CD deck to amp - analogue or digital ?

DaveReading

Novice Member
I'm juggling the various input to my AV receiver: TV, Foxsat, DVD, CD player, DAB/FM tuner and PC/tablet. Haven't quite got to the 21st century yet :)

Some of the peripherals don't offer any choice - the TV and DVD only have digital audio out (optical and coax, respectively), which is fair enough as I want the surround sound channels, but am I right in thinking that, all other things being equal, a CD player (assuming it has a decent DAC) is always better connected via an analogue rather than digital (optical/coax) interconnect?
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
Generally most CD players sound better through their analog outputs but it depends on the amplifier you are using and the CD player. If it is not a particularly good CD player but the Amp is very modern (less than a few years old) then it may sound better than the DAC in the CD player and likewise if you have a very good CD player the DAC in that may sound better than the DAC in a cheapish Surround sound AMP so then it's better to use analog out.
As an example I use a very old but impressively built CD Player (Sony CDP XB920E-QS) which was quite respectable back in it's day and still sounds pretty good today BUT using it as a Transport (bypassing it's own DAC) and outputting via digital COAX in to my Denon PMA1600NE and using the DAC in the amp elevates its sound quality to a different level so sometimes you just have to experiment to see what you prefer.
 

Hoku

Active Member
I concur with the above comment.

And it doesn’t solely depend on the DAC in each component either: it can also depend on how good the implementation of the analogue inputs is.

In my old Pioneer AV receiver, the analogue inputs weren’t very good, but the digital inputs were excellent. I wonder if the analogue inputs were considered a bit of an afterthought for legacy gear.

So for what the cables cost, it’s worth just experimenting and finding out which you prefer.
 

DaveReading

Novice Member
Thanks for the replies.

Both the AVR and CD player are fairly elderly and, more relevantly, each originally cost about the same, so it's a fair bet that the DAC in the latter accounts for a higher proportion of the purchase cost and is of a rather higher spec. I take the point, though, that it's more than just the DAC that determines the ultimate sound.

As it happens, I've recently replaced the AVR with a second-hand example of the same model from eBay, having managed to drop the original one (oops!) when moving it, which had the effect of introducing intermittent distortion on all the analogue inputs. Fortunately the digital inputs seemed unaffected, but of course I lost the ability to play any vinyl in the meantime.

Lesson learned: hacksaw used to massively enlarge the hole in the back of my hifi cabinet, so that interconnects can be fitted/removed without having to pull the units out. :)
 

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