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CDP or DAC?!??!?!

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by rockhopper, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    A few questions for you knowledgeable folk...

    I have a DVD player and I cant decide whether to buy a DAC or a CDP. I've read a little about DACs, but cant find any online retailers that sell them :confused: . I find this strange as DACs are raved about around here. Can anybody recommend anywhere to buy a DAC? I am looking to spend around £3-400. If I go the DAC route, I will miss some aspects of a dedicated CDP i.e. the ability to quickly load and read a disc, certain functions etc.. generally just the feel of a full CDP. On the other hand, my main priority is sound quality.

    My other option is to spend my £3-400 on a CDP e.g. Arcam CD73T, NAD C542 (which would only cost me £255 ish), Rotel RCD-02.

    Also, can anyone tell how noticeable the difference would be between a £3-400 DAC and a £3-400 CDP? If there is not a great difference in sound quality I would be tempted to go for a CDP.

    PLEASE HELP :)
     
  2. Knightshade

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    Hi Rockhopper,
    Bear in mind your current DVD player has a dac(s) in it at present. They just aren't all that great at two channel audio. Your DVD will become simply something to spin disks (Transport) the processing (Digital to Analogue conversion) will be done in a seperate box. This adds an extra cable but, well, you know.
    I know it's sometimes a pain in the a**e waiting for the disc to be read in a DVD player but you can live with it.
    Another major thing with DAC's is they can be quite transport dependent. But obviously the better the transport the better the sound from the DAC. Its not quite as clear cut as buying a DAC and plugging it in. A nice sounding DVD/CD player might not be the best sounding transport for a specific DAC.
    As for the quality? If you have the rest of the kit to hear what they can do they blow most CDP's out of the water. Some to look at are the NOS DAC, (Played with these myself - come up on Ebay). Benchmark DAC1, Tri Vista, others i'm sure will have more recomendations. My choice would be the NOS DAC (PM me if you want more info). Outstanding value for money and they can be seriously tweaked (There are some very skilled people out there playing with these at the moment). A really well built NOS DAC will tend to dip out a little (though only slightly) to things like the Chord DAC 64 and DCS range but when you're looking at £150 - £300 retail for them compared to £2000 retail upwards for the Dac 64 etc, it's pretty good value. If of course it's on the right transport.
    As you can see we're talking some serious kit. And there's the thing. Unless you plan on upgrading the rest of your kit a good DAC may prove to be a poor investment.
    But, you can forget about the source side of things for a few years and concentrate on the amps and speakers.
    The advantages of buying a dedicated CDP such as the Arcam CD73 (A good disc spinner for the money) is it will probably integrate nicely with your existing kit and sound very good. And you don't have to buy the extra cable.
    Tough decision Rockhopper but a fun one....
     
  3. rockhopper

    rockhopper
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    Hi Knightshade,

    thanks a lot for the reply. I very much doubt i'll be upgrading the rest of my kit for a good few years now, i've had enough of the viscous circle :suicide: .

    yeah i'd like more info on the NOS DAC - if you could PM me any useful info I would appreciate it.

    So, how do I know if my DVD player has a 'good' transport, and whether it will be worth my while getting a DAC? And when you say people are playing around with the NOS DAC, what exactly do you mean? Sorry, but i'm just not grasping this - as far as I knew it was case of "plug it in and away you go".

    Thanks in advance mate.
     
  4. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    I have a NOS DAC. It supplanted an £850 Naim CD5i.
    It's not as bouncy as the 5i, but is miles more tonally accurate and simply lovely to listen to. For the price it's an absolute steal.
    For a long time I was thinking about going vinyl, as I simply couldn't get what I wanted from my system. The NOS solved that in one go, and I now have no real desire to go back to vinyl.
    With regard to the upgrades, the key areas are:
    - Power supply. It's easy to spend as much again getting a good power supply, but just like the Cyrus PSX and Naim power supplies, it's meant to be a very worthwhile improvement
    - A good transport, e.g. a VRDS unit or similar.
    Once I have the funds, I'll be treating my NOS to both, it deserves it.
     
  5. BUGANNA

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    agreed, NOS DACs are amazing sounding, they add an extra dimension to the sound,

    Ive been playing about with an Audio Note Dac Zero, in the studio, and this thing is amazing, has a valve output section built in as standard

    if u can one for a good price, off ebay or whatever, go for it, you could pick one up for under £ 300 used.........but they are very rare

    u may wish to give the previous posters NOS a try, im sure you wont be disapponted

    also, you could pickup a 2nd hand CDP for about £ 50, something like a Marantz would give u a great transport
     
  6. BUGANNA

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    ref: Knightshade

    just seen your web page, nice cat-5 cables !!!

    u might wish to recommend that someone uses a multi meter to test to see that the cables dont short circuit, as its very easy to mix up a striped cable !
     
  7. booktrunk

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    Hiya,

    I'd go for a DAC.

    with regard to transport, I'd stick with a DVD player. I'm actually going to buy a dedicated transport :) a Pioneer 565 or 575, Looks smart enough Townshend think it's a good transport etc... as they use it for the basis of their £3k player.

    A DAC with more than one input is also more versatile, you could stick a Tuner or something into a second input on it and it would probably then improve the sound. I'm going to get a freeview box with digital out and use that instead of a DAB tuner, i'll plumb that into the second input on my DAC.
     
  8. Knightshade

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  9. Knightshade

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    At the time I just wanted to give some info. A lot of people were interested in trying it out. People often with little electrical knowledge. I figure if there's a danger of frying your system you'd take it on yourself to be careful....:D
    Should update it really in the interests of health and safety.....:suicide:
     
  10. jon_mendel

    jon_mendel
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    Especially if you buy secondhand, or something like a NOS Dac, made on a small scale, (you may need to - AFAIK, there's not many budget DACs being sold new nowadays...) you're likely to get a better sound for your money as opposed to buying a new CD player - for example, it's not unusual to see DACs for about 1/3 of their new price; and DACs don't have moving parts so are generally a fairly safe secondhand buy. Try searching for 'DAC' on ebay, or posting a wanted ad, if you want to find a DAC. As mentioned, you can also use this for eg. freeview as well as CDs; if you listen to DVDs in stereo, you may also find that this gives much better sound quality on DVDs too.

    It's an arguable point if/how much difference a transport can make - I've tried mine with 2 different DVDs get into the DAC, and frankly couldn't tell the difference between them, but others apparently can hear big differences... Either way, as mentioned you can get DVDs which are seen as v good transports if you can hear a difference, and these are not that expensive...

    Jon
     
  11. Craig

    Craig
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    Well, another NOS DAC owner here :hiya:

    I'd say go for the DAC, of course ;)

    The only thing is that it is a leap of faith, unless you can find a willing punter who'll let you listen to his NOS DAC (or other DAC for that matter)

    However, as someone mentioned, the inputs factor might be important to you, depending on how many digital sources you have, in which 'they say' case the stand out candidate in your price range is the TAG McLaren DAC 20

    What 'they' don't mention is that the sound / presentation of the two DAC's are somewhat different.....

    If you want to bite the bullet with the NOS DAC, PM me and I'll send you the details of the Derek Shek fella who makes them
     

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