC Coaxilally from the 900 then running IC’s into a CD line input on the A1 – bypassing the A1’s DAC’s.

    HTH’s

    I added this to a another thread on the forum but thought it worthy of it’s own post, we speak a lot of the need for a decent transport for adding to a DAC, I thought you guys may be interested in this transport with a plethora of ‘extra’ features for the sound conniseur, this post is on 2 levels - for guys looking at New Int. CDPs in the £1000-2000 bracket & people considering replacing their transports (now or at a future point due to failure) FYI my friends :

    ***********************************

    You SACD dudes may be interested to know that the Sony DVPNS900 Multi format (SACD-DVD-V-CD) player is being distributed again after a problem with AV (RGB) auto-switching having been rectified. This machine is also a cracker of a transport for people of a DAC persuasion is compelling stuff as it also has a true 24-96 compatable digital output with the bonus of SACD replay thrown in. Here is the type of machine that would have me sniffing about SACD (If I was replacing my existing DVD-V transport). Not bad from Empire Direct for £350. Added to a Tag DAC 20 for £365 and you have a £715 2 box CD player of truly epic proportions IMO. That will take on all comers in the sub £2000 price CDP range. A good way to get a taste of SACD capabilites and DAC technology. BTW I’m not condoning the MC credentials of this player as that is’nt my cup of tea but I know a lot of you SACD guys like the MC side of things so it has that covered as well. A very well specc’d machine IMHO and a perfect match for an offboard DAC.
     

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